Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Me on All Summer Long

Title: All Summer Long
Author/artist: Hope Larson
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

All Summer Long is a moment in time, a summer of loneliness and discovery. For Bina, it's rather lonely, having a summer apart from her best friend, but there has to be something to do beyond eating chips and watching TV all the time.

Bina's fun and energetic. She loves music and playing the guitar, hanging out with her best friend Austin, and she's all ready to spend another summer with him finding out how much fun they can have. Keeping track of it all in their Combined Summer Fun Index. But on the last day of school before the summer, Austin puts the brakes on their plans because he's off to soccer camp. And he thinks they need to grow up a little. They are thirteen, after all. Once Austin's gone, Bina's a little lost. What she supposed to do? Summer reading? Watch loads and loads of British teen dramas online? Leave the house? What follows for Bina is a summer of exploration, of meeting new people, of getting to know people better, of learning some hard lessons, and of continuing to love something that already brought her enjoyment.

The art style fits with the story. There's something casual and summery about it. I rather enjoyed the expressions Hope Larson gave the characters, the frowns and the grumbles on Bina's face, the sneer's on Charlie's. The way the lyrics of the songs Bina listens to float across the page. There's something about Larson's art the brings Bina's story to life.

This is a sweet coming of age story about a girl who loves music and is still figuring out the world, figuring out the people around her and what she wants from life. What she's interested in, what she thinks she'll continue to be interested in. Things will change, as they always do, but the people close by, the ones who've always been there, will continue to be there. And as Bina gets older, as she learns and practices, whole new worlds will open up to her. I would recommend this to those middle-grade graphic novel readers looking for more stories about growing up and getting older while also being light-hearted.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Me on Sky in the Deep

Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books (Macmillan imprint)

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago. Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family. She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother's friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she's spent her life hating.

Sky in the Deep is steeped in loyalty and faith, in determination and a desire to survive. Eelyn has trained her whole life to fight, to fight for her people and keep them alive. But life is complicated, people not so different than she thought, and what was once unthinkable will have to happen if Eelyn wants all whom she loves to survive.

Eelyn is a warrior, strong and head-strong. Determined. Trained since she was a child to fight back against her clan's ancient enemy, the Riki. She will fight, and one day, she will die with honour on the battlefield. Until the day she sees her dead brother, only he's not dead and he's fighting for the other side. Until she follows him, lost and confused, and is captured by the Riki. Forced to become a servant. Hating everyone around her, including her brother Iri. But some things are not what Eelyn expected, some things are different while others are far too similar. And in order to survive, Eelyn will have to fight with the Riki.

Books like this give you a glimpse of human nature, of something everyone does. Loyalty and belief take us so far, they can give us family and friends. A place to be. Something to live for, and for some, something to fight for. Perhaps to die for. But then comes the blind loyalty, then comes the refusal to see things a different way. In Eelyn's case, it's the need of the Aska and the Riki to come together in order to survive against a greater enemy, a common enemy. It's a battle between wanting, needing to survive and being unwilling to trust the other side. From outside the story the reader can see the choice that must be made, the choice that would mean survival for both sides, would mean an end to their war. But that's because they're the reader. They're not the Aska or the Riki, fighting year after year, unwilling to trust or come together. It's books like this that show us the stubborn, unwilling to listen side of being human, that show us sometimes we need to stop and listen, stop and consider, stop and work together against something that would destroy all of us. There's always time to stop and work together.

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Me on The Case for Jamie

Title: The Case for Jamie
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (HarperCollins imprint)

It's been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven't spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can't seem to fall for. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn't safe to be around. She knows her Watson can't forgive her. Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it's clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

The Case for Jamie is a layered mystery, much like the previous books, led by a wonderfully intelligent and deeply flawed young woman and a young man looking towards a future without her, no matter how much he misses her.

Jamie, on the surface, is doing well. At school, in his social life. He has a girlfriend who likes him, who wants to be with him. He has friends he spends time with. But he can't shake what happened a year ago. He can't forget, seeing August Moriarty shot dead in front him, and some other things, even though he wants to so desperately. Charlotte is on the hunt for Lucien Moriarty. The crimes he's committed, the actions and plots and plans he's taken against her. She's ready to make him pay, ready to do what it takes to find him. Until her investigating takes her back to someone she isn't sure she should be around. Someone she'd rather be apart from in order to keep them safe from her. But when there's a mystery afoot, it can't be Holmes without Watson.

Both are stripped bare in this book, this time when they haven't seen each other in a year. Jamie's struggling to appear normal on the surface, he's used this last year to try and forget what happened to him and he can't. Charlotte's spent the year with herself, following and hunting. Thinking in the quiet. Remembering moments in her past, the moments that taught her about the world and about herself, about her parents and her brother. How her family would never be what she wanted. How she's still broken in a number of ways and how she copes around it. They're not always the best when they're together but they're miserable when they're apart, and it'll never be over when it's Holmes and Watson, not really. There's always something else out there, plotting against them, which is why I was rather delighted to discover that there'll be a fourth book in the series.

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (374)

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

Title: Sanctuary
Author: Caryn Lix
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Alien meets Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds in this thrilling debut novel about prison-guard-in-training, Kenzie, who is taken hostage by the superpowered criminal teens of the Sanctuary space station—only to have to band together with them when the station is attacked by mysterious creatures.

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

Considering some recent favourite reads like Honor Among Thieves and Obsidio and Heart of Iron and Defy the Worlds (hmm, that's a good amount of sci-fi there), this sounds right up my alley. Complicated family issues, rebellions, superpowers, teens fighting back, ancient evil things from deep space. Definitely interested in reading this in the summer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Me on Suitors and Sabotage

Title: Suitors and Sabotage
Author: Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father's approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother. Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother's intended. But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of "accidents," it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger...

Suitors and Sabotage is a gentle tale of mystery and intrigue, of friendship and romance, of side-long glances and pondered-over thoughts and wondering and wondering without asking important questions in order to keep feelings from being hurt.

Imogene is bright and creative, well-skilled and well-versed in art. So much so, she's hoping to one day start an art school. But unfortunately for Imogene, her father has other plans for her. Like a possible engagement to a rather suitable young man. A young man Imogene isn't necessarily interested in. Ben is quick and charming, knowledgeable and interested enough in architecture to be an apprentice to a good architect. But skilled at the art of drawing? Not so much. Luckily enough, he's accompanied his older brother Ernest on a visit to a particular young woman's house, a young woman that Ernest is rather interested in on a personal level. Ben as well, after getting to know her, after discovering she can teach him to draw. But is that all there is between them? Interesting conversation and drawing lessons?

It's a rather sweet, easy-going book, much like the author's previous books. The charm of the English countryside and Regency-era manners and manor houses. The mistakes and misunderstandings that occur when thoughts are thought over and over again but rarely spoken aloud. Random mishaps that bring people together. Definitely a must-read for fans of the author and those looking for more sweet historical romance YA.

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