Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (384)

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

Title: Muse of Nightmares
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice--save the woman he loves, or everyone else?--while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

This first screamed magic and complication and twists and turns and bizarre circumstance and I'm going to have to read it again before this 2nd and last book comes out in the fall. Knowing it's a Laini Taylor book, it's going to be lush and magical and oh so heartbreaking.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Me on The Unbinding of Mary Reade

Title: The Unbinding of Mary Reade
Author: Miriam McNamara
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press

There's no place for a girl in Mary's world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can 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 sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary's livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender. At least, that's what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, 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, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny. For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living 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.

The Unbinding of Mary Reade is a story of pirates and longing, of adventure and fear, of discovering who you are and being true to that self, even if it puts you in harm's way.

Mary is kind and smart, but lost and lonely. Made to live as a boy for most of her life, she's torn as to what her place in the world will be when she gets older. How is she supposed to continue the charade of being a young man as time goes on? Things are expected of young men once they reach a certain age. And so she runs off with her friend Nat, who only ever knew her as Mark, and they turn to a life on the high seas. But when things go wrong and they end up separated, she wonders what will happen next. Until she sees pirates attack their ship. Until she sees a girl with the pirates, skirts and all with a pistol raised, and Mary knows what to do next. What follows is Mary's hard realization that it isn't so easy, being a woman pirate, and the chance to risk everything for what Mary truly wants in life: to be herself with someone she loves.

It's a rather unconventional sort of story, but then both Mary Reade and Anne Bonny are unconventional young women for the time period. Posing and dressing as a young man, fighting alongside men as pirates and thieves. This is not what proper God-fearing young women did. But what choice did they have? Forced into marriage or worse, unable to be in control of their lives or their futures. After living years as a boy, Mary can't see herself living as a young woman should. Quiet and demure, her opinion given little to no weight. Property of her husband. She's lived a mostly free life as a young man, seen what happens to young women when they're beaten and abused. What's she supposed to do? Keep her head down? Or fight to live the life she wants? This is a work of fiction, but Mary Reade and Anny Bonny were real pirates, real women fighting in a male-dominated space. I'd certainly recommend this to those looking for stories about Mary and Anne that lean more towards the romantic side of their relationship and not so much the piracy.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Thomas Allen & Co.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (383)

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

Title: Fake Blood
Author: Whitney Gardner
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown or had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harbored for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?

When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.

Now AJ has to worry about self-preservation while also trying to save everyone he cares about from a real-life threat lurking in the shadows of Spoons Middle School.

This sounds fun and quirky and full of weird kids. It sounds like something a little different than most middle grade stories. And the fact that it's a graphic novel, I'm so on board.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Me on A Quick Note

Hi all.

I'm really sorry about the recent lack of posts with no reason why. I'm trying to sort through some personal stuff right now, but I'm really hoping to be back this week with a new Waiting on Wednesday post and a new review going up on Friday.

Thanks so much for those who are sticking around and those who are willing to come back once things get regular again.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (382)

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

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

I'm really looking forward to reading this, but from the mystery/tech/e-sports side. Not the romance side. When reading Warcross, the romance part between Emiko and Hideo felt really weird to me. But that's my opinion. I'm curious to see how everything will play out and how it'll all end.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Me on The Bird and the Blade

Title: The Bird and the Blade
Author: Megan Bannen
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom... until she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father as they flee from their enemies across the vast Mongol Empire. On the run, with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead, Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks' exile to return home, a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless love. Jinghua's already dicey prospects take a downward turn when Khalaf seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan. As beautiful as she is cunning, Turandokht requires all potential suitors to solve three impossible riddles to win her hand—and if they fail, they die. Jinghua has kept her own counsel well, but with Khalaf's kingdom—and his very life—on the line, she must reconcile the hard truth of her past with her love for a boy who has no idea what she's capable of... even if it means losing him to the girl who'd sooner take his life than his heart.

The Bird and the Blade is the tale of a young woman desperate to survive and desperate to keep those around her alive.

Jinghua is caught up in a life of slavery, taken from her home and forced to serve a khan in the Mongol Empire. Her life is now hard, desolate, and possibly haunted. But when everything is flipped around and she has to run, she find an unlikely saviour in Prince Khalaf, the son of the man she's enslaved to. Now the two of them, along with his now deposed and stubborn father, are on the run, racing towards safety and hope for the future. All Jinghua wants is to leave the empire, to find a place back home, but how will she do that as a slave? As a young woman with nothing? And so comes her journey across deserts and through cities as she struggles to keep the three of them travelling together while keeping her feelings for Khalaf, the one person to treat her like a human being since her enslavement, hidden.

I don't know the story of the original Italian opera that the author took inspiration from, nor do I know much about this time period when it comes to the Mongol Empire, so I can't say anything in terms of accuracy. Overall, it's an interesting story of a young woman caught by circumstance and plotting wanting to escape but deciding to stay because of certain reasons. I can see where it tugs at the reader's emotions. Jinghua's memories of life before she was taken, her days in the Song Empire with her parents and brother. The ripples and anger that pas between Khalaf and his father. The ending. I thought this was okay, I liked it well enough but found it slow, but I can see fans of historical fantasy YA and sweeping heartbreaking stories enjoying this.

(I received an advance copy of this title from HarperCollins Canada.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (381)

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

Title: A Spark of White Fire
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press

From Goodreads:

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back. 

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali. 

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart. 

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

Oooooo, how interesting. I hope the plan falling apart part happens early on, I love it when the collapse of a plan happens early enough in the story that you also get to watch people fail and scramble and work their way up again. Also space opera? YES.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Me on The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy

Title: The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy
Author: B.T. Gottfred
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

Everyone assumes that Zee is a lesbian. Her classmates, her gym buddies, even her so-called best friend. So many people think that Zee likes girls, even Zee is starting to wonder. Could they be onto something? Everyone assumes that Art is gay. They take one look at his nice clothes and his pretty face and think: well, obviously. But there's more to Zee and Art than anyone realizes. When Art first meets Zee, he knows he's found someone special--someone magical. Zee may not be able to see that magic in herself, but Art is bound and determined to show it to her. What develops is a powerful connection between two people who are beautiful in all the ways they've been told are strange. As they explore their own complexities in gender, sexuality, and identity, they fall for the complexities they find in each other.

The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy is bold and eye-opening, an honest and personal look into the lives and problems and relationships of two teens who aren't too interested in how other people define them. But when it comes to their own relationship, their own connection, they struggle to define it in a way that makes sense with what both of them want.

Zee likes sports, likes CrossFit, likes hanging out with her best friend who's a guy. Because she isn't like other girls, because she doesn't wear dresses or make-up, most people around her assume she's a lesbian. But she isn't. Art is boisterous and flamboyant, he's chatty and kind and has an eye for nice clothes. Everyone assumes he's gay, that he's lying when he says he isn't. When Art meets Zee, he feels that he's finally found someone who understands, someone who's amazing. It's love at first sight for him. But Zee isn't so sure that she feels the same.

This is a very interesting, very curious, very frank and open book when it comes to teens questioning their sexuality and gender and experimenting. But this is just one story. No two teens are the same, in reality or in fiction. There's no one right way to figure out who you are, no right way to be, and this is Zee and Art figuring that out. This is a hard book to describe, it full of hard moments and gushing texts and exploration and teens having sex (because teens do and will have sex). It's honest and unapologetic and sometimes uncomfortable, but then again so is life. So is being a teen asking questions and figuring things out.

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

Friday, June 1, 2018

Me on How We Roll

Title: How We Roll
Author: Natasha Friend
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

For Quinn McAvoy, losing her hair the summer before eighth grade was the beginning of the end. Suddenly she was Pluto: a has-been planet, too dwarf-like and unimportant to hand with the other celestial bodies. But Quinn gets a second chance when her family moves across the country a week before her freshman year. No one in Gull's Head, Massachusetts, knows that Quinn has alopecia, the autoimmune disorder that took the hair she had never really thought about-until it was gone. No one knows that the wig she's wearing isn't her real hair. All Quinn wants is to blend in with the crowd. When the popular girls mistake her for one of their own, Quinn plays along, until a boy in a wheelchair who's been hurt even more than she has turns Quinn's carefully constructed world on its head.

How We Roll is a kind and open story about healing, about struggle, about illness and disorder and understanding. About perception and differences. About honesty and learning.

Quinn didn't have much hope but she does now, after moving across the country from Colorado to Massachusetts. Here's a fresh start for her family, for her brother and his new school that will help them all learn to better understand his autism and his needs, and for Quinn. No one at her new school will know what happened to her. How she lost all her hair and wears a wig when she goes out. How kids at her old school made fund of her, called her names, and how her old friends slowly ditched her. Here in Gull's Head, she's made new friends, she's fitting in when some of the popular freshmen girls start talking to her. But then she comes across Nick, moving through the school in a wheelchair, and she wonders what happened to him. Why he's so sad and so angry.

There's something interesting at play in this book, which is perception, how people see us versus how we want to be seen. Quinn wants to be seen as normal, as one of the girls, but she feels awkward and out of place when she's the only girl in school who wears a wig, who has to deal with it and the itch that races across her scalp. Nick wants to be normal, too. He wants his legs back. But Quinn is able to hide under her wigs. Nick can't, and so Quinn sees a deeper side to being out of place. But they're still teens, still kids with hopes and dreams and likes and dislikes and snarky moments. They're still learning, growing, and still fragile when someone stares. Sometimes friends will accept and sometimes friends will be jerks. Sometimes families are complicated. But we all keep moving forward in some way. I'd recommend this to younger YA readers, middle grade readers making the transition, as Quinn's voice came across as a little young for YA (which would make sense, her being a freshman in high school in the US would make her 13 or 14).

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