Monthly Archives: January 2015

River’s Musings

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Okay let’s give this a try. I find that a lot of the reason why I don’t post much is because I can’t post photos without a lot of work. My photos are all on my iPhone and by the time I’ve gotten them to my computer I’m just done. So here I am updating from my iPad.

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On Christmas Day my husband and I went for a walk around MIT’s campus. I never get tired of looking at it. I love it here. I do miss some things from Japan (food, the train, convenience stores, certain products that I used to get at the drug store that I can’t get here) but I’m really happy here.

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On our walk we found this outside one of the dorms. I took a few photos and this is by far one of the best photographs I’ve taken in my life.

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We rang in the new year with wine, the ball drop in Times Square (streaming live) and we shouted HAPPY NEW YEAR out the window. I even saw a few fireworks off in the distance. I started the year with my traditional re-read of THE RAVEN BOYS and set my reading goal to 100.

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I was so excited to have the chance to order a ton of books from Bookoutlet during their Boxing Day sale and finally got my books a few days ago. I am so excited to read them!

Lately I have been feeling a bit discouraged about blogging and reviewing. I feel that I’m at the point where I can reach out to publishers to make connections and I really, really want to review physical ARCs. I got my Kindle while I was in Japan for many reasons, one of them being that it was incredibly convenient for me. I also was able to review eARCs because of it. But now that my lifestyle has changed I actually am not able to use my kindle as much as I had in the past and that means that a lot of my eARCs are going unread and I feel like I’m REALLY missing out. So I started to reach out to publishers and I’ve gotten both positive and negative responses. (Negative mainly being ignored). But as I see books that I was crossing my fingers to get popping up in other people’s hands and my mailbox remaining empty I’m starting to feel discouraged. Do I keep trying? Do I give up and just let reviewing fall to the wayside? I’m not sure what to do. But I don’t want to give up this blog and I want to work harder at it and make it better. I want to be involved with the book blogging community.

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Ten Comics & Graphic Novels You Should Check Out

I find I binge on comics and graphic novels. I can’t help it! I have always been one of those people who loves images and words as a combination. Graphic novels are my comfort food, something I devour the moment I start reading. Today, I thought I’d share ten of my recent favourites. I’m going to exclude capes (Batman, etc) and focus on them in another blog post, at another time. Shall we get started?

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El Deafo by Cece Bell

This is one of the most honest portrayals of living with disability that I’ve ever read about. Cece’s story is thoughtful and incredibly genuine from start to finish. I love the way she wishes to become a superhero (like Batman!), but I equally adored reading about how she overcame so many obstacles! It’s such a charming read, and one that I feel deserves a bit more attention because subject matters, like disability often go completely overlooked and are often not written in such an uplifting or humorous manner.

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Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

I have gushed on the blog previously about this book, but I feel this gushing needs to be reiterated. Through the Woods is an uncomfortable, dark, and unnerving read. Each story within this collection is fantastically plotted, creepy to the bone, and will leave chills down your spine. The artwork is absolutely amazing, if very graphic, and definitely not for those who make get squicked easily. That being said, I loved how haunting each story is, and I plan to reread it again come Halloween, just so I can scare myself silly.

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Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

While Brian K. Vaughan has tons of amazing works (The Runaways, Y: The Last Man, so so good), Saga somewhat beats out all his other works for me. If you haven’t read Saga, I question what rock you’ve been hiding under. This series has amazing characters, a fantastic plot, and some of the most stunning artwork I’ve seen in comics. This world is scary, yet you gotta love a star-crossed lover’s storyline that also in turn makes fun of the classics (In your face, Romeo & Juliet!). Here’s the other thing: I love ALL the characters. Very seldom when I read books or graphic novels can I say that I love the whole cast, but Saga makes me love the cast so damn hard.

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Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I have read all of Raina Telgemeier’s work in the span of a year, but of all the books she’s done, Smile seems to be the story I look back at the fondest. There’s something about getting braces for the first time that I think a lot of us can relate to, and all the stigmas that we dream up in having them. Smile is a very honest portrayal of wanting to fit in without feeling like your a freak because you’ve got metal on your teeth. I think all of Telgemeier’s stories are fantastic, and yet this is the one I recommend because Raina’s journey is one I could relate to. Admittedly, I equally love her adaptations of the Babysitter’s Club, which I totes recommend clearly for nostalgia purposes!

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In Real Life
by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

Outside of reading, my other major hobby is gaming. I’ve worked in the games industry as a journalist for over five years and the issues that this book tackles completely breaks my heart. It saddens me that gold farming is still a thing and that people have to suffer in the name of video games. This book has a wonderful portrayal of friendship, identity, while also looking at socio-economical issues within the virtual world. Plus, Anda is an amazing protagonist and I love her crusade against issues of gold farming. This book is incredibly smart and very well done. Plus the art? Amazing.

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The Shadow Hero
by Gene Luen Yang  & Sonny Liew 

I said no capes at the beginning of this post, but I will make the exception for The Shadow Hero because it’s a bit different from a lot of the cape comics out there. First off, it’s an origin story for a superhero many may not be familiar with: The Green Turtle. It’s the story of a man who doesn’t want to become a superhero, but his mother *demands* that he must (for reason which I will not spoil, but there’s some humour in it). Gene Luen Yang writes amazing graphic novels (and his artwork is pretty rad too). I always find myself strongly connecting to his work because of how he writes people and makes social issues accessible to all audiences. While I LOVE The Shadow Hero, Boxers & Saints and American Born Chinese are equally worth your attention.

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Seconds by Brian Lee O’Malley

I am going to cheat a little on this one and suggest you listen to this podcast where I discuss this book with my husband, Scott Wachter and the amazing Kiki. Let’s just say we super hearted this book and even if you didn’t like Scott Pilgrim, this one is still worth checking out. Beautiful artwork, hilarious characters, awesome GIRL FRIENDSHIPS. The book has it all in spades.

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Zita the Spacegirl 
by Ben Hatke

Hello, graphic novel fans out there? You really should get on it and read Zita the Space Girl. There’s something insanely magical about Ben Hatke’s writing, his characters, and the world that Zita finds herself in. He made me care about a rock monster and a giant rat! Also, this series is too short and when I finished the last volume, I may have screamed a little bit about wanting more. Seriously, Zita is fun and she needs to be read. GO DO IT.

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Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Yes, the title seems super inappropriate. No, it’s actually not as inappropriate as one would think (though there are sexy timez so you have been warned). So Sex Criminals,, is a wonderful series with some really messed up people. There’s a lot of dark humour afoot in this series, and it’s definitely not for everyone. This series is colourful, crazy, and wonderfully messed up. It’s like your brain is on a euphoric trip that doesn’t let up until it’s over. Now if only volume 2 would come out faster, that’d be great.

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Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe  & Roc Upchurch 

I admit, this is the series I’m having the hardest time waiting for trades for. Rat Queens instantly hooked it’s claws into me, and I was completely addicted to reading it. I admit, I do not like reading single issues of comics, and I’d rather read them when they are bound up. The characters in this series are sexy, sassy and absolutely bonkers. How can you not love a group called “The Rat Queens” and how can you not enjoy their antics? This series is girl power all the way, and the women are bad ass. Rat Queens takes elements of Dungeons & Dragons and mashes it up with sass and class. I seriously cannot wait for volume 2, and I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for the Queens!

Have some graphic novels or comics you want to share? Let me know in the comments — I love recommendations!

ARC Review – The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

22402945Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

Author: Cynthia Hand 

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment. Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be. As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

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

River’s Review:

To be honest when I started reading this I’d actually forgotten what it was about. I’d just downloaded it off EW with a bunch of other ARCs and put it on my list. Well, I’m really glad that I read it. I’ve always loved books that deal with suicide because I think that they’re very important books. But I wasn’t expecting this.

This is my first book by Cynthia Hand, and I was very impressed with her writing. It felt very solid and tight and flowed really well. I was reading this book on my iPhone at work most of the time and I kept having trouble finding a place to stop and getting really upset when I DID have to stop because my break was over. I found myself wanting to go back to it, wanting to figure things out.

I loved Lexi’s voice. She was smart and sassy and just the right amount of sad. I always felt so bad for her and her family, but I never felt like she was unrealistic. I loved how nerdy she was, how apologetic she was about herself, her interests, her dreams. The whole MIT thing was amusing to me because my husband goes there and I work at the MIT bookstore.

Lexi’s relationship with her mother, her friends (old and new) and her father were all complex and interesting. I know what it’s like to lose friends because you just can’t function normally at the time and how they can have trouble knowing how to connect with you. I loved that Lexi told her mom off at one point. I was really worried it was going to turn into another ‘nonfunctional parent guilting their college-bound child into foregoing their dreams to stay home and take care of them’ story (which I’ve seen a lot of recently) but thankfully it didn’t turn out that way.

The only things that really didn’t work well for me were the ghost aspect and the second suicide. I could never figure out what was the point of the ghost. Was it a real ghost? Was it just their imagination? I guess it was explained but for a good portion of the time I kept thinking that this was going to turn supernatural on me. So I wasn’t sure about that. And the second suicide… I just didn’t think it was necessary, and I thought that it was going to go all THE PROGRAM on me, especially when Lexi started to quote suicide statistics (I really thought that a mystery was going to pop up and she was going to solve it or something).

The author’s note at the end really got to me thought. And I think it’s…I don’t even have a word. But she shared her personal story with us and that took guts.

If you enjoyed All the Bright Places, which was a fave of mine, and just came out, then you’ll also love this. Put it on your TBR!!!

River & Sam’s Top Five Favourite Books of 2014

I realize this is a bit late to the party, but River and I thought we’d share our top five favourite books we read 2014 with you guys. These can be books that released in 2014, released before 2014 and are new to us, or 2015 releases we managed to read early last year. We read so many awesome books in 2014, found new favourite authors, and found ourselves falling in love with new authors and characters. Here’s our favourites!

River’s Top Five 2014 Favourites

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1) Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

2) Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

3) The Half-Life of Molly Pierce, by Katrina Leto

4) All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

5) Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Sam’s Top Five 2014 Favourites

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1) Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

2) I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

3) Vicious by V.E Schwab

4) Hold Still by Nina LaCour

5) Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S King

These are the books that seem to have really stuck with us throughout all of last year. What were some of your favourite books you read last year? Let us know in the comments!

ARC Review – When by Victoria Laurie

23522772Title: When

Author: Victoria Laurie

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late?

Huge thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Admittedly, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Victoria Laurie’s novels. I figured I had nothing to lose when I requestedWhen, but after completing the book, I’m not seeing the big deal surrounding it.

Part of my issues with When is how much you have to suspend your disbelief for this story to actually work. There are so many holes and aspects the reader is forced to accept, even though they don’t make a lot of sense or connect together very well. In fact, just about anything related to the FBI in this story had me completely stumped because a lot of the time none of what would happen in this story WOULD happen.

I think the idea of Maddie being able to see people’s deathdates is absolutely interesting, but I feel like this has been done before. For me, personally, the level of consequence for this power should have felt much more daunting than it actual did. I think I was expecting more in the vein of “With great power comes great responsibility” but Maddie is frustrating in that she isn’t responsible, and reveals her power without a good reason! I don’t think the reason she reveals it in this story is at all valid, and again it comes from this level of belief suspension.

I just couldn’t get behind this story. Yes, it’s a fast and readable book, but the holes are so glaring and I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief the way the book wanted me to. I didn’t care about the plot or the characters, and the treatment of power aggravated me in some many ways. When is not a bad book, but its expectations of the reader are certainly troublesome. If you can suspend your disbelief to the farthest reaches, you can definitely find enjoyment in this book, but it simply didn’t click with me.

Cover Reveal – The Shadow Stealer by Melissa Giorgio

It’s that time again! I dunno what it is about cover reveals, but I get so damn excited by them. Melissa Giorgio sent me an e-mail with a wonderful request, one which I get to fulfill right NOW! As many of you are aware, Melissa writes a series called The Silver Moon Saga, which you should ALL GO OUT AND READ. If you haven’t that is. Go, go read it. GO READ IT. NOW NOW NOW.

*Ahem* In any case, she asked me and River to cover the cover to the last novel in the series. The anticipated final book titled, The Shadow Stealer. Are you ready to see it? Okay…

Three…

Two…

One…

LET’S JAM! (Excuse the Cowboy Bebop reference, or not, go watch that too.)

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Add The Shadow Stealer to Goodreads shelf!

Can we talk about how beautiful this cover is? It is super pretty, and might be my new favourite of the five covers that exist. Such intensity in the model’s eyes. I like it! Wanna know what it is about? Here’s the blurb:

Ever since that fateful night Gabi Saw her first demon, she’s been questioning who and, better yet, what she is. When given a chance to find the answers she seeks, she seizes it, even if it means putting herself—and her beloved friends—in danger. 

From upstate New York to the streets of Manhattan, Gabi chases after the truth that has, until this point, remained out of reach. But when her whole world shatters, Gabi wonders if it would have been better to remain ignorant. Because once you know the truth, there’s no going back.  

In the final installment of the Silver Moon Saga, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been for Gabi and her friends, and no one’s guaranteed a happy ending. Will Gabi triumph or will the shadows claim her for their own?

Ahhhhhh, I cannot wait to read this! And it’s actually coming out very soon: on  February 27th, 2015.

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, I encourage you to do so. Here’s where you can start The Silver Moon Saga: Amazon.com (also available on Amazon.ca)

Bout of Books 12.0 Read-a-thon! – Completion!

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So I have to admit, I think Dragon Age: Inquisition beat out my last week of holidays, though I’m proud of the small dent I made during the Bout of Books 12.0 Read-a-thon.  I didn’t do daily updates (I find that always a bit overwhelming), but I figure I’d share my stats for the event because I did manage to read a fair bit, even if I didn’t entirely get to that TBR I made (I got to some of the books, not all).

Here’s what I completed:

1) My Heart And Other Black Holes – 320 pages (ARC, Review coming soon!)

2) All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – 384 pages (ARC, Reviewed!)

3) The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell by Mira Grant – 84 pages (e-Novella)

4) The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and Mean Janine (Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #4)
by Raina Telgemeier  & Ann M. Martin – 176 pages (Graphic Novel)

5) El-Deafo by Cece Bell – 233 pages (Graphic Novel)

6) Batwoman, Vol. 3: World’s Finest (Batwoman Vol. II #3) by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman – 168 pages (Graphic Novel)

7) Amulet, Vol. 4: The Last Council (Amulet #4) by Kazu Kibuishi – 209 pages (Graphic Novel)

8) Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 (Adventure Chef #1) by Eric Colossal – 128 pages (Graphic Novel ARC, Review coming soon!)

So in total I read 8 books (2 books, 1 novella, 5 graphic novels) and my page count was 1702 pages. Not too shabby considering I’m getting ready for my LAST SEMESTER EVER and playing a lot of DA:I and writing articles. I wish I had read less graphic novels, except for the part where I’m not because I adore graphic novels and tend to binge on them. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can finish one more book before the read-a-thon is over (I’m about 79% into Inked by Eric Smith for review, and it’s okay…).

Also related by unrelated, remember how I said I was doing the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge? Well, I’m 3/24 books read for it. I’ll try to post a bit of my progress at the end of the month so I can show you guys where I’m at with that. Any who, here’s hoping to more productive reading and less Dragon Age! (Oh who am I kidding, there’s never less Dragon Age.)