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.)