Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Me on A Darkly Beating Heart

Title: A Darkly Beating Heart
Author: Lindsay Smith
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: Running Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko's parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu's demons as well as her own.

A Darkly Beating Heart is rough and painful, a look at anger and betrayal, at the harm we do to ourselves and to others. At the things that push us, at the lives we leave behind. At the darkness that can stew and fester inside of ourselves.

Reiko is rage and fury in human form. Nothing matters anymore, nothing but being angry. Nothing but getting her revenge on those that hurt her. Especially if that means killing herself in a way that publicly hurts them. She can't create anymore, she feels nothing from her art, from her photographs and collages. It's not worth it. All she can do now if she wants to feel something in cut herself and look for a way to end it all.

Considering the author's note at the end, I got the feeling that she really wanted to be as accurate as possible when it came to showing modern day Japan and the time slip moments set in the 19th century. She wanted to be faithful to Japanese customs and culture, not just paste the setting over North American values. Not being Japanese or ever living in Japan, I can't speak on the accuracy, but in my own personal opinion the setting certainly wasn't North America. Reiko has American values because she's American. But the other characters? The Japanese characters? From my own perception of Japan, they seem accurate and realistic. But again, this is my opinion. Readers from Japan might feel differently in terms of the author's accuracy.

This is a very dark story with multiple references to self-harm, suicide, and causing harm to others, so this might not be the book for some readers. I certainly didn't expect them and was taken aback for a moment or two before continuing. This was certainly a look at anger and what it does, how it changes us. How destroying it is. And the time slip moments were interesting, the moments in historical Japan with Miyu, her father, and the incoming samurai. I would recommend this for those looking for a darker sort of book, one full of revenge, but to take care in case of being triggered when it comes to suicide and self-harm.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (229)

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. ;)

No books this week! Maybe they melted in all the rain. ;)

I headed over to the Vancouver Writers Fest this week because Erin Bow was in town! If you've not read any of Erin's books yet, like Plain Kate, Sorrow's Knot, The Scorpion Rules, and The Swan Riders, then get to a bookstore or library when you get the chance. For the last three (Plain Kate is more middle grade), these aren't like your regular YA books. These are so smart, so relevant. So unlike a number of post-apocalyptic/dystopian books. Maybe it's all the Canada. Something Erin mentioned during the event that impacted The Scorpion Rules are the reasons why the American and Canadian governments were initially founded. For America, it was life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For Canada, it's peace, order, and good government. Kind of explains a few things when it comes to America and Canada, doesn't it?

I've been wanting to find a place online for me to talk about anime, because I have thoughts and opinions like I do on books, but I wasn't sure where to do it. Right now, I think I'll do it on Tumblr, but at the moment I don't have any kind of schedule or plan. Maybe a once a week kind of essay post on a thought I had while watching one of the 12 shows I'm watching this season (12! So many! It's looking like a good season, too).

Reviews going up this week will feature A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith (Tuesday) and No Holding Back by Kate Evangelista (Friday). :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Me on Crooked Kingdom

Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Crooked Kingdom is a tense, heart-pounding race against time, against a city searching and demanding. It's a search for secrets and answers and against the heavy boots of men who would refuse to give up what they've bartered and cheated for. One must always be careful of who he cheats, who he comes across, because the game can change in the blink of an eye.

The Dregs are back. Kaz. Inej. Nina. Matthias. Jesper. Wylan. Each has their own defined personality, their own goals. Their own strong opinions and thoughts on the world, on those that attempt to rule over Ketterdam and make a profit. Their own faith and beliefs. But just because they've come together, just because they're working together, plotting together, doesn't mean they always get along. Some of the best moments occur when they're butting heads, when their personalities and motives clash against each other. Quite often, it's against Kaz.

This is a shocking, deadly, deceptive ending to a duology that began with a plan to pull off the most impossible of heists. This is a quick search for ideas, a last push towards vengeance and justice, towards making those who deal and swindle without care pay with their wallets and their pride. Perhaps with their lives. This is a last stand, an explosive conclusion. A must-read for fans of this world and its previous books, for readers looking for compelling and realistic characters.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Me on Iron Cast

Title: Iron Cast
Author: Destiny Soria
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

It's Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny's crowds, and by day they con Boston's elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron's hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

Iron Cast is full of mystery and intrigue, anchored by a pair of heroines loyal to each other.

Ada is a cautious young woman. A musician, a songsmith, she works at the Cast Iron in order to provide for her mother. She's kind, supportive, and now scared of what might come next. The asylum wasn't a kind place and she's not about to go back. Back to the screams. Back to the secrets in the basement. Corinne is a wordsmith, able to craft illusions through recitation. She's at the Cast Iron for a number of reasons. To keep her hemopath status hidden from her privileged family. To stick close to Ada, to help keep her safe. To live her dream life of being in the big city with few to answer to. She's somewhat brash, somewhat cunning, and somewhat stubborn. But Ada and Corinne are thick and thieves. They'll always be together.

I was first intrigued by the setting and the world-building of this book, the combination of the time period and the hemopaths. It's a point in time when extravagance was desired but could be cut short with the introduction of Prohibition, when underground clubs were filled with those looking for a chance to reveal themselves instead of hiding in the shadows. Add in the hemopaths and their illusion-crafting abilities, their weakness to iron in a somewhat industrial city, and I was hooked. I wanted to know how it would all play out.

This book is like a mixture of pre-Prohibition era America, the attraction and intrigue of hidden nightclubs, and the X-Men. It starts with a slow reveal of the world, of Ada and Corinne's situation, of their less than legal jobs and their desire to stay free from the authorities, and continues with a race to uncover all the secrets surrounding the Cast Iron. Why was someone shot? What happened to Johnny? Who's chasing them? They're soon desperate to stay alive, stay together. I'd recommend this for those looking for a solid female friendship in a story with historical and urban fantasy elements.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (301)

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

Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will... Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

Oooooo, pirates. I'm curious as to how this will play out. If the treasure map is true, where it will lead them. Do we think it'll be real treasure or more of a treasure metaphor? And how long until Alosa gets completely screwed over by Riden? Or by her father?