Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review – Full Colour Cromulence (By Crom! Book 2) by Rachel Kahn

Web_CoverTitle:  Full Colour Cromulence (By Crom! Book 2)

Author: Rachel Kahn

Rating: ★★★★★

Huge thank you to Rachel Kahn for this advance reader copy!

Sam’s Review:

So I have a confession to make: my spouse regularly games with Rachel Kahn so I always get the second hand fun that comes from the gaming sessions and what’s been going down on the Crom-ness. In any case, I love By Crom! and I love the idea that people can have a fictional spirit guide that is their voice of reason, understanding, and of course, inner strength. It’s hard not to love these comics as they deal with real world issues with a touch of Conan’s wise-wisdom of how our heroine should go about her day.

The art in these comics and beautiful and so expressive. I think what I love more is just how much I smile and laugh when I read these. There’s just so much honesty and that always seems to go a long way with me. The only thing that made me sad? Not enough Sam the dog. However, there is a Sam paper doll in the back of the book that I may have to print off, colour in and stick on my desk.

This second installment of By Crom! is worth every penny, and it’s worth supporting. If you want to buy it, you can grab it Big Cartel or check out all of Rachel’s comics here. And just to show you that I am not kidding about how awesome By Crom! is, have a strip to read because Rachel is awesauce.

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ARC Review – Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton

18371361Title:  Chasing the Milky Way

Author: Erin E. Moulton

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Lucy Peevy has a dream–to get out of the trailer park she lives in and become a famous scientist. And she’s already figured out how to do that: Build a robot that will win a cash prize at the BotBlock competition and save it for college. But when you’ve got a mama who doesn’t always take her meds, it’s not easy to achieve those goals. Especially when Lucy’s mama takes her, her baby sister Izzy, and their neighbor Cam away in her convertible, bound for parts unknown. But Lucy, Izzy and Cam are good at sticking together, and even better at solving problems. But not all problems have the best solutions, and Lucy and Izzy must face the one thing they’re scared of even more than Mama’s moods: living without her at all.

Huge thank you to Razorbill CA/Philomel for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Chasing the Milky Way may be one of the best stories I’ve read that deals with mental illness as a prime focus. The book follows Lucy, a budding scientist at the age of twelve, who has to grow up a little faster than the other kids because her Mama isn’t quite all there. Refusing to take her meds, and being… all out frustrating, Lucy questions what it means to dream, when her reality is something she is struggling to change where and now.

I loved reading about the relationship between Lucy, Mama and Grammie. Throughout the books you’d get these italicized bits that really looked deeper into how these three woman all co-existed, especially Grammie and Mama in the treatment and raising of Lucy. There’s so much emotion within these sections, especially the fighting and aggression. Lucy functions as an observer throughout the text, and she’s watching her Mama come a part at the seams. It’s heartbreaking and raw, and I think many of us understand and have been in this kind of situation — sometimes you just never know how you should respond.

I think what I equally loved about this book is the maturity aspect. This is a middle grade novel, but it’s one that feels light-years ahead in terms of the overall themes and concepts. Lucy is very intelligent and mature for her age, yet she responds in the way any twelve year old might when encountering mental illness — she attempts to rationalize it. But coming to terms with mental illness is never that simple, and I love how Lucy tries to find logic in her situation when there’s no easy way to respond to it. All her feelings are so real and that made the connection is.

And then there’s Mama. So frustrating and aggravating, and even hateful at times. There were moments where I should have hated her — hated the treatment of her daughter and mother, and yet I couldn’t. I just couldn’t hate this woman with good conscience because of her desperation — her need for help but her lack of acceptance and will to find it. There are so many people like this, and you always want to hope that they do get the help they rightfully need, but it’s not as simple as we think it is, and the book does an amazing job illustrating that point.

I was captured by Chasing the Milky Way from the very first page. Erin E. Moulton has crafted some wonderfully real characters who feel so human in how they respond to the world around them. Lucy is the kind of dreamer where you want all the good to happen to her, and the ending is so bitter sweet that when you get there, there’s almost this sigh of relief. This is one emotionally little book and one middle grade read that definitely should be on your radar.

Also Lucy wants to build robots. BEST CHILD EVER.

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

So River and I decided that June was a free-for-all month (well for River, as she’s stated she’s going to read what she feels like between now and when she moves, I’m waffling back and forth between a schedule and being like, to hell with it). But we decided to do a monthly no pressure feature called “Book Swap!” where we pick a book for each other that is in our backlogs and we go “READ IT!” at each other. At the end of the month, we’ll tell you how it went. This is a low pressure feature, so if we decided to DNF or bail, it’s totes allowed, no judgement and all that candy corn jazz. We even have special Goodreads shelves for crazy silly things like this and I love that River always plays along with my silly. Her shelf is totally “did-it-for-the-sammy” and mine for her is “river-made-me-do-it.” We have all the love for each other!

On with the book selections! So here’s what I selected for River…

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Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

So I was in love with The F-it List last year, so much so that I beg/screamed/flailed/demanded that River read it, and she did (because I am a brat). I read this book earlier in the year and it was a quick read with the same signature sarcastic humor that Halpern’s heroines have. Hopefully River enjoys it (if not, she can give me crap and be like SAMMERS YOU STINK!)

And River’s pick for me…

17623143Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

This should be no surprise as this was the Christmas gift I got from my co-blogger and I am a jerk who hasn’t read it yet. It’s also one of River’s favourite books from last year! Plus she said I will probably get completely sucked in and then read it in a day. Those are seriously my favourite kind of books. Also this seems to have pretty-ugly-people which, if you notice on this blog, is something River and I lovelovelove. We can’t help it, we like reading about shitty people doing shitty things. It’s our thing, what can I say?

Have you read any of these? Think they are good picks/bad picks/omg why aren’t you guys reading The Fault in Our Stars right now picks? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll let you know what WE think at the end of the month.

ARC Review – (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

18820442Title:  (Don’t You) Forget About Me

Author: Kate Karyus Quinn

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Welcome to Gardnerville. A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies. Except… There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them. Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

River’s Review (5 Stars)

Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this. Writing this honest review to say thank you!

Sometimes I love a book and I don’t know why. This is one of those times. I liked Quinn’s debut novel a whole lot, but I didn’t love it like I loved this. As one of my most anticipated 2014 reads, I was SO pleased that this novel didn’t let me down.

But I’m not sure that I can pin down just what made me love this so much.

It might have been a combination of the present day sections and the flashbacks. I love when the time line is played around with in a story. I loved that parts of the story were told to the missing sister. I loved the sister relationship. And I loved how everyone just accepted how weird the town was. How children having powers and going crazy was just a part of life. And how the novel didn’t just TELL us about it, but rather wove the madness and strangeness in.

I loved how subtle Foote was. The very quite romance that was just another strand woven into this strange web. I liked how dark and weird it was. And I love love loved how beautiful the writing was.

The blurb for this book does not do it justice.

So just go into this with no expectations and enjoy the strange craziness.

 

River & Sam’s Fave Books of May

Another month has ended and a new one has begun again. River and I have been eyeing so many books for the month of June that we want to read, and we’ve talked about it a few times — we’re pretty sure our ARC schedule is going to go out the win this month what with all the fantastic books that have recently released or are coming soon (Can I have Ruin and Rising yet?). Let’s take a look back though at our favourite reads for May.

River’s Pick:

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Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet

So, I half expected River to pick something like #scandal or Say What You Will and yet I feel like I shouldn’t be surprised by this choice. Pills and Starships has a synopsis that just sounds to crazy to be real in some cases, and I love that cover. It makes me think of the Fallout series (the video games that is) based on the premise alone, and that definitely makes me want to check it out. SO CRAZY.

Sam’s Pick:

13206828Cress by Marissa Meyer

I had an amazing reading month in May and I struggled to pick something because I handed out a few fives with Summer Days, Starry Nights and The Unbounded topping my list, but Cress wins for being an almost six hundred page novel that kept my interest the whole way through. I find when I read chunky books my focus isn’t always there, let’s face it, chunky books demand a lot of attention because there’s always so much going on, though it’s also the worst offender for hundreds of pages of nothing happening too. I loved Cress and the characters were just so wonderfully engaging (the new ones, I mean, the old ones are still awesome), and just, I love this world. I don’t want it to end, but next year  it’s going to.

So there you have it! What was your stand out read in May? Let us know in the comments!

River — Hiatus

Lately I haven’t felt like blogging. Well, I haven’t felt like book blogging. I’ve felt like writing, but the effort of having to think of something clever to post, or interesting to write about just… isn’t in me. And finding images or book covers to go with the post… it’s just a lot of work that I don’t feel like doing. I feel a lot of pressure to be good at blogging sometimes and lately I just… haven’t. Sam is amazing and keeps things running and I cannot thank her enough. I feel like she is really owning things over here.

The thing is… I just want to read. I don’t want to always have to post a review that is worthy of being posted. I do put them up on goodreads and submit them for review because I want to keep my flow of ARCs coming. But sometimes I just can’t be bothered.

With my move back to the USA coming up in less than two months (I return to the land of the free on July 24th) I feel like I am constantly having a stroke. There is just SO much to do. Not only do I have to figure out how to leave Japan and go to the USA, I have to figure out how to live in the USA again after having been gone for seven years. With a husband who has never lived in the USA. With a husband who is going to be going to one of the most difficult graduate schools in the world. In a tiny apartment in a new city. Guys, I’ve never actually lived in a big city in the USA before. Isn’t it stupid? I’ve lived in freaking TOKYO, one of the biggest cities IN THE WORLD and I’m worried about living in Boston.

I am SO excited. You have no idea how excited I am. But I am also ready for this to all just be DONE. I want to be finished selling and throwing away my furniture. I want to be done packing, I want to be done flying. I want to be in Boston, I want my husband to be signed up for classes and have a schedule. I want to know where the grocery store is. I want to have a job and an income. I want to have my new eye doctor. I want to be settled and not have to move FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

So yes, I am reading. Yes I am reviewing. But I’m going off my ARC schedule. I’m taking a break from blogging. I need to just get these next 3-4 months out of the way and then I can get back to enjoying my life and doing the things that I want to do, not only the things that I need to do.

And with that I will hand things over to Sam. Please be kind to her as she takes over for me yet again. And I promise that when I see her next I will pummel her with hugs and hand the books over gently as to not harm her.

I will leave you with this, http://safeaslife.wordpress.com/, something I made. I might randomly update, or I might update a lot. I wanted to write on here about moving and Boston, but sometimes I feel like this blog has shifted so much into the book blogging world that maybe it’s no longer a place where I can just babble about random stuff. So here’s a personal blog, do with that what you will.

Late to the Party ARC Review – Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

18667800Title:  Love and Other Foreign Words

Author: Erin McCahan

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Can anyone be truly herself–or truly in love–in a language that’s not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue–the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn’t always like, and the best friend who hasn’t said a word–at least not in a language Josie understands

Huge thank you to Razorbill CA/Dial Books for Young Readers for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Oh my goodness, this book. This book made me laugh I don’t know how many times outloud. I can’t remember the last time I read such a humorous contemporary novel that was both charming and thoughtful, but this book was a complete package.

Josie is the type of narrator is who insanely logical… about everything, and I think this is what made her so funny a lot of the time. No matter how much she tries to rationalize relationships, love, and even just social contact, it’s all done in such a quirky way. Josie’s voice is so easy to be drawn into because she’s such an oddball, but she’s my favourite kind because behaves as though there is a rational reason for everything.

This book has a romance in it, and one that is surprisingly sweet and a touch awkward. It’s the good kind of awkward, with it’s shy ‘omgIcan’tstoptalkingbutIdon’tknowwhattosay’ sorta way, and I loved that because when it comes to Joise and Stu, they were just so funny and interesting that they were easy to cheer for. Also how Josie tries to sabotage her sister’s marriage plans? She’s such a little brat, and yet I loved how Josie and Kate were able to find each other and repair their relationship, even if how they behaved and took revenge on each other was both perfect and bratty.

I adored Love and Other Foreign Words, and it was so great to read a book that knew when to be serious, but also knew when to be light-hearted and fun. Josie is not an easy protagonist to cheer for, but she’s someone who is wonderfully real and imperfect. McCahan gives us such a fun cast of characters and one strangely whimsical story that I think teens will simply love. Also, humor that is genuine and not forced? Count me in.