Saturday, September 30, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (278)

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 like the weather isn't sure what it's doing these  days. It was sunny and hot for a bit, cool and rainy the next. Hopefully the sun will linger, without the heat.

I headed off to the Raincoast Books meet-up and Winter 2018 book talk on Saturday, which was fun because it was so nice being in a room with people who have opinions about books. :)

Reviews going up this week will feature Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Tuesday) and This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis (Friday). :)
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly (ARC from Raincoast Books)
White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (ARC from Raincoast Books)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Me on That Inevitable Victorian Thing

Title: That Inevitable Victorian Thing
Author: E.K. Johnston
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin imprint)

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing is charming and intelligent, hopeful and kind, and oh so witty. It's an adjustment of the past and a look towards the future for three young people full of worry and expectations.

Victoria-Margaret is a crown princess. One day she will be queen of the empire. But until then, she's Margaret, a young British woman spending the summer in Canada before heading back home. Home where expectations, like finding a future spouse, await. She's kind, intelligent, and wondering if there's anything that could be hers in the future. Helena is quiet and thoughtful, a young woman who doesn't expect anything too grand in her life. She's happy enough to live quietly with her parents, and one day with her husband, who might very well be family friend August Callaghan. But is she sure? Is that really what she wants? Especially when she discovers something rather important and life-changing about herself. August is sure of his future, he knows he will spend it with the family's shipping firm. Even though their ships are being cornered by pirates. Even though he might've screwed up here and there trying to fix it all. Even though he's stubborn as a mule. He'll still have Helena by his side. Right?

Like most E.K. Johnston books, the world-building is exquisite and extensive. I so adore the premise of this book, where it started in history and took a turn. This is like if the wrongs of history were known and were righted sooner than they have been. If racial diversity had been embraced by Queen Victoria in terms of who her children and grandchildren should marry, and by extension the rest of the British Empire, instead of continuing the tradition of marrying into white European royal houses. But like all E.K. Johnston books, the characters are just as wonderful. Full of sense and practicality and curiosity. These three young people have their whole lives ahead of them, but who knows, when all is said and done, what the future will bring. Or what they will turn the future into.

As I read this book, I wondered if I'd ever be able to articulate my thoughts and feelings on it. In the end, all I have is how I felt while and after reading. This bizarre, charming creature made up of Victorian Era tones and moods, wonderfully funny Canadian references, the religion of genetics, and honest compassion. The heartfelt, hopeful attempt at making history better than it is. The wide range of diversity it holds, from race to sexuality to ability. This book is impossible to describe. It's full of wondrous charm and sense, of practicality and honesty. It doesn't talk down to the reader, no matter their age. I would definitely recommend this to readers looking for hope and sense in the world, to those looking for something completely different.

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Me on The Tiger's Daughter

Title: The Tiger's Daughter
Author: K. Arsenault Rivera
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Tor (Macmillan imprint)

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests. Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons. This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

The Tiger's Daughter is epic and expansive, the beginning of a tale of two women tied together through birth and fate. A tale of gods and demons, of purpose and status. Of defiance.

O-Shizuka is royalty, destined to be Empress of the Hokkaran empire. She resents being kept in a cage, would rather rule and live how she desires. Away from sycophants and her uncle. Shefali is one of the Qorin, a tribe of nomads, living off on the steppes with their horses and their families, slightly lost in being a quiet girl with a Qorin mother and a Hokkaran father. Together, the two girls are bound together through birth and circumstance and destiny. But first, they were two young girls falling into trouble.

This will be a short review, mostly because I've found myself conflicted. Before reading this, I expected something full of magic and demons. A tale of the epic journey of O-Shizuka and Barsalayaa Shefali, the battles they fought and how they became star-crossed lovers. What this is is more of the start of who they are, who they would become, and what happens when forces around them would try and pull them apart. It's told through letters reminiscing on their childhood and young womanhood, letters from one to the other. For my own reading tastes, from what I thought this book would be, I found it intriguing but so long. So detailed. It's too long for my taste. There was so much lead up to their actual journey, their actual confrontations with demons, and even then it didn't unfold how I thought it would. Unfortunately, this wasn't the book for me. I would recommend this to those who do enjoy long, detailed, layered with complication epic fantasy.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (349)

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

Title: The Unbinding of Mary Reade
Author: Miriam McNamara
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press

From Goodreads:

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mother, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy aunt, where a girl could never be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a hired sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s profession―and her safety―depend on her ability to disguise the fact that she’s a girl.

Leastways, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and right in the middle of the swashbuckling crowd of bloodthirsty pirates, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate. The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain and earns herself a spot among the pirates’ crew.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living life as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything―her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Oooooo, pirates. Possibly lesbian or bisexual pirates. I don't know anything about the actual Mary Reade, so I imagine this would be a rather interesting story.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Me on Wild Beauty

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: AnnaMarie McLemore
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They've also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens. The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he's even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Wild Beauty is magical, a story of flowers, family, and despair. It's the story of an inescapable curse and the young women who so desperately want to break it, the story of the strange boy they find in their gardens. The story of the land that is La Pradera and all the secrets it holds.

Estrella and her cousins are the youngest Nomeolvides girls, the latest in a family of women who live and work the grounds of La Pradera. Women who make flowers appear when they slip their hands into the ground. Women who can love so hard their lovers will vanish. Estrella and her cousins know who they are, who came before them, and they try so hard to keep their loves small and secret. To keep it unspoken. But secrets never last.

From the depths of the gardens comes Fel, a young man with a missing past. A young man that, presumably, was once loved by a Nomeolvides woman and captured by the garden. But why was he returned? Where did he come from? What's hiding in his lost memories? As time goes on in the house full of Nomeolvides women, the worried cousins and the curious mothers and the compassionate grandmothers, Fel wonders what this place is, why he was brought there. Why they ask questions about things he doesn't want to talk about.

This melancholy, heart-wrenching creature of a book. It's so layered, so complicated. It's a story about family, about the ways we love and hate and protect. It's a story of immigration, of those who leave their homes, those without names or papers or anything official, and somehow find a place that will keep them without asking questions. It's a story about consequences, about mistakes made and lived with, about aches and pains and regrets. It's a story about love, about what it does to us, what it gives and what it takes, what it pulls from our hearts. Like previous Anna-Marie McLemore books, this is gorgeously written and imagined, lush with description, emotion, and sorrow. Rich with impossible magic. A must-read.

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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (277)

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

It's fall! Maybe. I'll believe it when it's consistently fall-like outside. I kind of want summer to stick around longer, or at least the sunshine. I'm find with it being cooler but still sunny out.

Reviews going up this week will feature Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Monday), The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Wednesday), and That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (Friday). :)
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (e-galley from Random House through NetGalley)
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Me on Invictus

Title: Invictus
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: history is not as steady as it seems.

Invictus is a twisted journey through time and space, a mystery within a mystery. A tale where time is now and then and will be, but unless they can figure out what's going wrong, it might never happen at all.

Far is determined, passionate. Focused on his goal, his dream of exploring history like his mother before him. But he's sometimes reckless, too bold for his own good. It gets him in trouble, into near-impossible to escape from situations. It gets him expelled, but it also gets him a ship that can travel through time. He can finally do what he's dreamed of, even if it involves being part of a black market group taking priceless artifacts from the past. It's time travelling, it's experiencing history. It's living. Until a stranger bursts in on his heist on the Titanic.

This is a curious, fast-paced story of history, complicated math, and the desire to live before dying. To do something meaningful and worthwhile. To see and breathe in history, to not waste life thinking about what ifs and could-have-beens. I don't know that I can say too much else, not knowing what's going on is part of the story, part of the reveal of what is happening to Far and his friends on their ship. If you're looking for a standalone book that's full of time travel and twists, full of impossibility and fate, then you'll probably enjoy this.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (348)

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

Title: Reign the Earth
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury

From Goodreads:

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

I'm curious about this book, because it sounds interesting, but I do wonder about the plot. How it will go, what the different characters will do and what their motivation will push them to do.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Me on Moxie

Title: Moxie
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv's mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is bold and powerful, full of fire, of teen girls taking charge and speaking out against sexist classmates and educators. It's all about girls coming together, standing up for and with each other, and claiming their equal space in their school where they don't have to be harassed or catcalled.

Vivian, like most girls at her high school, is tired of the sexist comments, dress code checks, and generally shoddy treatment given to any group or team that isn't boys' football. But what's she going to do? It's a small Texan town, things have always been this way. When Viv starts going through her mom's old high school things, punk rock posters and drawings about girls in charge, taking back what's theirs, she gets an idea. Create a short zine for the other girls of her school, girls who are tired of dealing with random gropes and bra snaps. Girls who want to be treated equally, like people, and not like things for boys to stare at. What Viv didn't think she'd create is a movement, a revolution that the girls of her high school would take up, and an annoyance for the school to try and shut down.

I think this book is so relevant, so current, considering recent comments on identity politics and rise of feminism in teen girls and young women. It touches on how girls are singled out for 'distracting' boys because of their clothing, how white girls are considered prettier than black girls or other girls of colour. It touches on how important it is for girls to come together and support each other, how there's no need to pit girls against each other. I would consider this a must-read for anyone currently attending high school and to anyone currently working in a middle school or high school. I would definitely recommend this to teen girls, to those looking for ways to stand up and speak out.

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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (276)

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! I think the weather is starting to turn towards fall now. It's a little brisk in the mornings, some of the leaves are changing colour.

Reviews going up this week will feature Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Tuesday) and Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Friday). :)

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst
River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (borrowed from the library)
Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey (borrowed from the library)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Me on One Dark Throne

Title: One Dark Throne
Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can't seem to prevent.

One Dark Throne is continuing the story of three young women hoping to be crowned queen, the story of plots and plans, of magic and poison. A story of survival, intrigue, and deception.

Back in their homes, full of curiosity and realizations after the events of the Quickening, the three young queen hopefuls must decide what to do next. Arsinoe, who now knows the truth about her powers, wonders how she'll keep it a secret. How she'll continue on when everyone expects her to have an animal familiar like other naturalists. Mirabella, strong and skilled, is shying away from the idea of killing her sisters, unsure that she really wants to go through with it. While her elemental powers are deadly, her heart is a soft one. And Katharine, once lost, has returned. Confident, self-assured. Dangerous. Reckless. Deadly. It isn't long before all three will come together again, and the entire island will be turned upside down.

With this being the second book in a series of four, with so much of the plot centered around plots and plans and assassination attempts, it's difficult to summarize my thoughts and feelings. This is just the next step, the next moments following the disastrous events of the Quickening, following Katharine's fall and Arsinoe's discovery. Considering all the players on Fennbirn Island, those working behind the scenes in order to make sure their plans come to fruition, it's hard to know what will happen next. Who will act and who will run. Who will live and who will die. All that's left is to take this, cross out names, and wait for the next book to see what will happen next.

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (347)

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

Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

This seems like an eerie present day-set fairy tales are real and dangerous kind of story, a little like The Darkest Part of the Forest. And so I'm in. :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blog Tour: The Winnowing

Hi all! It's time for a blog tour post! Vikki VanSickle is a Toronto resident, a children's and middle grade book author, a publicist with Penguin Random House Canada, and a lover of children's lit. To celebrate the recent release of hew new book The Winnowing, a curious coming of age mixed with intrigue and strange dreams, Vikki's here to talk about combining genres and how hard it can be to summarize a book like hers. :)


Despite having a number of books under my belt and spent years working in the children's book industry, when it comes to my own books I always struggle with the elevator pitch. The stakes seem impossibly high—you have one minute (or 144 characters) to hook someone on this book you've spent all this time and energy on—GO!

Me on The Winnowing

Title: The Winnowing
Author: Vikki VanSickle
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Canada

Marivic Stone lives in a small world, and that's fine with her. Home is with her beloved grandfather in a small town that just happens to be famous for a medical discovery that saved humankind — though not without significant repercussions. Marivic loves her best friend, Saren, and the two of them promise to stick together, through thick and thin, and especially through the uncertain winnowing procedure, a now inevitable — but dangerous — part of adolescence. But when tragedy separates the two friends, Marivic is thrust into a world of conspiracy, rebellion and revolution. For the first time in her life, Marivic is forced to think and act big. If she is going to right a decade of wrongs, she will need to trust her own frightening new abilities, even when it means turning her back on everything, and everyone, she's known and loved.

The Winnowing is mysterious, full of whimsy, worry, and hard truths. Marivic lives in a curious town, a rather important town. But secrets are everywhere in such an important town, secrets that could change how Marivic sees the world around her.

Marivic is smart and kind, and perhaps a little lonely after her grandmother passed away a year earlier, but she still has her grandfather. And her best friend Saren. But then Marivic hits that age, when bodies change and kids get their ACES, the bizarre night terrors that happen because of a medical marvel that saved everyone some decades before. Marivic knows then that she won't be a kid anymore, that she'll go through the winnowing in order to keep her from hurting herself, from losing her mind. But when Marivic arrives at the Barton Center, things don't feel quite right. Some odd questions are asked of her, some strange people start talking to her. Her dreams are getting stranger. And soon she's on the run, soon she's learning the truth.

This book is part sweetness, part growing up, and part eerie all-encompassing mystery. It's a gentle, well-written combination of a young girl coming of age, reaching puberty, and the strange world of conspiracy, experiments, and big secrets she enters. The truth has to come out, the others have to be saved. But Marivic isn't sure if she's strong enough to do it. What she is sure of, though, is that she'll do what it takes to keep her grandfather and best friend Saren safe. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers, especially to those not quite ready to move up to YA, especially to readers looking for a combination of genres in their stories.

(I received a copy of this title to review from Scholastic Canada.)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (275)

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 here! For the first time in weeks. It makes it feel like summer's on its way out for fall. I kind of wish the sun would stick around longer, though. Last winter was constant snow and I definitely felt better once spring and summer came around.

No new books this week! I've been slowly going through review books and library books, waiting for holds to come in. Maybe next week.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle and a blog tour post (Tuesday) and One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (Friday). :)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Me on Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 #1

Title: Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 #1
Author/artist: Alex Alice
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

In search of the mysterious element known as aether, Claire Dulac flew her hot air balloon toward the edge of our stratosphere-and never returned. Her husband, genius engineer Archibald Dulac, is certain that she is forever lost. Her son, Seraphin, still holds out hope. One year after her disappearance, Seraphin and his father are delivered a tantalizing clue: a letter from an unknown sender who claims to have Claire's lost logbook. The letter summons them to a Bavarian castle, where an ambitious young king dreams of flying the skies in a ship powered by aether. But within the castle walls, danger lurks-there are those who would stop at nothing to conquer the stars.

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 #1 is the beginning of an epic tale. It's a searching for the impossible, full of hopes and dreams and sorrow. It's a young boy missing his mother and willing to journey as close as he can to her.

Seraphin is a smart, lonely boy dreaming of the impossible. Of one day flying through the sky using aether, of continuing the work of his mother before her disappearance. His father is a practical man. He holds no illusions as to the fate of his late wife, but Seraphin still dreams. When the letter arrives, speaking of his mother's logbook, Seraphin knows they have to go. And so he and his father end up on an unexpected journey to a Bavarian castle full of secrets and wonder.

The art is wonderfully detailed. The delicate lines that make up the characters' faces, the buildings and castles. The blueprint of the aethership. And the landscapes, the train station and the castle's surrounding trees and mountains, look more like watercolour paintings. The beautiful artwork serves to enhance an already captivating story.

This is the start of something epic and wondrous. A journey through the skies, hopefully up into the stars. The practically and reasoning of science and real life colliding with the magical nature that is aether. I would certainly recommend this to kids interested in epic stories of science, impossibility, and steampunk-esque sensibilities.

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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (346)

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

Title: Reign of the Fallen
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

An LGBT fantasy series that follows a talented necromancer who must face down a deadly nemesis who has learned how to turn her magic into a weapon.

Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

A lavish fantasy with a surprising and breathtaking LGBT romance at its core, Reign of the Fallen is a gutsy, unpredictable read that will grab readers by the throat and never let go....

This sounds really interesting. The stars of an LGBTQ fantasy series? Necromancy? Complicated zombie politics? I'm all in. :)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Me on When I Cast Your Shadow

Title: When I Cast Your Shadow
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan imprint)

After her troubled older brother, Dashiell, dies of an overdose, sixteen-year-old Ruby is overcome by grief and longing. What she doesn't know is that Dashiell's ghost is using her nightly dreams of him as a way to possess her body and to persuade her twin brother, Everett, to submit to possession as well. Dashiell tells Everett that he's returned from the Land of the Dead to tie up loose ends, but he's actually on the run from forces crueler and more powerful than anything the Bohnacker twins have ever imagined....

When I Cast Your Shadow is dark and deadly. The story of a siblings overwhelmed by their older brother's death, and the possibility that, perhaps, he's not as dead as they thought. It's a twisted and eerie tale, but it missed the mark with me

Ruby is lost and alone, constantly mourning the loss of her older brother Dashiell. Sure, he used to be an addict, but he was clean. It wasn't his time to die. It wasn't fair. And now her days are spent wishing he was alive again while her nights are more like nightmares. Until she dreams of Dash one night, of his cajoling and his promise that they could be together again. Everett, Ruby's twin, is also mourning their brother, but when Ruby starts acting strangely, he wonders if something's up. If something's wrong. If Dash is somehow still around.

If I can be honest here, I'm not so sure that I enjoyed this book. It's dark and eerie, it hints at the supernatural, at a brief grey area that lies between life and death, but it was more that I didn't like certain characters. Which is possibly the point. Dashiell is hard to like, perhaps impossible. An addict, a liar and a thief, a manipulator. What is there to like? Ruby refuses to hear anything negative about her dead brother, focusing more on the times when Dash was kind and loving, when he bought her her prized red boots. I wonder if that was done on purpose by the author, to introduce such unlikable and willfully blind characters because not everyone is perfect. That sometimes good people get trapped by bad people, overwhelmed and manipulated, and struggle to keep their heads above water when they're around them. I can see how some might enjoy this, those who like stories that border on horror and the psychological like Simon Holt's The Devouring, but it just didn't work out with me.

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

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (274)

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 may be September now (how?!?) but it's still summer here. The days are sunny and hot, the nights are still hot, and walks are done where it's shady. And silly pups try and hide toys in the garden. *narrow glare at our dog*

I keep thinking that I need to do more essay-style posts, just to chat about an idea or an opinion on something that's come up during the week. It's one thing to have ideas on things to talk about, and it's another to actually speak up and talk about them.

Reviews going up this week will feature When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter (Tuesday) and Castle in the Stars Book 1 by Alex Alice (Friday). :)
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (borrowed from the library)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Me on Odd & True

Title: Odd & True
Author: Cat Winters
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette's stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician's curse. But now that Tru's older, she's starting to wonder if her older sister's tales were just comforting lies, especially because there's nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it's Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters' search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that's wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Odd & True is a mysterious journey. It's a story told in two parts by two voices, a story about family, about journeys, about truths and lies and secrets. About monsters, those fantastical and those hidden in our own past.

Trudchen is a little lonely, a little lost. Left behind by her father, mother, and later her sister, she's had to become practical. After the polio that almost took her leg, she's had a hard life. Struggling to get around, struggling to be seen as anything other than crippled. But now Odette's returned, ready and eager to whisk Tru off on a dangerous mission, to continue keeping people safe from monsters and demons. But it's hard for Tru to trust her sister, now that she's older and finds it hard to still believe in such stories. Od's voice is like a voice from the past, a voice who has seen, has suffered, and now knows what to do. She's the keeper of secrets and truths, the holder of knowledge, and at times it seems odd that there's only so much she'll share with her sister.

This is a curious tale, one I expected to be full of monsters and rescues, demons and creatures that lurk in the shadows, and two sisters continuing a family tradition. In some ways, that's what it is, and in some ways it isn't. It seems to be about people, their memories and their secrets, their lives and their journeys. It's about the things we hide and run from, the things we run towards, and the things we do in order to save others. I imagine fans of the author's previous books, historical tales with a dash of the ghostly and the impossible, will enjoy this, as might fans of historical stories and complicated but well-meaning sister relationships.

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