Monthly Archives: March 2016

ARC Review – When We Collided by Emery Lord

25663637Title:  When We Collided

Author: Emery Lord

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Huge thank you to Razorbill Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

When We Collided ripped me apart as I was reading it. Perhaps it’s my current circumstances, perhaps it’s the fact that a lot of this novel mirrored too much of my own life… it just destroyed me. That makes for a fantastic reading experience, admittedly. This is one of those books where I connected on so many different levels and and it made for such a layered experience.

I loved the relationship between Vivi and Jonah. In fact, it was my favourite part of the novel. It wasn’t love at first sight, the romance between both characters felt so organic, as everything builds to a messy climax. Jonah in particular was the one I could really relate to, and stories about caregivers often get ignored. Often these stories tend to miss the burnout, the aggression, the frusration of feeling like you don’t matter compared to the person you’re caring for. I understood Jonah’s trials and tribulations, in fact, whenever he vented his emotions I found myself nodding along with him. I loved Jonah’s siblings as well, especially Leah, who I feel capatured a lot of the books emotion in terms of how younger children deal with hyper-sensitive situations.

I also loved Vivi. I saw a lot of myself in her as well — emotionally investeded in others, but struggles to take care of herself. Loves others unconditionally, but cannot seem to find the same love in herself. She’s a beautiful character packed with so much intensity and emotion. I loved her need to remind the world who she once was, where she is now, and who she wishes to become. I loved her constant need to surprise others, and find the beauty in everything. She’s so well developed, though to be fair, I think every character in this book is fantastically portrayed.

This book is messy, it’s emotional, it’s loving, it’s rough, it’s kind, it’s… everything one would expect from a story about people colliding and trying to find focus in there lives in situations where it’s not possible. Lord does this amazing job of reminder readers about how these kinds of struggles are so real and should not be ignored. She also reminds us that beautiful things can often come in the messiest packages.

ARC Review – Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

26030682Title: Girl in the Blue Coat

Author:  Monica Hesse

Rating:  ★★★★★

Synopsis: Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person–a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

HUGE thank you to The Novl for sending me an ARC for review!

River’s Review:

Omg I LOVED THIS BOOK! This year I’ve been trying to mix up my genre’s and I’ve been reading a lot more WWII fiction. As I’ve said in a previous review, I generally don’t read WWII stuff because it’s usually about someone in a camp. Not that those stories aren’t important and powerful in their own, they are just WAY. TOO. SAD. for me to read that often. So I like that I’m seeing books that have different angles on the war and what it was like to live in Nazi occupied Europe.

This book takes place in The Netherlands and it’s about a non-Jewish girl who works for the black market. She finds things and sells them, but she’s not a formal member of the resistance. Hanneke, our MC, takes care of her family and keeps her head down. But when one of her customer’s asks her to help find a missing Jewish girl Hanneke can’t help getting involved and one thing leads to another and before she knows it she’s entrenched in the resistance and risking her life for a girl she’s never met.

I loved the history of this, but I also loved the accessibility. There were times that the writing felt rather modern, but by the end I actually liked that. It’s easy to read and doesn’t feel too dense, which is another reasons I generally steer clear of historical fiction. I also loved that I learned so much! So often the focus of WWII stories is on Germany. The setting in this was refreshing and I loved the author’s note!

The end of this book really got me and I was in tears by the end of it. SEE SAD. But also hopeful. The twists and turns at the end I did NOT see coming and I was breathless with them.

Make sure to pick this book up even if you aren’t a huge fan of historical or WWII stories! You wont regret it!

ARC Review – Just Like Me by Nancy Cavanaugh

27204775Title: Just Like Me

Author:  Nancy Cavanaugh

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: Who eats Cheetos with chopsticks?! Avery and Becca, my “Chinese Sisters,” that’s who. We’re not really sisters—we were just adopted from the same orphanage. And we’re nothing alike. They sing Chinese love songs on the bus to summer camp, and I pretend like I don’t know them. To make everything worse, we have to journal about our time at camp so the adoption agency can do some kind of “where are they now” newsletter. I’ll tell you where I am: At Camp Little Big Woods in a cabin with five other girls who aren’t getting along, competing for a campout and losing (badly), wondering how I got here…and where I belong.

Huge thank you to Sourcebooks and Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I wasn’t sure what I got myself into when I requested Just Like Me. I knew it was about adoption, culture and identity. What I didn’t know, was how much it would emotionally affect me in the end. Julia, Avery and Becca are all Chinese girls who have been adopted. While Becca and Avery still feel very close to their Chinese roots, Julia has other feelings.

In fact, Julia’s feelings are what emotionally got me. She’s adopted by parents who are Italian and Irish, and she recognizes that in no way does she look or act like them. She’s completely aware that they are not her birth parents, but she feels a closer connect to them then she does her birth family. When Becca and Avery attempt to immerse Julia into Chinese songs and games, she takes no part because she doesn’t feel that she is connected to her Chinese heritage.

Julia’s narration is both sassy as it is heartbreaking. She doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere, and no matter how hard she tries, she struggles to really feel connected to anyone, until she meets Gina at summer camp. While Avery and Becca choose to stick together, Julia struggles with her own personal and cultural identity because she feels as there isn’t anyone else “like her,” meanwhile she is afraid to embrace all the parts of her that exist that make up who she truly is. This is a beautiful story, and while I don’t suffer from Julia’s problems, I can empathize her desire to figure out who she is and her own self-worth.

Just Like Me definitely has it’s funny moments, but it’s certainly a very raw story of understanding and figuring out where you belong. It’s a great story on what it means to grow up when you’re already unsure of who you are. Julia is a fantastic protagonist to follow, and the message this story presents really broke my heart at times. This is a lovely summer contemporary read that will remind you that regardless of age, you are always worthy of someone’s love.

ARC Review – The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

23232950Title: The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions)

Author: Amy Spalding

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Filled with tons of romance, rivalry, and passive-aggressive dog walking, Amy Spalding delivers a hilariously relatable high school story that’s sure to have you falling for The New Guy.

Huge thanks to The Novl for sending me an ARC for review!

River’s Review:

So last year I read and LOOOOOVED Kissing Ted Callahan and when I heard that Spalding had a new book coming out I was SO EXCITED!

Sadly this book didn’t quite live up to my love for KTC, but I did enjoy it!

The New Guy is a story about Jules and how she deals with her senior year of high school. She’s an overachiever and spends a lot of her time doing whatever she can to get herself into Brown. She’s the editor of her school paper, she walks dogs at the local shelter, and she’s a top student. She also volunteers to show new kids around on their first day of school. Enter Alex, the new guy, who was also an ex-viral boy band sensation. He’s not really famous anymore, and in LA your 15 minutes of fame is usually quickly forgotten. The students at their school spend a few minutes freaking out about Alex, but then he just becomes another student.

He does fall for Jules pretty quickly (too quickly…) and they start to date. Only for about a week though until he starts to work for their schools new broadcast news club… which Jules takes as a personal attack on her and the school newspaper.

Jules and her crew set out to destroy the broadcast news club and in doing so she ends up hurting a lot of people… Alex, her best friend and herself included.

Overall this is a good story about first love, friendship, and family. I enjoyed Jules’ relationships with her two moms, her best friend Sadie, and even Alex. Jules is a very honest, hardworking, but sometimes naive girl, and this gets her into trouble. But this book didn’t quite have the wit and quirk in it that I’d been hoping for after having loved KTC so much.

ARC Review – A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro

23272028Title: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me an ARC of this for review!

River’s Review:

I LOVED this book! I’m going to be honest, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. The idea sounded excellent, but Sherlock stories can always go sideways quickly. I’m a fan of the BBC version and I highly enjoy the newer movies, even some of the older films are okay, but I really dislike the American remake and I’ve had issues with some of the other YA Sherlock remakes. So I went into this with low expectations and was worried it was going to be cringe worthy… and it’s not.

First off I love the writing. I compared it to one of my favorite author’s writing and had a friend look at me with shock because that is some HIGH praise coming from me. I love how posh everything is, how quaintly New England the rest of it is. There are a lot of clever moments in this but it’s not super heavy handed THIS IS SHERLOCK at any time. I also laughed at the James Bond part.

The homage paid to the original Sherlock stories was so well done. I loved the name play, the references to both old and new Sherlock. I also really enjoyed how Holmes and Watson were portrayed. In this book Holmes is a girl, but she’s also very much… a Holmes. I loved the whole backstory that was created for both families and how well it matched with the Watson and Holmes we currently know and love. I really liked how dark Holmes was; and yes she has a drug problem. It is addressed. But I think it’s done will in this book. And the Watsons in this book were great. We get to see not only young Jamie Watson but his father, another Watson, at work here. The way that they interact with Charlotte is both hilarious and spot on to how I’d imagine previous Watsons would react to previous Holmeses.

The mystery in this was really fun too. I didn’t see whodunit coming and thought it was well played. There were moments of shock and moments of deduction and moments of plain good sleuthing.

Everything in this was just so pitch perfect and I really hope we get more!

ARC Review – The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

25785649Title: The Way I Used to Be

Author:  Amber Smith

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This was a tough book to read. It’s one that focuses on rape, consent, and how rape transforms someone. Eden, our heroine, spends a lot of this novel in self-reflection, transforming into a young woman who has had her world changed in a way in which she had no control. She becomes someone so drastically different after she is raped, and she is coming to terms with who she once was and who she has become.

The writing in this novel is absolutely stunning, and it makes for strong, absorbing storytelling. While I didn’t necessarily love the way in which it went through her four years of high school, it did grow on me as I read on. Sometimes it felt like time was moving crazy slow, other moments quick as lightning. It makes for a difficult yet unique approach to storytelling — how one event can make someone feel so polarized about themselves, and that’s a lot of what I felt the author was exploring.

I really loved Eden and her friendship with Mara. I loved watching their transformations go in completely different directions and yet they still were very bound to their friendship. In a lot of ways I felt like they were constantly rescuing each other from so much that has happened. The way in which their friendship was portrayed left me with a lot of thinking when I was finished the novel. There’s a lot of growth in Eden, and you see how complicated and complex she becomes as a character, and it’s shows so well in this story. I loved growing along side Eden.

This is a very challenging novel to read and I think it asks readers to look at difficult issues through different gazes. It asks people to understand that events can transform people for better or worse, and I feel like that is The Way I Used to Be‘s strong suit. This novel is beautiful as it is smart, and it definitely has the power to spark some real good conversation.

River’s Quickie Reviews #7

It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown one of these together, but River managed to get a crapton of books from ALAMW 2016, and has been writing some mini reviews for a few of the books she got her hands on. Enjoy some mini-reviews of titles that have either just released or will be coming out later in the year!


23266647

 

Title: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (May 3rd 2016 by Greenwillow )

Synopsis: Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.

River’s Review: This is a very fast read. I think I read it in about a half hour? It’s written in verse and the writing is SO gorgeous.

This is the story of a girl who has an abortion. She goes to a catholic school so there’s a lot of religious stuff going on in this book, but it’s not a book about condemning what was done. It’s not a book about a broken girl, just a girl who deals with the consequences of her actions and does what she believes is the right thing. This book isn’t preachy, but it does give a very interesting view on both sides of the debate, and I loved the juxtaposition going on in it.

I also really liked how quiet it was. She doesn’t go crazy and become a broken thing, but she does lose faith in herself and interest in things that were once important. Friends and family show concern, but it’s all very subtle and overall very well done.

This is a great book for a lazy afternoon. Beautiful writing, important content. It was something different and I needed it. 5/5 Stars.


25203675Title: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi  (April 26th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin)

Synopsis: Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth. But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

River’s Review: Here’s another book that I very much enjoyed but didn’t LOVE. The writing in this is breathtakingly gorgeous and I really enjoyed some of the side characters. But over all I felt a little displaced with the world and the two main characters didn’t do too much for me. I LOVED that it was based on Indian mythology, that’s not something that I’ve run into very much in YA. Kamala the flesh eating horse was hilarious, and I really enjoyed Gupta and his eccentricities. Sadly Maya was a little too gullible at times, but I did enjoy her growth as a woman in the story. Amar was every other brooding bad-good-guy.

The first 100 pages or so of this was slow and boring at times, but around 150 things really picked up and I loved the way that things were reveled and pieced together through Maya’s own personal journey.

I’m very excited to see what more Chokshi writes, because wow does she spin some beautiful tales! 4/5 Stars.


24724627

Title: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter (March 15th 2016 by Philomel Books)

Synopsis: Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms. But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

River’s Review: So I really liked this but something about the story felt super dated. I couldn’t place the time, and then there were mentions of cell phones and a couple of pop culture references, but overall this felt like it was set in the late 80s or early 90s for some reason.

And the college aspect of this was REALLY weird for me. I didn’t do the whole “freshman” thing when I was in college (I transferred in during my 2nd year) but I don’t remember my college (or any of my friends) having dances (like formals like you do in high school) and the pay phone at the end of the hallway and the very lack of anybody really following up with anything regarding Cassie just seemed really random and strange.

The emotional aspects, the mental health issues in this, and the writing were all really good though. 3/5 Stars.

 

 

ARC Review – This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

24039424Title: This Is Where the World Ends

Author:  Amy Zhang

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: The heart-wrenching new novel about best friends on a collision course with the real world, from the author of Falling into Place.

Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship, as long as no one finds out about it.

Huge thank you to HarperTeen/Harper Collins Canada for these ARCs!

River’s Review:

I really loved Zhang’s first book and I was so excited for this. I actually didn’t read the synopsis that is here on GR until right now… the synopsis on the back of the ARC is very, very short and doesn’t give away anything that the synopsis on here does. It also doesn’t really match the way that Micah deals with what happened to Janie… so I guess if you can, don’t try to match the synopsis to the book too much?

Anyway, I think that it’s very refreshing to have an actual teen voice in YA. So often we talk about authenticity in the diversity of the characters and that we should have books written by diverse authors… but what about diversity in age? That’s something I haven’t really heard much of. So I really enjoy Zhang’s books because I feel like they give us an even deeper look into what actual teens go through? I’m also hella impressed with her writing. I know that when I was her age-ish my writing wasn’t anything like this.

So, I liked this book. I liked the writing and the way the story wast told. I like that Janie kinda knows she’s a manicpixiedreamgirl and that she wants to be one because it’s high school and bitch please you can do whatever you want in high school because when you graduate and leave your shit small town home town then you can actually be you’re real self. At least that’s what Janie does to justify her actions a lot of the time. Especially when it comes to boys. She knows that Micah is in love with her and she knows that she’ll end up with him in he long run, but she wants to have fun before settling down. Makes sense. I was actually in a similar situation (tho I was in Micah’s position) for my senior year of high school and all of college.

Yes this book is about a manipulative friendship. They exist. In teens in adults, in high school, college, work… they are out there. Sometimes they turn around and sometimes they don’t.

Yes there is rape in this book. It’s not the central topic (the friendship is) but it does lead to the final events in this book. I think that it was handled well, but that the full extent that the synopsis of this book leads you to believe isn’t quite shown. And while Micah never really fully figures out what happened, through not wanting to, being blind, and not believing, it doesn’t really feel like it’s this huge wedge in their friendship. I guess I would have liked a little more exploration within that.

Overall I think this book is very good, but maybe not as solid as Zhang’s debut. It is compelling and I couldn’t put it down (read it in a day) and fans of contemporary YA should really enjoy this.

Sam’s Review:

I adored Amy Zhang’s debut Falling Into Place. It was one of those books I couldn’t get out of my head the moment I finished it. The writing was gorgous, and she provided me with what felt like an authentic teen voice. I admit though — I have a thing about pretty-ugly people, and This Is Where the World Ends continues this loves. If only Goodreads hadn’t posted the major spoiler of this book as the blurb!

Janie and Micah are inseperable, and it’s to the point where they have this disturbing toxic relationship built upon co-dependency. When janie goes missing, Micah spends a lot of the novel contemplating his relationship with her, while also potentially believing that he may have been the cause. In the before segments of the novel, we are looking at Janie and her need to feel wanted by others. It’s also about her “relationship” with both Micah and Anders, and the personal apocalyse that she creates. She is raped, feels as though no one will believe her, and questions if anyone really gives a crap about her. At the same time, however, Janie is someone who emotionally manipulates others, and has no problem bringing people down a peg. She’s not a nice person in the slightest, but rape is not something you wish upon someone either.

I felt for both characters in the story, even though I was so frusrated and angry by their actions. A lot of the characters in this book are unlikable, mean, ugly, but they feel so realistic and important. There’s no kindness nor justice in the world that Zhang illusrates, and you get this dire sense that human decency is a dead art form. There’s so much victim blaming, aggression, and it made me so sad. Especially when we learn what the metaphors mean… it really affected me.

I also appreciate the protrayal of friendship in this novel, as it’s the main focus. While it’s not the kind fo friendship one wants to have, it makes so much sense in the relationship that Zhang has painted for Micah and Janie. It’s disturbing, raw, playful, and I loved all those elements about it. While I can’t say I enjoyed this book as much as Falling Into Place, I still feel like this novel offers an autheentic voice that we need more of in YA. This book is definitely recommended for those who love diverse relationships and screwed up friendships.

Blog Tour – Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson (Review and Q&A)

Gena/Finn is one of those books where if you grew up loving a fandom so hard with your friends, you’ll appreciate it from head to toe. When I learned about its existence during the #TeensRead event hosted by Raincoast, I knew I had to get my paws on this book. If I’m being honest, this book brought up a lot of great memories and was everything I hoped it would be.

Huge thanks for Raincoast, as well as the authors, for letting me in on this blog tour, and into their worlds. Even if it’s only a little bit.


19254725Title: Gena/Finn

Author: Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:
Gena/Finn is a book that brought up a lot for memories for me. The majority of my university years were spent with people loving and worshiping fandoms. From cheesy Canadian televisions shows such as The Collector to the fantastically aged video game series Suikoden, the majority of the friends that I have came from being a part of a fandom.

This book is told in a mixed media format: chat logs, e-mails, text logs, blog posts, litter the pages this book from beginning to end. It’s actually perfect given how this story is being told. Gena is a young girl who has a secret identity, while Finn is a twenty-five year old recent college grad who is trying to find where she fits into the world. She has the perfect boyfriend, but he doesn’t seem as interested in her fannish life.

The story of Gena/Finn hit so close to home as I was reading it. It reminded me of my university days where I would spend hours looking through message boards (we didn’t have tumblr when I was growing up), I ran a successful Suikoden role-playing community over on Livejournal, and I even shared that love with my friends. We all felt as though we were sharing all our loves and passions, and that is totally reflected in both heroines, Gena and Finn.

When fandom and real life begin to collide and feelings become apart of the equation, this novel loses a bit of the fannish edge in favour of pushing the larger parts of the narrative forward, while still inserting fannish aspects when possible. It’s delightful, heartbreaking, emotional, and I found I could identify with both heroines a lot of the time. The only character I couldn’t identify with was Charlie, seeing as my husband has been a large influence in my life when it comes to fandoms as well. However, I could totally understand and even empathize with him and his personal feelings through the novel.

Fandom often gets such a tough rap and treated as something to be misunderstood. Gena/Finn remind us that fandom came bring people together in remarkable ways. There’s so much love and attention to detail in this novel, and I loved the positive memories that it reminded me of as I was reading it. This story just gave me all the feels, and it’s a book I plan on buying for all my fannish ladyfriends because dammit fandom friendships are rad.


Q&A with Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson!

As always, Raincoast has allowed all the blog tour participants to ask the authors a question or two in regards to their novel. Here’s what I asked to Hannah and Kat in regards to Gena/Finn!

What is your favourite fannish memory? What fandom do you feel defines a lot of your
personality?

KAT: Before Gena/Finn was a thing, Hannah and I used to write fanfiction together on
occasion. So there was this one night when we’d come up with a project we wanted to start
together. We were up all night hashing out the details – creating a place to host the
stories, making art, outlining what was going to happen. We had a few nights like that
when we were working on Gena/Finn, but I think working on this fanfiction project was the
first. It was the kind of epic all-nighter you can only have with your best friend.

HANNAH: My favorite fannish memory is when I met the stars of Degrassi on their mall
tour. I made them shirts with quotes their characters said on the show. I’m sure Drake
still wears his all the time. (Sam’s Note: We can only hope so, Hannah!)


And that’s a wrap for this blog tour! Huge thank you to both Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson for taking time out of their schedules to answer some questions, and an equally large thank you to Raincoast for allowing me the chance to participate on the tour. If you’d like to see where the Gena/Finn blog tour is heading to next, check out the tour schedule below. Remember: fandom is delightful, and some of the best folks you will ever meet, will be because you loved the same thing so damn hard. 🙂

blogtour

Late to the Party ARC Review – The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

15993203Title: The Dark Days Club

Author:  Alison Goodman

Rating:  ★★★

Synopsis: London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Huge thank you to Razorbill Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am insanely torn with how I feel about The Dark Days Club. This was a book adored by so many of my friends, and it hard everything I should have loved in a story: regency era politics, paranormal magic fun times, and in depth, gorgeous world-building.

And yet, I was bored for large chunks of this novel. It seemed like Goodman had so much she wanted to build in this story, so there would be these periods where I was completely in love and engaged with the story, and other moments where I found myself screaming “GET ON WITH IT!” It’s a book that just felt like such a mixed bag — if the world building was on and awesome, then the characters felt flat. If the world building was boring, the characters oddly seemed more engaging. I feel like this book is just too difficult to describe, but it made my emotions flip flop all over the place.

For me, there are chunks of this novel that are just perfectly described, and then other moments where I found myself slogging through the text to get to the good bits. I loved the last hundred pages of the story, while the middle just felt like it carried on too long. I admit, I think so much was just built up in this story that the characters were just missing the spark for me. I wanted more from them, and I wanted to have a strong connection… but it never quite happened. The pacing is slow and deliberate, but even then I felt like I was missing something a lot of the time.

I feel like The Dark Days Club is going to be a polarizing read for a lot of folks. This was my first Alison Goodman book, and I do plan on giving her another shot given that I have Eon sitting on my shelves. I’m unsure as to whether or not I will continue with this series, as it’s interesting, but it didn’t quite keep my attention. This is great for lovers of paranormal, as well as historical fiction, and I do think it’s worth the shot if you can handle a slower burn read.