Saturday, June 24, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (264)

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! It feels like summer is finally here. It's going to be sunny and warm for days. I kind of want it, the rain depresses me right now.

Reviews going up this week will feature some books! I have no idea which ones, though. ;) One will probably be The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (before I return it to the library).
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (e-galley from First Second Books through NetGalley)
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (ARC from Scholastic Canada)

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). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
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). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
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). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
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.)