Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (380)

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

Title: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for... and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

HOW INTERESTING. This sounds so intriguing, even through I'm wary because I've seen a few people mention warnings for assault and rape. It sounds very much like it's about women fighting back against terrible circumstance and terrible men but that the fight is in no way easy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Me on Bruja Born

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

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...

Bruja Born is dark and dangerous and full of magic, full of sisters sticking by each other. Full of love and loss, of pain and sorrow, of healing and strength.

At the start, Lula is a complicated and angry young woman. Angry that things are different at home, ever since her sister Alex came into her powers and their father was returned to them. Angry that she still feels trapped, like when she was locked away in a tree in the magical land of Los Lagos. Angry at the scars that now run across her cheek, the scars that make her feel ruined. Things changed in Los Lagos, and since they've been home, Lula isn't sure how to feel. But she still has her boyfriend Maks. He's the only thing that makes everything feel better again. Feel normal again. Until he's taken from her. Until Lula decides to risk everything in order to save him. But moving against the natural order of life and death is never good, especially when Death herself comes to collect what she is owed. And so comes what feels like and impossible mission for Lula: set to right the balance that she has upset, but that means losing Maks.

So many things raced through my head while reading this. What it is to be in pain, to hide it, to willingly suffer through it for a number of reasons, be they selfish or selfless. What it is to be in love, to love with all of you and doing anything in order to keep that person with you. What it is to admit defeat or admit to a mistake, the frustration and the anger when we try so hard to fix it on our own only to fail over and over, and the depth of the well of support that comes when we finally do ask for help. It's a book of magic and brujas, of tradition, but it feels so human, so realistic and grounded and honest. Labyrinth Lost is about Alex, about her coming to terms with and realizing who she is, as a bruja, a sister, a daughter, a teenage girl. Bruja Born is all about Lula and her demons, her determination and her stubbornness, her loves and her mission. It's just as deep and enchanting as the first, and I'm really looking forward to reading the next.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (379)

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

Title: The Hidden Witch
Author/artist: Molly Knox Ostertag
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic imprint)

From Goodreads:

Aster and his family are adjusting to his unconventional talent for witchery; unlike the other boys in his family, he isn't a shapeshifter. He's taking classes with his grandmother and helping to keep an eye on his great-uncle whose corrupted magic wreaked havoc on the family.

Meanwhile, Aster's friend from the non-magical part of town, Charlie, is having problems of her own -- a curse has tried to attach itself to her. She runs to Aster and escapes it, but now the friends must find the source of the curse before more people -- normal and magical alike -- get hurt.

There's more after The Witch Boy! I'm so happy about this, I think Molly Ostertag is a great artist and a wonderful storyteller and I'm so excited to see more books about Aster and Charlie.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Me on Speak: The Graphic Novel

Title: Speak: The Graphic Novel
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Artist: Emily Carroll
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers (Macmillan imprint)

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless--an outcast--because of something that happened over the summer. Now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen. So what's the point of talking? Through her work on an art project, Melinda is finally able to face what really happened that night. But before she can make peace with the ghosts of the past, she has to confront the reality of the present--and stop someone who still wishes to do her harm. Only words can save her. She can't stay silent. Not anymore.

Speak: The Graphic Novel is just as powerful, just as emotional, just as necessary as the original. Here, Melinda's story is brought to life. Her pain, her fear, her struggle there on the page for readers to see, in bare branches and bitten lips. In people shouting and crying, in stuffed rabbits. In looming monsters.

(A quick preface to say that first, this will be a much more casual review than usual, and second, that I haven't read the original version of Speak but I did know the summary before reading this.)

Stories like this, like Melinda's, like anyone who's been groped or assaulted or raped, are important. It's important to speak out against rapists and abusers. But for so many it's hard to say the words. Hard to speak out when the attacker is a big name in the community, is someone popular at school, is a famous actor or politician. When people call the victim a liar, say that it was all a misunderstanding or a joke. It's not. Rape isn't funny. I think it's so timely and vital that Speak is brought to life as a graphic novel, that Melinda's story is brought forward in time in order to feel more modern, and that Emily Carroll is the artist accompanying Laurie Halse Anderson's words. I find Carroll's art style to be rather eerie and haunting, perfect for this story and this subject. Thin lines and thin limbs, shadowed eyes and expressive faces all in black and white and shades of grey, no colour to break it up. It's heavy, weighing down on the reader. On Melinda. On what she should do with everything looming over her. Parents, grades, the school social scene. IT.

This is a must-read for high school students, all ages and all genders. To show them that their pain is real. To show them that consent is important. To show them that everyone has the right to speak out, even if they can't bring themselves to immediately after the attack. To show them that no one is alone in their silence and suffering.

(I received a finished copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Blog Tour: Furyborn

Hi all! Welcome to one of today's stops on the Furyborn blog tour, set up by the wonderful Raincoast Books.
I hope you're excited to read this when it comes out next week. It's familiar in the way epic fantasy can be, magic and kings and queens and secrets, but it feels wholly different because of the characters and the events that take place. The different points of view and the circumstances that connect them. To celebrate the book, here's a review of the book and a quick little Q&A with Claire Legrand.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (378)

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

Title: Rule
Author: Ellen Goodlett
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

Zofi has spent her entire life traveling across the Reaches. Just when her freedom matters most, the king's men arrive and drag her away from her fellow Travelers to bring her to the capital--Kolonya.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a ladies' maid at court. She dreams of being a noble herself one day, but being ominously summoned to the king's courtroom after a misdeed isn't exactly what she had in mind.

Akeylah was raised by an abusive father in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by brewing insurrection. She'd do anything to escape her family, even accept the invitation of a king who has every reason to despise her.

Each girl hides a dangerous secret--the kind that could get her killed for treason. But when the girls are brought before King Andros expecting an execution, instead they learn the truth: the king is dying and they are his only living heirs. Now the three of them must live at court and compete for the chance to rule. But someone in Kolonya knows the girls' secrets, and they'll stop at nothing to keep them from the throne.

This sounds like a curious mashup of Three Dark Crowns and other books with intrigue and secrets, books like Mask of Shadows and Furyborn. So I'm definitely interested in reading this.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Me on Spectacle Volume 1

Title: Spectacle Volume 1
Author/artist: Megan Rose Gedris
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Publisher: Oni Press

Pragmatic engineer Anna works as a psychic in the Samson Brothers Circus, but she doesn't believe in anything supernatural—until her twin sister Kat is murdered and comes back as a very demanding ghost. Sharing a room with her sister was hard, but now they're sharing a body while trying to identify the killer. With few leads, a troupe full of secretive folk, and strange paranormal occurrences popping up around the circus, solving the case seems near impossible. But the murderer in their midst may be the least of their problems...

Spectacle Volume 1 is mysterious. It's full of secrets, full of characters with their own different personalities and motives, and full of questions when it comes to those characters and their motives.

Anna is practical, she leans more towards the scientific things in life. Like her conjecture engine. Like sense and reason. Not the tarot cards and fortune telling she does as her role in a travelling circus. She's not like her twin sister Kat, a knife-throwing night owl who sometimes leaves a mess in her wake. But they're family. They're all each other has, and so they tolerate each other. Until one night when Kat is murdered, leaving behind a rather demanding ghost for Anna to see. With this sudden death, Anna is on the hunt for the murderer, but Kat's still keeping secrets from her sister. Everyone in the circus keeps secrets, and it's up to Anna to sort through them in order to find Kat's murderer. But something else is going on around the circus.

The art style is rough and charming, it didn't take long to grow on me. The different shapes of the circus cars and tents. The wild mass of Anna's hair, her and Kat's outrageous expressions when the find out Kat's dead and sticking around as a ghost. The different people who work in the circus, like owner Jebediah Tetanus, squeaky-voiced Flora, and Kat's show partner Carl. They all have their own look, all have a way of standing out.

To be honest, when I started reading this I wasn't sure where it was going to go, what I was going to find. What I found was a story full of secrets, of people running and hiding and finding a place where they can feel safe. But safety only lasts for so long, those hidden skeletons stay hidden as long as someone doesn't let them out. Considering how this volume ends, I'm rather interested as to where the story will go. What secrets Anna will uncover, what secrets Kat is still keeping to herself. What's chasing after them.

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (377)

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

Title: Heart of Thorns
Author: Bree Barton
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch. 

But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Hmmmmmmm. Interesting.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Me on Horimiya Volume 6

Title: Horimiya Volume 6
Original story: HERO
Artist: Daisuke Hagiwara
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Yen Press

For Hori and Miyamura, being together, even at school, is now completely natural. But they don't just have each other! As the pair navigates the intricacies of being a couple, they interact and connect with the people around them, who in turn make their world all the more colorful. But Hori and Miyamura's friends are no strangers to the bittersweet pangs of love either...

Horimiya Volume 6 is more of the same. More Hori being unsure about a number of things. More Miyamura opening up to people around him. More of their friends dealing with their own situations and feelings. More of Hori's dad being useless. But sometimes, in a comedic series like this, there are moments that make me think.

There are two rather important moments that happen in this volume, so hopefully you're forgive me for spoiling it. The first has to do with Hori and Miyamura as a couple, has to do with what each of them likes about the other. Knowing she loves gory horror movies while he's afraid of them, Hori tries to be atypical, pretending to be scared. And it backfires like it only could with these two. Which leaves Hori upset that she's not like "normal girls." Which leads to Miyamura saying he doesn't like "normal girls," he likes Hori just the way she is. And Hori likes Miyamura the same way. It all culminates in them having a moment in Hori's bedroom, and considering both are soon seen without their shirts on, it seems like a rather serious moment for the two of them. Like they've reached another step in their relationship. But considering the overall comedic tone of the series, I wonder if this is how far it'll go in terms of the physicality of their relationship.

The second moment is during a dream of Miyamura's, when his current self comes across his younger self during those dark middle school days. The days when he had no friends, when classmates would bully him, when he'd have no one to stand up for him. The days when he wanted to die. But the current Miyamura tells him that it will get better, that he will have friends and won't mind being loud and having fun. That there's someone out there who'll be there at his side, someone who will be everything to him as he will be to them. If only he waits a little longer. It's another serious moment, one that highlights how depression and suicidal thoughts don't care how old you are, how they can overwhelm you. How kids can be intentionally cruel and dismissive. How things do get better, when you find the strength to let people in.

The series continues to give readers more of the same. More awkward teens, more comedic moments, more Hori and Miyamura navigating their relationship. I do wonder if there'll ever be a mix-up, if things will ever drastically change, but I doubt it. I think it'll continue to be a feel-good slice of life series, a mixture of sad and sweet moments during their high school days.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Me on Blood Water Paint

Title: Blood Water Paint
Author: Joy McCullough
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint. She chose paint. By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

Blood Water Paint is harsh and honest, lyrical and poignant. It's the true tale of a young woman's strength and fury, her determination, her sorrow and disgust at her treatment by the men around her.

Artemisia is thoughtful, a painter looking to improve at her craft. But how can she when her father keeps her art hidden, lies about painting them himself. How can she when she's a young woman in Renaissance Italy, someone with no status or power of her own. What can she do, a young unmarried girl at times quick and opinionated? All she wishes to do is paint, and paint she does, hating almost everything but painting. Until someone enters her life, her studio, with talk of teaching her. Until someone takes without her consent.

It's impossible to run from emotions in a verse novel, because there it is. Clear as daylight on the page. There for the reader to see, to breathe in, to feel themselves, over and over again. And what does the reader feel here? Artemisia's desire for freedom, for recognition as a painter. Her desire to be heard at the trial against her rapist, to be believed over him. Her rage at men, at their lies and desires and cruelty. Her disappointment. Her resilience. Her strength. This is a powerful story that needs to be read.

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (376)

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

Title: The Boneless Mercies
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

A dark and gorgeously drawn standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. 

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling—and who gets to be the storyteller. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

I'm rather intrigued by this. A genderbent Beowulf retelling with mercenary girls who hunt down monsters. Sold. All the way sold.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Me on Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up

Title: Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up
Author: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator: Brooklyn Allen
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counsellor Jen... and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella's, where the woods contain endless mysteries. As the camp gears up for the big Galaxy Wars competition, Jo and the gang get some help from an unexpected visitor—a Moon Pirate!

Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up is more fun and adventure with the ever-popular and ever-unique Lumberjane scouts of Roanoke cabin.

While the books are about everyone, all 5 girls get their moments, there's a little more focus on Jo this time around, like there was with April in the previous book. Jo's the quiet thinker, the practical scientific one in their group with a love of math and science. She's smart and resourceful. She knows who she is, even when some thought she was someone else when she was younger (Jo is transgender). Her days are spent having adventure after adventure with her friends, but then a letter arrives. A serious one. A letter that could mean great opportunities for her. But it would mean leaving camp. Leaving adventure and fun behind. Plus, there's the whole missing cheese and a sudden appearance by a Moon Pirate to deal with.

As with the previous book, I love the idea of this, of more stories about the girls of Roanoke cabin and the bizarre situations they often fall into, of little prose adventures that work alongside the comics. It's certainly not a series you can go into without at least reading a couple of the collected trade volumes of the comics, but the tone is the same. The adventure and the friendships, the awesomeness of young girls supporting other young girls. The worry if you're doing the right thing. The puns when it comes to badge names and the references to famous women. A must-read for the middle grade crowd of Lumberjanes fans.

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