Monthly Archives: May 2015

ARC Review – More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

19542841Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

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

Sam’s Review:

First off, Adam, man, I wasn’t ready for those damn feels. You promised them over Twitter for months. Adam and I have had many conversations back and forth, so colour me tickled when I got the Edelweiss approval to read his debut.

He ripped my heart out. No seriously, it hurt. More Happy Than Not is a powerful book about identity, acceptance, and finding one’s “happiness”. Aaron is a character who will be unforgettable for many readers, as he’s someone so honest, yet so lost. His narrative is raw, uncomfortable, and heavy in terms of his emotional imbalances and the turmoil that he blames himself for. He feels by getting a Leteo Procedure that all the sadness and emptiness that he feels will be completely removed and he will feel the happiness that has been missing from his life. If only it were that simple.

First off, I really need to praise Silvera for his secondary characters. Genevieve, Eric, Thomas, his mother, there are so many well fleshed out secondary characters in this novel, all of fulfil a purpose and beyond. They don’t let Aaron get away with anything, often forcing him to come to terms with reality whether he wants to or not. I thought Aaron and Gen’s relationship by far was one of the most sad, yet interesting of the entire novel. I won’t spoil anything, but the back and forth that the two have it’s very powerful throughout.

Second, watching Aaron come undone in this novel is part of why its so beautiful. Aaron has so much to hide, yet he’s so honest to the reader. Watching him feel torn a part will make your heart hurt, and yet there is a sense of helplessness on the reader’s end because you know how it’s going to go and, if you’re like me, you’ll be screaming at the book, trying to deter Aaron from going forward in what he feels is the “ultimate solution.” His value and self-worth are always being questioned, and it’s heartbreaking because there are so many young people out there who should not be questioning that — you are always worthy and no one can ell you otherwise.

Lastly, this book just emotional wrecked me in so many ways and for that, I both curse and give my utter love to Adam Silvera. Aaron’s journey is such an important one to work through. It’s you thinking, and the emotional investment that More Happy Than Not takes you through is just so challenging and hard to look away from. This book is beautiful, smart, and believe me, Aaron is so easy to fall for.

Advertisements

Cover Reveal – The Fading Dusk (Smoke & Mirrors #1) by Melissa Giorgio

River and I are once again super duper excited that we get to share a cover reveal for one of Melissa’s new books. I realize I say this every cover, but I think this one really IS my favourite (which I am sure I will say again when a new book comes out). The cover was designed by Mae I Design and yeah, I guess I should stop hyping this up and let you all see it, huh?

Ready?

…1…

…2…

…3…

unnamed

The Fading Dusk by Melissa Giorgio
(Smoke and Mirrors #1)
Publication date: July 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

ADD TO GOODREADS

Synopsis:

In the gritty city of Dusk, seventeen-year-old Irina makes her living as the street magician Bantheir’s assistant. The job isn’t glamorous, but she loves the crowds, the shows, and most of all, the illusion of magic. But Irina’s world is shattered the night she is arrested and charged as Bantheir’s accomplice to murder—murder by magic.

Real magic, the kind that’s been forbidden since the old wars.

Irina finds the idea of flashy showman Bantheir using actual magic to kill someone laughable, but she’s the only one who sees how ridiculous the claim is. But how can she convince everyone Bantheir is innocent when they’ve already made up their minds? Desperate, Irina must decide who she can trust to help her win her freedom. Is the surly, handsome Captain Leonid telling the truth when he says he believes Irina is innocent, or is he just using her to get to Bantheir? What about Aden, the sweet soldier and longtime fan of Irina’s who claims he’s on her side?

Irina said she wanted to know the truth, but when she stumbles across a dark secret that changes everything, will she be strong enough to survive?

[Insert Fangirling]

GIMMIE GIMMIE GIMMIE. Although let’s be realistic here, will any of these new characters steal my heart the way Rafe did? We’ll see if that happens!


unnamed (1)About the Author: Melissa Giorgio is a native New Yorker who graduated from Queens College with a degree in English. She’s always dreamed of being a writer and has been creating stories (mostly in her head) since she was a little girl. Also an avid reader, Melissa loves to devour thick YA novels. When not reading or writing, she enjoys watching animated films, listening to music by her favorite Japanese boy band, or exploring Manhattan.

The Sight Seer, published June 12th 2013 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly, is the first book in the Silver Moon Saga. In November of 2013, An Autumn Dream, a Silver Moon Saga novella that takes place between books one and two was published. The Soul Healer, the second book in the series, was published in April of 2014. A Promise of Magic, the second novella in the Saga, was published in November of 2014. The final book in the series, The Shadow Stealer, released on February 27th, 2015.

Stalk Melissa!

Twitter: @melissa_giorgio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melissagiorgiofan
Wordpress: http://melissagiorgio.wordpress.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/melissagiorgioauthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/melissagiorgio8/

unnamed (1)

 

ARC Review – Exquisite Corpse by Pénélope Bagieu

22718721Title: Exquisite Corpse

Author: Pénélope Bagieu

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Zoe isn’t exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn’t recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment…and into his life. It’s also why she doesn’t know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as “lost manuscripts,” in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she’s there anyway. . . . Zoe doesn’t know Balzac from Batman, but she’s going to have to wise up fast… because she’s sitting on the literary scandal of the century!

Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Exquisite Corpse is an oddball of a graphic novel because it’s seeing a romantic comedy in comics is not common. Interestingly though, this comic is not entirely what it seems on the surface either. Every person ins this story is vile, some what disgusting in terms of being a human being, and yet it also a huge part of the comic’s charm as well.

Zoe is desperate for a man to sweep her off her feet and provide for her. She hates her job, current boyfriend, and wants someone to adore her. Thomas Rocher is a famous author who lives and dies on positive review feedback. The two of them meet by chance, and they in turn have an exceptionally messy relationship. Like, it’s just baaaaaaad.

There’s not a lot of characters in this graphic novel, and it’s actually for the better. Both these characters want someone’s approval and praise, living for their own life’s show and demanding the world give them in some ways what they are entitled to. Obviously, Bagieu shows the readers how ridiculous that concept is, so it makes for some very frustrating characters. In a lot of ways, both Zoe and Thomas ultimately get what they deserve, though, I have to say, the twist ending, though I saw it coming, was really well done, and the revenge that takes place in the story is really well timed and just messed up.

My favourite character was actually Agathe, if only because I loved her backstory to her relationship with Thomas and how even though her and Zoe get off on the wrong foot, they oddly come together in their distaste for Thomas. While a lot of the comic looks at issues of attention, entitlement and approval, it’s something Bagieu gives the readers connections to. Let’s face it, many of us have met a Zoe, Thomas or Agathe in our lives, and they aren’t easy people to tolerate.

Exqusite Corpse is different, and not an easy graphic novel to read. The content is solid, the art is gorgeous, but these characters will likely disgust you, or you might see something you may not be ready for. Regardless, I think the comic teaches some interesting lessons, and I feel like there’s a lot to uncover about human nature and desire, simply by reading this book.

ARC Review – Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

18584521Title: Hold Me Like a Breath

Author: Tiffany Schmidt

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants. Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can’t protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily. And in her family’s line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

Huge thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Wow, I liked this much more than I thought I would! If you scroll down there are a TON of one-star reviews, so I was really worried about this. I read another book by this author last year and only enjoyed it so-so, soooo I was skeptical. But this just sounded SO GOOD. I love things like this with “Families” and illegal activities going on. (I also love stuff with the FBI or CIA getting those bad guys soooo yeah).

Penny’s family is one of the top three that deal in organ trading. I was worried that there’d be some gruesome parts in this, but don’t worry, there isn’t. We only hear about the organ trade and it’s portrayed as a good thing (there’s even a side story about legalizing organ sales, which was very interesting) and Penny supports her family and what they do. But she can’t do much more than support from the sidelines because Penny has a blood disease where her body destroys her platelets and she bruises very easily. If she gets too weak she can even start to spontaneously bleed. It was a very unique twist to the story and something I’ve never read about. It added an element of danger to Penny’s life outside of the normal dangers one might expect when you’re the daughter of a prominent family dealing in the organ trade.

Penny lives her life very, very sheltered. Her brother and his bff/body guard are really her only friends and she never leaves her family’s estate. She does manage to get her brother to take her off estate once and he shows her to his secret apartment and lets her in on his secret activities. They’re very dangerous and lead to a lot of trouble for the Family. And this trouble forces Penny to go on the run, by herself.

Penny runs away to NYC and stays in her brother’s secret apartment hoping that Garrett, her brother’s bff/bodyguard will come and find her. Penny spends a lot of the middle of the book wandering around NYC, spending time in the apartment, and getting sick. She says that she has to keep her cell phone off in case the ~bad guys~ can trace it, but she does turn it back on to get one phone number. Why she doesn’t call Garrett is beyond me. But instead of calling him she calls the Vice President of the USA (she’s personal friends with his family because her Family saved the VP’s daughter with a kidney) and he pretty much sends in the secret service to save her… but she won’t leave the apartment.

In the meantime she literally runs into (and almost dies because of it) a cute guy. I figured out who he was pretty quickly, but Penny didn’t for a long time (I won’t spoil who he is). They go on dates around the city and Penny falls for him hard. Some people might thing that the romance comes too sudden, but I think it works because Penny was overwhelmed by a lot of things. And this was her first time in her entire life making a friend on her own, making choices on her own, and not having to be a member of her Family. He didn’t even know about her disease and that she was breakable.

Penny finally does meet up with Garrett when she starts to put pieces of what happened with her family together and she confronts him, finding out that the new boy she’s in love with is also in danger and she runs off to save him, almost dying in the process. I can’t really say much about the ending without spoiling a ton, but I was glued to the last 15% of my eARC because it was intense.

The writing in this is really good, and I enjoyed all of the characters. The bad guys are bad, but with faults. Penny grows a lot and really comes into her own. There’s good and bad, but it’s not all black and white. And liked the shades of gray mixed in. There was one character that I SWORE was going to turn out to be a bad buy but he wasn’t… unless he’s going to be one in the next book (if there’s another?)

Over all I really enjoyed this book! Don’t let the bad reviews tell you otherwise.

ARC Review – The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

23015962Title: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak

Author: Brian Katcher

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: It all begins when Ana Watson’s little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip. If slacker Zak Duquette hadn’t talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn’t have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon. But in spite of Zak’s devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

Huge thank you to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

This book was so cute! If you’re into any kind of fandom, you will love this! I used to be the BIGGEST Star Wars fan and I’ve spent a lot of time in other fandoms (anime being the biggest) and I could totally relate to a lot of this! I’ve only been to one convention, but this was super easy to picture and just felt so right.

This book starts off with Zak noticing Ana. He’s interested, but she’s always too busy running around trying to be the best at everything. He sees her as a super overachiever. Ana see’s Zak as some dorky slacker who’s too busy having a good time to take anything serious. Then due to some unfortunate events Zak has to join Ana’s Quiz Bowl team and miss out on his favorite comic book convention.

On the way to the Quiz Bowl Zak mentions the con to Ana’s brother (he’s younger, but also in high school and on the team) and later that night the little brother sneaks out and heads to the con. This leads to a very pissed off Ana and a omgwhattodoooooo Zak. They take off, arguing the entire way, to find the brother. And over the course of the night Ana and Zak find out that they aren’t so different after all.

I normally dislike books that take place in 24 hours or less. Especially when romance is involved. Attraction doesn’t take time, but connection does. And I HATE it when they go from hate to love in less than 24 hours. This book didn’t do that. To start Zak already had a passing interest in Ana. And by the end of the book there is some romance brewing, but it’s not epic or anything. It’s just the start.

I loved all of the wacky things that kept happening at the con! There were two things that happened (at the con and then after they got back to the hotel) that just kinda seemed a bit much (which dropped it down half a star) but their adventure was enjoyable.

I really liked Zak. He was super relateable and I totally was friends with and dated guys like him in high school and college. Ana was okay. I felt bad for her and for the fear that she lived in of her super strict parents. But she was incredibly judgemental and there were times I wanted to shake her. She did grow though, as much as one can in a span of 24 hours, and open her mind up to new things. So that was a plus. And I liked the interactions with the parents (both Ana and Zak’s) at the end.

Overall this was a very fun, cute book, perfect for readers who have ever been involved with any kind of fandom (which is, I’m sure, all of us).

ARC Review – Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

22840398Title: Illusionarium

Author:  Heather Dixon

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen because the first few pages were a bit heavy for me and then things started to spin out of control and I had a vague image of what this was supposed to be about but wow.

This book takes place in an alternate version of London in the 1800’s. There are airships powered by a fuel that gives off a drug called Fantillium. Fantillium creates mass hallucinations but only with an Illusionist leading the illusion. Illusionists are usually scientists or mathematicians who understand complex chemical structures and mathematical formulas. They essentially ‘build’ the illusions.

Jonathan is an apprentice to his father who is a doctor, and they get word that in their capital (basically London) has fallen under a plague that only effects women. The women fall ill and die within six days. There is no cure. So of course the King flys to Fata Morgana, where Jonathan and his family live (and his father works) to beg for a cure. And of course he brings the dying Queen who then spreads the disease to all of the females (including Jonathan’s mother and sister) thus prompting Jonathan to do whatever he can to find the cure… which means working with Lady Florel, the top medical scientist in London, who insists on using Fantillium during their research. Jonathan’s father is disgusted with Fantillium and refuses, but Jonathan meets Lady Florel in secret and after a Fantillium fueled fight, she disappears into another dimension where she claims the cure is located.

Jonathan and his new frienmy Lockwood (a Kings airshipman and Lady Florel’s prison guard) take off into this other dimension after her, and find themselves in Nod’ol. Nod’ol is a parallel London that has split off into another dimension. The people and land have been devastated by the over use of Fantillium which has some very… unpleasant (to say the very very least) side effects. Lady Florel revels that she’s the Queen of this land and that Jonathan is now to take part in their yearly festival where he must Illusion for her and a bunch of the workers who produce the drug. Jonathan, hell bent on getting the cure and getting back in time to save his family, and Lockwood, who has no idea what is going on and wants no part of it, are both angry and scared. Lockwood runs off into the new world and Jonathan is forced to Illusion. He is promised that if he does well that he’ll get the cure and be home in moments.

Only that doesn’t happen…

First off I LOVED the story. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be about from the synopsis and when I started it I still wasn’t sure until the Illusioning started. And even then I was like ‘this is so beautiful but what’s the story?!’ and then when it hit it HIT. This flowed so well and was fast paced and I couldn’t put it down! I loved the unique alternate setting and the different worlds and the magic of it all. The writing was gorgeous and lyrical and the characters were perfection. Jonathan didn’t always do the right thing, but he did it for the right reasons. He’s young and his mother and sister were dying! Of course he went against his father’s wishes! And Lockwood hahaha I LOVED him. He was such an ass and it was great. We also saw a sweet side of him when he fell madly in head-over-heals-love-at-first-sight with Jonathan’s alternate-universe sister. I wouldn’t call it Instalove or anything, and if the MC would have done it I probably would have, but the way that Lockwood and Anna were smitten with each other was ADORBS.

I also really enjoyed how unpredictable this book was. There were two times when it looked like we were going to wrap things up nicely and head home and save the world, but then horrific things would happen and nope. No nice wrapping at all!

I hope everyone will check this out, it’s perfect for fans of fantasy, contemporary and even a little dystopian!

 

Toronto Comics Art Festival 2015, Festival of Trees, and #SusanSusin Events!

crowd1I’ve had an insanely busy and bookish May so far. Last weekend I had the chance to attend the Toronto Comics Art Festival (aka TCAF), and it was my first time going to the event. For those who are not familiar, TCAF is a celebration of comics, art, and culture, and it takes place at the Toronto Reference Library. I went with my partner-in-crime, Kiki, and we went around exploring some of the major events that were occurring this year. One amazing event that was happening was the comics versus games panels, and in honour of this, there was a pop-up arcade on the second floor of Toronto Reference. Kiki and I ended up playing a game called Moon Hunters (I wrote an impression for RPGamer.com) and I really cannot wait for its release in 2016. It’s a lot of fun.

And comics! So many different kins of comics, local artists, folks from all over the world, coming and enjoying the event. I had the chance to meet a ton of talented artists, while also seeing friends who were participating as well. Here’s some folks I met!

roraina

Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile, Sisters, and Drama!

noelle

Noelle Stevenson, co-author of the Lumberjanes and author of Nimona! She’s SO CUTE AND NICE!

chipAnd Chip Zdarsky, who is a terrible, hilarious flirt, and artist of Sex Criminals. He will write pornographic things in your book!

haul

And finally, the book haul (the part we all know everyone cares about the most!)

Overall, I had an amazing time at my first TCAF. Everyone, authors, comic fans, alike are just so friendly and they want to fanboy/girl their favourite artists and comics. It’s easy to get swept away in the positivity that surrounds the festival, and it’s impressive the kinds of guests that it attracts. If you live in the city, or love graphic novels and comics, you owe yourself the opportunity to come and visit Toronto while TCAF is on.


CE5M3ZXUMAIvFT0The second event I attended this month was the Ontario Library Association’s Festival of Trees. For those unfamiliar, it’s their Rock Concert of Reading, wherein they allow school children and teens to vote on their favourite Canadian novels over last year. Program Info Here!

A former classmate and I decided that since we both want to specialize in children and young adult fiction that we would go and investigate the Festival of Trees. The event featured authors such as Eric Walters, Vikki VanSickle, Heather Smith, Eve Silver, Kenneth Oppel and many more. Let’s just say, the authors were such amazing sports, signing autographs, performing workshops, and of course there were the awards themselves. Every author had long lines with students piled up waiting to meet and chat with them. I admit, I waited in line for Eve Silver and Vikki VanSickle, though they are my friends and I’m a huge supporter of both their works. CE5M5jLUMAALrzd

The winners ended up being…. (and I’ll just focus on Fiction in this case)

Blue Spurce (Picture Books!) – Maureen Fergus & Mike Lowery’s “The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten”

Red Maple (Non-Fiction!) – The Last Train: A Holocaust  Story by Rona Arato

Red Maple (Fiction!) – Eric Walter’s “The Rule of Three” (which I reviewed here)

White Pine (YA!) – Eve Silver’s “Rush” (who I interviewed back in 2013 @ RPGamer)

All in all, The Festival of Trees was such a rewarding and unique experience. Honestly, seeing students get so jazzed about reading, voting and having a voice in literacy is so empowering for authors, publishers, library professionals and the students themselves. Events like this remind us that Canada has some amazing talent and that it needs to be more valued and recognized. Though with the 10,000 attendees, I feel like that statement is all the more successful. It’s clear that reading and writing are not dying arts, and to those who say that, I counter with: “So, did you check out the Festival of Trees. It’s the good kind of chaos.”


susansusinFinally, the last event I was able to attended occurred right after the Festival of Trees. I was given a personal invite to visit the Random House Canada office to meet Susan Juby, author of “The Truth Commission” and Susin Nielson, author of “We Are All Made of Molecules” (review). The event allowed local bloggers and bookstore employees the opportunity to have wine and snacks before Susan and Susin headed off for the Brampton leg of their #SusanSusin tour.

It was such a wonderful and casual event. Both authors mingled and chatted with everyone, and they were just so funny and down to earth. I was very nervous because I know how awkward I can be at times, but they both so kind. (I am sorry my flash blinded you, Susin!). It made me appreciate how open authors can be with fans and bloggers, and it’s totally appreciated. I know now though that I need to check more of Susan (Alice, I Think!) and Susin’s books (Seriously, Word Nerd, I need it).

susinIt’s Susin Nielson!

susan

And Susan Juby!

Huge thank you again to Random House Canada for the invite, I had an AWESOME time! And seriously, check out both their recent novels. I loved “We Are All Made of Molecules” and I started “The Truth Commission” on my train ride home last night — SO FUNNY and quirky! If you want to read some hilarious and truthful novels, look no further than both these releases.