Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Me on Wintersong

Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns. But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister's freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts. Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl's life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King's bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Wintersong is deep and dangerous, magical and mysterious. Full of wishes and dreams. And sorrow.

Liesl hides in music, composing and creating masterpieces that will never be heard outside of her head. Outside of the room she and her younger brother play their music in. Because she's a woman. Because she's plain and weird. Because she's not as lovely as her flighty and foolish sister.

I do think some will see themselves in Liesl, will understand her sorrow and frustration. Compared to her sister, to her brother, she doesn't see the appeal in herself. She sees someone small, ugly, and hindered by her gender. She doesn't see someone to be desired, someone with skills and creativity to be praised. But she is, at least to someone. And it will take her great courage and bravery to see that, to look past her own self-doubt, to ignore the voice that claims his desire and need for her are lies upon lies.

This is a tale of magic and sacrifice, of family and faith. I was intrigued by the mystery and enchanted by the magic. And every do often, my heart twinged for Liesl. I just wanted her to be happy. This is what I expect from a fairy tale, from a story about a kind and awkward young woman with wishes and dreams kept secret from the world.

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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (243)

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

Hi there. Winter is still here, but it's the bitter cold kind of winter, not the snowy kind. Which I prefer. People always forget how to drive in snow over the course of the other three seasons.

Reviews going up this week will feature Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (Tuesday) and The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith (Friday). :)

It's a bit too long to list or put up a picture but I've borrowed a bunch of Percy Jackson books from the library's e-book site. Some of them are the bundles, like 3 or 5 books in one. I've been looking for something fun to read and I figured that I should start reading Rick Riordan's books.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Me on Glass Sword

Title: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

Mare Barrow's blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind. Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

Glass Sword is a building of a rebellion, of a show of strength and power. But with so many forces working against her, with so many factors in play, Mare has to make the hard decisions on who she will trust and who she will save. Before it hardens her heart.

Mare is now on the run, along with Cal. On the run from Maven, who has finally revealed his true colours, his manipulative mother, and the entire ruling class of Silvers. Saved by a rebellion, she's now on the hunt for others like her. Newbloods. Reds with Silver powers. She's determined, empowered, ready to fight back and see Maven bleed for every death he's caused. But first she has to save those who would be first on Maven's list. Because as much as he wants her back, he wants to see her suffer. Mare hardens over the course of this book, after so much despair and struggle. After wanting to fight back but being smothered by the weight of anger and a lack of support. By the crushing boot of the Silvers and their abilities.

I kept getting X-Men vibes while reading this, the different sides and their different abilities. Also a lot on class division and warfare, the lower classes fighting back against the ruling and manipulative elite. I could feel the drag that rebellions and resistances often go through, the days of preparing and training. The pull of the places and people that all need saving. The many plots and plans in order to rescue the captured and the enslaved. It grates the way war does, the seemingly never-ending struggle to find food, to stay warm and dry. To live without suffering or pain. This isn't an easy time for Mare or Cal, for any of those supporting them.

This is the book that separates Mare from everyone, even though she's rarely alone. Her heart turns to stone, to ice, because she can't look away from her end goal: to make Maven pay. The Silvers trained her, taught her, and now she's ready to fight back. But she can't alone. She needs more. But support is hard to find when both sides are looking for her. I was intrigued by where this book went, by the search for newbloods and their different abilities. As the book went on I could see where it would go, the impossible choice Mare would have to make. I thought the third would be the last book, but knowing there there will be four makes me wonder what could come next, where they would have to go.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (315)

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

Title: The Seafarer's Kiss
Author: Julia Ember
Release Date: May 4, 2017
Publisher: Duet Books

From Goodreads:

Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

I want to read this so much. Shield-maidens and mermaids and glaciers and gods and unexpected outcomes. It's something different! Fingers crossed for a happy ending. *crosses all my fingers*

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Me on The Edge of Everything

Title: The Edge of Everything
Author: Jeff Giles
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X. X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

The Edge of Everything is dark, deadly, and dangerous. Monsters and bounty hunters, souls and blizzards. An intriguing story, yes, but the romance fell flat for me.

Zoe is a sad girl who's just existing after the sudden death of her father. I kept looking for something that set Zoe apart, but I struggled to find it. She seems so bland, a stereotypical teenage girl who sees an inhuman bounty hunter and his bounty on a frozen lake and immediately takes a picture to post to Instagram. Later on she shows her personality, her spirit, but at the beginning I found her rather boring. X is an unknown, a bounty hunter from the Lowlands, sent to hunt down evil human beings in order to claim their souls. He's clueless about the human world, he talks like he's from Victorian era England, and he's very powerful. He was interesting, somehow a stand out among all the others in the Lowlands. There are secrets in his past he doesn't know, secrets he wants to know, but knowing could change things for those who rule the Lowlands.

I'm torn with this book. The idea behind X and his mission, the Lowlands and the beings there, I was intrigued. It was different enough that I wanted to know more. But things felt flat to me. I think it's Zoe and X's relationship, how their romance seemed shallow to me. He's dangerous and mysterious to her, she's gorgeous and empathetic to him. It felt easy and clichéd, and me finding Zoe rather boring didn't help. I also wasn't a big fan of the third person point of view this was told in. It felt like I was being told a story, but not in a way that worked with what I was expecting from this book.

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (242)

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. *hugs*

I think I need to hit up the library next week, take out a bunch of books. But sometimes when I do that I end up not reading some of them because I don't have time. 3 weeks can go by pretty quickly.

I started some of that Netflix watching I said I'd do. Slowly making my way through Stranger Things and The OA, but The OA is really weird and I might end up skimming it.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (Tuesday) and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Friday).
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Me on Spindle

Title: Spindle
Author: E.K. Johnston
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained. But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life. The threads of magic are tightly spun, binding princess and exiled spinners into a desperate plot to break the curse before the demon can become a queen of men. But the web of power is dangerously tangled--and they may not see the true pattern until it is unspooled.

Spindle is magical, a tale of gifts and curses, of journeys and dreams, of spinners and demons. A tale of the threads that tie us together, that trap us, and that bind us in order to keep us strong.

Each character is their own person, wonderfully crafted. Each with their own habits, their own personalities, their own minds and bodies. Yashaa, Saoud, Tariq, Arwa. Zahrah. These are real people, real human beings, and this journey of theirs could mean life or death. Hope for the future or destruction of the place they once called home. A special mention must be made to the female characters that E.K. Johnston writes. They know their strengths and use them, they know their weaknesses and seek to learn, to improve. All female characters should be written like this.

It's not hard to see the ways this connects to A Thousand Nights, but it's also wonderful as a standalone story. The brief mentions of the Storyteller Queen and how she locked the demons away in mountains and iron. This isn't quite as fanciful as the previous book, there's more of a connection to the characters, to the people. Perhaps it's their names that make them feel more real as opposed to the legend of the Storyteller Queen, her sister, and the King-Who-Was-Good.

This book is a thoughtful creature. It considers all sides, all possible choices, and slowly weaves them together. Time is taken to stop and think, to look at options and opinions. So rare is the book that does that, that doesn't speed along headfirst into danger. A must-read for fans of fairy tales, fans of magic, and those who crave being told a story.

(I was gifted a hardcover copy of this book.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (314)

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

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

After reading The Star-Touched Queen last week, I'm rather looking forward to this. It was interesting reading the first, knowing the description to this. But knowing this is a companion to the first, I'm wondering who will appear from the first in order to help Gauri.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Me on Dreadnought

Title: Dreadnought
Author: April Daniels
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Diversion Books

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world's greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she's transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she's always thought it should be. Now there's no hiding that she's a girl. It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father's dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he's entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny's first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. She doesn't have much time to adjust. Dreadnought's murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can't sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Dreadnought is powerful and explosive. It's about identity and power, about good and evil, about safety and danger. It's about hope and fear, about sacrifice and strength, about making the difficult decisions that we think come easily and naturally for those we call heroes.

Danny is kind and caring, but afraid of what should be the safest place in her life: her home. Her father constantly berates her and criticizes her, refusing to listen to Danny's point of view. Refusing to understand that Danny is a girl, that Danny is transgender. After Danny's transition, after Dreadnought gave her his powers and her body changed, the excitement and the joy in her voice is unmistakable. She's finally in a body that she wants to be in. She looks and sounds the way she wants to. Danny is finally happy, but it doesn't last. Her father is still furious, derisive and emotionally abusive towards her. And while the local superheroes are happy that Dreadnought's powers are still available, some aren't so interested in a lesbian transgender superhero.

I found the superhero aspect to be interesting. There's this new trend of superhero stories where authors look at the grey areas of being a protector and saving cities. The moral aspects, the financial aspects. The human aspects. For all their powers, they're still people. They still have loved ones, hopes and dreams, personal lives. Seeing the other side of superheroes lives, the 'home from work' side, is great. But I also appreciated the awesome fight scenes.

The start of Danny's story as a superhero certainly has some highs and some lows. There were times when I was so happy for Danny, going shopping for girls' clothes, flying around New Port City. Hanging out with an actual girl friend. And the times when Danny was beaten down and depressed, all the times her father would hurl insult after insult at her, I was so upset during those moments. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoyed Heroine Complex or Superior, to those looking for some powerful diverse YA.

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (241)

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 still cold here. No new snow or anything, but because it's been so cold it hasn't melted away. What does melt turns into ice overnight, making things slightly dangerous in the mornings.

This week's ramble includes a vague book review! I've been trying to catch up on books I didn't get to last year, I always try to do this over the Christmas/New Year's period, and this week I read The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I rather enjoyed it, it gave me some big Laini Taylor fantasy/world-building vibes, so if you've been looking for something similar, I highly suggest you check this out. The follow-up book looks to be a companion, so don't worry about starting the first in a series. This is a complete story.

Reviews going up this week will feature Dreadnought by April Daniels (Tuesday) and Spindle by E.K. Johnston (Friday). :)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (e-galley from Hachette Book Group Canada through NetGalley)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Me on Windwitch

Title: Windwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: TorTeen (Macmillan imprint)

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister's treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed. When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first? After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife's edge—especially when the pirates' next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

Windwitch is danger and deception, a search for answers and a determination to survive. Battered, sore, slightly broken, they must continue if they want to save the Witchlands from what's building in the north.

Merik is hiding in Nubrevna, depressed and furious. Focused on revealing the secrets of his sister, Vivia. They must learn what he knows. That she tried to have him killed. That he can save them. Iseult is on the run, on her way to Marstok. For that's where Safi is heading with her empress kidnapper. But the Bloodwitch Aeduan is on her trail, sent there by both his own desire to hunt her down and a sudden bounty on her head. With all the unspoken things between them, can they trust each other enough to make a deal? Or will one betray the other? Safi is stuck near the pirate lands of Saldonica with Vaness, Empress of Marstok. They have no ship, no crew, no supplies, and soon no water. But they are not alone. And a good pirate is always on the lookout for a good bargain.

Some of the plots and plans that drive certain characters were revealed in the first book, and some more were revealed here, but this seemed like more of a journey kind of book. Travelling towards a goal, towards answers, towards the hidden and the buried away. Everyone is searching, for a place or a person or an idea. For the truth. But the truths they find aren't the ones they expected.

There were some things that surprised me, some characters I was surprised to see. Like the ones who are hunting down Safi and Vaness. Like Vivia's new point of view. After only seeing her through Merik's eyes, it was intriguing to see Nubrevna from her point of view. To see her reasons for her actions. The romance aspect of the series takes a big hit to the point where there's only hints of it, and I can see why. I do think some fans will be upset at the lack of clever banter between Safi and Merik. But considering the events of this book, particularly the reveals and the explosions of the ending, I think they'll be desperate to read the next book.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (313)

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

Title: Masquerade
Author: Laura Lam
Release Date: March 9, 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

From Goodreads:

The gifted hide their talents, but dare they step into the light?

Micah's Chimaera powers are growing, until his dark visions overwhelm him. Drystan is forced to take him to Dr Pozzi, to save his life. But can they really trust the doctor, especially when a close friend is revealed to be his spy?

Meanwhile, violent unrest is sweeping the country, as anti-royalist factions fight to be heard. Then three chimaera are attacked, after revealing their existence with the monarchy's blessing - and the struggle becomes personal. A small sect decimated the chimaera in ancient times and nearly destroyed the world. Now they've re-emerged to spread terror once more. Micah will discover a royal secret, which draws him into the heart of the conflict. And he and his friends must risk everything to finally bring peace to their land.

I've been waiting for this for a while, reading Pantomime and Shadowplay wrecked me. They were sweet and melancholy and magical and secretive and heart-breaking. I think this is only coming out in the UK though, which is too bad, but I don't think it would be too hard to order it. I wonder how sad this is going to be, how much Micah is going to be put through when all he wants to do is survive and live his life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Me on Frostblood

Title: Frostblood
Author: Elly Blake
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Frostblood is full of danger and magic, set in a land icy and hostile towards a fireblood like Ruby. This is all about her finding her place, finding her power, and learning to use it before time runs out. Before she's hunted down.

Ruby is reckless and spirited, full of fire. All she wants is the chance to live, but when her mother is killed in front of her, all she wants is revenge. But her powers are erratic, wild. She has no control after a childhood of hiding her fire. If she wants to survive, if she wants her revenge, if she wants to help her saviours and new friends, she'll have to find her control. Or else she'll fulfill the dark side of a looming prophecy.

I like the idea of this, of the heroine who is angry and reckless, who's full of frustration and weaknesses. She's never perfect, never hints at it even as she slowly learns some measure of control. And she's rather susceptible to the darkness that lurks as she's pitted against the gladiatorial champions of the ruthless king. As much as I liked Ruby and her battles, this felt so familiar. Like so many other fantasy novels I've read over the past few years. The setting, the heroine's past and her journey, the evil king. I feel like I read this for Ruby herself as opposed to Ruby and the fantasy setting, the plot and the world-building. I am curious as to what will happen next, if Ruby will succumb to the darkness, but I don't know how curious.

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

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (240)

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

Hello there! It's still bitter cold, which means the snow is still all over everything. And there might be more on the way! Ick. I'm so sick of the snow now.

So there was a kind of fun post up yesterday instead of a review because I both didn't have a book finished in time to review it and I wanted to do something different. I'm going to try and do a different kind of post each month, whether it be a discussion post or an essay-type post or a sharing of fun things that aren't books post.

Reviews going up this week will feature Frostblood by Elly Blake (Tuesday) and Windwitch by Susan Dennard (Friday). :)
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (e-galley from Flux Books through NetGalley)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (1)

Hi there. :)

Today, instead of the standard Friday review, here's a quick list of some things I've enjoyed recently. Basically, the pop culture and other things I consume on a regular basis when I'm not reading.

First, some webcomics. Check Please! is a wonderful webcomic created by Ngozi Ukazu. It follows the college life of Eric 'Bitty' Bittle, a sweet Southern boy who loves to cook and has headed up to the northeast to play some college hockey. Things don't go quite to plan, mostly because Bitty's a bit (read: VERY) scared of being hit, but it's okay. His teammates, while looking like idiots, are actually the best. This comic does so much, talks about anxiety and expectations, fears and hopes. Friendship. I won't say too much about what happens plot-wise, some big things have happened during Bitty's first few years at Samwell, but when you read it you might know why I'm being a little hush-hush.

Gunnerkrigg Court is epic. Done by Tom Siddell, it follows the adventures and events that happen to Antimony Carver when she's sent to school at a place called Gunnerkrigg Court. What follows is an enchanting and sometimes heartbreaking story, rich with fantasy and science. The characters are deeply flawed and human, the settings are lush and dark and extremely dangerous. The current chapter is making me very very nervous.

Now to anime. I could recommend Yuri!!! on Ice, which has wonderful charm and deals with performance and aging and anxiety so well, but I won't. Instead, I'll recommend Haikyu!!, which is smart and so much fun. It follows the antics and matches of the boys volleyball club of Karasuno High School, particularly first year members Hinata and Kageyama. I like this series because there's no magic here, not really. Maybe some players' skill levels are a little impossible, but this is all about hard work and practice, about confidence, about victory and defeat and how you can never let one define you. Just play your game. It's free to watch over at Crunchyroll, region permitting (first person click here for a quick trial). The manga is also currently being published in English, for those looking to get into sports manga.

It feels strange to rec something called Assassination Classroom, but I will. It's about the class of rejects, Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High, and their mission to kill their teacher, the super dangerous and super powerful super-creature Koro-Sensei that just blasted the moon into a crescent. This show is like a weird punch to the heart. It's a murder fantasy comedy, yes, but the things it says about teaching, about learning and developing skill, about sharpening those skills and making sure you can make good use of all that you're good at, can get you hard and fast. The manga, again, is currently being published in English.

As for TV, I don't watch much anymore! Because it's been Christmas and New Year's, I've watched a lot of hockey recently, and a bunch of Food Network shows, but then I just end up hungry when I'm about to go to bed. I've been meaning to watch some things on Netflix, things like Stranger Things and The OA and the Sense 8 Christmas episode, but I just haven't yet. Soon.

Hopefully you enjoyed this, were interested in a couple of things. I'm not sure when I'll do another of these, maybe once a month when I'm struggling to get through a book or I have a sudden gap. And add in the comments something you've been enjoying recently, a new TV show or some new music that's come out. What are you interested in right now?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (312)

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

Title: Now I Rise
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Why can't they just be happy?  This series is going to wreck me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Me on The Cursed Queen

Title: The Cursed Queen
Author: Sarah Fine
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Ansa has always been a fighter. As a child, she fought the invaders who murdered her parents and snatched her as a raid prize. She fought for her place next to Thyra, the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. She fought for her status as a warrior in her tribe: blood and victory are her way of life. But the day the Krigere cross the great lake and threaten the witch queen of the Kupari, everything changes. Cursed by the queen with fire and ice, Ansa is forced to fight against an invisible enemy—the dark magic that has embedded itself deep in her bones. The more she tries to hide it, the more dangerous it becomes. And with the Krigere numbers decimated and the tribe under threat from the traitorous brother of the dead Chieftain, Ansa is torn between her loyalty to the Krigere, her love for Thyra, and her own survival instincts. With her world in chaos and each side wanting to claim her for their own, only one thing is certain: unless Ansa can control the terrible magic inside her, everything she's fought for will be destroyed.

The Cursed Queen is dangerous and deadly, a story coated in blood and betrayal. Ansa knows she is a warrior, knows she would do anything for the tribe. For Thyra. But what if she had magic? What if she was the enemy? What if she had no way of controlling it?

Ansa is rough and ragged, dangerous. Tested as a fighter and a warrior. A raid prize as a young girl, she's had to fight for everything her whole life. She's proven herself to the tribe, the kills are marked on her arm, and she's ready to fight with them against their enemy across the lake. The Kupari. But it's never that simple, and what follows for Ansa is something she struggles to hide. The fire and ice that come from her is unnatural. It's dangerous. She struggles to control it. And when the tribe is in danger, when they travel closer to Thyra's deceitful uncle and his twisted schemes, Ansa finds herself lost. Losing control at every turn.

It's not hard to see where this book takes place alongside The Impostor Queen. When the Valtia sails out towards the Krigere ships, when the coronation goes wrong. While Elli is lost in confusion and panic, when she runs, Ansa is struggling to control what she thinks is a curse laid upon her. It's interesting, seeing this other side of the story, a different part of this world. Different groups and cultures have their own customs, their own grudges and battles. It was also interesting to see the social structure of the Krigare, the couples made up of one fighter and one smith and nurturer. Couples that weren't always made up of one man and one woman. How Ansa and Thyra struggled with their relationship not because they were both women, but because if they became a pair, one would have to stop being a warrior. I thought their relationship was complicated and honest, tugging at them when their instincts pushed them a different way.

As someone who enjoyed the first book, I was intrigued by this. Seeing the other side was welcome. There's always more than one story to be told in a battle, in a war. In an uprising and a rebellion. I do think that the story does drag at times, full of Ansa's worries and anger, full of different layers of plots and plans and spies. Ansa has trust issues, a lot of them. She wants to be needed by Thyra, trusted by her. Loved by her as Ansa loves her. I can see why Thyra does what she does, but there were times when I felt that their arguing and stubbornness slowed down the story. Knowing that there will be a third book, I'm very curious as to where it will go. What will happen to Ansa and Elli. Both have enemies they must face, and I'm thinking they'll have to come together in order to defeat them.

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