Friday, July 31, 2015

Me on Ruin & Rising

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she's fighting for.

Ruin and Rising is a conclusion heading towards certain death and destruction, towards ruin and despair, unless Alina and the Grisha still with her can survive. Unless they can find the third amplifier. Unless they can finally stop the Darkling.

Alina, week and nearly broken, has to somehow find the strength to continue the search in order to defeat the Darkling. And find it she does, regaining control from the Apperat who would rather keep her locked away as a Saint to worship and fight for. Those months spent recovering weren't wasted. She and her comrades, her friends, make their wat across a war-torn land in order to find the firebird, but will they find it in time? Will it be what they've been searching for?

Alina blames herself for what's happened. For the Darkling. For the death and the destruction that has swept across Ravka. She feels that only she can stop him, only she could have the power to defeat him, and she will do anything. But she needs those around her. She needs to lean on them, to trust them, to let them help her. Or else nothing will work.

The side characters are so much fun to read about. Tamar and Tolya. Zoya, Nadia, David. Genya. Nikolai, the pirate prince. It's their interactions with Alina, their faith in her, their own resolve, that keep them all moving forward.

I couldn't put this book down for long, which surprised me. The first two books were good, are good. Perhaps because I wanted to know how it all ended. Not just for the sake of it being over, but actually how it ended. Where they went, what they found, who survived and who was lost. How it ended and what happened after that. When it was over I wondered about Alina. If she ever really wanted to be the Sun Summoner. If she ever really wanted to have that much power, that important a purpose. If all she ever really wanted was to be a normal girl with a normal life. A normal girl with a partner at her side, a warm home, and good friends. Fantasy fans, give this series a read. And then look forward to Six of Crows.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (237)

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

Title: The Rose Society
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

From New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu comes the second book in the exhilarating Young Elites series.

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers that murdered her love, the Crown Prince Enzo Valenciano.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

I remember reading this last year and being confused at the ending. Adelina's a villain, but villains are people, too. They have motivation, they have families, likes and dislikes. Loved ones. I'm curious to see how far this next book will reach, how far Adelina will travel and how far she'll go to get her revenge.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Me on The Nightmare Charade

Title: The Nightmare Charade
Author: Mindee Arnett
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams. Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother's infamy is hard enough, not to mention the crazy events of the past year. Dusty may have saved the day, but there are many days left in the year, and with an old foe back to seek revenge, she'll need all her strength to defeat him and save her friends.

The Nightmare Charade is more danger, more intrigue and hidden things, more secrets and lies. And the final reveal.

Dusty is back to investigating after a summer away from Arkwell. There are so many things on her plate this time around that I'm surprised she has time to sleep. So much of her days are spent worrying and wondering. Worrying about her mother, about Marrow, about finding time to be with Eli like a proper couple, about school. She's not given much time to get back into the swing of things. Instead, she and Eli are tossed head-first and nearly blind into a rather dangerous situation and are expected to solve it quickly. Her snark is still there, her word battles with people who bother her, but her worry and concern take over from time to time.

I was surprised at how easy it was to distrust most of the adults in this book, people like Lady Elaine and Detective Valentine. So few people are straight and honest with Dusty, so few tell her what needs to be said, give her access to the knowledge she needs to make sure she stays alive. How can they tell her that something isn't important, that she shouldn't worry about it? In this situation, everything is important. It's all extremely suspicious, not to mention frustrating.

There's a lot of emphasis on death this time around, particularly Dusty's. The book screams the massive possibility that she might not make it out alive this time. As it's the conclusion of the trilogy, I went in expecting some big reveals and some bigger battles, and with how the ending went, that's pretty much what I found. Nothing was easy for Dusty, or Eli, or even Selene or Dusty's mom, but that's good. There has to be consequences, even when it's magic. Sometimes the worst consequences happen when the battles are full of magic. The second book felt like it stuttered when it came to including the romance, which I felt was better balanced with the mystery and danger this time, but overall I enjoyed the series.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (164)

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. ;)

After last weekend's really hot days, was it ever a turn around when it was cool and rainy on Friday. *soaks up all the rain like a sponge* Also, lots of same old same old this week, which is why there isn't a lot of rambling. Reading. Summer weather. Puppy hijinks.

The other day on Twitter I found out about this book. Is there any way I can get it now? High fantasy with magic and an LGBTQ main character? YES. I want this book so hard.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett (Tuesday) and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (Friday). :)
Darkthaw by Kate Boorman (ARC from the author)
Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (e-book borrowed from the library)
The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary (e-galley from Sourcebooks through NetGalley)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Me on Rebel Mechanics

Title: Rebel Mechanics
Author: Shanna Swendson
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

It's 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family's life. She soon realizes she's uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she'll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

Rebel Mechanics is entertaining, an exciting story of one young woman's new life in a city filled with magic, machines, inventors, and rebellion.

Verity is clever, honourable, and a little adventurous when she needs to be. When she feels she needs to be, when she wants to help. Now in New York, now part of multiple spaces, she aquaires new roles and personalities. The proper governess. The honest reporter. The rebel spy. She sort of falls into these spaces, the people around her seeing her, seeing the good in her and drawing her into their arms, and she never says no. After a childhood filled with books and an apathetic parent, she's looking for a place to belong. And she's found them. The magister home she becomes a part has a number of secrets, as does the rebel group of inventors and activists, but so does she. There's more to Verity Newton than meets the eye. She's hugely intelligent and investigative with a strong sense of honour. It's not about position or status with Verity. It's more about character, it's more about doing what's right. It's more about helping everyone, no matter if they're magister or not. It's about the truth.

This is a rather intriguing alternate history world. It's an America that's still under British rule, a New York where the privileged and titled are magic users, where only the magisters can use machines powered by magic in order to make their lives easier. Where those without magic aren't allowed this luxury. Where rebels and inventors are trying to build their own machines, trying to harness steam power and electricity in order to escape the ruling grasp of the magisters. Whenever there's a book with this sort of alternate history, where the British Empire still reigns over America, there's often a long-running tone of freedom and escape from imperialism coursing through the book. It stems from that moment in history where America went to war against Britain in order to obtain their freedom from the empire. As a Canadian, I always find this interesting. That in alternate histories America always asks for its freedom from Britain. It's something they will not let go of, something they will always demand. Something I'll always find a little bit charming.

I found this book to be more fun than I expected. It's a bit light, there's some suspense, a little mystery here and there. The side characters were interesting and fun. Lord Henry and the children. The Rebel Mechanics. To me, the book seems to be more about Verity and her introduction to this new world that isn't the same as her stoic and literary upbringing. She's entered a new world, a new space. She's crafted a new identity for herself here. Perhaps more than one. I'm so curious as to what happens next. There must be more, it can't end like that. There's so much that hasn't been revealed.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (236)

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

Title: An Inheritance of Ashes
Author: Leah Bobet
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Canada

From Goodreads:

The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.

When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.

Finally, a new Leah book. I love Above, I think it's interesting and emotional and underappreciated, I think if you can you should go read Above because it will open your eyes. It cuts deep to the ways we treat people who look different, who act different, who have mental illnesses or are homeless, and tells the story with a bit of a fantasy twist.

Note: if you're in the US, this comes out on October 6 from Clarion Books.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Me on Focus on Me

Title: Focus on Me
Author: Megan Erickson
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: Intermix (Penguin imprint)

Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can't help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride. Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin's Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley's eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn't an option…

Focus on Me is all parts sweet and sad and funny. What you get here is two guys meeting by chance and taking a bit of a trip together. Colin is on his way home, bothered with not being able to finish college and not knowing what he's good for, and Riley is just on his way out, trying to find something that will make him happy before he's swept under the waves of his depression. What they become to each other is something meaningful, something that the other needs, but sometimes that isn't enough.

Colin is a supportive guy, he helps Riley lighten the load, helps him smile. And Riley feels more like a person with Colin around. They compliment each other and help each other. But road trips and kisses can't solve everything. The best thing is that them being in love doesn't fix their problems. The co-dependency is strong, but both acknowledge that it can't continue. They still have to work hard, still have to put in the effort in the other parts of their lives, in order to be happy and mentally healthy.

I wonder how I can phrase this thought of mine, how I can do it correctly. Colin and Riley are gay, but this isn't about them being gay. It's about them being people, being in their early 20's and feeling lost and confused. It's about them trying to find what's next. They're people. And that's what I love about this book.

This book says a number of things. That it's okay to lean on people, that it's okay to be sad, but that you can never give up. There's always something out there, someone out there, for you to focus on and pull yourself up. But you have to make that hard choice to want to change for yourself.

I really enjoyed this book because of what and who is in it. Smart people, a fun road trip, supportive family members, caring friends, and a hopefully accurate look at mental illness pre- and during treatment. If you enjoyed Trust the Focus, love romance, or are looking for something with a happy ending, give this a read.

Quick note that as with most new adult titles out there, there is some explicit sexual content.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (163)

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! Thanks for not revolting when I took this last week off to catch up on reading. :) And continuing with the summer theme, I mowed the lawn. ;) Just the back, though. It's still hot and most lawns are brown and dry from a lack of rain.

I really look forward to the weekends now. They mean I'm not on constant puppy duty. It's not that she's terrible, but sometimes I do get tired of spending most of my day with a dog that's not mine. Some days, when she doesn't listen, it's a struggle. Kind of like kids and the ways they don't listen to you when you've been yelling at them for hours. If we can make it out the rambunctious puppy stage with little blood shed, we'll be good.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Focus on Me by Megan Erickson (Tuesday) and Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (Friday). :)
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (e-galley from Sourcebooks through NetGalley)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (235)

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

Title: Spinning Starlight
Author: R.C. Lewis
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

I rather enjoyed Stitching Snow last year, it was more than just a sci-fi fairy tale retelling. Of course, I assumed it was a standalone, but I imagine this is more of a companion than a direct sequel. And it's based on The Wild Swans, a lesser-known fairy tale. More retellings of fairy tales that aren't so well-known, please. How many Cinderella or Snow White retellings can there be?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (162)

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. ;)

*reforms from a melted person puddle* It was hazy this past week, all the smoke in the air from the forest fires up north, which meant it was cooler than it was the week before. Then the rain came Friday morning! It was awesome. It's just been so hot and dry for too long.

I've seen a bunch of awesome stuff come out of SDCC the last couple of days. I don't know that I've ever go, though. So many people! I feel like I'd be spending my days in long lines or rooms full of people and wouldn't pay attention to the awesome TV and movie and book and comic and game things. Just lots of standing and waiting and elbow-jockeying and body-checking and trudging back to a hotel nowhere near the convention centre. But props to those who go and are willing to brave the crowds. As much as I'm not sure about going, I do hope that everyone who went had a great time. Also yay for Star Wars things! ;) Kid me is all over these upcoming books and the new movie.

No reviews next week! I need a bit of time to catch up and read as I've fallen behind due to a good chunk of my day being spent in my new job of puppy wrangler. But there will be reviews the week of the 20th. :)
The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (ARC from Penguin Random House Canada)
Miles and the Monster Outside by Philippa Dowding (ARC from Dundurn Press, along with some awesome things like bookmarks, a tote bag, a t-shirt, and a mug.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Me on Deceptive

Title: Deceptive
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

You don't belong with us. These are the words that echo through the minds of all immune Americans—those suffering the so-called adverse effects of an experimental vaccine, including perfect recall, body manipulation, telepathy, precognition, levitation, mind-control, and the ability to change one's appearance at will. When immune individuals begin to disappear—in great numbers, but seemingly at random—fear and tension mount, and unrest begins to brew across the country. Through separate channels, super-powered teenagers Ciere, Daniel, and Devon find themselves on the case; super criminals and government agents working side-by-side. It's an effort that will ultimately define them all—for better or for worse.

Deceptive is an undercover mission of twists and turns, of different kinds of trust and truths, of finding out which side of the line you stand on and which side you realize you're supposed to be on.

After months of living with and being trained by members of a crime syndicate, Ciere's soon off on her own, trying to figure out if Alan actually killed one of the members. Ciere sounds older this time around, like the days and weeks spent with a crime syndicate has changed her, hardened her, worn on her, but she's still snappy. Her illusions are better now, she's no longer holding back, but with her recklessness and lack of foresight, she's wading into something that could kill her. Daniel is stuck surrounded by the agents who hunt down people like him. He's surrounded by people who hate him, who call him a freak, but he's stuck there. He can't escape, he needs to keep Ciere and Kit safe. Devon was pushed away by Ciere and can't stop acting out at another new school. What's the point of anything anymore? With Ciere gone, he's lost the only friend he ever cared about. So when a smal and secret agency group comes to him with a job opportunity, who's he to say no?

There's more government presence this time around, what with Daniel stuck and Devon trying to find a place that works. It's like the danger and mystery from the first book has expanded somewhat. Crime syndicates warring, advocates for immune individuals speaking out against the regulations that contain them, missing people. Large parts fo the government fear the immune, fear that their abilities cannot be controlled, and so they do what they must. Hunt down and tag them, like animals. Like they're less than people. So what do the immune do? A number of things. Fight back. Run. Hide. Hide in plain sight. Plot and plan until the time comes.

This is a mixture of the paranormal, intrigue, suspicion, mystery, and high-stakes action. Ciere, Daniel, and Devon are unknowingly on three sides of the same situation, and when they come together and uncover the truth about the disappearances, the truth if Alan really did kill someone, it changes things. Fans of the first will relish this new book while they hope for the possibility of a third. It cannot end here.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (234)

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

Title: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Illustrator: Ian Mccaig
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

From Goodreads:

Acclaimed New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope like you've never experienced before, infusing the iconic, classic tale of good versus evil with a unique perspective and narrative style that will speak directly to today's young readers while enhancing the Star Wars experience for core fans of the saga. 

This illustrated novel is the first in the highly-anticipated series and features richly detailed art by celebrated Star Wars concept artist Iain McCaig. Fans old and new will be delighted by this beautifully crafted book and the unexpected twists in this retelling of a beloved story.

I remember watching Star Wars when I was a kid and loving it and watching it over and over, and then reading the books and the expanded universe books, like the ones when the Jedi Academy started and the first few ones about Leia and Han's kids. I'm really looking forward to reading these new books, starting with this one. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Me on Secrets of Selkie Bay

Title: Secrets of Selkie Bay
Author: Shelley Moore Thomas
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

In their present-day tourist trap of an Irish seaside town, famed for its supposed involvement with selkies in the past, three sisters are faced with the sudden disappearance of their mother. Crushed by the loss, their father is struggling to carry on. To make matters worse, there are rumors afloat in the village that their mother herself is a selkie who has now shed her human form and gone back to sea. As Cordie Sullivan, the oldest daughter, tries to learn more about her mother's vanishing, she must find the strength to help her family move ahead, even as she discovers an increasing number of clues that point to a hidden island off the coast-a mythical kingdom of the selkies.

Secrets of Selkie Bay is a magical and melancholy sort of tale. A tale of selkies and secrets, of magic and wishes, of loneliness and hope.

Cordie is the eldest, and of course, the most practical of the three Sullivan girls. She knows what's real and what isn't. She knows that they have to worry, what with their mother suddenly missing and their father starting to crumble at the edges. Now in charge of her sisters, and a number of other important household things, she's wondering where their mother really is after finding a letter from her. Where could she be? Cordie wants her back as much as her sisters Ione and baby Neevy, but the idea that she's a selkie out in the bay? The idea that there's a secret island with treasure on it not far away? Impossible. Selkies are just made up stories. Right?

The stories and the magic of the selkie is strong. It permeates the book, winding its way through each page. Selkies are fantasy creatures, legends of people who can turn into seals with the help of a seal pelt, but what if they weren't legends? How could there be a place called Selkie Bay without selkies living nearby? As present as the magic is, there's also a fair amount of modern day skepticism. How can selkies exist? Wouldn't we know? Aren't they just seals, watching us with careful eyes?

While a somewhat sad tone travels through the book, I did find it to be a fun little adventure. Two girls and their baby sister off to search for their missing mother, getting wrapped up in magic and fairy tales, following possible selkies off into the sea. I found this to be a sweet story, a story of fantasy and reality mixing together for kids who still look for the magic in everyday life.

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (161)

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. ;)

Heat wave! *types this up from a puddle on the floor* So hot. At least it's not humid, if it was everyone would be dying out there. Lucy and I camped out in the family room yesterday, where it was cool and shady. Here's a picture of her:

It looks like a book-heavy week, I know. Most of the books I got this week were e-galleys, which means they won't take up much space on my shelves. ;) It does mean that September is going to be review-heavy, like past years. It's always like this. April and May are really busy and September is really busy. Hopefully I'll be able to get through a bunch of the September ARCs while I'm volunteering and taking transit in August.

Reviews going up next week will feature Secrets of Selkie bay by Shelley Moore Thomas (Tuesday) and Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Friday). :)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Bought)
The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, & Brenna Yovanoff (Bought)
Inheritance by Malinda Lo (Bought)
Storm by Amanda Sun (Won on Goodreads)
Ungodly by Kendare Blake (E-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)
Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales (E-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)
Dreamstrider by Lindsey Smith (E-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)
Focus on Me by Megan Erickson (E-galley from NetGalley)
The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (E-galley from NetGalley)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Me on The Heart of Betrayal

Title: The Heart of Betrayal
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen. Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

The Heart of Betrayal is layered with deception and lies, of plans, of stories lost through time and revealed once again.

Lia is now in Venda. A prisoner, a captive, a young girl caught up in someone else's plan. Now near the Komizar, the man who ordered Kaden to kill her, she has to be careful of everything and everyone around her. But she isn't, not all the time. She's still bold, still reckless, still pushing the limits set before her. She isn't patient, she won't wait for long, and so she makes plans of her own. But the people of Venda surprise her. The people of Venda have a story to tell her.

When it comes to unfamiliar countries, especially countries we war and have warred against, it surprises us when we find similarities between us and them. Lia believes Venda to be filled with barbarians, warmongers, useless wrecks without any decency. What she discovers is a land with a deep, unshakable faith in her gift. A hard land, a land of survivors and fighters. But why would she have known any of this when growing up in Morrighan? Why would the sad and lonely things about Venda be taught? That would only humanize them, make them appear less than a danger and more of someone who needed help. Lia learns that not everything she thought she knew about Venda is true, and it frightens her. It changes her.

This book is more deception, more plotting and planning, than anything else. Everyone tells lies, keeps secrets, investigates, makes plans with others as well as on their own. It's hard to know who to trust, who to believe. Except for some. Lia lies in order to survive, to escape. She deceives, she hides, she uncovers. She must if she doesn't want to end up dead. The last book will, as it often is with trilogies, be the most revealing, the most eye-opening, and I'm looking forward to see how it all ends.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Me on a Canada Day YA Reading List

Hi there! It's Canada Day! We've been an actual country for 148 years now, which isn't that long when you look at world history. England, France, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Israel, India, China, Japan. Their recorded history goes back hundreds of years, if not thousands. It makes 148 years look like a drop in the ocean.

Since it's Canada Day, I thought I'd put together a reading list for all of you. Books set in Canada. Books written by Canadians. Books about Canada.

The Story of Owen and Prairie Fire by E.K. Johnston. People are chomping at the bit for Kate's upcoming fall book A Thousand Nights, but you need to read her first two books. Kate has shifted and twisted and re-worked Canadian, and world, history so it feels like dragons and dragon slayers have always existed in the world as we know it. These books are clever, witty, and don't pull punches. There are consequences, and there are friends, and there are life lessons. Kate's words are some of the best words.

Dark Inside and Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts. Finally, a post-apocalyptic series that doesn't totally ignore Canada. ;) When a massive earthquake hits, when people start acting strange, 4  points of view eventually collide in Vancouver.

The Fallen World trilogy (The Way We Fall, The Lives We Lost, The Worlds We Make) by Megan Crewe. Another series that doesn't forget about Canada.

The Hemlock trilogy (Hemlock, Thornhill, Willowgrove) by Kathleen Peacock. If you like werewolves and heroines who investigate mysteries and locations that are out to kill her, you might like this series.

Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow. Mysterious and atmospheric and secretive and complicated.

Anything by Courtney Summers. ANYTHING. SERIOUSLY.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. The classic Canadian summer setting: the cottage. It never changes, but people do. They get older, they drift apart, they hide their pain.

Above by Leah Bobet. I've seen that some people have been put off by the narrator's voice. Stick with it. This is all about people and the other, how we accept those who look "normal" and shun or lock away those who don't.

Ultraviolet and Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson. More clever and witty heroines. These books are like if you took actual real life and mixed in some suspicious aliens. Also, yay for an asexual heroine.

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. All friendship and family and the horror that is your first day in high school. Plus a ghost. I need more of Faith's books in my life.

The Never trilogy (Once Every Never, Every Never After, Once and For Never) by Lesley Livingston. Clare and Allie are awesome friends, accepting and protecting but also arguing and reasoning. You want a teen girl friendship that isn't catty or about one getting something from the other? You want an honest friendship? Read these books. Also read them for the time-travelling hijinks.

The Guests of War trilogy (The Sky is Falling, Looking at the Moon, The Lights Go On Again) by Kit Pearson. I read this series so much when I was a kid. Norah and Gavin are British children sent to Canada in 1940 in order to be safe from the war brewing in Europe. These books are their five years in Canada, their struggle with being safe while their family is in the UK, and their relationship with the two women who take them into their home.

So many more books by Susan Juby, Susin Nielson, Kenneth Oppel, Arthur Slade, Carrie Mac, Charles de Lint, Eric Walters, Monica Hughes, Kelley Armstrong, Tim Wynne-Jones, Joëlle Anthony, Eileen Cook, Morgan Rhodes, Eve Silver, Michelle Krys, Kat Kruger, Caroline Pignat, and many many more authors.

Do you have any go-to authors or books when looking to read about a piece of Canada? Is there anyone/any book you'd add to the list here?

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (233)

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

Title: What We Left Behind
Author: Robin Talley
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

From Goodreads:

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn't enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

I love the idea of this book. I love the idea of characters that don't fit into any kind of cookie cutter shape. I love the idea of people pushing hard to figure out who they are outside of the invisible boundaries that society has put on us. Maybe it's because I'm still, slowly, figuring out who I am.