Saturday, November 28, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (182)

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! It's been frosty and cold this past week, and it looks like more of the same for the next few days. Which is ok, it's not snow or rain, but the cold isn't always fun.

It's going to be weird next week because I'll be the only one around watching the puppy, so hopefully I won't completely lose it when she doesn't listen because of still being a puppy. I still need to cram in a bunch of reading. I need to portion out my time better, STILL, and read while she's sleeping and not poking her big nose in everything.

The holidays are coming! Slowly but surely. Then my birthday right after, then the freaking out that another year has gone by. But for now, the planning.

Reviews going up next week will feature The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One by Daniel Kraus (Tuesday) and Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood (Friday). :)
Beyond anthology (Kickstarter reward)
A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin (borrowed from the library)
Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (borrowed from the library)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Me on Beyond

Title: Beyond: The Queer Sci-fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology
Editors: Sfé R. Monster & Taneka Stotts
Contributors: Gabby Reed & Rachel Dukes, Niki Smith, Reed Black, Christianne Goudreau & Taneka Stotts, Ted Closson, Wm Brian MacLean, Blue Delliquanti, Shing Yin Khor, Kiku Hughes, Jon Cairns, Sfé R. Monster, Kate Ebensteiner & Bevan Thomas, Savannah Horrocks & April J. Martins, Dylan Edwards, Kori Michele Handwerker, Kristina Stipetic, Anissa Espinosa & Alison Wilgus, Lin Visel & Leia Weathington, A. Stiffler & K. Copeland

Swashbuckling space pirates, legendary dragon slayers, death-defying astronauts, and monster queen royalty. All this (and more!) in Beyond, the queer sci-fi and fantasy comic anthology. Featuring 18 stories by 26 incredible contributors, the Beyond anthology celebrates unquestionably queer characters hailing from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, from and centre as the heroes of their own stories; exploring the galaxy, mixing magic, having renegade adventures, and saving the day!

Beyond is a comic anthology full of emotion, honesty, and hopes for more visible representation in science fiction and fantasy. Each story hammers home the idea that queer characters, meaning gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or non-binary or genderfluid or however the character defines themself, are present in sci-fi and fantasy. That they have their stories to tell. They they can be the hero or the heroine, the saviour or the rescuer. That they don't have to be the villain, immoral or evil or horrifying. That they are people, even when they're aliens, creatures, or androids.

All 18 stories are wonderful in their own way, each with amazing art, but here are some highlights.

"Optimal" by Blue Delliquanti. Sort of a prequel story to her ongoing webcomic O Human Star, this tells the story of Sulla, the young android made by Brendan Pinsky in order to keep the consciousness of his research partner Alistair Sterling alive, and her figuring out how to navigate in a new body. A female-gendered body. Because, according to Sulla, there's always room for improvement.

"O-Type Hypergiant" by Jon Cairns is intriguing, a sort of pure impossible science fiction story rooted in science and possibility (if such a description could ever make sense). The Instamen are artificial humanoids, sent off by humans to catalogue stars and live on time-bending satellites. It's a rather poetic story with some wonderfully detailed artwork.

"Twin-Souled" by Bevan Thomas & Kate Ebensteiner shows a tribe of aboriginal people using their magicks to combine with totems to protect their village. These people fight for love, for the ability to love whomever they wish, no matter their gender, and to be whomever they wish, no matter their gender. Even when the spirit of the totem they are bound to is a different gender than they are. To me, this story is one of the saddest, but it's filled with so much hope and love.

"The Next Day" by A. Stiffler & K. Copeland. In a world where the sun had gone dark, where the shadows stretch across the land and light is rare, a man wanders. He claims that without light, man is without hope. But one day he meets another wanderer, and as the two of them travel, as they fight against thieves, as they grow closer, the man discovers that when they are together, he needn't fear the dark. Because his light is close to him.

I love the idea of this anthology. Too often queer characters are pushed to the side in genre fiction, in prose, comics, and film, but now there's this continues wave of webcomics and crowdfunded anthologies with a huge variety of queer characters. If the modern world as we know it is full of people of different genders and sexualities, why can't science fiction and fantasy be the same way? Why can't there be more escapist genre fiction for queer people in print, on TV screens and movie screens? There's already tons of it for straight people. These stories drive home the fact that queer characters can have hopes and dreams, that they can have fun and laugh. That they can have pasts shrouded in mystery. That they can make mistakes, have regrets. That they can be in love, and be willing to fight for that love with every inch of themselves.

It makes my heart happy that this anthology exists, that there are people out there working so hard and creating amazing stories filled with diversity. If you've been looking for a collection like this, full of aliens and magic and hard journeys and honest emotion, full of representation, then check it out. I think an anthology like this is perfect for teen readers.

(I backed this anthology on Kickstarter and received a PDF and a physical copy. Those interested in Beyond can head over to the Beyond Press website.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (254)

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

Title: On the Edge of Gone
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Release Date: March 6, 2015
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

From Goodreads:

January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.

Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

So excited for this book! Yay to more Corinne books, which means yay to more diversity in YA and yay to more genre fiction. I'm really looking forward to this futuristic survival in a European city with an autistic, biracial heroine. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Me on Da Vinci's Tiger

Title: Da Vinci's Tiger
Author: L. M. Elliott
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties. Her poetry reveals her deepest feelings, and she aches to share her work, to meet painters and sculptors mentored by the famed Lorenzo de Medici, and to find love. When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is instantly attracted to the handsome newcomer, who admires her mind as well as her beauty. Yet Ginevra remains conflicted about his attentions. Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand. In a rich and enthralling world of exquisite art, elaborate feasts, and exhilarating jousts, she faces many temptations to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a dangerous and deadly battle between powerful families.

Da Vinci's Tiger is an intriguing imagining of a young woman's portrait, a fictional look into her life in Florence and her struggles as a learned woman in a time and place where women had little power.

Ginevra is very aware of her position. She's expected to keep a clean household, to have children, to listen to her husband, and to not shock anyone by speaking intelligently of poetry, art, or of her own thoughts. She's a woman. Why would a woman wish to learn, wish to speak intelligently of her own ideas of the world, of art and poetry and relationships and business? Ginevra is treated like she is less than the men around her, treated more like a horse coming up to the auction block, ready to be sold to the highest bidder. She has no agency beyond the walls of her home, and even then because her husband has left the care of the house and the instruction of the servants to her. But she craves company, the chance to speak with someone about philosophy. She desires an honest connection with someone and she hasn't found it. Men make the decisions for her. At this point in time, she has no say in what she does, where she goes, which man to marry. She resents the men who control her life but she cannot speak up, and so her thoughts build in her mind, waiting for a chance to express themselves. Ginevra waits for the time when she can be herself to the world.

The setting is rich with the glamour of Florence in the 15th century. The people, the commonplace talk of business and money, of friendship and rivalry. The chivalry and the platonic love a man would have for a woman not his wife. It's a curious, to me, concept taken from history, to gaze upon a woman and lavish her with praise, to wax poetic of her beauty and virtue, to love her as a glorious thing upon a pedestal, and to go no further with your affection. It's certainly something rarely seen in the present day. But how interesting is it that a man can value the inner beauty as well as the outer of her Platonic Love while never bothering to actually ask her about her thoughts and feelings. Constantly treating women like objects instead of people.

It's an intriguing tale, yes, a possible history expanding on the portrait Leonardo da Vinci did paint of Ginevra de' Benci. It highlights the plight of women at the time, how they were treated as tools or bargaining chips by many men who thought themselves more powerful simply because they were men. How women were considered property. But perhaps, at one time or another, all women in Ginevra's position proved themselves to be mountain tigers, to be caged but never tamed. THe story moves slowly, following Ginevra is this imagined time in her life. I would certainly recommend this to history fans, to those interested in the Renaissance period, to those intrigued by the real life portrait of Ginevra.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (181)

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

Hello! It's been another long week and I'm looking forward to sleeping in as much as I can over the weekend. Which will only be 1 morning out of the 2, I think.

Everyone's off watching Mockingjay this weekend, yes? Or at least most people, according to my Twitter feed. Or they're watching the new Marvel show in Netflix, Jessica Jones. I figure I'll see both at some point, the movie with my sister. It used to be that for her birthday we'd see the HP movies, then the Hunger Games. But what will we see next fall? What will I be doing this weekend? Reading a massive book (curse you, Zebulon Finch) and playing that kitty game Neko Atsume. ;)

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Da Vinci's Tiger by L.M. Elliott (Tuesday) and The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1 by Daniel Kraus (Friday). :)
Untold and Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (borrowed from the library)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Me on Winter

Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long. Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Winter is a dangerous, explosive ending to a gripping, intriguing, unique series. A series about girls taking charge and fighting back, an evil queen set to rule the world, some clever boys ready to help, and a witty android sidekick.

The book is titled after Winter, a trapped princess, a young woman slowly losing her mind, but it isn't just about her. It's about Cinder's last stand against Levana, it's about Scarlet getting out of her cage and finding Wolf, it's about Cress finding the courage to fight back and not cower in the shadows. And yes, it's about Winter and her fractured mind but still being able to help. I did like how Winter's mental illness was handled, how her attraction to Jacin didn't make it all better. How her mind was fractured, showing her things that weren't there, and how she fought to stay sane. How she wanted to stay sane. How she wanted to get better for herself.

This book is all encompassing. It's hard to describe, hard to discuss without giving anything away. It's massive, which means a lot happens. There are fights and betrayals, racing off down corridors and falling victim to secret plans and plots. There are happy moments, sad moments, devastating moments. This is the end of a story that started all the way back when a disguised prince walked up to a skilled mechanic in a market square, asking for some help. Now that mechanic is a lost princess trying to survive, now that mechanic is a girl with a number of friends, all skilled at different things, all ready to help her. Now that mechanic is no longer alone, but this is the greatest danger she's ever faced.

I do think fans of the series will enjoy this, will be thrilled to see it end in an exciting way. But I will admit that there was a time or two when it felt like the book was dragging. So much is happening. At the beginning, Cinder is heading to Luna with Kai, Wolf, Thorne, Cress, and Iko, and Scarlet is stuck on Luna with Winter and Jacin. Then they all explode together and soon after fracture. Again and again. Back and forth from the palace to the outer sectors. From freedom to captivity. It just felt like a lot was happening, perhaps too much. That being said, I was intrigued by how everything happened, who helped out and who got in their way. Who was still horribly evil. How it all ended.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (253)

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

Title: My Lady Jane
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

This sounds intriguing. I rather like British history, even though there's a lot of present day paranormal and futuristic dystopian that might say otherwise, and so I'm curious as to how the authors have tweaked the story of Lady Jade Grey. Apart from her horrible death at the age of 16 or 17.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Me on Manners & Mutiny

Title: Manners & Mutiny
Author: Gail Carriger
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine's floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia's sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she's not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

Manners & Mutiny is the final book in what's become an adventurous, clever, witty, and entertaining series. Unique characters. Conflict upon conflict up on torn loyalties. Vampires and werewolves and young ladies flashing fans in order to send secret messages.

Sophronia is, as always, Sophronia. Looking for the hidden truths in peoples' actions. Looking to uncover the plot of the Picklemen. But with her past transgressions and actions being held against her, it's harder and harder for her to find those in positions of authority at Madmoiselle Geraldine's to believe her claims. Difficult, yes, but Sophronia isn't one to back down. She soldiers on, worrying about her friends, worrying about Soap. Wondering if Agatha is right, that she now assumes the worst of people, even her own family. Does she? After her time at finishing school, does Sophronia now no longer trust anyone? Does she assume that everyone lies, that everyone has something to hide? Pessimistic, yes, but the past few years have taught her to be suspicious, taught her to observe and discover. Training to be an intelligencer does change one.

As with the previous books, there is no shortage of mystery or deception, of truth-seeking or secret-uncovering. Of Picklemen-hunting or sootie friendship-making. But this is certainly the most dastardly plan Sophronia has ever had to untangle and thwart. The one that might reveal the most about this secretive intelligencer world of hers. The one that, if mishandled, might bring down society as they know it. Fortunately, Sophronia isn't one to back down and will go down with the ship, so to speak, if that means saving the day.

This series is dangerous, comical, intriguing, full to the brim with the impossible, and I've enjoyed it immensely. It took some time for me to enjoy the first, to allow myself to be immersed in this world, because it requires full immersion. This series needs you to listen, to watch and observe and follow Sophronia during these years at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. It needs to to believe in airships and mechanimals, in vampires and werewolves, in the impossible. Now that it's all over, I should like to re-read it, see what secrets, if any, are given away early. A great series to read for those looking for steampunk and a story that mainly focuses on adventure and intelligence with a dash of female friendship and romance thrown in for fun.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (180)

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! Not much rambling today. Big hugs to everyone who needs it/needed to take a step back this weekend. A lot of sad things have happened over the last few days. If you need time to take care of yourself, then take it. *hugs*

There's a giveaway going on! I know, I rarely do these. In honour of 5 years blogging about books and posting 500 reviews in some form or another, go here to enter the giveaway. There will be more than 1 winner, so make sure you enter as much as you can! :)

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger (Tuesday) and Winter by Marissa Meyer (Friday). :)
Winter by Marissa Meyer (Bought)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Bought)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Me on A Pocket Full of Murder

Title: A Pocket Full of Murder
Author: R.J. Anderson
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Atheneum

In the spell-powered city of Tarreton, the wealthy have all the magic they desire while the working class can barely afford a simple spell to heat their homes. Twelve-year-old Isaveth is poor, but she's also brave, loyal, and zealous in the pursuit of justice—which is lucky, because her father has just been wrongfully arrested for murder. Isaveth is determined to prove his innocence. Quiz, the eccentric eyepatch-wearing street boy who befriends her, swears he can't resist a good mystery. Together they set out to solve the magical murder of one of Tarreton's most influential citizens and save Isaveth's beloved Papa from execution. But each clue is more perplexing than the next. Was the victim truly killed by Common Magic—the kind of crude, cheap spell that only an unschooled magician would use—or was his death merely arranged to appear that way? And is Quiz truly helping her out of friendship, or does he have hidden motives of his own? Isaveth must figure out who she can trust if she's to have any hope of proving her Papa's innocence in time. . .

A Pocket Full of Murder is layered, smart, and wonderfully magical. This is a tale of a bright new heroine in a magical city of secrets, her relationship with her family, and her mystery hunting with a curious new companion. The truth must be discovered, but will it happen in time?

Isaveth is a brave girl, a determined girl. Determined to help her family, to discover the truth, to protect her siblings. The different kinds of relationships she has with her siblings are honest and realistic, as is the unwavering father she has in her father. As is the curiosity she has in Quiz when few things about him make much sense. She's also a bit of a lost girl trying to pick out a place for herself in the world. A daydreamer, she relishes in the moments she's allowed to have for herself, the moments of imagining the adventures of her favourite radio show heroine. She's a well-meaning girl who knows when something feels wrong, who knows when the truth needs ferreting out. But danger lurks because some very powerful people want the truth kept secret.

The different pieces that make up this book are woven together so well. The ways the people in the city are separated, by social standing, religion, and magic. It's a glamorous city with its own biases and rejections, its unwarranted disdain of those less fortunate. This book treats those divisions so well, presents them with such clarity that you cannot escape the harsh truth of the world, the unfairness of it. The wondering why those with money and influence would fear those without.

This book is all kinds of sweetness and sadness and magic. I want to push this book into the hands of kids and teens and adults to see which pieces of Tarreton they see in the real world. Which parts of familial support and complicated friendships they see. How often they find someone to be discriminated against because of their religion, their race, or their economic standing. For as many happy moments as there are, there are sad moments. A magical city, yes, but that doesn't mean it's free of hatred or fear.

(I received a finished copy of this title from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (252)

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

Title: Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The intrigue of The Virgin Suicides and the "supernatural or not" question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Raven Boys, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.

This just sounds so bizarre. I'm hoping its going to be full of intrigue, vague or not-so-vague magic, and some extremely different characters.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Me on Lost Stars

Title: Lost Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Release Date: September 4, 2015
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

The reign of the Galactic Empire has reached the Outer Rim planet of Jelucan, where aristocratic Thane Kyrell and rural villager Ciena Ree bond over their love of flying. Enrolling at the Imperial Academy is nothing less than a dream come true for both of them. But Thane sours on the dream when he sees firsthand the horrific tactics the Empire uses to maintain its ironclad rule. Bitter and disillusioned, he joins the fledgling rebellion, putting Ciena in an unbearable position between her loyalty to the Empire and her love for the man she's known since childhood. Now on opposite sides of the war, will these friends turned foes ever find a way to be together, or will duty tear them, and the galaxy, apart?

Lost Stars is an exciting adventure across a distant galaxy following two people somehow fated to be together. As much as duty, honour, loyalty, choice, keeps them apart, they seem to find a way back to each other. But with being on either side of a war, are they also doomed?

Thane is full of adventure. Growing up on Jelucan, he couldn't wait to fly, to escape. It's all he's dreamed of, being a pilot for the Empire. Flying every kind of craft he can get his hands on. But the truth is hard to accept. Ciena is filled with honour and respect. Loyalty. She's smart and passionate, strong, and believes in the oath she's taken with every part of her. Well, almost every part. But for her, giving your word is everything. Their different personalities clash repeatedly but they work so well together as children, then in the Imperial Academy. The bold soldier and the moral compass. As much as they work well, their perception of the world, of the Empire, will be different. It makes them human, makes them believable.

For fans of the franchise, this should be a joy to read. Events happen alongside the plots of the films, occasionally meeting and revealing a familiar character or two, and you're sent back to the movies, trying to pick out what point in time it is. Where characters like Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia would be. But it never detracts from Ciena or Thane. This is still their story, their version of the clash between Empire and Rebellion.

While the book is billed as a star-crossed lovers story, and while I've even said that to some extent here, that's not all it is. It's a look at honour and loyalty, at duty and choice. At making those hard decisions and doing what you feel is right, even when someone you've known for years, someone you love, feels differently. It's a brutal look at how war separates and destroys, even when we think we're following a path of good intentions. I would definitely recommend this to Star Wars fans, to those looking forward to the upcoming movie, to those looking for something so in-depth in such a familiar universe. Also, there just has to be another book. It has a proper ending, don't worry, but it can't just end like that.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Me on A Celebration Giveaway!

Hi all! It's time to celebrate! Me on Books turned 5 a couple of weeks ago, and tomorrow my 500th review goes up.

5 years. 500 reviews. That's a lot of time spent reading, spent writing reviews, spent writing up other posts, spent on social media talking to other bloggers and readers, spent at book events and meet-ups. It's been hard at some points, easy at others, but I still love the little piece of the community I've fallen into.

And so without further ado, this is my top 16 (because it's so hard to narrow it down) of the last 5 years:
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  • In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
  • The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton
  • Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
  • The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
  • Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
  • Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston
  • A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz
  • Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
  • Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
  • The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
  • Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
All of these are books that've thrilled me, saddened me, made me think about the world, about people, about history and how we'll always be doomed to repeat it. About strength and conviction of character, about the horrible things we do to others in the name of truth or fear. About hope. About love. About time travel and far-flung futures where we travel to stars beyond our own.

I want to share these books that I've loved, so 2 winners will each get their choice of 1 book and 1 winner will get a bunch of swag that I've collected over the years, things like bookmarks and buttons.

(There might be a slight issue if 1 of the winners wants a copy of Bleeding Violet or Harmonic Feedback, both are a bit tricky to find in print. Your local library would definitely have them, and they are available on e-book sites like Kindle and Kobo. I know I could've just not added these books, but they were some of the first I read when I started reviewing. Both are rather honest when it comes to mental illness and how the world is seen through their eyes.)

The giveaway will go on until the end of the month and is open internationally as long as Book Depository ships free to your country. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (179)

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 been cold and rainy here. The wet puppy smell lingers these days.

Christmas is slowly starting to vomit all over the Halloween things. There's really no delay between the two anymore here. In the US at least there's a bit of a barrier with their Thanksgiving at the end of November, but with ours in October, the Christmas ads start to smack you in the face when November starts.

I'm sort of getting back to reading what I should be, still trying to work out when to read at different times. I should read more on the weekends. I miss having a buffer so I'm not panic-reading on Mondays and Thursdays. I'm looking forward to the Christmas/New Year's break where I'll hopefully get a head-start and build up a buffer again.

Reviews going up the coming week will feature Lost Stars by Claudia Gray (Tuesday) and A Pocket Full of Murder by R.J. Anderson (Friday). :)
A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry (e-galley from Algonquin)
Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger (e-galley from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Check Please! Year 1 by Ngozi Ukazu (Kickstarter reward)
Black Iris by Leah Raeder (borrowed from the library)
Cam Girl by Leah Raeder (borrowed from the library)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Me on Soundless

Title: Soundless
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei's home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation. But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Soundless is a mystery in the mountains and a search for the truth, a journey down below the clouds for answers. But will Fei find them, or will she only find despair as her village continues to starve and suffer?

Fei is a cautious girl who worries about the well-being of her sister, a creative girl who dreams of painting gorgeous pictures filled with bright colours instead of the daily report of what's going on in the village. Like everyone else in the village, Fei cannot hear, relying on a signing language and writing in order to communicate. But when her hearing does return, things change. With the village in decline, with her sister's health suffering, she knows something must be done. And so she and a companion head down the mountain, using her hearing to keep them safe from rock slides. But the land below the mountain is a strange one, hiding secrets about those living above and in the mines.

A village where no one can hear. How intriguing. It's there in the sign language, in the writing out of the day's news, in the machines that shake the beds awake. There's a moment where Fei sees a bird open its mouth and another bird flies in to sit next to it. As she couldn't hear then, she wonders what the bird did to attract its mate. It's intriguing to see how the village adapted to their lack of hearing over the years, how they're able to get on with their work and their lives. How some still wonder what it would be like to hear the sounds around them.

The book begins with a soft, quiet tone that belies the urgency the villagers face. They're slowly going blind. They need to see and mine if they want food from below the mountain, if they want to survive. As the book progresses, as Fei and her companion travel and learn, the sound builds as Fei hears more of the world around her. The tumble of the rocks down the mountain, the wind rushing past, the bustle of the township, the sounds the traders and townsfolk make when they open their mouths. It all builds, rushing towards the climax. I found this to be a rather sweet sort of mysterious fantasy story with a strong heroine. Fei is frightened, yes, but she would do anything, go anywhere, to keep her sister safe and healthy. She would fight back. I would recommend this to those looking for a softer kind of fantasy tale, to those looking for a story with roots in Chinese folklore.

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (251)

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

Title: The Winner's Kiss
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.

But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?

I really really want to know how this trilogy is going to end. It's going to be brutal and harsh and wreck everyone. I hope they end up together, or in some form of together like not killing each other or dying horribly. Like, if they could both be alive and talking to each other at the end. As 'epic' and 'star-crossed' as they are, this series is about so much more than the romance. It's about secrets and empire and colonialism and entitlement and survival and fear and war. And hope.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Me on The Conjurer's Riddle

Title: The Conjurer's Riddle
Author: Andrea Cremer
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin imprint)

Charlotte leads her group of exiles west, plunging into a wild world of shady merchants and surly rivermen on the way to New Orleans. But as Charlotte learns more about the revolution she has championed, she wonders if she's on the right side after all. Charlotte and her friends get to know the mystical New Orleans bayou and deep into the shadowy tunnels below the city–the den of criminals, assassins and pirates–Charlotte must decide if the revolution's goals justify their means, or if some things, like the lives of her friends, are too sacred to sacrifice.

The Conjurer's Riddle is a look into revolution and rebellion, the secret-gathering and the spying, the hard journeys and the dangers. The heavy cost.

Charlotte is driven, soft-hearted, and passionate about her chose cause, about saving her friends. But doubt lingers, as it always does. Things aren't the same as they were in the Catacombs or in the Floating City. On their journey west, in New Orleans, Charlotte learns how different things are. How duplicitous and two-faced. How her ideas and reasons for fighting back might differ from other members of the resistance.

In terms of the romance, I still feel that Jack is the only option for Charlotte. I still don't understand why a love triangle was added in the first book why Coe suddenly went from person Charlotte barely knew to romantic entanglement. Charlotte is still drawn to Jack, still attracted to him, still hating him and worrying about him, while Coe just seems there. But there wasn't much time for Charlotte to worry about her feelings for most of the book. She was far too busy travelling, learning secrets, or trying to stay hidden and alive. The romance takes a back seat to Charlotte's journey and the still hidden mysteries of Grave. So hidden, so mysterious.

The Resistance is still fighting back against the Empire, fighting to be free from an oppressive ruler from across an ocean. When you fight back as part of a rebellion, you fight for your beliefs, your friends and family. But at what cost? Destruction of property? Injury? Death? Is revolution the only answer? This book, this series, will always scream America to me. Their idea that freedom is a right, that no one can take it from you, but if it ever is taken you can fight to regain it. Is violence ever the only answer? As a Canadian, it feels so American to go in guns blazing to fight for freedom. It feels like it's all they have, like their identity as American is based on freedom and without it they're nothing.

I'm still intrigued by this world, I think the building of it is creative. To speculate on what a country would look like had a major event in its history not happened, if someone else was still in control. If it was a mixture of colonies and disputed territories. It's a dangerous world Charlotte's in, one filled with deception and the impossible. I want to know more. What is the Resistance's endgame plan? What are Grave's secrets, the ones that even he doesn't know? What else is out there for Charlotte to discover? A great follow-up to the first book.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Penguin Random House Canada.)