Friday, May 26, 2017

Me on Eliza and Her Monsters

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can't imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try. Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza's secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she's built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Eliza and Her Monsters is smart and serious, a look at creativity and fame and pressure, at art and fandom and community. At how we isolate ourselves and how we connect with other people.

Eliza is shy, creative, and totally okay with being a loner when she's at school. She's fine with it, because her friends are somewhere else. Easily reachable on the internet. She doesn't need the real world with her health-conscious parents pushing at her to do something else with her life or her sports-focused younger brothers. She knows what she's doing, what she'll keep doing after high school and college. She'll continue on with her webcomic Monstrous Sea, continue chatting with the giant mass of fans online who devour each and ever page. Fans who don't know that a high school student is the comic's creator, which is totally fine with Eliza. Anonymity is something she craves. But then she meets Wallace, then she finds out he's one of her comic's most popular fanfiction writers. Then she wonders if talking face-to-face with people isn't so bad. If there's more to life than Monstrous Sea.

A big part of this story is all about creativity and passion. Eliza came up with Monstrous Sea because she was inspired, because she had a story to tell. And she was happy. But then it blew up, then it became popular. Then it gained an audience of fans, superfans, and trolls alike. Then came the pressure and the expectation. It turned less into something Eliza did for fun and something more for other people so they wouldn't rage in the comments if she had a down week and the art wasn't as good or if she got busy and missed an update or two. The webcomic becomes her life, becomes everything, but that isn't healthy. She's more than an artist, than the person who created the universe of Monstrous Sea and its cast of characters. She struggles with finding the balance between work and play, between school and family and the comic. I think this book accurately covers what a lot of creative types and creators go through, the balance between life and working to pay the bills that many search for on a daily basis.

This book is serious and thoughtful, about the struggles of art and the strain it puts on artists. About the ways we isolate ourselves when we don't want to interact with certain parts of the world. About the ways we can connect to people halfway around the world, have meaningful connections and conversations with them over a shared interest. About how so many can love one idea, like a TV show or comic, because they found something moving and meaningful in it. About how online communities and interactions can be both supportive and a hindrance. About the realities of anxiety and panic, how keeping it bottled up inside isn't healthy. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the author's previous book, for those looking for an honest look at the intersection of art and fandom and mental health.

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (332)

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

Title: A Line in the Dark
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”

A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

New Malinda Lo? And it's a creepy sort of murder mystery? YES.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Me on House of Furies

Title: House of Furies
Author: Madeleine Roux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house's mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved. Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

House of Furies is haunting, eerie, and mysterious. It's a tale of fate and judgement, of good and evil and the unknown that lurks in the shadows.

Louisa is alone, homeless and poor. Relying on the kindness of strangers for pennies in order to keep on living. Huddling in the rain telling fortunes. A chance encounter with a strange old woman brings her to Coldthistle House, a boarding house in need of a maid, but soon Louisa learns that the house is no normal boarding house. That the owner is no normal owner, that he is no normal man. Know that she knows the truth, know that it is near impossible for her to leave, Louisa struggles with her new lot in life. She's torn between running from the house and staying in order to keep a new friend safe from the house's clutches. But how can she trust anyone when everyone has something to hide? How can she trust anyone when there's something just as dark and secretive in her own past?

Stories like this rely on atmosphere, on the setting to be suitably off-putting, on the tone to be mysterious and suggestive of the paranormal and the unnatural, and I do think it works here. The house and its nearby spring are haunting, those working at Coldthistle House aren't exactly human, and the shadows that drift the halls are more than meets the eye. It has the same sort of historical and eerie tone of the movie The Others and other haunting period dramas. I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this, as will fans of gothic-esque historical horror and tales of the paranormal.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (259)

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. ;)

Hello! It's finally been sunny for more than a single day in the week. It sort of feels like we're heading into summer, but I don't A) want to jinx it, or B) want it to be super hot and unbearable this summer.

I went out to VanCAF on Saturday, soaked up a bunch of indie comic and art fun and creativity that will hopefully last me for a few months. There are pictures of the comics I picked up over on Instagram. :)

Reviews going up this week will feature House of Furies by Madeleine Roux (Tuesday) and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Friday). :)
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Odd & True by Cat Winters (e-galley from Amulet Books through NetGalley)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (3)

Hi! These recap of favourite things posts seem to be popping up ever couple of months, so I think I'll keep on doing them. :)

Let's start with another webcomic rec. Flowerpot by leehama! This is the story of Ben, a college student with an unusual disease. He's super kind, super friendly, and super quiet, preferring to stay in the background and avoid attention. When Ben was a kid, he was patient zero for a disease called Fleurine when flowers appear and sprout from people's bodies. It wasn't so bad for Ben, his condition means he sprouts dandelions from his scalp, but it was different for others when flowers burst from their skin, from their ears and eyes. When petals would fill their lungs. This is a world where people fear flowers, where people avoid them and those with Fleurine because they don't want to be infected. Ben's happy living a quiet life, but an encounter with a photographer with a project and a plan starts to change Ben's way of thinking, of what it means to be a 'flowerpot.' This comic is super cute and fun, the artwork is bright and colourful, and it's rather diverse in terms of race and disability and illness, both visible and invisible. Here's a link to the start of the comic. :)

Speaking of comics, VanCAF! I love going to VanCAF, seeing what people are doing in terms of their own art and original characters as well as fan art. As someone who can be super visual, who likes comics and isn't that artistic on their own, I really enjoy it. It's the act of creating art, of telling a story through a medium other than straight prose. And it's a chance to support local artists as well. I've been looking forward to going for months and it's finally happening this weekend.

Because we're heading deeper into spring now (where I live) and summer is approaching, here's a quick shout-out to taking walks. I don't know what it is, but it turns out I like going for walks. Especially on my own when I can stick headphones is and listen to music and go for easy-going walks in the sunshine. This sort of started last year when Pokemon Go came out, but walks on their own are also fun. If there are parks or green spaces near you, check them out when it's nice out.

I'm behind on so much Netflix watching, I promise I'll get to you one day, season 2 of Sense 8. And I think I'm pretty much on board for the new Star Trek: Discovery show after seeing that trailer earlier this week. Oh, sci-fi. Kid me loved you so much.

Considering these posts keep happening, see you again with other list of fun things in July! :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (331)

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

Title: Tentacle & Wing
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

From Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong. Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious, she has kept her condition—complete with infrared vision—hidden. But a surprise test outs her, and Ada is shipped off to a quarantined school for kimes. 

 There Ada meets kids of many different shapes, stripes, and appendages, such as a girl with dragonfly wings and a seal-boy. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. But will someone put a stop to her efforts to uncover the truth?

Ooooo, intriguing-sounding middle grade. I sounds like a mash-up of The Girl Who Could Fly and Monstrous, about kids with differences and monsters and secrets. Considering it's written by Sarah Porter, I wonder how dark it'll be. Vassa in the Night was pretty dark, but it's also YA.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Me on Princess Princess Ever After

Title: Princess Princess Ever After
Author: Katie O'Neill
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Oni Press

When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They'll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means -- and how they can find it with each other.

Princess Princess Ever After is sweet and magical, a brand new fairy tale that draws from tradition and then spins it around on its head. It's a story about strength and weakness, about characters who don't fit into expected boxes and would rather do things their way.

Amira is a take charge kind of girl. With her sword and her trusted unicorn Celeste, she's ready to roam the land and search for people to help. Because that's what she's looking for. Something to do, people to assist. Action. Not what she left behind in her family's kingdom. Sadie is sweet and kind, a compassionate girl. She's all about listening to problems and helping people. Even though she's stuck up a tower. After Amira helps her down, Sadie's ready to travel, but her past creeps up on her. Her anxieties and insecurities creep up on her. And she'll have to face her fears if she wants to finally be free.

The artwork is bright and fun, it fills the page with lots of rounded corners and expressive faces on the characters. It's very clear whenever Amira is embarrassed or upset, with Sadie is laughing or crying. And both girls don't look like traditional princesses. Amira has brown skin, walks around in pants with a sword at her hip, and has the biggest fancy shoulder decorations on her military-style coat. And she has some kick-butt hair. Sadie is in a bright blue dress, she wears a crown in her blonde hair, and she's fat. She also has a chubby blue dragon at her side. They don't look like princesses, but they look like princesses.

There's so much humour here, so much fun being poked at traditional princes saving princesses tales. From flowers appearing at Amira's intro and Sadie calling her on it to an ogre smashing up a town because of his stifled creativity. I do wish there was more to the story, though. In some ways it feels short. I really hope kids read this and see a different side to fairy tales and to princesses in particular. That they can be strong, wielding swords and fighting evil. That they can be weak, afraid and alone. That they can be tall or short, thin or fat, black or white or any skin colour. That a princess can fall in love with another princess. I would recommend this to anyone, especially kids looking for new fairy tale stories, kids who love the no-nonsense attitude of Elizabeth in The Paper Bag Princess.

(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (258)

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. ;)

Hello! We're getting into longer spurts of sunshine these days, but the rain is still a thing. It makes yardwork tricky.

I've been struggling with sharing thoughts and ideas and opinions for the last little while. It's weird, wanting to talk about a bunch of stuff but being afraid that no one will find it interesting. *sigh* It's turned most of my confidence to garbage. It's also that I'd like to talk more about webcomics and manga and anime, but I don't know about doing it here.

Reviews going up this week will feature Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill (Tuesday) and a 3rd favourite things post going up on Friday. :)
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill (borrowed from library)
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (borrowed from library)
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Me on The Shadow Cipher

Title: The Shadow Cipher
Author: Laura Ruby
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Walden Pond Books (HarperCollins imprint)

It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction. Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

The Shadow Cipher is enchanting and mysterious, a delightfully layered puzzle steeped in history. The story of three kids and their mission to save their home, the story of a city full of secrets and the desire to uncover them, no matter what they may hide.

Tess and Theo are smart siblings with quirks and flaws, living in an apartment in a Morningstarr building with their teacher dad and cop mom. Tess is kind and empathetic while Theo is practical and stoic. They butt heads, they don't always agree, but in their own ways they care about what happens. Especially when they find out they're being kicked out by a developer who just bought the buiding. When they decide to try and save their home, neighbour and amazing artist Jaime falls in with them. Jaime's artistic and observant, living with his grandmother, wishing his father wasn't so far away. Little do they know how strange and complicated the Morningstarr's puzzle is and where it will take them.

One of the things I loved about this book is how layered it was. Yes, it's a book about secrets and mystery, about the Morningstarr twins and their puzzle, about their different inventions and their impact on this timeline's present day, but in the little moments it's about home. It's about what makes a home, how it's not necessarily a building but being with people close to you. Tess and Theo's family have lived in their building for decades. Jaime's grandmother has been fixing up the building for ages. No one wants to leave. But change never cares about what people want.

I think it's foolish to hide how much I enjoyed this. The puzzles and the clue-searching, the alternate history and unique technology. The diversity in the characters in terms of race and neurodiversity and financial background and family structure. The impossibility of so much in a world with already seemingly impossible machines. The little hints at altered pop culture, like multiple Wonder Woman and Storm superhero movies, like how it's called Starrbucks. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers who love puzzles and mystery, books like Chasing Vermeer and The 39 Clues series.

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (330)

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

Title: Speak Easy, Speak Love
Author: McKelle George
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.

I'm such a sucker for Much Ado About Nothing retellings. This sounds funny and lush with 1920's speakeasy charm and mob intrigue.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Me on The Traitor's Kiss

Title: The Traitor's Kiss
Author: Erin Beaty
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan imprint)

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they'd call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them. As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

The Traitor's Kiss is a story about a girl looking for her own place in a world were she doesn't want to act like other girls, a girl who ends up involved in mystery and intrigue, but in some ways this book doesn't work.

Sage is an intelligent young woman. A non-traditional young woman, considering the comments on her temper, her temperament, and her upbringing. She's wild and bold, opinionated. Given the chance to instead apprentice with the matchmaker instead of be married off is something she's welcome to do, but she's dismissive of almost everything and everyone around her. Like the work of the matchmaker, whose plots and plans are full of subtlety that Sage often misses. Like the young ladies they're escorting off to the brides, young ladies Sage considers to be flighty, foolish, and spoiled. It's not that she has to like them, she's welcome to not want to marry or spend her days bearing children, but the fact that she's rather quick to judge them spoiled makes her sound snobbish.

The book is told in other points of view. Some from the soldiers that Sage and the matchmaker come across, some from the main enemy. I won't name names, just in case I give something away. The point of view of the soldiers was different, they somewhat highlighted how the kingdom and its military were run. The soldiers come across as practical, determined, and focused, not necessarily interested in escorting a group of young women on their way to be married.

I do think this book had promise, there was something about it that felt different from other fantasy setting with no magic stories. There were moments of humour, of intrigue. Some more world-building would've been nice, I was sort of lost as to why matchmaking was so important in this kingdom. But when a group of antagonists was only described by their dark skin tone and how their tattoos were foreign, and the ways in which Sage was resentful towards the other girls, put me off. It felt somewhat similar to The Remnant Chronicles and The Winner's Trilogy, but again, there were moments were character descriptions were racist and characters were unnecessarily cruel.

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

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (257)

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! Not much rambling this week as not much happened plus I spent Friday all kinds of sick and sleepy. But I did make it out to the Raincoast Books meet-up on Saturday in order to hear about what fall and heading into winter books they're excited for.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty (Tuesday) and The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (Friday). :)
Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson (e-galley from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley)
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
The Calculus of Change by Jessie Hilb (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (ARC from Raincoast Books event)
The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller (ARC from Raincoast Books event)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Me on The One Memory of Flora Banks

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is an intriguing look at memory and perception, at a girl who has no short-term memory but can suddenly remember a kiss, at what makes her feel brave, but it missed the mark with me.

Flora is kind, sweet, and friendly, mostly because much of her personality is stuck at the age at which the amnesia first took over her memories. She's a ten-year-old in a seventeen-year-old's body. Because of her type of amnesia, she struggles to keep recent memories in her head. Her life is full of gaps and confusion, notes and post-its and messages scrawled on her arms in thick marker. But then she kisses Drake, her friend Paige's boyfriend, and hours later she can remember it. Days later, she can remember it. This new memory sets off a journey for Flora, away from her home and towards Drake, but there are certain things that some people have been keeping from her.

The premise of this book is interesting, I was drawn in by Flora and her lack of memories of the last seven years. At the idea that she could suddenly remember something. At the idea that something was being kept from her by someone close to her. Reading this isn't like other books, Flora's life happens in spurts and moments, full of repetition and reassurances. But it just didn't click with me, not completely. I felt both interested and not, curious about where Flora would go while waiting for something else to happen. While this didn't completely work out with me, I do think some will enjoy this, those who like contemporary stories with gentle intrigue and mystery about them, those who like lost and unreliable narrators.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Penguin Random House Canada.)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (329)

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

Title: The Curses
Author: Laure Eve
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books

From Goodreads:

Picking up the pieces after the chilling events of the previous year isn’t easy, but the Graces are determined to do it. Wolf is back after a mysterious disappearance, and everyone’s eager to return to normal. Except for Summer, the youngest Grace. Summer has a knack for discovering the truth—and something is troubling her. After a trail of clues leads her to what could be the key to both her family’s mysterious past and the secret of Wolf, she’s determined to vanquish yet another curse. But exposing secrets is a dangerous game, and it’s not one Summer can win alone.

At Summer’s behest, the coven comes back together, reluctantly drawing their erstwhile friend River back into the fold. But Wolf’s behavior becomes unpredictable even as Fenrin’s strength fades, and Summer must ask herself whether the friend she so loves is also planning her family’s ultimate, cursed demise.

This riveting sequel to The Graces is saturated with magic, the destructive cost of power, the
complications of family, and the nature of forgiveness.

I rather liked The Graces when I read it last year, it was different and complicated and I was never sure if the magic was real or not. I'm still not sure if it was real or not (but I kind of hope it is). Considering the description for this book, I think it might be, sort of, in some sense, but considering the first book, what more could happen that hasn't happened already??

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Me on Avenged

Title: Avenged
Author: Amy Tintera
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister Olivia from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory. But their fight has only begun. Olivia is determined to destroy everyone who acts against Ruina, but Em isn't as sure. Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir's betrothed in Lera, she's started to see another side to this war. And now that Cas has taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em's romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement. Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, Em faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she's the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.

Avenged is dangerous and complicated, the next step in saving the Ruined, in rebuilding their home. But other kingdoms have other plans, and Em still has to deal with a rather furious sister hellbent on claiming her revenge.

Em is sure that, with Olivia rescued, they'll be able to return to Ruina. That the Ruined will finally have a home again, that they won't be hunted across the land and driven away by those that fear their abilities. But Em is also sure that Olivia is furious and bloodthirsty, full of rage from her being imprisoned for the past year, that she won't rest until every human who stands against her is dead. Until every royal in Lera is dead. And that includes Cas. On the other side, Cas is busy worrying about what to do next now that he's been named king. Now that his cousin is pressing him to declare war on the Ruined. Now that his advisers are losing faith in him. Now that he's not sure if he even wants to be king when all he really wants is to be back with Em.

There's a lot that happens in this book, much more than I was expecting. Revenge and death, plots and plans and subterfuge, political deals and calls to war. Em worrying about how far Olivia will go in her quest for vengeance, in her desire make Lera pay for what they did to her. At the rate events are unfolding, at how many people are dying around them, I imagine the third book will be the final explosion where every party will come together. And who's to say who will still be alive at the end?

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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (256)

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! I've been going on a lot of walks lately, they're not so bad when it's nice out. ;) Time to think about things, to play Pokemon Go, to see the nice spring things like flowers and green leaves.

The downside is I'm now behind on my reading. *head-desk* Every time.

Reviews going up this week will feature Avenged by Amy Tintera (Tuesday) and The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (Friday). :)
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (e-galley from Amulet Books through NetGalley)
Sovereign by April Daniels (e-galley from Diversion Books through NetGalley)
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (e-book)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Me on Spill Zone

Title: Spill Zone
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Artist: Alex Puvilland
Colourist: Hilary Sycamore
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: FirstSecond (Macmillan imprint)

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. The Spill claimed Addison's parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn't spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone's twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death-or worse. When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, hell awaits-and it seems to be calling Addison's name.

Spill Zone is haunting and creepy, a look at the aftermath of a complicated and mysterious disaster. It's an introduction to the secret things that now exist in a space that used to be a city, an introduction to a girl who will do what she must.

Addison is gritty and tough, rather serious and determined. After the loss of their parents in the Spill, she becomes a kind of replacement parent to her sister, Lexa, who was also sort of in the Spill on that day but made it out. Knowing they need money, Addison becomes a sort of escape artist turned visual artist, riding her motorcycle into the Spill Zone in order to take photographs of what lives there now. The dead bodies and the hunting rats. The eerie floating sculptures. Given the chance at one last trip, one final drive so she'll never have to think about it again, Addison jumps at a mysterious offer, but is this job more than she's ready for?

The art adds depth to the story, another layer of darkness and mystery. The art style is rough, jagged, expressive. With this being a graphic novel, readers are able to see the Spill Zone, what Addison's city has become, and what it is is bizarre and impossible. Floating bodies and items, cars that have somehow melted into the roads. Monsters that don't exist in the real world. The curiousness that is Lexa's doll.

This is definitely the start of something eerie, something overwhelming. I can't help but wonder if something in the Spill Zone wants out, wants to explore. What the truth behind Lexa's doll Vespertine is. What the truth behind the Spill is. If anything else is going to come out of it, move beyond the town and into the still normal world. I'm interested to see where the story will go, what will happen next to Addison and the things that lurk in the Spill Zone.

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (328)

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

Title: The Glass Town Game
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Charlotte and Emily must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school, a school they might not return from. But on this Beastliest Day, the day Anne and Branwell walk their sisters to the train station, something incredible happens: the train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.

This is their Glass Town, exactly like they envisioned it…almost. They certainly never gave Napoleon a fire-breathing porcelain rooster instead of a horse. And their soldiers can die; wars are fought over the potion that raises the dead, a potion Anne would very much like to bring back to England. But when Anne and Branwell are kidnapped, Charlotte and Emily must find a way to save their siblings. Can two English girls stand against Napoleon’s armies, especially now that he has a new weapon from the real world? And if he escapes Glass Town, will England ever be safe again?

Together the Brontë siblings must battle with a world of their own creation if they are to make it back to England alive in this magical celebration of authorship, creativity, and classic literature from award-winning author Catherynne M. Valente.

A young Brontës story? With magic and impossibility? By Catherynne M. Valente? SOLD.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Me on Dreamfall

Title: Dreamfall
Author: Amy Plum
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn't get any worse... but she was terribly wrong. Soon after the experiment begins, there's a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they'd rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can't find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

Dreamfall is tense, dangerous, as chilling and atmospheric as a horror movie.

Cata is hopeful that this procedure will help with her insomnia and night terrors, that she'll be able to sleep without seeing the monsters that haunt her, the ones that come creeping in from her past. Fergus is hoping the treatment will help his narcolepsy, that he'll finally be able to live a life away from his parents, without the risk of falling asleep and hurting himself or others. After the malfunction in the lab, the patients are somehow thrown together, sharing the same dreamscape, and have to rely on each other as they're thrown from one nightmare to another. Fortunately for them, they have Jaime, a premed student observing the experiment, reviewing their files and making notes as the experiment goes awry. But with Cata, Fergus, and the other patients seemingly in comas, how is Jaime supposed to help them?

It's been a little while since I've read a book like this, dripping with horror, with fears and nightmares that could literally kill you. It's not that the overall idea is anything new, it's what the author has added that makes it different. The fact that all of them suffer from insomnia, that they cannot sleep and are suddenly trapped in a dreamlike state. For those who've been looking for YA horror in the vein of Simon Holt's The Devouring, eerie and overwhelming, you might want to give this a read.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (255)

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. ;)

Hello! We've reached the part of spring when it rains for most of the week and then it's sunny for a day or two so you have to cram all the lawn mowing and weeding into a day.

I think I need to make a list of all the comic series I've been meaning to read and head off to the library to see if they have any. I definitely notice that I read faster when I alternate between prose and comics.

Reviews going up this week will feature Dreamfall by Amy Plum (Tuesday) and Avenged by Amy Tintera (Friday). :)
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (borrowed from the library)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Me on The Gauntlet

Title: The Gauntlet
Author: Karuna Riazi
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Salaam Reads (Simon & Schuster imprint)

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik's cube—they know it's up to them to defeat the game's diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how. Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game... or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

The Gauntlet is thrilling and adventurous, a tale of riddles, of tricks and trials. Of secrets and smarts and the strength to keep on going when everything's working against you.

Farah is smart and perceptive. Once inside The Gauntlet, once following the path set out before her, she understands the seriousness of the situation. That she and her friends must complete the puzzles if they want to make it out alive. But that doesn't mean she's not worried about Ahmed, her younger brother who raced off into the game ahead of her, wandering through a world they've never been to. Who knows who he might come across, what danger he might end up in? As Farah worries, she and her friends are racing against time, solving the puzzles of the Architect.

There are wonderful descriptions in this book. From the scenery, the buildings that make up the souk and the palaces, the invasiveness of the sand in everyone's shoes, the mad rush of the wind of a sandstorm, to the smells and the flavours that invade the senses. Ginger and mint, warm food like stewed vegetables and lamb, sweets coated in honey and nuts.

The tone of this book, the voice, has gorgeous charm. It's enchanting and bright in a world of impossibility and danger. There's Farah's initial worry over her new school, suddenly being the only girl who wears the hijab in her class, then her worry about Ahmed, that they can't solve puzzles and save him at the same time, but her determination doesn't waver. As worried as she is, she knows she has to do it. That she can do it. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers who love magic and games and the impossible.

(I received a finished copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (327)

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

Title: Black Bird of the Gallows
Author: Meg Kassel
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

From Goodreads:

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

There are so many things I'm a big sucker for. Danger and harbingers and covers with gorgeous birds and the supernatural and good and evil. I hope this'll be good.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Me on Devil and the Bluebird

Title: Devil and the Bluebird
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Release Date: May 1, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it's her runaway sister's soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue's voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother's guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places.

Devil and the Bluebird is all about the journey, what we're looking for and where we end up. Who we meet along the way, the good and the bad, and the pieces of ourselves that we discover.

Blue is intelligent, compassionate, and lonely. Ever since her mother died, ever since her sister left. Something's been missing in her life, something that was there when they were together. And now, afraid something has happened to Cass, she heads off to the crossroads in order to make a deal with the devil, following the folktale her mother told her. And so her journey begins, heading west from her home in Maine in order to find her sister, her guitar on her back and her boots leading the way. But what Blue doesn't expect are the people she meets along the way, the hard lessons they teach her, and the ways the devil alters their deal.

I think this book says a lot about faith (both the religious and non-religious kind), about journeys and destiny. About the people you come across in life, the good and the bad, the kindness and the criminals, and that you should trust that nugget in your chest that represents your instincts. There's a curious sort of charm that runs through this book, brought on by Blue's introspection, her perceptions of the people she meets, and the music that goes along with it. I would recommend this to contemporary YA fans, to those looking for books all about the journey and how the destination you're looking for might not be the one you end up at.

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (254)

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 there! It's spring, with all its flowers and pollen and grass-cutting and scratches from rose thorns. I'm not looking forward to sinus headaches.

Reviews going up this week will feature Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black (Tuesday) and The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (Friday).
Now I Rise by Kiersten White (e-galley from Random House Children's Books through NetGalley)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Me on The Edge of the Abyss

Title: The Edge of the Abyss
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Flux

Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she'd been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it's not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It's being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart. But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect? Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

The Edge of the Abyss is full of danger and tension, a mission of survival. A story of pirates, of an ocean that now feels like home, and the monsters that lurk beneath the waves.

Cas is full of conflict. Now on the pirate ship Minnow, under the rule of Santa Elena, she's hard at work proving herself. Proving that she has skills beyond those of a Reckoner trainer, because that's not what's needed anymore. For his own safety, Cas left Bao on his own, making sure he'd never be used as a pirate's weapon again. But is it really the life she wants to lead now? She's also struggling with her feelings for Swift, the rough and tumble pirate girl who's saved her life but also ruined it, poisoning the Reckoner Cas had been with for most of her life. She's not sure what to do, how to act, except follow Santa Elena's commands so she can stay alive.

I love how this book was made up of so many morally grey areas. Cas has to confront a number of things, especially pirate things, that she doesn't quite agree with. Like the raising of Reckoners by pirates. Like the underhandedness and thievery of pirates. Like the doublespeak that Santa Elena deals in when teaching her trainees. Like her feelings for Cas that don't always weigh as much as her fury at knowing Cas was behind the events that first brought her to the Minnow. But now comes the biggest conflict of all for Cas. Either stand with the pirates and destroy the illegal Reckoners that broke free and grew up feral in the NeoPacific, or stand by as they tear every single ship apart. And Cas now has to make those decisions.

This duology is dark and deadly and complicated. It's tense and brutal, all about survival and morals. All about a girl trying to stay alive and the girl she has feelings for. But what are those feelings? Love? Hatred? A combination of the two? I was satisfied both by the ending and that it was left slightly open. The world-building here, a mixture of futuristic and impossible sea monsters and piracy, has left a world that feels believable, and so of course Cas's story would continue on. But I feel like I was left with a good ending here. I would definitely recommend this duology if you're looking for something different with a slight Pacific Rim vibe to it.

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (326)

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

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

More magical, complicated books by Anna-Marie McLemore! I rather like the way she weaves together stories, the piecing together of magical realism and characters and mystery and romance.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Me on Duels and Deception

Title: Duels and Deception
Author: Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan. Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants.

Duels and Deception is a sweet, easy-going mystery full of colourful characters and nefarious plots. Thankfully, a clever heroine and a trusting hero are on the case.

Lydia is an intelligent young woman. She's not one to be taken advantage of. Raised to be a practical free-thinker by her late father, she knows what to do in terms what to plant on the family estate, which is the apples they've previously grown. Not the ridiculous pineapples her money-grubbing uncle suggests. But he treats her like a child. So she writes to her solicitor to come help, who sends Mr. Robert Newton to assist her. Robert is smart and compassionate, he understands from the start that Lydia is educated and knowledgeable, understands that her uncle is only looking out for his own dwindling wealth. And so Robert agrees to help Lydia, but then becomes kidnapped along with her, and the two are forced to piece apart a number of mysterious situations.

I found this to be a light and easy read with a rather layered mystery. There are a number of events happening to and around Lydia and Robert, kidnappings and duels and villainous thievery. Combined with both the attitudes and the wit of the Regency England setting, this made for a fun read. Maybe a little slow in the middle, but still entertaining. I'd recommend this to those who enjoyed the author's previous book.

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (253)

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. ;)

Hello! It's been raining again, but I think the weather'll be picking up soon. Maybe?

I've been trying to fit in some library reading around my review reading. Sometimes it works. There are so many series I want to catch up on, mostly comic and manga series, but it takes a while for the library to pick up those. Of course, the local branch has been closed for a few weeks. Maybe once it's open again I'll go for a big browse. Reading comics on a computer screen doesn't always work with my brain, it doesn't always translate the way reading a physical book does.

Reviews going up this week will feature Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey (Tuesday) and The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (Friday). :)
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (finished copy from Simon & Schuster Canada)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (purchased)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Me on The Upside of Unrequited

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can't stomach the idea of rejection. So she's careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie's orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly's cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

The Upside of Unrequited is clever, current, and romantic. It's all about family, about relationships and crushes, about perceptions and observations. About wanting something when you feel like society keeps telling you you can't have it. And being willing to take the risk.

Molly is smart and creative, observant and opinionated. Her inner voice asks important questions, wonders about important things. Like how society screws over fat girls, classifying them as great friend-material but not romance-material. She wonders about the things teen girls wonder about, like dating and sex, like is it okay to like certain guys. She's glad she has her twin sister Cassie, who's bold where Molly is quiet. But Molly's not sure how to feel when Cassie's suddenly serious about a girl, when they become girlfriends. When Cassie doesn't share everything like they always did before.

I love how this book deals with rejection and unrequited feelings, the crushes that Molly has had on the boys she's met. Crushes are seemingly simple, they're a twinge in the stomach, a flutter. They make you nervous and awkward. And that's it. You don't act on them if you're Molly, partly because she has no idea how to flit or follow up and partly because she doesn't want to be rejected. Being rejected hurts, especially if you're a fat girl who's been repeatedly told that no one will find you attractive until you lose weight. And so Molly's fine with having unrequited feelings, with having crush after crush. Until the wanting to be part of a couple is more than the wanting to not be rejected. Until the loneliness feels too heavy.

As I read this, I couldn't get over how current, relevant, and open this book felt, these characters felt. There's frank and honest talk about sexuality, attraction, anxiety, body imagery, religion. And I couldn't get over how familiar Molly felt. Because I remember being that girl in high school. A fat girl who had crushes but never boyfriends. Who felt out of place at parties. Who wanted to be part of something but always felt awkward about it. This book is charming and honest, blunt and hopeful. This is a must-read. Hands down.

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (325)

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

Title: The Suffering Tree
Author: Elle Cosimano
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

From Goodreads:

“It’s dark magic brings him back.”

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family—it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard. 

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events—including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin—that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth—and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel—she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the centuries-old curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried… at any cost.

From award-winning author Elle Cosimano comes a haunting, atmospheric thriller perfect to hand to readers of the Mara Dyer trilogy and Bone Gap.

This sounds rather eerie, a little like the Sleepy Hollow movie with the dead people but without the horror. I'm curious about the curse part and what sounds like some old family feuds and mysteries.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Me on Get It Together, Delilah!

Title: Get It Together, Delilah!
Author: Erin Gough
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn't have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it's working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del's managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell, or how one of Del's best friends won't stop guilt-tripping her, and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn't do something. But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can't stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door... And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

Get It Together, Delilah! is bright, smart, and complicated. It's the story of a teenage girl, all the trouble that falls into her lap, and what happens when she tries to handle it all on her own.

Del is caring, supportive, and super smart. She's a great friend and a caring daughter, knowing that after her mother's departure, her father really needs to get out and have a life. Things will be fine at home and at the café. What could go wrong? Almost everything. Because Del sees some of the problems as her fault, she takes charge. Takes it all on her shoulders. And even through all the seriousness and the worrying, she still finds time to stumble in front of her huge crush, the gorgeous dancer Rosa.

One thing this book does really well is highlight the different problems we get ourselves into, the different things we focus on and tumble into. There's a lot of tunnel vision going on here. Del's managing the café, her father's travelling, her mother's life without her father, Charlie's crush on his tutor. It's easy for readers to see characters and call them out on being selfish or foolish. Look at Del. Dropping out of school? Running a business on her own? Keeping everything a secret and not telling anyone that she needs help? Or Charlie. Possibly going to jail because you were crushing hard on a girl that probably didn't feel the same? Selfish. Stupid. But be in their shoes. Be Del, when your mother's gone and your father's off on an adventure, relying on you to keep the business going, and you can't tell your father because he needs to learn how to be an adult on his own. Be Charlie, young and following your hormones, wanting to profess your love, and running scared when it doesn't work out. And somehow finding something you're good at while you're hiding. It's easy to criticize, but it's just as easy to stop and see why they'd run, why they'd keep it secret. Sometimes we think we can handle our problems on our own, that no one needs to go sticking their noses into our business.

This book is a curious mixture of sweet and serious, of good times and complications. Maybe a little heavy on the serious and the complications. But I found it interesting. It's been a while since I read a contemporary YA set in Australia, the change in setting for me was fresh. Plus the fact that this book doesn't shy away from being honest about homophobia, about how it exists and how it sucks for those being discriminated, but it doesn't overwhelm the book. This book is about Del and her being a lesbian is only part of it. I would recommend this if you're looking for contemporary YA that's both serious and fun, a little like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

(I received a finished copy of this book to review from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (252)

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. ;)

Hello! The weather's finally sort of nice, but it's still sometimes raining. And the nice weather only means the return of garden work and lawn-mowing. *hides in a ball*

Ugh, it's April Fools Day. Because of the internet, this day has turned weirder and weirder. You're never really sure what to believe online on a good day, but today you're suspect of everything. Even going into yesterday I was suspect of everything I saw on Twitter.

Reviews going up this week will feature Get It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (Tuesday) and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Friday). :)
Horimiya Volume 4 (purchased)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Me on Defy the Stars

Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight. After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him. Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Defy the Stars is eye-opening and expansive, thrilling and dangerous. A race against time and through space, an exploration of the stars and of the soul.

Noemi is determined, focused. Single-minded. She has a mission, one shes willing to die for. Genesis has a plan to cripple Earth's incoming mech armies, at least for a time, but it has to be done. Genesis was right to separate from Earth, to claim its independence. They're the ones in the right, right? Her discovery of Abel is a surprise, but considering his programming and his information, she'll be able to use him in order to help Genesis survive. In order to keep so many from dying. But Abel isn't what she thought, and after seeing the universe outside of Genesis, Noemi isn't so sure about a lot of things she thought she knew.

Abel. It's hard to describe Abel. Yes, he's a mech, an Earth creation that's a combination of technology and organic material. He's programmed to follow orders, to take in information and extrapolate. To be practical and truthful. But he's got a personality. He feels things like pride and confusion. He sleeps. He dreams. And he wonders, as the only one like him, what he was created for. Was he only created to serve? Or is there no limit to what he can do?

This is a curious science fiction story that covers multitudes. Like faith, like belief in a high power or being, after all of their technological advancements and exploration across the galaxy. What is humanity? How is a soul created? Like empire and colonization, like immigration, how people of all races and background travel to different planets looking for the same things they've always looked for. Employment, companionship, entertainment. Safety. Hope. Freedom. I adored this book and I imagine that fans of the author's past books, especially of Lost Stars, will as well. Even with the wait for the next book.

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (324)

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

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I do wonder if this is how the world will be in about 500 years, if everyone will be plugged into some kind of virtual reality. if everyone will be plugged into something, if games will turn into life or death battle situations. If we'll become that numb.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Me on The Stone Heart

Title: The Stone Heart
Author/Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

Kaidu and Rat have only just recovered from the assassination attempt on the General of All Blades when more chaos breaks loose in the Nameless City: deep conflicts within the Dao nation are making it impossible to find a political solution for the disputed territory of the City itself. To complicate things further, Kaidu is fairly certain he's stumbled on a formula for the lost weapon of the mysterious founders of the City... But sharing it with the Dao military would be a complete betrayal of his friendship with Rat. Can Kai find the right solution before the Dao find themselves at war?

The Stone Heart is surrounded in secrets, the search for peace and the search to claim.

Kaidu and Rat are in a little bit of a lull. They helped rescue the General of All Blades from an assassination attempt, but that doesn't mean things are perfect. Kaidu still wonders about the training he and the other Dao children go through every day, how the Dao are trained to be soldiers. But he doesn't really agree. Rat is still skeptical of anyone who isn't part of the monastery that helped raise her after her parents were killed. Except Kaidu, he's earned her trust by saving her. But it makes her forget that he's Dao, that he's part of the people that came and conquered the city. The General of All Blades has promised a that a council be formed, that all cultures and groups that make up the Nameless City be given a chance to have a say in how the city is governed, but not everyone wants this to happen.

The artwork is rather expressive, Kaidu's contemplative face and Rat's urgency. The fight scenes, the running and the searching. The wide landscapes are detailed, highlighting the size of the city. So many people live there, and all will be impacted by certain expected and unexpected events.

I definitely think this book, like its predecesor, say a lot about home and place. What is your home? Where are you from? Is it the place you were born, or your people's place of origin? Especially for Kaidu, who doesn't think he'll ever understand that Dao should be warriors. Especially for Rat, whose parents were killed and was raised an orphan of the city. Especially for Erzi, the son of the General of All Blades, who is Dao but born in the Nameless City. He's always seen the city as his, his to rule. But is the city really his? Can anyone own a city like the Nameless City? Does it belong only to the people who built it, or to all those that call it home?

While this did explore a little more of the city, a little more of Kaidu and Rat, it felt more like a set up to a rather explosive and dangerous final book. It'll be interesting to see what will come next, what Kaidu and Rat will do in order to save the city.

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (251)

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! No books again this week! I would've gone to the library but it's closed for a couple of weeks while they fix up some parts. I think I need to catch up on some comics and manga that I've been waiting to come out. Comics always seem to lift me out of reading funks.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (Tuesday) and Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray (Friday). :)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Me on Strange the Dreamer

Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Strange the Dreamer is haunting, lingering. Lyrical and impossible. The journey of a lifetime for a dreamer such as Lazlo Strange, one he yearned for but never thought it would come true. Until it did.

Lazlo is lost and alone. Abandoned as an infant, raised in an abbey and a library, all he ever had was what he could dream. Something more than his life as an orphan. Something like his true name. But no one was there to tell it to him. And so he dreamed and he wondered, he wrote book after book of possibilities after reading book after book on the lost city called Weep. He knew something was there, something that stirred him up inside. but how would he ever find the chance to leave the library and find out the truth? He's curious and passionate, questioning, a definite romantic, but it leaves him blind. Who is Lazlo Strange?

The city called Weep is a curious place. Covered in shadow and secret, in theft, in missing memories and haunted dreams. What is the truth behind what happened two hundred years ago when the city went quiet? Or what happened fifteen years ago when a name was ripped from everyone's minds? This is a city of ghosts, ghosts of loved ones and ghosts of love. Of gods, their desires, and what grows from them.

Reading this was like watching someone put a puzzle together. Seeing the pieces laid out, separate and unconnected. Lazlo, Thyon Nero, the Godslayer. The city called Weep. The blue-skinned goddess. Seeing the pieces come together, reveal the secrets and the truths lost and forgotten. While reading this I couldn't shake these overwhelming feelings. Sorrow and despair. Fear. A deep-seated craving for the truth, for a place to be. At the beginning I didn't know what would happen, and now at the end I can't wait to wonder what will happen next. I'm certain that fans of Laini Taylor's previous books will devour this.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (323)

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

Title: The Carnelian Crow
Author: Colleen Gleason
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books

From Goodreads:

Ever since the debacle of the Chess Queen Enigma, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker have laid low, trying to settle back into their quiet lives as young ladies of London. But the Holmesian deductive abilities won't remain dormant for long, and when Mina receives a strange package from a winged, midnight visitor, she is catapulted into a new, dangerous adventure: the search for The Carnelian Crow.

Meanwhile, Evaline has received some very disturbing news--news that will change her life forever. Along with that unpleasant knowledge is the strange disappearance of her nemesis, the disreputable pickpocket Pix.

When it becomes clear the arch-villainess the Ankh has made her next move, it will take all of Mina's Holmesian ingenuity and Evaline's courage and determination to stop the criminal from executing her boldest and most dangerous plan yet!

Yesssss. This series is a curious one, a combination of mystery and steampunk and intelligent young women and bizarre magic. It's a series that I enjoy in a not-taking-it-too-seriously way, and I'm rather curious to see what is coming next for Mina and Evaline.