Monthly Archives: July 2016

#ARCAugust is Upon Us!

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Once again I’ve decided I am participating in #ARCAugust, hosted by the amazing Octavia & Shelly @ Read. Sleep. Repeat. This is my third year participating in the event and I always find it to be a fun, productive way to knock out a large chunk of the ARCs I’ve recieved that are either Fall/Winter releases, or earlier releases I may have missed and need to review still.

Like always, I am going to be posting weekly updates to highlight my progress for the event. Some of the reviews you may see pretty early, others will be likely closer to their release dates in the Fall. Here’s what I am planning to tackle!

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  • The Dog Who Dared to Dream by Hwang Sun-mi (September 6)
  • This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills (October 4)
  • The Infinity Year of Avalon James by Dana Middleton (October 11)
  • Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure by Ann M. Martin (September 6)
  • Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil (October 4)
  • When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (October 4)
  • Speed of Life by J.M Kelly (October 11)
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (September 6)
  • Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel (September 20)
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
    by Adam Gidwitz (September 27)
  • Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin (November 1)
  • Afterward by Jennifer Mathiu (September 20)
  • Write This Down by Claudia Mills (September 27, ebook)
  • The Swan Riders by Erin Bow (September 20)
  • Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands (September 6)

I realize that my list is crazy ambitious for the month, and I am eager to see what I actually manage to complete as well. If you are participating in #ARCAugust, I’d love to see your TBR.

Five Middle Grade Novels You Should Read This Summer

I realize we are already halfway through the summer, and my goodness does time fly! During the summer there are two genres that I really gravitate towards: contemporary and middle grade. While I do think middle grade is always best enjoyed all year round, I find I read a lot of it during the summer. There’s something about falling into a story where there’s an adventure, there’s still a sense of innocence, and I feel like that is just something I can always connect with.

Today, I thought I’d share with you all five middle grade novels I think would be great to check out this summer.

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The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall

I am convienced that this is THE summer middle grade series to read. Every adventure that Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty have are always such a delight, and Birdsall does an amazing job of evoking a level fo genuiness with this series. While I haven’t read Penderwicks in the Spring yet, I can definitely attest to what an easy, breezy, enjoyable read this series is. Seriously, Batty alone will make you smile, I promise.

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Tru & Nelle by G. Neri

This is a novel that looks at the historical relationship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee. Majority fo this novel takes place during a hot summer in Alabama, and it depicts a beautiful friendship, while also tackling issues of segregation. There’s a lot of heart and soul in this story that just made me smile. It’s the perfect middle grade to bust out the iced tea and sit outside and devour.

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The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

This book and its sequel The Boy Who Knew Everything are amazing books that I will never ever shut up about. These are fast-paced fantasy novels that star children with extraordinary abilities. This series is incredibely clever, very imaginative, and it offers a lot of fun and exitment while also exploring issues of difference and identity in a wonderful way. READ THESE BOOKS, YO.

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The Hamster Princess series by Ursula Vernon

Part novel, part comic, Hamster Princess is simply amazeballs. Hilarious, quicky, this series will make you laugh so hard that you cry. Harriet is a delight and she knows she needs know prince charming to be a kick butt rogue princess. With two books so far in the series, there’s just way too much fun to be had with this series, and these make for great, quick summer reads!

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The Hook’s Revenge series
by Heidi Schulz

PIRATES! Pirates are totally summery, right? Get ready for some crazy adventures on the high seas with  Jocelyn, daughter of the infamous Captain James Hook. This book is about becoming the kind of person you want to be, fighting to be recognized, and knowing that you can really achieve anything you set your mind to, Great humour, awesome messages, and just plain fun. Now I just need to remember to read book two!

And those are my five picks for some great summer middle grade books. I am always looking for great middle grade recommendations, so if you have any, please consider sharing with me! 🙂

#Booktubeathon! TBR

I love #Booktubeathon even though I don’t booktube. I love being able to participate in the challenges and figure out what I want to read. Seriously, seven books in seven days? It’s insane, but totally do-able and I’ve been lucky that nearly every year I have done this, I have successfully completed the challenges. The event runs from July 18th to the 24th! Here’s what I will be reading and what challenges they will hit!

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1/ Read a book with yellow on the cover. — Gertie’s Leap to Greatness
by Kate Beasley 
2/ Read a book only after sunset.  — Castle of the Zombies (The Fixers #1)
by Sean Williams 

3/ Read a book you discovered through booktube. — The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers
4/ Read a book by one of your favourite authors.  — Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King
5/ Read a book that is older than you. — The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, 

6/ Read and watch a book-to-movie adaptation. — The Green Mile by Stephen King 
7/ Read seven books. — Planet Of The Cyborgs (The Fixers #2) by Sean Williams 

We shall see how I do! If you are participating, let me know down in the comments!

Book Chat – Learning to Love Audiobooks

Audiobooking was a thing I thought I’d never do. The idea of listening to a book being read to you did not feel like “reading” to me. I felt a lot of hesitation towards audiobooks and I am disappointed in myself for allowing my previous judgement dictate how I feel.

Now, especially as I’ve grown older, I am enjoying audiobooks more. I find them great for when I’m walking my dog (big dog, little dog hates walks) or when I’m cleaning my house, it’s great to just listen to a story while working. I think my enjoyment of audiobooks may also be due to the fact that it is something I am constantly teaching at work to customers on who to use if they don’t want to talk out Audiobooks on CD. Teaching them how to download them through places like OneClickDigital or Overdrive through the library teaches them that there’s a pletora of titles out there to listen to and enjoy.

Some of my favourite audiobooks are the ones read by the authors themselves. Part of the reason I love when authors read their own books is it adds a level of authenticity to characters. I may imagine who one character sounds in my head while the author may have something drastically different. If you ever want to hear a sense of what I mean, listen to any book by Judy Blume that she reads and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Through my adventures in audiobooking, I’ve found titles that have worked well for me, and some that I think I would have enjoyed more had I read the physical book. Narrators really do make a world of difference and if you have the chance to check out an audio sample, I always recommend doing so because there’s nothing worse than wanting to read a book and the narrator isn’t what you were expecting.

If you aren’t sure where to start, here’s three audiobooks I absolutely adored and definitely recommend checking out.

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You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
by Felicia Day

This is a fantastic audiobook that is read by the author and it’s adds a great level of authenticity. When Felicia is fangirling over video games and conventions, there’s a real genuiness to hearing her voice — you get a better sense of her emotions, and when she talks about her social anxiety and depression, it’s very raw to listen to her discuss it with such strength. She doesn’t sugarcoat her feelings in any way, and I think that’s why this worked so well for me as an audiobook. The only downside? It comes with a PDF to enjoy some of the photograph content, but you know what? It’s fiiiiine!

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Crudrat
by Gail Carriger

I kickstarted this book a few years back and it was my real first foray into audiobooks — and this was a full cast audiobook performance no less! Fantastically produced, and a fun story overall, Crudrat is the pinncale of what audiobooks can do for listeners, providing such a rich and intense listening experience. Seriously, if you can get a copy it’s worth checking out.

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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (The Penderwicks #1)
by Jeanne Birdsall, Read By: Susan Denaker 

My first foray into the Penderwicks was actually through audiobook. This series has a fantastic reader in Susan Denaker, who does can amazing job giving voices to each of the characters in this series, each very distinctive. This is how I fell in love with this series, and since my work doesn’t have books three or four in digital audiobook format, I had to resort to physically reading them and you know what? I pictured the characters the way Susan Denaker read them. Crazy, huh?

If you’ve been enjoying audiobooks, how did you get started on them? What have been some of your favourites you’ve listened to? Let me know down in the comments!

Book Review – The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

20519011Title: The Accidental Highwayman

Author: Ben Tripp

Rating: ★ 1/2

Synopsis: In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.  Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this finished copy!

Sam’s Review:

I wanted to love this book so badly. I love stories of highwaymen, swashbuckling, and being a servant who dons a hero’s mantle. However, a lot of this book just didn’t work for me personally.

Frankly, for all those things I mentioned above, this book is very dull. More problematic is the fact that the language feels almost too challenging for the audience is it being geared towards. Tripp borrow’s Pratchett’s signature, using footnotes to convey more pieces of the story while also using it to define words being used and its context, but even that feels very bogged down and boring. The footnotes are not interesting to read at all, and while I enjoyed the additional words I could add to my vocabulary, it added nothing to the story for me on a whole.

The Accidental Highwayman is also bogged down by the story’s romance. The romance is boring. Boring, boring, boring. It’s also so cliched and uninspired and if I’m being frank, I kind of found it a little on the suffoicating side. Everyone in the story outside of Kit feels too one-dimensial (the women, omg the women are painful), and there’s too much info-dumping at times to keep the story interesting. If anything, the story parts are bogged down by so much unnecessary information that it made me cry “get on with it!”

If I am saying that, there’s a problem.

For a middle grade swashbuckling adventure, there is way better out there. If you don’t mind being bogged down by tons of information or the flat characters, you could find some enjoyment here. While the adventure had it’s moments, they felt few and far between, making The Accidental Highwayman a tough book to recommend in the end.

Five Books I Want to Read Over the Summer

Summer is officially upon us. At work I am currently on tap to help out with our library’s Summer Reading Club, which is quite the big job. Why, you ask? Because we are teaching children about the importance of reading and writing all summer long! Furthermore we are getting the kids to track a lot of what they read. But that’s another story.

I LOVE summertime. I especially love reading out on my back porch with a beer in one hand and a book in the other. Here are five books I REALLY want to read this summer, and a little bit about why I want to get to them. If you’ve read them, let me know what you thought of the choices in the comments!

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Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts & Revenge #1)
by Katie Finn

I have had this book on my shelf since the year I got married and it’s one of those books that looks like a perfect summer read. I’ve heard this series is cheeky, a bit ridiculous, and a lot of fun. Plus if I enjoy it, I know there are two more books in this series. I love Morgan Matson, so I am interested to see how her Kate Finn persona plays out.

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Run
by Kody Keplinger

During the summer, I always have a huge craving for contemporary, be it adult or YA. I have loved every Kody Keplinger book I have read (and I am mad I have books by her I haven’t read yet either). Molly was lucky enough to score me an ARC of this book because she knew how much I loved Kody Kelinger’s other books and I love the sound of the premise for this one as the focus on friendship seems to be a larger theme. A+ in my books!

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Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire #8)
by Naomi Novik

I adore the Temeraire series and this is the book I have left off at. I have it, but for whatever reason, I haven’t actually read it yet. The last book also recently released so I feel like I need to just binge read the two of them because who the heck doesn’t love smart-ass talking dragons? Plus, I want a big chunky fantasy read and I feel like coming back to this series might be exactly what I may be craving.

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Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure by Ann M. Martin

Middle grade is another thing I love to devour during the summer. The reads are often lighter and light-hearted. This book looks adorable and I feel like it’s the kind of book I would be able to breeze through during an afternoon. Plus, artwork by Ben Hatke! How can I go wrong?

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1)
by Becky Chambers

I’ve been wanting to read a lot of science fiction again lately, more specifically, books that focus on space and space travel. I kept hearing crazy good buzz about this book and Rachel Bach’s Paradox series. This book apparently is one of those reads that sucks you in and then you are demanding more by the end of it. Sounds like my kind of book!

What are some of the books you want to get to this summer? I realise I picked five, but let’s face it, there’s always more!

ARC Review – The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno

23253261Title: The Lost & Found

Author: Katrina Leno

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: LOST: Frannie and Louis met in an online support group when they were both younger. They have never met face-to-face. They don’t even know each other’s real names. All they know is that they both have a mysterious tendency to lose things. Well, not lose them, exactly. Things just seem to…disappear.

FOUND: They each receive news in the mail that sets them off on a road trip to Austin, Texas, looking for answers—and each other. Along the way, each one begins to find, as if by magic, important things the other has lost. And by the time they finally meet in person, they realize that the things you lose might be things you weren’t meant to have at all, and that you never know what you might find if you just take a chance.

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

Molly’s Review:

So I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of this from the author AND an ARC from the publisher (which I gave away on twitter) and I cannot wait to get my finished copy. If you know me you know that I LOVED Leno’s debut, and that I’ve forged a friendship with her on twitter. I have been dying for this book and then when I got it I was almost scared to read it because I had such high expectations.

This book went on a journey with me and I think it was the perfect companion and I’m kinda glad that I waited for the perfect moment to read this. I went to visit my family last week after not having seen them in two years. This trip was special to me and I knew that it was going to change me in some unknown ways. And this book is about that kind of journey. About following your instincts and finding yourself. I needed this book to be with me and I’m so lucky that I had it.

I love Leno’s writing and I could read her stuff for hours. I cannot wait to get more of her books in the future. I also love her characters, they’re all so naturally complex and diverse. She throws A LOT of diversity into this book, but it’s all very quiet and isn’t forced. It wasn’t done to make the book diverse, it was just the way that the pieces fell. Frannie has a very troubled past filled with mental illness. Louis is half Indian, as is his twin sister, and he suffers from PTSD and OCD tendencies. He’s an insomniac (something that I could SO relate to) and his sister is a disabled amputee. But this is NOT a story about their diverse characteristics, but about the characters themselves. And I loved how masterfully Leno was able to craft that into her story.

Frannie and Louis are both suffering from traumas in their past and they are both trying to find the things that they lose (literally, these things just vanish). There is an element of magical realism in this book (at least that’s how it read to me, it could be different for others) and I loved that so, so, so very much. Frannie and Louis are online friends and they met through a group of trauma survivors. And by a twist of fate they end up having the chance to meet in real life. They both head to Texas for their own reasons, on their own journeys, with their loved ones (Frannie with her cousin and Louis with his sister), and are just lucky enough to have the chance to meet.

The story is told in alternating POV chapters and usually I hate this but it worked really well because we got to see both sides of the story and each character’s journey from their own POV. I loved how things began to merge and the different experiences and growth that they all had. The side characters in this book are wonderful and complex and amazing.

I really loved how unconventional this book was. You think it’s going to be one thing and it pulls the rug out from under you and is something totally different. Yes there is a love story, yes there is a friendship story, yes there is a sibling story. But they are not what you think they’re going to be. And it’s a happysad ending. I was so satisfied.