Saturday, December 31, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (239)

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 the end of 2016 today, which feels a bit weird. The calendar dates will change, but most things will stay the same. We just have to take it all one day at a time, keep making good stuff and talking about smart books. It's looking like a lot of good books are coming out in 2017.

With my birthday also being this past week, I took a couple days for myself and had some quiet times reading and playing games and watching anime. I sped through the first season of Assassination Classroom and founding it bizarre but also funny and charming. It's about killing their monster teacher, yes, but also about being a teacher. About learning and guiding, supporting young people who struggle with homework and classwork. If you like your anime a little weird, check it out.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine (Tuesday) and The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti (Friday). :)
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (gifted)
Spindle by E.K. Johnston (gifted)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (311)

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

Title: Our Dark Duet
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

Because dear gosh why wouldn't I be waiting on this book?!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (238)

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! Just a short post for today before the huge bulk of the holidays, probably the last until January. No matter what you're doing over the next week, celebrating or partying or staying low and quiet, have fun. :)
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts (e-galley from Disney Book Group through NetGalley)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (310)

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

Title: Wicked Like a Wildfire
Author: Lana Popović
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

All the women in Iris and Malina's family are born with a gleam—a unique way of manipulating beauty through magic. Seventeen-year-old Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, her twin sister Malina interprets moods as music, and their cold, distant mother Jasmina bakes scenery into decadent treats at her confectionery in Old Town Cattaro, Montenegro. 

Jasmina forbids Iris and Malina to share their gleams with anyone, and above all, she forbids them to fall in love—being discovered could shatter the quiet lives they’ve built in their tucked-away, seaside town. But Iris and Malina are tired of abiding by their mother’s rules and rebel in secret whenever they can. 

Yet when a mysterious, white-haired woman attacks their mother and leaves her hovering between life and death, the sisters unearth an ancient curse that haunts their line—a wicked bargain that masquerades as a blessing, and binds the twins’ fates—and hearts—to a force larger than life. To save each other, they must untangle a thousand years of lies and reveal their own hurtful secrets. But even the deepest sacrifice might not be enough. 

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first book in a sumptuous, bewitching duology about the power of love, death, magic, and the many faces of beauty.

I might be getting ahead of myself, putting up this book when it's not out until August, but I don't quite care. It sounds deeply and darkly magical, and so Complicated. With a capital C. I love complicated books, I love magical books, and I'm so interested in reading this next year.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (237)

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! Getting closer to the holidays. I've done some present shopping, still have some to go. I've noticed that as time goes on, it gets harder and harder to find gifts for people. Or at least to come up with new ideas on gifts. So many of us here are asking for socks this year. And I fully believe in sharing wish lists with family and friends. How often do you get something you don't want or already have? And how often do people say they weren't sure what to get you?

No reviews until January. I've been a bit burnt out lately, plus some lingering headaches wiped me out this past week. I think I'll take the next two weeks to take care of myself, read up, and come back in January with a buffer.
Windwitch by Susan Dennard (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan (from Raincoast Books)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Me on The Girl Who Could Fly

Title: The Girl Who Could Fly
Author: Victoria Forester
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Square Fish (Macmillan imprint)

Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie. Sure, she hasn't mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she's real good at loop-the-loops. Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma's at her wit's end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents' farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities. School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences. Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore.

The Girl Who Could Fly is a moving tale about a girl looking for friends, a girl who can fly. But when she's invited to a top-secret school for kids just like her, she learns the truth.

Piper is a lonely girl full of ideas. She's just looking for a friend, for a little spot in the world that she can call hers. She sort of has one on her family farm with her parents, but they worry about her flying. Especially her mother. They mean well, they truly care for her, and Piper cares for them just as much. So she tries to make sure they don't worry about her flying, but sometimes you just have to fly. This flying catches the attention of Dr. Hellion and her school of kids with abilities like Piper's. Which is sort of good news. Piper's desperate for friends and for learning how to fly better (self-teaching can only get her so far). But soon Piper learns that it isn't the kind of school she thought it would be, and that the kids there might not want to be friends as much as she wants to.

I think this book is all about how we need to nurture the interests that kids have, that kids don't have to be ashamed when they're into something or can do something that other kids can't. Limiting their imagination and creativity is never good. I found this book to be thoughtful and sweet, with a few questions left over for the companion story to hopefully answer.

(I received a paperback copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (309)

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

Title: The Edge of the Abyss
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Flux Books

From Goodreads:

Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart. 

But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?

Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

Yessssss. I want it now. The Abyss Surrounds Us was a big surprise for me this year, it was so different and so interesting. Twists I wasn't expecting. I want to know how this duology ends, what happens to Cas and Swift, and where they end up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Me on Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Volume 1

Title: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
Author/Artist: Izumi Tsubaki
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Publisher: Yen Press (Hachette Book Group imprint)

To the eyes of classmate Chiyo Sakura, high school student Umetarou Nozaki--brawny of build and brusque of tongue--is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finally works up the courage to tell Nozaki how she feels about him, she knows rejection is on the table... but getting recruited as a mangaka's assistant?! Never in a million years! As Chiyo quickly discovers, Nozaki-kun, the boy of Chiyo's dreams, is a manga artist... a hugely popular shoujo manga artist, that is! But for someone who makes a living drawing sweet girly romances, Nozaki-kun is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to matters of the heart in reality. And so Chiyo's daily life of manga making and heartache begins!

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Volume 1 is hysterically funny, full of interesting and unlikely characters. It's all about Chiyo falling into Nozaki-kun's world and looking at the friends and classmates around them as potential manga characters. But sometimes, Chiyo's real life is far more unbelievable than the events of a shoujo manga.

Chiyo is sweet and kind, crushing hard on Nozaki-kun. She figures she just has to tell him, but when she fumbles it up and instead says she's a big fan, she was expecting a rejection. Not an autograph, not an offer to go to his apartment to help fill in as an assistant. She wasn't expecting Nozaki-kun to be a mangaka, to see that he works on super girly and fluffy romance stories. But she agrees to help him, because she likes him and wants to know what he's interested in. But it's a bit hard when their conversations

While Nozaki-kun is a shoujo manga artist, the overall story is anything but. It's funny and awkward, it's full of characters that smash up against conventional gender roles. Nozaki-kun is rather tall and has a serious face, but he writes super girly manga. There's Mikoshiba who talks like a playboy but gets super embarassed afterwards. There's Chiyo's friend Seo, someone who's extremely blunt and oblivious but called the Lorelai of the Glee Club. And there's Kashima who's a bit of an oblivious prince. Each character is different, some are difficult, and a few are absolutely infuriating. But it all works. And then there are the glimpses of Nozaki-kun's characters, Mamiko and Suzuki-kun, who are just far too cutesy and fluffy. They totally fit in shoujo manga.

I like the artwork. At times it's simple, well-drawn characters and backgrounds, and others it's full to the brim with shoujo manga sparkles and flowers. The faces are expressive, maybe not so much for Nozaki-kun, but everyone else. Chiyo's surprise, Mikoshiba's embarrassment, Hori-senpai's acting.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is less about Chiyo's crush on Nozaki-kun and more about story and characters, their friends and classmates and the bizarre things they do. It's about coming up with ideas for Nozaki-kun's manga, trying to make sense of what shoujo manga readers want in terms of fluffy romance, and navigating their day-to-day high school life. This manga is great at fooling around with perception, how we assume people will act a certain way because of how they look. Looking at these characters, you'd never expect their actual personalities. A great read for new manga readers, for those looking for something with lots of humour. (Also, it pairs well with the anime, which is available online.)

(I purchased a copy of this manga.)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (236)

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. ;)

*digs out from under a huge pile of snow* So, winter's here. So much snow has fallen here since Monday, but for here that means about half a foot, maybe a little less. It just doesn't snow here that much during the winter, and if it does it's a couple dustings. Here's hoping it turns to rain soon.

Reviews will be going up this coming week, but again, I'm not totally sure what books they'll be on. Tuesday will probably be another manga review, but I'm not sure about Friday. I think that after this week I'll take the next two off in order to read up and refill the well. I feel vaguely burned out, like I need to read a huge stream of books about other things. Do my usual holiday thing of completing series and books I've meant to read over the past 12 months. :)
The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada)
Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North (borrowed from the library)
Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston (borrowed from the library)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Me on The Reader

Title: The Reader
Author: Traci Chee
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin imprint)

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who's taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book. Though reading is unheard of in Sefia's world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book's closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin's disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Reader is magical, a tale of words and magic, of outlaws and pirates. Of peace and war, of power. Of meaning and purpose.

Sefia is living a life on the run with her aunt Nin, hunting and setting furs when they can, hiding from the authorities. Forever looking over her shoulder in case someone is following them. But then Nin is taken, beaten and kidnapped by a woman in black. Now alone, Sefia is worried, but also desperate and angry. She's determined to rescue Nin and learn the truth. Why she was taken. Why her father was murdered. But to do that, Sefia looks at the one thing her father left behind, the thing he and her mother kept secret. A thing of paper and ink scribbles called a book. And she decides to figure out what it says. But this is no ordinary book, and Sefia being able to read is no ordinary skill, and she soon finds herself chased and hunted.

Books. Books are enchanting, powerful, wonderful things. They transport readers to different worlds, different times, different places. They share stories and messages, lessons learned and loves lost. They teach, they show us truths long forgotten and often denied. This world with its emphasis on oral storytelling and its banishment of the written word is fascinating. When Sefia opens the book, when she teaches herself to read, she can see the magic of the world around her. It's the act of reading, the learning, that opens up the possibilities of the world around her to her. But what Sefia doesn't know, what she can't yet see, is the group searching for the book. The group that doesn't want just anyone to know how to read.

I was enchanted by this book. As someone who loves storytelling, when an author and their book is telling me an epic tale, I just fall into it. This was surprising and enthralling, and I never wanted to stop reading it. I just had to know what would happen next, what Sefia would read next, who she would come across next. And there was always that little bit of me never being sure if what was happening really was happening. I can't wait to read the next book, to find out what happens next and where Sefia goes.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (308)

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

Title: These Ruthless Deeds
Authors: Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

England, 1883. Still recovering from the loss of her beloved sister, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.

As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears...

There seemed to have been a theme this year with Victorian London and paranormal. This series, The Dark Days Club, A Shadow Burning and Bright. Probably some others that I've missed. Which was nice, it was what I cut my teeth on as a reader when I was in high school. History and intrigue and propriety warring with bizzare magics. Considering the first book, I'm curious as to how this will all turn out. How much everything will explode. Because it's book 2. Things will explode.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Me on Horimiya Volume 1

Title: Horimiya Volume 1
Story: HERO
Art: Daisuke Hagiwara
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Yen Press (Hachette Book Group imprint)

At school, Kyouko Hori is known for being smart, attractive, and popular. On the other hand, her classmate, the boring, gloomy Izumi Miyamura tends to get painted as a "loser fanboy." But when a liberally pierced and tattooed (not to mention downright gorgeous) Miyamura appears unexpectedly on the doorstep of secretly plain-Jane homebody Hori, these two similarly dissimilar teenagers discover that there are multiple sides to every story... and person!

Horimiya Volume 1 is the start of something honest and fresh. It's all about perception and honesty, about friendship and loneliness, about the good things unexpected friends can bring.

Hori-san is popular and stylish, but that's only when she's at school. At home, she's a homebody who takes care for her younger brother and does all the housework and grocery shopping. Miyamura looks boring in class, his hair falling over glasses that make him look far more intelligent that everyone else. But when he takes off his uniform jacket and styles his hair, he looks far more carefree, cool, and pierced than most would expect. Both have parts of themselves that they've hidden, through one reason or another, and they've been happy enough. Until they each see the secrets the other hides during school hours. Until they start talking, start hanging out. Start realizing that maybe it's okay to let other people see those secret things.

I love how the friendship between Hori-san and Miyamura develops. It's a bit sudden, spurred on by the demands of Hori-san's brother Souta, but it works. And it doesn't take long for them to be comfortable with each other. For some time now, they've both had to hide the honest parts of themselves, revealing them only when they're alone. Now, having someone there to see those parts, having Miyamura there when Hori-san makes dinner for her and Souta, having Hori-san see his piercings and see that he's actually not the best student, they're not alone anymore. Sure, maybe at the beginning they didn't want anyone to know, but neither of them seemed happy. Just going through the motions, day after day. They needed each other.

The art style fits so well with the story and the characters. At school, Hori-san looks so stylish, and at home she's right down to business in plain clothes and her hair pinned up. At school, Miyamura looks so gloomy and depressed, surrounded by black, and away all his piercings are on display. There are also the little touches, they way they look at people around them, at each other. The blushes on their faces, the worried looks.

Horimiya is definitely something I'd recommend. To new manga readers looking for something contemporary and modern to ease them in. To regular manga readers looking for something funny and quirky, with unique characters and, because of Miyamura's tattoos, some complicated situations. This story is smart and fun, a great beginning to the series.

(I purchased a copy of this manga.)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (235)

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!

The winter blahs have hit hard. Nothing's really keeping my interest when it comes to books. I'm hoping to get some reviews up this coming week and next, and then maybe take those next two weeks off for the holidays. I think I need the break, need the chance to read what I want to read for a little. I don't know what it is. Maybe they'll be some different reviews, like quick reviews for non-YA books, like some manga.

Reviews will be going up this week (hopefully!!), but right now I'm not sure which books. Come back on Tuesday and Friday for the surprises! :)
All The Feels by Danika Stone (borrowed from the library)
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (borrowed from the library)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Me on A Shadow Burning and Bright

Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, Henrietta Howel is shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers. Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a dangerous magic, one of shadows and demons, one of sorcerers and magicians. It's the story of a young woman trying to become something many claim she is and her navigating that demand while the fire inside of her rages on.

Henrietta is a familiar sort of heroine: a meek young woman from a poor and humble upbringing, an orphan with only a loyal friend for support and hopes for the future. The book begins with her in a place she's not technically safe in but it's a roof over her head and her friend Rook by her side. It's a horrible place, but she's alive. Then the sorcerer comes, looking for a student at the school Henrietta teaches at. Then the Ancient and the Familiars come. Then her fire is revealed, and she's whisked off to London to learn the ways of being a sorcerer. But in a city like London, danger lurks around every corner.

I found the world-building intriguing. The inclusion of magic and the Ancients in a Victorian-esque London. The different kinds of magic, the disgust and feud between sorcerers and magicians. The Ancients and the Unclean. All different kinds of magic and impossibility live here in this world. Underneath the magic, there are a number of clear and familiar overarching themes and sensibilities here. Like class inequality, how the rich hold themselves above the poor. Like gender inequality, how a number of trainees and sorcerers find it foolish to teach a young woman the ways of magic like how they teach Henrietta. How it would be better for her to know her place, which would be under their overbearing and pompous male thumbs. Because how dare a woman think she be equal to a man.

I was rather surprised by this book, and rather surprised as to how much I enjoyed it. It was exciting and tense, the Ancients were wonderfully creepy and disturbing, and a number of the sorcerers were rather obvious and spiteful in their dated misogyny. Not all, which was helpful to Henrietta. Sometimes you really need to put aside your views on women in power if you want to live. I'm curious as to what will happen in the next book, as it looks like Henrietta will be in more and more battles to come, and which secrets will be uncovered. Because there are quite a few.

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (307)

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

Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

In her most epic and ambitious work to date, bestselling author Claudia Gray takes readers on an interstellar journey exploring what it means to be human.

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight. 

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him. 

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Sci-fiiiiiii. Super epic sci-fi with robots and mechs and questions of morality and humanity and programming. Yessssssss.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Me on All In

Title: All In
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Three casinos. Three bodies. Three days. After a string of brutal murders in Las Vegas, Cassie Hobbes and the Naturals are called in to investigate. But even with the team's unique profiling talents, these murders seem baffling: unlike many serial killers, this one uses different methods every time. All of the victims were killed in public, yet the killer does not show up on any tape. And each victim has a string of numbers tattooed on their wrist. Hidden in the numbers is a code—and the closer the Naturals come to unraveling the mystery, the more perilous the case becomes. Meanwhile, Cassie is dealing with an equally dangerous and much more painful mystery. For the first time in years, there's been a break in her mother's case. As personal issues and tensions between the team mount, Cassie and the Naturals will be faced with impossible odds—and impossible choices.

All In continues the overall theme and mood from the first two books, continues the tension and the mystery, the intrigue and the danger. There's always a killer out there waiting to be caught, there are always clues left behind in the things they do, the people they kill, and there's always someone watching and piecing it all together.

It doesn't take long for Cassie to get slammed by painful memories again. The loss of her mother, the lack of knowledge as to what really happened to her, if she's really dead or just missing. But then she gets some news. They think they found her body. But Cassie doesn't have time for grieving all over again. Not when she and the other Naturals are on their way to Las Vegas in order to help with an ongoing case. No more cold cases.

Everyone's demons creep out a little here, reminding the reader that Cassie isn't the only one with skeletons in her closet. There's Michael's... relationship with his father, Sloane's issues stemming from her past before the Naturals program, Dean still coming to terms with his childhood and what his father made him do (but he is getting better with that, being supportive with Cassie). And as always, Lia being Lia. Cassie is the glue that holds them all together. She knows that. But can she keep it up after all this new information about her mother?

I regret that I didn't pick this up sooner because I couldn't stop reading it. Like Cassie and the others, I had to find out who the killer was. I had to know who did it and why, what their reasoning was, what the patterns meant. And the twist at the end? Fans of the previous two books will certainly enjoy this one and scramble to read the fourth once they finish.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (234)

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. ;)

Not much to talk about this week. Every day felt the same this past week. Maybe next week will feel different?

Reviews going up this week will feature All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Tuesday) and A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Friday). :)
The Reader by Traci Chee (borrowed from the library)
A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken (borrowed from the library)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Me on Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling

Title: Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling
Author/artist: Tony Cliff
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

After being falsely accused of spying by the nefarious Major Merrick, Delilah Dirk and Mister Selim sail to England to clear her name (and beat the tar out of the Major while they're at it). But once on her home turf, Delilah encounters an adversary mightier than the entire British Army: her mother.

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling is a brand new adventure with a familiar adventurer and her practical companion. But the situation is far stickier this time around, and it won't be as easy to escape from.

Delilah Dirk is back at it, righting wrongs and investigating treasure and inconveniencing Mister Selim. This time, the story starts in Portugal with the saving of a young boy from his controlling and battle-hungry father. But then, like always, Delilah and Mister Selim fall into a dangerous situation and have to fight their way out of it. Things are different this time around, there's a lot more to do with revenge and Delilah's personal feelings about the scum they come across. And then there's the added struggle of her having to navigate her investigating and adventuring around her unsuspecting mother.

There are hints of why Delilah has made a name for herself in Europe and around the world, why she's spent her days adventuring. She's not the kind of young woman who would sit around at luncheons, flit about at balls and dinners. She needs excitement in her life, she needs to do something. She won't be tied down.

There's some more plot going on in this book, compared to the first one. The first was certainly about Mister Selim and how his life changed after meeting Delilah. Now, things are complicated. The two have fallen, rather handily, into the gaze of an English Major looking to place some blame and espionage onto someone that isn't him.

The artwork is just as it was in the first book, the colours slightly muted once Delilah and Mister Selim arrive in England, the characters' faces expressive and constantly changing. It was obvious whenever Delilah was frustrated or Mister Selim feeling put out or inconvenienced by Delilah's decisions. A good follow-up to the first, a great showing at expanding this world, the time period and its problems, and an intriguing ending that hints at some possible revenge in the future. If you enjoyed the first book, you'll enjoy this.

(I received a finished copy of this book to review from Raincoast Books.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (306)

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

Title: Pyromantic
Author: Lish McBride
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Ava is having a rough time. Getting rid of Venus didn’t set her free—she’s still Coterie. Her new boss seems like an improvement, but who knows if he’ll stay that way? The Coterie life changes people. And since she’s currently avoiding her friends after (disastrously) turning down a date with Lock, well, everything kind of sucks.

Then she gets sent to handle two local thugs with were-hare Sid. But when they arrive, the thugs are dead and a necromancer has raised them as mindless, aggressive zombies. Ava is faced with an epidemic—something is turning normal creatures into killing machines. Unfortunately, this means she has to work with Lock and his new girl. Worse than that, she has to work with her ex, Ryan. Compared to facing such emotional turmoil, she’d rather take on an entire herd of flesh-eating kelpies . . . or she could just do both. Isn’t she just the lucky gal?

Yessssssssssss. Want. I like Ava, she's so complicated and sort of screwed up. It's interesting seeing her trying to solve situations of the Coterie and supernatural sort while trying to be a normal girl with a social life and a boyfriend. But you're not normal, Ava.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Me on Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Title: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Author/artist: Tony Cliff
Release Date: August 23, 2013
Publisher: FirstSecond (Macmillan imprint)

Lovable ne'er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she's picked up on the way, Delilah's adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan's guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is a thrilling adventure across foreign lands, led by an exciting and troublesome heroine.

At first glance, and perhaps the second and the third, it seems that Delilah Dirk is a magnet for trouble. No matter where she goes, who she talks to, she seems to end up running for her life with a bag of treasure in her hand. But why? Why does she do this? Why the travelling, the adventuring? Because of her upbringing? Because she has a deep desire to see everything the world can offer? Who knows.

But it seems like the book is more about Erdemoglu Selim, the Turkish Lieutenant, than it is about Delilah. Instead of an account of her adventure in Constantinople, it's more of an account of Mr. Selim and what becomes of her life after meeting her, after travelling with her, after getting into scrapes and battles with her. He's a simple man, looking for something more but stuck in his present role in the Turkish Janissary Corps. A personable man who can brew a fine cup of tea. A man not looking for too much trouble, which is what seems to follow Delilah Dirk around the world. But, what can you do?

Even as I say that this isn't about Delilah, it is. This book is all about what she does to the places she visits, the people she meets. The things that change after she sweeps through like a sudden storm. As she travels, searching and meeting and running and stealing, she has a substantial impact on every she comes across.

The artwork is bright and expressive, detailed when it needs to be. The changes in the characters' expressions were great, it was rather obvious to see when Delilah was annoyed or when Mr. Selim was confused or perturbed. When both would savour a good cup of tea. This definitely reads like the start of an epic adventure and I'm eager to know where they end up next, what trouble they'll get into.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (233)

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! Another week has come to an end. Whether it was good or bad, stressful or not, it's a good chance to take the time to relax, do something for yourself.

I've been reading the A Wrinkle in Time books lately, half because of the movie and half because I've had the third book, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, for years and have wanted to know where the stories started. So far I like them, I can see what they're doing in terms of good and evil, in terms of character confidence and fate. I hope the movie will be good.

Reviews going up this week will feature Delilah Dirk & the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff (Tuesday) and the sequel/continuation of Delilah's adventures, Delilah Dirk & the King's Shiling (Friday). :)
Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman (ARC from Penguin Random House Canada)
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (e-galley from Raincoast Books)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Me on Of Fire and Stars

Title: Of Fire and Stars
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden. Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria's formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed. When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there's more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna's intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare's independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more. But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Of Fire and Stars is full of mystery and danger. Secrets and hidden plots and plans circle Denna and Mare, surround them, and they become just as wrapped up in them as they do with each other.

Denna is kind, a gentle and soft around the edges kind of princess. She's hoping she'll find a place of her own in this arranged marriage, in this new home of strangers. But she has some worries. Like the magic that flickers like flame at her fingers. Now that she's in a country where magic is forbidden? Where people with magic are seen as heretics that must be jailed or executed? She's worried for her life, for the future of this agreement between the two countries that depend on this marriage arrangement. Even as Denna fears her magic, she knows she needs to know more about it. How to control it. But there are plots about, dangerous plots that could reveal her secrets.

Amaranthine is bold and brash. With her brother as the heir to their father's throne, she's had the chance to run wild, to do what she wants. And what Mare wants is to work with horses, spend her days training them, riding them. Not wear foolish dresses and attend meaningless tea parties. She cares deeply for her family, her father and brother, but it's hard when they can't see past the ends of their noses. When all they can think of is how to keep others from taking from them, be it land or people or power.

This is a fantasy world that seems rather familiar. Kings and queens, secrets and intrigue. Gods that are worshiped and magic that's feared and banned. But there are bits and pieces that make it different. The customs of the kingdoms. That Dennaleia's sister became queen while Thandilimon, even though he is younger than Mare, will become king. Their treatment of those with magical abilities, avoidance versus outright fear and hatred. The brief mentions to an acceptance towards same-sex couples, something that can be rare to see in fantasy. Because of those differences, those customs, I was intrigued by this world.

This was familiar fantasy, yes, but it felt fresh and new. It felt tense and secretive. It's certainly been standard for the books I've come across that in fantasy settings the princess and the prince fall in love. This smashed that to dust, and I hope there are most fantasy novels like this. More intersection in fantasy. Gay and lesbian and bisexual characters, trans characters. Disabled characters. If you've been waiting for a fantasy novel where the princess falls for the prince's sister, then here is your book.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (305)

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

Title: Piper Perish
Author: Kayla Cagan
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books

From Goodreads:

Now is the time for fearlessness.

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known?

I'm curious as to how this one will go. I know it's written in a journal or diary style, but I wonder if there's going to be anything extra, like a mixed medium kind of book with art inside.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Me on Boy Robot

Title: Boy Robot
Author: Simon Curtis
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

In a single night, Isaak's life changed forever. His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin. An origin he doesn't want to believe, but one he cannot deny. Isaak is a Robot: a government-made synthetic human, produced as a weapon and now hunted, marked for termination. He and the Robots can only find asylum with the Underground—a secret network of Robots and humans working together to ensure a coexistent future. To be protected by the Underground, Isaak will have to make it there first. But with a deadly military force tasked to find him at any cost, his odds are less than favorable. Now Isaak must decide whether to hold on to his humanity and face possible death... or to embrace his true nature in order to survive, at the risk of becoming the weapon he was made to be.

Boy Robot is fast-paced, full of danger, discovery, and near-death encounters. It's a question between embracing humanity or embracing purpose. But to me, something was missing.

(Warning for readers that this book does contain scenes/memories of rape and child abuse.)

Issak, a kind, introspective young man. When his story begins he wonders if there's more to life, if he'll ever get to leave his small town and see the world. But then the headache comes, then his awakening comes, and he learns that he's not exactly human. He's a Robot, created by a secret government project looking to craft highly intelligent weapons. And now he's on the run. But he's not the only one. And soon enough, he's not alone.

With Issak and the others like him, their different abilities and powers, there's a big X-Men vibe. Teens with unimaginable powers being hunted down and eliminated, hoping to meet up and rise up so they can fight back on their own terms. Stripped down, this is a very familiar struggle. For survival, for humanity. For respect and acceptance.

I was intrigued by the premise, even though it sounded so familiar: teen with sudden and unexplained powers on the run towards a resistance group and from a military-type elimination team. The idea of the synthetic human, the real life person mixed with the futuristic technology, hooked me. Something that very vaguely reminded me of Margaret Stohl's Icons. But then a number of things occurred. The flashback scenes, the interludes in different points of view, were interesting, but they were all origin stories of pain, intense abuse, and death. During the race across the country, Issak is trying to figure out what he is and what his new abilities are, but no one really bothers to teach him what it is he can do. There's a lot of running and hiding. Issak's a kind, caring guy, but no one seems to want him for himself. Because of who he is as a person. It's all about what he can do, what he can be used for. How he can help other people run or hide or fight back. Yes, he's a Robot, but what was the point in giving him a personality if almost everyone was going to treat him like a tool? I wanted to like this book, but in the end it just wasn't for me.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (232)

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. ;)

This was a hard week for a lot of people. It's time to stop, listen, and make plans on how to make things better. How to help. Time to step back and breathe, care for yourself if you're over-whelmed and worried.

Reviews going up this week will feature Boy Robot by Simon Curtis (Tuesday) and Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (Friday). :)
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (ARC from HarperCollins Canada)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Me on Seriously Shifted

Title: Seriously Shifted
Author: Tina Connolly
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: TorTeen

Teenage witch Cam isn't crazy about the idea of learning magic. She'd rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother's wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them. Now Cam's learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don't get him first, that is. Can't a good witch ever catch a break?

Seriously Shifted is clever and magical, an entertaining continuation from the first book but able to stand on its own.

Cam's back, ready to try and be as normal as possible. She still sees herself as suffering but not as much as before. Before Sarmine turned out to be her real mother, before she vaguely accepted her magical leanings. But only when it's ethical, which means no evil things and no killing creatures for ingredients. The thing is Sarmine isn't the only wicked witch out there, especially when some of her old school friends show up looking to cause some mayhem. Now Cam's on the case, trying to figure out who their targets are and saving the day while being a good witch about it.

It was interesting when Cam brought ethics into spellcasting and ingredient-gathering. She's surrounded by wicked witches, scrambling to get all her minion chores done before Sarmine tries to take over the world, and she's sure she can find a plant-based ingredient that works just as well as newt eyes or powdered pixie bone.

I think this is a great read for those looking for a mixture of magical troubles and contemporary teenage problems. Cam has to juggle a lot of things, like working spells and friendships and classmates and a boyfriend. It's a good combination of the fantastical and the realistic. And Cam and Jenah's friendship is still great, still supportive and solid but willing to give when one screws up. Sarmine is still evil, but she's trying to teach Cam about being a witch as best as she can. There are hints of a tenuous truce between the two of them. If you enjoyed the first, then make sure you pick this up.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Me on Waiting in Wednesday (304)

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

Title: Given to the Sea
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Putnam's Childrens (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twins' adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Me on Seven Tears at High Tide

Title: Seven Tears at High Tide
Author: C.B. Lee
Release Date: October 15, 2015
Publisher: Duet Books (Interlude Press imprint)

Kevin Luong walks to the ocean's edge with a broken heart. Remembering a legend his mother told him, he lets seven tears fall into the sea. "I just want one summer—one summer to be happy and in love." Instead, he finds himself saving a mysterious boy from the Pacific—a boy who later shows up on his doorstep professing his love. What he doesn't know is that Morgan is a selkie, drawn to answer Kevin's wish. As they grow close, Morgan is caught between the dangers of the human world and his legacy in the selkie community to which he must return at summer's end.

Seven Tears at High Tide is sweet and heartfelt, a story about young love and secrets, about wishes. About the possible and the impossible.

Kevin is a smart young man. A wounded young man. Recently cast aside by someone he thought was his friend, was his boyfriend. His family is supportive and loving, they'd do anything for him and vice versa, but that's not what he's looking for right now. He wants to be loved in a romantic way, in a way that doesn't make him a secret to be tucked away in the shadows. He wants someone he can be happy with, someone he can watch movies and go rock hunting with. With Morgan he finds this happiness, he's expressive and excited. He doesn't know what secrets Morgan is hiding.

Morgan is kind and thoughtful, maybe a little naïve (maybe a lot). But how could he not be? He's a selkie, a creature who lives in the sea, travels across the sea with his family group, and so rarely has the chance to change into his human form. Kevin's Request is something the family group takes seriously, as so few Requests are made, and Morgan is the one who will fulfill it. How could he not love Kevin and his pure heart? But he's still a selkie, and Kevin's Request was only meant for the summer. What will he do when the summer ends?

There's a sweetness and a sadness to this book. A sweetness that sings in Kevin and Morgan, in their joy and awkwardness as they laugh and learn during their summer together. As Morgan learns all about the wonder that is fried food. A sadness that nudges at the edges, reminding them that summers end, that their time will end. I rather enjoyed this story about love, time, and wanting.

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

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (231)

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 there! It's getting brisk and chilly now, some rain but also just some cold air. I need to dig out my gloves soon.

I've noticed that good chuck of my days are spent reading through smart threads on Twitter, threads about mental health and diversity and racism written by people trying to voice their thoughts from a place of struggle and anger and frustration. It's certainly not what I thought I'd get from Twitter when I first logged on, but I do like it. It's a learning experience, as toxic and horrible as it can get some days. It's best in small doses with an open mind and a pen and paper in order to take notes.

Reviews going up this week will feature Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee (Tuesday) and How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington (Friday). :)
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Freya by Matthew Laurence (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly (ARC from Raincoast Books)
The Mesmirist by Ronald L. Smith (ARC from Raincoast Books)
All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (e-book borrowed from the library)
A Shadow Burning and Bright by Jessica Cluess (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Me on Blood for Blood

Title: Blood for Blood
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Groups imprint)

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost. But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

Blood for Blood is a fight for survival and freedom, a mission to uncover the secrets of the most dangerous man and reveal them to the world. But the truth isn't always what it seems.

For Yael, the race is on. A far more important, more deadly race than the previous one she just rode through fields and over mountains. It's time to warn the Resistance, to let them know they plan didn't quite work out how they thought it would. It's time to find answers. Why? How? What now? How many will die because of what happened, because some weren't ready? Because some were traitors and some were worried about their families. It's up to Yael now to go back to Germania, to uncover the secrets behind her own experimentation and reveal the truth. Even if it costs her her life.

It's easy for me to read this and feel horrified, feel disgusted at the atrocities committed in this fictional version of our history. It's easy to condemn most of the German soldiers, easy to sympathize with Yael, with her cause and her mission. Her suffering. It's easy to be afraid of something like this happening now, considering the current political climate of certain large and powerful countries. The worry is thick, a sour taste in the back of my throat. People are being taught to hate those with a different skin colour than theirs, a different religion than theirs. Book like this show how close the line between reality and fiction are blurring faster than we thought they would, and how we need to stop the hate. Fans of the first book will surely be eager to see how Yael's journey ends.

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (303)

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

Title: The Crooked Sixpence
Author: Jennifer Bell
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

For fans of the Apothecary series and "The Doldrums" comes the first in a fantasy trilogy where a city beneath London hides objects endowed with magical powers!

When officers brandishing toilet brushes arrive at their door, eleven-year-old Ivy Sparrow and her older brother, Seb, go tumbling into Lundinor, a secret underground city. The siblings find themselves in a world of enchantment, where uncommon people, alive and dead, trade in uncommon goods belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with curative properties, and other enchanted objects capable of extraordinary feats.

But the charm wears thin when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time and if they don t find it, their parents lives are forfeit. It s a race against time as Ivy and Seb attempt to unearth the treasure and rescue their parents.

Debut novelist Jennifer Bell delivers a world of wonder and whimsy in the start of a richly uncommon series.

Since I've been super enchanted by middle grade this fall, I'm looking forward to this. Mysterious middle grade with weird magic and running and outsmarting enemies? Yes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Me on Timekeeper

Title: Timekeeper
Author: Tara Sim
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (Skyhorse Publishing imprint)

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely. It's a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors. And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny's new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower's clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield's time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he's fought to achieve. But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he'll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Timekeeper is intriguing, enthralling, mysterious, and more than a little somber. It's a story about lonely souls and missing hours, of hope and love and selfishness.

Danny is sweet and kind. Skilled at his work as mechanic, repairing clocks and helping right time. He's also lonely, bruised and wounded after an accident and after the loss of his father in a Stopped town. He's hiding from his nightmares, from the past, and looking for something that will give him hope in the future. He seems run-down and weary, tired. Then he goes to Enfield. Then he discovers the clock spirit. Then he discovers something bigger than the two of them is happening.

I was intrigued by the world-building here, by the need for advancement in clock mechanisms because of the changes to time. Because of time being something slightly tangible, something that can be reined in and controlled. Something that stems from mythology, from the gods and goddesses of ancient times. I thought it was intriguing and new, the manipulation of time and the clock spirits. I also liked how the author altered other parts of history, like this world's views of homosexuality. Danny isn't ridiculed or hated, but it's the default of most he comes across that, when they ask if he's seeing anyone, they assume he'd date a girl.

As I read this I was struck by a sweet, melancholy tone that carried me along, rising and falling as Danny worked on the clock tower in Enfield and uncovered more and more behind the bombings and the Stopped towns. At times I chuckled and at times I wanted to cry. There were some interesting pokes and prods at a deeper mystery going on, one Danny brushes up against near the end, and so I'm curious as to where the second book will go and what will be revealed. Also if any side characters will appear again, if their roles will get a little bigger. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Skyhorse Publishing.)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (230)

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 getting more and more fall-like here, which means lot of rain. ;) I do wonder how much snow we'll get this year and into next, if it'll be the few dusting we got last year or if it'll build up. People don't know how to drive in the snow here, so it's always a worry when it comes around and sticks around.

I've decided on a place for my random anime thoughts! It's over on Tumblr at Me on Anime (how clever I am with names).

Reviews going up this week will feature Timekeeper by Tara Sim (Tuesday) and Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin (Friday). :)
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester (finished copy from Raincoast Books)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Me on No Holding Back

Title: No Holding Back
Author: Kate Evangelista
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Everyone knows that Nathan is in love with his best friend, Preston... Everyone except Preston. Nathan has always accepted that Preston was too focused on his swim training to worry about love. But Preston is heading off to train for the Olympics soon, so if Nathan wants his chance at love, he has to speak up now. But saying "I love you" is surprisingly difficult, even for someone as confident as Nathan. Maybe a whirlwind vacation in Europe could help? But... what if it doesn't work out and he loses the best friend he's ever had?

No Holding Back is a sweet story about friendship and love, about focus and determination.

Nathan is determined to plan this luncheon for Preston's overbearing and controlling mother, even if she keeps undermining his ideas. But he knew she would be this way, he and Preston have been friends for years. And Nathan's been crushing on him for almost as long. He knows Preston, knows how driven his is when it comes to swimming. Nathan knows how sometimes Preston gets too focused, too involved. Which is why this vacation to Europe is actually a great idea. Give them both time to relax, even while Nathan is busy planning. And maybe Nathan would finally gather up all his courage and tell Preston how he feels? But what if it doesn't work out?

Preston has tunnel-vision when it comes to swimming. It's all he knows, all he works towards. He's been dreaming of making the Olympic team for years, and now he's one step closer. Maybe. If the club coach would ever e-mail him to let him know whether or not he made it in. It's a good thing he has Nathan as a friend, setting him straight when Preston stresses out and over-thinks. But this European vacation idea? He's not so sure. What if the e-mail comes early? And once he's in Europe, why are things sometimes awkward with Nathan?

This is a sweet story about two young men who need to stop and be honest with each other, with themselves. Stop and look around and think about what they really want. But that was it. I kept searching for substance. And there were moments when the story stuttered and dragged on. It's a bit of a clichéd story. But if what you're looking for is a sweet and simple gay romance, if you like the friends to something more trope, then give this a read.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (302)

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

Title: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Rhee, better known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a holo-vision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.


Rhoda Belleza crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy in her exhilarating debut, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Pierce Brown.

Ooooo, sounds interesting. I find myself drifting back more and more to sci-fi some days. I miss the days when I could read sci-fi over and over again and not feel bogged down in technical specs and heavy deep space science. It's a tricky balance, finding sci-fi that's interesting but not overwhelmed by science and description. The Marissa Meyer comparison also worked to hook me, I do like the Cinder books and the mix of world-building and sci-fi and fairy tale.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Me on A Darkly Beating Heart

Title: A Darkly Beating Heart
Author: Lindsay Smith
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: Running Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko's parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu's demons as well as her own.

A Darkly Beating Heart is rough and painful, a look at anger and betrayal, at the harm we do to ourselves and to others. At the things that push us, at the lives we leave behind. At the darkness that can stew and fester inside of ourselves.

Reiko is rage and fury in human form. Nothing matters anymore, nothing but being angry. Nothing but getting her revenge on those that hurt her. Especially if that means killing herself in a way that publicly hurts them. She can't create anymore, she feels nothing from her art, from her photographs and collages. It's not worth it. All she can do now if she wants to feel something in cut herself and look for a way to end it all.

Considering the author's note at the end, I got the feeling that she really wanted to be as accurate as possible when it came to showing modern day Japan and the time slip moments set in the 19th century. She wanted to be faithful to Japanese customs and culture, not just paste the setting over North American values. Not being Japanese or ever living in Japan, I can't speak on the accuracy, but in my own personal opinion the setting certainly wasn't North America. Reiko has American values because she's American. But the other characters? The Japanese characters? From my own perception of Japan, they seem accurate and realistic. But again, this is my opinion. Readers from Japan might feel differently in terms of the author's accuracy.

This is a very dark story with multiple references to self-harm, suicide, and causing harm to others, so this might not be the book for some readers. I certainly didn't expect them and was taken aback for a moment or two before continuing. This was certainly a look at anger and what it does, how it changes us. How destroying it is. And the time slip moments were interesting, the moments in historical Japan with Miyu, her father, and the incoming samurai. I would recommend this for those looking for a darker sort of book, one full of revenge, but to take care in case of being triggered when it comes to suicide and self-harm.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (229)

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. ;)

No books this week! Maybe they melted in all the rain. ;)

I headed over to the Vancouver Writers Fest this week because Erin Bow was in town! If you've not read any of Erin's books yet, like Plain Kate, Sorrow's Knot, The Scorpion Rules, and The Swan Riders, then get to a bookstore or library when you get the chance. For the last three (Plain Kate is more middle grade), these aren't like your regular YA books. These are so smart, so relevant. So unlike a number of post-apocalyptic/dystopian books. Maybe it's all the Canada. Something Erin mentioned during the event that impacted The Scorpion Rules are the reasons why the American and Canadian governments were initially founded. For America, it was life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For Canada, it's peace, order, and good government. Kind of explains a few things when it comes to America and Canada, doesn't it?

I've been wanting to find a place online for me to talk about anime, because I have thoughts and opinions like I do on books, but I wasn't sure where to do it. Right now, I think I'll do it on Tumblr, but at the moment I don't have any kind of schedule or plan. Maybe a once a week kind of essay post on a thought I had while watching one of the 12 shows I'm watching this season (12! So many! It's looking like a good season, too).

Reviews going up this week will feature A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith (Tuesday) and No Holding Back by Kate Evangelista (Friday). :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Me on Crooked Kingdom

Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Crooked Kingdom is a tense, heart-pounding race against time, against a city searching and demanding. It's a search for secrets and answers and against the heavy boots of men who would refuse to give up what they've bartered and cheated for. One must always be careful of who he cheats, who he comes across, because the game can change in the blink of an eye.

The Dregs are back. Kaz. Inej. Nina. Matthias. Jesper. Wylan. Each has their own defined personality, their own goals. Their own strong opinions and thoughts on the world, on those that attempt to rule over Ketterdam and make a profit. Their own faith and beliefs. But just because they've come together, just because they're working together, plotting together, doesn't mean they always get along. Some of the best moments occur when they're butting heads, when their personalities and motives clash against each other. Quite often, it's against Kaz.

This is a shocking, deadly, deceptive ending to a duology that began with a plan to pull off the most impossible of heists. This is a quick search for ideas, a last push towards vengeance and justice, towards making those who deal and swindle without care pay with their wallets and their pride. Perhaps with their lives. This is a last stand, an explosive conclusion. A must-read for fans of this world and its previous books, for readers looking for compelling and realistic characters.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Me on Iron Cast

Title: Iron Cast
Author: Destiny Soria
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

It's Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny's crowds, and by day they con Boston's elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron's hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

Iron Cast is full of mystery and intrigue, anchored by a pair of heroines loyal to each other.

Ada is a cautious young woman. A musician, a songsmith, she works at the Cast Iron in order to provide for her mother. She's kind, supportive, and now scared of what might come next. The asylum wasn't a kind place and she's not about to go back. Back to the screams. Back to the secrets in the basement. Corinne is a wordsmith, able to craft illusions through recitation. She's at the Cast Iron for a number of reasons. To keep her hemopath status hidden from her privileged family. To stick close to Ada, to help keep her safe. To live her dream life of being in the big city with few to answer to. She's somewhat brash, somewhat cunning, and somewhat stubborn. But Ada and Corinne are thick and thieves. They'll always be together.

I was first intrigued by the setting and the world-building of this book, the combination of the time period and the hemopaths. It's a point in time when extravagance was desired but could be cut short with the introduction of Prohibition, when underground clubs were filled with those looking for a chance to reveal themselves instead of hiding in the shadows. Add in the hemopaths and their illusion-crafting abilities, their weakness to iron in a somewhat industrial city, and I was hooked. I wanted to know how it would all play out.

This book is like a mixture of pre-Prohibition era America, the attraction and intrigue of hidden nightclubs, and the X-Men. It starts with a slow reveal of the world, of Ada and Corinne's situation, of their less than legal jobs and their desire to stay free from the authorities, and continues with a race to uncover all the secrets surrounding the Cast Iron. Why was someone shot? What happened to Johnny? Who's chasing them? They're soon desperate to stay alive, stay together. I'd recommend this for those looking for a solid female friendship in a story with historical and urban fantasy elements.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (301)

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

Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will... Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

Oooooo, pirates. I'm curious as to how this will play out. If the treasure map is true, where it will lead them. Do we think it'll be real treasure or more of a treasure metaphor? And how long until Alosa gets completely screwed over by Riden? Or by her father?