Friday, September 30, 2016

Me on A Little Taste of Poison

Title: A Little Taste of Poison
Author: R.J. Anderson
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster imprint)

The city of Tarreton is powered by magic, from simple tablets that light lamps to advanced Sagery that can murder a man from afar. Isaveth has a talent for spell-making, but as a girl from a poor neighborhood she never dreamed she could study at the most exclusive magical school in the city. So when she's offered a chance to attend, she eagerly accepts. The school is wonderful, but old and new enemies confront Isaveth at every turn, and she begins to suspect her scholarship might be more a trap than a gift. Even her secret meetings with Esmond, her best friend and partner in crime-solving, prove risky—especially once he hatches a plan to sneak her into the biggest society event of the season. It's their last chance to catch the corrupt politician who once framed her father for murder. How can Isaveth refuse?

A Little Taste of Poison is utterly magical and mysterious, captivating and charming. It's a story of intrigue, of family and faith, of struggle. A story of righting wrongs and helping friends. Of revealing the truth, no matter how dangerous it is.

Isaveth is a wonderful heroine. Ingenious and compassionate. Loyal and trusting. Curious and inquisitive. Her and her family have struggled for years and she's learned to be cautious when it comes to gifts. Especially when it comes to the upper class of Tarreton. But this scholarship, this chance to learn more about magic, to learn about Sagery along with what she already knows about Common Magic? It's hard for her to resist. It also means she can continue her investigating with Esmond, the one-eyed boy formerly known as Quiz. Isaveth can't not ask questions, she can't let things go by when it comes to people in charge abusing their power, treating families like Isaveth's, poor families, Moshite families, like they're less than them. But when those in charge are willing to do anything to get their way? It's hard for Isaveth to keep pushing.

And Esmond! We get more glimpses of his family life, the life he was running from when he first met Isaveth in the first book. It's not a happy life. It's privileged, it's fancy, but it's cold and unforgiving. It's a strict set of rules that Esmond doesn't necessarily agree with. It's a father who would rather drink and a brother with dangerous plans and powerful accomplices. He has to be careful if he wants to reveal the truth of his brother to the city, because Eryx isn't stupid when it comes to hiding his tracks.

In the first book, we only saw so much of Tarreton, of the city that Isaveth and Esmond race through before time runs out. Now we see more, like Tarreton College and its students, some of whom aren't completely stuck up and pretentious. We see more of Esmond's house and the figures that inhabit it. But the familiar things are still there, like Isaveth's house on Cabbage Street, like her father and her sisters. Like the supportive Moshite community.

As with the first book, this covers all manner of important and current ideas and topics. The class divide. Wealth and poverty. Privilege. Religion. Politics. It's so layered, from family disagreements to classroom bullies to political intrigue, all in a story about a young girl learning magic and solving mysteries with her best friend. I found this book and its heroine to be charming and honest, insightful and powerful. A must-read.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (298)

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

Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Once The Night Circus was named as a comp title, I was sold. I love The Night Circus, the impossibility and the whimsy and the seriousness of it all, so I'm really excited to read this. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Me on Like a River Glorious

Title: Like a Rover Glorious
Author: Rae Carson
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram. Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn't given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he'll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

Like a River Glorious is the continuing tale of a young woman looking for a new home, a place that her and her friends can call their own. But the dark things in her past won't let her go.

Lee is a strong young woman. She's determined, she's tough. She's full of compassion. She's desperate for a home of her own, a place to call her own where she can live in peace and relative comfort with those who've made it to California with her. She's looking to feel safe for the first time in ages, which is hard when she knows her uncle is looking for her. Searching for her, wanting to use her witchy gold-finding ability for himself. Caught up in his business, in his desperate search for gold and power, Lee must stay calm and wait if she wants to survive. If she wants to make it out alive and not alone.

This book isn't for the faint of heart. After all the running and hiding Lee did in the previous book, after the hope she had for a future of her own and away from her uncle, it's hard to stomach what Hiram does to Lee in this book. The kidnapping. The emotional abuse, the physical abuse. What he makes Lee witness. The disgust he has for the Native Americans and the Chinese labourers. The horrible living and working conditions they suffer through. This is a book full of sorrow and oppression, of hunger and suffering and hatred. Of the cost of freedom, the desperation for it. Of greed and obsession.

After reading the first book, I was interested in where this would go. If Lee would ever find a new home. If any of the people she met on the wagon train would tough it out in California with her or if they would turn around and leave. If she'd be able to carve out as much a place of her own as possible, as much as the law would allow an unmarried young woman, or if more men would show up looking to control her. And then her uncle showed up. I'm curious as to how the third book will go, knowing it's a trilogy, knowing how this book ended.

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

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (225)

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 raining again! There was a pretty good downpour the other day. It was like heavy-duty movie rain, like when you know they've just got a sprinkler going off up in the air.

So I've been doing that thing that happens almost every fall, which is cramming in reviews of books that're coming out in September and October. SO MANY BOOKS. Ones I have for review or ones I bought or borrowed from the library and want to review. And then I feel like I've scheduled too much, or that I'm not reading enough, but then I sit down to read and I'm just not feeling it. I'm hoping I've settled into a good reading rhythm. But I did just go on a borrowing spree on the library's e-book site. Ooooooooops. ;)

Reviews going up in the coming week will feature Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson (Tuesday) and A Little Taste of Poison by R.J. Anderson (Friday). :)
Timekeeper by Tara Sim (e-galley from Skyhorse Publishing through NetGalley)
The Swan Riders by Erin Bow (borrowed from the library)
Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel (borrowed from the library)
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (borrowed from the library)
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (borrowed from the library)
Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee (borrowed from the library)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Blog tour: Vassa in the Night

Hello! Welcome to the blog tour for Sarah Porter's Vassa in the Night! Many thanks to Raincoast Books for setting up the tour and sending an advance copy. This is definitely not your average story, not your average fairy tale retelling. Today on the tour, you'll find an excerpt of Vassa in the Night. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Me on Enter a Glossy Web

Title: Enter a Glossy Web
Author: McKenna Rhea Ruebush
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books (Macmillan imprint)

Twelve-year-old George has no idea what to expect when she's sent to stay with eccentric relatives following the disappearance of her brother. Soon after her arrival, she learns that Uncle Constantine has been kidnapped. George sets off to recover him and is joined by two orphaned boys along the way and Cavendish, a talking map. Together they visit magical worlds full of monsters, witches, and dragons as they attempt to find Constantine--the Timekeeper--a man of great significance. If he's not rescued, events will cease to happen at their designated times, disrupting the unfolding of the universe. Can this ragtag crew save the future before being outwitted by evil captors?

Enter a Glossy Web is an exciting adventure full to the brim with magic, discovery, impossibility, and danger. Time is running out, and George and the boys have to hurry if they're going to save the universe.

George is a smart girl, a thoughtful girl. A lonely girl. After her brother's disappearance, she can't lose anyone close to her again. She keeps count, but even then, her uncle goes missing on a work trip and her aunt is kidnapped. She's been given an impossible quest, rooted in the fantastical bedtime stories her uncle told her during a meteor shower, and she follows it, determined to save the family members taken from her. But she doesn't want to remember what happened before, in Istanbul. Her companions, the young boys named Caleb and Mikal, are a curious pair. Their story, the beginning that they share with George, is a sad one, and soon they help her solving puzzles and searching for keys. But they also have things they don't want to talk about. They have secrets, they have fears, and they don't want to confront them.

How charming was this book! It reminded me of the impossible magic of childhood, of playing pretend and stories filled with magical creatures and different worlds. Of fantasy stories of children saying the day and adults helping them instead of hindering them. So many supportive adult characters! This was such a joy to read, so much fun to read. I loved reading about George, Caleb, and Mikal wandering through different worlds like the Land of Dreamers and The Children's Republic as they searched for the keys that would help save the worlds. A must-read for middle grade fans, for fans of fantasy worlds and adventure and wonder.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (297)

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

Title: The Lost Property Office
Author: James R. Hannibal
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

James R. Hannibal presents a thrilling adventure through history, complete with mysteries, secret items, codes, and a touch of magic in this stunning middle grade debut.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.

But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.

Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?

Oooooooooo. I like secret things and codes. And I like the cover, the mysterious bug thing (what does it mean?). I've been charmed by middle grade this fall, so I'm looking forward to this. I'm looking forward to the world-building, to what the Lost Property Office is and how it impacts the world.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Me on Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched. The heirs of the city's most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die. Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy... and perhaps turn against his own clan. Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she's the only one who believes it's in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara. Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting...

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is haunting and deadly, a story covered in blood. It's a search for hidden truths, for justice, and for secrets powerful enough to kill for in a city that's slowly dying.

The four main characters are all different, all anchor the story in different ways. Juliet is hard, skilled. She's made to serve, made to kill. She's meant for one purpose: to enact justice on behalf of the Catresou family, to hand out punishment to those who've wronged them. Romeo is foolish and flighty, reckless. Falling in love with the Juliet was something no one expected. But after a childhood of being ignored, how could he become anything but bold with his affections? Runajo is hard, her heart now obsidian. She searches for the truth in belief, in sacrifice, and struggles to find any. Struggles to find anyone who feels the same. Who knows what she knows, that the city is crumbling. Paris is an innocent soldier in the Catresou family's army of clueless sons. He believes in the good of his family, even when they steal and murder right under his nose. Even when the commit forbidden acts. But he must do what he thinks is right.

The world-building was very interesting. The city of Viyara is made up of different peoples, different cultures, because of the fleeing that occurred as the fog of the Ruining swept across the land. There's a intriguing combination of cultures and customs, of rules and faith, of magic and honour. It's all very layered. The Lower City, the Sisters of Thorn, the Catresou and the Mahyanai, the Juliet and her Guardian. I could see the loose bonds that connect it to Shakespeare's original play, the tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers, but that's where it ends. Do not expect an exact copy. This world extends far beyond the play.

It took me some time to realize how involved this book was going to be, how much two groups could be searching and fighting, be looking for the same answers on different sides of the same coin and never come together. Knowing this is the first in a duology, I can understand the ending. The surprises. The resolutions. The secrets still hidden. But it still felt less like an ending and more like a pause, a breath to be taken before the rest of the story continues in the second book. I would like to know how it ends, what happens next, but the wait will be hard.

(I received an advance copy of this title from HarperCollins Canada.)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (224)

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 all! The fall weather is definitely creeping in these days. It's getting cooler in the mornings, the rain's starting up again. This coming week's review schedule is a bit different again because of a blog tour and because of all the books that come out on the 27th. So many books coming out on the 20th and the 27th. And the 4th. :O

We're heading into birthday season here. Everyone's birthday is in the last few months of the year. I always mean to pick up things as the year goes on, and I always forget. Well, my sister and I will probably to the usual for her birthday, lunch and a movie. The downside is we're not sure what movie we'll see in a couple of months. Maybe Fantastic Beasts? We used to see HP and then the Hunger Games movies, but now? Who knows.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (Monday), Enter a Glossy Web by McKenna Ruebush (Wednesday), and Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (Friday). :)
How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington (E-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blog tour: Labyrinth Lost

Welcome! This week is the Labyrinth Lost blog tour, and one of the stops today is me! I really enjoyed this book, it has a great mix of character and magic and danger and mythology. There isn't really another book like it, so you really want to read it. And because it's a blog tour, I got the opportunity to ask author Zoraida Córdova a question. :)

"As an older sister with a younger sister, the relationships Alex has with Lula and Rose hit home for me. That combination of affection and support mixed with jealousy and frustration. Of being angry when they're in the way but ready and willing to stand with them if they need help. Was it a struggle to write the dynamic between Alex and her sisters, or did it come easy?"

"Writing the sibling dynamic was a lot of fun. I only have a little brother, but we have a lot of cousins that are close. They are as much my siblings as my brother. It was important for me that Alex have strong family ties. It's what grounds her. It's what her magic is linked to, even if she doesn't want to realize that right away. Without her family, who is she? I think that's a question we all ask ourselves. How far do you go for your family even if they make a mistake? That's a huge theme in this book. Everything that's happened in Labyrinth Lost has an effect in the two installments that will follow. Though Alex's story ends with Labyrinth Lost, the world continues. Lula's story has to be told. Alex's choices have impacted her whole family. I'm having a great time writing book 2."

Thanks so much to Zoraida for answering my question, and thanks to Raincoast Books for the chance to take part in the blog tour. If you haven't read Labyrinth Lost yet, check it out!

Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Labyrinth Lost is a story of magic and myth, of family, and of courage. Of being afraid of what's inside you and trusting in that power, in discovering your own strength and protecting those you care about.

Alex is smart, strong, and full of denial and fear. As prevalent as magic is in her life, as important as it is to her family, for her mother and her sisters, Alex hates it. Fears it. Wishes it wasn't it in her, that it would leave her alone. She connects it to the disappearance of her father, to the time when her family went from happy to sad and lost, from whole to broken. In her mind, her powers ruined everything. She ruined everything. If she could do without magic? Great. Perfect. Where can she sign up? But it's hard to escape fate, hard to control it. Especially when it's looking like you're the strongest bruja in years. Now comes time for Alex to face her fears, to embrace her power and use it to save her family. At least she's not alone, she's got Nova at her side, along with a close friend or potential ally or two, but Nova leaves more things unsaid than spoken aloud.

The in-between world of Los Lagos, a dangerous, fantastical realm filled with magical creatures and lost souls, is richly described by the author and richly experienced by Alex and Nova. It's a place to be wary of, to be cautious of, a place where the river is filled with lamenting souls. Where creatures are chained and forced to obey, where winged beasts take to the skies. Where evil lurks, waits, and craves power. All of the Latin American traditions and mythology were new to me, were rich in history and belief and power.

This book hooked me from the premise, from the first few chapters. Brujas and brujos. Deep, dark, powerful magic. The unwavering support and affection that comes from a large, close-knit family. Sisters at war with each other over clothes and chores. A girl afraid of the power inside her, a girl who's trained to run in order to run as far as she can from that power but to no avail. A girl tossed head-first into a dangerous land with only her wits, a map, and a deceptive boy with starry eyes to help her. A bisexual girl whose attraction to guys and girls felt real, felt honest, and not forced. The characters were bold and flawed in different ways, the world was lush with magic and death, and the connection to family and history was strong. A must-read for urban fantasy, mythology, and magic fans. The next book cannot come soon enough.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (296)

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

Title: Queens of Geek
Author: Jen Wilde
Release Date: March 17, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

This sounds awesome. I've always wanted to go to a big convention like SDCC or NYCC or FanExpo, but as I'm not likely to go because of distance/cost/massive crowds, I'll settle for books like this. Especially when it looks like they involve meeting people and questions and mistakes and wanting and pretending to be someone else for a little while. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Me on Three Dark Crowns

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

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.

Three Dark Crowns is dark and deadly, a series of fiendish plots layered upon themselves in the guise of a battle to the death to select a new queen to rule the land.

Each of the three queens is different, each has a personality that makes them stand out. Makes them unpredictable. Mirabella is skilled, impossibly talented in terms of elemental magic, but she has a soft heart. She remembers her sisters, remembers caring for them, and can't see herself killing them. Katharine is a wonderful poisoner, highly adept at crafting and mixing poisons, but she's small, frail. Seen as weak. But appearances can be deceiving. Arsinoe is a naturalist, said to have the ability to make flowers bloom and animals heed her call. But can she? Each queen has a secret, has a flaw, has a worry. And each must stay alert if they want to survive.

As much as this is about the three queens, about their gifts and their upcoming battles to the death, it's about those around them. Those who've raised them, taught and trained them. Those who've planned and plotted for years. Those who would do anything and kill anyone in order to ensure that their queen survived. As much as kings and queens are made because of the circumstance of their birth, they're made by the will of those who desire power but would prefer to not being in the firing line of the enemy.

I was very excited to read this, I've enjoyed all of Kendare Blake's previous books. This is definitely different, more of an epic fantasy kind of book as opposed to something set in the modern day. As I read it, I realized it wasn't quite the book I'd expected. It looked more at the side characters than I'd expected, and the different personalities of Mirabella, Katharine, and Arsinoe weren't what I expected, but I still enjoyed this. It's going to be a long battle, this fight to the death, this fight for a crown. Considering the ending, I can't wait to see how everything plays out in the next book. Did that really happen?!?

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (223)

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! Quick note that because of this fun blog tour happening next week, reviews are going up Tuesday and Thursday.
So on Friday evening I had the pleasure of moderating an author event at Chapters Metrotown with Mary E. Pearson. I was thrilled to be asked to moderate, even if it was the first time I'd done something like this and I was a bit nervous, but everything went great. And Mary was great at answering all of the questions I'd prepared. :)

Saturday morning brought the Winter/Spring 2017 preview event hosted by Raincoast Books. I do love that we have Raincoast here on the West Coast, that the bloggers here don't feel left out because we don't live near Toronto. This meant catching up with other bloggers like Yash and Nafiza from The Book Wars and some of the teen librarians from the VPL and other bloggers and booksellers. Plus another appearance from Mary. I do love the Raincoast publicity team, they're the best.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (Tuesday) and Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Thursday).
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (ARC from TeensRead Review event)
Duels and Deception by Cincy Anstey (ARC from TeensRead Review event)
Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor (ARC from TeensRead Review event)
Freeks by Amanda Hocking (ARC from TeensRead Review event)
Armstrong & Charlie by Steven B. Frank (ARC from TeensRead Review event)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Me on Stalking Jack the Ripper

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is a reworking of the story of Jack the Ripper, a story of a young woman intrigued by the study of death and crime who falls into the search for the notorious killer.

Audrey Rose is intelligent, driven. Lonely in some ways. Ever since the death of her mother, she's looked for answers. Looked for something to learn, to understand. She's turned to her scientist uncle in order to learn about death, to learn about forensic science and what the body can reveal to us after life has left it through one means or another, be it sickness or murder. These days, the bodies that come into her uncle's cellar were murdered, victims of a horrible killer the people of London are calling Jack the Ripper. As the number of bodies grow, as the levels of fear and panic rise in the city, Audrey Rose starts to have her suspicions when the victims are somehow connected to her own family.

Books like this are intriguing, when the author adds real-life events and crimes into a piece of fiction. It adds authenticity, adds accuracy to the time period, but there's only so much the author can do to accommodate history. Some details can, must, and are twisted and altered in order to accommodate the story. Some were here, some dates and circumstances changed, plus the addition of Audrey Rose and her family, and I felt that it all worked out. Sometimes it's fun, reading books from one person's perspective during an important moment in history, even if that person is fictional.

There's a lot of internal struggle in Audrey Rose, in her trying to find a happy medium between her lessons and learning with her uncle and being the daughter of a lord raised to be a proper and polite young woman with no interest in crime or murder. She wants to learn, to search and uncover crimes and criminals, but she doesn't want her father to be upset with her. She doesn't want to be left alone. Knowing this is the start of a series, I'm curious as to where Audrey Rose will go next, what she'll be investigating in the next book.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (295)

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

Title: Wires and Nerve, Volume 1
Author: Marissa Meyer
Illustrations: Douglas Holgate
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure -- with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

It's Iko! I love Iko. She's the best android best friend a girl could ask for. And now she's getting her own series, her own chance at leading the story. In graphic novel form! I'm so excited for this.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Me on Girl Mans Up

Title: Girl Mans Up
Author: M-E Girard
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she's always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she's trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she's not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth—that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she'll have to man up.

Girl Mans Up is an eye-opening look at gender, sexuality, relationships, and family. Those moments when we're trying to figure ourselves out, struggling to find all the answers, and trying to understand when people want impossible things from us.

Pen is smart and kind, she's great at video games, but she's struggling to come to terms with a number of things. With the things Colby asks of her, how he uses her to pick of girls and also to keep them away after he breaks up with them. With the things her mother demands of her, like learning how to cook Portuguese dishes and wearing nice dresses instead of jeans and baggy shirts like her brother wears. She sort of knows who she is, who she wants to be. She likes girls, wants to date girls, and she wants the freedom to dress comfortably. As she does this, as she starts to be the Pen she's always wanted to be, she bumps up against the walls of expectation.

The idea of family and loyalty runs strong in this book. The different things, the different people, we give our time to, that we believe in and give our trust to. But what about when giving that time and respect hurts you? What about when you find that it's not worth it anymore? When you're being crushed under the weight of loyalty and respect, physically and mentally? Pen is grasping for solutions, wanting everyone to stop yelling, her mother to stop crying, her friends to stop teasing. She she wants the chance to be who she is. A girl who likes girls, who wants to date girls. A girl who wants to wear jeans and baggy clothes and have short hair. As time goes on, Pen finds it harder to respect those who demand it from her. And why should she, when they don't respect her in return?

This book was a little hard to take, but still necessary. Sometimes friendships are toxic but they're hard to escape. Sometimes familial relationships cause us pain and stress but we can't leave. Sometimes people try to change us, try to force us into being someone we don't want to be, but we're still not sure who we want to be. This story is a harsh one, a rough and honest one. A look at identity and accepting that being honest with ourselves, with who we want to be, isn't always the same as what others want from us. Which is perfectly fine. We don't exist to serve the whims of others, to bow down to their demands and hide our true selves. Our identities are our own, and no one can tell us who we should be.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from HarperCollins Canada.)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (222)

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 all! It's been a cool and rainy week here, which is nice, considering how warm it was a couple of weeks ago. My neck is still stiff and a bit sore, but it doesn't hurt nearly as much as it did before. I'm getting flashbacks to after I broke my ankle, how stiff the joint and the muscles were for months, even after all the physiotherapy. My mum's saying I should go get a massage, try and loosen up all my stiff muscles, but I don't know.

I'm doing something new and exciting next week! I don't know if I can say or not, but I'll try to take pictures and talk about it during next week's ramble. :)

Reviews going up this coming week will feature
Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (ARC from Kathy at A Glass of Wine)
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith (ARC from Raincoast Books)
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (ARC from HarperCollins Canada)
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (ARC from HarperCollins Canada)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Me on The Graces

Title: The Graces
Author: Laure Eve
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They've managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they're rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you're not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She's different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don't know is that River's presence in town is no accident.

The Graces is a complicated, haunting tale of wanting, mystery, and magic. Of searching for a place to belong and refusing to let go of it.

River, as she now calls herself, sees herself, is searching. She's lonely and lost, looking for friends. Looking for someone to care about her, support her, help her, and she knows the Graces can help her. How fascinating are they, with their auras and their attitudes, with their secrets and their customs. They just have to be witches, right? They just have to understand her, make her feel like she belongs.

I think this book nails a certain aspect some experience while a teen (that can also extend into adulthood), the aspect of being alone, of having no one close to you who you can lean on, and going out and finding that support. River is new to town, new to everything around her. She knows what's in her past, the secrets she keeps locked away deep inside, and when she looks at the Graces she sees people who might understand. People who can help her, who will support her and who she can support in turn. She's looking for a connection, for friendship. For love. And soon she gets what she wanted. But she hasn't taken into account the secrets the Graces are hiding. Or that her own secrets are far more dangerous.

I struggled to get into this. River sounded whiny, sounded childish. Maybe a little stuck-up. Definitely obsessive. Definitely repetitive. As the book went on I was curious as to what was going to happen, what magic there was. If it was real or if River was making it all up in her head. I was certainly surprised as the story progresses, as events unfolded and secrets were revealed, but there were moments when it dragged. It's like a darker version of the movie The Craft, if such a thing is possible, set in a small town somewhere in what I think is Great Britain. Knowing this is book 1 of a duology, I'm intrigued as to what will happen next, but I don't know if I'm desperate to know.

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