Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (224)

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

Title: Storm
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

From Goodreads:

After almost a year in Japan, Katie Greene has finally unearthed the terrible secret behind her boyfriend Tomohiro's deadly ability to bring drawings to life—not only is he descended from Kami, the ancient Japanese gods, but he is the heir to a tragedy that occurred long ago, a tragedy that is about to repeat. 

Even as the blood of a vengeful god rages inside Tomo, Katie is determined to put his dark powers to sleep. In order to do so, she and Tomo must journey to find the three Imperial Treasures of Japan. Gifts from the goddess Amaterasu herself, these treasures could unlock all of the secrets about Tomo's volatile ancestry and quell the ink's lust for destruction. But in order to complete their quest, Tomo and Katie must confront out-of-control Kami and former friend Jun, who has begun his own quest of revenge against those he believes have wronged him. To save the world, and themselves, Katie and Tomo will be up against one of the darkest Kami creations they've ever encountered—and they may not make it out alive.

I've really enjoyed this series and I'm really looking forward to finding out how it all ends. It's been dark and dangerous and magical and so full of Japan and Japanese culture and mythology.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Me on Magonia

Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name. Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who's always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza's hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Magonia is mysterious and wondrous, like a brand new fairy tale. It's the story of a girl who discovers she's more than she thought, a girl with a power and a purpose she's unsure of.

Aza has a realistic and practical attitude brought on by living with her disease. It's a bit of an angry but honest view of the world. She sees through the veils we put up, the fake promises and the dreams, and sees the reality of it all. That sometimes it doesn't matter. She's living as much as she can, But then she's taken, taken up above the clouds to Magonia, and she's lost. Confused. This defies all logic. When she starts to get to know those around her, she becomes wary of their plans. Plans that, somehow, involve her and a hidden power she never knew she had. But they never bother to really tell her what their plan is, what her power is, which is so frustrating.

The world-building is so intriguing. Magonia is a curious place up in the sky, full of airships, magical creatures, and the looming threat of war. The ships travel the world, searching for supplies, cursing those who live on the ground. They stay hidden from human eyes, rooting themselves in fable and myth. What child hasn't looked up at the clouds, at their shifting patterns, and wondered if there was something up there? What child hasn't looked up and thought they saw something that shouldn't be there?

I wonder if one of the reasons why I found this book so interesting is because I was able to let go and believe it was all happening. That I was willing to believe in the impossible, the mystical and the magical and the bizarre. My favourite parts were when Aza was up on the ship, the ways in which the Magonians are different than humans. The birds. Don't be fooled by the the title comparisons. Stardust? Yes, I can see it. The Fault in our Stars? No. In no way is that a good comparison to this book. A definite read for fans of fantasy mixed with reality, for fans of the impossible, for fans of characters lost and struggling to find their own voice in order to save what they care about most.

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (152)

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, the week started off nice, then got all rainy and hailing and cold and gross.

Next week is the Canadian YA Lit Event! I hope you'll all come back for 2 weeks of posts and a giveaway! :) And keep leaving suggestions for must-read YA by Canadian authors.

Reviews going up next week will feature Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (Tuesday). Then comes the Canadian YA Lit Event starting on Friday so what reviews will be going up are a surprise. ;)
Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood (from Running Press on NetGalley) (no cover pic for this because there isn't a cover yet, which does make sense as it's not out until December)
Captain Marvel Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick & David Lopez (borrowed from library)
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch (borrowed from library)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Me on The Girl at Midnight

Title: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Release Date: April 18, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known. Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act. Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants... and how to take it. But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

The Girl at Midnight is mysterious and magical, the story of a human girl caught up in a neverending war and a near-impossible search for the mythical being that could put a stop to it all. But it's never that easy.

Echo is a lonely girl. Abandoned by parents who didn't care about her, hiding when she was a child until discovered by one of the Avicen who took her in. As a seventeen-year-old, she's still lonely. Out of place among those with feathers for hear and control over a number of magical things. But she's also loyal to the one who saved her. Now she's daring, passionate, and compassionate, and maybe a little stubborn about some things. She's not perfect, which is fine. She doesn't have to be. She's allowed to be normal, human, pickpocketing Echo.

The real world and a fantasy world come together in this book. There are the sights and smells of the human world, the crowds of New York, the markets of Taipei, the cherry blossoms in Kyoto. But there's also the hidden home of the Avicen, the feathers that cover them, the magic that runs through them. The enemy they've battled for centuries. Magic and reality collide in Echo.

This reads like a mixture of City of Bones and Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The real world mixed with the fantastical, lonely girls and broken boys. The magical, the dangerous and the destructive. The secrets some keep and the hidden that push those searching to move faster harder straight for the end. The consequences that will inevitably confront them when the time is right, or wrong. I won't deny what I've seen in other reviews, that some moments were predictable, and I won't deny the comparisons to the two books previously mentioned, because I still enjoyed this book. It was a race around the world, a race through magical doorways, a race towards fate. I'll be sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next book, because I have no idea what could happen next.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (223)

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

Title: The Awesome
Author: Eva Darrows
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Ravenstone

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Cunningham is tough, smart, and sassy. She's also not like other girls her age, but then, who would be when the family business is monster hunting? Combat boots, ratty hooded sweatshirts, and hair worn short so nothing with claws can get a grip, Maggie's concerns in life slant more toward survival than fashion or boys. Which presents a problem when Maggie's mother informs Maggie that she can't get her journeyman's license for hunting until she loses her virginity.

Something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy rage monsters. Blood and gore and insides being on the outside and all that. 

Maggie's battled ghosts and goblins and her fair share of house brownies, but finding herself a boy - fitting in with her peers - proves a much more daunting task than any monster hunt. Did you know normal girls don't stuff their bras with holy water balloons? Nor do they carry wooden stakes in their waistbands. And they care about things like "matching" and "footwear." Of course, they also can't clean a gun blindfolded, shoot a crossbow, or exorcise ghosts from a house. Which means they're lame and Maggie's not. Because Maggie's awesome. The Awesome, in fact. Just ask her. She'd be more than happy to tell you. 

After she finds herself a date.

This sounds bizarre, and the cover looks like a cult classic movie poster, but there's just something about it that intrigues me. Perhaps it's Maggie. There's something about how she's described that makes me want to check this out. She reminds me of Buffy. Maybe that's it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Me on Wonder at the Edge of the World

Title: Wonder at the Edge of the World
Author: Nicole Helget
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hallelujah Wonder wants to become one of the first female scientists of the nineteenth century. She knows every specimen and rare artifact that her explorer father hid deep in a cave before he died, and she feels a great responsibility to protect the objects (particularly a mesmerizing and dangerous one called the Medicine Head) from a wicked Navy captain who would use it for evil. Now she and her friend Eustace, a runaway slave, must set out on a sweeping adventure by land and by sea to the only place where no one will ever find the cursed relic....

Wonder at the Edge of the World is a dangerous adventure for one young girl and her friend. They travel across treacherous lands and terrible seas in order to hide something mysterious, but they must be careful along the way. They wouldn't want to fall victim to the relic's whispers.

Hallelujah is a smart, strong-willed, opinionated girl. She's rather matter-of-fact, something of a know-it-all. She has one way of looking at the world, the way she learned from her father: the scientific, adventurous way. She trusts that what he said was true. Why would he lie? He's why she is the way she is, stubborn, only seeing one way forward. For someone so young, she's very set in her ways. But sometimes it's not all about science.

What inquisitive child of an explorer and a scientist, raised on tales of danger and wonder, wouldn't want to travel? To see the sights for themselves? To have an adventure? Lu's father, before his death, presented the world to her as a place to be discovered. A place where secrets wait to be revealed. And so Lu heads out to do what her father didn't have the time to do.

Something dark is circling Lu, something primal, mysterious, and magical. What is the Medicine Head? What are its secrets? Obsession drove her father to learn more about it, and it drives Lu, but in a different way. To get rid of it. To stop the whispers. But will she be able to resist? Will it fall into the wrong hands?

Lu confronts a number of difficult topics on her adventure. Slavery and racism, obsession and greed. Evil. She confronts all of them, ready to push her way through, ready to do her father proud and finish what he could not. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for a complex and thrilling middle grade adventure story.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (151)

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! It was a rather boring week this week for me, so much much to ramble on about.

No books this week, unfortunately. Or fortunately, since I've got a load of books to get through for reviewing and for the Canadian YA Lit Event which starts in a couple of weeks and for general reading fun. So there isn't much of a post this week. Maybe I'll stop at the library and pick up some books next week. :)

Reviews going up next week will feature Wonder at the Edge of the World by Nicole Helget (Tuesday) and The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (Friday). :)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Me on The Revelation of Louisa May

Title: The Revelation of Louisa May
Author: Michaela MacColl
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Louisa May Alcott can hardly believe her ears—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and her father won't do anything to stop her. How is Louisa to find the time to write her stories if she has to add taking care of her father and sister to her list of chores? And why can't she escape the boredom of her small town to have an adventure of her own? Little does Louisa know just how interesting her small world is about to become. Before long she is juggling her stubborn father, a fugitive slave who is seeking safety along the Underground Railroad, and possibly even love where she least expects it. Add a slave catcher to the mix, and Louisa has her hands full.

The Revelation of Louisa May is a curious mystery set in the teenage years of one of America's most loved authors. This is a welcome look into her life, into her struggles, and into a complicated web of secrets.

Louisa May is portrayed as a smart and emotional girl, an opinionated girl. One who cares for her family, one who doesn't always understand the choices her parents make. Poor, her family relies on a number of others for support. Louisa's relationship with her father highlights this. In her eyes, he's a man who would love to find work by writing essays and speaking at social engagements, but no one will hire him. In her eyes, he just won't work. But it's more difficult than that. She's a similar way, knowing that to help the family more she would have to leave Concord to find work, but then who would help around the house? How would she find time to write her stories?

It's intriguing to see these imagined moments in American history. The days when Louisa May Alcott was a young girl, before she'd yet to pen a single word of  Little Women. The days when her family was struggling for money. The days of Thoreau and Emerson, their move away from industry and excess and back to nature, to living simply at Waldon Pond. The days of caring for your fellow man and woman, no matter their status, level of education, or race. The days of slaves on the run, travelling the Underground Railroad north into Canada where they and their families could be safe.

These fictionalized slice of life mystery novels of MacColl's are ones I've come to enjoy. The peek into history, into the young life of a now famous and well-regarded literary figure, is intriguing. Perhaps these events didn't truly happen, but what if something vaguely similar ever did? As with the previous novels, Louisa May Alcott was a young girl once, with hopes and dreams. I would recommend this to fans of the previous novels as well as those looking for YA featuring American history and a head-strong female protagonist.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (222)

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

Title: Get Dirty
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

From Goodreads:

The members of Don't Get Mad aren't just mad anymore... they're afraid. And with Margot in a coma and Bree stuck in juvie, it's up to Olivia and Kitty to try to catch their deadly tormentor. But just as the girls are about to go on the offensive, Ed the Head reveals a shocking secret that turns all their theories upside down. The killer could be anyone, and this time he—or she—is out for more than just revenge.

The girls desperately try to discover the killer's identity as their personal lives are falling apart: Donté is pulling away from Kitty and seems to be hiding a secret of his own, Bree is under house arrest, and Olivia's mother is on an emotional downward spiral. The killer is closing in, the threats are becoming more personal, and when the police refuse to listen, the girls have no choice but to confront their anonymous friend . . . or die trying.

Get Even was really interesting, an intense sort of mystery with questions and leads and not ever being totally sure who was coming after the girls. I'm looking forward to reading this and still not knowing who the killer is. Sometimes I can pick out who it is, but not here. If you have, good for you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Me on The Truth Commission

Hi there! As part of the informal blog tour for The Truth Commission, Penguin Canada asked me to include two truths and a lie about me at the beginning of my review. See if you can figure out which one is the lie. The answer is at the end. ;)

1. Four days after flying while sick, my ears unpopped in a Burger King near the airport in Belfast, Ireland.
2. When I was five I broke a Pyrex pie plate against my head, resulting in a large goose egg, when my mother swung the bag it was in too close to my head.
3. I once slipped when walking down the stairs and broke my ankle, which resulted in two surgeries and a lot of metal screwed into my bones, and yet I've never set off any metal detectors.

Title: The Truth Commission
Author: Susan Juby
Release Date: April 15, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill Canada (Penguin Canada imprint)

Open secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil. They are juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, and they have no fear. They are the Truth Commission. But Normandy's passion for uncovering the truth is not entirely heartfelt. The truth can be dangerous, especially when it involves her brilliant older sister, Keira, the creator of a bestselling graphic novel series, who has left college and come home under mysterious circumstances, and in complete silence. Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed...

The Truth Commission is clever and revealing, baring the truth for all those to see. Whether or not that's good or bad, whether or not it works, that's the question.

Normandy is a bright and clever voice. She's not as open to the idea of revealing the truths of those around her as her friends are, not when a truth about her sister could be dangerous if revealed. She's caught between not wanting to be intrusive and tired of living in a house where so many things are left unsaid. Her family is in a carefully constructed cocoon, but the shell of it is so fragile that the slightest bump might crack it open. Unfortunately, the truth needs to come out.

The narrative non-fiction storytelling aspect of the book is intriguing and interesting. It's all anchored by Normandy's clear voice, her emotions and observations, her fears and her anger and her assumptions about the people around her. It also, in the beginning, made the story feel rather dense. It felt like there was so much to read and to remember, so much going on.

The truth is one of those hard to navigate things. One of those sometimes effortless, sometimes sticky sludgy hard-to-move-through tar pit things. Truths that don't hurt anyone and truths that impact everyone. But there's wanting to know the truth, wanting to expose the flimsy useless lies we use every single day, and there's prying in people's private business. This book did brush up against that line a time or two.

This book explores the truth in an honest way, sometimes a brutally honest way. Sometimes it sets us free, but other times it sucks. Other times we know the truth but prefer instead to ignore it, to avoid it, because it makes life easier. An interesting story, to be sure. On a personal note, there were parts I liked, like Normandy, like her humour and personality, and there were parts I didn't, like some of the side characters. But that happens to everyone, yes? I would definitely recommend this to those looking for a well-written and realistic narrator and a mystery of sorts to fall into.

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

(As to the two truths and a lie from the start of the post? The second one is the lie.)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (150)

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. ;)

*falls over dead from mowing the lawn twice in the last week* At least it's not really long and looking terrible.

Curse you, reading slumps. *shakes fist at the sky* I think it's because I'm about to fall into a huge chunk of 4 e-galleys I need to read. There will always be something about e-galleys that changes how I read books as opposed to when I read paper books.

I've been looking ahead at summer releases that I'm looking forward to and I noticed there's only 1 in July that I'm interested in, Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones. It feels like there were a lot more I was looking forward to last summer. What are you all looking forward to this summer?

Reviews going up this week will feature The Truth Commission by Susan Juby (Tuesday) and The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl (Friday). :)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (bought)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Me on Kin

Title: Kin
Author: Lili St. Crow
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

In the kin world, girls Ruby de Varre's age are expected to play nice, get betrothed, and start a family—especially if they're rootkin, and the fate of the clan is riding on them. But after a childhood of running wild in the woods, it's hard to turn completely around and be demure. Even if your Gran is expecting it. Then Conrad, handsome and charming, from a clan across the Waste, comes to New Haven to seal alliance between their two families. The sparks fly immediately. Conrad is smart, dominant, and downright gorgeous. Yet as Ruby gets to know him more, she starts to realize something's... off. Then, the murders start. A killer stalks the city streets, and just when Ruby starts to suspect the unimaginable, she becomes the next target. Now Ruby's about to find out that Conrad's secrets go deeper than she ever could have guessed—and it's up to Ruby to save her Gran, her clan, and maybe even herself....

Kin is a return to a place dark and mysterious where magic twists and turns its way around everything. It's the tale of a girl and her battle with her future, a life of control over a life of freedom.

Ruby is a welcome character. She's brash and bold, fun and caring. Cami and Ellie are everything to her, after kin. But things are different now. Ruby believes she's trapped, trapped between being who she is, a little wild and a little reckless, and being the next Clanmother, which means getting married and having babies as soon as possible. She feels this future is inescapable, so she capitulates in a way. She stops being Ruby and tries to be someone else. She hides from Cami and Ellie. She's in so much denial over everything that she's drowning in it, sinking so fast she can't tell how far away the surface is. It's Ruby lying to herself, pretending, that hurts her the most.

Each girl in each book has come fact to face with the wretched monster that is denial, that is lying to yourself because you think it'll make it easier for everyone else. With Cami, it was the shadows in her past. With Ellie, it was her stepmother's constant abuse. This time around, it's the hated future of popping out babies and never running free that changes Ruby. All three of them struggle to find the strength to push past it, to find that one moment that tells them they're free to be themselves.

Back to New Haven. Back to a town full of magic, of the Families and their dark secrets, to the rootkin and their connection to the moon, to the Charmers and the jacks and the Twisted out in the Waste. This world is lush, dangerous, and wonderfully crafted.

This has been a series of broken girls struggling to fix themselves, to find themselves, to find the strength to fight back against the people that attempt to push them down. They may lie to themselves, to others, they may hide, but in the end it all about them pushing forward and breaking free, no matter how painful it's been. Fans of fairy tale retellings, monsters with sharp teeth, and girls with sharper claws should definitely give this series a read.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (221)

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

Title: A History of Glitter and Blood
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.

But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. 

This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

There's a special place in my book lover's soul that holds previous Hannah books like Gone, Gone, Gone and Teeth, and I'm hoping this one will join it. Hannah's words + fantasy? YES. This sounds so good, I can't wait to read it, to read all about Beckan and the other fairies, about the war. And the cover? Can you believe that it's an illustration and not a photograph of a person?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Me on Dream a Little Dream

Title: Dream a Little Dream
Author: Kerstin Gier
Translator: Anthea Bell
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Henry Hold & Co. Books for Young Readers (Macmillan imprint)

Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yep, Liv's dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially this one where she's in a graveyard at night, watching four boys perform dark magic rituals. The really weird thing is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They're classmates from her new school in London, the school where's she's starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But they seem to know things about her in real life that they couldn't possibly know, which is mystifying. Then again, Liv could never resist a good mystery....

Dream a Little Dream is fun and bright, magical and mysterious.

Liv is a curious girl. She's annoyed with her mother (who wouldn't be), disappointed in the turn her life has taken (goodbye, country cottage), and perplexed by some of her classmates. How could they know things she's only said in dreams? It doesn't take long for her to want to know more, for her to discover their secret and its source. Her relationship with her younger sister Mia is a breath of fresh air. It's so nice to see siblings who support each other, who don't hate or mildly dislike each other. Liv is definitely the more practical one with Mia being a natural-born detective. If only Mia had appeared a bit more often.

The magic and its origin are rather interesting. It doesn't overwhelm the other half of the story, the normal non-magic half, the part that's all about Liv and Mia moving to London and navigating the slightly bizarre politics of their new school. Once both come together, it makes normal life for Liv a bit more interesting and dreaming slightly more dangerous. Neither overtakes the other, it makes the book feel like a contemporary story with some fantasy elements.

The voice and tone seem a little young, but I felt the same when reading the author's Ruby Red trilogy. I'm wondering if it's more of a European YA trait. Liv sounds a bit young, but I didn't necessarily have a problem with that. Not all teens are mature and all-knowing. Some still have that cling of baby fat on their cheeks, that sense of innocence in their words and their actions. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the author's previous trilogy.

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Me on My LGBTQ Webcomic Reading List Part 2

And we're back with part 2 of my list of webcomics to check out if you're looking for more LGBTQ in YA.

First is As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman. This is all about Charlie, a 13 year old black queer girl who finds herself in the worst place possible: an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. Complete with gorgeous hand-drawn in coloured pencil artwork (because how often do you see that in a webcomic??), this is a rather honest and powerful story. It's all about Charlie coming up against some rather serious topics, topics like feminism, religion, race, sexuality, and gender. A definite definite must-read for the YA crowd.

O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti is a sci-fi family drama, according to Blue's FAQ. At the start we meet Alistair Sterling, who suddenly dies. But then wakes up 16 years in the future in a new and advanced robotic body. Confused beyond anything, he seeks out his old research partner Brendan Pinsky to see if he was involved in his 'resurrection' and discovers a few more surprising things. Like the robot that lives with Brendan. Like why she looks familiar. Secrets abound in this webcomic, as do the queer characters and the diversity. I love Blue's way of drawing people, they look so realistic, and the colour scheme, shades of blue for the present and shades of red for the past, is great. While Brendan and Al are adults in their 40's, there's another main character who isn't. It is aimed at mature readers, so maybe don't give this a read unless you're over 16 or 17.

Star Trip by Gisele is about Jas, a girl fed up with life on Earth, and Khut, a shapeshifting alien travelling the universe after making a deal with Jas to take her on an adventure. This is a bright, at times fun and at times serious story about life, reality, compassion, and companionship. The real mystery in this is Khut, what they are and where they're really from. But who knows if we'll ever find that out?

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki is a huge mix of snarky characters, existential crises, performance art, and the daily inescapable grind that is high school. While this is coming out in print at the end of the month, you can read it online. Each comic page is like a snippit into the lives of the students, you never know what you're going to get.

Honourable mentions include the folklore and mythology heavy Skin Deep by Kory Bing, the super fun Lumberjanes (in the not a webcomic but still awesome category), and the gorgeously drawn Avialae by Lucid (note that while this comic seems to be in the early stages and nothing too graphic has happened yet, it is marked at mature/18+).

Remember that this is not a definitive list. These are just the webcomics I currently read. The internet is partially your friend in the search for more, as because it's the internet you might come across some rather explicit comics/art when that's not what you're looking for. A lot of the artists/creators I've suggested have their own webcomic rec lists on their websites. Also, maybe look into who's going to comic conventions like ECCC, MoCCA, TCAF, VanCAF, SPX, or your own local conventions.

At the moment, this is the end, but check back in the future because I might be posting a general webcomics to check out reading list. Happy reading! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (149)

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. ;)

How in the world is it already April?!

Still prepping and reading for the Canadian YA Lit Event next month. So much reading. Still have no idea what my end post will be on, but that's often the way it goes.

A surprise post went up on Thursday. I started thinking about YA and webcomics and how their audiences don't overlap as much as I think they could, so I wrote up a list for those looking to get into webcomics who also like LGBTQ YA. Part 1 is up with part 2 going up on Monday. :)

Reviews going up next week will feature Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (Tuesday) and Kin by Lili St. Crow (Friday). :)
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (finished copy from Raincoast Books) (!! I'm so excited to read this.)
The Apple Throne by Tessa Gratton (bought e-book)
Vanished by E.E. Cooper (ARC from the author) (This sounds really interesting: mystery with possibly lesbian POC female narrator.)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Me on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn't play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone's business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he's been emailing, will be compromised. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon's junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a fun, sweet, and intelligent story. There's a genuine scared and hopeful voice in Simon, one that resonates throughout the book.

Simon's mind is racing as he struggles to solve the dilemmas that circle his head. Like who he wants to be. Like who he is vs who other people think he is. He's comfortable with his life, his world. Maybe not with the not-yet-openly gay part, but still comfortable. Good friends, a great family. A nice boy to e-mail about being gay and maybe one day telling people face-to-face. So why do things have to change? Why do people have to change?

Identity is big. Who or what we see ourselves as. But why does it matter so much to other people? Why does it matter if someone's really smart, really artistic? Why does it matter if someone's gay or straight or bisexual? Why does it matter if someone's male or female, intersex or transgender or genderqueer? Why does it matter if someone's asexual or aromantic? Why do we focus on labeling people so much? It's not our business, it's never our business, so why do we make it our business? Because that person's different from us? Because some of us find a bizarre kind of validation in discovering someone who's different? In our current rather visual-based society, we focus so much on what makes us different. Hair colour, skin colour, height, weight. Level of education, political views. Gender. Sexuality. I'm not so sure that it's healthy.

Change sucks. All of us are comfort creatures, grabbing tight to the things that make us feel happy and warm inside because we know they'll never betray us. But change still happens. It shows up when we don't want it to, when we've fallen into a good rhythm and suddenly this obnoxious trumpet shows up, ruining the band's groove so badly they're seconds away from an epic on-stage break up. Simon just wants to be Simon. Why do people need to ruin that and push him along? Because, as painful as it can be, sometimes we need the push. For as much as we hate change, we crave progress. We crave learning and experiencing new things. It's finding the perfect balance of the two that's so hard.

In some ways, this is a coming out story. But it's so much more than that. It's about friendship and how it evolves as we learn about people more and more. It's about being honest with yourself and those who've continued to support you. It's about accepting yourself, loving yourself. It's about not being afraid to take risks because that head-over-heels tumble into love will make it all worth it. It's about looking beyond the 'default.' There is no 'default.' No one is the same. Everyone is different. Everyone needs to read this book.

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

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Me on My LGBTQ Webcomic Reading List Part 1

So I was watching the latest Epic Reads Tea Time video about diverse reads and LGBTQ YA and thought, why limit it to prose or verse novels? What about graphic novels? Or webcomics? So I thought about the webcomics I currently read. Some of which are explicitly about LGBTQ characters.

Which is how I came up with this list. A lot of these have teen-aged characters, some are a bit more adult, but hopefully you'll all find something new to read. :)

First up is Eth's Skin by Sfé Monster. Set in a futuristic but decayed version of the coast off BC where raft cities are were the majority of people live (I once saw Sfé call it "barnacle-punk"), it's about a genderqueer fisher named Eth and the time they mistook a selkie skin for their own. Full of mermaids and monsters, masked land-dwellers called Beachwalkers, non-binary characters, and a pygmy seal named Goblin, this comic is sure to please those looking for something magical and different. Sfé is also the editor of the Beyond Anthology, if you're looking for a sci-fi/fantasy LGBTQ comic anthology to support.

Always Raining Here by Hazel and Bell is cute and fun but also has moments of seriousness. There's Carter, who's gay and is looking for a relationship (basically, he's looking to have sex), and there's Adrian, who's also gay but is also shy and more than a little heartsick. They're total opposites and full to the brim with teen angst. They're witty and snarky and at times complete jerks to each other, but their awkwardness makes them endearing. Well, to me, at least. Some might find it a little sappy or cheesy, but hopefully you'll see its good points, too.

Monster Pop! by Maya Kern is lots of cute fun and friendship. It's about two friends, George the cyclops and Franny the witch, and their shoujo manga-inspired slice of life adventures in an alternate Earth where monsters and magical creatures exist along with humans. There's also some serious talk, as some of the human characters are rather prejudiced towards the monster characters. There's a bit of a prequel before the main story of George and Franny heading off to university and the hijinks they get involved in. Straight characters, queer characters, non-binary characters. Everyone's there. There's currently a Kickstarter going on to publish the first volume, but there's only a few days left!

Princess Princess by Strangely Katie is all about princesses and heroes and flipping gender roles and awesome hair. Princess Amira is travelling one day, setting out to be a brave warrior, and comes across Princess Sadie stuck up a tower. Their following adventure contains grappling hooks, a horse that eats cookies, a chubby dragon, and smashing gender roles in order to be who they want to be, not who people expect them to be. So what if a princess wants to serve her country in a way that doesn't mean marrying some guy? So what if a princess isn't stick thin and is a coward? For any Toronto readers, Katie will be at TCAF with finished copies that have a new epilogue!

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell gets an honourary mention because while it's not an LGBTQ webcomic, I still think it's a great read. It's one of those epic stories that feels like it'll never end but things are always changing. It's all about a girl named Antimony who's sent to school at Gunnerkrigg Court. The Court is a rather mysterious, secretive, complicated, and dangerous place, and Annie has no idea what she's walking into when she arrives. Or who is around her who knows the secrets of her past. Like those about her dead mother and her distant father. She has an awesome best friend in Kat, the smartest girl around. I will admit that it takes a while for the LGBTQ characters to finally make themselves known, for their stories to be told and their relationships to come out in the open, but I think it's worth the wait. If you don't, There's also a lot said about the wars between magic and science, about pride and greed, and about what it is to be the awesome trickster god Coyote.

So there's part 1. Hopefully you all enjoyed this. Check back on Monday for part 2!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (220)

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

Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

For fans of We Were Liars and How I Live Now comes an addictive, sexy, twisty YA novel you won't want to miss.

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season--when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17--is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she'll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she'll uncover the dark origins of the accident season--whether she's ready or not.

This sounds so complicated and so bizarre. I'm really excited to read this, to discover the secrets and the truths and to see what happens. :)