Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Me on These Rebel Waves

Title: These Rebel Waves
Author: Sara Raasch
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray's new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work. Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island's magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat's abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war. Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray's forbidden magic. When Ben's father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid's fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he's building his own pyre. As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are... and what they are willing to become for peace.

These Rebel Waves is plots and plans and secrets upon secrets. It's adventure and intrigue and survival. It's the past returning, revealing its true intention. It's about people who would see the infirm saved from sickness and an island free from an oppressive ruler. But their missions are never solved that easily.

Lu is a smart, battered, determined young woman. She's fighting hard to see Grace Loray stand on its own, free from Argrid, even if that fighting is done watching and listening to council meetings. It's still work to make sure the island will be free. But there are some things that bother her, make her wonder. Vex is a known stream raider, working illegal jobs and running around under the radar as much as he can. Until he gets caught. Until a demanding young woman walks up to his jail cell, ready to make a deal. Ben is thoughtful. Worried. The deaths of his uncle and cousin still ring true inside him, still make him question his father's plans. Especially when his father comes to him, asks him to research and utilize the magic plants of Grace Loray. Why, when he has named magic evil? Is he being set up, are his true feelings about magic being revealed so he too can burn, or does his father have a plan that would change everything?

This is a rather dense story of political intrigue, secret magic, hope, fear, and freedom. It's intriguing, but it's certainly a lot of plotting and planning, running from place to place in order to either get help or uncover the truth. Or, when it comes to the parts seen from Ben's point of view, it's a lot of hiding his true feelings and being afraid of ending up like his uncle and cousin before everything around him shifts, blasting away his expectations. I was certainly curious as to where Lu and Vex would go and what they would find out, what Ben would discover and what his father's true plans were. And I was intrigued by the magical plants, by there being certain plants on Grace Loray with magical properties and what this meant in terms of healing or battle or missions. I was also interested by the island of Grace Loray itself, the different parts of it and the different groups of people that call it home. Those who went there to make new lives, those who were brought there. Those who hide away, still calling themselves a certain name even though they've never been to the land their ancestors were from. It was interesting to me, thinking about the history of immigration on Grace Loray and some real life comparisons. It was a little long for me, but I'm still curious as to how the next book will play out, considering this is the first in a duology. After the reveals and the ending, I'll be keeping an eye out to see what happens next.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Me on Contagion

Title: Contagion
Author: Erin Bowman
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission. But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons… and dead bodies. As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

Contagion is eerie and mysterious, a story that takes place in the darkness of space on an isolated planet, where help is nowhere to be found and the shadows twitch. A place where secrets thrive. A place where something lurks down in the dark, waiting to get out.

Thea Sadik is an intern with promise, her whole future ahead of her. She's just looking for the right opportunity that will get her noticed by a big company. University, a career. A future away from her foster home. Nova Singh is a pilot looking to get her wings back, looking to prove herself in order to get a job travelling through the stars. For now, she's sort of stuck, but she's still piloting. Maybe after this evacuation and rescue mission, the company will hire her on permanently. Since the armed forces won't go anywhere near her. Unfortunately for Thea and Nova, the rescue isn't what they expected, and the site they arrive at isn't what they thought they'd find. Frozen-over samples, powered-down computers. Dead bodies. And a secret that's haunted for decades.

It's a rather intriguing story. It reads like an atmospheric sci-fi horror movie, something like Resident Evil or Pandorum or Alien. There's the story here, the rescue and all the death and the fight to survive, but I get the feeling there's a bigger story coming in the next book. One that will involve the company, the Union, and the future of humanity. It certainly kept me reading, certain events that unfolded and the idea of what will happen next. If you're a fan of quick reads, of sci-fi and creepy stories, of shadows and monsters and secrets, then you might want to give this a read.

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Me on Mia & Co #1

Title: Mia & Co #1 (Mia & Co #1)
Author: Vandya
Artist: Nicolas Hitori De
Release Date: April 19, 2017
Publisher: Europe Comics

Mia, Gauthier, Louka and Zouzou are inseparable. Like most teenagers, they'd much rather be playing video games or making music than doing their homework. Mia, the only girl in the group, doesn't really seem to click with the other girls in her class. But as they grow up, her tight-knit friendship group will become more and more complicated as girl-boy relationships start to get interesting…

Mia & Co #1 is an interesting slice of life kind of story, focusing on a teen girl and her group of friends as they begin those difficult high school and teenage years. Things used to be about hanging out, watching TV and playing video games, but not so much anymore.

Mia's happy for things to continue as they were. Hanging out with her friends, Gauthier, Louka, and Zouzou. Playing video games, spending time at the apartment where Wilfried and his grandfather live, and what new college students they're hosting. Listening to music. So what if Mia doesn't have any friends who are girls? So what if some of the girls in her school find her standoffish, purposely exclude her? Things are fine as they are. Until they change, bit by bit. Until crushes and dating enter the conversation. Until Mia's grades maybe aren't the best. Until they don't all share the same interests. But they're still friends.

I really enjoyed the art and the character design, it's different than both the North American comics and the Japanese manga I've read recently. I like the look of the thin line work on the characters and the backgrounds, the different buildings and cars, the broad smiles and the open grin on Mia's face. All the colours of the characters against all the beige of walls and buildings. And they all have their own style, the boys all different varieties of jeans and hoodies with Mia's leggings, hoodie, and sneakers. It's an art style that I enjoyed page after page.

This was easy-going and fun, exactly what I'd expected when I started reading it. I would definitely recommend this to fans of other slice of life and contemporary comics, stories like Horimiya and Friends with Boys.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from Europe Comics through NetGalley.)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Me on My Plain Jane

Title: My Plain Jane
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!) Or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Plain Jane is a rather creative and silly retelling of Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre, a re-imagining of the author and one of her most famous heroines made flesh and a fellow resident of Charlotte's boarding school. But, as this is Victorian England, gothic adventures and mysteries are afoot, and it isn't long until both girls are wrapped up in an epic ghost hunt.

Charlotte is watchful and observant, looking for bits and pieces she can put into her stories. Sure, the school she lives and studies at isn't the kindest or the warmest, but the man who was in charge of the school was recently murdered so things are looking up. Because he was the absolute worst. But who murdered him? Was it Jane Eyre, former student and current teacher at the school, someone Charlotte considers a good friend? Someone who wants more out of life, someone who wants to leave the school and be someone special and important? Whoever it was, with the appearance of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits in town, what follows is a curious ghost hunt and a rather bizarre series of events and circumstances.

I remember reading the first book by the three co-authors, finding the story about Lady Jane Grey and a royal family full of shapeshifters to be rather amusing and ridiculous in the way that over-the-top retellings can be. But I didn't enjoy this one as much, which is too bad. I just couldn't get past the idea of Jane Eyre being a real person, that Charlotte Brontë knew her and used her as inspiration for what would become one of her famous novels. Plus the secret society of ghost hunters. It was too much of a complete reworking of history that I couldn't get behind. That being said, I did like reading about Charlotte, how she was always writing stories, always thinking. Ready and willing to help, to get to the bottom of the mystery. Not willing to be left behind. I think this will appeal to bigger fans than I of the first book as well as fans of rather outrageous and unbelievable retellings.

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (385)

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

Title: Uncharted
Author: Erin Cashman
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Page Street Publishing

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.

This sounds interesting, like a combo of something mysterious and dangerous and something full of grief and wonder. It very very very loosely reminds me of this year's The Wicked Deep, so I'm curious as to where it will go.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Me on Royals

Title: Royals
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

Meet Daisy Winters. She's an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair, a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who's nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince's roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady... but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

Royals is a summer adventure full of secrets, near scandals, and Scotland. In it we have Daisy, a regular American teenager plucked from her normal life and sent to hobnob with Scottish royalty. But as much as Daisy is clueless as to protocol and procedure, they are in no way prepared for Daisy's quick wit and unwillingness to play a foolish game.

Daisy is so much snark and sass and attitude. She's quirky and smart, a little stubborn, and she isn't afraid to speak her mind. Even when it's a duchess who just insulted her sister. Even when it's possibly the Queen of Scotland. As sarcastic as Daisy is, it's obvious that, as much as she hates that her interests and plans were often pushed to the side when it came to her sister, she still cares about her. She wants Ellie to be happy. And so she agrees to a summer in Scotland being folded into the royal circle. But there are some strange characters in the circle, some boisterous friends and an over-the-top prince, and the paparazzi are just waiting to capture a new scandal.

This was just the book I needed to read right now. I found it funny and ridiculous, bold and silly, a whirlwind adventure over hills and across the society pages. It's all about family and secrets and gossip and tabloid news and people with public roles who still want something the resembles a private life. It's about a teenage girl who continues to be a teenage girl, who continues to give attitude and massive side-eye when she knows something's up. It's full of drama and sarcasm and weird families and I laughed out loud more than a few times. Knowing there's going to be another book about some of these characters, I can't wait to read it.

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