Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (348)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Reign the Earth
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury

From Goodreads:

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

I'm curious about this book, because it sounds interesting, but I do wonder about the plot. How it will go, what the different characters will do and what their motivation will push them to do.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Me on Moxie

Title: Moxie
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv's mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is bold and powerful, full of fire, of teen girls taking charge and speaking out against sexist classmates and educators. It's all about girls coming together, standing up for and with each other, and claiming their equal space in their school where they don't have to be harassed or catcalled.

Vivian, like most girls at her high school, is tired of the sexist comments, dress code checks, and generally shoddy treatment given to any group or team that isn't boys' football. But what's she going to do? It's a small Texan town, things have always been this way. When Viv starts going through her mom's old high school things, punk rock posters and drawings about girls in charge, taking back what's theirs, she gets an idea. Create a short zine for the other girls of her school, girls who are tired of dealing with random gropes and bra snaps. Girls who want to be treated equally, like people, and not like things for boys to stare at. What Viv didn't think she'd create is a movement, a revolution that the girls of her high school would take up, and an annoyance for the school to try and shut down.

I think this book is so relevant, so current, considering recent comments on identity politics and rise of feminism in teen girls and young women. It touches on how girls are singled out for 'distracting' boys because of their clothing, how white girls are considered prettier than black girls or other girls of colour. It touches on how important it is for girls to come together and support each other, how there's no need to pit girls against each other. I would consider this a must-read for anyone currently attending high school and to anyone currently working in a middle school or high school. I would definitely recommend this to teen girls, to those looking for ways to stand up and speak out.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (276)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello all! I think the weather is starting to turn towards fall now. It's a little brisk in the mornings, some of the leaves are changing colour.

Reviews going up this week will feature Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Tuesday) and Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Friday). :)

Bought/borrowed/received:
Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst
River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (borrowed from the library)
Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey (borrowed from the library)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Me on One Dark Throne

Title: One Dark Throne
Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can't seem to prevent.

One Dark Throne is continuing the story of three young women hoping to be crowned queen, the story of plots and plans, of magic and poison. A story of survival, intrigue, and deception.

Back in their homes, full of curiosity and realizations after the events of the Quickening, the three young queen hopefuls must decide what to do next. Arsinoe, who now knows the truth about her powers, wonders how she'll keep it a secret. How she'll continue on when everyone expects her to have an animal familiar like other naturalists. Mirabella, strong and skilled, is shying away from the idea of killing her sisters, unsure that she really wants to go through with it. While her elemental powers are deadly, her heart is a soft one. And Katharine, once lost, has returned. Confident, self-assured. Dangerous. Reckless. Deadly. It isn't long before all three will come together again, and the entire island will be turned upside down.

With this being the second book in a series of four, with so much of the plot centered around plots and plans and assassination attempts, it's difficult to summarize my thoughts and feelings. This is just the next step, the next moments following the disastrous events of the Quickening, following Katharine's fall and Arsinoe's discovery. Considering all the players on Fennbirn Island, those working behind the scenes in order to make sure their plans come to fruition, it's hard to know what will happen next. Who will act and who will run. Who will live and who will die. All that's left is to take this, cross out names, and wait for the next book to see what will happen next.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (347)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

This seems like an eerie present day-set fairy tales are real and dangerous kind of story, a little like The Darkest Part of the Forest. And so I'm in. :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blog Tour: The Winnowing

Hi all! It's time for a blog tour post! Vikki VanSickle is a Toronto resident, a children's and middle grade book author, a publicist with Penguin Random House Canada, and a lover of children's lit. To celebrate the recent release of hew new book The Winnowing, a curious coming of age mixed with intrigue and strange dreams, Vikki's here to talk about combining genres and how hard it can be to summarize a book like hers. :)

THE TROUBLE WITH GENRE

Despite having a number of books under my belt and spent years working in the children's book industry, when it comes to my own books I always struggle with the elevator pitch. The stakes seem impossibly high—you have one minute (or 144 characters) to hook someone on this book you've spent all this time and energy on—GO!

Me on The Winnowing

Title: The Winnowing
Author: Vikki VanSickle
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Canada

Marivic Stone lives in a small world, and that's fine with her. Home is with her beloved grandfather in a small town that just happens to be famous for a medical discovery that saved humankind — though not without significant repercussions. Marivic loves her best friend, Saren, and the two of them promise to stick together, through thick and thin, and especially through the uncertain winnowing procedure, a now inevitable — but dangerous — part of adolescence. But when tragedy separates the two friends, Marivic is thrust into a world of conspiracy, rebellion and revolution. For the first time in her life, Marivic is forced to think and act big. If she is going to right a decade of wrongs, she will need to trust her own frightening new abilities, even when it means turning her back on everything, and everyone, she's known and loved.

The Winnowing is mysterious, full of whimsy, worry, and hard truths. Marivic lives in a curious town, a rather important town. But secrets are everywhere in such an important town, secrets that could change how Marivic sees the world around her.

Marivic is smart and kind, and perhaps a little lonely after her grandmother passed away a year earlier, but she still has her grandfather. And her best friend Saren. But then Marivic hits that age, when bodies change and kids get their ACES, the bizarre night terrors that happen because of a medical marvel that saved everyone some decades before. Marivic knows then that she won't be a kid anymore, that she'll go through the winnowing in order to keep her from hurting herself, from losing her mind. But when Marivic arrives at the Barton Center, things don't feel quite right. Some odd questions are asked of her, some strange people start talking to her. Her dreams are getting stranger. And soon she's on the run, soon she's learning the truth.

This book is part sweetness, part growing up, and part eerie all-encompassing mystery. It's a gentle, well-written combination of a young girl coming of age, reaching puberty, and the strange world of conspiracy, experiments, and big secrets she enters. The truth has to come out, the others have to be saved. But Marivic isn't sure if she's strong enough to do it. What she is sure of, though, is that she'll do what it takes to keep her grandfather and best friend Saren safe. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers, especially to those not quite ready to move up to YA, especially to readers looking for a combination of genres in their stories.

(I received a copy of this title to review from Scholastic Canada.)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (275)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello! It's raining here! For the first time in weeks. It makes it feel like summer's on its way out for fall. I kind of wish the sun would stick around longer, though. Last winter was constant snow and I definitely felt better once spring and summer came around.

No new books this week! I've been slowly going through review books and library books, waiting for holds to come in. Maybe next week.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle and a blog tour post (Tuesday) and One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (Friday). :)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Me on Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 #1

Title: Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 #1
Author/artist: Alex Alice
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

In search of the mysterious element known as aether, Claire Dulac flew her hot air balloon toward the edge of our stratosphere-and never returned. Her husband, genius engineer Archibald Dulac, is certain that she is forever lost. Her son, Seraphin, still holds out hope. One year after her disappearance, Seraphin and his father are delivered a tantalizing clue: a letter from an unknown sender who claims to have Claire's lost logbook. The letter summons them to a Bavarian castle, where an ambitious young king dreams of flying the skies in a ship powered by aether. But within the castle walls, danger lurks-there are those who would stop at nothing to conquer the stars.

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 #1 is the beginning of an epic tale. It's a searching for the impossible, full of hopes and dreams and sorrow. It's a young boy missing his mother and willing to journey as close as he can to her.

Seraphin is a smart, lonely boy dreaming of the impossible. Of one day flying through the sky using aether, of continuing the work of his mother before her disappearance. His father is a practical man. He holds no illusions as to the fate of his late wife, but Seraphin still dreams. When the letter arrives, speaking of his mother's logbook, Seraphin knows they have to go. And so he and his father end up on an unexpected journey to a Bavarian castle full of secrets and wonder.

The art is wonderfully detailed. The delicate lines that make up the characters' faces, the buildings and castles. The blueprint of the aethership. And the landscapes, the train station and the castle's surrounding trees and mountains, look more like watercolour paintings. The beautiful artwork serves to enhance an already captivating story.

This is the start of something epic and wondrous. A journey through the skies, hopefully up into the stars. The practically and reasoning of science and real life colliding with the magical nature that is aether. I would certainly recommend this to kids interested in epic stories of science, impossibility, and steampunk-esque sensibilities.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from First Second through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (346)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Reign of the Fallen
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

An LGBT fantasy series that follows a talented necromancer who must face down a deadly nemesis who has learned how to turn her magic into a weapon.

Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

A lavish fantasy with a surprising and breathtaking LGBT romance at its core, Reign of the Fallen is a gutsy, unpredictable read that will grab readers by the throat and never let go....

This sounds really interesting. The stars of an LGBTQ fantasy series? Necromancy? Complicated zombie politics? I'm all in. :)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Me on When I Cast Your Shadow

Title: When I Cast Your Shadow
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan imprint)

After her troubled older brother, Dashiell, dies of an overdose, sixteen-year-old Ruby is overcome by grief and longing. What she doesn't know is that Dashiell's ghost is using her nightly dreams of him as a way to possess her body and to persuade her twin brother, Everett, to submit to possession as well. Dashiell tells Everett that he's returned from the Land of the Dead to tie up loose ends, but he's actually on the run from forces crueler and more powerful than anything the Bohnacker twins have ever imagined....

When I Cast Your Shadow is dark and deadly. The story of a siblings overwhelmed by their older brother's death, and the possibility that, perhaps, he's not as dead as they thought. It's a twisted and eerie tale, but it missed the mark with me

Ruby is lost and alone, constantly mourning the loss of her older brother Dashiell. Sure, he used to be an addict, but he was clean. It wasn't his time to die. It wasn't fair. And now her days are spent wishing he was alive again while her nights are more like nightmares. Until she dreams of Dash one night, of his cajoling and his promise that they could be together again. Everett, Ruby's twin, is also mourning their brother, but when Ruby starts acting strangely, he wonders if something's up. If something's wrong. If Dash is somehow still around.

If I can be honest here, I'm not so sure that I enjoyed this book. It's dark and eerie, it hints at the supernatural, at a brief grey area that lies between life and death, but it was more that I didn't like certain characters. Which is possibly the point. Dashiell is hard to like, perhaps impossible. An addict, a liar and a thief, a manipulator. What is there to like? Ruby refuses to hear anything negative about her dead brother, focusing more on the times when Dash was kind and loving, when he bought her her prized red boots. I wonder if that was done on purpose by the author, to introduce such unlikable and willfully blind characters because not everyone is perfect. That sometimes good people get trapped by bad people, overwhelmed and manipulated, and struggle to keep their heads above water when they're around them. I can see how some might enjoy this, those who like stories that border on horror and the psychological like Simon Holt's The Devouring, but it just didn't work out with me.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (274)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello! It may be September now (how?!?) but it's still summer here. The days are sunny and hot, the nights are still hot, and walks are done where it's shady. And silly pups try and hide toys in the garden. *narrow glare at our dog*

I keep thinking that I need to do more essay-style posts, just to chat about an idea or an opinion on something that's come up during the week. It's one thing to have ideas on things to talk about, and it's another to actually speak up and talk about them.

Reviews going up this week will feature When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter (Tuesday) and Castle in the Stars Book 1 by Alex Alice (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (borrowed from the library)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Me on Odd & True

Title: Odd & True
Author: Cat Winters
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette's stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician's curse. But now that Tru's older, she's starting to wonder if her older sister's tales were just comforting lies, especially because there's nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it's Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters' search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that's wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Odd & True is a mysterious journey. It's a story told in two parts by two voices, a story about family, about journeys, about truths and lies and secrets. About monsters, those fantastical and those hidden in our own past.

Trudchen is a little lonely, a little lost. Left behind by her father, mother, and later her sister, she's had to become practical. After the polio that almost took her leg, she's had a hard life. Struggling to get around, struggling to be seen as anything other than crippled. But now Odette's returned, ready and eager to whisk Tru off on a dangerous mission, to continue keeping people safe from monsters and demons. But it's hard for Tru to trust her sister, now that she's older and finds it hard to still believe in such stories. Od's voice is like a voice from the past, a voice who has seen, has suffered, and now knows what to do. She's the keeper of secrets and truths, the holder of knowledge, and at times it seems odd that there's only so much she'll share with her sister.

This is a curious tale, one I expected to be full of monsters and rescues, demons and creatures that lurk in the shadows, and two sisters continuing a family tradition. In some ways, that's what it is, and in some ways it isn't. It seems to be about people, their memories and their secrets, their lives and their journeys. It's about the things we hide and run from, the things we run towards, and the things we do in order to save others. I imagine fans of the author's previous books, historical tales with a dash of the ghostly and the impossible, will enjoy this, as might fans of historical stories and complicated but well-meaning sister relationships.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Abrams Books through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (345)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Shadowsong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

I fully expect this book to be all kinds of eerie and dark and deep with magic and complications. I remember there being something heavy about the first, all the magic and fantasy being so heavy, in a good way. And so I wonder what this will have, if Liesl has to return.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Me on Heathen

Title: Heathen Volume 1
Writer/artist: Natasha Alterici
Letterer: Rachel Deering
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Vault Comics

Aydis is a viking, a warrior, an outcast, and a self-proclaimed heathen. Aydis is friend to the talking horse Saga, rescuer of the immortal Valkyrie Brynhild, and battler of demons and fantastic monsters. Aydis is a woman. Born into a time of warfare, suffering, and subjugation of women, she is on a mission to end the oppressive reign of the god-king Odin.

Heathen Volume 1 is powerful and determined, furious and full of intent. It's the beginning of a mission, of an epic quest that will take Aydis all the way up to the king of the gods.

Aydis is focused, full of sorrow and rage. Sorrow that her village would cast her out and rage at the laws of the land. Laws that subjugate women, keep them in their homes, bind them to the wishes of first their fathers and then their husbands. But what about women like Aydis? Women who would rather hunt or lead? Women who would not marry a man, who would rather kiss and love another woman? And so begins Aydis' epic quest. To first rescue the trapped Valkyrie queen Brynhild, an immortal with her own past, her own secrets, and then to seek out the god-king Odin. To bring her grievances to him.

The artwork is amazing. Rough and sketchy at times, detailed and expressive at others. The different faces of Aydis, alternating between determination and worry, surprise and sorrow. The laughing faces of the wolves Skull and Hati as they debate over when they think the world will end. The stoic Saga. The fury and resolve of Brynhild. The allure and charm of Freyja. As much as I like Aydis as a character, her complications and her fury, I love Alterici's art style, the shapes of the characters and the at times muted winter colouring.

This is certainly a story I've been waiting for, something steeped in Norse mythology involving warriors and the Valkyrie but with a twist. With attempts at righting the historical wrongs of prejudice and sexism. It's the story of a young woman who wants more out of what her options are, who wants what she wants, wants to love who she loves without being cast out or aside, and how far she will go. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more, either in the collected volumes or in single issues.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from Diamond Book Distributors through NetGalley.)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (273)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hi! The sun's still out, but with no smoke in the air. Some mornings are cool and cloudy, which just leads to warm, heavy evenings.

I've been trying to blitz through e-books I've picked up from the library, mostly as a way of going through my to read list, seeing if they hold my interest after a few chapters and stopping if they don't. Some of these books have been on my to read list for years, so I don't feel that bad about skimming or stopping. It always happens, though. You get excited about certain books, then other books pop up and you forget about them, then when you finally get the chance to read it you're no longer interested.

Reviews going up this week will feature Heathen by Natasha Alerici (Tuesday) and Odd & True by Cat Winters (Friday)! :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (borrowed from the library)
Heartfire by Kate Boorman (borrowed from the library)
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (borrowed from the library)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Me on Zero Repeat Forever

Title: Zero Repeat Forever
Author: G.S. Prendergast
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster imprint)

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn't know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind. Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall. His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting. Until a human kills her. Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance. Shelter in place. Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn't like feeling helpless but what choice does she have? Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend. Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other

Zero Repeat Forever is haunting, a look at invasion and survival from two points of view. A look at what drives us forward, to protect, to survive, and what we'll do in order to stay alive. Who and what we'll listen to.

Eighth is lost and confused. Defective. Part of the sudden force that's overtaking parts of the planet and its population, he can't remember what came before. What he was before. All he knows is what the directives tell him. Dart the humans, leave them there, move on. But he can't shake the feeling that there's something else he should remember. His chapters are sparse and immediate. Almost lyrical. Like he's missing half of himself. He's lonely, searching for purpose. When he finds Raven, he thinks he's found it.

Raven is worried and determined, full of life and rage. She's focused, determined to stay alive and find her parents. She's furious, at herself and the choices she made before being sent away to the summer camp. At the Nahx for invading Earth, for killing her boyfriend. At the remaining humans who find a sick joy in posting videos of them killing the Nahx. At Eighth for finding her, saving her, following her. Her chapters are far more dense, more descriptive. She's human, she has all these human fears and worries, hopes and regrets. There's desperation running through her. She doesn't want to die.

There's something eerie and complicated about this book, about the story of Eighth and Raven. About the invasion of the Nahx and their purpose on Earth. At times this book reminded me of Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave and of Margaret Stohl's Icons with some Canadian attitudes and sensibilities. Of alien invasions and humanity not having any answers about reasons why, of secrets and survival. Considering how this ended, I'm so curious as to what the second book will hold, what might or might not be revealed. Who will still be around. I would recommend this to those looking for something different in their science fiction.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (344)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: The Case for Jamie
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

The hotly anticipated final book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes trilogy, in which Charlotte and Jamie finally face their longtime enemy…and their true feelings for each other.

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Until strange things start happening to him. Strange things that might mean nothing at all—or that someone is after him again.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex. Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows that her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but there is someone who wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

In this final explosive book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Holmes and Watson face the ultimate test: they must unravel the case of their lives without unraveling each other.

This is how the trilogy will end?!? SO EXCITED BUT SO WORRIED.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Me on Mask of Shadows

Title: Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home. When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Mask of Shadows is thrilling and compelling, a tale of survival and revenge, of shaky alliances and unexpected truths.

Sal is a thief, but they're a determined thief. Willful, skilled but acknowledges that they have flaws and weak points. Maybe a little broken, a little lost and lonely. They're on a mission, they have a purpose. Revenge. To expose those who left Sal's homeland of Nacea a scorched ruin. But first, Sal has to make it through the audition, survive the plots and plans and poisons of their fellow hopefuls in order to make it to the top, The Left Hand of the Queen.

One important part of this story is that of Sal and their identity, their being gender fluid. In no way is this a coming out story. It's just how it is. Sal knows who they are, how they want to be addressed on certain days depending on what they're wearing or how they're feeling. Which is great to see, especially in fantasy. How Sal was accepted warmly (with the exception of a few who didn't care if they misgendered Sal) and how so much of the book's focus was Sal's revenge, their honing their assassination skills, and their struggle to survive to the end.

What is revenge? For Sal, it's important. It pushes them forward, drives them, but at times it blinds them. More than one plot is circling, and there are those besides Sal that might want to change things in Igna. This is a rather dangerous, rather complicated tale of a young thief looking for revenge and those around them, those who help and those who hinder. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for something different and diverse in fantasy, in a land drained of magic but rich in secrets and shadow.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (272)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hi there! I'm back from my week at the library, which was weird in that it was a good week of teens writing and creating and sharing ideas broken up by a bad migraine and me not getting a lot of sleep. And so I'll take the weekend to sleep and feel better and gather up notes from a bunch of books I finished this week. Because there's so much still to read because of all the books coming out in September and October.

Reviews going up this week will feature Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (Tuesday) and Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast (Friday). :)

No books this week! Maybe next week. :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (271)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

It's still warm out there but it's not as smoky anymore! The air's been so stale and dry out there, everyone's really wanting some rain to come in to clear all the dust and smoke away.

No reviews next week! I'll be doing my usual volunteering in Vancouver at the kids writing and book camp all of next week. Reviews will be back the week of the 21st. :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp (e-galley from Sourcebooks through NetGalley)
The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle (physical copy from Scholastic Canada)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Me on Wicked Like a Wildfire

Title: Wicked Like a Wildfire
Author: Lana Popović
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

All the women in Iris and Malina's family have the unique magical ability or "gleam" to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love. But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Wicked Like a Wildfire is deeply, darkly magical, lush and sinister. It's about the secrets we keep, the family that claims us, and what lurks, waiting for us to fall in love.

Iris is bold and rough, bright and full of thorns. She's the rough sandpaper to her twin Malina's soft glide of silk. She argues with their mother, constantly butts heads with her, and continuously heads out at night to do her own thing. She doesn't understand why, when they were younger and their mother used to encourage their little bursts of magic, now they can't do anything. The lack of using her gleam has it waning in Iris, only appearing in fractal flowers. She doesn't understand their mother anymore. But then she's attacked, then she's taken, then whispers and wants weave their way through Iris, and she and Malina slowly discover the reason why their mother left her family so many years ago.

There's something so visual and expressive about this book. It's the descriptions of Iris' flowers and fractals and glasswork, the descriptions of Malina's songs. It's the emotions and sensations they impart on those around them, the feelings they stir up. The shivers and the shudders, the quakes, the laughter and the tears. This book is full of sisters and magic, of Eastern European and Romany folklore and myth, of secrets. Of fate and purpose and death. Of the power we hold when we fall in love, and the lengths some will go to to grab hold of that power. I would recommend this to those who enjoy contemporary fantasy with layers of family and mystery, something slightly similar to Jennifer Bosworth's The Killing Jar or AnnaMarie McLemore's The Weight of Feathers, but know that this is the first book in a duology so there will be some waiting to read the second book.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (343)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: The Witch Boy
Author: Molly Knox Ostertag
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press

From Goodreads:

In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

The cover is great and this sounds sweet and complicated and I just want to read it so much. :)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Me on The Hearts We Sold

Title: The Hearts We Sold
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming "heartless" is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined. With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldly ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it's no longer hers to give?

The Hearts We Sold is eerie, serious and dangerous. It's as much about consequences when we make a deal with the devil as it is about what makes us human, what we want and what pushes us. The places we want to escape and the places we end up, the people we end up with.

Dee is mixture of things. She's smart and practical, she's serious. She's lonely and afraid, worried about the future and afraid of her past. She's looking to get out of a bad situation, looking at high school and hopefully college as a way to get free. When things go south, when the situation is dire, she's looking to make a deal. Dee doesn't take the decision, her deal with the demon, lightly, but it certainly isn't what she expected. Others who've made deals have lost fingers or toes, arms or legs. Losing her heart? A little different, especially considering the condition that comes with it. But it's the choice she made, and she has to live with it.

This book is part monsters, part consequences, part humanity, and part lonely people cobbling together a family. Dee's home life is terrible, she wants her parents to be better, to accept her for who she is and what she wants to do, but they don't. But there are people who do, people she meets along the way, before and after her deal with the demon. What this book shows is that in so many ways, you both can and can't choose your family. But when you can, when it's people who understand you and are willing to support you, you'll do anything to keep them safe. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for complicated stories and complicated motives, fans of Brenna Yovanoff's first few books.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (270)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello. I'd say the weather's been nice, but for the past few days the sky's been full of smoke and haze. It's all coming from the wildfires up in the interior, the winds shifted and the smoke's drifting down. Which means it's a little gritty and kind of muggy and really warm out there. Hopefully the winds will shift and blow it away, and hopefully the winds will die down and some rain will come for the interior to help with the wildfires.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Tuesday) and Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill (e-galley from Oni Press through NetGalley)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Me on Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Title: Spellbook of the Lost and Found
Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books (Penguin imprint)

One stormy Irish summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hairclips and jewelry, but soon it's clear that Rose has lost something much bigger, something she won't talk about, and Olive thinks her best friend is slipping away. Then seductive diary pages written by a girl named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing estate. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they're holding tight to painful secrets. When they discover the spellbook, it changes everything. Damp, tattered and ancient, it's full of hand-inked charms to conjure back things that have been lost. And it just might be their chance to find what they each need to set everything back to rights. Unless it's leading them toward things that were never meant to be found...

Spellbook of the Lost and Found is all mystery and magic, sweetness and sorrow. All about the lost and the found, be they things or people, trinkets or trash. All about the little things that connect us together, whether we realize it or not.

Olive and Rose are best friends. Supportive and bold, arms bright with message written to each other. They're so close they're almost family. But one night after a big party with alcohol and dancing and missing memories, Olive wakes up missing a few things. Like a hairclip and a shoe. Like Rose. Rose is there the next day they're at school, but something's different. Rose is missing something, but she's not so sure about telling Olive what it was. Laurel's diary went missing, as did her friends Holly and Ash. Looking all around for the missing pages, one of the three find a secret book. Hazel is hiding out in an abandoned building with her brother Rowan and their friend Ivy. Hazel's a little rough and a little cautious. Not wanting to mess anything up, not wanting to be noticed. Not wanting to think about the past. Misplacing a few things here and these. One day in the rain she meets Olive, which in turn leads her to meeting Rose, and Olive meeting Rowan and Ivy, and the five of them searching around. Which leads them to a book that could help them find their missing pieces.

There's something magical and eerie about this book, similar to The Accident Season. It raises questions about the seemingly impossible, about the magic in ordinary things, about connections and ties to things and people that we never expect but are right there waiting to be uncovered. About what we're looking for and what we're hoping stays lost. About lost things that should stay lost, that only serve to disrupt and ruin when they're found. This book is bold and open, rather frank and honest in its discussion of teens and sex and sexuality. I would certainly recommend this to those who enjoy finding moments of magic in real life, to those who enjoyed the author's previous book as well as possibly those who enjoyed AnnaMarie McLemore's books.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Penguin Canada.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (342)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View
Authors: Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, Renée Ahdieh, Tom Angleberger, Jeffrey Brown, Pierce Brown, Meg Cabot, Rae Carson, Adam Christopher, Zoraida Córdova, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, Paul Dini, Ian Doescher, Alexander Freed, Jason Fry, Kieron Gillen, Christie Golden, Claudia Gray, Pablo Hidalgo, E. K. Johnston and Ashley Eckstein, Paul S. Kemp, Mur Lafferty, Ken Liu, Griffin McElroy, John Jackson Miller, Nnedi Okorafor, Daniel José Older, Mallory Ortberg, Beth Revis, Madeleine Roux, Greg Rucka, Gary D. Schmidt, Cavan Scott, Charles Soule, Sabaa Tahir, Elizabeth Wein, Glen Weldon, Chuck Wendig, Wil Wheaton, & Gary Whitta
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Del Ray (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

In celebration of Star Wars’ 40th anniversary, Del Rey is going to shine the spotlight on those unsung weirdos, heroes, and villains with a unique, new anthology. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, coming October 2017, will bring together more than 40 authors for 40 stories. Each will be told from the perspective of background characters of A New Hope — from X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star to the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for.

A Star Wars anthology about a bunch of background characters from Episode 4? With some of my favourite author/writer people (Kate! Zoraida! Kelly Sue DeConnick! Beth! Claudia!)? SIGN ME UP.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Me on The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

Title: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
Author: F.C. Yee
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo's every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged. Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven. Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is a story full of action, intensity, and reality. A combination of fighting, Chinese folklore, and the pressure weighing down on Genie's shoulders to get into a top college before high school is over.

Genie is driven. Not necessarily angry but certainly frustrated at times. She knows what she wants out of her future and has everything planned. Top grades leading to top schools leading to getting out of the Bay Area. She knows she'll have to work impossibly hard in order to get out. But then Quentin Sun falls into her life, pushy and demanding, and turns everything around. Revealing that he's an important figure in Chinese folklore and stories, revealing that Genie herself has mystical abilities. Revealing that demons are coming for them, demons she doesn't have time to deal with if she wants to get into Harvard or Yale. And so comes Genie's battle to keep her lives apart while she and Quentin try to save unknowing citizens from becoming demon food.

What struck me, as a white reader, was the pressure weighing down on Genie as a Chinese-American girl. The pressure to get prefect grades, to stand out among all the other Asian applicants sending essays to top universities. The pressure from her mother to not stand out, to listen and behave, to be proper, to be nice to boys that show interest. The uneasiness she feels in her own body, how she dislikes being a tall Chinese girl. In no way can I attest to the authenticity of Genie's personal life or experiences, that is for other Chinese-American and Asian-American readers to speak on, but it certainly felt real to me. Her worries and wants dripped from the page.

This book is a great mixture of action and real life. Genie's struggle is very real, her desire to get good grades to get into a top university at war with her given mission to stop the sudden demon invasion. Things are never easy for Genie, so rarely is she given a break. I would recommend this to so many readers, so many teens like Genie worried about the future while struggling through their present, fighting against some expectations while trying to live up to others.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title to review from Amulet Books through NetGalley.)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (269)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello there! Still sunny, still warm, still taking walks to the library and then sometimes up to get coffee. There are a lot of ants in the neighbourhood, lots of little anthills in the cracks of the sidewalks.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (Tuesday) and Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Me on Pyromantic

Title: Pyromantic
Author: Lish McBride
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

Ava is having a rough time. Getting rid of Venus didn't set her free—she's still part of the magical mafia called the Coterie. Her new boss seems like an improvement, but who knows if he'll stay that way—the Coterie life changes people. And since Ava's currently avoiding her friends after (disastrously) turning down a date with Lock, well, everything kind of sucks. And that's not even taking into account the feelings she might have for him. But when a mysterious illness starts to affect magical beings, it's up to Ava and her team to stop its spread… or else one of them might be next.

Pyromantic is all danger and magic and family. It's the story of a girl and those she keeps close, those she tolerates, those she works for, and their attempts to keep everyone alive when something deadly and gross pops up in their area.

Ava is this wild combo of fire and snark and mediator and awkward teen. She's rough and powerful, fire in her veins and sparking out of her fingers when she's not careful or feeling awkward around Lock, and ready to get in a fight if anyone threatens anyone she keeps close. Like Lock and Ezra, her best friends. Like her supportive dad Cade and her excitable and nerdy but always supportive friend Sylvie. The Coterie? Not so much. Well, not when Venus was her boss. Now that it's this guy named Alistair, and that he's not exactly pure evil, Ava's got some second thoughts about the Coterie lifestyle. Maybe it's not all super evil? Maybe? But that doesn't mean her work for them is any lighter or easier. If anything, it's a lot more dangerous this time.

I love this book. It picks up where Firebug ended, right back into Ava's life with Cade and her awkwardness around Lock and her hunting down murderers and weird stuff for the Coterie. The combination of paranormal creatures and action and intrigue and family and friendship and banter and awkward moments worked for me. It all came together, to me, rather seamlessly. It just all fit. This bizarre found family all full of people with different abilities and vices and perspectives. If you're any kind of Lish McBride fan, you'll love this book.

(I borrowed a hardcover copy of this title from the library.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (341)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

What's that? New Holly Black? About faeries and danger? YES. SOLD.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Me on Blight

Title: Blight
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she's part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there's an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it's up to them to stop it from happening again.

Blight is a race against time, away from sickness and death and towards a possible truth, set in a future where seeds and crops are genetically engineered. Where corporations are in control of what we grow and what we eat.

All Tempest knows is being a guard at an AgraStar farm. Picked up as a child, working off the debt she accrued as the compound's staff raised her, she spends shifts looking through a rifle scope. Watching for scavengers hoping to steal from the rows and rows of corn AgraStar grows. Uses for food and fuel. Controls. She knows what she's been taught, what she's seen. That the company needs them to protect the corn, that the seeds are genetically modified to produce the best crop possible. She's tough and practical, believes in the company. Believes that they're protecting the corn from those who don't want to work to grow it. Until the attack and the explosion. Until she sees everything from the other side. Until she catches hold of AgraStar's secrets.

This is one of those books that imagines a future, takes a piece of current news and expands on it, imagines if it takes over, slightly similar to Mindy McGinnis' Not a Drop to Drink and its commentary on access to fresh water. Here, seeds are engineered and crops are kept behind fences. Protected by guards with rifles. Because the company will stop at nothing to ensure that their crops survive, that society owes them for keeping them supplied with food and fuel. It's fast-paced and tense, because lives are on the line. Tempest and Alder are on the run, trying to stay alive, to outrun the blight and the scavengers on their heels, but are they really headed for the right place? I would recommend this to those interested in near-future dystopian stories, books like Not a Drop to Drink or Megan Crewe's The Way We Fall.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (268)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello! The sun's disappeared behind some clouds, but it'll be nice out again soon. I need to go for more walks, soak up some more sun.

Reviews going up this week will feature Blight by Alexandra Duncan (Tuesday) and one of the library books I picked up recently on Friday (I'm just not sure which one yet). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller (borrowed from the library)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Me on Sovereign

Title: Sovereign
Author: April Daniels
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Diversion Books

Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she's doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it's only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there's no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there's more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

Sovereign is rough and dangerous, a near-constant battle for Danny. A battle to save the world, to prove something to those who look down on her. To confront her past and to free herself from it. To survive.

After battling Utopia, Danny has sort of settled into being a superhero. She's patrolling, taking down criminals and villains. She has a love-hate relationship with the media, she's trying to distance herself even more from her parents, and things are really awkward and strained with Calamity. Maybe it's not the best, but things are going okay. Danny's alive, in the female body she's always wanted and superpowers flowing through her. Making her feel powerful. But is that enough?

So much of what happens in this book to Danny is a punch to the gut, to the heart. She just wants to belong, to finally belong, but there are so many factors trying to push her into spaces she doesn't want to be in. Her parents, those who don't see her as a viable superhero because of her age, those who don't want a transgender superhero. Those who want to rule the world like a dictator with an iron fist, who want to control with power while those without would live in servitude. Danny's own demons, her nightmares and her childhood traumas and her issues that she doesn't always want to face. If you enjoyed the first book, you'll surely enjoy this second book.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Diversion Books through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (340)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: This Mortal Coil
Author: Emily Suvada
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

I like the cover, the red dust explosion and the title's implications of mortality. I get the feeling that people are going to die in this book.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Me on The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

Title: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
Author: Lauren Karcz
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn't been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year. Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings. Despite Mercedes's creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the abandoned Red Mangrove Estate. At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn't ever before. But Mercedes can't take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can't live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is an exploration, a look at how far we go and the people we meet on journeys of self-discovery. It's a look at creativity, what drives us and what happens when we lose that drive, the passion and the joy and the sense of loss.

Mercedes is bright and creative, an artist to the core, but not right now. Inspiration has left her, leading to her being afraid that she'll never paint anything worthwhile again. Maybe it's because she has a lot weighing her down right now. Like how her abuela is in a coma in San Juan and the doctors aren't sure if she'll ever wake up. Like how she has no idea where she'll be going to college in the fall. Like how she's in love with her best friend Victoria but is scared to tell her, scared she'll ruin their friendship. Until her new neighbour takes her to the Estate. Until Mercedes finally feels free enough to paint.

So much of this book is about Mercedes figuring herself out, what she wants and how she sees the world. What she wants to express of herself in her art, how much of herself that she's willing to express, to show to other people. She keeps her affection secret from Victoria and it settles in her, like a hard lump in her chest, leaving her unable to express herself. It's the holding in of all these worries that blocks her, and only at the Estate, where anything is possible, does she feel free. All Mercedes has to do is take that impossibly hard first step and say out loud what she's feeling, but how can she when it's so hard, so impossible for her?

This book is honest and rough, nailing those end of high school uncertainties so well. What next? How can I tell someone the truth? What if I never paint again? What if she dies? What am I supposed to do? There's an honest vulnerability to Mercedes, her unsure feelings of the future and her hope that she can stagnate in the present. That she can be free to paint and creative and live at the Estate, even when a small part of her knows she can't. This is a book that's mysteriously magical, similar to AnnaMarie McLemore's books can be. If you're a fan of magical realism, books like McLemore's or Nova Ren Suma's, you might want to check this out.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (267)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Still more summer! It's such a difference from the winter with the constant snow and the spring with the rain that I'm still soaking it all in.

I've been walking to the library this week, which is nice when it's sunny and the library isn't that far away. But it's slightly annoying when a hold comes in, I wait a little to go get it, then I get home to a message that another hold has come in.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz (Tuesday) and Sovereign by April Daniels (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas (borrowed from the library)
Pyromantic by Lish McBride (borrowed from the library)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Me on Amid Stars and Darkness

Title: Amid Stars and Darkness
Author: Chani Lynn Feener
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Delaney's entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess's head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race. No pressure or anything. Factor in Trystan, the princess's terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Amid Stars and Darkness is full of danger, of secrets and lies. Caught up in intergalactic intrigue and assassination attempts, Delaney struggles to keep her wits about her and to not let anyone know who she really is.

Delaney is a victim to circumstance after happening across a stranger in a club and being a similar height and body shape. Because what happens next is Delaney is taken from Earth to an alien ship, somehow looking like and being treated like a runaway alien princess. She's annoyed, afraid, angry. She's a regular girl, just finished with high school. She's in no way ready or capable to deal with anything like this. I was impressed by her restraint. She doesn't hide the fact that she's furious that Olena put her in this position, that she's being forced to pretend to be Olena until they find her, that someone's trying to kill her. But she doesn't necessarily completely break down screaming. She's pissed while seeing that she has to go along with it so a massive war that could doom Earth won't break out.

There were some parts of this that were interesting, some moments with Delaney that showed she could be both angry and her situation and understanding of the seriousness, but for the most part it felt rather predictable. Considering the summary and the set up, the plot happened how I thought it would. Some characters stayed the same, consistently arrogant or foolish. Nothing really surprised me. I'd hoped for some more science fiction, some more exploration as opposed to aliens who mostly looked human and barely any exploration on the planet Delaney ends up on. In the end, this wasn't the book for me. That being said, I'm sure there are those who would enjoy this, those looking for more romance in their sci-fi.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (339)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Last Star Burning
Author: Caitlin Sangster
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Me on The Last Magician

Title: The Last Magician
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she's there. And all of Esta's training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future. But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

The Last Magician is a story steeped in magic and mystery, set in a dangerous time surrounded by dangerous people.

Esta is quick with her hands, a girl taught to creep and steal. Using her ability to manipulate time, to travel through it, she's gotten good at thievery. She's quick, crafty, and staunchly loyal to those she considers family back in the 21st century. But this next job in 1902, hopefully her final job, will test her. Away from those who are familiar to her, in a different time, surrounded by those who would use her, Esta will have to be smart and cautious if she's going to succeed. And she's not the only one with a plan, with a hope to save all Mageus from the Brink.

There's a lot happening here, a lot of players working secretly in order to make sure their plans are the ones that come to fruition. It gives me the same feel as Libba Bray's The Diviners, the history and charm of early 1900's New York, the intrigue and the mystery, the sly attitudes and the power of the gangs. The rich and the poor, the hope for freedom and safety. The magical and those who would want it for themselves. But with so much going on the story dragged for me. In some ways it was interesting to see all the pieces, all the players as they plotted and planned, but in others it felt like too much. Too many moves and motives to keep track of, which is all on me. I hadn't expected it to be so dense, for it to be so involved. It was too long for my liking, but the mystery and the magic were intriguing. If you enjoyed The Diviners, you might also enjoy this.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (266)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

More summer fun! Although I didn't really go out this past week or get much reading done because my brain was sore and it was so hot out. Maybe I'll try reading out in the sun.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (Tuesday) and Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Freemer (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Invictus by Ryan Graudin (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Me on Every Heart a Doorway

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor.com (Macmillan imprint)

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.

Every Heart a Doorway is an intriguing, impossible, improbable, fantastical tale. Like the aftermath of a child in a fairy tale tumbling down a rabbit hole to Wonderland. Because magical trips to fantasy lands must come to an end, even if the child wants to stay there. Dreams never last forever, and the real world is always there, waiting for the child to return.

The setting, the premise, the characters. I found all of it to be wondrously and eerily fantastic. The house itself a a home for those searching for one they may never find again. The vast variety of fantasy worlds unique and strange, full of their own rules and customs and ingrained biases. The characters, Nancy and Kade and Sumi, Jack and Jill, Eleanor. All had found magical places where they were able to be, where they could do what they'd always wanted, and then were sent back to the real world. They all still crave that sense of home, that place that exists outside the rules of what it is to be a non-magical human being who must follow human society's twisted rules.

This story is enchanting and eerie, dark and magical. Full of people who crave returning to a place where they feel like they belong and being unable to do so, their frustration intertwined with their wanting. It's surprising and heartfelt and cruel at times, wanting to keep childhood magic with you as you grow up. I'm rather intrigued to see what tale the next stories will tell.

(I borrowed an e-book copy of this from the library.)