ARC Review – Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: Moxie

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This is a book I want in the hands of every young girl. I wish I had this book when I was growing up. Moxie is a book about girl power, girl friendship and the need to band together to fight injustice. Once again, Jennifer Mathieu has written a damned winner with this book, and if this doesn’t become mandatory reading for young feminists, I may cry.

Vivian is an amazing heroine who gets fed up with the sexism that exists in her school. Girls being told to go home and “make a sandwich” to trying to deny the existence of sexual assault, Viv can’t take it anymore. What does she do? She channels her inner Riot Grrl and creates “Moxie” a zine that focuses on the importance of banding together against injustice and to fight the rampant sexism that exists at East Rockport High. Vivian begins to start a hidden movement, with girls being able to find their voice.

HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK. I read this book in two full sittings and was completely glued the story. Mathieu does an amazing job building every action and consequence in this story. There is this fantastic build in the story that makes you want to get to the climax and then see how everything falls into place. This is a girl friendship book and that is the larger focus in this story, and it’s amazing because you see supportive girls, you see them protecting each other, wanting to do what is right. Even the romance with Seth in this book is done well. I love how he makes such a huge mistake and Viv doesn’t just cave to it — she wants him to learn and wants him to build his understanding. She calls him out, and we need more of that. Women calling men out for their crap.

Moxie is an amazing read, and easily a favourite. I loved the characters, the friendship and the power of feminism that exists in this story. I can only hope this gets turned into a film or at least ending up in the hands of girls who need this understanding, this pick me up, this reminder that we need to stick together. Thank you, Jennifer Mathieu for continuing to write books that challenge, intrigue — if you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

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ARC Review – Spinning by Tillie Walden

Title: Spinning

Author: Tillie Walden

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But over time, as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the figure skating team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. It all led to one question: What was the point?

Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I always love sports stories despite not enjoying playing sports. There’s something about watching a protagonist grow and transform through the use of sport. However, this is not entirely that story. This graphic memoir looks back on Tillie Walden’s relationship to figure skating, understanding her sexuality, and falling in love with art.

First off, I am a big fan of graphic memoirs. They are an interesting medium for telling personal stories, and Walden’s is one I think many readers can relate to, particular what it means to fall out of love with someone and in love with something (and someone else). You see throughout the course of the story that Walden’s passion for figure skating changes, that it doesn’t feel fulfilling. You also see what is keeping her there – her first love, a girl, whom she is over the moon for.

We learn in the story that Walden has known she was gay since she was quite young. We are told that she was afraid of coming out for so long, but because of how young she was it was easier to have girls come over for sleepovers and her parents think nothing of it. She talks about how living in Texas is was scary to be young and gay, especially when society pushes it’s agenda of marriage and kids. I felt for Walden, especially when she talked about her fears and how concerned she was if people found out she was gay. The book shows how she was bullied and tormented be it at school or at figure skating practice, and she never truly gets to feel satisfied in her own skin.

Spinning is a gentle story about growing up. Tillie Walden shares such a powerful narrative, and her artwork does an amazing job of showing the intense feeling of what happened in her life. I LOVED the artwork and chromatic colouring in this graphic memoir and I think it just adds such a beautiful layer to such an emotional story. I felt nothing but sympathy for Tillie, but I felt so proud towards the end when things finally came together.

#FrenzyPresents Fall ’17 Event!

I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to Harper Collins Canada’s head offices for a preview of their Fall ’17 YA titles. I always love going to the #FrenzyPresents events simply because the HCC staff are so genuinely passionate about the titles they are sharing with the bloggers. Seriously, the staff are treasures.

Here are the top three titles I am super jazzed about that are releasing very soon!

Kat and Meg Conquer the World
by Anna Priemaza (Release Date: November 7th 2017 by HarperTeen)

I’ve had my eye on Kat and Meg Conquer the World for awhile. I absolutely love friendship stories and equally if they involve fandom. There’s definitely some tough issues that exist in this novel such as ADHD, anxiety, and dealing with the online game-verse. I really can’t wait to let you guys know my thoughts on this one though!

Here We Are Now
by Jasmine Warga (Release Date: November 7th 2017 by Balzer + Bray)
It should be no surprise that I am beyond excited for a new Jasmine Warga book. My Heart & Other Black Holes was a book that resonated with me on a personal level, and Jasmine Warga sports some absolutely gorgeous prose. This book focuses on a messy family situation, music and attempting to make up for lost time. Sounds right up my alley.
Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)
by Jodi Meadows (Release Date: September 12th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books)
POC princess, dragons, diplomacy? I am here for all those things. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a fantasy novel that has ticked my fancy and I’m desperately looking for a new fantasy series to rekindle my love of the genre. This book has the potential to be exactly that. Definitely going to try and get my claws on this one when it releases and see if Jodi Meadows’ magic can once again work on me.
I am also excited for They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera and Top Ten by Katie Cotugno, but you’ll see reviews for those soon enough.
After the bookish discussion of Fall ’17 titles, we were then introduced to Angie Thomas, Becky Albertalli and Julie Murphy, and oh my heart were they wonderful to meet in person. Becky told us the infamous “boner story” regarding one of her visits to the Simon vs. The Homo-sapiens Agenda set, while Angie and Julie discuss both the challenges and pleasures of seeing their works come to life. After our Q&A we had the chance to actually talk to the authors on a more one and one basis, and it was a dream come true!
Here’s some photos I took at the event. Excuse my awful selfie skillz. I need to work on those!
Angie Thomas, Author of The Hate U Give. (I look waaaaaay too happy)
Becky Albertalli, Author of Simon Vs. The Homo-sapiens Agenda & The Upside of Unrequited (who is totally as sweet as she looks)
Julie Murphy, Author of two of my favourite novels, Side Effects May Vary and Ramona Blue. She is amazing at selfies, by the way. ❤
These book cookies were the most delicious thing ever and I could have eaten all of them. Not going to lie.
My haul from the event. (There is a WONDER WOMAN SCENTED CANDLE OMG)
Once again, thank you to Harper Collins Canada for hosting such a wonderful, inclusive event. I had an amazing experience and I hope to enjoy all these upcoming reads. My TBR is crying, but I am SO EXCITED.

Guest Post – The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle

If you’ve been around the Canadian middle grade and YA blog tour circuit, you’ve likely encountered Vikki VanSickle along your travels. Easily one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met in my book blogging travels, she’s become not only an amazing source for up and coming middle grade and teen titles, but she’s also a caring individual whom when I see her in public, I love spending time with. Vikki is creative, confident, caring and kind.

Hilariously, her latest book The Winnowing is none of those things. But I still love her and this book any ways. On this leg of The Winnowing blog tour, Vikki shares with us one of her key resources that helped in the process of writing The Winnowing.  This book is unlike anything I’ve seen from Vikki before, and wow is it a roller-coaster!


MYSTERIES OF THE UNEXPLAINED, A Guest Post from Vikki VanSickle

I have always loved a mystery. A dedicated Nancy Drew fan, I graduated from mysteries about lost lockets and broken clocks to UFOs and ancient prophecies. The Mysteries of the Unexplained is an encyclopedia of unsolved mysteries and unexplained phenomena compiled by Readers’ Digest in 1982 (my birth year! Coincidence or conspiracy?!) All the usual suspects (ghosts, aliens, Nessie, Bigfoot) are here, but I also learned about spontaneous human combustion, famous prophecies, lost civilizations, and much, much more.

The book was a flea market discovery that I spent hours reading and re-reading. Arranged in categories with tantalizing titles such as “Beyond the Walls of Time,” “Unearthly Fates” and “In the Realm of Miracles,” it inspired countless stories and fuelled a life-long interest in the bizarre and the otherworldly. When you’re a kid it feels like adults know and control everything. How intoxicating to realize there are great mysteries that may never be solved. It changes the power dynamic and frees you up to think big and dream even bigger.

I still have my original copy and I find myself consulting it if I get stuck in a logic snarl or need a little bit of inspiration. More often than not what ends up happening is I will get lost in these incredible stories and look up an hour later having done no writing, but stoking my imagination all the same.


About the Author

Vikki VanSickle is the author of the acclaimed Clarissa books, including Words that Start with B, Love Is a Four-Letter Word and Days that End in Y. Vikki’s most recent middle grade novel, Summer Days, Starry Nights, has been called “summer reading at its best” and was a finalist for the Red Maple Award. After obtaining an MA in Children’s Literature from UBC, Vikki’s career began in bookselling at The Flying Dragon Bookshop, which earned her the 2011 CBA Young Bookseller of the Year award. Currently Vikki balances writing with her duties as the Marketing and Publicity Manager for Young Readers at Penguin Canada. Vikki lives with a cat named Barb who would prefer not to have to share the house with a sasquatch. — Bio supplied by publisher.

ARC Review – Mighty Jack and the Goblin King (Mighty Jack #2) by Ben Hatke

Title: Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Author: Ben Hatke

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre.

When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive.

Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below.

But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

Huge thank you to First Second & Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Mighty Jack was one of my favourite graphic novels from last year. This is a series full of heart, compassion, humour and action. This book immediately picks up where the previous left off with Jack trying to save his autistic sister, Maddy, and coming to terms with the fact that Lily… Lily might be the love of his life!

Ben Hatke is such a talented artist and writer. I always find when I read one of his stories I get completely sucked in, needing to know every detail regardless of how big or small it is. I also love how he fleshes out his character, each one feeling so believable. I also love inMighty Jack how fearless and true-to-themselves both Jack and Lily are. Maddy is easily a favourite and I think she is written with such love and care. Mighty Jack also sports such vibrant and colourful the artwork. If there is one thing I love about Hatke’s art, it’s that his worlds and characters always look and feel well-realized.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King is such an action-packed adventure for readers of all ages. It’s accessible, adventurous, heart-warming and just pure fun. The ending of this installment was also epic, and I NEED that crossover to be real, because if it isn’t I feel like my heart is going to be toyed with.

Frankly, I just want more in this series. While the ending is very solid, I feel like I’d tune in no matter how many volumes Ben Hatke creates.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – August Reads

August was a slow month for this challenge as I only knocked out one book. I read A LOT in August, but clearly I need to focus on getting this challenge completed. I think I’ve got a sense of what I want to read for the rest of the year, but it definitely requires me to just get those books either from my work or check my own personal shelves. Hopefully in September I can get my crap together and work on this challenge some more!


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Completes Challenge #3: Read a book about books.

Thoughts: This book. This book was an emotional ride through someone else’s life. A.J Fikry’s life is transformed when a child is dropped off in the middle of his book store, this is after his rare Edgar Allen Poe book is stolen from the shop, and he has just shooed away the possible love of his life. This is a book for book lovers, as Fikry is the kind of snobbish bookseller who wants to share with the world his taste. But it becomes so much more than that — I found myself so invested in everything that happens in this story, and it’s wonderful and just, ugh, feelings.

ARC August Final Update

August flew by and I feel like I didn’t do the best job on this challenge. I read five items from the ten I selected which is all right. I feel like I could have done better. On the other side of it, I am happy I read as much as I did. This last update will be brief, and instead of offering thoughts and feelings, I am only going to do ratings.

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Thornhill by Pam Smy (Release Date: August 29th)
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Release Date: September 19th)
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (Release Date: December 26th)
  • Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Release Date: September 26th)
  • These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips (Release Date: August 1st)
  • Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt (Release Date: August 22nd)
  • That Inevitable Victoria Thing by E.K Johnston (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Release Date: October 10th)
  • Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (Release Date: October 3rd)

ARCs Read:

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne – ★★★  1/2

Other things I read this week:

 

Persona Q Vol 1 & 2  by So Tobuta – ★★★★ / ★★★

The Flash, Volume 3: Rogues Reloaded by Joshua Williamson et al. – ★★★★

Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 2 by Greg Rucka – ★★★★

Haikyu!!, Vol. 12: The Tournament Begins! by Haruichi Furudate – ★★★

Gotham Academy: Second Semester, Vol. 1: Welcome Back by Brenden Fletcher et al. – ★★★★

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher – ★★★

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay – ★★★★

Tally:

Number of ARCs on the list read: 6/10

Number of ARCs Read: 7

Number of Non-ARCs Read: 24