Friday, June 23, 2017

Me on Now I Rise

Title: Now I Rise
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she's always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn't getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There's no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her. What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu's subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it's no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister's fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him? As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won... and souls will be lost.

Now I Rise is the continuation of an epic tale of power and family, of faith, of sacrifice and determination.

Lada is continuing forward with her mission. her dream. It's time to take back Wallachia, to become its prince. But it's not that simple. She needs men, more than those currently loyal to her. And she needs the nobles of Wallachia and Hungary to stop seeing her as a useless girl with only one purpose. Determined, stubborn, ruthless, bloodthirsty, Lada will stop at nothing. But when battle turns to negotiations, Lada is as subtle as a punch to the nose. What she needs is Radu's way with words. But she can't have him. Radu is too busy hiding. Hiding in his marriage, hiding his feelings for Mehmed, hiding the conflict in his heart. The regret he feels for not following Lada. But he can't escape Mehmed, can't escape what he feels for him. And when Mehmed asks for his help? Radu is willing to do anything. But pose as a spy? Leave him for Constantinople? He's not sure if he can do this, not sure if his heart can be pulled in so many directions. Not sure if he's willing to make the sacrifices it could take.

It's hard to describe this book. The story is continuing from where the first book left off. Lada is still hungry, hungry for power and respect. Hungry for the throne. And Radu is still conflicted, not sure where to turn when caught up in Mehmed, Lada, his feelings, his faith, and the battle he sees coming. If you enjoyed the epic journeys and the conflicted, battered hearts of the first, you will relish this second book while cursing the wait for the third.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (336)

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

Title: The Tea Dragon Society
Author: Katie O'Neill
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Oni Press

From Goodreads:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives--and eventually her own.

This sounds so cute. Tea dragons?! Dragons that you harvest tea from? Gorgeous Katie O'Neill art? SOLD. So sold. The best thing is it's being posted as a webcomic before it goes to print, so you can read some of it now!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Me on The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Henry "Monty" Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven't been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family's estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. Still it isn't in Monty's nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty's reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is a tense journey through France and Spain, a journey of self-discovery and pain. A journey of fear and truth.

Monty is a rake of the first order. A scoundrel and a flirt and a drunk. The only thing he has that he actually cares about, that his world somewhat centers on, is his best friend Percy. He needs their friendship and their closeness. Having Percy at his side is the only reason why Monty puts up with what he hates. Family. Expectations. The future. Monty can't help who he is, what he does, that he's attracted to boys as well as girls, and so he's looking forward to this Grand Tour with Percy. A whole year away from his father and from expectation.

I wasn't quite sure how I felt about this book, about the journey that the three of them end up on. It was hard to like Monty, to sympathize with him. His refusal to take much of anything beyond his own happiness, and Percy, seriously is a blemish on his character. It takes time to learn more about Monty, to understand why he acts in this way. In a number of ways he's afraid, he's worried, and he's ashamed. And after a time he wants to change, he wants to to better, but it's hard for him when all that fear is still there, weighing him down.

This was a more serious book than I'd expected, more weighed down in personal struggle and unexpected consequence. There were less moments of excited gallivanting and more of Monty, Percy, and Felicity running for their lives. But I still found it to be an intriguing story, rich with history, character, and conflict.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (263)

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 weather's been ok I guess. As much as I don't like it when it's hot out, I just want a summer of sunshine. The rainy days just feel so depressing right now.

When Christmas and New Year's comes around, I usually try and finish a bunch of series. Get a lot of books off of my to read list. When the summer hits, I look at my bookcase and get the urge to re-read things. Maybe I'll come up with a list and post pics and updates.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Tuesday) and Now I Rise by Kiersten White (Friday). :)
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener (ARC from Raincoast Books)
When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali (e-book borrowed from the library)
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (e-book borrowed from the library)
Castle in the Stars by Alex Alice (e-galley from First Second Books through NetGalley)
Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G. (e-galley from First Second Books through NetGalley)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Me on Our Dark Duet

Title: Our Dark Duet
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Kate Harker is a girl who isn't afraid of the dark. She's a girl who hunts monsters. And she's good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He's a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost. Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim's inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She'll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

Our Dark Duet is a book of music and sorrow, of shadows and monsters. Of the monsters we fight and the monsters that live inside ourselves. Of the parts of ourselves that we can't turn away from, no matter how hard we try. Of the cost of living and the desire to keep from dying.

After leaving Verity, Kate's on the hunt in Prosperity, taking down the monsters that have popped up there. Stalking the shadows, attempting to keep a clueless city safe. Until something new makes its way out of the shadows. Something far more dangerous than the Malachai, the Corsai, or the Sunai. A new kind of monster that feeds and infects, over and over. When it heads to Verity, Kate knows she has to return to what she left behind, the monsters and the dead. August.

August has become what he hated, what he never wanted to be. A soldier in the FTF. A leader. A monster, using his music night after night. He's at war with himself, the part that's always been Sunai, always been a monster, warring against the years he spent watching humans, imitating humans. Wanting to be human. When something new arrives in Verity, with Kate Harker on its heels, August is worried, furious, and afraid. Afraid of what's coming, afraid of who he may lose in order to save the city.

This book is fast-paced and poetic, highlighting the struggles between the monsters that lurk in Verity's shadows and the human task force struggling to stay alive. The struggles inside both Kate and August, their humanity clashing with their fate. This book is heart-breaking and dangerous, coated in blood and tears, in fragile hearts filled with indestructible emotions. It's so much a Victoria Schwab book and I was pleased to feel emotionally drained as I read this.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (335)

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

Title: Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 Book 1
Author/Artist: Alex Alice
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: FirstSecond Books (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

“This one is Jules Verne meets Miyazaki. It’s the space race in 1869 in a kind of alternate past. … When you see the book itself, it’s this big, oversized object with this incredible watercolor comics style, and it’s this really big, epic, sweeping story of a boy following in his mother’s discovery and then opening up the solar system, but in the age of the 1800s. It’s got a kind of steampunk but also a kind of young, classic children’s story feel to it.”

I don't know much about this, but it sounds amazing. Watercolour art in a comic style. Epic fantasy in space. Jules Verne meets Miyazaki. I'm all in on this.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Me on Real Friends

Title: Real Friends
Author: Shannon Hale
Artist: LeUyen Pham
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: First Second Books (Macmillan imprint)

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top... even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Real Friends is smart and honest, highlighting the complications of making friends while young and the joy felt when a connection is finally made.

Little Shannon is kind and creative, looking to find her own place in a big family where she isn't really close in age to any of her siblings. At school she has someone, her best friend Adrienne, but as the years go by other girls want Adrienne to be her friend. Girls like Jen. And so begins the awkwardness and the confusion, the groups within groups. So begins Shannon being part of the group one day but not the next.

The artwork is wonderful. The detail of the classrooms and the playground of the school. The expressions on the characters' faces, the sorrow and the confusion and the happiness. The way the lines of the panels would disappear whenever little Shannon would daydream or pretend with her friends, how that fantasy world would take up the whole page.

This book so accurately portrays the struggle and confusion surrounding making friends when you're young, or at least it's rather accurate to how I remember making friends when I was younger. Kids are just starting to figure out what they like, who they like, how they want to act, and so they can be really blunt and sometimes mean. Testing the waters, seeing what reactions will get certain results. Changing their favourite TV show or musician day after day. Kids can be cruel, especially when you're awkward and shy. I would definitely recommend this to kids looking for graphic novels to read as well as adults, partially because of nostalgia and partially for their own education in terms of understanding their kids.. Considering the number of people who were little Shannon when they were younger, it's possible their kids are going through the same thing.

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (262)

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! This was such an odd week, mostly because a bunch of it was spent hauling dirt in our yard and garden. It wasn't the best in that it was tiring and hauling dirt can get heavy, but at least it was nice out for those three days and not full of rain.

Reviews going up this week will feature Real Friends by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham (Tuesday) and Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (Friday). :)
That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (ARC from Penguin Random House Canada)
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (ARC from Penguin Random House Canada)
Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast (ARC from Simon & Schuster)
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (pre-ordered)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Me on Refuge for Masterminds

Title: Refuge for Masterminds
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan imprint)

Napoleon's invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Jane—for, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind. Jane doesn't consider herself a mastermind. It's just that she tends to grasp the facts of a situation quickly, and by doing so, she's able to devise and implement a sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Refuge for Masterminds is a smart, fast-paced mystery, the continuation of the mission of the young girls of Stranje House. A mission of life or death, a mission to keep England safe from Napoleon's clutches.

Jane is intelligent. She's perceptive, methodical. She can quickly grasp the severity of the situation and be a strong voice of reason. She can be practical when those around her are often caught up in emotion and personal feelings. She just doesn't see her own appeal, doesn't see why the other girls or Miss Stranje would really want her around. Doesn't see why anyone would find her appealing or attractive. And so she's learned to sharpen her tongue and not expect much from other people. People like her useless brothers. But this foolish American inventor unnerves her. Mr. Sinclair is brash and rough, he doesn't always act correctly when around young ladies or titled peers. Theirs is a battle of wits, of barbs and jabs, if only because Jane is too afraid to admit what she really thinks of him. But Jane isn't willing to take that kind of gamble.

This definitely continues what the first two books in the series did. Introduce a young woman with a curiously helpful skill who feels out of place and restricted by society, highlight the political and martial worries of the time, reveal that spies are afoot and plots and plans are being hatched. Show the young woman that her skills are useful, that she has a purpose, and that she's allowed to be the person she wants to be. I was excited to read this third book, see all the young ladies continue their work while being in a wholly unfamiliar place, and I'm hoping that the next book will be more of the same.

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (334)

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

Title: An Unkindness of Magicians
Author: Kat Howard
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Saga Press

From Goodreads:

There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.

Magical hijinks in the real world? YES.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (261)

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! So I was all prepared to have a week of things to talk about, and then the weather turned drizzly and rainy so nothing much exciting happened. Other than Friday turning into a sick day for me. Not fun.

Reviews going up this week will feature Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara Larson (Tuesday) and Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (Friday). :)
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (bought)
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada)
The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente (ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Me on Royal Bastards

Title: Royal Bastards
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children. At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax's floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father's side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who's been in love with Tilla since they were children. Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards' Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness. Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana's uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery. The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey

Royal Bastards is a curious sort of fantasy tale, a tale of family and rebellion, of danger.

Tilla wants. She wants to be acknowledged by her father, wants to be someone. Wants to matter. Instead, she's left labelled a bastard, left to watch her father from across a room, hoping for the day when he'll tell her that she matters to him. But instead she's on the run, racing away from danger and hopefully towards help when she and her fellow bastards witness the start of a rebellion. She's left wondering what side is the right side to be on, wondering how all of them can stay safe and not get killed.

This book had its moments, its interesting characters. The combination of the medieval fantasy setting and the modern day speech and colloquialisms was jarring at times. I do think that the book nudges towards something with Tilla and the others as they travel, as they run. That family isn't made by blood, it isn't only defined by who your parents were. Family is people you trust, people you keep close. People you would do anything for and who would do anything for you. It didn't necessarily always work for me, but I'm sure readers looking for something a little different in terms of fantasy will enjoy this.

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (333)

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

Title: No Good Deed
Author: Kara Connolly
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

This sounds interesting. I do wonder about the ending, if it ends with Ellie returning to her time period and what would follow.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Me on I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maureen Goo
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She's for sure going to Stanford. But—she's never had a boyfriend. In fact, she's a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she's applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It's a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her "K Drama Rules for True Love," Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love is funny and smart, full of charm and sass. Full of awkward flailing and bizarre situations. But Desi's on a mission, armed with a list and a never-giving-up attitude, and she's not about to back down.

Desi is a classic overachiever. She's got excellent grades, she's involved in almost every extracurricular activity her high school has to offer, she's got great friends, an awesome and supportive dad, and her future is completely planned out. She's ready for Standford, ready to become a doctor like her late mother. She's smart, friendly, kind of geeky. The only area she's lacking in is the boyfriend department because whenever a cute guy tries to ask her out, Desi turns into a disaster that sends him running. But then she meets Luca, then she feels a zing that she's never felt with any guy before. Then they flirt a little and another disaster happens. So she decides to take matters into her own hands, to study the Korean dramas her dad watches and formulate a plan. Because at the end of those dramas, the girl and the guy always end up together.

I don't watch K dramas, I don't think I've ever seen one, but this book makes me want to check them out. Every type of show or movie all over the world has certain tropes, certain events or characters that are bound to pop up. Here the author takes K dramas, explains them enough for the uninitiated, and lets Desi go full out when it comes to planning out how to make Luca realize they're meant to be. It's a combination of the charm and appeal of K dramas and how unlikely it is that those tropes would ever work outside of a script. But when Desi has a plan, she doesn't turn her back on it.

This book, especially Desi's voice, has wonderful charm. It's a personable, timeless kind of charm, something reminiscent of romantic comedies of the 90's and early 00's. There were moments of humour and sorrow, of confusion and understanding, of affection and anger. There was awkwardness, because there's always awkwardness, but it never felt painful or forced (as much as as it could be when Desi has certain situations planned out so much). The story has great progression, ups and downs and turns. I would definitely recommend this to fans of YA contemporary romances, to those who love a little drama. Especially K dramas.

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (260)

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. ;)

No books this week! It's been nice and sunny and I've been distracted by a few things so not much to talk about. Hopefully next week!

Reviews going up this week will feature I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo (Tuesday) and Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts (Friday). :)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Me on Eliza and Her Monsters

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can't imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try. Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza's secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she's built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Eliza and Her Monsters is smart and serious, a look at creativity and fame and pressure, at art and fandom and community. At how we isolate ourselves and how we connect with other people.

Eliza is shy, creative, and totally okay with being a loner when she's at school. She's fine with it, because her friends are somewhere else. Easily reachable on the internet. She doesn't need the real world with her health-conscious parents pushing at her to do something else with her life or her sports-focused younger brothers. She knows what she's doing, what she'll keep doing after high school and college. She'll continue on with her webcomic Monstrous Sea, continue chatting with the giant mass of fans online who devour each and ever page. Fans who don't know that a high school student is the comic's creator, which is totally fine with Eliza. Anonymity is something she craves. But then she meets Wallace, then she finds out he's one of her comic's most popular fanfiction writers. Then she wonders if talking face-to-face with people isn't so bad. If there's more to life than Monstrous Sea.

A big part of this story is all about creativity and passion. Eliza came up with Monstrous Sea because she was inspired, because she had a story to tell. And she was happy. But then it blew up, then it became popular. Then it gained an audience of fans, superfans, and trolls alike. Then came the pressure and the expectation. It turned less into something Eliza did for fun and something more for other people so they wouldn't rage in the comments if she had a down week and the art wasn't as good or if she got busy and missed an update or two. The webcomic becomes her life, becomes everything, but that isn't healthy. She's more than an artist, than the person who created the universe of Monstrous Sea and its cast of characters. She struggles with finding the balance between work and play, between school and family and the comic. I think this book accurately covers what a lot of creative types and creators go through, the balance between life and working to pay the bills that many search for on a daily basis.

This book is serious and thoughtful, about the struggles of art and the strain it puts on artists. About the ways we isolate ourselves when we don't want to interact with certain parts of the world. About the ways we can connect to people halfway around the world, have meaningful connections and conversations with them over a shared interest. About how so many can love one idea, like a TV show or comic, because they found something moving and meaningful in it. About how online communities and interactions can be both supportive and a hindrance. About the realities of anxiety and panic, how keeping it bottled up inside isn't healthy. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the author's previous book, for those looking for an honest look at the intersection of art and fandom and mental health.

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (332)

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

Title: A Line in the Dark
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”

A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

New Malinda Lo? And it's a creepy sort of murder mystery? YES.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Me on House of Furies

Title: House of Furies
Author: Madeleine Roux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house's mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved. Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

House of Furies is haunting, eerie, and mysterious. It's a tale of fate and judgement, of good and evil and the unknown that lurks in the shadows.

Louisa is alone, homeless and poor. Relying on the kindness of strangers for pennies in order to keep on living. Huddling in the rain telling fortunes. A chance encounter with a strange old woman brings her to Coldthistle House, a boarding house in need of a maid, but soon Louisa learns that the house is no normal boarding house. That the owner is no normal owner, that he is no normal man. Know that she knows the truth, know that it is near impossible for her to leave, Louisa struggles with her new lot in life. She's torn between running from the house and staying in order to keep a new friend safe from the house's clutches. But how can she trust anyone when everyone has something to hide? How can she trust anyone when there's something just as dark and secretive in her own past?

Stories like this rely on atmosphere, on the setting to be suitably off-putting, on the tone to be mysterious and suggestive of the paranormal and the unnatural, and I do think it works here. The house and its nearby spring are haunting, those working at Coldthistle House aren't exactly human, and the shadows that drift the halls are more than meets the eye. It has the same sort of historical and eerie tone of the movie The Others and other haunting period dramas. I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this, as will fans of gothic-esque historical horror and tales of the paranormal.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (259)

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 finally been sunny for more than a single day in the week. It sort of feels like we're heading into summer, but I don't A) want to jinx it, or B) want it to be super hot and unbearable this summer.

I went out to VanCAF on Saturday, soaked up a bunch of indie comic and art fun and creativity that will hopefully last me for a few months. There are pictures of the comics I picked up over on Instagram. :)

Reviews going up this week will feature House of Furies by Madeleine Roux (Tuesday) and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Friday). :)
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Odd & True by Cat Winters (e-galley from Amulet Books through NetGalley)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (3)

Hi! These recap of favourite things posts seem to be popping up ever couple of months, so I think I'll keep on doing them. :)

Let's start with another webcomic rec. Flowerpot by leehama! This is the story of Ben, a college student with an unusual disease. He's super kind, super friendly, and super quiet, preferring to stay in the background and avoid attention. When Ben was a kid, he was patient zero for a disease called Fleurine when flowers appear and sprout from people's bodies. It wasn't so bad for Ben, his condition means he sprouts dandelions from his scalp, but it was different for others when flowers burst from their skin, from their ears and eyes. When petals would fill their lungs. This is a world where people fear flowers, where people avoid them and those with Fleurine because they don't want to be infected. Ben's happy living a quiet life, but an encounter with a photographer with a project and a plan starts to change Ben's way of thinking, of what it means to be a 'flowerpot.' This comic is super cute and fun, the artwork is bright and colourful, and it's rather diverse in terms of race and disability and illness, both visible and invisible. Here's a link to the start of the comic. :)

Speaking of comics, VanCAF! I love going to VanCAF, seeing what people are doing in terms of their own art and original characters as well as fan art. As someone who can be super visual, who likes comics and isn't that artistic on their own, I really enjoy it. It's the act of creating art, of telling a story through a medium other than straight prose. And it's a chance to support local artists as well. I've been looking forward to going for months and it's finally happening this weekend.

Because we're heading deeper into spring now (where I live) and summer is approaching, here's a quick shout-out to taking walks. I don't know what it is, but it turns out I like going for walks. Especially on my own when I can stick headphones is and listen to music and go for easy-going walks in the sunshine. This sort of started last year when Pokemon Go came out, but walks on their own are also fun. If there are parks or green spaces near you, check them out when it's nice out.

I'm behind on so much Netflix watching, I promise I'll get to you one day, season 2 of Sense 8. And I think I'm pretty much on board for the new Star Trek: Discovery show after seeing that trailer earlier this week. Oh, sci-fi. Kid me loved you so much.

Considering these posts keep happening, see you again with other list of fun things in July! :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (331)

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

Title: Tentacle & Wing
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

From Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong. Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious, she has kept her condition—complete with infrared vision—hidden. But a surprise test outs her, and Ada is shipped off to a quarantined school for kimes. 

 There Ada meets kids of many different shapes, stripes, and appendages, such as a girl with dragonfly wings and a seal-boy. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. But will someone put a stop to her efforts to uncover the truth?

Ooooo, intriguing-sounding middle grade. I sounds like a mash-up of The Girl Who Could Fly and Monstrous, about kids with differences and monsters and secrets. Considering it's written by Sarah Porter, I wonder how dark it'll be. Vassa in the Night was pretty dark, but it's also YA.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Me on Princess Princess Ever After

Title: Princess Princess Ever After
Author: Katie O'Neill
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Oni Press

When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They'll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means -- and how they can find it with each other.

Princess Princess Ever After is sweet and magical, a brand new fairy tale that draws from tradition and then spins it around on its head. It's a story about strength and weakness, about characters who don't fit into expected boxes and would rather do things their way.

Amira is a take charge kind of girl. With her sword and her trusted unicorn Celeste, she's ready to roam the land and search for people to help. Because that's what she's looking for. Something to do, people to assist. Action. Not what she left behind in her family's kingdom. Sadie is sweet and kind, a compassionate girl. She's all about listening to problems and helping people. Even though she's stuck up a tower. After Amira helps her down, Sadie's ready to travel, but her past creeps up on her. Her anxieties and insecurities creep up on her. And she'll have to face her fears if she wants to finally be free.

The artwork is bright and fun, it fills the page with lots of rounded corners and expressive faces on the characters. It's very clear whenever Amira is embarrassed or upset, with Sadie is laughing or crying. And both girls don't look like traditional princesses. Amira has brown skin, walks around in pants with a sword at her hip, and has the biggest fancy shoulder decorations on her military-style coat. And she has some kick-butt hair. Sadie is in a bright blue dress, she wears a crown in her blonde hair, and she's fat. She also has a chubby blue dragon at her side. They don't look like princesses, but they look like princesses.

There's so much humour here, so much fun being poked at traditional princes saving princesses tales. From flowers appearing at Amira's intro and Sadie calling her on it to an ogre smashing up a town because of his stifled creativity. I do wish there was more to the story, though. In some ways it feels short. I really hope kids read this and see a different side to fairy tales and to princesses in particular. That they can be strong, wielding swords and fighting evil. That they can be weak, afraid and alone. That they can be tall or short, thin or fat, black or white or any skin colour. That a princess can fall in love with another princess. I would recommend this to anyone, especially kids looking for new fairy tale stories, kids who love the no-nonsense attitude of Elizabeth in The Paper Bag Princess.

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (258)

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! We're getting into longer spurts of sunshine these days, but the rain is still a thing. It makes yardwork tricky.

I've been struggling with sharing thoughts and ideas and opinions for the last little while. It's weird, wanting to talk about a bunch of stuff but being afraid that no one will find it interesting. *sigh* It's turned most of my confidence to garbage. It's also that I'd like to talk more about webcomics and manga and anime, but I don't know about doing it here.

Reviews going up this week will feature Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill (Tuesday) and a 3rd favourite things post going up on Friday. :)
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill (borrowed from library)
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (borrowed from library)
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Me on The Shadow Cipher

Title: The Shadow Cipher
Author: Laura Ruby
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Walden Pond Books (HarperCollins imprint)

It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction. Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

The Shadow Cipher is enchanting and mysterious, a delightfully layered puzzle steeped in history. The story of three kids and their mission to save their home, the story of a city full of secrets and the desire to uncover them, no matter what they may hide.

Tess and Theo are smart siblings with quirks and flaws, living in an apartment in a Morningstarr building with their teacher dad and cop mom. Tess is kind and empathetic while Theo is practical and stoic. They butt heads, they don't always agree, but in their own ways they care about what happens. Especially when they find out they're being kicked out by a developer who just bought the buiding. When they decide to try and save their home, neighbour and amazing artist Jaime falls in with them. Jaime's artistic and observant, living with his grandmother, wishing his father wasn't so far away. Little do they know how strange and complicated the Morningstarr's puzzle is and where it will take them.

One of the things I loved about this book is how layered it was. Yes, it's a book about secrets and mystery, about the Morningstarr twins and their puzzle, about their different inventions and their impact on this timeline's present day, but in the little moments it's about home. It's about what makes a home, how it's not necessarily a building but being with people close to you. Tess and Theo's family have lived in their building for decades. Jaime's grandmother has been fixing up the building for ages. No one wants to leave. But change never cares about what people want.

I think it's foolish to hide how much I enjoyed this. The puzzles and the clue-searching, the alternate history and unique technology. The diversity in the characters in terms of race and neurodiversity and financial background and family structure. The impossibility of so much in a world with already seemingly impossible machines. The little hints at altered pop culture, like multiple Wonder Woman and Storm superhero movies, like how it's called Starrbucks. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers who love puzzles and mystery, books like Chasing Vermeer and The 39 Clues series.

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (330)

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

Title: Speak Easy, Speak Love
Author: McKelle George
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.

I'm such a sucker for Much Ado About Nothing retellings. This sounds funny and lush with 1920's speakeasy charm and mob intrigue.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Me on The Traitor's Kiss

Title: The Traitor's Kiss
Author: Erin Beaty
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan imprint)

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they'd call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them. As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

The Traitor's Kiss is a story about a girl looking for her own place in a world were she doesn't want to act like other girls, a girl who ends up involved in mystery and intrigue, but in some ways this book doesn't work.

Sage is an intelligent young woman. A non-traditional young woman, considering the comments on her temper, her temperament, and her upbringing. She's wild and bold, opinionated. Given the chance to instead apprentice with the matchmaker instead of be married off is something she's welcome to do, but she's dismissive of almost everything and everyone around her. Like the work of the matchmaker, whose plots and plans are full of subtlety that Sage often misses. Like the young ladies they're escorting off to the brides, young ladies Sage considers to be flighty, foolish, and spoiled. It's not that she has to like them, she's welcome to not want to marry or spend her days bearing children, but the fact that she's rather quick to judge them spoiled makes her sound snobbish.

The book is told in other points of view. Some from the soldiers that Sage and the matchmaker come across, some from the main enemy. I won't name names, just in case I give something away. The point of view of the soldiers was different, they somewhat highlighted how the kingdom and its military were run. The soldiers come across as practical, determined, and focused, not necessarily interested in escorting a group of young women on their way to be married.

I do think this book had promise, there was something about it that felt different from other fantasy setting with no magic stories. There were moments of humour, of intrigue. Some more world-building would've been nice, I was sort of lost as to why matchmaking was so important in this kingdom. But when a group of antagonists was only described by their dark skin tone and how their tattoos were foreign, and the ways in which Sage was resentful towards the other girls, put me off. It felt somewhat similar to The Remnant Chronicles and The Winner's Trilogy, but again, there were moments were character descriptions were racist and characters were unnecessarily cruel.

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

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (257)

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! Not much rambling this week as not much happened plus I spent Friday all kinds of sick and sleepy. But I did make it out to the Raincoast Books meet-up on Saturday in order to hear about what fall and heading into winter books they're excited for.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty (Tuesday) and The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (Friday). :)
Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson (e-galley from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley)
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
The Calculus of Change by Jessie Hilb (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller (ARC from Raincoast Books event)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Me on The One Memory of Flora Banks

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is an intriguing look at memory and perception, at a girl who has no short-term memory but can suddenly remember a kiss, at what makes her feel brave, but it missed the mark with me.

Flora is kind, sweet, and friendly, mostly because much of her personality is stuck at the age at which the amnesia first took over her memories. She's a ten-year-old in a seventeen-year-old's body. Because of her type of amnesia, she struggles to keep recent memories in her head. Her life is full of gaps and confusion, notes and post-its and messages scrawled on her arms in thick marker. But then she kisses Drake, her friend Paige's boyfriend, and hours later she can remember it. Days later, she can remember it. This new memory sets off a journey for Flora, away from her home and towards Drake, but there are certain things that some people have been keeping from her.

The premise of this book is interesting, I was drawn in by Flora and her lack of memories of the last seven years. At the idea that she could suddenly remember something. At the idea that something was being kept from her by someone close to her. Reading this isn't like other books, Flora's life happens in spurts and moments, full of repetition and reassurances. But it just didn't click with me, not completely. I felt both interested and not, curious about where Flora would go while waiting for something else to happen. While this didn't completely work out with me, I do think some will enjoy this, those who like contemporary stories with gentle intrigue and mystery about them, those who like lost and unreliable narrators.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Penguin Random House Canada.)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (329)

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

Title: The Curses
Author: Laure Eve
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books

From Goodreads:

Picking up the pieces after the chilling events of the previous year isn’t easy, but the Graces are determined to do it. Wolf is back after a mysterious disappearance, and everyone’s eager to return to normal. Except for Summer, the youngest Grace. Summer has a knack for discovering the truth—and something is troubling her. After a trail of clues leads her to what could be the key to both her family’s mysterious past and the secret of Wolf, she’s determined to vanquish yet another curse. But exposing secrets is a dangerous game, and it’s not one Summer can win alone.

At Summer’s behest, the coven comes back together, reluctantly drawing their erstwhile friend River back into the fold. But Wolf’s behavior becomes unpredictable even as Fenrin’s strength fades, and Summer must ask herself whether the friend she so loves is also planning her family’s ultimate, cursed demise.

This riveting sequel to The Graces is saturated with magic, the destructive cost of power, the
complications of family, and the nature of forgiveness.

I rather liked The Graces when I read it last year, it was different and complicated and I was never sure if the magic was real or not. I'm still not sure if it was real or not (but I kind of hope it is). Considering the description for this book, I think it might be, sort of, in some sense, but considering the first book, what more could happen that hasn't happened already??

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Me on Avenged

Title: Avenged
Author: Amy Tintera
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister Olivia from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory. But their fight has only begun. Olivia is determined to destroy everyone who acts against Ruina, but Em isn't as sure. Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir's betrothed in Lera, she's started to see another side to this war. And now that Cas has taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em's romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement. Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, Em faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she's the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.

Avenged is dangerous and complicated, the next step in saving the Ruined, in rebuilding their home. But other kingdoms have other plans, and Em still has to deal with a rather furious sister hellbent on claiming her revenge.

Em is sure that, with Olivia rescued, they'll be able to return to Ruina. That the Ruined will finally have a home again, that they won't be hunted across the land and driven away by those that fear their abilities. But Em is also sure that Olivia is furious and bloodthirsty, full of rage from her being imprisoned for the past year, that she won't rest until every human who stands against her is dead. Until every royal in Lera is dead. And that includes Cas. On the other side, Cas is busy worrying about what to do next now that he's been named king. Now that his cousin is pressing him to declare war on the Ruined. Now that his advisers are losing faith in him. Now that he's not sure if he even wants to be king when all he really wants is to be back with Em.

There's a lot that happens in this book, much more than I was expecting. Revenge and death, plots and plans and subterfuge, political deals and calls to war. Em worrying about how far Olivia will go in her quest for vengeance, in her desire make Lera pay for what they did to her. At the rate events are unfolding, at how many people are dying around them, I imagine the third book will be the final explosion where every party will come together. And who's to say who will still be alive at the end?

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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (256)

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! I've been going on a lot of walks lately, they're not so bad when it's nice out. ;) Time to think about things, to play Pokemon Go, to see the nice spring things like flowers and green leaves.

The downside is I'm now behind on my reading. *head-desk* Every time.

Reviews going up this week will feature Avenged by Amy Tintera (Tuesday) and The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (Friday). :)
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (e-galley from Amulet Books through NetGalley)
Sovereign by April Daniels (e-galley from Diversion Books through NetGalley)
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (e-book)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Me on Spill Zone

Title: Spill Zone
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Artist: Alex Puvilland
Colourist: Hilary Sycamore
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: FirstSecond (Macmillan imprint)

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. The Spill claimed Addison's parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn't spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone's twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death-or worse. When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, hell awaits-and it seems to be calling Addison's name.

Spill Zone is haunting and creepy, a look at the aftermath of a complicated and mysterious disaster. It's an introduction to the secret things that now exist in a space that used to be a city, an introduction to a girl who will do what she must.

Addison is gritty and tough, rather serious and determined. After the loss of their parents in the Spill, she becomes a kind of replacement parent to her sister, Lexa, who was also sort of in the Spill on that day but made it out. Knowing they need money, Addison becomes a sort of escape artist turned visual artist, riding her motorcycle into the Spill Zone in order to take photographs of what lives there now. The dead bodies and the hunting rats. The eerie floating sculptures. Given the chance at one last trip, one final drive so she'll never have to think about it again, Addison jumps at a mysterious offer, but is this job more than she's ready for?

The art adds depth to the story, another layer of darkness and mystery. The art style is rough, jagged, expressive. With this being a graphic novel, readers are able to see the Spill Zone, what Addison's city has become, and what it is is bizarre and impossible. Floating bodies and items, cars that have somehow melted into the roads. Monsters that don't exist in the real world. The curiousness that is Lexa's doll.

This is definitely the start of something eerie, something overwhelming. I can't help but wonder if something in the Spill Zone wants out, wants to explore. What the truth behind Lexa's doll Vespertine is. What the truth behind the Spill is. If anything else is going to come out of it, move beyond the town and into the still normal world. I'm interested to see where the story will go, what will happen next to Addison and the things that lurk in the Spill Zone.

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (328)

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

Title: The Glass Town Game
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Charlotte and Emily must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school, a school they might not return from. But on this Beastliest Day, the day Anne and Branwell walk their sisters to the train station, something incredible happens: the train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.

This is their Glass Town, exactly like they envisioned it…almost. They certainly never gave Napoleon a fire-breathing porcelain rooster instead of a horse. And their soldiers can die; wars are fought over the potion that raises the dead, a potion Anne would very much like to bring back to England. But when Anne and Branwell are kidnapped, Charlotte and Emily must find a way to save their siblings. Can two English girls stand against Napoleon’s armies, especially now that he has a new weapon from the real world? And if he escapes Glass Town, will England ever be safe again?

Together the Brontë siblings must battle with a world of their own creation if they are to make it back to England alive in this magical celebration of authorship, creativity, and classic literature from award-winning author Catherynne M. Valente.

A young Brontës story? With magic and impossibility? By Catherynne M. Valente? SOLD.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Me on Dreamfall

Title: Dreamfall
Author: Amy Plum
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn't get any worse... but she was terribly wrong. Soon after the experiment begins, there's a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they'd rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can't find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

Dreamfall is tense, dangerous, as chilling and atmospheric as a horror movie.

Cata is hopeful that this procedure will help with her insomnia and night terrors, that she'll be able to sleep without seeing the monsters that haunt her, the ones that come creeping in from her past. Fergus is hoping the treatment will help his narcolepsy, that he'll finally be able to live a life away from his parents, without the risk of falling asleep and hurting himself or others. After the malfunction in the lab, the patients are somehow thrown together, sharing the same dreamscape, and have to rely on each other as they're thrown from one nightmare to another. Fortunately for them, they have Jaime, a premed student observing the experiment, reviewing their files and making notes as the experiment goes awry. But with Cata, Fergus, and the other patients seemingly in comas, how is Jaime supposed to help them?

It's been a little while since I've read a book like this, dripping with horror, with fears and nightmares that could literally kill you. It's not that the overall idea is anything new, it's what the author has added that makes it different. The fact that all of them suffer from insomnia, that they cannot sleep and are suddenly trapped in a dreamlike state. For those who've been looking for YA horror in the vein of Simon Holt's The Devouring, eerie and overwhelming, you might want to give this a read.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (255)

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! We've reached the part of spring when it rains for most of the week and then it's sunny for a day or two so you have to cram all the lawn mowing and weeding into a day.

I think I need to make a list of all the comic series I've been meaning to read and head off to the library to see if they have any. I definitely notice that I read faster when I alternate between prose and comics.

Reviews going up this week will feature Dreamfall by Amy Plum (Tuesday) and Avenged by Amy Tintera (Friday). :)
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (borrowed from the library)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Me on The Gauntlet

Title: The Gauntlet
Author: Karuna Riazi
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Salaam Reads (Simon & Schuster imprint)

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik's cube—they know it's up to them to defeat the game's diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how. Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game... or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

The Gauntlet is thrilling and adventurous, a tale of riddles, of tricks and trials. Of secrets and smarts and the strength to keep on going when everything's working against you.

Farah is smart and perceptive. Once inside The Gauntlet, once following the path set out before her, she understands the seriousness of the situation. That she and her friends must complete the puzzles if they want to make it out alive. But that doesn't mean she's not worried about Ahmed, her younger brother who raced off into the game ahead of her, wandering through a world they've never been to. Who knows who he might come across, what danger he might end up in? As Farah worries, she and her friends are racing against time, solving the puzzles of the Architect.

There are wonderful descriptions in this book. From the scenery, the buildings that make up the souk and the palaces, the invasiveness of the sand in everyone's shoes, the mad rush of the wind of a sandstorm, to the smells and the flavours that invade the senses. Ginger and mint, warm food like stewed vegetables and lamb, sweets coated in honey and nuts.

The tone of this book, the voice, has gorgeous charm. It's enchanting and bright in a world of impossibility and danger. There's Farah's initial worry over her new school, suddenly being the only girl who wears the hijab in her class, then her worry about Ahmed, that they can't solve puzzles and save him at the same time, but her determination doesn't waver. As worried as she is, she knows she has to do it. That she can do it. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers who love magic and games and the impossible.

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (327)

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

Title: Black Bird of the Gallows
Author: Meg Kassel
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

From Goodreads:

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

There are so many things I'm a big sucker for. Danger and harbingers and covers with gorgeous birds and the supernatural and good and evil. I hope this'll be good.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Me on Devil and the Bluebird

Title: Devil and the Bluebird
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Release Date: May 1, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it's her runaway sister's soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue's voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother's guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places.

Devil and the Bluebird is all about the journey, what we're looking for and where we end up. Who we meet along the way, the good and the bad, and the pieces of ourselves that we discover.

Blue is intelligent, compassionate, and lonely. Ever since her mother died, ever since her sister left. Something's been missing in her life, something that was there when they were together. And now, afraid something has happened to Cass, she heads off to the crossroads in order to make a deal with the devil, following the folktale her mother told her. And so her journey begins, heading west from her home in Maine in order to find her sister, her guitar on her back and her boots leading the way. But what Blue doesn't expect are the people she meets along the way, the hard lessons they teach her, and the ways the devil alters their deal.

I think this book says a lot about faith (both the religious and non-religious kind), about journeys and destiny. About the people you come across in life, the good and the bad, the kindness and the criminals, and that you should trust that nugget in your chest that represents your instincts. There's a curious sort of charm that runs through this book, brought on by Blue's introspection, her perceptions of the people she meets, and the music that goes along with it. I would recommend this to contemporary YA fans, to those looking for books all about the journey and how the destination you're looking for might not be the one you end up at.

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (254)

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! It's spring, with all its flowers and pollen and grass-cutting and scratches from rose thorns. I'm not looking forward to sinus headaches.

Reviews going up this week will feature Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black (Tuesday) and The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (Friday).
Now I Rise by Kiersten White (e-galley from Random House Children's Books through NetGalley)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Me on The Edge of the Abyss

Title: The Edge of the Abyss
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Flux

Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she'd been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it's not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It's being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart. But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect? Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

The Edge of the Abyss is full of danger and tension, a mission of survival. A story of pirates, of an ocean that now feels like home, and the monsters that lurk beneath the waves.

Cas is full of conflict. Now on the pirate ship Minnow, under the rule of Santa Elena, she's hard at work proving herself. Proving that she has skills beyond those of a Reckoner trainer, because that's not what's needed anymore. For his own safety, Cas left Bao on his own, making sure he'd never be used as a pirate's weapon again. But is it really the life she wants to lead now? She's also struggling with her feelings for Swift, the rough and tumble pirate girl who's saved her life but also ruined it, poisoning the Reckoner Cas had been with for most of her life. She's not sure what to do, how to act, except follow Santa Elena's commands so she can stay alive.

I love how this book was made up of so many morally grey areas. Cas has to confront a number of things, especially pirate things, that she doesn't quite agree with. Like the raising of Reckoners by pirates. Like the underhandedness and thievery of pirates. Like the doublespeak that Santa Elena deals in when teaching her trainees. Like her feelings for Cas that don't always weigh as much as her fury at knowing Cas was behind the events that first brought her to the Minnow. But now comes the biggest conflict of all for Cas. Either stand with the pirates and destroy the illegal Reckoners that broke free and grew up feral in the NeoPacific, or stand by as they tear every single ship apart. And Cas now has to make those decisions.

This duology is dark and deadly and complicated. It's tense and brutal, all about survival and morals. All about a girl trying to stay alive and the girl she has feelings for. But what are those feelings? Love? Hatred? A combination of the two? I was satisfied both by the ending and that it was left slightly open. The world-building here, a mixture of futuristic and impossible sea monsters and piracy, has left a world that feels believable, and so of course Cas's story would continue on. But I feel like I was left with a good ending here. I would definitely recommend this duology if you're looking for something different with a slight Pacific Rim vibe to it.

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