Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (340)

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

Title: This Mortal Coil
Author: Emily Suvada
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

I like the cover, the red dust explosion and the title's implications of mortality. I get the feeling that people are going to die in this book.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Me on The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

Title: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
Author: Lauren Karcz
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn't been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year. Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings. Despite Mercedes's creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the abandoned Red Mangrove Estate. At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn't ever before. But Mercedes can't take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can't live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is an exploration, a look at how far we go and the people we meet on journeys of self-discovery. It's a look at creativity, what drives us and what happens when we lose that drive, the passion and the joy and the sense of loss.

Mercedes is bright and creative, an artist to the core, but not right now. Inspiration has left her, leading to her being afraid that she'll never paint anything worthwhile again. Maybe it's because she has a lot weighing her down right now. Like how her abuela is in a coma in San Juan and the doctors aren't sure if she'll ever wake up. Like how she has no idea where she'll be going to college in the fall. Like how she's in love with her best friend Victoria but is scared to tell her, scared she'll ruin their friendship. Until her new neighbour takes her to the Estate. Until Mercedes finally feels free enough to paint.

So much of this book is about Mercedes figuring herself out, what she wants and how she sees the world. What she wants to express of herself in her art, how much of herself that she's willing to express, to show to other people. She keeps her affection secret from Victoria and it settles in her, like a hard lump in her chest, leaving her unable to express herself. It's the holding in of all these worries that blocks her, and only at the Estate, where anything is possible, does she feel free. All Mercedes has to do is take that impossibly hard first step and say out loud what she's feeling, but how can she when it's so hard, so impossible for her?

This book is honest and rough, nailing those end of high school uncertainties so well. What next? How can I tell someone the truth? What if I never paint again? What if she dies? What am I supposed to do? There's an honest vulnerability to Mercedes, her unsure feelings of the future and her hope that she can stagnate in the present. That she can be free to paint and creative and live at the Estate, even when a small part of her knows she can't. This is a book that's mysteriously magical, similar to AnnaMarie McLemore's books can be. If you're a fan of magical realism, books like McLemore's or Nova Ren Suma's, you might want to check this out.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (267)

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. ;)

Still more summer! It's such a difference from the winter with the constant snow and the spring with the rain that I'm still soaking it all in.

I've been walking to the library this week, which is nice when it's sunny and the library isn't that far away. But it's slightly annoying when a hold comes in, I wait a little to go get it, then I get home to a message that another hold has come in.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz (Tuesday) and Sovereign by April Daniels (Friday). :)
These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas (borrowed from the library)
Pyromantic by Lish McBride (borrowed from the library)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Me on Amid Stars and Darkness

Title: Amid Stars and Darkness
Author: Chani Lynn Feener
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Delaney's entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess's head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race. No pressure or anything. Factor in Trystan, the princess's terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Amid Stars and Darkness is full of danger, of secrets and lies. Caught up in intergalactic intrigue and assassination attempts, Delaney struggles to keep her wits about her and to not let anyone know who she really is.

Delaney is a victim to circumstance after happening across a stranger in a club and being a similar height and body shape. Because what happens next is Delaney is taken from Earth to an alien ship, somehow looking like and being treated like a runaway alien princess. She's annoyed, afraid, angry. She's a regular girl, just finished with high school. She's in no way ready or capable to deal with anything like this. I was impressed by her restraint. She doesn't hide the fact that she's furious that Olena put her in this position, that she's being forced to pretend to be Olena until they find her, that someone's trying to kill her. But she doesn't necessarily completely break down screaming. She's pissed while seeing that she has to go along with it so a massive war that could doom Earth won't break out.

There were some parts of this that were interesting, some moments with Delaney that showed she could be both angry and her situation and understanding of the seriousness, but for the most part it felt rather predictable. Considering the summary and the set up, the plot happened how I thought it would. Some characters stayed the same, consistently arrogant or foolish. Nothing really surprised me. I'd hoped for some more science fiction, some more exploration as opposed to aliens who mostly looked human and barely any exploration on the planet Delaney ends up on. In the end, this wasn't the book for me. That being said, I'm sure there are those who would enjoy this, those looking for more romance in their sci-fi.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (339)

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

Title: Last Star Burning
Author: Caitlin Sangster
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Me on The Last Magician

Title: The Last Magician
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she's there. And all of Esta's training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future. But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

The Last Magician is a story steeped in magic and mystery, set in a dangerous time surrounded by dangerous people.

Esta is quick with her hands, a girl taught to creep and steal. Using her ability to manipulate time, to travel through it, she's gotten good at thievery. She's quick, crafty, and staunchly loyal to those she considers family back in the 21st century. But this next job in 1902, hopefully her final job, will test her. Away from those who are familiar to her, in a different time, surrounded by those who would use her, Esta will have to be smart and cautious if she's going to succeed. And she's not the only one with a plan, with a hope to save all Mageus from the Brink.

There's a lot happening here, a lot of players working secretly in order to make sure their plans are the ones that come to fruition. It gives me the same feel as Libba Bray's The Diviners, the history and charm of early 1900's New York, the intrigue and the mystery, the sly attitudes and the power of the gangs. The rich and the poor, the hope for freedom and safety. The magical and those who would want it for themselves. But with so much going on the story dragged for me. In some ways it was interesting to see all the pieces, all the players as they plotted and planned, but in others it felt like too much. Too many moves and motives to keep track of, which is all on me. I hadn't expected it to be so dense, for it to be so involved. It was too long for my liking, but the mystery and the magic were intriguing. If you enjoyed The Diviners, you might also enjoy this.

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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (266)

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. ;)

More summer fun! Although I didn't really go out this past week or get much reading done because my brain was sore and it was so hot out. Maybe I'll try reading out in the sun.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (Tuesday) and Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Freemer (Friday). :)
Invictus by Ryan Graudin (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Me on Every Heart a Doorway

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: (Macmillan imprint)

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.

Every Heart a Doorway is an intriguing, impossible, improbable, fantastical tale. Like the aftermath of a child in a fairy tale tumbling down a rabbit hole to Wonderland. Because magical trips to fantasy lands must come to an end, even if the child wants to stay there. Dreams never last forever, and the real world is always there, waiting for the child to return.

The setting, the premise, the characters. I found all of it to be wondrously and eerily fantastic. The house itself a a home for those searching for one they may never find again. The vast variety of fantasy worlds unique and strange, full of their own rules and customs and ingrained biases. The characters, Nancy and Kade and Sumi, Jack and Jill, Eleanor. All had found magical places where they were able to be, where they could do what they'd always wanted, and then were sent back to the real world. They all still crave that sense of home, that place that exists outside the rules of what it is to be a non-magical human being who must follow human society's twisted rules.

This story is enchanting and eerie, dark and magical. Full of people who crave returning to a place where they feel like they belong and being unable to do so, their frustration intertwined with their wanting. It's surprising and heartfelt and cruel at times, wanting to keep childhood magic with you as you grow up. I'm rather intrigued to see what tale the next stories will tell.

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (338)

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

Title: The Speaker
Author: Traci Chee
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Having barely escaped the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. As Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard so long ago, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdom against kingdom, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance.

I'm so excited for this. This enchanting story about the power of words, about story and history, about fate and knowledge. About anger and betrayal. I was so surprised by the first book and I can't wait to read this next one.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (4)

Hi! I'm back with another one of these collective fun things posts! Only a few things this time, though.

First, Rock and Riot by Chelsey! I love this webcomic. The best way I can describe it is it's like if Grease had a huge diverse cast and every character was queer. It's about two gangs of teens, the girls of the Jaquettes and the boys of the Rollers, and their high school days. Their hijinks, their fights and squabbles. Their exploration of sexuality and gender. Their realization that they can be who they want, like who they want to like. Identify however they want to. The humourous moments mix so well with the comedic moments. Moments of two characters awkwardly flirting in loud voices and almost missing until someone clueless shows up looking for popcorn. It'll be ending soon, so you might want to start reading it now. Plus you can watch an animated version of the first chapter!

In case you didn't figure it out from last week's reviews, go check out the Horimiya manga! ;)

I've been speeding through a bunch of e-books I picked up through my local library, books I've been interested in but haven't felt like reading in order to review them. Because sometimes I want to be able to tune out when I read. Not to say that these haven't been good books, but they've either been books I don't usually review here or books where far smarter people have already posted their amazing opinions and anything I say would be inadequate. Like with Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali. An amazing, heart-breaking, honest book. Right now I'm making my way through Cindy Pon's Want. Considering the state of the environment, I could totally buy that something like this book could happen.

See you again in a couple of months with another of these! :) And add in the comments something you've been enjoying lately so I can check it out!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (265)

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. ;)

It's still summer! By which I mean the rain hasn't shown up and ruined it all. I'm still enjoying the sunshine, which is something I didn't think I'd say, considering I don't really like summer, but I think all the snow and rain of the winter and spring brought a lot of people down.

Reviews going up this week will feature something on Tuesday (I'm not sure yet!) and another favourite things post on Friday! :)
Want by Cindy Pon (e-book borrowed from the library)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Mehon (e-book borrowed from the library)