Saturday, April 28, 2018

Me on This Week's Book Week (303)

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 for the lack of weekend posts. Between migraines and dismal weather and other personal things, something had to be left behind. And considering I hadn't really picked up any new books in the last couple of weeks, the weekly ramble was put on hold. But things should be back on track now.

I think it's also that I've vaguely lost interested in some books. Books that I would've snapped up a few years ago no longer interest me. But tastes change all the time, right? There will always be books to read.

Reviews going up this week will feature Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up by Mariko Tamaki & Brooklyn Allen (Tuesday) and Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (Friday). :)
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (e-galley from First Second through NetGalley)
Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner (borrowed from the library)
Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy (borrowed from the library)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Me on Girl Power Graphic Novels

Hi there! Welcome to one of today's stops in First Second's blog tour all about girl power graphic novels. These are all books that feature different kinds of girls, strong girls and scared girls and powerful girls and intelligent girls and clueless girls, as the main character. Seeing different kinds of heroes, heroines, and other main characters is so important for readers of kids books, no matter their gender. There's no one way to be, everyone is different, and everyone is amazing.

And so, here's a look at some very different young girls that can be found leading the way and falling into trouble in some recent graphic novels. :)

First is Claudette in Giants Beware!, Dragons Beware!, and Monsters Beware! by Jorge Aguirre & Rafael Rosado. Claudette is brash, rough and tumble. She's uncouth, head-strong, and bold. All she thinks about, dreams about, is fighting giants and monsters. All she thinks about is defeating evil and being a hero. Saving those in peril. And, as everyone around her constantly points out, she has no sense of propriety or delicacy. She speaks her mind and rushes too far and too fast into situations. She doesn't listen to sense. She's reckless. Claudette's more of an act first and ask questions later kind of girl, which can be very dangerous. But Claudette is staunchly loyal, to her blacksmith father and her aspiring chef brother Gaston, to her princess in training friend Marie, and to her dog Valiant. When the chips are down, Claudette will rush in with her sword, ready to bash any and all monsters. The entire series is a wonderful mixture of silliness, curious magic, complicated characters, and hard decisions.

Next is Isabel in The City on the Other Side by Mairghred Scott & Robin Robinson. Isabel is a quiet, lonely girl looking for a place of her own. Her life is far from exciting or even interesting, kept safe from dirt smudges and any hint of fun from her posh society mother and her distant artist father. She wonders if they truly love her, care about her, because they seem far more interested in their own lives than spend time with their daughter. But then, on a trip to Carmel to visit her father, Isabel ends up falling through to the fairy world and right into the middle of a war. A war that could impact her world as well. Drawn to a magical necklace, sure that no one back home will miss her, Isabel sets out on an epic quest. She comes into her own on this journey. She takes risks, falls into danger multiple times, and refuses to stop until everyone is saved. This is a girl who's finally found something she can do, finally found something that could be hers, if only for a little while. A girl who's, hopefully, found somewhere to be.

Then there's Avani in Star Scouts and The League of Lasers by Mike Lawrence. Avani is new to town, lonely because she doesn't have any friends and annoyed because her father signed her up for Flower Scouts where all the other girls do is talk about boys and makeup. She's bored, waiting for something she's interested in. And then she's mistakenly abducted by an alien. And so Avani joins Mabel and her Star Scout troop, made up of other aliens, and begins to lead a secret life of robotics and teleportation and weird space camp. Avani's like any kid who moves to a new town, she's looking for something familiar in a new place, and she sort of finds it with Mabel. She's met other kids who like doing interesting (to her) activities. But there's something that comes across in the first book, and that's that Avani can be rather bossy. After she finds the Star Scouts, when they compete against other groups at camp, she needs help from the others. But she's pushy in that she only wants the help that will make sure she wins. Both books are good looks at how friendship isn't easy, how everyone is different and that's okay, how strong personalities will butt heads over and over again. How it's okay to be wrong, about something or someone. How it's a lot more fun when you try to get along instead of argue all the time. Avani isn't perfect, but she's learning how to be a good friend.

If you're a middle grade reader, if you're a kid looking for new comics to read, maybe check out these, as well as Gigi D.G.'s Cucumber Quest and Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick & Thomas Taylor. There's no one way for a young girl to be a young girl. You can want to fight monsters, you can want to be a princess, you can be quiet and studious, you can be loud and active. You can be smart, athletic, quiet, lonely, short, tall, thin, fat. You can have caring parents, you can be an orphan, you can have a single parent trying their best. You can be anything you want. Just be you.

Thanks so much to Gina at First Second Books for sending me physical copies and e-galleys of all of the above mentioned books (especially when we thought they were lost in the mail, they weren't!). You can definitely check out First Second on Twitter or Tumblr, or at your local library or bookstore. Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (375)

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

Title: Seafire
Author: Natalie C. Parker
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, whose lives have been turned upside down by Aric and his men. The crew has one misson: stay alive, and take down Aric's armed and armored fleet.

But when Caledonia's best friend and second-in-command just barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether or not to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all...or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?

Yesssss, a new Natalie Parker book. This sounds rather interesting, pirates and women helping women and fighting back against evil men and questions and angst. I'm in. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Me on All Summer Long

Title: All Summer Long
Author/artist: Hope Larson
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

All Summer Long is a moment in time, a summer of loneliness and discovery. For Bina, it's rather lonely, having a summer apart from her best friend, but there has to be something to do beyond eating chips and watching TV all the time.

Bina's fun and energetic. She loves music and playing the guitar, hanging out with her best friend Austin, and she's all ready to spend another summer with him finding out how much fun they can have. Keeping track of it all in their Combined Summer Fun Index. But on the last day of school before the summer, Austin puts the brakes on their plans because he's off to soccer camp. And he thinks they need to grow up a little. They are thirteen, after all. Once Austin's gone, Bina's a little lost. What she supposed to do? Summer reading? Watch loads and loads of British teen dramas online? Leave the house? What follows for Bina is a summer of exploration, of meeting new people, of getting to know people better, of learning some hard lessons, and of continuing to love something that already brought her enjoyment.

The art style fits with the story. There's something casual and summery about it. I rather enjoyed the expressions Hope Larson gave the characters, the frowns and the grumbles on Bina's face, the sneer's on Charlie's. The way the lyrics of the songs Bina listens to float across the page. There's something about Larson's art the brings Bina's story to life.

This is a sweet coming of age story about a girl who loves music and is still figuring out the world, figuring out the people around her and what she wants from life. What she's interested in, what she thinks she'll continue to be interested in. Things will change, as they always do, but the people close by, the ones who've always been there, will continue to be there. And as Bina gets older, as she learns and practices, whole new worlds will open up to her. I would recommend this to those middle-grade graphic novel readers looking for more stories about growing up and getting older while also being light-hearted.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Me on Sky in the Deep

Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books (Macmillan imprint)

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago. Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family. She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother's friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she's spent her life hating.

Sky in the Deep is steeped in loyalty and faith, in determination and a desire to survive. Eelyn has trained her whole life to fight, to fight for her people and keep them alive. But life is complicated, people not so different than she thought, and what was once unthinkable will have to happen if Eelyn wants all whom she loves to survive.

Eelyn is a warrior, strong and head-strong. Determined. Trained since she was a child to fight back against her clan's ancient enemy, the Riki. She will fight, and one day, she will die with honour on the battlefield. Until the day she sees her dead brother, only he's not dead and he's fighting for the other side. Until she follows him, lost and confused, and is captured by the Riki. Forced to become a servant. Hating everyone around her, including her brother Iri. But some things are not what Eelyn expected, some things are different while others are far too similar. And in order to survive, Eelyn will have to fight with the Riki.

Books like this give you a glimpse of human nature, of something everyone does. Loyalty and belief take us so far, they can give us family and friends. A place to be. Something to live for, and for some, something to fight for. Perhaps to die for. But then comes the blind loyalty, then comes the refusal to see things a different way. In Eelyn's case, it's the need of the Aska and the Riki to come together in order to survive against a greater enemy, a common enemy. It's a battle between wanting, needing to survive and being unwilling to trust the other side. From outside the story the reader can see the choice that must be made, the choice that would mean survival for both sides, would mean an end to their war. But that's because they're the reader. They're not the Aska or the Riki, fighting year after year, unwilling to trust or come together. It's books like this that show us the stubborn, unwilling to listen side of being human, that show us sometimes we need to stop and listen, stop and consider, stop and work together against something that would destroy all of us. There's always time to stop and work together.

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Me on The Case for Jamie

Title: The Case for Jamie
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (HarperCollins imprint)

It's been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven't spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can't seem to fall for. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn't safe to be around. She knows her Watson can't forgive her. Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it's clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

The Case for Jamie is a layered mystery, much like the previous books, led by a wonderfully intelligent and deeply flawed young woman and a young man looking towards a future without her, no matter how much he misses her.

Jamie, on the surface, is doing well. At school, in his social life. He has a girlfriend who likes him, who wants to be with him. He has friends he spends time with. But he can't shake what happened a year ago. He can't forget, seeing August Moriarty shot dead in front him, and some other things, even though he wants to so desperately. Charlotte is on the hunt for Lucien Moriarty. The crimes he's committed, the actions and plots and plans he's taken against her. She's ready to make him pay, ready to do what it takes to find him. Until her investigating takes her back to someone she isn't sure she should be around. Someone she'd rather be apart from in order to keep them safe from her. But when there's a mystery afoot, it can't be Holmes without Watson.

Both are stripped bare in this book, this time when they haven't seen each other in a year. Jamie's struggling to appear normal on the surface, he's used this last year to try and forget what happened to him and he can't. Charlotte's spent the year with herself, following and hunting. Thinking in the quiet. Remembering moments in her past, the moments that taught her about the world and about herself, about her parents and her brother. How her family would never be what she wanted. How she's still broken in a number of ways and how she copes around it. They're not always the best when they're together but they're miserable when they're apart, and it'll never be over when it's Holmes and Watson, not really. There's always something else out there, plotting against them, which is why I was rather delighted to discover that there'll be a fourth book in the series.

(I downloaded an e-book of this title from the library.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (374)

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

Title: Sanctuary
Author: Caryn Lix
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Alien meets Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds in this thrilling debut novel about prison-guard-in-training, Kenzie, who is taken hostage by the superpowered criminal teens of the Sanctuary space station—only to have to band together with them when the station is attacked by mysterious creatures.

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

Considering some recent favourite reads like Honor Among Thieves and Obsidio and Heart of Iron and Defy the Worlds (hmm, that's a good amount of sci-fi there), this sounds right up my alley. Complicated family issues, rebellions, superpowers, teens fighting back, ancient evil things from deep space. Definitely interested in reading this in the summer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Me on Suitors and Sabotage

Title: Suitors and Sabotage
Author: Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father's approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother. Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother's intended. But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of "accidents," it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger...

Suitors and Sabotage is a gentle tale of mystery and intrigue, of friendship and romance, of side-long glances and pondered-over thoughts and wondering and wondering without asking important questions in order to keep feelings from being hurt.

Imogene is bright and creative, well-skilled and well-versed in art. So much so, she's hoping to one day start an art school. But unfortunately for Imogene, her father has other plans for her. Like a possible engagement to a rather suitable young man. A young man Imogene isn't necessarily interested in. Ben is quick and charming, knowledgeable and interested enough in architecture to be an apprentice to a good architect. But skilled at the art of drawing? Not so much. Luckily enough, he's accompanied his older brother Ernest on a visit to a particular young woman's house, a young woman that Ernest is rather interested in on a personal level. Ben as well, after getting to know her, after discovering she can teach him to draw. But is that all there is between them? Interesting conversation and drawing lessons?

It's a rather sweet, easy-going book, much like the author's previous books. The charm of the English countryside and Regency-era manners and manor houses. The mistakes and misunderstandings that occur when thoughts are thought over and over again but rarely spoken aloud. Random mishaps that bring people together. Definitely a must-read for fans of the author and those looking for more sweet historical romance YA.

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

Me on Reign of the Fallen

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

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?

Reign of the Fallen is mysterious and eerie. With magic and danger at nearly every turn, Odessa is haunted by more than the prospect of someone forcing the Dead to attack the living.

Odessa's is a curious voice. Practical and determined, a little sweet and thoughtful, and as time goes on, full of an angry sorrow. She knows her place as a necromancer, embraces it, knows she is secure in her place as one of the few desperately needed in order to keep King Wylding ruling over Karthia. Bringing him back from the dead. She knows her place with Evander, partner and boyfriend. But when the Dead begin to go missing, when the Dead are turned into Shades and turned on Odessa and the other necromancers, it feels like everything has gone wrong. Like the world is falling apart around her. Like she is falling apart.

Initially, I was rather intrigued with the necromancy part of the book and the reason for it. The Dead that continue to rule over Karthia, the mystery surrounding the Shades and their attacks. But then I saw part of the book as an exploration of grief. The sorrow we feel when a loved one dies. The claims we make, as if anything we do could bring them back. In Karthia, they can come back, at a cost to both the living and the dead. But what is the cost when it could reunite loved ones, parents or partners? What is the cost when it reunites parents and children, kings and subjects? And what is the cost, even with a necromancer's magic, when the dead cannot return? I enjoyed this so much, this story of magic and death, of family, of grieving and acceptance. I would recommend this to fantasy YA readers looking for something different, because this certainly felt different. The treatment and process of the necromancer's abilities, the different ways of grieving, the twists and motives behind the rising of the Shades. I'll be keeping an eye out for any more books set in this world.

(I borrowed an e-book copy of this title from the library.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (373)

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

Title: Fierce Like a Firestorm
Author: Lana Popović
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

In the bewitching conclusion to Lana Popovic’s sumptuous and romantic teen fantasy duology, Malina must use her gleam to rescue her twin sister from a magical power more dangerous than Death.

Twin sisters Iris and Malina thought they knew how to reverse the ancient curse that haunts their line, the spell that destines them to use their gleams—unique forms of beauty-manipulating magic—to entice and enchant none other than Death himself.

But both sisters thought wrong.

Instead of ending the wicked bargain with the power of her infinite bloom, Iris is taken to an exquisite, uncanny realm in between this world and the next—a world Death created for her alone. Only, unlike all of Death’s companions before, Iris’s body goes on the one-way journey along with her soul, arriving in a kingdom never meant to sustain a living girl.

Left behind with Niko, her girlfriend, and Luka, the boy her sister loves, Lina searches for a way to save Iris. But as Lina unearths the dark secrets that bind her family to parallel fates of loss and immortality and Iris tries to outwit Death on his own terrain, a power resurfaces that even Mara, the original witch mother, fears. Now both sisters must learn to fully embrace their gleams—or else they’ll truly lose each other forever.

Luscious and breathtaking, Fierce Like a Firestorm is the second book in Lana Popovic’s dazzling duology about freedom, beauty, sacrifice, and the infinite power of love.

The first in this duology was rather interesting and different, about sisters and power and confidence and destiny, and so I'm definitely curious as to where this will go in Malina's journey to rescue Iris. What magic will appear, what the cost will be, if it's a happy ending or one that's only happy for some.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Me on Defy the Worlds

Title: Defy the Worlds
Author: Claudia Gray
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people... if only she wasn't flying straight into a trap. On the run to avoid his depraved creator's clutches, Abel believes he's said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them... or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi's capture by the very person he's trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost. But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield's master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

Defy the Worlds is a return to characters flawed and familiar and a journey through time. Even though Noemi and Abel are apart, there are still forces at work around them. Forces determined to see their plans through, to survive no matter the cost. The two will have to come together if they want to see a world saved and secrets revealed that could turn the tide of war.

After their time together, racing from planet to planet, coming to terms with their missions, their humanity, Noemi and Abel are apart. Noemi is back on Genesis, continuing her time as a soldier in order to keep it safe in the long war with Earth. Even if she still feels uncomfortable, even if other soldiers around her no longer trust her. See her as a liability. She's back, turning everything she saw, everything she went through over and over in her head. Abel is traveling the stars with a rather sparse Vagabond crew of two, keeping them under the radar. Keeping himself hidden from his creator, Burton Mansfield. The aging genius who would have Abel's mechanical body as a place for his own mind when his body finally gives out. But Abel's discovered his humanity, his desire to stay alive, to stay himself. He will do whatever it takes to stay hidden, and in turn, keep Noemi safe. But then he receives word that Noemi has been kidnapped, and Abel must find the man he's been hiding from.

In this second book, the picture is expanding. It's still Noemi and Abel, their motivations and their missions, their humanity and their determination. But other forces are at work. Burton Mansfield and his daughter Gillian, they have their plans for the future. Plans that rely on certain things, like secrecy. Like Abel. So much is revealed in this book, things only hinted at in the first. Abel's newfound humanity and individuality continue, this artificial being discovering what it is both to be alive and be the only one. What I enjoy is seeing Noemi and Abel continue to be different people, Noemi's soldier training and headstrong ways alongside Abel's predictions and practicality and curiosity when faced with the possibility that he might not be alone. But both will do whatever it takes to keep the other alive and safe. After the ending, I'm desperate for the next, to see what will happen and what it will cost the both of them.

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