Monthly Archives: July 2015

Sam’s July Book Haul

Another month, another pile of books. I really tried to control my buying, and in the end I only bought four books! Everything else was either sent by friends, publishers, or through a book swap. Let’s see what I got.

giveaway1 giveaway2

I won two giveaways back in June, and the books arrived this month. I got Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness by Jennifer Tseng through a Goodreads giveaway hosted by Peguin Canada. The second came from Olivia @ The Candid Cover, and I won her June Giveaway Hop, so I was allowed to pick a June release. I ended up picking The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes which I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about. After Jennifer Mathiu’s Devoted, I’m up for another book that may be similar.

purchased1

I ended up purchasing two books this month from Indigo. I flew through Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews and I’m so happy I finally read it. I hope to see the film to compare differences and similarities. Hopefully I see it before it’s completely out of theatres. I also got the final book of the Paper Gods trilogy, Storm by Amanda Sun. I need to know how my new favourite anime-esque novel is going to end!

bookswap

On July 11th I had the chance to attend the Toronto Book Swap @ The Central. Let’s just say, it was chaos! Lots of people trading books, sharing their love of literature. It was a good event minus some unfriendly folks who attended. In the end I gave five books to the swap and took three, which were: North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg, and From the Notebook of Melenin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson. I also grabbed The Color of Heaven by Kim Dong Hwa, which I finally found, meaning I can complete this series. I am beyond excited!

coblogger lizzach

Then more book swapping happened as my co-blogger, River, and friends Liz and Zach also sent me books!

From River:

  • The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
  • Prep School Confidental by Kara Taylor
  • The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
  • A Curious Tale of In-Between by Lauren DeStenfano (!!!!!)

From Liz @ Consumed by Books

  • The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
  • The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker

From Zach:

  • Machine of Death by Ryan North et al.

THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU GUYS! I cannot wait to read these!

simonteenThen Simon Teen Canada sent me this beauty, Stand-off by Andrew Smith. Which, omg I am excited for considering we just read Winger for our Summer Contemporary Fling event we just finished hosting! And uh, if you haven’t read Winger, GO DO IT NOW. NOW NOW NOW.

pancakes

And then there’s Inspector Pancakes Helps the President of France. This is a… super inappropriate at times picture book that I Kickstarted and this was one of my backer rewards. It’s really funny, kind of disturbing, and some dark humour. It’s definitely not for kids, but look at how misleading it is! Inspector Pancakes, I still love you!

uppercasejuly

While I ended up already reading and owning a copy of this month’s July Uppercase Box, I decided I am still keeping up with the service. I LOVED Finding Audrey, so I am happy that I can give this extra copy to someone else who I think will love it too (and before anyone asks, it’s already gone and spoken for! Sorry!). But I love the amount of thought that goes into subscription boxes (and I never seem to have luck with OwlCrate, one day!). I loved the socks, which I can totally wear to my library job, I loved the book marks (they feature Paper Towns Quotes) and the little coffee sleeve was a great touch. Looking forward to what they come up with for August (MY BIRTHDAY MONTH!)

harper

 

And finally Harper Collins Canada were super lovely enough to send me advance copies of What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler  and A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis. Both of them sound absolutely fantastic and equally horrifying. Except reviews for both of them on the blog soon.

And that was everything I got in my mail box for the month of July. Did you get any awesome reads in the mail? Have you read any of these beauties above? If so, let me know, I’d be curious about your thoughts.

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I Support Some Girls Are: Why I Wish Parents Would Get a Grip

some girls are

On Tuesday, The Post and Courier shared an article about a parent’s outcry against content in Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are. In the article the parent confiscated her child’s Kindle because she deemed the book “inappropriate for her to read.” The book was an optional selection for her daughter’s summer reading program at the high school she was enrolling in. The parent took her complaint to the school and the book was instantly removed.

This is a real travesty in my eyes, and once again it shows how parents thinking they are saving their children by shielding them from content that THEY think is inappropriate or that THEY don’t think they will understand. For those unfamiliar with Summers’ novel, it focuses on a girl who was once a member of a popular clique (a group of bullies) who is then frozen out of the group, and bullied herself. The book is raw and rich with emotion, and it doesn’t shy away from how bullying can ultimately destroy a person’s self-worth. There’s nothing gentle in this story, and it’s exploration of how horrific people can be is quite human — it’s a situation all of us can relation to whether we were the victim of bullying or were the bully.

The parent deemed this book “smut” over a simple comment in the novel regarding “blow jobs.” Let’s be real here: THOSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SCHOOL. In fact, sexual acts at school have risen over the years, and the comment where it occurs in the story is done in quite the off-the-cuff way. The parent has since finished the novel still deeming it problematic. That’s fine, you can dislike the novel all you want, but you don’t think there’s anything to learn from it? This is a statement I disagree with.

I always believed that every book you read has some value to it, even the terrible ones. Reading teaches us so many spectacular things, sharing a variety of thoughts and opinions. It’s why freedom of speech is so important. Furthermore, what this parent has done is deny her child and ever other student the opportunity to study Some Girls Are on a much more thoughtful level. This book lends itself well to discussion, to arguments even, and it’s great for offering varied points of view, especially on the behaviours of the books heroine, Regina.

What saddens me the most are the parents who jump to conclusions and refuse to see merit in books that are often considered challenging. They feel it’s their duty to shield their children from this content and yet what they should be doing is opening a dialogue with them, discussing the pros, cons, issues presented within the novel. If anything parents are dis-servicing themselves from making connections with their children through what they read. It’s fantastic when a parent wants to read the same things as their child to build understanding and forge relationships, it’s another to read with them and basically tell them that this content is off-limits.

When I was an ESL teacher, my students hated reading the classics that were often assigned to them at school. They’d come in, try to piece together what they thought was important about these books, only to ask me if they could read something else because the content was “boring” or “too old.” I still believe that while classics have their value and can be great to read, it’s time to start populating schools with books that they can relate to. Give teens the tough topics they are clearly craving and want to read. When you deny a teen the right to read something with a tough subject matter, the more they want to go and read it themselves.

Parents, I urge you, please do not police your child’s reading. You’re not doing them a dis-service, but you’re also doing a dis-service to yourself. Reading, discussion and providing understanding of novels can bring you closer to your teen if it’s something you wish to engage in. However, reading about tougher subjects and allowing your teen to explore the topics on terms they are comfortable with will go a long way. I cannot stress this enough. Give your teen the courage to explore topics instead of restricting their intellectual freedoms. Open channels for discussion and dialogue instead of telling them you know better then they do — odds are, you actually don’t know any better! You don’t live their lives or deal with their day to day crap or how their emotionally feeling, but you can make a difference if you allow them to explore the tough topics they want to read about and communicate with them.

I am disheartened for the students of West Ashley High School because of one parent’s outcry. It means they miss out on reading a book that is not only engaging, but written by someone who gets what teens are going through and writes in such a way where there is so much to be learned. Courtney writes with such honesty, and while her topics aren’t always pretty, she stands by her stories. There’s a reason why the book has a Kirkus Star and was a Silver Birch Nominee in the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading. The book has accolades to back up a mind-blowingly rough story.

However, we can change this: for starters, check out Kelly Jensen’s campaign to get Some Girls Are in the hands of teens. You can check out her efforts here. For a $1 you can help get Some Girls Are into the hands of teens who want to read this novel and deem it important to their education. Second, I want to reread Some Girls Are in August as a means to not only support the amazing Courtney Summers, but to also bring awareness and discussion about this novel to everyone. I hope you will join me using the hashtag #SomeGirlsAre as your reading the novel throughout the month. Let’s celebrate this novel throughout August!

Join me in August in not only supporting the talented Courtney Summers, but in reading Some Girls Are. I promise that when you finish the book it will not only leave you breathless, but it will leave you thinking and wanting discussion.

ARC August Announcement and Book-Tube-A-Thon TBR

ARC-August-2015

The return of ARC August hosted by @ Read. Sleep. Repeat. is back and I am definitely participating again. I found ARC August to be such a productive reading event, as it forced me to power-through a lot of ARCs that were coming due. And let’s be real: River and I do a lot of reviewing — we love it and we get quite a bit of books to read and review. Sometimes, however, we just want to read our own books. My goal for ARC August is try to read another ten ARCs, which is what I successfully managed. I think it’s do-able, especially because I have a lot of September and October books piling up in my cue, so I need to get on this. Here’s the ten ARCs I’d like to tackle during the month:

  • Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson (September 1st)
  • Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (September 22nd)
  • The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (September 1st)
  • All Fall Down, by Ally Carter (Already Out)
  • Switch by Ingrid Law (September 1st)
  • Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier (September 1st)
  • What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (September 22nd)
  • Another Day (Every Day #2) by David Levithan (August 25th)
  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (August 25th)
  • Stand-Off by Andrew Smith (September 8th)
  • A Sense if Infinite by Hillary T. Smith (Already Out)

I realize this is more than ten. My goal is to read at least ten of these, but this is what is coming due soon in my Netgalley and physical ARC queues. Are there ones mentioned above that I must OMGRERADNAO?

I’ll be providing a weekly update on Fridays for the month of August. The updates will simply highlight what I read, what my goal for the week was and if I was successful. I’m not sure if River is going to be joining me in this, but if she is, the more the merrier!

Second, I’ll be participating in my second Book-Tube-A-Thon. I will not be tubing, because I don’t like my face in a camera, but I love this read-a-thon and its challenges. For those curious, it runs from August 3rd until the 9th. There’s seven challenges total, and these are the books I am planning to read for each challenge,

booktubeathon

1. Read a book with blue on the cover — The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
2. Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name — Jump (a.k.a Twinmaker) by Sean Williams
3. Read someone else’s favourite book — The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa (which is a book Kiki lent to me that she really loved).
4. Read the last book you acquired — One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
5. Finish a book without letting go of it – From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson
6. Read a book you really want to read —  Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson 
7. Read seven books — Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Do I think I can read all thsee books during the event? Well, I’m going to try. Thankfully I have a long commute on a train when I go to work, so I get a lot of reading done. If you’re curious about information for the event, check out the Official YouTube Channel. I’ll also be Tweeting which challenges I complete throughout the week, so watch out for that as well.

Are you participating in Book-tube-a-Thon or ARC August? Let me know in the comments, so I can cheer you on and check out your progress! 🙂

Summer Contemporary Fling – Winger by Andrew Smith

11861815Title:  Winger

Author: Andrew Smith

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Sam’s Review:

Winger is one of the few books out there that has such erratic story beats. One minute the book is hilarious and socially awkward, the next it’s making you facepalm, or causing you panic attacks. Sometimes these emotions are simultaneous. It’s what makes it both such a wonderfully, if sad read.

Ryan Dean West is such a memorable protagonist. He’s a loser who draws as a means to escape the realities of his private school life. However, he’s not as great a person as he sometimes pegs himself to be. Smith does an amazing job at highlighting bullying in this novel, but he presents it in two ways: Ryan Dean is bullied by the hot and popular guys of the rugby team, but he is equally a bully to those who he deems are lower than him on the loser scale. He plays victim but also bullies others, particularly friends, and doesn’t realize what’s wrong in the scenario. I liked that aspect because it made Ryan Dean’s character feel a lot more realistic and furthermore it reminds us that even victims of bullying can be bullies themselves.

And there’s something layered about this novel in the way it presents problems and resolves them. What I think I enjoyed most about Winger is that Ryan Dean behaved like an actual fourteen year old boy. I find sometimes in YA that boys are written with such maturity (usually because they are for-filling a love interest role) but here we have someone who is obsessed with wanting to be mature, and epically failing at it because his mind and body aren’t there yet. Some of the bodily humour was a bit much for me at times, but it weirdly still worked in the confines of the novel. Let’s be real though guys: at fourteen, penis was still a funny word and something ya worried about constantly.

And then there’s the ending, which I expected but didn’t at the same time. It’s gut wrenching, but on so many different levels. Something that has always made me uncomfortable in novels of bullying is levels of humiliation, as often it goes too far and is completely irreversible once it’s occurred. The amount of scarring it causes, it’s so gut wrenching and yet you question why bullying gets to those levels (meanwhile you simple wish it wouldn’t exist at all).

Ryan Dean West will always be one of those very memorable characters for me. He makes you feel angry, frustrated, but he’s so lovable and endearing at times. He’s the kind of flawed character that’s easy to see yourself in and wonder how or why things go wrong and for what reason. There’s a lot of humour and heart in Winger, but it’s death blow at the end of the story is really what will rock readers to the core and just why shit like that still happens, and why it needs to stop.

Late to the Party ARC Review – Prudence (The Custard Protocol, #1) by Gail Carriger

23562480Title:  Prudence (The Custard Protocol, #1)

Author: Gail Carriger

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances — names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

Huge thank you to Orbit and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I probably should have read this sooner given my fangirl status for Gail Carriger. Sadly, life got in the way and this just didn’t happen as early as I wanted it too. However, given the status of this book for some many years, boy was I finally glad to read it!

Prudence was totally worth waiting for, given all the hiccups before its release. It’s as sassy as the Parasol Protectorate series, but still has it’s own distinctive voice and sense of humour. I loved Rue and her companions, particularly Percy who just had me in stitches for large chunks of the story. Carriger has this amazing ability to write chemistry between her characters, and I feel like in this book the level of success she has is huge.

Furthermore there were cameos of old favourites from Parasol Protectorate, which really just made me grin from ear to ear. Plus since Prudence takes place in the same universe as many of Carriger’s other novels, it just makes everything feel so familiar and comfortable.

For me, I get a sense of comfort when reading a Gail Carriger novel. I know exactly what I am getting: humour, quirk, romance, a grand adventure with some prim and proper attached, and I’m such happy to have those things. This book isn’t without flaw, as it does feel a little samey to the main series, but I didn’t care because I found myself laughing along to Rue and crew’s antics. The comedy was just very spot on in this novel, and sometimes you wanted a book that doesn’t try to hard, and it’s only goal is to make you have a good laugh.

ARC Review – The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

25332000Title:  The Nameless City

Author: Faith Erin Hicks

Rating:  ★★★★★

Release Date: April 5th 2016 by First Second

Huge thank you to First Second and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Real Talk: You want this book.

No seriously, you want this book. I recognize that it doesn’t realize until April 2016, but you need to start putting this book on your TBR wishlists and Goodreads shelves. I feel like this is Faith Erin Hicks’ greatest work to date, and The Nameless City is going to be one of those graphic novels that will capture the hearts and attention of many.

The Nameless City is a very layered graphic novel experience. Hicks’ looks at issues of diversity, poverty, politics, and racism in a way that is accessible to understand, but also heart-wrenching to read about. The city in this story is constantly being renamed every time a new ruler takes up the reigns, and yet the outcome of each new ruler is the same — citizens are poor to the point where they have to steal to survive, and the military continues to play oblivious for the sake of not getting involved between political conflict, be it dealing with the poor or other surrounding nations. It’s fascinating the way in which this aspect of how the story evolves.

I also LOVED the characters. I loved Rat’s tenacity, sass and courage, as much as I loved Kaidu’s kind and gentle spirit (a shame he works for the military!). Furthermore, I love the interactions between these two characters — it’s so genuinely written, and the book goes this amazing job of giving you so much understanding, but also taking that understanding away because of the political strife. It’s like being given bits and pieces, and that’s what you have to work with, but it’s okay because you know you are being promised more to the story. But seriously, I thought Rat and Kaidu were adorable and I wanted to cuddle them every few seconds.

But seriously, you need this book guys. It has stunning artwork, an amazing and detailed story, a great cast of lovable and sympathetic characters, and it just continues to offer so much to the reader. I can only hope that there is a second volume to this because the ending is very open, as if there needs to be more. Please, please, please let there be a sequel, because I don’t think I could live without knowing more about Kaidu and Rat’s adventures.

 

Late to the Party ARC Review – Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

23281652Title:  Daughter of Deep Silence

Author: Carrie Ryan

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Huge thank you to Razorbill Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

When I requested this book, I was super excited. I love Carrie Ryan’s prose, and while I often find faults in her storylines, I still adore how she illustrates them. Then the reviews poured in, and I was hesitant. I feel silly waiting as long as I did to read this, because darn it, I enjoyed the crap out of this book. It’s not without some issues, but this book read like candy, which is perhaps why I enjoyed it so much.

While this book is very much a romance novel, it has a really well described mystery component. Frances assumes the identity of a passenger of the of the luxury yacht Persephone, and is one of the only survivors after it sinks. She is forced to become someone she isn’t in order to uncover a mystery about what happened behind the tragic event. Let me tell you — Ryan does this bit very well, making it not confusing (which can sometimes happen in a story like this) and she makes Frances transformation very fun to read about. She gets to be a sort of double agent, but not quite. Admittedly, for the most part, I dug her character. I loved her strength and gusto, but I loved how she knew when to be herself, and then be her alter-ego. I love that she understands the importance of staying in character, but she doesn’t want to lose who she truly is either. Is she likeable? Not at all, but on the flipside, she makes for an interesting person to read about.

If I’m being honest, there’s no one who is actually totally likeable. Morales is kind of all over the place, Shepard is a tool, and yet… I couldn’t stop reading about these awful characters! There was something about them being horrific and unappealing that caused me to turn the pages. This is a rare case for me where the story was so much more compelling than the characters, and I found I just had to know where it was going to go and how it was going to end. Here’s the other thing: you REALLY have to suspend your disbelief for this novel to work, which is why I think the reviews are so polarizing. There’s huge chunks in the plot that feel utterly ridiculous, but so compulsively readable! I read this book in two train rides from my commute, and let me tell you: I didn’t tear my eyes from the pages because this book was just so fun, and turning pages was like popping candy.

Is there’s anything I will criticize, it’s the romance. Yes, there is a romance in the book, and yes it plays a larger role than I would have liked. Grey wasn’t the most exciting love interest, and if anything, he was kind of a push over at times. The romance in this book felt too puppy-loveish considering the mystery that is presented throughout the story. This element does come across problematic, especially towards the end of the novel when it feels less about the revenge plot and more about her hooking up with Grey. I mean, we go from 200 pages of crazy excitement, action, and just plain fun, to this weird sort of desperation for a guy who is totally connected to the murder of Frances family. I struggled to buy that sort of Hollywood plotline where enemies become lovers — it’s not a favourite of mine, and sadly it didn’t work here for me either.

But still, this book was bizarrely fun to read, and totally out of my comfort zone. Carrie Ryan is worth reading because her promise is gorgeous and her stories are just so compulsively readable. It’s ultimately why I enjoy her as an author, and while this book is utterly ridiculous at times, I seriously cannot deny the amount of enjoyment I had reading Daughter of Deep Silence. Carrie Ryan knows how to suck her readers in, and don’t let the reviews sway you, if you can suspend your disbelief, there’s is a fun story to be had here.