Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (368)

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

Title: Save the Date
Author: Morgan Matson
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

This sounds like a hysterical mess, something a little like the movie Sixteen Candles but more to do with the older sister's wedding and a little more family drama. You guys know me and contemporary stories, that it takes a fair amount, but I're read Morgan Matson books before and enjoyed them. And seemingly simple set-ups like a family wedding aren't plots I come across often, so I'll be looking forward to reading this when it's out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Me on Tess of the Road

Title: Tess of the Road
Author: Rachel Hartman
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy. Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Tess of the Road is indescribable, unfortunately, but I will make an attempt. This is the story of a young woman hiding from her memories and ready to run from her future in order to be herself, a young woman who discovers herself along the road of epic journey, bizarre kidnapping, family troubles, construction, and exploration. A story of drunks and dreams and the moments in which one discovers their vocation.

Tess is a young woman made up of secrets, memories, and many things she'd like to forget. Like the dark parts of her past. Like her ways of getting into trouble, of not keeping quiet. Like how she got drunk at her sister's wedding and later punched her sort of brother-in-law in the nose. She's curious and gruff, intelligent and unforgiving. Stubborn. Unwilling to bow down. She's the kind of young woman who will venture out on her own, old friend Pathka the quigutl at her side on their own journey, to see what the world will show her. But what will the world show her? Where will it take her? What will it make her remember?

With this being my first Rachel Hartman book, I don't know that this is what I expected. Knowing her previous two books were connected to this one, I expected a few things. A medieval fantasy land. Possible dragons. Some post-war peace times. Maybe some magic. Maybe some dragons. I didn't expect a wholly uncooperative heroine and her internal struggle to dismantle all the religion and shame that was pushed at her when she was a child. I didn't expect a classic fantasy 'journey down the road disguised as a boy' that would dissect and deconstruct rape culture. I will never be able to describe this book accurately, because the second I finished I simultaneously wondered what in the world I'd just read and why more books weren't like this. Why more fantasy books about young girls and women weren't about them owning their mistakes, their dreams, and their bodies. From what I've read, this book is rather different from its predecessors. It's rather character-driven, Tess walking her way down the road, meeting people and discovering herself. It's certainly something I would suggest to those looking for something familiar yet utterly different from any other fantasy novel.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Random House Books for Young Readers through NetGalley.)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (297)

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!

Sorry about the lack of Friday post. It was another weird headache week where I couldn't focus, plus there was a bunch of snow that dumped on us right at the end of the week. And I didn't make it to the library to look at books. Maybe next week.

Reviews going up this week will feature Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Tuesday) and Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst (Friday). :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (367)

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

Title: Bruja Born
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

From Goodreads:

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister's newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula's bruja healing powers can't fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula's world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn't the only one who's been brought back...

Oooooooo. I love the sound of this, just like with Labyrinth Lost. It sounds deep and dangerous and magical and very much steeped in a culture rich in history and meaning. This sounds like it's going to be a massive punch to the heart.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Me on Heart of Iron

Title: Heart of Iron
Author: Ashley Poston
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him. Ana's desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn't care what he'll sacrifice to keep them. When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive. What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana's past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

Heart of Iron is a book of secrets hidden among the stars, a book of fire and iron and blood. Of plots and plans, treason and murder. It's a book about one girl's search for a way to save her friend and the ghosts she uncovers, the darkness that unfolds.

Ana is rough and brash, an orphaned girl found with a Metal guardian in an escape pod, face scarred and memories lost. She has no family but the one that took her in, the pirate captain and her crew that helped Ana and D09, raised her and trained her. Cared for her. And she'll do anything for them, even if that means searching for ways to fix the glitching D09, who knows he doesn't have much time left before the glitches shut him down permanently. Robb is a Valerio, an Ironblood. One of the elite. And he's searching for someone. He's desperate to find his missing father, searching for the location of a lost fleetship. Desperate to answer questions he's had since he was a child. Desperate to get away from his plotting mother and evil brother. But then a dirty pirate girl and a Metal trying to take the coordinates from him. But then they follow him. But then he ends up on a pirate ship on a journey to the lost fleetship. On a journey toward the hard truth.

I was rather intrigued by this book. It moved a bit slowly at times, setting up for surprises and action in the later half of the story, but all the setting up needed to happen. I was curious how it would go, the author taking the idea of the lost Romanov princess from the early 1900's, putting it in deep space in the far future, and adding some deep dark galactic mystery to it. The different view points were a good choice. In a story like this, with players deep in their plans but a little shallow in others, seeing more than one side provides depth and characterization. The determined Ana, the glitching D09, the Ironblood elite Robb, the roguish pilot Jax. They all have their strengths and their flaws, and those flaws are often manipulated as they all try to stay alive. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book after that ending, and I would recommend this to fans of Defy the Stars.

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

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (296)

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 snowed here this week! I know it's Canada, but the winters here are usually mild. And after a mild winter it doesn't usually snow in mid-February. But if the cold air is going to come down, it might snow. Of course it was all gone after a couple of days. ;)

Reviews going up this week will feature Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston (Tuesday) and Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Friday). :)
The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara (e-galley from Skyhorse Publishing through NetGalley)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Me on The Witch Boy

Title: The Witch Boy
Author/artist: Molly Knox Ostertag
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic imprint)

In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted... and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family... and be truly himself.

The Witch Boy is a story of searching and secrets, of magic, of the battle inside Aster of following through with what he feels is right and continuing his family's traditions.

Surrounded by family, his parents and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, Aster is lonely. He's quick and perceptive, caring and eager to learn, but lonely. He doesn't really fit in with his extended family of witches and shapeshifters. He's more interested in learning witchery than shapeshifting, but only girls are taught witchery. And so Aster is stuck between what he wants to be and what his family tells him he's supposed to be. But when something dangerous circles the family, when it takes and twists some of his cousins and threatens his family, Aster will have to gather up all of his courage in order to save them.

I rather enjoyed the artwork, it was the little details that I loved. The way everyone in Aster's family looked a little similar, how often red hair popped up in his family. The expressions on Aster's face, confusion and sorrow and shame. The little bits of magic, the symbols and the tools, the herbs hanging in the kitchen. The look of the monster hunting Aster's family, its unnatural shape.

I was looking forward to reading this and I'm happy that it didn't disappoint. It's about magic and family, about figuring out who you are inside. About lessons and learning. About being honest and finding the strength to tell your family the truth about yourself, that you're one thing instead of another. For Aster, that's telling his family that he's a witch instead of a shapeshifter, which was hard for him because at every turn he's reminded that only the girls of the family are taught to be witches. Knowing there will be another book, I'm curious to see where it will go, if Aster will be allowed to learn witchery and what he'll discover next.

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (366)

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

Title: Out of the Blue
Author: Sophie Cameron
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Sometimes, I imagine alternate endings to the story: last-minute miracles, touches of magic. I picture how things might have gone, if I wasn’t there. If I’d left just a few minutes later. If I hadn’t been alone. It doesn’t make any difference. One way or another, the crash always comes.

Ten days after Jaya Mackenzie’s mum dies, angels start falling from the sky. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.

Hysteria mounting with every Being that drops, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, struggling to make sense of her mother’s sudden death and her own role on that fateful day, she’s determined to stay out of it.

When her best friend disappears and her father’s mania spirals, things hit rock bottom and it’s at that moment something extraordinary happens: An angel lands right at Jaya’s feet, and it’s alive. Finally she is forced to acknowledge just how significant these celestial beings are.

Set against the backdrop of the frenzied Edinburgh festival, OUT OF THE BLUE tackles questions of grief and guilt and fear over who we really are. But it’s also about love and acceptance and finding your place in this world as angels drop out of another.

There's a lot in the summary, a lot that's made me rather interested in both the story and how it'll all turn out. It all sounds rather interesting, Jaya caught up in her grief, her secrets, and the angels falling from the sky.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Blog tour: Chainbreaker

Hi there! Welcome to a very special Monday post. Today is the start of the blog tour for Tara Sim's Chainbreaker, the continuing story of a clock mechanic and the clock spirit he's fallen for.
The first book, Timekeeper, is all parts mystery and fantasy and mythology and romance, and Chainbreaker continues along those same lines, only this time the mystery and the danger reach far beyond the small town of Enfield.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (295)

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! The weather's looking up, which is nice. The last few rainy days were cold and dreary.

During the week I was invited to a movie screening for an upcoming movie, but I think I might mention that next week because I'm still thinking about it. It was good, it was cheesy in the way that teen romance movies often are, but I'm still thinking about it overall and how different it was from the book. If you think you know what movie it was, good for you. ;)

Reviews going up this week will feature Chainbreaker by Tara Sim (Monday, because it's a fun blog tour post!) and The Witch Boy by Molly Know Ostertag (Friday). :)
Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Me on Honor Among Thieves

Title: Honor Among Thieves
Authors: Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that's made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn't much better than a prison cell. Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she's headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers. Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth's dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she's assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Honor Among Thieves is tense and action-packed, a story of unexpected journeys and encounters. It's full of secrets and deception, it withholds information, which isn't going to work on a take-charge girl like Zara. It's a future where humanity was saved but the cost was unknown.

Zara is hard and rough after living in the Lower Eight, a grimy section of New Detroit full of crime and drugs and all kinds of danger. But she's not stupid. There are reasons why she stayed, why she didn't go with her mom and sister to Mars. She's smart, tough, she knows when to strike and when to run. And now she needs to run, needs to keep away from anyone she cares about in order to keep them safe. Until she was recruited by the Honors, until she was given the chance to leave the planet and explore the universe. But it's possible that the universe isn't as safe as Zara was told it was, and knowing Zara, she's ready to find out the truth and fight back.

Nadim was interesting, this curious consciousness of a living spaceship. This lonely and worried personality that certainly wasn't expecting Zara to be one of his new Honors, or the accompanying Beatriz. But they're all together now, trying to navigate through space and missions and who Nadim is behind all the consoles.

I was consistently intrigued by the premise as the book went on. By the Leviathan and their mission, by what was said and what was kept secret. By Zara's quickfire actions and decisions, by her anger that she acknowledged and took the time to work through. It was definitely different than what I'd expected, but in a good way. I found myself racing toward the ending, wanting to know what would happen next. For those who enjoyed sci-fi YA books like Illuminae and Defy the Stars, I'd recommend giving this a read.

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (365)

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

Title: Nightbooks
Author: J.A. White
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Alex has loved scary stories his whole life.

He never imagined he be trapped in one.

When Alex sneaks out in the middle of the night, he becomes imprisoned by the witch Natacha in her magical apartment. Another child in the apartment, Yasmin, assures Alex that she’s already tried every means of escape. Only Natacha holds the bonekeys that lead back to their world, and she’ll never part from them.

But Natacha likes stories. And Alex’s only chance for survival is to keep Natacha satisfied by reading her one of his own hair-raising tales each night. But Alex is running out of time—and original stories—and he’s desperate for a way out of this twisted place.

Oh, gosh. Do I ever love middle grade books about books and magic and moving from world to world.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Me on The Prince and the Dressmaker

Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author/artist: Jen Wang
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: First Second Books (Macmillan imprint)

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! Sebastian's secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone's secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?

The Prince and the Dressmaker is bright and wonderful. It's a story about dreams and dresses and secrets, of courage and fear. Of finding the strength to be yourself out in public when you're afraid that the world won't accept the real you.

Frances is a dressmaker. She's incredibly talented and incredibly underappreciated, working in the back of a dressmaker's shop with so many other seamstresses. She dreams of being a well-known and wanted designing, of her designs being worn by so many at so many different events. When given the chance, Frances designs something bold and unexpected, drawing the interest of a rather secretive client. Sebastian is a prince who's happy enough being a prince. Except for the times when he hides himself away, more comfortable in an elegant ballgown than his princely uniform. Finding Frances, seeing her designs, gives him the chance to finally go out looking how he wants to in a dress. He's the happiest he's been in some time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Frances is happy being his secret dressmaker. She wants to be known for her work, wants acknowledgement, and Sebastian's secrets keep her hidden away. And so they come to a crossroads.

I love Jen Wang's artwork, the style and shape of the characters and the lavish designs of all the dresses. The soft, curious, determined face of Francis paired with Sebastian's bright smile. And that big triangle of a nose that he has. The slim lines of Sebastian in contrast with the large barrel chest of his father's. The classic European architecture and clothing styles, the ballgowns with full skirts and bare necks and collarbones. The uniforms and the carriages, the buildings and the bathing costumes. All of it is just gorgeous. It all works so well with the story of Frances and Sebastian.

I love what this story is, what it's trying to show in the story of Sebastian and Frances. Here we have a young man who's looking for a way to fulfill his parents' dreams while hiding that sometimes he likes wearing dresses and a young woman who's looking to live her dream of being a famous designer and dressmaker instead of being forced into the backroom to slave away on something that someone else will get credit for. A young man who wants to hide and a young woman who wants to be seen. I love how this story says that there is no shame in being who you are at the very core of your soul, no shame in wearing what you want to wear or being who you want to be. That the world can be that kind and accepting, that it can value your decisions. That there is nothing wrong with a teenage boy who wants to wear dresses. This is a wondrously kind and gorgeous book that tells closeted or secreted away teens that they are not alone, than they can smash their way through outdated gender norms in order to finally be themselves and that there will be people ready and willing to support them and love them. A must-read for those looking for kind, honest stories about real people, for those who've always looked for a story about a prince and the dresses he wears.

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

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (294)

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's been a few breaks in the rain, which is nice for walks and leaving the house. It's just been so cold and wet out. Just waiting for spring now.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Tuesday) and Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre (Friday). :)
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (borrowed from the library)
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson & Emily Carroll (hardcover from Raincoast Books)
Rebound by Kwame Alexander (ARC from Raincoast Books)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Me on Shadowsong

Title: Shadowsong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books (Macmillan imprint)

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother's and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can't forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

Shadowsong is haunting, a slow-moving journey brought on by consequence and fate. It's an exploration of reality and madness, of desire and practicality. Of what will come from Liesl's return to the mortal world and what had been unleashed.

Liesl has returned to her family's home and inn after leaving the Underground, released from its bizarre hold of her. Released from the Goblin King. Now she has her chance to live her life again, to compose and create music with her brother Josef. But Josef is away performing and Liesl cannot let go of her time in the Underground. Cannot let go of the young man she found in the Goblin King, of their time together and the music he awoke in her. But her leaving has brought consequences. The barrier between the worlds is thinning, the hunt is on, and everything is at risk of coming to an end.

Reading this book, remembering the previous one, makes me wonder about the world itself. About impossibility in reality. About madness and identity, about who we are and who we hide. About the reflection in the mirror, who it is and who we are. About connections brought by blood and music and love. This book moves slowly, weighed down by Liesl's own warring inside her heart, but I don't think it could move any faster. Here is Liesl coming to terms with her relationship with her brother, with the darkness that's come between them. The secrets and the truths left unspoken. For those who enjoyed Wintersong, know that the story does continue here, still lyrical and fantastical, but as more of a slow and haunting search.

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