Saturday, October 31, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (178)

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! The rains are upon us. But I'm still going to have to mow the lawn again before we pack it all in until March.

Sorry for those who dropped by yesterday looking for a review of The Conjurer's Riddle. I meant to read it Wednesday and Thursday but got wrapped up in other things and instead moved up a review I'd done for later in November. Lumberjanes is a great comic, though, so hopefully you'll give it a read. I'm really enjoying the mix of friendship, smart female characters, mystery, girl scouts, and supernatural monsters and magic. :)

Reviews going up this coming week will feature The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer (Tuesday) and Soundless by Richelle Mead (Friday). :)
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (pre-ordered)
The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth (ARC from Raincoast Books)
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (e-galley from Raincoast Books)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Me on Lumberjanes Volume 1

Title: Lumberjanes Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Authors/artists: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: BOOM! Box (BOOM! Studios)

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for hardcore lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together... And they're not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Lumberjanes is a super fun comic full of adventure, action, strange creatures, and awesome friends. What more would you want at summer camp?

Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley. Five different and helpful friends. They all have their good times and bad times, their quirks, their skills and their fears. Their doubts. Their personalities come out in their likes and their clothes, their fun catchphrases ("What the junk?"). But they're all super supportive of each other. This comic is full of positive female friendships. It's not about showing up the others or taking control. They're ready to fight back against monsters as much as they're ready to go searching around in mysterious caves. It's about having fun together and figuring out the mysterious goings-on before cabin leader Jenny reigns them back in.

The artwork is bright, colourful, and expressive. You can see the confusion on their faces when they come face to face with three-eyes foxes in the middle of the night in the middle of the forest. The huge grin on Ripley's face as she comes barreling in. The worry on Molly's when Mal gets hurt. The excitement on April's when get earns the Pungeon Master badge for clever word play. Their pure unadulterated curiosity can barely be contained on the page.

This book is 100% unique characters and 100% exciting artwork, which adds up to 200% and is completely impossible, but nothing is impossible when it comes to these young hardcore lady-types. There's something going on in the woods, something that means three-eyes wolves and secret messages, and it's up to these five girls to figure out while kicking butt and having fun together. A must-read for those looking for fun.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (250)

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

Title: Map of Fates
Author: Maggie Hall
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Two weeks.

That’s how long it took for Avery West’s ordinary life to change forever: In two weeks, she discovered she was heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, learned her mother was taken hostage by the Circle’s enemies, and fell for a boy she’s not allowed to love, just as she found out another was her unwelcome destiny. 

Now, Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle, setting her mom and herself free before it’s too late. By her side are both the boys: Jack—steady, loyal, and determined to help her even at the expense of his own duty—and Stellan, whose connection to Avery grows stronger by the day despite her best intentions, making her question what she believes at every turn.

But at the end of a desperate hunt from the islands of Greece to the red carpet at Cannes comes a discovery that not only changes everything, but could bring the whole world to its knees. And now Avery is forced to face the truth: in the world of the Circle, no one is what they seem.

I'm looking forward to this next book. I like the sort of international intrigue that's centered around secret societies and puzzles and travelling around the world. I do wonder about Avery's relationships with Jack and Stellan, which one she'll fall for more. Which one she'll end up with. What will pop up from the Circle and ruin everything. With it being the second book, it's bound to end with a big surprise or explosion or something.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Me on How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue

Title: How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue
Author: Jess Keating
Release Date: October 2, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Surprise! Ana's long distance BFF is finally coming back to visit. But with her purple hair and new attitude, Liv is barely the girl Ana remembers. This new Liv probably thinks a birthday party at the zoo is lame. Maybe if Ana has a super-secret sleepover instead, she'd never have to introduce Liv to Ashley, former enemy and now Ana's best-ish friend. What could go wrong?

How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue is fun, adventurous, and heartfelt. Ana's a sweet girl, trying to figure everything out, trying to keep things the same. But sometimes friends change. What's a girl to do when that happens?

Ana is back. As inquisitive as ever, as helpful as ever. As fumbling through life like every other kid that's ever turned thirteen or had old friends come back to visit. She has no idea what to expect when it comes to life, school or friendships or anything else. All she has are hopes and expectations, what she thinks might happen from TV and movies and gossip. But those pale in comparison to how it actually unfolds.

Friends can be tricky. It can be hard to find them, harder to keep them. When you can, when they last, it's special. You feel like you've found that person that will understand you for the rest of your life. But sometimes they move away. Sometimes you're scrambling to find that feeling again. You'll never have the same kind of relationship with a different person, but that's fine. Friendships are never the same, they differ from person to person. You don't have to have everything in common in order to be friends. Ana was lost when Liv moved away, she felt cast adrift in the bizarre world of middle school. Now, now that's made peace with Ashley and gotten to know Bella. She's feeling better. But that doesn't discount what she had, has, with Liv. People can change. It's the lying that can ruin things.

I think this series is honest it how complicated it feels to be a kid, a new teen. You're supposed to start figuring some things out but you're not sure how. You don't want to change but every day is a step closer to the next big achievement. Thirteen. High school. Sixteen. Driving. Ana's is a great point of view. She's bright and curious, she loves animals, she has a good support structure, and she's awkward. A definite recommendation for those looking for fun, smart, realistic middle grade.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (177)

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's getting cooler now, fall is definitely settling in. But its looking like the winder will be mild and rainy, which means everyone will be soggy and sad when the spring comes around.

It's my sister's birthday soon, followed up by my dad's, and they're hard people to buy presents for. We've all reached the point where we ask the person what they want and go from there. Why bother being secretive about it? I hate it when I end up buying someone a present that they find useless, that they already sort of have, or that it turns out they didn't want. I might as well just hand out cash, let them buy what they want. I usually treat my sister to lunch and a movie for her birthday plus an extra present. For years we saw Harry Potter, then the Hunger Games movies. What will we see next year?

Reviews going up next week will feature How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue by Jess Keating (Tuesday) and The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer (Friday). :)
Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland (ARC from Dundurn Press)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Me on What We Left Behind

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

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?

What We Left Behind is a look at the growing up people do when they move away to college, when they're given the chance to figure out who they are with complete strangers. A look at relationships and how glamourous they are in the beginning, but things change over time. A look at identity and how labels don's always work for everyone.

Toni and Gretchen, apart for the first time in a while, are off to that wild and wonderful world known as college. They're coming face to face with new settings, new people, and new ideas. But they still want to be together. They still love each other. It's hard for them, being apart. Then life pushes its way between them. Then Toni meets some new people, starts thinking about what it is to be genderqueer, to be seen as a girl or a guy. Then Gretchen feels lost, supportive but kept in the dark. And the two learn relationships are harder than they thought.

I think this is a look at gender, sexuality, and identity. At the different ways we see ourselves and how we want other to see us when those defining qualities fall outside the 'standard' male/female binary. It's easy to support Toni, to follow Toni along as Toni navigates being genderqueer and being around others who are genderqueer and transgender. But it felt like Toni was identifying as genderqueer because Toni wasn't yet confident enough to identify as trans. I didn't think that's what genderqueer meant. Toni was so negative at times, thinking that Gretchen wouldn't understand, that Toni's sister wouldn't understand, that it was easier to hide. But these are my assumptions as a cisgender woman. While they're all I have, they don't excuse how wrong I could be in reading Toni's character. All I can do is listen and learn.

I can't say that I've ever been in the same situations that Toni and Gretchen were in, but I can certainly empathize with their struggle to figure out who they are and how to support those they love when they're going through something that they haven't. There's no right or wrong way to be gay or lesbian or bisexual, to be genderqueer or transgender. It's all up to you whether or not you want to use certain pronouns. It's okay to question who you want to be, who you want to present to the world. It's okay to have questions, and it's okay to be frustrated when you don't understand.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (249)

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

Title: Riders
Author: Veronica Rossi
Release Date: February 16, 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen

From Goodreads:

For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen--Conquest, Famine, and Death--are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now--bound, bloodied, and drugged--Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for--not to mention all of humankind--he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

I'm rather intrigued by this book. Especially by the part that says they fail their mission and Gideon is tortured. That means that happens fairly early on, right? Like, in the first quarter of the book? Interesting. Of course, if it doesn't happen until half/two-thirds of the way through, then it's a terrible summary that needs a spoiler warning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Me on Wolf by Wolf

Title: Wolf by Wolf
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele's twin brother, and Luka, Adele's former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Wolf by Wolf is dangerous. Deadly. Deceptive. It's a race against time, a race towards revenge and away from the past. A race of secrets and lies and plots and plans.

Yael is a survivor of the death camps where German troops sent Jews to die. Yael is a soldier for the resistance, their secret weapon in a highly dangerous but hopeful plot of assassinating Adolf Hitler. Yael is an impossible thing, experimented on in the camps and made to be able to skinshift, to shed her own appearance and take someone else's. Yael is strong, powerful, passionate. She knows pain, suffering, death. Few things can break her. She rarely shows her true self to the world, the part of her that lives inside herself. The little girl that spent days on a train. The girl that was filled with chemicals until everything she was was stripped from her. She will get her revenge. But first she must survive the race.

This is the plot of the Reistance: to win the Axis Tour with Yael as Adele. But plots and plans are never so simple, never without complications. Disguise herself as Adele Wolfe? Yes, Yael can do that. Learn Adele's mannerisms and habits? Days are spent studying the files created on her, detailing her life. Recreate the secrets and relationships she had with those racing with her? With Luka? With Felix? Impossible. Yael can only hope that she says the right thing, knows the right thing. But secrets are called secrets for a reason. There are some things Adele Wolfe kept so hidden no one else knows. Yael's job goes from highly difficult to nearly impossible when these two appear in the race, up in her face. Yael knows how to fight, not how to handle family and personal relationships.

This is an exploration of survival and resistance, of oppression and hatred. Of defiance. The crimes of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists were great and horrific. No human being deserves to be treated like that. Like they were unclean, trash, less than human, because of the colour of their skin, hair, or eyes. Because of their faith. Because of something they have no control over or cannot change. This alternate world is frightening, steeped in fear and caution. A must-read for historical YA fans, for fans of alternate histories. For those looking for a fast-paced story about a survivor and the lengths some go to for revenge.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (176)

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! I'm horrendously behind on building up a review buffer. I remember the days when I had a buffer of two or three weeks, but not these days. I'm trying to get back to that, trying to read more often instead of waffling but it's tricksy with an excited puppy running around who might have a taste for paper and books.

Reviews going up next week will feature Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (Tuesday) and What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (Friday).
Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse (ARC from Penguin Random House Canada)
(Also a bunch of comics because I hadn't been to the comic book store in ages.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Me on Illuminae

Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she'd have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that's little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what's really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Illuminae is enthralling, expansive, and inescapable. On one side, there's Kady and Ezra, navigating the small spaces they've been given, trying to understand. But there's something bigger happening around them. Something they can't escape from.

Kady, on the Hypatia, is desperate to know the truth. Desperate to find those she cares about. She's not really concerned about herself, she's all about uncovering the truth and doing whatever she has to do to find it. Even if that means breaking a rule or two. Ezra's trying to survive in his new post-Kerenza role aboard the Alexander as a fighter pilot. He's trying to live, trying to not miss Kady too much. Trying to understand what's being asked of him. Both have their battles to fight, but both are still trying to sort out their feelings. There were a number of things left unsaid between the two of them when Kerenza was attacked, when Kady dumped Ezra that morning. The months apart on separate ships, in separate situations, have changed the both of them significantly. But each of them still needs the other, no matter what happened before.

AIDEN. So many things could be said about AIDEN. How realistic the voice is, how complicated the questions it begins to ask itself as it comes back online, where its motivation comes from. It's like watching someone go mad but still retain their sanity. It's like watching an infant realize they're a fully-grown person. As an artificial intelligence, AIDEN is driven by logic and code, by ones and zeroes, by commands, but it fractures, splinters, and what AIDEN becomes is nothing short of both haunting and glorious. It's hard to describe how much I was fascinated by AIDEN.

The way this story is told, through found documents, IM chats, maps and diagrams, plus the musings of a crippled artificial intelligence, is so unique. They show what's happening to everyone, Kady and Ezra aren't the only people in the story. There are other characters, other people, that are important to their plots and plans. Why shouldn't their little moments be told?

I couldn't stop reading this book. I had to know what happened next, what Kady would discover, what Ezra would face. What AIDEN would do. It felt like I'd been tossed into this world, confronted with eye-witness accounts and files and videos of something real, and would never reach and end. Until I reached the end and had to leave. It was so intriguing, seeing both the little picture of Kady and Ezra's journeys and the bigger picture of the Hypatia, the Alexander, and the doom they're headed for. I'm so curious as to what will happen next, what the even bigger picture is. Because you know it's there. Waiting.

(I received an ARC of this title from a blogger who attended BEA 2015.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Me on Darkthaw

Title: Darkthaw
Author: Kate A. Boorman
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Amulet (Abrams Books imprint)

For as long as Emmeline can remember, she's longed to leave the isolated world of the settlement and explore the wilderness that calls to her in her dreams. And now that the Council has fallen, she will finally, finally get that chance. With First Peoples guide Matisa at her side, Emmeline rallies a brave group to join her on her quest into the unknown, including her beloved Kane and his two younger brothers. But the journey soon proves far more dangerous than Emmeline anticipated—with warring clans, slavers, colonists, disease, and natural disasters seemingly at every turn. After putting so many lives in danger, she starts to doubt everything she once knew. Did she make the right choice to leave the settlement—and can her relationship with Kane survive the ordeal? Matisa insists that to set things right and to fight the evil that is bringing all this danger and turmoil to the forest, Emmeline must journey to Matisa's people—even if that means leaving Kane behind.

Darkthaw is a dangerous journey through unforgiving terrain. It's a walk down a path dreamed of by unexpected. Em has lived a surprisingly sheltered life in the settlement. She was not prepared for the dangers that roam free outside its walls.

Now Emmeline is free. Now she is on a journey, moving forward into the world towards the home of some of the First Peoples. Matisa's people. Matisa, who dreamt of her and found her in the shadows. The two girls are connected. Em knows they must stay close. Their dreams are telling them something, that something is coming. But the path is more trecherous than Em and Kane expected, than Matisa and her family expected.

The setting is still as it was. A settlement in the middle of nowhere. The forests that contain their secrets. The sounds of the river. But there is more to the world than just Em's settlement. The Dominion is out there, moving westward in search of land to map and move into. But is that a threat to Em and Matisa's plans? Are they really just looking for places to settle, or are they wanting more? Em comes to discover that the world is a dangerous place, much more so than she'd expected. But does she have the strength to continue her journey? Will she still want to continue down this path?

With the Dominion moving further westward, it's like history repeating itself. Em's world is like a distant, once ruined but now rebuilding version of ours. The First Peoples know that war machines and weapons ruined the world, which is why they separated themselves. They are wary of what comes now, what might come in the form of mapmakers and settlers. If the past will repeat itself. If the streams and rivers will fill with sickness and death. All are now cautious, waiting, watching. Wondering what the dawn will bring.

This is the result of Em's decision to leave the settlement. She knows she wants more than what's available to her. She needs to leave. There's more in the world that she needs to see, places that she needs to go. This is Em learning the truth about the world, that it was far safer, in some ways, in the settlement. But she would gain nothing from staying. She had to leave, had to learn, had to discover which path she'd chosen. With the events of this book and the ending, the happiness and the sorrow, I'm curious as to what will come in the last book.

(I received an advance copy of this book from the author.)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (248)

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

Title: Gena/Finn
Authors: Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books

From Goodreads:

The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.

Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.

Another new Hannah book! And this one written with her friend Kat! I'm so curious about this one.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Me on An Inheritance of Ashes

Title: An Inheritance of Ashes
Author: Leah Bobet
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

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.

An Inheritance of Ashes is haunting, full of unspoken words and unseen dangers. It's a book of sadness and hope combined into one creature, one setting, one young girl and the place she calls home, the people she call friends and family.

Hallie is on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the last argument between her and her sister. Things on their family farm are moving slowly with only the two of them working the land, with her brother-in-law not yet home from the war down in the South, a war of a Wicked God and Twisted Things. With Thom not yet home, what else could Hallie do and agree to let a wandering man work the farm with her for her sister Marthe? But his arrival brings questions, brings secrets, brings harsh words. And then the monsters come.

She's a sweet girl, Hallie, wanting to keep the barley farm running, wanting to make everything good and right for her sister and her coming baby. Hers is a sweet voice, a voice afraid of more than a few things. A voice that means well but at times is reckless. A voice that keeps the secrets in the dark in order to keep others safe.

With Hallie and Marthe, we see the unspoken words between siblings. The things we want to say but can't for any number of reasons. Fear. Guilt. Anger. Pride. We argue because we can't say the words we want to. We never say the words we should say everyday. We pick and poke and prod at the mistakes. We push because we love. We love with each breath in our bodies, each inch of ourselves. But we just can't say the important words when we want to, when we should.

This book shows the aftermath of war, what it does to the survivors. What happens to those named 'hero' or 'villain.' No one really went to war meaning to be a hero, not in this book. The men, the farmers and shopkeepers, the husbands and brothers and sons, went to war because help was needed. No one expected to be a hero. No one expected to push into the storm of the Wicked God Southward and cut His heart. But someone did. After the war, what returns to the farms and the shops? The homes? Men with shadows in their hearts, with darkness and magic in their eyes. They see the world differently now. Few will understand their pain.

I found this to be a darkly magical and enchanting look at siblings, at war, and at how far we will go to protect what's ours. The farm is Hallie and Marthe's farm. It will be their farm as long as they breathe, as long as they live. No one will push them from it or take control of it. They will stay strong and protect what is theirs, who is theirs. The book is a slow journey through the aftermath of a devastating, complicated war and through the battlefield of sibling politics. It's a book of silent words and birds with spider webs that burn you if you touch them. It's a book I'd recommend to those looking for more powerful, meaningful Canadian YA and to those looking for something a little different in their slightly magical/paranormal recovering from ruin futuristic setting.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (175)

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! Not much to talk about this week. It's been a lot of reading and some hardcore puppy sitting. By hardcore, I mean watching Lucy all the time because she had surgery on Monday and looks like a sad puppy most of the time. It's nothing too serious, my sister just isn't interested in having any mini Lucys in the future. She's still a bit out of sorts, still trying to lick the incision, but she's getting better. It'll probably be another week or so until she's back to normal.

I've also been spending the last week getting used to this new laptop. There are some differences, like the fact that it's got Windows 8 and I don't think I can cover my desktop in little notepads anymore, and it's looking like I've lost some episodes of some podcasts I like listening to, but it's all going well.

Reviews going up this week will feature An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet (Monday), Darkthaw by Kate A. Boorman (Wednesday), and Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Friday). :)
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (e-book borrowed from the library)
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (e-galley from Disney Book Group through NetGalley)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Me on The Chess Queen Enigma

Title: The Chess Queen Enigma
Author: Colleen Gleason
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes have reluctantly agreed to act as social chaperones and undercover bodyguards for Princess Lurelia of Betrovia, who has arrived in London to deliver a letter that details the secret location of an ancient chess queen that's been missing for centuries. But when the letter—which will heal a centuries-old rift between England and the Betrovians—is stolen out from under Evaline and Mina's watchful eyes, the two girls are forced into a high-stakes race to ensure they find the chess queen before anyone else does.

The Chess Queen Enigma is mysterious and thrilling, yet another adventure of Stoker and Holmes to get wrapped up in. Winding their way through ballrooms and alleyways, in both the best and the worst company London can offer a young woman, they must solve the mystery first and prevent something dangerous from happening.

Mina and Evaline are back to solve another mystery, back to rely on the separate strengths of brains and brawn. Back to argue about which piece of the mystery needs solving first. They will always be at odds, which is one reason why they work so well together, even when it looks like they're not working together at all. The challenge each other, push each other, make each other stop and think before continuting on recklessly (although that doesn't always work). Left to their own devices, they have no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to discuss and squabble with. They're both head-strong and stubborn young ladies, they both have their quirks and flaws, and they always get the job done in the end.

There's only so many times I can repeat myself in terms of the inventiveness of the setting, the illegality of electricity and the over-abundance of steam-powered vehicles, contraptions, and clockwork machines. The way that London is layered in this world, the slums hidden below the more desirable and more expensive buildings, kept straight in the air by large balloons. It has a way of keeping the secrets of its residents hidden from sight.

I'm surprised at how invested I was in the story right from the start. In the past two books, I've struggled to suspend my disbelief in the idea that both Holmes and Stoker existed at the same time and in a London that had abolished electricity. I didn't have that problem here. Perhaps I was far too interested in the mystery. It's an intriguing mystery. Where is the chess queen? And the questions that have stretched across the series. Who is the Ankh? Who is Pix? Where are the vampires? There has to be another book, considering the rather shocking and surprising way this one ended. There just has to.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (247)

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

Title: Bleeding Earth
Author: Kaitlin Ward
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Adaptive Books

From Goodreads:

YA Highway blogger Kaitlin Ward's debut YA novel, Bleeding Earth.

Lea was in a cemetery when the earth started bleeding. Within twenty-four hours, the blood made international news. All over the world, blood appeared out of the ground, even through concrete, even in water. Then the earth started growing hair and bones.

Lea wants to ignore the blood. She wants to spend time with her new girlfriend, Aracely, in public, if only Aracely wasn't so afraid of her father. Lea wants to be a regular teen again, but the blood has made her a prisoner in her own home. Fear for her social life turns into fear for her sanity, and Lea must save herself and Aracely whatever way she can.

I've been waiting to read this for a while. Sometimes I wonder if I should've read the e-galley from Egmont before they went bankrupt, just to read the story, but I wanted to see if it would get picked up or self-published. I'm hoping it'll be good. It's not every day you come across an apocalyptic YA where the main character is a lesbian.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Me on Spinning Starlight

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

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?

Spinning Starlight is exciting and dangerous, a young girl's mission to save her brothers while on the run and on a strange new planet. Liddi must overcome a number of obstacles, like her inability to speak and her very important reason why, in order to keep everyone she loves alive.

Liddi is a compassionate girl, a smart girl in her own ways. Just not in the way the public expects. She's expected to be a technological genius like her brothers. She's expected to take over her family's company. She feels more like an ugly duckling, constantly in the spotlight, everyone talking about her like she can't do anything or say anything or dress right. On a planet of technologists and cutting-edge inventions, Liddi feels like she doesn't belong. And when she uncovers a dangerous plot and flees to another planet, she definitely doesn't belong.

What I found so interesting is that with all the tech, all the advancements, all the space travel, Liddi can't read or write. People still learn, still go to school, still teach, still create, still understand, but reading and writing seem to have been phased out. It's an intriguing possibility, the idea that we will become so visual we'll phase out our written language. Liddi's very out of her element when she travels through the conduit, when she meets Tiav and learns how things are done on his world. When she can't explain her situation for fear of dooming her brothers. She's lost, confused, on the run, but she still pushes herself to fix things.

I vaguely knew the fairy tale this book drew from, The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen. It was great to see a lesser-known tale get the spotlight as a retelling. They don't always have to be Snow White or Cinderella retellings. There are other fairy tales out there, some rather intriguing, some complicated, and some very bizarre.

While this is said to be a companion to the author's previous book, I saw that it's not set in the same universe, so don't expect any reoccurring characters. I would've been happy to see them, to try and remember their story, but I was happy enough to read about Liddi and her problems, her love for her brothers, her desire to prove herself and find a way to save them. Fans of Stitching Snow and other fairy tale retellings should give this a read.

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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (174)

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! Apologies for the lateness of this. If you didn't know, my laptop died Friday evening. Most of today was spent going to a big blue and yellow electronics store and getting the run around with what they actually had in stock/available to sell me/sending me to stores in a different city in order to find the one they had when it was actually the floor model and no one knew I'd put it on hold. *sigh* We'll try again tomorrow. *eats sympathy chocolate* I'm currently borrowing my sister's laptop (she also has a desktop). The downside to all this is I have lost some files, like my review schedule, but it's easily written up again. I should just do it all in Google Drive. I've also lost a bunch of e-galleys, but they're all easily downloadable and I have them on my Kobo.

Remember: back up your files regularly.

I'm so behind on my reading. It's like I need a reading nanny or something, someone to tell me to get off Twitter or YouTube and actually do some reading. That being said, I actually read an entire book last night. :)

Reviews going up this coming week will (hopefully) feature Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis (Tuesday) and The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason (Friday). :)
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (ARC from Penguin Canada)
The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull (ARC from Penguin Canada)
A Pocket Full of Murder by R.J. Anderson (finished copy from S&S Canada)
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch: At the Edge of Empre by Daniel Kraus (ARC from S&S Canada)
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (e-galley from Harlequin Teen through NetGalley)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Me on An Unexpected Pause

Hi all! My laptop died on me this evening (Friday), which means there'll be a bit of a pause until I get a new one.

See you soon! :)

Me on Dreamstrider

Title: Dreamstrider
Author: Lindsay Smith
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

Dreamstrider is mysterious and dangerous, wreathed in dreams and secrets. Something dark is brewing in Barstadt, in the dream world of Oneiros. Something long thought defeated is waking up.

Livia is cautious. Intelligent. Very uneasy. Because of a certain incident, because of mistakes and accidents, she's wary of her ability to help the Ministry ferret out secrets and trecherous plots against the empire. She's the only dreamstrider but she's cautious. She has no confidence. She's filled with doubts and fears, doubts of one day finally proving her worth, fears of loosing someone important to her. Without courage, she can't speak up and share what's weighing on her heart while her mind and her dreams are filled with dangerous shadows. She'll have to find some courage, though, if she wants to survive. If she wants to save those around her.

Dreams are so important in this world, almost like a religion of some sort. The Dreamer guides those of Barstadt through dreams, showing them what to do and what's to come. It's up to the people themselves to interpret those dreams, to see what's coming, to learn the correct lessons and follow the correct path. But the questions do arise. Is the Dreamer real? If so, why would the Dreamer allow so many doubts to fill Livia? Why do the Nightmare wastes plague her so? Do her own insecurities hold too much power over her?

This is an intriguing mystery/thriller with fantasy elements. There's so much focus on the task at hand: uncovering secrets and traitors, navigating treacherous lands, piecing together motives and plots. The slight romance takes a back seat to the action and intrigue. It's there, a piece of Livia's unspoken worries that control much of her waking, and sleeping, thoughts, but it's not as obvious. The language is a a bit different. I think that's the world itself, descriptive and magical, meanings hidden in words and dreams. It's a bit flowery. But what's most interesting is Livia herself. A girl plucked from the slums, from a life of fear and crime, is given a new chance when her gift is discovered. But she never thinks herself worthy. She's constantly at war with herself, trying to prove herself while being afraid she's not good enough. She keeps fighting back, which makes her a great heroine.  I liked it, I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this new standalone.

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