Monday, December 31, 2018

Me on A Quick Note #4

I figure that, since Tuesday is the 1st, a fair number of people will still be on some kind of break.

So I'll see you all on Friday with a review of Traci Chee's The Storyteller.

Why The Storyteller? When I first read The Reader I was captivated. There was something magical about it, about the world Traci created, about the characters. Something about the secrets, about how forbidden it was to read and write and how magical it was.

I've actually put off reading this for a week or so, because I'm so unsure of how it will end, but I need to know.

See you on Friday. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Me on A Quick Note #3

I tried to come back this month. Tried to sort out my brain and my reading list and other things.

It didn't work out.

So.

I'll be back on Tuesday January 1st, back with reviews and weekend rambles and, hopefully, some more off-the-cuff kind of thinking about books posts.

Reviews will be a mixture of new books and 2018 books that were unfortunately left behind while I tried to sort out my brain.

Thanks for understanding that I needed to step back. Hopefully you'll come back in the new year, see what I've got going up. :)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Me on A Quick Note #2

Hi all.

I don't mean for these breaks to happen, but they do. It's feeling more and more like a loss of interest in the books I have than a depressive episode, to be honest. Which isn't fair to you who read this, or the publicists who've sent me ARCs or approved me for e-galleys.

But I think I need more time to sort out where my brain is with this. But I don't want to take too much time away again.

So I'm going to take this week, look at what books I have and what books I actually want to read and share with you all, and be back on Saturday with an update on what I'll be reading with a review next Tuesday.

See you then. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (393)

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

Title: Comics Will Break Your Heart
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Release Date: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

A sweet, funny contemporary teen romance for the inner geek in all of us from graphic novelist Faith Erin Hicks. 

Miriam's family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960's for practically nothing, and now that's what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn't have enough to worry about, Miriam's life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam's grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love).

As someone who's a fan of Faith Erin Hicks' comics and graphic novels, I'm really interested in seeing where this will go. It's sounds like a rom-com mixed with social commentary mixed with classic comics mixed with regrets and mistakes and the pain and joy that only come from comics. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Me on On a Sunbeam

Title: On a Sunbeam
Author/artist: Tillie Walden
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: First Second Books

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

On a Sunbeam is an epic and expansive tale of discovery and regret, of exploration and impossibility, of love. Of hope and everything the future can, does, and will hold.

Mia is the newest member of a crew that travels through space repairing old structures, slowly and methodically rebuilding parts of the past. She's quiet, more than a little lost as she gets used to the work and the different personalities of the crew. Hard as nails Alma and intelligent Char. Bold and bright Jules. Mysterious and thoughtful Elliot. But it always comes back around to Mia. She has the look of someone looking for something. Through the flashback chapters, we see who she's looking for. When Mia was in school, she met a girl named Grace. Made friends with and argued with Grace. Fell in love with Grace. But then Grace left and Mia was left wondering. Where she went, if she'd ever see Grace again. The flashback chapters reveal who Mia was and is, while the chapters set in the present reveal the secrets and wonders of the universe, and what Mia must go through in order to, hopefully, find Grace again.

The art style is wonderful and expressive, full of detail. The different expressions, Mia's frowns and Jules' smiles, Elliot's surprise and seriousness. The buildings on the repair jobs, half-crumbled and lost to time, ready to be repaired. The school, all structure and learning and adolescence. The spaceship, a curious space of family and laughter and acceptance inside something that looks like a fish. The Staircase. And the colours, the accents that change depending on when and where the story goes. The black and white that joins with the purple of the ship, the blue of the past, the pink and yellow and orange that follow events in motion. All of it is gorgeous.

There's a wonderful, powerful moment a little more than halfway through the book that I think is so relevant right now. It has to do with respecting people who aren't like you and only acknowledging certain parts of someone (referring to the moment in which Elliot who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns is misgendered). If you want someone to respect you, respect all of you, then you have to give them just as much respect. You don't get to pick and choose which parts, you don't get to decide what's important for someone else. Especially when it comes to how that person defines themselves, their name, their pronouns or their gender. Instead, you stop and listen. You give that person as much respect as you expect to be given, because if you give them none, you'll get none in return.

I find it hard to describe this book because, when you peel back the layers, there's so much here. There's adventure, there's determination, there's regret, there's making mistakes and righting wrongs. There's consequences that carry, that affect so much more that we ever through possible. There's love and hope, there's persistence. There's finding a family, finding a group of people who accept you, flaws and all, while you accept theirs because of the support and care they give you and you give them. There's impossibility and wonder, there's exploration. There's so much here, in each character, on each page and in each panel, in each location. And I'm sure there's more I've missed. This is an epic tale that deserves to be read.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from First Second through NetGalley and later purchased a finished copy.)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (310)

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!

So it was a slow week this week, with me not picking up any new books and being under the weather and the actual weather turning towards days and days of rain. Maybe next week will be better.

Reviews going up this week will hopefully feature On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (Tuesday). :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (392)

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

Title: Once & Future
Authors: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

I've been chased my whole life. An illegal immigrant in Mercer-controlled territory, I've always had to hide who I am. Until now.

When Ari crash lands on Old Earth, and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she becomes the forty-second reincarnation of King Arthur. Merlin awakes to find that having aged backward over the last forty-one Arthurs, he is now-wretchedly-a teenager. Ari may be Merlin's final chance to complete the steps of the cycle: 1) Train Arthur 2) Defeat the greatest evil in the universe. 3) Unite all of mankind. No pressure. 

I don't know about prophecies or kings, but I do know this: Mercer is evil. They've imprisoned my parents, enslaved worlds, and now they're after my friends. I'm done hiding. 

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

A sci-fi genderswapped Arthur and Merlin retelling?! Why yes, I am interested. This sounds really interesting. And it's the start of a duology, which means it's nice that there'll be more and also nice in that the wait might not be as long as others. And the cover is gorgeous.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Me on Blanca & Roja

Title: Blanca & Roja
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they're also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan. But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans' spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them.

Blanca & Roja is a magical, mysterious tale of sisters and swans, of secrets, of devotion and plans and good intentions. It's fear and sweetness and wonder all at the same time.

Blanca and Roja have always knows that, one day, the swans will come to take one of them. Because that's what's always happened to sisters in their family. That one day two will become one, when only one sister remains while the other becomes a swan, joins all the past del Cisne girls who were taken to become swans. They figure they know what will happen, that the sweet Blanca will be left behind while the swans take Roja with all her sharp edges, but that doesn't stop them from trying to save each other. Then a bear wanders through the woods, then the girls find a cignet, and two locals are drawn in, intrigued by the girls and running from their own lives. Hiding from hard truths.

This is yet another Anna-Marie McLemore book that explores young women and queerness and family and love through a Latinx fairy tale retelling. It's a book about complicated family dynamics and figuring out who you are and hope and pain and confrontation and, in the end, hopefully living freely. It's a book about girls with sharp edges and dreams of the future, about boys with gentle hearts looking for places to belong. It's magic and reality all rolled into one, unable to see the separation between the two. If you're a fan of Anna-Marie McLemore's books, you'll continue to be a fan after this one.

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

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (309)

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 all. :)

So I was all ready to have fun on Saturday talking about books with people at a meet-up and hear about new books coming out next spring, but then there were loads of transit delays and my mood tanked. Then I went out with my sister today hoping to have fun hanging out, then there were traffic problems and our moods tanked even more. Now I'm just going to pout and eat brownies.

Reviews going up this week will hopefully feature Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. :)

Bought/borrowed/received:
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (bought)
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna (from Thomas Allen & Son)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Me on Aquicorn Cove

Title: Aquicorn Cove
Author/artist: Katie O'Neill
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Oni Press

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

Aquicorn Cove is sweet and magical and realistic, a tale of happiness and sadness, of discovery and wonder, and of the start of making things right again.

Lana is a little lonely, a little sad after the passing of her mother and her and her father's subsequent move to the city, but she's happy to be back in her little hometown by the sea. Even if they're there to help clean up after a bad storm. But she's back, back in a place that makes her happy. When she discovers a mysterious little sea creature, battered from the storm, in a tide pool, she takes it in, cares for it. And soon Lana discovers there's more to the sea that just waves and the fish her aunt and her grandmother and her grandmother before her have fished from the ocean. There's something far more serious going on.

Katie O'Neill's art style is one of my favourites. The variety of body shapes in all the characters, the little smiles during happy moments. The realistic cabins, farms, and boats against the pastel colours of the undersea palace and the Aquicorns. The wonderful juxtaposition in the first few pages of little Lana struggling to carry her little suitcase from the car to the house while her big, buff Auntie Mae just casually lifts two duffle bags onto her shoulders moments after the two have the biggest, sweetest hug. There's just a wonderful combination of realism and fantasy here.

This is a book that mixes sweetness and hope with sorrow and reality and the impact that people and industry have on the environment. It's about moving on after a loved one has passed away, continuing to live while doing things that remind you of them. It's about change and technology, understanding that making things easier doesn't always make them better for everyone. It's about the little things, young children and small creatures, and why it's so important to listen to them, to help them and care for them. A must-read for fans of Katie O'Neill's gentle fantasy stories.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Oni Press through NetGalley.)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (308)

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 all. Busy weekend again, so this is going up a little late.

I've been looking through my to read pile and I was wondering, do you care that much if a review goes up a few weeks after the release date? Like, there's always a push to have reviews out before the release date, but odds are, if I have those books to read, other people have been posting their reviews for weeks already. And considering where my brain is/how many books come out late September & early October, I can't shove so many reviews into one week. I'm just wondering if you all are okay with me posting a little late with some books.

Reviews going up this week will feature Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill (Wednesday) and Blanca & Roja by AnnaMarie McLemore (Friday). :)


No books this week! I'm going to a meet-up on Saturday so I'll be picking up some then. :)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Me on Muse of Nightmares

Title: Muse of Nightmares
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep. Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of. As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Muse of Nightmares is an ending revealed through despair and fury, mystery and magic, desperation and hope. Truths and secrets are being revealed above the city of Weep, but not all of them, because of what else might be found when they are. But when their own lives are at stake, what choices will the godspawn make? Whose minds will they change?

Lazlo is now one of them, one of the godspawn. Like Sarai and Minya, like Ruby and Sparrow and Feral. But he can't thinking about anything but Sarai, now a ghost held by Minya's power after her death. Now he and Sarai are pawns in Minya's game, a game in which she demands revenge against those who hated them, feared them. Killed the other children a number of years ago. But now that doors can be opened, the past can be set free. And someone is keeping a secret they don't want to think about.

There's something haunting and magical about this, but also something rather realistic and honest. A fair amount of the book is Lazlo and Sarai taking part in a battle of wills against Minya. Neither side willing to compromise, both sides blinded by emotion and anger. Minds must be chosen in order to save lives, yes, but how far can revenge burrow inside someone? How powerful does it become? It's easy to tell someone to stop, to take a step back and look at things from all sides, but when emotions are involved, when loved ones are involved, it's impossible to stop. To consider that perhaps another way is the option. Minya demands her revenge. Lazlo refuses to give up on Sarai. And so the impasse begins. I do think that fans of the previous book will be satisfied with this ending. It's a Laini Taylor book, it's emotional and expansive, it's harsh and sweet and complicated, and the story continues beyond the last page, left to the reader to imagine and wonder.

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (391)

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

Title: The Afterward
Author: E.K. Johnston
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

It has been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought the gem home are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity do not come easily. 

Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn't meant for heroism this early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she has earned, her reputation does not pay her bills. With time running out, Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.

Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar, pick pocket, thief, she lived hand to mouth on the city streets until fortune--or fate--pulled her into Kalanthe's orbit. And now she's quite reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her recognizable, which makes her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn't much of a choice at all.

Both girls think their paths are laid out, but the godsgem isn't quite done with them and that new golden age isn’t a sure thing yet. 

In a tale both sweepingly epic and intensely personal, Kalanthe and Olsa fight to maintain their newfound independence and to find their way back to each other.

I'm not sure if I've already mentioned this book or not, but it's a new E.K. Johnston book so of course I'm excited and desperate to read it. What an idea! After the epic quest ended and the heroes are trying to live normal lives. I can't wait to read this.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (307)

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 all. Sorry this is going up Monday morning. It's been a busy weekend with the holiday up here.

Hopefully everyone's been having a good beginning of fall, or spring if you're in the Southern Hemisphere. It's been getting harder to head out for a walk every day because of the rain and me trying to figure out how I can still listen to music on solo walks with my headphones dying and me figuring out Spotify on my phone. (I feel like an Old who's behind the times.)

What are you all reading these days? What would you recommend I check out? I feel like I've missed out on some good books lately.

Reviews going up this week will feature Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (Friday, because of the holiday and my lack of time to read). :)

Bought/borrowed/received:
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto (e-galley from S&S Canada)
The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale (e-galley from S&S Canada)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Me on Damsel

Title: Damsel
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court. However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.

Damsel starts like a new chapter in a book where the plot never changes. The prince heads off to defeat a dragon, returns with a damsel he rescued from the tower, marries her, becomes king, has a son, and when the son is old enough, he heads off to defeat a dragon. This is how it is, again and again. Now, it's Emory's turn to defeat the dragon. And so he returns with his damsel, Ama, who remembers nothing of her life before. This is a dark feminist tale, an exploration of rape culture. It's harsh and occasionally graphic, bound to be disturbing and triggering to some. It's the story of a young woman who had something taken from her, whose inner fire is slowly burning out, and how she brings it to life once more. This is all about the pain and fear that so many young women are subjected to by men, both those they know and complete strangers. The fear that they will be beaten or raped if they don't listen, if they don't do what men want, if they don't just stay quiet and sit in an empty room. It's also about the fire inside those young women, the power they hide and the power they set free. This is one of those hard, discussion-starting books that not everyone will want to read because of the abuse and rape scenes.

In terms of whether or not I enjoyed it, not really, but how can you like a book about abuse and rape and young women perpetually forced into situations without their consent? I found the twist to be rather obvious, but I figured what it was after reading the summary. I was curious as to how it would all play out.

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Me on The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Title: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science. But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity's way, so long as she's allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl's true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is another race across Europe in search of adventure, intrigue, and some unexpected personal growth along with some thievery and piracy. Because what else do you do on a trip across Europe with a Montague sibling?

Felicity is back, practical and head-strong as ever, still waiting for the men who control every teaching hospital and medical school she applies to to actually listen to her when she says she wants to be a doctor. She's intelligent, she's calm, and she's widely read on the subject. But reading books only gets her so far. She has no practical experience, which is what she would get learning medicine from other doctors. But all other doctors are male and are too stupid to realize, according to Felicity, that admitting her would actually teach them something about women's health and women in general. That they don't all faint at the sight of blood or a man's private parts. When Felicity hears of a chance to possibly meet a doctor who don't flinch at the thought of working with a woman, when she starts hoping of a chance to one day be taken seriously as a doctor, she's off.

I knew what to expect this time around, having read the first, but I didn't expect how it would all unfold. Considering Felicity is the calm and the practical to Monty's hedonism and hilarity, I knew there would be a lot of sense and reason. And there is. But there's also a lot of Felicity learning how to be herself without being sharp and dismissive. She knows that she's not one of those girls interested in frippery and frivolity, in dresses and jewels and weddings, but that doesn't mean that the girls that are are clueless and foolish. It's okay for Felicity to want to be a doctor, just as it's okay for other girls to want to get married and throw parties. This book speaks to the determination and the strength of girls and women, how they continue to push back against gender stereotypes, how they carve out places for themselves to learn and teach and exist in a world that would have them stand back in the shadows. I enjoyed this book more than the first, which I imagine says something about me and how often I agreed with Felicity over the course of reading this book, but if you enjoyed the first you're sure to love this return to the Montagues and their inability to live quiet, boring lives.

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

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (306)

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

Hi there!

I'm slowly getting through my backlog of books. Slowly. I don't know if it's a losing attention thing or a change in reading tastes thing or a seasons changing thing or what, but I'm still making my way through my reading list. I've also been blitzing through a bunch of library books on my tablet.


Reviews going up this week will feature The Lady's Guide to Petticoats & Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (Tuesday). There might be some shorter reviews going up on Friday. :)

Bought/borrowed/received:
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Firestarter by Tara Sim

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (390)

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

Title: Crown of Feathers
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Release Date: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

Ooooooo, phoenix riders. How interesting. I'm so curious about so much this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Me on For a Muse of Fire

Title: For a Muse of Fire
Author: Heidi Heilig
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Jetta's family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family's way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.

For a Muse of Fire is a vivid, lush tale of shadow magic, ghosts, and rebellion. It's pageantry cloaked in mystery, it's shadows and flames, it's hope and despair. Life and death. It's a search for peace and safety in a world consumed by war. It's a young woman who faces the truth of herself and must make a hard decision.

Jetta is a young woman dealing in secrets, in the forbidden ways of making their puppets move using the souls of the dead. No one must ever know the truth, especially with the colonial army moving closer and closer, but they need to keep performing. Need to keep making a name for themselves in order to gain the attention of the King. Because there's somewhere they need to go, somewhere Jetta needs to go if the madness that plagues her is ever to be silenced. But journeys are never easy, especially in wartime, and soon Jetta and her parents are involved with a curious business owner and smuggler with secrets of his own and places he needs to get to.

There's something enchanting about this book, something lyrical and soothing, the different ways the beginning of Jetta's story is told. Prose read in Jetta's voice, scenes from a play and letters that detail the army's movements and missions. Tales of death and songs of sorrow. It all feels so expansive, so far-reaching beyond just prose. It was like I could hear this book as I read it, hear the sounds of Jetta's puppets, the music, the gunshots, the whispers of the ghosts. The worry that fills Jetta's mother, the desperation that fills Jetta. I can't wait to see what happens next, where Jetta will go and who will appear.

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

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (305)

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! Welcome back!

So there was only 1 review this week because of a bad headache, but there was a review this week. And a Waiting on Wednesday post, so I'm calling it a win. :)

I have so many books to get through over the next couple of weeks, so many that come out on October 2nd. Oh, publishing. Overloading September & October yet again.

Reviews going up this week will (hopefully) feature For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig (Tuesday).

Some books I've picked up/received over the last few weeks:
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
An Assassin's Guide to Love & Treason by Virginia Boecker
The Wicked King by Holly Black
A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma
Delilah Dirk & the Pillars of Hercules by Tony Cliff
Salt by Hannah Moskowitz

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (389)

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

Title: The Cold In is Her Bones
Author: Peternelle van Arsdale
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

Suspenseful and vividly imagined, The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.

Yes to more eerie fantasy books. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Me on Strange Grace

Title: Strange Grace
Author: Tessa Gratton
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil's Forest. Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early. Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.

Strange Grace is haunting, moving and magical. It's a story of bargains and sacrifice, of love and fate, of a tree and a forest and the heart that lives there. It's a story of place and self and destiny and an overwhelming, earthly magic.

Mairwen is a witch, a Grace witch like her mother and the women in their family before them, descended from the Grace sisters the town was named after. As a Grace witch, she can never go into the forest, but she can hear it calling her name. Waiting for her. But she has a part to play as a Grace witch when the Slaughter Moon comes every seven years. But now, when it comes early, she's worried because of who will most likely be the next saint. Rhun is the apparent best of all the young boys and men looking to do their part to keep the town protected for another seven years. He has the strength and the skill to, hopefully, survive a night in the Devil's Forest. But he is afraid of dying like so many before him and leaving behind those he cares about. Like Mairwen. Like Arthur. Arthur is sharp and brash, fueled by anger and disgust and a hatred for the early days of his childhood. He's an outcast in a town he's lived in his entire life because he doesn't understand who he is. When the Slaughter Moon comes early, all three of them know what will happen, and all three of their hearts race toward something they never expected they'd uncover.

This completely satisfied me when I knew I'd be reading another Tessa Gratton book. There were moments that took me back to some of her previous books, ones like Blood Magic and The Blood Keeper. Magic all around people, in the earth and trees and everything else. Secrets that stretch back through time. Love leading characters through danger and despair, through near-death experiences. Characters joined together in more ways than one, in love and blood and the beating of their hearts. It's atmospheric and haunting. This is a dark and twisted tale of magic and love that I'm sure to read again before the year is out. I'd definitely recommend this to those looking for dark tales of destiny and witches, something similar to Peternelle van Arsdale's The Beast Is an Animal.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada through NetGalley.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (304)

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 all. I'm coming back.

I know it's been a while, but I really think I needed a break. I've been posting reviews and Q&As and blog tour posts here since 2010. I think the last couple of years, especially some depressing winters, was still weighing me down and I needed some time.

So things will be picking up again, but slowly. I know it's not the best time, considering all the books that are coming out in the next 4 to 6 weeks, but I think it's best in order for me to come back with the same kind of enthusiasm and love for YA and books in general.

Starting next week, it'll go like this: reviews on Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesday posts on Wednesdays, shorter reviews or some webcomic talk on Fridays, and end of week book chat on Saturdays or Sundays.

See you all again next Tuesday with a review of Tessa Gratton's Strange Grace. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Me on Mirage

Title: Mirage
Author: Somaiya Daud
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books (Macmillan imprint)

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place. As Amani is forced into her new role, she can't help but enjoy the palace's beauty—and her time with the princess' fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection... because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage is a lush and richly imagined tale full of deception and cruelty, full of family, history, faith, and complicated relationships.

Amani is kind and thoughtful, a dreamer. She dreams of writing poetry, dreams of one day receiving a sign from a god or goddess. She dreams of one day seeing a sign as to what she will do, how she will help those she cares about or those around her. But then she's abducted by a regime she despises, forced to work for a young woman who hated their shared heritage. A young woman who looks almost identical to Amani. And so Amani is forced to pretend to be someone she hates, someone cruel and unfeeling about the problems and history of being Kushaila in an empire ruled by the Vath. What else can she do when the lives of her parents and siblings are at stake? What else can she do but follow orders and listen to what happens around her.

There's something so interesting about this book, something that's maybe a little similar to series like The Winner's Curse. Under all the opulence, under Maram's cold rule and Amani's fitting in to be like her, under Amani being drawn towards Idris and her wanting her family to be safe, there's so much talk about empire and colonialism, about culture and family and motivation. Amani is caught between staying alive and potentially making sure her culture isn't completely overwhelmed, while Maram is caught between her father, a Vath of great power and importance, and the history and people of her mother, people who hate her because she's turned her back on them while she looks so much like them. It's a deep and complex tale, one that's only started this this book, and I can't wait to see what happens next with Amani.

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

Monday, August 27, 2018

Me on Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft

Title: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft
Authors: Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood, Brandy Colbert, Zoraida C­órdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, & Brenna Yovanoff
Edited by: Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth. History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations. Bold. Powerful. Rebellious. A bruja's traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch's healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane. From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely--has long frightened society, to the point that women's rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft is full of magic and wonder, of strengths and weaknesses, of love and fear and despair and power. It's a collection of stories highlighting young women and their abilities, be they accepted or hidden, honoured or feared, as they live their lives freely or in secret.

Sometimes it's a little hard to review anthologies because in an anthology there are usually two or three stories I really like, two or three that I don't, and the rest are okay. In this anthology I, at the very least, liked all of them. It's so much fun, reading all the different stories about everyone's different versions or adaptations of young women being witches or practicing some kind of witchcraft. Whether it was an inate power or something from a Goddess or passed down through families. Whether it was set in the past or in the present. Stories full of complicated politics, star-crossed lovers, moments between sisters, and young women rising up against the men that fear them. Stories about star signs, fear, faith, and fate. There are a few I love more than the others, the ones by Tess Sharpe, Zoraida Córdova, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Emery Lord, but all the stories are magical and powerful. They all speak to the power of young women, whether it be magic or determination or an indestructible combination of the two. It was such a joy to read this anthology and I hope there will be more like it in the future.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Harlequin Teen through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (388)

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

Title: Sherwood
Author: Meagan Spooner
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen

From Goodreads:

Robin of Locksley is dead. 

When news comes that he's fallen in battle at the King's side in the Holy Land, Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on. Betrothed to Robin, she was free to be herself, to flout the stifling rules of traditional society and share an equal voice with her beloved when it came to caring for the people of her land.

Now Marian is alone, with no voice of her own. The people of Locksley, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, are doomed to live in poverty or else face death by hanging. The dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sherriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley, and Marian’s fiancé. Society demands that she accept her fate, and watch helplessly as her people starve.

When Marian dons Robin's green cloak, and takes up his sword and bow, she never intended that anyone should mistake her for Robin, returned from the Holy Land as a vigilante. She never intended that the masked, cloaked figure she created should stand as a beacon of hope and justice to peasant and noble alike. She never intended to become a legend.

But all of Nottingham is crying out for a savior. So Marian must choose to make her own fate and become her own hero...

Robin Hood.

I'm curious to see how this will go. In all the retellings I've read, so few of them have been Robin Hood retellings, and with this one also involving Marian disguising herself and people thinking she's actually Robin, I do wonder how everything will play out. How it will end.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Me on Ruin of Stars

Title: Ruin of Stars
Author: Linsey Miller
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

As Opal, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and most importantly the ability to hunt the lords who killed their family. But Sal has to figure out who the culprits are before putting them down. Which means trying to ignore the fact that Elise is being kept a virtual prisoner, and that the queen may have ulterior motives. And the tales coming out of north are baffling. Talk of dark spirits, missing children, and magic abound. As Sal heads north toward their ruined homeland and the lords who destroyed everything, they learn secrets and truths that can't be ignored.

Ruin of Stars is a conclusion to a mission full of revenge and anger, a search for the truth and those who would plot to destroy so many lives.

Sal, now Honorable Opal, in service to the Queen of Igna, is ready to carry out their plan. Hunt down the lords that brought about the destruction of their home country of Nacea. The death of their family. The capture of Elise. Sal may be full of guilt, guilt at surviving and not seeing the traitors until it was too late, but they're also full of determination. They will not rest until all the names on their list is crossed out, until the truth is revealed, until all the innocents are saved. Even if it kills them.

A big part of this book, something that isn't hidden or whispered about, something that's discussed openly and thought about long and hard by Sal, is destroying Erlend's way of thinking. Their way of treating people. The strict confines of the male/female binary, the belief that men are smarter and better at leading and commanding than women. It's a way of thinking that looks at inclusion and acceptance with disgust, a way of thinking that tells people they're wrong, that something in wrong with them, and that there is only a binary when it comes to gender, only a male romantic partner to consider when you're female. For Sal who considers themself genderfluid, who shifts back and forth and in-between, for Elise who would rather court other girls, or for Emerald who feels no romantic attraction toward her partners, this way of thinking hurts in so many ways. Sal phrases their feelings about Erlend and their restrictive way of thinking so well: "Their comfort was more important than [Sal's] existence." Those like Sal, like Elise or Emerald or Lark, are seen as less than people, less than human, seen as something broken and in need of fixing, and that kind of thinking is horrific and wrong.

How far will revenge take you? How much will it fuel you, push you towards an end drenched in blood and despair? What will become of you when you reach the end, when all those who wronged you are dead at your feet? What will become of Sallot Leon, of Honorable Opal, when their list no longer has any names on it? I thoroughly enjoyed reading this duology of identity and discovery, of pain and sorrow and revenge, of despair over close-minded ways and hope for the future.

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

Friday, August 10, 2018

Me on Let's Revisit a Book! (2)

And we're back with another fun look back at an older YA book to see if I still think it's good or not. Today, or prior to today, I reread Malinda Lo's Adaptation! (There might be a little bleed-through of the second half of the duology, Inheritance, because they do go hand in hand.)

Title: Adaptation
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

My revisit conclusion: it's still really good! It's like sci-fi lite, set in the present day with some creeping in of aliens and advanced technology and conspiracy theories and a secretive government (because aren't they all? *winky face*). I do like stories like this, when it's set in the present day and everything's as the reader knows it but there's something that's a little different, something unfamiliar and chaotic in all the mundane.

What books like this seem to be about, to me, is about the unexpected. How sometimes it comes right at us, barreling into us, and we're just left behind to pick up the pieces and move on. But we know something's different, something's changed, and there's no one there to ask why or how or if it can be stopped or how long it's going to last or why us. Why now. And now that it's happened, how do we navigate this familiar but slightly different space when no one's there to guide us? I mean, there are figures there to guide us as best as they can, but it's not 100%. We have to learn on our own, and that can be a frightening prospect when we don't understand what's happened.

So if you haven't read this duology and you're looking for some sci-fi, far less violent and deadly than Independance Day with a fair amount of alien confusion and romance, then give it a chance. It flips back and forth between alien secrets and tension to teenage romance and Reese questioning her sexuality.

I hope you've enjoyed this week of looking back at a couple of slightly older YA books. I'll probably do this again when I get a free week or two. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (387)

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

Title: A Sorrow Fierce and Falling
Author: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

It’s time for war.

After suffering terrible losses, Henrietta and Lord Blackwood have led their warriors to Sorrow-Fell, a vast estate where only those invited by a Blackwood may enter–and the ideal place to plan a final assault against the Ancients.

It’s time for a wedding.

Henrietta nervously awaits her marriage to Blackwood, but when the ritual to become his bride reveals a dark secret, she realizes that Sorrow-Fell is not a safe haven; it’s a trap. Convincing the sorcerers of this, however, is not easy. So with Maria, the true chosen one, and Magnus, the young man who once stole her heart, at her side, Henrietta plots a dangerous journey straight into the enemy’s lair. Some will live. Some will die. All will be tested.

In this stunning conclusion to the Kingdom on Fire series, Henrietta must choose between the love from her past, the love from her present, and a love that could define her future. While battles rage, the fate of the kingdom rests on her decision: Will she fall or rise up to become the woman who saves the realm?

It’s time for Henrietta to make her stand.

How in the world is this series going to end?!?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Me on Let's Revisit a Book (1)

Hi there! So, this spring and summer I've come across a lot of books that I've read and afterwards thought, "Well, it was okay," and that's not exciting for you. Review after review of me saying it was okay or fine is boring. I don't know if it's me or the books I've been reading or both, but it feels like fewer books have stood out for me so far this year.

So I thought I'd do something fun and revisit a book I read years ago to see if it still holds up, if I still enjoyed it, if I think you should go check it out at the library or if you happen to find it at a new or used bookstore (because it's possible it's hard to find or out of print now), of if it's horribly dated or insulting.

And I'm going to start with one of the first books I reviewed: Dia Reeves' Bleeding Violet. (Note: don't go back and read my old review. It's so bad. Long story short, when I read this in 2010 I loved it.)

Title: Bleeding Violet
Author: Dia Reeves
Release Date: January 5, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Love can be a dangerous thing...

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

My revisit conclusion: For the most part, this book is still really good. It's dangerous and silly and serious. It really fits in with what's coming out these days, what's coming out in the next year or so. It's got Hanna talking openly about being biracial and how hard it is to fit in when people keep asking where she's from, Hanna talking openly about her mental health and mental illnesses, her bipolar disorder and her depression and her hallucinations, and Hanna talking rather openly and practically about sex. It's about a town where really weird things happen and the townsfolk don't hide it. It's about secrets and family dynamics and wanting and enacting plans and plots. It's about making the impossible possible. It's about Hanna being Hanna, that the weird things she says and does doesn't mean she's broken.

Hanna's relationship with Wyatt is interesting in that she very clearly states that, in a town as weird and dangerous as Portero, she doesn't need him to protect her or keep her safe (which confuses the heck out of his ex-girlfriend). Hers is a practical no nonsense kind of confidence. She's attracted to him, sure, and he's attracted to her, but does she need him to save her? No. She needs him in other ways. It can look cold, the ways Hanna uses and needs Wyatt, but when you step back and look at everything that's going on, the conclusion that Hanna reaches, it's all very practical. And Hanna's not a cold, unfeeling girl. Look at how much she craves affection from her mother, who's unwilling to give it at the start because she believes that love only leads to pain and sorrow.

Everyone in Portero is a little broken, a little messed up. To be honest, Hanna's the most normal out of everyone in town. The only thing is it's a little gory at times, a little bloody and gruesome, and I'd certainly give it a trigger warning for self-harm and suicide. During my re-read, it felt a little like some of the discussions about mental illness and suicide were too light and flippant.

So, after all that, if you're still interested, then check out your local library or bookstore or e-book provider or choice and give it a read. I think it still holds up, but I'm wondering what someone else who's read it thinks, if there was anything they didn't agree with or thought was poorly discussed.

I'll probably do another one of these posts on Friday, so see you then!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Me on The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins

Title: The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins
Authors/co-adaptors: Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Casey Pietsch
Artist: Carey Pietsch
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

Welcome to the Adventure Zone! SEE! The illustrated exploits of three lovable dummies set loose in a classic fantasy adventure! READ! Their journey from small-time bodyguards to world-class artifact hunters! MARVEL! At the sheer metafictional chutzpah of a graphic novel based on a story created in a podcast where three dudes and their dad play a tabletop role playing game in real time! Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided ("guided") by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it's based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is full of impossible hijinks and an oddball trio running wild in classic fantasy-setting encounters. Magic and swords, treasure and gerblins, this is the beginning of a grand adventure

Taako is the ever snarky and always sassy wizard, Magnus is the friendly and ever-proficient fighter, and Merle is the sometimes grumbling, sometimes preaching cleric. Somehow, these three characters have come together to form adventuring party. They all have different personalities, different backstories, different motives. And yet here they are, adventuring along. Their interactions with each other are often full of bickering, but they barely know each other and sometimes one of them (Taako) can be a little abrasive. There are bound to be bumps along the road. Plus, every so often, their all-seeing and all-knowing Dungeon Master pops in for some insight, explanation, or some snark of his own.

The art style is just perfect, Carey Pietsch nailed it. Magnus being all big and full of both muscles and smiles. Merle looking like a crabby dwarf cleric, spreading the good word with flowers in his hair. Taako with that near-constant frown furrowing his brow, the crooked point in his hat, the smile on his face when he talks about his cooking show. Plus all the outside landscapes and the cave interiors, the cartoony monster killing.

What this is is something new, something different. Something exciting. It's a graphic novel adaptation of a wacky and hilarious Dungeons & Dragons podcast. It's gone from paper to audio back to paper with full colour pictures, which is rather interesting. D&D is becoming pretty popular as something to watch, as something with complicated characters and missions and making the best of a bad situation because of bad dice rolls. The book feels more streamlined than the podcast (I've only listened to the first couple of story arcs), more fluid and faster-paced. No mention of dice rolls or rules or limitations on spell-casting. Now, by no means do you have to have listened to the podcast before reading this, or after, and you're not required to read this if you've already listened to the entire campaign and know how it'll all end. Having both options gives it layers, makes it deeper, makes it more. Some things are different, some names and some of the actions, but the heart of the story is still the same. It's still three dorks adventuring their way, collecting objects and finding secrets while Griffin describes the rich tapestry they just blasted their way through without waiting to see if they were walking into a trap. If you're a fan of the podcast, or D&D podcasts or live shows in general, odds are you'll love this. And I'd definitely give it a read if you're interested in D&D or fantasy comics. It's just so much fun, and if they do more books, the fun's only going to continue.

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (386)

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

Title: The Storyteller
Author: Traci Chee
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

From Goodreads:

The thrilling conclusion to the epic adventure that began with New York Times bestselling The Reader, "a series fantasy lovers will want to sink their teeth into." - Booklist, starred review

Sefia is determined to keep Archer out of the Guard's clutches and their plans for war between the Five Kingdoms. The Book, the ancient, infinite codex of the past, present and future, tells of a prophecy that will plunge Kelanna in that bloody war, but it requires a boy—Archer—and Sefia will stop at nothing to ensure his safety. The Guard has already stolen her mother, her father, and her Aunt Nin. Sefia would sooner die than let them take anymore from her—especially the boy she loves.

But escaping the Guard and the Book's prophecy is no easy task. After all, what is written always comes to pass. As Sefia and Archer watch Kelanna start to crumble to the Guard's will, they will have to choose between their love and joining a war that just might tear them apart.

Full of magic, suspense, and mystery, Traci Chee brings her Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy to a close in this spellbinding final installment.

I'm so excited for this, the first two books were so good. It's all about stories and fate and magic and belief and hope and defiance. And I'm kind of thinking that the ending will be more satisfying and fitting with the overall trilogy as opposed to happy. I could be wrong, but this seems like one of those 'for the good of everyone and the continuation of Sefia's hope for the future' kind of endings is going to happen. I could be wrong. We'll see in the fall. :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Me on These Rebel Waves

Title: These Rebel Waves
Author: Sara Raasch
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray's new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work. Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island's magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat's abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war. Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray's forbidden magic. When Ben's father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid's fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he's building his own pyre. As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are... and what they are willing to become for peace.

These Rebel Waves is plots and plans and secrets upon secrets. It's adventure and intrigue and survival. It's the past returning, revealing its true intention. It's about people who would see the infirm saved from sickness and an island free from an oppressive ruler. But their missions are never solved that easily.

Lu is a smart, battered, determined young woman. She's fighting hard to see Grace Loray stand on its own, free from Argrid, even if that fighting is done watching and listening to council meetings. It's still work to make sure the island will be free. But there are some things that bother her, make her wonder. Vex is a known stream raider, working illegal jobs and running around under the radar as much as he can. Until he gets caught. Until a demanding young woman walks up to his jail cell, ready to make a deal. Ben is thoughtful. Worried. The deaths of his uncle and cousin still ring true inside him, still make him question his father's plans. Especially when his father comes to him, asks him to research and utilize the magic plants of Grace Loray. Why, when he has named magic evil? Is he being set up, are his true feelings about magic being revealed so he too can burn, or does his father have a plan that would change everything?

This is a rather dense story of political intrigue, secret magic, hope, fear, and freedom. It's intriguing, but it's certainly a lot of plotting and planning, running from place to place in order to either get help or uncover the truth. Or, when it comes to the parts seen from Ben's point of view, it's a lot of hiding his true feelings and being afraid of ending up like his uncle and cousin before everything around him shifts, blasting away his expectations. I was certainly curious as to where Lu and Vex would go and what they would find out, what Ben would discover and what his father's true plans were. And I was intrigued by the magical plants, by there being certain plants on Grace Loray with magical properties and what this meant in terms of healing or battle or missions. I was also interested by the island of Grace Loray itself, the different parts of it and the different groups of people that call it home. Those who went there to make new lives, those who were brought there. Those who hide away, still calling themselves a certain name even though they've never been to the land their ancestors were from. It was interesting to me, thinking about the history of immigration on Grace Loray and some real life comparisons. It was a little long for me, but I'm still curious as to how the next book will play out, considering this is the first in a duology. After the reveals and the ending, I'll be keeping an eye out to see what happens next.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Me on Contagion

Title: Contagion
Author: Erin Bowman
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission. But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons… and dead bodies. As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

Contagion is eerie and mysterious, a story that takes place in the darkness of space on an isolated planet, where help is nowhere to be found and the shadows twitch. A place where secrets thrive. A place where something lurks down in the dark, waiting to get out.

Thea Sadik is an intern with promise, her whole future ahead of her. She's just looking for the right opportunity that will get her noticed by a big company. University, a career. A future away from her foster home. Nova Singh is a pilot looking to get her wings back, looking to prove herself in order to get a job travelling through the stars. For now, she's sort of stuck, but she's still piloting. Maybe after this evacuation and rescue mission, the company will hire her on permanently. Since the armed forces won't go anywhere near her. Unfortunately for Thea and Nova, the rescue isn't what they expected, and the site they arrive at isn't what they thought they'd find. Frozen-over samples, powered-down computers. Dead bodies. And a secret that's haunted for decades.

It's a rather intriguing story. It reads like an atmospheric sci-fi horror movie, something like Resident Evil or Pandorum or Alien. There's the story here, the rescue and all the death and the fight to survive, but I get the feeling there's a bigger story coming in the next book. One that will involve the company, the Union, and the future of humanity. It certainly kept me reading, certain events that unfolded and the idea of what will happen next. If you're a fan of quick reads, of sci-fi and creepy stories, of shadows and monsters and secrets, then you might want to give this a read.

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Me on Mia & Co #1

Title: Mia & Co #1 (Mia & Co #1)
Author: Vandya
Artist: Nicolas Hitori De
Release Date: April 19, 2017
Publisher: Europe Comics

Mia, Gauthier, Louka and Zouzou are inseparable. Like most teenagers, they'd much rather be playing video games or making music than doing their homework. Mia, the only girl in the group, doesn't really seem to click with the other girls in her class. But as they grow up, her tight-knit friendship group will become more and more complicated as girl-boy relationships start to get interesting…

Mia & Co #1 is an interesting slice of life kind of story, focusing on a teen girl and her group of friends as they begin those difficult high school and teenage years. Things used to be about hanging out, watching TV and playing video games, but not so much anymore.

Mia's happy for things to continue as they were. Hanging out with her friends, Gauthier, Louka, and Zouzou. Playing video games, spending time at the apartment where Wilfried and his grandfather live, and what new college students they're hosting. Listening to music. So what if Mia doesn't have any friends who are girls? So what if some of the girls in her school find her standoffish, purposely exclude her? Things are fine as they are. Until they change, bit by bit. Until crushes and dating enter the conversation. Until Mia's grades maybe aren't the best. Until they don't all share the same interests. But they're still friends.

I really enjoyed the art and the character design, it's different than both the North American comics and the Japanese manga I've read recently. I like the look of the thin line work on the characters and the backgrounds, the different buildings and cars, the broad smiles and the open grin on Mia's face. All the colours of the characters against all the beige of walls and buildings. And they all have their own style, the boys all different varieties of jeans and hoodies with Mia's leggings, hoodie, and sneakers. It's an art style that I enjoyed page after page.

This was easy-going and fun, exactly what I'd expected when I started reading it. I would definitely recommend this to fans of other slice of life and contemporary comics, stories like Horimiya and Friends with Boys.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from Europe Comics through NetGalley.)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Me on My Plain Jane

Title: My Plain Jane
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!) Or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Plain Jane is a rather creative and silly retelling of Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre, a re-imagining of the author and one of her most famous heroines made flesh and a fellow resident of Charlotte's boarding school. But, as this is Victorian England, gothic adventures and mysteries are afoot, and it isn't long until both girls are wrapped up in an epic ghost hunt.

Charlotte is watchful and observant, looking for bits and pieces she can put into her stories. Sure, the school she lives and studies at isn't the kindest or the warmest, but the man who was in charge of the school was recently murdered so things are looking up. Because he was the absolute worst. But who murdered him? Was it Jane Eyre, former student and current teacher at the school, someone Charlotte considers a good friend? Someone who wants more out of life, someone who wants to leave the school and be someone special and important? Whoever it was, with the appearance of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits in town, what follows is a curious ghost hunt and a rather bizarre series of events and circumstances.

I remember reading the first book by the three co-authors, finding the story about Lady Jane Grey and a royal family full of shapeshifters to be rather amusing and ridiculous in the way that over-the-top retellings can be. But I didn't enjoy this one as much, which is too bad. I just couldn't get past the idea of Jane Eyre being a real person, that Charlotte Brontë knew her and used her as inspiration for what would become one of her famous novels. Plus the secret society of ghost hunters. It was too much of a complete reworking of history that I couldn't get behind. That being said, I did like reading about Charlotte, how she was always writing stories, always thinking. Ready and willing to help, to get to the bottom of the mystery. Not willing to be left behind. I think this will appeal to bigger fans than I of the first book as well as fans of rather outrageous and unbelievable retellings.

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (385)

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

Title: Uncharted
Author: Erin Cashman
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Page Street Publishing

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.

This sounds interesting, like a combo of something mysterious and dangerous and something full of grief and wonder. It very very very loosely reminds me of this year's The Wicked Deep, so I'm curious as to where it will go.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Me on Royals

Title: Royals
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

Meet Daisy Winters. She's an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair, a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who's nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince's roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady... but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

Royals is a summer adventure full of secrets, near scandals, and Scotland. In it we have Daisy, a regular American teenager plucked from her normal life and sent to hobnob with Scottish royalty. But as much as Daisy is clueless as to protocol and procedure, they are in no way prepared for Daisy's quick wit and unwillingness to play a foolish game.

Daisy is so much snark and sass and attitude. She's quirky and smart, a little stubborn, and she isn't afraid to speak her mind. Even when it's a duchess who just insulted her sister. Even when it's possibly the Queen of Scotland. As sarcastic as Daisy is, it's obvious that, as much as she hates that her interests and plans were often pushed to the side when it came to her sister, she still cares about her. She wants Ellie to be happy. And so she agrees to a summer in Scotland being folded into the royal circle. But there are some strange characters in the circle, some boisterous friends and an over-the-top prince, and the paparazzi are just waiting to capture a new scandal.

This was just the book I needed to read right now. I found it funny and ridiculous, bold and silly, a whirlwind adventure over hills and across the society pages. It's all about family and secrets and gossip and tabloid news and people with public roles who still want something the resembles a private life. It's about a teenage girl who continues to be a teenage girl, who continues to give attitude and massive side-eye when she knows something's up. It's full of drama and sarcasm and weird families and I laughed out loud more than a few times. Knowing there's going to be another book about some of these characters, I can't wait to read it.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (384)

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

Title: Muse of Nightmares
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice--save the woman he loves, or everyone else?--while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

This first screamed magic and complication and twists and turns and bizarre circumstance and I'm going to have to read it again before this 2nd and last book comes out in the fall. Knowing it's a Laini Taylor book, it's going to be lush and magical and oh so heartbreaking.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Me on The Unbinding of Mary Reade

Title: The Unbinding of Mary Reade
Author: Miriam McNamara
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press

There's no place for a girl in Mary's world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary's livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender. At least, that's what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate. The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny. For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain's mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

The Unbinding of Mary Reade is a story of pirates and longing, of adventure and fear, of discovering who you are and being true to that self, even if it puts you in harm's way.

Mary is kind and smart, but lost and lonely. Made to live as a boy for most of her life, she's torn as to what her place in the world will be when she gets older. How is she supposed to continue the charade of being a young man as time goes on? Things are expected of young men once they reach a certain age. And so she runs off with her friend Nat, who only ever knew her as Mark, and they turn to a life on the high seas. But when things go wrong and they end up separated, she wonders what will happen next. Until she sees pirates attack their ship. Until she sees a girl with the pirates, skirts and all with a pistol raised, and Mary knows what to do next. What follows is Mary's hard realization that it isn't so easy, being a woman pirate, and the chance to risk everything for what Mary truly wants in life: to be herself with someone she loves.

It's a rather unconventional sort of story, but then both Mary Reade and Anne Bonny are unconventional young women for the time period. Posing and dressing as a young man, fighting alongside men as pirates and thieves. This is not what proper God-fearing young women did. But what choice did they have? Forced into marriage or worse, unable to be in control of their lives or their futures. After living years as a boy, Mary can't see herself living as a young woman should. Quiet and demure, her opinion given little to no weight. Property of her husband. She's lived a mostly free life as a young man, seen what happens to young women when they're beaten and abused. What's she supposed to do? Keep her head down? Or fight to live the life she wants? This is a work of fiction, but Mary Reade and Anny Bonny were real pirates, real women fighting in a male-dominated space. I'd certainly recommend this to those looking for stories about Mary and Anne that lean more towards the romantic side of their relationship and not so much the piracy.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Thomas Allen & Co.)