Monthly Archives: June 2014

SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – July Edition

Well, July is right around the corner, so it’s time to share with you all the next round of¬†SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! River and I have been craving dystopian and contemporary reads since it’s summer now, and we thought we’d give each other a bit of what each of us were craving.

Sam’s Pick for River:

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In the After by Demitria Lunetta

So River has a fear of zombies, and I’m the ass who is making her read a zombie book. This isn’t an ordinary zombie book though! It’s got a surprising amount of tension and emotion. Plus Amy is actually a fantastic protagonist and her relationship with Baby is really something special. Hopefully, River won’t have nightmares from this one after she reads and if she likes it will read In the End with me. ūüėÄ

River’s Pick for Sam:

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Golden by Jessi Kirby

I know on good authority that this is a favourite of River’s. River also knows how much I love a good contemporary novel. I’ve had a copy of Golden since it released last May, but I have yet to read it (although funny enough I read Kirby’s other two books). I’m pretty sure once I open this book I won’t be able to stop reading it! Cannot wait!

There you have it for this edition of SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! Look forward to our thoughts on these books at the end of the month!

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SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – June Edition Reviewed

So originally I titled this feature “Book Swap,” and then River came up with a better name purely by accident that I like more. So now this feature is called “SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS!” where in River and I select one book that we want each other to read and then we give you some “high level thoughts” so to speak on the selection we gave each other. I think River won this round, as wasn’t as fond of the book I picked for her as I was of the one she picked for me. So let’s get onto this, shall we?

Sam’s Pick for River:

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River’s Thoughts:¬†My co-blogger Sam made me read this for our new feature where we tell each other to sit down, shut up and READ THIS. (Yes, we love each other).

Now, last year I LOOOOOOOVED Halpern’s¬†The F-it List. Loved it. So I was really excited for this one and it just was a little flat for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve read a lot of books where the MC is depressed and tries to kill themselves, or get placed in therapy/ an institution and in those books the characters had really rich, deep, really, scary, sad problems. A few months ago I read an excellent book about a girl who cuts getting put into the hospital. Another amazing book about a depressed teen plotting her suicide and then following through with it blew me away earlier this month. So I guess in comparison this one just fell short. And Halpern’s sassy, witty writing wasn’t quite there yet with this book. So yeah, it was a good, fast read, but there are much better books out there dealing with issues that seemed a lot more real than the ones in this book. I’m not saying that Anna’s problems weren’t real, but they didn’t seem as serious, at least not serious enough for her to end up where she did.

River’s Pick for Sam:

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Sam’s Thoughts: So my co-blogger and I have a crazy love for pretty-ugly people. It’s just a thing that any time we read a contemporary novel that has pretty rich kids being shitty we get oddly excited and they end up being perfect page turners for us. I can’t entirely describe to you WHY this is, just know that it is a thing we love. River bought me Dangerous Girls for Christmas and I had been waiting for an opportune moment because she said once I started reading, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

… and boy was she right. Dangerous Girls is messed up, but it’s got all these fantastic twists and turns and it’s a book that only gives you small threads at a time. You spend a lot of the novel putting pieces together and Haas does any amazing job of making you believe Anna throughout the story, even though you know there’s something a bit off. There’s always a looming feeling like nothing seems or feels right in this book, but you keep turning the pages because you have to know if your own theories you’re deducing are, in fact, correct. It’s a fun ride and I completely recommend this to anyone who likes reading a novel that feels like a whirlwind. I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel Dangerous Boys, though I’m curious as to where Haas will go with the next book.

There you have it! Our first round of SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! has happened. Let us know if you want to read these books above or if you have read them, what you thought of them. Tune in because we’ll be sharing our July Picks for SDSURT (what a terrible acronym), as well as our fave books we read in June.

Sam’s Fave LGBT Reads

 

Pride-FlagWorld Pride is currently happening in the city of Toronto and it’s such an amazing and inspiring event. I thought I’d take some time to share with you all few of my favourite LGBT reads, since in the last few years this has become a booming market, especially in YA. With this amazing event currently under way, I thought I’d highlight five LGBT books that I absolutely adore and think you should check out.

18465591One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva (Published May 27th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

So I’ve actually had the pleasure of exchanging words with Michael Barakiva and he is an insanely talented man. This novel looks at Alek, a young¬†Armenian boy who at first seems confused as to his sexual orientation. It’s then that Alek meets Ethan and ends up having one of the most extraordinary summers of his life. This book has a ton of passion, and its infused with a variety of cultural and social issues to take light of. Alek’s voice is beautiful, honest and full of humor. This book does an amazing job of showing us how one can become connected to their sexual orientation and still be equally connected to their culture. Plus this book makes reference to Rufus Wainwright, and I love me some Rufus.

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Ask the Passengers by A.S King (Published October 23rd 2012 by Little, Brown BFYR)

Those who know me well know my undying love of A.S King. Her books have a way of sucking the reader into some of the most heartbreaking and honest situations ever to be see in Young Adult. I read¬†Ask the Passengers in one sitting, and it’s because¬†Astrid story is one of identify, understanding, and the woman she falls in love with creates a spiral of mess, love, catastrophe and honesty. What I love is Astrid’s desire to connect with others, even those she doesn’t know, because it’s in these quieter moments where she really begins to understand who she thinks she is, and who she wants to be. Seriously, if you’ve never read a book by A.S King, do it. Her books has these magical quality and it’s so easy to connect with her narrators because they only give bits and pieces of their puzzles to solve.

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Far From Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters (Published May 10th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, also known as Pretend You Love Me)

I have the biggest love-hate relationship with this book and that because it’s so damn heartbreaking. Mike is a trans-woman and is well known in her community for this. The acceptance in her town, while not entirely perfect, is getting there. Insert Xanadu: beautiful, fearless, complete trouble, and straight. Mike’s story is a whirlwind and Peters does this amazing job of giving you Mike’s emotional insecurities, because let’s face it: you can’t help who you fall in love with, and when you have all the feelings of love/hate/fear/etc screaming through your body, eventually something has to give. Mike’s story is beautiful, but that ending, I was so mad for her. I was, and that just goes to show you how well Julie Anne Peters can play with people’s emotions. A fantastic, but frustrating book as well.

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Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (Published May 10th 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf)

If you read YA, in particular GLBT YA, then you David Levithan. The man has ensured that every LGBT group has been represented in his works in some way and of all of them, Boy Meets Boy is still my favourite. Paul and Noah have one of the sweetest relationships to grace YA, and they are accompanied by one of my all time favourite fictional characters,¬†¬†Infinite Darlene. If you do not know who¬†Infinite Darlene is, you are missing out on someone who knows who they are and is proud to flaunt it. This book is a quick read, another one I read in a day. The story is just so wonderful that I wish more people would read it: it’s a classic! And while your at it, read Levithan’s other books, they are pretty great too.

6472451Ash by Malinda Lo (Published September 1st 2009 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

This was a book that took me by surprise. A lot of people who I’ve talked too for whatever reason didn’t seem to enjoy this book. I went in knowing what others had felt and I… loved this book. It was a very clever retelling of Cinderella that had a wonderful twist with Ash being a lesbian. Moreover, Ash and Kaisa’s romance is gorgeously written and ¬†they were so easy to root for throughout the story. This book also focuses on the transformation one makes when dealing with stages of grief I can’t recommend this book enough to people, it’s deep, it’s interesting, and so wonderfully intense. Love, love, love this one.

And there you have it! ¬†What are some of your favourite LGBT reads? I wish I could have listed all the ones I have read that I have enjoyed, but that would take forever. Still, I’m glad we have so much more LGBT literature out there for teens to explore because I know when I was growing up it was so much more scarce. Happy Pride Week, folks!

ARC Review – Ava and Pip by Carol Weston

21463702Title:  Ava and Pip

Author: Carol Weston

Rating: ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

Synopsis:¬†Meet outgoing Ava Wren, a fun fifth grader who tries not to lose patience with her shy big sister. When Pip’s 13th birthday party turns into a disaster, Ava gets a story idea for a library contest.¬†But uh-oh, Ava should never have written “Sting of the Queen Bee.” Can Ava and her new friend help Pip come out of her shell? And can Ava get out of the mess she has made?

Huge thank you to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I grabbed¬†Ava and Pip¬†on a whim because I absolutely fell in love with the cover. Turns out that this pretty cover wasn’t a fluke either! There’s a lot of charm to this novel told entirely through Avas journal entries. She wants to help her sister be social and more outgoing, but doesn’t entirely understand the sometimes consequences of being who you are in the process.

I think what I loved the most was how genuine the sisters relationship was written. They fight, make up, hug it out, and fight some more like sisters. Interestingly Pip has just as many flaws as her younger sister, and yet it’s interesting how the two characters grow and learn to accept that flaws are a part of who one is and ultimately, it’s part of the growing process.

Ava is interesting mostly because she can be malicious without understanding what’s entirely wrong with it. She’s not the nicest girl, but her position is one that any left out feeling girl would completely understand. We all want attention in different ways, and Ava feels that she is being neglected by her parents. One moment I loved is when Ava’s mother tells her “It’s not so much neglect as we have to worry about you less because you are so independent.” It’s funny how many times I’ve heard that in my own life, and when you’re born into a family with two kids, that always seems to be the case.

Ava and Pip is funny, charming, and completely something I think many children would easily relate to. Weston has a knack for writing characters who are both approachable but flawed, and that I can say is easily what I enjoyed the most about this book. This is a great contemporary middle grade read that I think even a picky reader could easily pick up and enjoy without fuss.

ARC Review – Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

18404113Title:  Complicit

Author: Stephanie Kuehn

Rating: ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

Synopsis:¬†Two years ago, fifteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know this one simple truth: she’s not the crazy one and never has been.

He is.

Huge thank you to Netgalley and¬†St. Martin’s Griffin for this ARC!

River’s Review¬†

Mannnnnnn, this book was good, but there were a few things that really stuck out that I didn’t like. For one… I REALLY wish the blurb didn’t spoil it for us. Like, because I knew that Jamie was crazy, I was just watching for it. Partially that was fun, but it really took the gut-punch out of the gut-punch.

So Jamie is this really smart, affluent kid who gets amazing grades, is a piano wiz, and speaks like a 35 year old lawyer. Not kidding. This was the first thing that really bothered me. Jamie just sounded WAAAAAAAAY older than a 15 year old. I know that he’s smart and has money, but he came from a BAD background. We learn that his mother was shot in front of him, that he used to speak with a lisp, pulled out his hair and eyebrows, couldn’t communicate with others… he basically was super traumatized and couldn’t function. Then he does this HUGE turn around and in turn his amazingly normal, functional, fun, beautiful sister starts to spiral and becomes ‘crazy’. She does a bunch of bad things and goes off to juvie where everywhere breathes a HUGE sigh of relief because she’s gone.

Enter his sister back into the picture. Jamie beings to slowly sink into old, bad habits. Gets phone calls from his sister, starts to lose time, starts to do things that he doesn’t realize he’s doing. He also swoons a girl who’s very sweet but, the romance didn’t really work that well for me. It was there, but I didn’t really feel it. And he just sounded SO OLD while talking about the girl. Like, part of me thought the twist was going to be that he really had multiple personalities and that the guy telling the story WAS one of his alters who was 35.

Anyways, the story moves along, the sister gives a huge reveal and then… well you’ll have to read the end for yourself!

So why 4 stars? Because despite the weird voice/spoiler/lame romance this story PULLED ME IN AND DIDN’T LET GO. I read it in one sitting (my husband was doing some computer thing that took HOURS and I had nothing else to do while I waited for him) and was glued to the page. The writing was wonderful, and I just liked it! I love creepy things like this.

 

ARC Review – On the Fence, by Kasie West

18298225Title:  On the Fence

Author: Kasie West

Rating: ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

Synopsis:¬†She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door‚Ķ

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she’s got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she’s falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

Huge thank you to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for this ARC.

Sam’s Review:¬†

Kasie West has magic powers. How, might you ask? She has the power to write these wonderfully real, if super fluffy books that just make feel so comfortable and okay with world. Her humor is charming, her characters are quirky and lovable, and most of all — she’s a great funk breaker.

Now, I may in a way have made¬†On the Fence¬†sound a bit misleading, but hear me out. Charlie is as imperfect as they come, forced to live without a female role model in a house of testosterone. She’s a tomboy who gets forced into accepting that she may have a girly-side. When the novel was about Charlie’s self-understanding, the book was a ton of fun to read and her humor, though not as dry as Caymen in¬†The Distance Between Us, is still sharp and spot on. Did I mention Caymen and Xander make a cameo? ’cause yeah, I may have squealed at that part.

If there’s one element Kasie West does well, it’s character interaction. She writes these wonderfully playful characters and their interactions are always engaging and entertaining. My favourite character in this story was definitely Gage — he’s a bit hopeless, a touch pervy, but you’d never deny he wouldn’t do anything for his little sister. Charlie’s family interactions are written so strongly, and while I won’t spoil the novel, the reveal about her mother’s death is so sad and touching that she’s easy to sympathize with.

That’s not to say Charlie can’t be annoying though. Part of this issue comes from her exterior — she feels like she’s often fighting the two sides of herself and is “on the fence” about who she truly is. A lot of this story does revolve around discussions through a fence, but the over-arching theme suggests that sometimes we’re afraid to take the larger jumps we need to in life, thus being on the fence about what we want to do versus what we need to do. It’s a solid message, and one that runs heavy in the text.

And then there’s Braden. While I loved this book, I still might be a bit more fond of the romance between Caymen and Xander over Charlie Braden. Braden has some understandable circumstances, but he can be a downright asshole when he wants to be, and West shows this more often than not. Yet, when you read more about his home life, he’s someone you come to understand, even if you don’t entirely agree with his behaviour (truthfully, I wanted to give him a smack or two, but thankfully he wises up).

On the Fence¬†is the book that broke me out of my reading funk and just hit all the right notes with such ease. It’s a fun, often humorous, a touch dark, and just overall a great comfort read. I feel like as long as Kasie West keeps writing contemporary, I’ll constantly be there front and centre to see what relationships she conjures up next.

 

Sad News About Strange Chemistry + Giveaway

17345314I’ve heard sad news from all over the blogosphere that Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot is officially no more as a publisher. What breaks my heart moreover is yesterday I posted a review for the second Soul Eater book by Eliza Crewe and none of you will likely be able to read it unless it gets saved or self-published.

My friend Katharine @¬†Ventureadlaxre¬†is hosting a giveaway where you can win copies of Laura Lam’s fantastic novels, Pantomime and its sequel Shadowplay. I decided I’m going to join her in this endeavour. These were my two favourite books published by Strange Chemistry and while I am sad about the publisher being no more, I want people to still read these books.15797050

So I am offering up to¬†one winner a paperback copy of both Cracked & Pantomime. This giveaway is open Internationally as long as the Book Depository ships to your country. Remember there’s plenty of SC authors out there so support them by buying eBooks or paperbacks of their work while they still exist at this time. Meda and Micah’s stories may be some of my favourites, but this was a fantastic publisher with some other great authors who were a part of it. Please support them in any way you can. If you run a giveaway, let me know and we can spread the support together!

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