Saturday, April 30, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (204)

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! I've recovered from the congested grossness that was last week's head cold (mostly). The cough lingers, as it always does.

I've been in a weird book coma after finishing The Raven King. I loved reading words set in that world again, in that space with all that magic. When I finished I didn't want to leave, I just wanted to roll around in it like puppies roll around in warm laundry when they think no one's looking.

Reviews going up this week will feature Warrior Witch by Danielle L. Jensen (Tuesday) and Ruined by Amy Tintera (Friday). :)
Map of Fates by Maggie E. Hall (borrowed from library)
Gasp by Lisa McMann (borrowed from library)
Salvage by Alexandra Duncan (borrowed from library)
Sound by Alexandra Duncan (borrowed from library)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Me on The Raven King

Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

The Raven King is the end of a journey.

This is a bit of a non-traditional review from me, mostly because I don't want to give anything away in terms of the plot.

I can't speak on what the series is about, what the author intended with these books (but I can link to this post where Maggie says it's "a series about what makes a hero and about wanting more"). I can really only speak on what I think (emphasis intended) this book, this series, this book, is about. How it's about magic and long dead Welsh kings. About angry boys and lonely girls. About dreamers and searchers, psychics and sleepers. About finding lost things in secret places. About seeing the magic in everyday things and places. About living in the now and fearing the future. About mortality and immortality. About what makes a person a parent. About being lost and being found. About being in love. About what makes a group of people a family.

But the thing about this series, this thing that struck me the hardest, is that the story isn't over. The books are just glimpses, moments in time. After the last word is read, after the last page is turned, the story continues. Time moves forward. And wondering what happens after the book ends, where the characters go? That's the fun part. That's where my mind went, wandering over mountains and between the trees.

On a personal note, I love this series. I love being enchanted by this series, by these characters and these circumstances, by this magic and wonder and impossibilities made possible. And so I was ready for the ride this book was bound to take me on, wondering what I'd see along the way and, at the end, where I'd be left behind.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (276)

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

Title: Vassa in the Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen

From Goodreads:

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they've arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa's working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa's neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa's stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg's help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch's curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won't be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter's years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students, Vassa in the Night weaves a dark yet hopeful tale about a young girl's search for home, love, and belonging.

Ooooooooo. This sounds interesting. I'm often all-in when it comes to magic things in a real world setting. It makes life just a bit more interesting. This sounds magical and also really creepy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Me on If I Was Your Girl

Title: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Flatiron Books (Macmillan imprint)

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life--and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a moving and honest story, a story about a girl looking forward, looking to find a place where she can be herself.

Amanda is a kind girl. A lonely girl. She's cautious, worried, looking for a place where she can finally fit in. Where she can be herself and other people, other teens, will accept her. At the beginning she's very guarded. She doesn't want to be hurt again, which is understandable. considering the treatment she received before moving in with her father, but she soon finds people who accept her. Who see her as she's always wanted to be seen.

As realistic as Amanda is, so are the supporting characters. Amanda's parents, both with flaws, with worries. The girls Amanda meets at school who almost instantly befriend her, who all have their own secrets they keep from others. Girls like Chloe, girls like Bee. Boys like Grant, sweet and friendly with their own secrets that they would rather keep hidden. Everyone has something to hide, something to be embarrassed about, something they don't want certain people to find out.

I can't speak on the accuracy of Amanda's transition, her emotional struggles and the medical procedures, but I know an honest voice when I see one. The sorrow and the fear so clear on the page, the confusion when she was younger, as Andrew, writing about wanting to be a girl when he grew up. The sadness when close friends began to spout horrible words, the lingering pain of the physical assaults. But even in those dark moments, there is hope. There's always hope. There's always joy.

I love the idea of this book, that it's a book about a trans girl written by a trans woman (with a trans girl on the cover). The fact that it's the story of a girl trying to find her place, trying to be herself. Trying to find a place where she can be happy when her past is full of confusion, sadness, and fear. Amanda's strength is tucked away, hidden where no one can hurt it, and as she finds her place, as she meets people who welcome her, she finds it. She finds her voice. She finds herself. No two stories about trans people, about transitioning, about living, are the same. I can only hope that other readers find Amanda's story as emotional and moving as I did.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (203)

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. ;)

It's the weekend! Which is nice, but I've had a disgusting sick week this week. I became victim #2 of the current sickness in the house. I've been all stuffed up and full of sinus pain and headaches and coughing. The last day or so hasn't been fun. *falls over, congested and dead*

Reviews going up this coming week will feature If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (Tuesday) and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Friday; this will be a bit of a non-traditional review, my thoughts on the book and the series as a whole without giving the plot away).
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (bought) Some Canadian bookstores put out their copies early, like 2 weeks early, and sent out the pre-orders. This arrived on Monday, 8 days before the April 26 release date.
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (bought)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Me on Heir to the Sky

Title: Heir to the Sky
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she's ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what's left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft. When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

Heir to the Sky is a fantastical look at an isolated kingdom and the secrets that some of its inhabitants keep, at how far some will go to be in control, and how much a girl will fight back in order to save those she cares about. The earth below is dangerous, overrun by deadly, sometimes poisonous monsters, and Kali will have to learn to fight back if she wants to make it back up into the sky.

Kali is a dreamer. She wants more from her privileged life, wants to make her own decisions, wants to be more than a symbol for the people of Ashra and the other islands. She wants to know more about the earth. She wants control of her life. But she's rather naive, as we see when she falls from the sky, when she wakes up to a rather harsh reality. The earth is inhabited by dangerous creatures, creatures full of sharp teeth, sharper claws, and the occasional deadly poison. Kali struggles to survive until she discovers a secret kept from those above: there are humans alive on the surface.

I like the idea of the floating islands, of a collection of islands separated from the earth beneath it and the legend around its creation. From Ashra, Kali looks down and daydreams about what she should find, what she would want to visit if she ever made it down there. To her, it's a dream. To Griffin it's a place full of danger and challenge, the need to always keep watch, to keep an eye out for dragons or basilisks or other creatures that are hungry for the taste of meat. It's a place to be wary of, to always have a blade ready, the surviving humans have learned hard lessons, they either stay hidden or they learn to fight back

I found this intriguing, an adventurous standalone fantasy full of danger and secrets. Kali learns some harsh lessons after she falls, learns some hard truths about how the islands actually rose up into the sky, and nearly dies a few times. But she keeps on going. She's determined to know, to share the truth, to demand answers to her questions, even if those questions make her a threat. Although she hasn't been down on the earth for long, it shows her that she has to be tough, that she has the strength to fight back. Maybe the beginning was a little slow but I gladly kept on reading, curious as to the truth behind the islands in the sky and the rumours of unrest and rebellion.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (275)

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

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

From Goodreads:

Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen. 

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn't solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it's not just a game of win or lose... it's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

A new Kendare Blake series? I'm all for it. Magic battles between sisters? Dangerous magic? YES. I can't wait. :)

Me on A Tyranny of Petticoats

Title: A Tyranny of Petticoats
Editor: Jessica Spotswood
Authors: J. Anderson Coats, Andrea Cremer, Y. S. Lee, Katherine Longshore, Marie Lu, Kekla Magoon, Marissa Meyer, Saundra Mitchell, Beth Revis, Caroline Richmond, Lindsay Smith, Jessica Spotswood, Robin Talley, Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960's Chicago. Join fifteen of today's most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They're making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

A Tyranny of Petticoats is a collection of strong young girls, of girls acting on their thoughts and beliefs, helping others, saving others, rescuing themselves. Stories of, at the point in time in which they take place, regular girls trying to find their places in an often harsh and limiting world.

It's a rare anthology where I find something to like about every story. I think it's because in their own way, each main character is a smart young woman. These stories are all about girls taking chances, making hard choices, saying yes when people tell them to say no, saying no when people tell them to say yes, to shut up and look pretty. When they should just listen to what their fathers say, what strange men say, what society says. These are stories about girls who struggle, girls who fight back, girls who aren't afraid to scream and cry and shout.

What's smart about this book is how more than half of the stories have main characters who aren't white, who are African-American, Mexican, Inuit, or Chinese. America wasn't just built by white people, by rich people. It's those forgotten young people, those runaway slaves, those hard-working farmers, crafters, and hunters that also made America. History is, has been, will be, white-washed. These are the stories that should be discussed, that shouldn't be tossed aside just because of the colour of the narrator's skin.

The idea of this anthology is genius. It highlights the stories of girls often forgotten or ignored by history, the spaces they navigated or were kept from, the secrets they kept in order to keep themselves hidden or alive. The struggles they had to prove their worth. I certainly think that this anthology came about at the right time, considering the recent resurgence of feminism and the ongoing struggle for women in the United States. Collections of stories like these validate the thoughts and feelings of young girls and women. It shows that they can be contrary, they can be rough, they can hide, they can run. They can be pirates and monsters. Definitely a must-read.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (202)

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! It's been a week of cloud, a sudden thunderstorm, sick people, and a long-lasting headache for me. Which means I haven't read much this week. But I have plans for a bunch of reading this weekend... because some books I've ordered and pre-ordered will be coming next week and I want to build up a bit of a buffer again.

I'm still on the lookout for book recs from you guys! Please feel free to suggest books that you'd like to see me read or review. I'm looking to branch out into a little more contemporary YA.

Reviews going up this week will feature the A Tyranny of Petticoats anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood (Tuesday) and Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun (Friday). :)
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (e-galley from Daw/Penguin through NetGalley) This looks like a fun take on superheroes and what it is to be a hero/feel like a hero/not want to be in the spotlight.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Me on Love, Lies and Spies

Title: Love, Lies and Spies
Author: Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She's much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she's determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research. Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana's traveling companions... and Juliana herself.

Love, Lies and Spies is light, sweet, and tinged with mystery, the everyday happenings of a young woman who would rather spend time with ladybugs and a young man helping his friend with his romantic pursuits. But something else is going on.

Juliana is intelligent and leans towards the more scientific and natural sides of things, unlike most young ladies of stature and position of the time. She has no need nor care for a husband. One would only limit her explorations, her research with her father on the ladybugs of their quiet village. She's quiet and thoughtful, a definite wallflower who doesn't see why things should change, why she absolutely needs to go to London for the Season.

Spencer is clever, driven, determined to crack the case he's currently working on. He has to find out who the culprits are, who's been sharing secrets with those outside of England, and stop them before too much is revealed. He's focused, which is good considering he's working for the War Office, but sometimes he gets too focused, sometimes his vision tunnels on certain things. Like the sudden appearance of Juliana. It helps him, but it also leaves him blind to other possibilities, other people around him.

I liked their relationship at the start. Both were using the other as a means of deflection and distraction in order to impact the situation around them, be it simply romance or entertainment or something more dangerous like spying for the War Office. They felt like honest friends at the start, even with Spencer hiding his true motives from Juliana. Most of his true motives. I will admit that perhaps it was a little obvious, the both of them somewhat drawn to each other at the beginning, but there was never any rushing into anything.

I found this to be a fun and light-hearted romp. Yes, there's some intrigue and some espionage going on, and yes, things get a little dangerous and intense at times, but I would still call this book fun. It's the exchanges between Juliana and Spencer that make it entertaining. I would suggest this book to readers looking for a fun historical mystery with clever characters.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (274)

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

Title: The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love
Author: Sarvenaz Tash
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

John Hughes meets Comic Con in this hilarious, unabashedly romantic, coming-of-age novel about a teenager who is trying to get his best friend to fall in love with him from the author of Three Day Summer.

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...
Archie and Veronica...
Althena and Noth...
...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be... even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

I am rather intrigued by the books coming out that have more to do with fandom and conventions and how it's totally acceptable to be into comics and sci-fi and fantasy when you're a teen. I remember high school in not the best light, as a place where some classmates would give me and my friends weird looks for being into fantasy novels and art and writing our own stories. That doesn't have to be hidden anymore, and I wish books like this, books like Fangirl and others about fandom and friendship, were around when I was in high school.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Me on The Rose Society

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

Adelina Amouteru's heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her. But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

The Rose Society is a series of steps closer to revenge, but as Adelina moves, as she acts, she finds she's falling deeper and deeper into the shadows. Into the whispers. But will she be able to stay in control? Or have they already consumed too much of her heart?

Adelina is dark and dangerous, her mind full of whispers that are not in her own voice. Her heart full of anger and plans for revenge against those who have hurt her, harmed her, cast her aside. Tried to kill her. For her, this is the walk down the stone staircase into the darkness, into evil and obsession. Into, possibly, insanity. She pushes and pushes her illusions, weaving them around those around her, harming them, killing them. What does this mean for her mind?

But Adelina's isn't the only plot, the only plan, the only point of view readers can see. There's Raffaele, still hopeful for the future, still grieving for Enzo, still hoping that he and the Daggers will find a way to save the downtrodden of Kenettra. Perhaps he will, with the assistance of this new Queen of Beldain. As somber as the situation is, as dangerous as it becomes, there's still hope in him. Until a quick discovery of his. There's Teren, still feeding from his obsessions. Queen Giulietta, the woman he's been in love with for years, the woman he would do anything for. Exterminating the malfettos of Kenettra, hating them because of the bad omen they represent, even though he is one of them. Even though he is an Elite with an ability. He hated Enzo, he hates the Daggers, he hates Adelina, and he hates himself.

This is a descent into madness, into anger and sorrow and the hard, cold nugget of desire that burns in Adelina. The desire for revenge, to get her own back at Raffaele and the Daggers for casting her out, for placing the blame for Enzo's death on her shoulders. To get her own back at Teren, the one who at first lured her then betrayed her. A must-read, along with the first book, at what turns a victim into a villain and how destructive and damaging the hot thirst for revenge can be. Adelina is heading towards the end, but will she stay in control? Or will the shadows overwhelm her, turning her into their vessel?

(I received a finished copy of this book as a gift.)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (201)

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. ;)

It's the weekend! It's looking like an outside weekend, what with the near-constant sun and warmth and things to be tidied up outside, which is fine. I do wonder which person will be left to serve as puppy wrangler and whether or not it'll be someone with some patience. ;)

Once again I'm getting the feeling that I'm missing a bunch of summer releases on my list of books to check out. I'm wondering if it's because the ones I don't have listed are contemporary YA. So, since it seems like most bloggers and reviews read more contemporary-set YA than I do, which books would you recommend I check out? Happy or sad, about romance or friendship or dead/dying parents. Which recent contemporary YA releases would you suggest?

Reviews going up this week will feature The Rose Society by Marie Lu (Tuesday) and Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey (Friday). :)
A Tyranny of Petticoats anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood (borrowed from the library)
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (borrowed from the library)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Me on A Fierce and Subtle Poison

Title: A Fierce and Subtle Prison
Author: Samantha Mabry
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family's Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill. Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He's grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in her and her magic. When letters begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to her for answers--and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with her, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison is a dark and mysterious tale filled with secrets, a mixture of superstition and some very real, very serious, disappearances all wrapped up in tense, beautiful prose. Is there really a ghost in the house at the end of Calle Sol? Is there a witch who will grant wishes? Or is something far more sinister hiding behind its walls, behind the leaves?

Lucas is caught up between worlds, between his life is Houston and his summers in Puerto Rico. Between the opulence and money grubbing of his white father and the love and later abandonment from his Dominican mother. Between listening to the stories and legends of the señoras, the tales of heartsick nuns and cursed girls and a house that birds refuse to fly over, and thinking about the practical things he could do with his future. He doesn't understand his father's motives, his need to build fancy, pretentious hotels for rich people to stay in while the locals can only hope to work there, but he knows that it's his father's money that lets him go there in the summers, hang out with his local friends and get drunk almost every night. It's like he's in limbo, until he swears he sees the girl with green skin and grass for hair. Until the letters come. Until his wish is returned to him. Until he falls head first into poisoned plants and a poisonous girl.

The setting also brings this book to life. The warmth of the sun and the rage of the storms, the lashing wind and the pounding rain. The mosquitoes, the lush greenery that entices while hiding poison in its leaves. The very clear divide between the rich white hotel guests and the Puerto Ricans struggling to make enough money to leave. The stories mixed in with Lucas's words, the secrets and the ghosts and the hidden magics of the islands. The tucked away things that are kept alive by those who believe in the unknown and the impossible.

There's something about this book that might stick to you like honey or sap from a tree, dark and syrup-like. Something that seeps into you and lingers. Because of the stories and legends that race through the streets, because of the scientist's work, you're never quite sure of what Lucas sees, what's happening. Is the girl poison because of a curse? Or is it because of an experiment? Does Lucas hallucinate because of the poison, or is he seeing the truth behind the stories? I wanted to believe in the magic of this book, I really did. I love books that fiddle with truth and perception like that, books like this and The Walls Around Us and The Accident Season. A must-read for those looking for magical realism, for those looking for something a little different, a little dark and dangerous.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (273)

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

Title: The Shadow Hour
Author: Melissa Grey
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

Everything in Echo's life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she's already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature--or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what's left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour.

I'm so excited for this. I remember reading the first one last year and finding it full of magic and secrets in ways that reminded me of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and I didn't want it to end. I wanted to know more about the characters, wanted to follow them on more hunts and chases and adventures. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Me on The Nameless City

Title: The Nameless City
Author/artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: First Second Books (Macmillan imprint)

Every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But before long, new invaders arrive and the City changes hands once again. The natives don't let themselves get caught up in the unending wars. To them, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name it are forever outsiders. Kaidu is one such outsider. He's a Dao born and bred--a member of the latest occupying nation. Rat is a native of the Nameless City. At first, she hates Kai for everything he stands for, but his love of his new home may be the one thing that can bring these two unlikely friends together. Let's hope so, because the fate of the Nameless City rests in their hands.

The Nameless City is the start of a smart, bright adventure, a story that begins in a city with as many names as people who live there with two young people who couldn't be more different struggling to understand each other.

Kai has the look of a kind, friendly boy. He's eager, he's excited to finally be near his father, to finally meet him, and he's curious about the happenings of the city. Of why it has ten thousand names and is nameless. He's bookish, more interested in learning and reading than fighting. He's sweet, naive, and the city can be cruel. Rat is a homeless street girl, a native of the city. She's angry at a number of people, specifically the Dao. She's angry at those who look down on her, who think they're better than her. And she has a right to be angry. Kai confuses her. He's the one Dao who looks at her as an equal, as a person, and it's hard for her to not see it as a trick of some kind. But it's not, and they need to trust each other if they want to save the city from certain enemies.

It's not a secret to some that I'm a fan of Faith's artwork. How expressive the characters faces are. The clear black lines. There's always a bit of fun in Faith's art. Here, the flips and tricks, the running and jumping over rooftops. The surprise on Kai's face. The anger on Rat's. The boredom of the guards while they look away from their work to discuss their vacation plans. The detail on all the buildings, the stonework and the tiled roofs. So much detail. And the colours done by Jordie Bellaire are somehow bright but also a little muted.

The Nameless City. It's a city caught up in politics and colonialism and seems to be unable to escape it. But the same can be said of other cities, of real life cities. Look at how far the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans expanded their empires. Look at all the countries and islands that used to be British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Russian colonies. Look at the history of Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul. It seems to be a part of human nature to travel and expand, to find new lands to live in, and when the resources look appealing, to take it from its native inhabitants under some kind of illusion or through war, and then spend years worrying that someone could take it from them. The city is a collection of people, names, customs, and discrimination. Every new ruling country comes in thinking it's better, and currently in this city, it's the Dao who think they are better. But they're not.

What makes you who you are? In the case of this book, what makes someone Dao? What makes them a native of the Nameless City? Do they have to be born there? Erzi, the son of the General of All Blades, was, but he is also Dao. He's caught up in being Dao, in wanting to keep control of the city, and feeling as though the city is his because he was born there. Mura is not Dao, but she's been Erzi's bodyguard for years. She owes her life to him. Kai is Dao, born in the homelands, but currently his home is the Nameless City. Rat was born in the City, is a native, but seemingly has no say or control. But why? She was born there, so, like Erzi, the city is hers, yes? No. It's a twisted combination of colonialism, power, entitlement, and racism that is a struggle for many to overcome.

Is it where we are from, where are parents are from, or what race we are what defines us? Or is it our thoughts and values? Our actions? The connections we make with those around us? I think this book is rather smart when it comes to discussing war and empire, conquerors and victims. Of how easy it is to talk about leaving but how hard it is to put it into practice, how hard it is to stop a war. I would definitely recommend this to kids looking for adventure as well as to teachers looking for a visual way to teach empire and colonialism.

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

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (200)

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. ;)

It's been pretty sunny this past week, which is nice, but it means some of my most hated things: mowing the lawn and getting all stuffed up with fresh grass and pollen.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (Tuesday) and A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry (Friday). :)
With Malice by Eileen Cook (e-galley from HMH through NetGalley)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Me on Tell the Wind and Fire

Title: Tell the Wind and Fire
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets. Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men's deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth. Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Tell the Wind and Fire is a battle between the light and the dark, the privileged and the downtrodden. This is the story of a girl struggling with what she knows and wondering how strong she'll have to be in order to save those she loves.

Lucie is a girl living a lie, living the high life in the Light after leaving behind a childhood in the Dark. But is she really better off? She knows bits and pieces of the truths that hide on both sides, that because of lies and omissions she was able to leave the Dark for the Light, that she has Light magic in her. The only nice piece of her life is her boyfriend Ethan, the affection and the support he gives her. But then circumstances change, then someone appears who both throws a wrench into plans and saves the day for a short time. Then everything changes and Lucie is left questioning, worrying, scrambling. By the end, she's running and risking her life, ready to face off against anyone who would try and stop her.

Not having read A Tale of Two Cities but knowing the basic storyline, I could see the similarities. The ideas carried through both books. There's a lot said about the divide between the rich and the poor, emphasized by the creation of the Light magic and the Dark magic. Of the mistakes made by some and the secrets held by Lucie's boyfriend, the events that have created and impacted the stranger that suddenly appears in their lives. I was intrigued by this magical world created in the guise of New York City, the Light and the Dark parts that rose up and split it in two.

This book takes some turns, some complicated and confusing turns, and then some dark turns that I wasn't expecting. I thought this would be similar to the author's previous books but it's far more serious. Far more deadly. I was intrigued, yes, as to where it would go. How similar it would be to Dickens' original work. It started off a bit slow, a bit confusing as there's some surprising plot before some backstory, but the pace really picked up in the later half. If you were already interested in reading this, then go right ahead, but if you were expecting the quirky humour of the author's previous series, then know that this book is far more serious. But then how could it not be when we're talking about an uprising?

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