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.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (326)

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

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

More magical, complicated books by Anna-Marie McLemore! I rather like the way she weaves together stories, the piecing together of magical realism and characters and mystery and romance.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Me on Duels and Deception

Title: Duels and Deception
Author: Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan. Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants.

Duels and Deception is a sweet, easy-going mystery full of colourful characters and nefarious plots. Thankfully, a clever heroine and a trusting hero are on the case.

Lydia is an intelligent young woman. She's not one to be taken advantage of. Raised to be a practical free-thinker by her late father, she knows what to do in terms what to plant on the family estate, which is the apples they've previously grown. Not the ridiculous pineapples her money-grubbing uncle suggests. But he treats her like a child. So she writes to her solicitor to come help, who sends Mr. Robert Newton to assist her. Robert is smart and compassionate, he understands from the start that Lydia is educated and knowledgeable, understands that her uncle is only looking out for his own dwindling wealth. And so Robert agrees to help Lydia, but then becomes kidnapped along with her, and the two are forced to piece apart a number of mysterious situations.

I found this to be a light and easy read with a rather layered mystery. There are a number of events happening to and around Lydia and Robert, kidnappings and duels and villainous thievery. Combined with both the attitudes and the wit of the Regency England setting, this made for a fun read. Maybe a little slow in the middle, but still entertaining. I'd recommend this to those who enjoyed the author's previous book.

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (253)

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 been raining again, but I think the weather'll be picking up soon. Maybe?

I've been trying to fit in some library reading around my review reading. Sometimes it works. There are so many series I want to catch up on, mostly comic and manga series, but it takes a while for the library to pick up those. Of course, the local branch has been closed for a few weeks. Maybe once it's open again I'll go for a big browse. Reading comics on a computer screen doesn't always work with my brain, it doesn't always translate the way reading a physical book does.

Reviews going up this week will feature Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey (Tuesday) and The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (Friday). :)
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (finished copy from Simon & Schuster Canada)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (purchased)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Me on The Upside of Unrequited

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can't stomach the idea of rejection. So she's careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie's orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly's cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

The Upside of Unrequited is clever, current, and romantic. It's all about family, about relationships and crushes, about perceptions and observations. About wanting something when you feel like society keeps telling you you can't have it. And being willing to take the risk.

Molly is smart and creative, observant and opinionated. Her inner voice asks important questions, wonders about important things. Like how society screws over fat girls, classifying them as great friend-material but not romance-material. She wonders about the things teen girls wonder about, like dating and sex, like is it okay to like certain guys. She's glad she has her twin sister Cassie, who's bold where Molly is quiet. But Molly's not sure how to feel when Cassie's suddenly serious about a girl, when they become girlfriends. When Cassie doesn't share everything like they always did before.

I love how this book deals with rejection and unrequited feelings, the crushes that Molly has had on the boys she's met. Crushes are seemingly simple, they're a twinge in the stomach, a flutter. They make you nervous and awkward. And that's it. You don't act on them if you're Molly, partly because she has no idea how to flit or follow up and partly because she doesn't want to be rejected. Being rejected hurts, especially if you're a fat girl who's been repeatedly told that no one will find you attractive until you lose weight. And so Molly's fine with having unrequited feelings, with having crush after crush. Until the wanting to be part of a couple is more than the wanting to not be rejected. Until the loneliness feels too heavy.

As I read this, I couldn't get over how current, relevant, and open this book felt, these characters felt. There's frank and honest talk about sexuality, attraction, anxiety, body imagery, religion. And I couldn't get over how familiar Molly felt. Because I remember being that girl in high school. A fat girl who had crushes but never boyfriends. Who felt out of place at parties. Who wanted to be part of something but always felt awkward about it. This book is charming and honest, blunt and hopeful. This is a must-read. Hands down.

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (325)

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

Title: The Suffering Tree
Author: Elle Cosimano
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

From Goodreads:

“It’s dark magic brings him back.”

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family—it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard. 

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events—including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin—that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth—and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel—she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the centuries-old curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried… at any cost.

From award-winning author Elle Cosimano comes a haunting, atmospheric thriller perfect to hand to readers of the Mara Dyer trilogy and Bone Gap.

This sounds rather eerie, a little like the Sleepy Hollow movie with the dead people but without the horror. I'm curious about the curse part and what sounds like some old family feuds and mysteries.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Me on Get It Together, Delilah!

Title: Get It Together, Delilah!
Author: Erin Gough
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn't have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it's working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del's managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell, or how one of Del's best friends won't stop guilt-tripping her, and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn't do something. But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can't stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door... And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

Get It Together, Delilah! is bright, smart, and complicated. It's the story of a teenage girl, all the trouble that falls into her lap, and what happens when she tries to handle it all on her own.

Del is caring, supportive, and super smart. She's a great friend and a caring daughter, knowing that after her mother's departure, her father really needs to get out and have a life. Things will be fine at home and at the café. What could go wrong? Almost everything. Because Del sees some of the problems as her fault, she takes charge. Takes it all on her shoulders. And even through all the seriousness and the worrying, she still finds time to stumble in front of her huge crush, the gorgeous dancer Rosa.

One thing this book does really well is highlight the different problems we get ourselves into, the different things we focus on and tumble into. There's a lot of tunnel vision going on here. Del's managing the café, her father's travelling, her mother's life without her father, Charlie's crush on his tutor. It's easy for readers to see characters and call them out on being selfish or foolish. Look at Del. Dropping out of school? Running a business on her own? Keeping everything a secret and not telling anyone that she needs help? Or Charlie. Possibly going to jail because you were crushing hard on a girl that probably didn't feel the same? Selfish. Stupid. But be in their shoes. Be Del, when your mother's gone and your father's off on an adventure, relying on you to keep the business going, and you can't tell your father because he needs to learn how to be an adult on his own. Be Charlie, young and following your hormones, wanting to profess your love, and running scared when it doesn't work out. And somehow finding something you're good at while you're hiding. It's easy to criticize, but it's just as easy to stop and see why they'd run, why they'd keep it secret. Sometimes we think we can handle our problems on our own, that no one needs to go sticking their noses into our business.

This book is a curious mixture of sweet and serious, of good times and complications. Maybe a little heavy on the serious and the complications. But I found it interesting. It's been a while since I read a contemporary YA set in Australia, the change in setting for me was fresh. Plus the fact that this book doesn't shy away from being honest about homophobia, about how it exists and how it sucks for those being discriminated, but it doesn't overwhelm the book. This book is about Del and her being a lesbian is only part of it. I would recommend this if you're looking for contemporary YA that's both serious and fun, a little like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

(I received a finished copy of this book to review from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (252)

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 finally sort of nice, but it's still sometimes raining. And the nice weather only means the return of garden work and lawn-mowing. *hides in a ball*

Ugh, it's April Fools Day. Because of the internet, this day has turned weirder and weirder. You're never really sure what to believe online on a good day, but today you're suspect of everything. Even going into yesterday I was suspect of everything I saw on Twitter.

Reviews going up this week will feature Get It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (Tuesday) and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Friday). :)
Horimiya Volume 4 (purchased)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Me on Defy the Stars

Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight. After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him. Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Defy the Stars is eye-opening and expansive, thrilling and dangerous. A race against time and through space, an exploration of the stars and of the soul.

Noemi is determined, focused. Single-minded. She has a mission, one shes willing to die for. Genesis has a plan to cripple Earth's incoming mech armies, at least for a time, but it has to be done. Genesis was right to separate from Earth, to claim its independence. They're the ones in the right, right? Her discovery of Abel is a surprise, but considering his programming and his information, she'll be able to use him in order to help Genesis survive. In order to keep so many from dying. But Abel isn't what she thought, and after seeing the universe outside of Genesis, Noemi isn't so sure about a lot of things she thought she knew.

Abel. It's hard to describe Abel. Yes, he's a mech, an Earth creation that's a combination of technology and organic material. He's programmed to follow orders, to take in information and extrapolate. To be practical and truthful. But he's got a personality. He feels things like pride and confusion. He sleeps. He dreams. And he wonders, as the only one like him, what he was created for. Was he only created to serve? Or is there no limit to what he can do?

This is a curious science fiction story that covers multitudes. Like faith, like belief in a high power or being, after all of their technological advancements and exploration across the galaxy. What is humanity? How is a soul created? Like empire and colonization, like immigration, how people of all races and background travel to different planets looking for the same things they've always looked for. Employment, companionship, entertainment. Safety. Hope. Freedom. I adored this book and I imagine that fans of the author's past books, especially of Lost Stars, will as well. Even with the wait for the next book.

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (324)

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

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I do wonder if this is how the world will be in about 500 years, if everyone will be plugged into some kind of virtual reality. if everyone will be plugged into something, if games will turn into life or death battle situations. If we'll become that numb.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Me on The Stone Heart

Title: The Stone Heart
Author/Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

Kaidu and Rat have only just recovered from the assassination attempt on the General of All Blades when more chaos breaks loose in the Nameless City: deep conflicts within the Dao nation are making it impossible to find a political solution for the disputed territory of the City itself. To complicate things further, Kaidu is fairly certain he's stumbled on a formula for the lost weapon of the mysterious founders of the City... But sharing it with the Dao military would be a complete betrayal of his friendship with Rat. Can Kai find the right solution before the Dao find themselves at war?

The Stone Heart is surrounded in secrets, the search for peace and the search to claim.

Kaidu and Rat are in a little bit of a lull. They helped rescue the General of All Blades from an assassination attempt, but that doesn't mean things are perfect. Kaidu still wonders about the training he and the other Dao children go through every day, how the Dao are trained to be soldiers. But he doesn't really agree. Rat is still skeptical of anyone who isn't part of the monastery that helped raise her after her parents were killed. Except Kaidu, he's earned her trust by saving her. But it makes her forget that he's Dao, that he's part of the people that came and conquered the city. The General of All Blades has promised a that a council be formed, that all cultures and groups that make up the Nameless City be given a chance to have a say in how the city is governed, but not everyone wants this to happen.

The artwork is rather expressive, Kaidu's contemplative face and Rat's urgency. The fight scenes, the running and the searching. The wide landscapes are detailed, highlighting the size of the city. So many people live there, and all will be impacted by certain expected and unexpected events.

I definitely think this book, like its predecesor, say a lot about home and place. What is your home? Where are you from? Is it the place you were born, or your people's place of origin? Especially for Kaidu, who doesn't think he'll ever understand that Dao should be warriors. Especially for Rat, whose parents were killed and was raised an orphan of the city. Especially for Erzi, the son of the General of All Blades, who is Dao but born in the Nameless City. He's always seen the city as his, his to rule. But is the city really his? Can anyone own a city like the Nameless City? Does it belong only to the people who built it, or to all those that call it home?

While this did explore a little more of the city, a little more of Kaidu and Rat, it felt more like a set up to a rather explosive and dangerous final book. It'll be interesting to see what will come next, what Kaidu and Rat will do in order to save the city.

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (251)

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! No books again this week! I would've gone to the library but it's closed for a couple of weeks while they fix up some parts. I think I need to catch up on some comics and manga that I've been waiting to come out. Comics always seem to lift me out of reading funks.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (Tuesday) and Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray (Friday). :)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Me on Strange the Dreamer

Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Strange the Dreamer is haunting, lingering. Lyrical and impossible. The journey of a lifetime for a dreamer such as Lazlo Strange, one he yearned for but never thought it would come true. Until it did.

Lazlo is lost and alone. Abandoned as an infant, raised in an abbey and a library, all he ever had was what he could dream. Something more than his life as an orphan. Something like his true name. But no one was there to tell it to him. And so he dreamed and he wondered, he wrote book after book of possibilities after reading book after book on the lost city called Weep. He knew something was there, something that stirred him up inside. but how would he ever find the chance to leave the library and find out the truth? He's curious and passionate, questioning, a definite romantic, but it leaves him blind. Who is Lazlo Strange?

The city called Weep is a curious place. Covered in shadow and secret, in theft, in missing memories and haunted dreams. What is the truth behind what happened two hundred years ago when the city went quiet? Or what happened fifteen years ago when a name was ripped from everyone's minds? This is a city of ghosts, ghosts of loved ones and ghosts of love. Of gods, their desires, and what grows from them.

Reading this was like watching someone put a puzzle together. Seeing the pieces laid out, separate and unconnected. Lazlo, Thyon Nero, the Godslayer. The city called Weep. The blue-skinned goddess. Seeing the pieces come together, reveal the secrets and the truths lost and forgotten. While reading this I couldn't shake these overwhelming feelings. Sorrow and despair. Fear. A deep-seated craving for the truth, for a place to be. At the beginning I didn't know what would happen, and now at the end I can't wait to wonder what will happen next. I'm certain that fans of Laini Taylor's previous books will devour this.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (323)

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

Title: The Carnelian Crow
Author: Colleen Gleason
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books

From Goodreads:

Ever since the debacle of the Chess Queen Enigma, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker have laid low, trying to settle back into their quiet lives as young ladies of London. But the Holmesian deductive abilities won't remain dormant for long, and when Mina receives a strange package from a winged, midnight visitor, she is catapulted into a new, dangerous adventure: the search for The Carnelian Crow.

Meanwhile, Evaline has received some very disturbing news--news that will change her life forever. Along with that unpleasant knowledge is the strange disappearance of her nemesis, the disreputable pickpocket Pix.

When it becomes clear the arch-villainess the Ankh has made her next move, it will take all of Mina's Holmesian ingenuity and Evaline's courage and determination to stop the criminal from executing her boldest and most dangerous plan yet!

Yesssss. This series is a curious one, a combination of mystery and steampunk and intelligent young women and bizarre magic. It's a series that I enjoy in a not-taking-it-too-seriously way, and I'm rather curious to see what is coming next for Mina and Evaline.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Me on Wires and Nerve

Title: Wires and Nerve
Author: Marissa Meyer
Artist: Doug Holgate
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Wires and Nerve is an exciting new installation to a well-established series. As a graphic novel, readers now get the chance to see the futuristic landscape of Earth and Luna, and they get to follow a beloved side character on her own mission.

Iko is back! In the Lunar Chronicles, Iko was an exciting side character. Funny and loyal, intelligent and supportive. Quirky. Seeing Iko as the main character here is exciting. She's an android currently inhabiting the body of an escort-droid and she's ready to help out her best friend Cinder in any way she can. And that currently means hunting down some rogue lunar soldiers. Physically she's strong, mentally she's... an android. Personally? She's not like other androids. She's determined to help Cinder, to do whatever she can in order to lessen the burdens on Cinder's shoulders. She can take a few punches or knife wounds. But she's not invincible. She's also a little bitter. After all, she helped Cinder and the others so much when it came to stopping Levana's evil plans, but because she's an android her name was barely mentioned. Iko's sure she can handle this job from Cinder, this tracking down of lunar soldiers, even if a certain royal guard has his reservations.

The artwork is a good mixture of epic science fiction backgrounds and expressive characters. Knowing the series, I was excited to see what the characters would look like, like Cinder's robotic hand and Wolf's lupine modifications, like Captain Carswell Thorne's charming smile. And I was excited to see how this futuristic Earth and kingdom on the moon would look, the technology and the spaceships. The different uniforms, Scarlett's farm in France. And the moments where it's just Iko thinking to herself. The things she looks at, the ways she reacts.

I like the premise of this book, that after the revolution on the moon, after Cinder and her friends fighting back against the tyranny and despair that radiated from Levana, there's still battles to be fought. All those still loyal to Levana, mutated lunar soldiers and secret operatives, are still fighting. Fighting for their place, for their revenge. Just because a tyrant is overthrown doesn't mean everyone's opinions instantly change. As much as the Lunar Chronicles has a happy ending, it's great to see that everything wasn't suddenly made perfect. There are still things to do, dangers to watch out for and enemies to fight. Fans of the series will definitely enjoy this new installation, enjoy seeing the adventures and the struggles continue. And the banter between Iko and Kinney.

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (250)

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! And not much to ramble about this week. Maybe next time! :)

Reviews going up this week will feature Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer and Doug Holgate (Tuesday) and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Friday). :)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Me on Hunted

Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city's highest aristocrats, far from her father's old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who's ever come close to discovering them. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there's no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas... or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva's father's misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he'd been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. Deaf to her sisters' protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva's only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Hunted is haunting and mysterious, layered with complications. With magic, with desire. With dreams and impossibility. But who is the hunter and who is the hunted?

Yeva is grasping, yearning for something. Something more than her life as the pretty daughter. Something that resembles the childhood she had in the forest with her father who taught her to hunt. A life with no pressure, no town gossip or persuasion to get married and have children. She finds that peace in the forest. But she's not the only hunter in the trees, scaring up rabbits and deer. Something stalks the forest, searching for a hunter.

Something that races through this book is the idea of freedom, the strong need for it. That desire, to be free of restrictions and rules and obligations, strikes at the heart of so many. For Yeva, it's the desire to live her own life, to return to the days and the place where life was simple, when she could be in the forest and be herself. Listening to the world around her. Hunting with her father and their dogs. She wants something intangible, something different than the quiet lives with loving husbands that her sisters would prefer (which she doesn't begrudge them for, above all else she would want her sisters happy). And she feels that she will find it out in the snowy woods.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Knowing that a book is a fairy tale retelling, knowing where the plot will go, it can get predictable, but this felt fresh and intriguing. The weaving in of different tales and magic, Yeva's own stories and searching, the struggle and combat that was far more internal then external. The romance where both parties respected each other, flaws and complications and all. I imagine fairy tale retelling fans will greatly enjoy this, as will fans of the author's previous books.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (322)

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

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)

From Goodreads:

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 otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

Oooooooo. Creepy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Me on Freya

Title: Freya
Author: Matthew Laurence
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan imprint)

There's far more to Sara Vanadi than meets the eye. In her prime, she was Freya, the Norse goddess of love, beauty, war, and death - though that past hardly seems to matter now. For an ancient goddess in the 21st century, true believers - and the strength they bring - are painfully hard to find. But when a new, rising power threatens to remake the world by bending the divine to its will, Sara realizes her days of hiding have ended, and a chance to claw her way out of the history books has arrived. She'll just need new clothes and a manicure before she gets started.

Freya had all the promise to be interesting, to be all about a goddess on the run, but it didn't work for me.

Sara is interesting when you think of her as Freya, as a Norse goddess who's been hiding out in a mental institution because the people there will believe her, which gives her a modicum of power. As a goddess who's on the run and trying o keep an evil corporation from either enslaving her or killing her. As a goddess willing to fight back against evil and save others who fell for chance to be believed in again. But then there were times when she'd use her powers to steal money, to shop for new clothes, to get a job.

I really wanted to like this, I was looking forward to reading about gods trying to survive in the modern world, but this didn't turn out how I thought it would. I think I was expecting something dark and serious. This felt more upbeat and commercial, more easy, and, at the start, all about a pretty blonde girl using her charm in order to get what she wanted. To be fair, it does get rather dangerous near the end, and Sara does spend a fair amount of time trying to take down the evil corporation. I imagine some will enjoy this, will look forward to more considering the ending was left rather open, but it just fell flat for me.

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (249)

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! Yet again, the weather decided to completely freak out. It's been sunny, rainy, snowy, windy. So many different things!

Reviews going up this week will feature Freya by Matthew Laurence (Tuesday) and Hunted by Meagan Spooner (Friday). :)
Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer and Doug Holgate (borrowed from the library)
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (ARC from Penguin Canada) (Not in the picture because I forgot to add it like an idiot)
The Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Secret Coders #3: Secrets and Sequences by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes (from Raincoast Books)
Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli and David Wiesner (ARC from Raincoast Books)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Me on Queens of Geek

Title: Queens of Geek
Author: Jen Wilde
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it's going to be a blast. What they don't expect is for it to change their lives forever. Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she's over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie's long-time crush on her isn't as one-sided as she thought. While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own. Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there's one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek is smart and honest, expressive and openly diverse. It's a great look at how people with so many vast differences can come together because of similar interests, and a great look at what can happen when you take risks.

Charlie is kind and expressive. Explosive, personable. SupaCon means furthering her acting career, it means fan interaction, but it also means spending time with her ex and co-star Reese while nursing a serious crush on fellow actress and YouTuber Alyssa. She's torn between getting to know Alyssa and being forced to spend time with Reese becasue both the studio and the movie's fan base want it so much. Taylor is smart and supportive, creative and focused on the fantastical. SupaCon is her chance to meet her favourite author, her chance to tell her how much the books mean to her, how much she's inspired her. But then the signing ends early and Taylor's only chance to meet the author is a fan contest, which means being up on stage in front of hundreds of people, which might be too much of a change for her to handle. Especially on top of her growing anxiety in terms of change and college and possibly not being with her other best friend, and crush, Jamie.

I like the back and forth between Charlie and Taylor's points of view. Their stories, their journeys, are rather different. Which is great to see. There's no one way to be a teen girl, there's no one way to interact with the world and work to make your mark on it, and there's no one way to fall in love. There isn't a specific gender you have to fall in love with. You don't even have to fall in love if you don't want to. Taylor and Charlie aren't perfect, they still get anxious, get worried. They panic and say the wrong things. They don't want to get hurt and make decisions that upset and hurt others. But they do learn. It can be really hard to let go of your neuroses and your worries, to stand up to the people who hurt you. It can be hard to ignore the hate. But friends and family, other support structures, are always there to help you.

This book brings up so many current topics, important topics, like intersectionality and feminism, like body-shaming and mental health, like sexuality and internet fame. I hope teens read this and feel empowered, especially teen girls. Do what you want, like what you like or who you like, and don't let anyone take that enjoyment from you. I would recommend this to fans of Fangirl and All the Feels, those looking for diversity in contemporary YA, and those who love being part of a fandom that gives you the chance to breathe and express yourself.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (321)

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

Title: An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. To save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

HOW INTERESTING. But I wonder if the summary has given too much away.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Blog Tour: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

It's a blog tour! Today is all about Benjamin Alire Sáenz's new book The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, which comes out tomorrow. As part of the tour, here's an excerpt!
Words only existed in theory. And then one ordinary day you ran into a word that only existed in theory and met it face to face. And then that word became someone you knew.
I met that word when I was thirteen.
That was the day my Popo died. I was a pallbearer. Up until then, I hadn’t even known what a pallbearer was. You see, there’s a lot of other words you meet when you run into the word funeral.
You meet all Funeral’s friends: Pallbearer, Casket, Undertaker, Cemetery, Headstone.
It felt so strange to carry my grandfather’s casket to his grave.
I was unfamiliar with the rituals and prayers for the dead.
I was unfamiliar with how final death was.
Popo would not be coming back. I would never hear his voice again. I would never see his face again.
The cemetery where he was buried still had an old-world approach to funerals. After the priest had commended my grandfather to paradise, the funeral director stuck a shovel in the mound of dirt and held it out. Everybody knew exactly what to do. A silent and somber line formed, each person waiting for their turn to grab a fistful of dirt and pour it over the casket.
Maybe it was a Mexican thing. I didn’t really know.
I remember my Uncle Mickey gently taking the shovel out of the funeral director’s hands.
“He was my father. ”
And I remember one other thing about my Popo’s funeral. A man standing outside smoking a cigarette was talking to another man, and he said: The world doesn’t give a damn about people like us. We work all our lives and then we die. We don’t matter. He was really angry. Juan was a good man. Juan, that was my Popo. I can still hear his anger. I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.
I asked my father, “Who are people like us? And why did he say, We don’t matter?”
My dad said, “Everybody matters.”
“He said Popo was a good man.”
“Popo was a very good man. A very good and flawed man.”
“And, people like us? Did he mean Mexicans, Dad?”
“I think he meant poor people, Salvie.”
I wanted to believe him. But even though I didn’t understand anything at thirteen, I already knew that there were people in the world who hated Mexicans—even Mexicans who weren’t poor. I didn’t need my father to tell me that. And I also knew by then that there were people in the world who hated my father. Hated him because he was gay. And to those people, well, my father didn’t matter.
He didn’t matter at all.
But he mattered to me.
Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for the ARC and the chance to take part in the tour. For my part of the tour, here's my review! :)

Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books

The first day of senior year: Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events fore him and his best friend Samantha to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief. Sal discovers that he no longer knows who he really is-but if Sal's not who he thought he was, who is he?

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is deep and heartfelt, emotional, and honest. How do we define ourselves? Is it the people around us, the company we keep, or the choices we make? And when we feel that identity crumble around us, how do we piece it back together?

Sal is thoughtful and introspective. He knows who he is, surrounded by his loving family and his best friend. But life isn't stagnant. Things change. And when a number of losses hit Sal and those close to him, one after another, he feels like something's now missing. Like it's been broken away and he has to fill it with something else. And then he's got this letter from his mom, written before she died, and now he's even less sure of who he is.

So much of this book is about the ways we define ourselves, the things we use and take in order to create our identities. The things we like or don't like. The people we keep close, call friends or family, the places we're from, be that where we live or where we were born, or where our family was born. The choices we make. For Sal, he's always defined who he is by his family, his adopted father and his extended Mexican-American family. But this letter from his deceased mother? These spurts of anger that appear just as he punches someone in the face? Is this him, too? What makes us who we are, nature or nurture? Or is it more of a combination of the two?

The writing style is perfect for this story, for Sal's story. Sparse but meaningful. Moments of talking and moments of thought, glimpses of people, of happiness and sorrow. Life isn't easy, and it rams into Sal and Sam hard, but they're not alone in their sadness and their confusion. They don't have to have all the answers all the time. I would definitely recommend this book, to those looking for something sweet and bittersweet, something simple and complex.

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (248)

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 almost like a proper spring now, which means lots of near-constant rain. Which is nice at times, but the dreariness can wear at you.

I'm still surprised when I don't feel like reading anything. Like, I want to read, but all my focus just goes out the door. And they're books I want to read, books I've been looking forward to. I think it all loops back around to the possession thing people get, how a lot of their focus goes into obtaining a thing and once they have it they're not as interested in it anymore. People are weird creatures.

Do you like the occasional webcomic chat/rec post? Do you want more of them? I've been searching for more to read with my waning interest in mainstream print comics.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Monday with a blog tour post!) and Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (Friday). :)
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (ARC from Raincoast Books)
The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (finished copy from Raincoast Books)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (2)

And we're back with a random list of fun things post because I've been reading in weird spurts and I've also been a bit choosy with what I'm reading lately. So here are a few more things I've been enjoying lately, be they TV or movies or games or Kickstarter or anything else!

Travelogue. Every couple of months I read through this short comic of Aatmaja Pandya's and fall in love all over again. In love with the colour palette and the art style, slightly rough and pencil crayon-esque. In love with the characters, with Nana and Emerene and Adi. And Princess the goat. In love with the bursts of magic that appear as these three make their way across their world. There are so many questions I have about this comic, about its world and the magic system, about who or what Nana is, but for once I'm perfectly happy to have my questions go unanswered. As much as I want to know more, I'm perfectly happy not knowing. This comic is gorgeous and sweet and oh so magical. And I always want to snuggle Nana so hard. So fluffy!

Speaking of webcomics, one I found a little while ago that I quickly fell in love with is Lizzie's Thunderbird. It's set in a hard desert fantasy world, where every year farmers and ranchers wait for the mythical Thunderbird to come and bring the rain. But this year, she's late and is shot down. In comes Molly Donelly, rough and tumble and good with a gun, who finds a baby thunderbird under attack by a pack of werewolves headed up by the white werewolf that killed her father. And so starts her journey with the baby bird, off to find its mother and find out who wants to take down a god. All the characters have sass and spirit, the setting is dusty but full of splashes of colour. I can't wait to see where the story will go next.

So with streams and podcasts of Dungeons & Dragons becoming more and more popular, here's my rec for them in a certain way. Watching or listening to D&D streams is a great resource when it comes to world-building and character creation and motivation. These are epic worlds that are constantly created, edited, ruined, re-built. There are shifts in power, mysterious groups operating in back alleys, huge dragons coming down and destroying whole empires. It's interesting to see how massive world-building can get. For character creation and motivation, it's fun to watch. The players all have a background set up, anything from a few notes to tens of pages of info, but then comes the playing of the game and the interaction and they have to think quickly on how their character would react. It's part pre-planned and part improv. If you're looking for story crafting resources, then check out some streams like Critical Role or High Rollers.

And that's what I've been interested in lately! What about you? What've you been watching or reading lately that you think other people should check out?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (320)

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

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

From Goodreads:

The highly anticipated second book from the acclaimed author of The Accident Season is a gorgeous, twisty story about things gone missing, things returned from the past, and a group of friends who might need to give up more than they bargained for—unless they already have. 

Olive, Rose, Laurel, Ivy, Hazel, Rowan.
Six teenagers, connected in ways they could never have imagined.

After the town’s summer bonfire party, 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 can’t stop feeling that her best friend is slipping away.

Then lost things start appearing. Fields are filled with odd treasures; the lake sparkles with trinkets; seductive diary pages written by a girl named Laurel show up all over town. And Olive finds Ivy, Hazel, and her brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in the nearby abandoned housing development. Hazel and Rowan are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too, and like Rose, are holding tight to their secrets. 

It’s the damp, tattered spellbook that changes everything. Full of mysterious hand-inked charms to make things go missing and to conjure back others, it might be their chance to find what they need to set everything back to rights. Unless it’s leading them toward secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

Yesssssss. I loved The Accident Season, it was different and sad and curious. I'm so intrigued by where this might go with the missing things and the different characters and the spellbook.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Me on A Conjuring of Light

Title: A Conjuring of Light
Author: V.E. Schwab
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books

The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise. Kell, once assumed to be the last surviving Antari, begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive? Lila Bard, once a commonplace (but never common) thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible. And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

A Conjuring of Light is a thrilling, heart-wrenching conclusion, full of magic and sorrow. Of mystery and despair, of searching and finding and fearing and loving.

Kell, Lila, Rhy, Alucard. Holland. They're all there. They laugh, they love. They push and pull, they flourish and flounder. They live, they die. They refuse to fall, to kneel to a shadow that calls itself a god and a king.

This book, this series, these worlds are rich with impossibility. With magic and power, with strength and sorrow. With determination and absolute foolhardiness. With heroes and villains, kings and queens and pirates. With myth and legend, selfish thieves and selfless fools. With honour and blood and sacrifice. At the end, after the last page was turned, the last word read, I was left both gutted and filled. This has been a glorious, wondrous series, and I can't want to see where Schwab will take us next.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (247)

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 again. Another week gone. The weather's been nice, I've been joining my sister and her dog on their walks, if only to also play Pokemon Go. ;)

I've been catching up on some D&D streams and videos that I let pile up over the last year. You know me, you know I like interesting storytelling. And D&D streams are full of interesting storytelling, because it's part-known and established (often fantasy) world and part-improv. And it's always interesting seeing what people come up with in terms of in-character talk on the fly.

Reviews going up this week will feature A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Tuesday) and Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan (Friday). :)
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (bought/pre-ordered)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Me on The Beast Is an Animal

Title: The Beast Is an Animal
Author: Peternelle vanArsdale
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. MacElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village. These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys. Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

The Beast Is an Animal is deep, dark, and dangerous. Full of mystery and sorrow, of something that wears at the soul.

Alys is a girl of secrets. Secrets that would do her no good if they were spoken aloud. Secrets about the soul eaters and how she saw them as a child. Secrets about the Beast and how she's seen It, how It asked for her help. After the death of her parents, of the village, she becomes watchful in a town of fundamentalists, of those who fear what they cannot see or feel. Those who fear the Beast because It is unnatural, because It is like nothing their holy books say should be revered. Alys knows that walls, preaching, and fingerpointing won't keep them safe from the soul eaters. But what about what lurks inside Alys, hungry, waiting. She knows she's not like the other children, knows what's inside her. Knows it is the most dangerous of secrets.

Throughout the entire book a question raced through my mind. If the Beast is an animal, then what are the soul eaters? What is Alys? What are the townsfolk of Defaid? If the Beast is an animal, are we the monsters? Are we the ones that should be feared, the ones that go bump in the night? So many monstrous things are done by humans in the name of faith and good intentions and self-preservation.

This story is atmospheric and chilling, so unlike most books I've come across. It's deep and draining, mysterious and eerie. It's a slow burn, this story, but it takes time for anger to grow, for fear to develop. For death to come. This is a book about fear and judgement, about life and death, about what makes a home a home instead of just a place. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for something very different in terms of YA, like The Walls Around Us and The Darkest Part of the Forest.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (319)

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

Title: Want
Author: Cindy Pon
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

The title very much sums up my thoughts on this book. ;)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Me on The Ship Beyond Time

Title: The Ship Beyond Time
Author: Heidi Heilig
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father's ship. And now it's finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix's existence—and Nix's future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father? Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices.

The Ship Beyond Time is mysterious and alluring, dark and deceptive. A journey through time, towards fate and towards fear. Can history be changed? What of the consequences? Is there any hope to finding what was once lost?

Nyx is full of worry and fear. Even though they are now safe, now free to travel the seas once more, she can't help but worry. Worry that she will turn into her father, a broken shell of a man now off drugs but still desperate to make it back to the woman he once loved and lost. After leaving Hawaii, after realizing how she feels about Kashmir, she's not about to lose him.

What is time when you can travel across it? The idea of travelling anywhere at any point in time, as long as you have a map of it, is intriguing. Compelling. But then what is the future? Are you racing towards it or running from it? And what if time could be altered? What if the past could be changed?

A sense of something bittersweet and melancholy runs through this book, like mist swirling about the ankles. What is home? What is time? What is knowledge? What is fate? These are the questions asked by Nix, feared by Nix. An enchanting story of history and myth, of place and belonging, of love and loss. Of the lengths some will go to in order to save those they care about.

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (246)

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 nicer here, meaning no snow, but it's still around! Big piles in parking lots, icy patches on park paths.

No books this week! I couldn't get around to the library to wander and browse.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (Tuesday) and The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle vanArsdale (Friday). :)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Me on The Valiant

Title: The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: February 14, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha's legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle. On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father's royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon's worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival. Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

The Valiant is dangerous, brutal and complicated. It's about the price of freedom and the holders of power, about survival and kinship. About rivalries and revenge.

Fallon is skilled, determined, furious. Furious at her father for his actions. Furious at the ones who kidnapped her, forced her into slavery. Furious at the Romans she must now serve and entertain as a gladiatrix in a fighting ring. What follows for Fallon is a hard journey, repeated fights and battles for survival and pride. For honour. Because what is honour in this place? In the country of her enemy, in the service of her greatest enemy. If she wants to survive, potentially escape she'll have to watch, learn, train. Bide her time. Wait for the right moment to strike. Even when her nature would make her refuse to bow her head.

There are two things I know I will get from a book by Lesley Livingston: detailed world-building, be they historical or fantastical, and strong female characters. The smell of the dust in the air, the drip of sweat down the back of a neck, the roar of the crowd as they cheer in the area. And the young girls and women, the ways they come together and the ways they fight. In the open with sword and spear, in the shadows with coin and persuasion. I would definitely recommend this to fans of Lesley's previous books and to those looking for more books about young women fighting for what they believe in and refusing to give up.

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