Monthly Archives: July 2017

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – July Reads

I had no internet for a chunk of July! It was an odd experience, and one I haven’t had in a long time. On the other side of the situation, I read a lot in the month of July and I am crazy proud of that. I even completed some Read Harder Challenges!

 

The Chinese Knot: And Other Stories by Lien Chao

Completes Challenge #10: Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location

Thoughts: This book was recommended to me by one of my colleagues that I work with. I am not the biggest short story reader, but I’ve found this year I’ve been reading more and more as a means to broaden my reading. These stories look at Chinese immigrant perspectives in downtown Toronto. One thing I immensely enjoyed about the stories is how Lien Chao visualizes Toronto and shows how the city is deeply rooted in many of the new immigrants. “Rose” was my absolutely favourite story in this collection, as it looks as immigration through the lens of someone who has been in the city a long time and watching how it has changed for them over the years. I found most of the stories a bit same-y, but I did think the writing was pretty excellent.

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#ARCAugust 2017 Introduction!

Every year Octavia & Shelly @ Read. Sleep. Repeat host one of my favourite month long events over at their blog: #ARCAugust. The event encourages participants to read and review their pile of ARCs that perhaps may have gotten a touch out of control. They host Twitter chats, and there’s even prizes along the way. I *love* this event and it’s great motivation to work through the pile of ARCs I’ve accumulate, on top of the fact that it’s such a wonderful and communal event.

This #ARCAugust my goal is to complete ten ARCs, and then if I manage that simply keep going. Most of the books I will be tackling will be coming out later in the year, though there will be a few I just missed during the course of the year as well. Here’s the ten I plain to tackle:

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Thornhill by Pam Smy (Release Date: August 29th)
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Release Date: September 19th)
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (Release Date: December 26th)
  • Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Release Date: September 26th)
  • These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips (Release Date: August 1st)
  • Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt (Release Date: August 22nd)
  • That Inevitable Victoria Thing by E.K Johnston (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Release Date: October 10th)
  • Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (Release Date: October 3rd)

This means I need to review 3 August titles, 2 September titles, 4 October titles, and 1 December title. I am actually really excited to read all of these books, and honestly it means I don’t have as many Fall/Winter titles to tackle come those quarters. We’ll see how I do, however! I’ll be doing weekly updates showcasing my progress as well.

Seriously though, if you have a ton of ARCs you need to get though, definitely consider participating in #ARCAugust!

Ten Comics & Graphic Novels, and Manga You Should Check Out! July 2017 Edition

Holy crap, it has been seven months and I haven’t even shared some new comic, graphic novel or manga recommendations. The crazy part is I’ve read SO MANY new and awesome things that I need to share with everyone. Here’s ten new recommendations that you need to go out, RIGHT NOW and check out. Buy them, get them from the library, borrow from a friend, just NOW.

But before I get into recommending some great comics, graphic novels and manga, I thought I’d share a few ways on how I get my fix. First off, I work for my public library and public libraries are a great source for getting graphic novels/comics/manga, and if there’s a series you want to read and your library doesn’t have it, ASK THEM TO GET IT! We love recommendations on how to make our collections better! Or if you want to show your support because you have the cash, buy comics and graphic novels from your local book store or comic shop and show that this is worth the investment.

Another good source is Comixology, which constantly has sales on all the popular publishers that it houses. It also has one of the best digital panel viewers to make it easier to read comics as well. If you don’t have a lot of money, but want to read comics digitally, see if your library has OverDrive or Hoopla, as both those services carry a wide variety of comics and graphic novels, and they are all free with your library card.

And now, without further ado, some new recommendations!

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop, Vol. 1: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson et al.

I was a huge, huge fangirl for both the Matt Fraction and Jeff Lemire runs of Hawkeye, but Kelly Thompson my have them beat with her amazing rendition of Kate Bishop. Stylish, sassy, and just a heck of a lot of fun, Kate is best Hawkeye, and you’ll learn how she really gives Clint a run for his money. Also the art is phenomenal and it never looks inconsistent either. Just, omg I need more nao.

Chew Vol 1. Taster’s Choice by   John Layman & Rob Guillory

I realize this series has been around since 2009 and I am only just getting to it now, but it’s REALLY GOOD and I wish I had started it sooner. I am a huge iZombie fan, and this is a comic where you really see some parallels between the two works. Tony Chu is *hilarious* as a protagonist and his partner is… special to say the least. This is easy a series I will whip through as my holds come in from work, but a really fun read, though not for a faint of heart.

Welcome to the Ballroom Vol 1 by Tomo Takeuchi

While dabbling in my love of Haikyu!! one of my dearest friends had talked about getting into Welcome to the Ballroom. Then I saw another friend on Goodreads enjoying it, even giving every volume out so far five stars, and I knew I needed to check this out. With such a silly premise and adorable characters, I feel like the anime for this can’t come soon enough. Plus the art is beautiful looking as you progress through the volumes. I can’t wait to read more. Poor Tartara never catches a break. 😦

Spell on Wheels Vol 1 by Kate Leth et al.

One of my author friends, Vikki VanSickle read and raved about how fun this series is. The saw week she said this, was the same week it was on sale on Comixology. 99 cents per single issue? How can I go wrong? Well, now I need more of it. This is a very inclusive comic series about three young witches, two which are dating, as they attempt to retrive their stolen belongs by going on a road trip. Very fun and feminist, with very loveable characters. I want more.

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

I make no bones about being an insane Jeff Lemire fangirl. Both my husband and I are huge fans of his work. While his art style is very unique, the man is a fantastic storyteller. During the month of June, I binged all of Lemire’s works that I hadn’t read, from catching up with Descender, reading Trillium and Essex County, but the book that spiraled me into that binge read was Roughneck, his latest effort. Roughneck left me with so many emotions, from sadness, to anger, to fear. A good storyteller should do that effortlessly, and by the end of the story my heart was in a million pieces and I was cleaning it up with a dustpan. Curse your talents, Jeff Lemire. Curse them.

Fetch: How A Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J Georges

I recently reviewed this! You can read the full review here. The short version: for animal lovers who are okay with some intense uglycrying.

One Punch Man by ONE et al.

As many of you know, I work in a public library, and more specifically, I have the task of working with middle graders and teens when it comes to Reader’s Advisory. It was my Branch Librarian who’s recommendations I trust that led me to One Punch Man, a series I didn’t know I needed in my life. All the teens at my branch were reading and loving it, and it was one of those mangas I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy. Then I read the first volume and fell down the rabbit hole and have been unable to get out of it since. Saitama and friends are doofy and I LOVE THEM. It is like a more hilarious version of Dragon Ball Z, and that alone makes it fabulous.

The March trilogy by John Lewis et al.

Easily one of the most important graphic novels to date, the March trilogy explores the life of Senator John Lewis during some of the most important events in the American civil rights movement. It chronicles a young John Lewis beginning his days as an activist, and moving towards the march on Selma. You see how some of his most important relationships form, as well as how he takes responsibility for the lives that have been lost in many of these non-violent protests. Each volume paints each event in such a vivid way, and it reminds us that even now we still have a long way to go to making things better for PoC. Escellent stuff here, and one I need to get for my shelves (I borrowed the trilogy from my work). A must read for those who not only love graphic novels, but love seeing history in a different way.

SuperCakes by Kat Leyh

This is an adorable comic about two ladies who are madly in love with each other, and are both super heroines. I picked this up on a whim at this year’s TCAF, and it made my heart so so happy. May and Mo are SO DAMN CUTE, and I appreciate that Leyh showcases many of the women in the story in varying shapes and sizes. Yay for big girls! Yay for small girls! Yay for girls! While this is just one adventure, you can still read SuperCakes online by going to this link!

Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura

In my quest to rediscover manga, I remember I was watching a recommendation video by the amazing Elena @ Elena Reads Books‘ Channel, and this was a title that popped up. The name didn’t click with me right away, but it was also a series my husband had recommended as well. Princess Jellyfish is a wonderful series about women, friendship and fashion. I love those first two themes, though fashion is one I maintain I still couldn’t give a crap about. The characters are wonderfully fleshed out and the drama in it is pretty… crazy at times. Really been enjoying this series and loving that it’s one my work carries in the giant bind-up editions!

And there you have it! I am so sorry I went so long without sharing some new recommendations. I’ve had folks asking and I feel terrible with how long it took. All of the titles above are A+ and worth reading. Hopefully I’ll have another batch of recommendations soon!

ARC Review – Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges

Title: Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home

Author: Nicole J. Georges

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: When Nicole Georges was sixteen she adopted Beija, a dysfunctional shar-pei/corgi mix—a troublesome combination of tiny and attack, just like teenaged Nicole herself. For the next fifteen years, Beija would be the one constant in her life. Through depression, relationships gone awry, and an unmoored young adulthood played out against the backdrop of the Portland punk scene, Beija was there, wearing her “Don’t Pet Me” bandana.   Georges’s gorgeous graphic novel Fetch chronicles their symbiotic, codependent relationship and probes what it means to care for and be responsible to another living thing—a living thing that occasionally lunges at toddlers. Nicole turns to vets, dog whisperers, and even a pet psychic for help, but it is the moments of accommodation, adaption, and compassion that sustain them. Nicole never successfully taught Beija “sit,” but in the end, Beija taught Nicole how to stay.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I knew this book was going to emotionally wreck me. This is the story of Nicole J. Georges and her dog, Beija. Beija is a shar-pei/corgi mix with some behavioral troubles. She’s not comfortable with people petting her, she’s somewhat aggressive when people emit different kinds of energy levels. She is constantly told by people that she is a horrible, no good, bad dog. However, reading this graphic memoir you can see through Nicole George’s perspective that Beija is also a misunderstood dog.

As someone who owns a bulldog, I actually found myself understanding where the author was coming from. It’s hard because in some circumstances you understand why people see and say what they do when they think something is wrong with a dog’s behavior, but the fault in that is that often people don’t give certain breeds of dog a chance to become better.

It’s very evident in this story how much the author loved her dog and how much her dog helped me with a dark period of her life. Animals have magic powers in this regard, they know when their companion needs them and will do anything to try and make things better. I also loved the artwork in this graphic memoir. It’s got great visual appeal and the author does an amazing job of illustrating the story that she wanted to tell.

I really loved this story, and I definitely want to check out more of Nicole J Georges graphic memoirs. Fetch is both funny as it is heartbreaking, and if you are an animal lover and owner it will probably make you cry. I know I did.

ARC Review – Bubbles by Abby Cooper

Title: Bubbles

Author: Abby Cooper

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Sophie Mulvaney’s world has been turned upside down. Mom lost her job at the TV station and broke up with Pratik, whom Sophie adored. Her teacher is making them do a special project about risk-taking, so Sophie gets roped into doing a triathlon. And to top it all off, she’s started seeing bubbles above people’s heads that tell her what these people are thinking. Seeing other people’s thoughts seems like it should be cool, but it’s actually just stressful. What does it mean that Pratik wishes she and Mom were with him to eat dinner? Is her best friend Kaya really going out with their other best friend, Rafael, whom Sophie also has a crush on? And can Sophie’s mom ever go back to her old self? In this funny, heartwarming novel, Sophie comes to learn that people are more than what they seem—or what they think.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I will admit, I am unfamiliar with the works of Abby Cooper. She is well loved in the middle grade sphere for her first book Sticks & Stones (which after reading Bubbles I now want to read). I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with Bubbles, but what is presented is a very sweet story of friendship with a pinch of magical realism.

This is a book entirely looking at perceptions of others. Sophie, our heroine, can see thought bubbles over people’s heads and she is instantly given an impression of the people that surround her. It’s a pretty interesting concept for a middle grade novel, also given that this is a story about risk-taking and essentially trying to be the best version of yourself. There’s some wonderful messages in this book that I feel will appeal to middle grade readers, as well as adults who love middle grade.

My favourite aspects of this book were Sophie’s relationships. She is constantly given reasons to pre-judge people with her ‘bubbles’ ability, and it’s interesting to see her mind fight with the images that she sees. Sometimes she finds herself agree with what the bubbles show, and other times you see that she struggles to see the best in everyone. I think Abby Cooper does a good job of showing this balance, which I think can be hard to do given the novel concept of seeing thought bubbles.

Bubbles is a very genuine novel. It’s one of those stories where the author does a fantastic job of tapping into the insecurities and impressions that young children can often have as they are growing up. I definitely want to check out Cooper’s first novel, but Bubbles definitely left me thinking long after I had closed the book.

ARC Review – Get It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough

Title: Get It Together, Delilah!

Author: Erin Gough

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del’s managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about: homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell – or how one of Del’s best friends won’t stop guilt-tripping her – and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn’t do something

But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can’t stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door . . .

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was very excited for Get it Together, Delilah!, but I will admit this book felt a bit far-fetched at times. This is the story of Delilah, a young lesbian who is in love with a beautiful Latina who works across the street from her father’s cafe. Delilah ends up running her father’s cafe while he is away mending his wounded heart, and that’s when the chaos begins. She’s unable to “get it together” between the cafe and school, needing to figure out how to do it all at once.

I will say I really loved Delilah’s voice. Her voice felt very authentic to the story and I found the way in which she described the world around her to be very interesting. I was less huge on her friends, particularly Charlie who rubbed me the wrong way for a large chunk of the story until he was redeemed. I liked Rosa’s character, although she felt a little too perfect and too good to be true.

Which leads me to my largest issue with this book: everything that happens is easily resolved. Like, too easily resolved. It’s hard to suspend your disbelief when for every bad thing, it’s easily fixed without a lot of effort. Every conflict Delilah faced seemed so easily fixed, and her dislike towards her competitors seems a little one-sided. These were the moments where I had a bit of trouble connecting to the narrative. Also, what was the deal with Delilah’s dad? I feel like even int he ending he accepts things way too easily.

I will maintain that the writing was comforting and easy to get into, but for a contemporary novel that should have been filled with tougher issues, I just had a hard time getting behind how simple and trivial a lot of the issues felt in the story. While Delilah and Rosa’s romance is adorable, and Rosa’s family story is wonderfully portrayed, it’s hard for me to praise the book any further.

So I liked this book, but I feel like the over-simplification of things damped the story a lot for me. I feel like there should have been bigger consequences for specific moments in the story. The parts I liked just didn’t outweigh the things I didn’t like, making this a hard book to recommend in the end.

ARC Review – The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Title: The Names They Gave Us

Author: Emery Lord

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I absolutely adored this book. I find Emery Lord’s works have this way of capturing my attention and making me fall in love with the teens that she writes. They are flawed, imperfect, but lovable people. The Names They Gave Us may be her most powerful novel to date, and easily her most difficult in terms of subject matter as well.

Lucy is a great heroine. She’s devoted to her religious beliefs, has the perfect boyfriend, and loves her family deeply to the point of resentment at times. Her mother’s cancer reappears and she struggles to grasp that this could be the end for her mother, and ends up at a camp for teens dealing with tougher issues. There she makes wonderful, thoughtful friendships and grows into a stronger person. Lord does a fantastic job of showing Lucy’s growth in the story, and I think it shows when she learns about Anna, a trans girl at the camp. Their friendship was easily one of my favourites, and I enjoyed the way in which Anna educates Lucy about trans rights and issues transpeople face.

I also think how Lord deals with Lucy and her faith is very intriguing. It reminded me of my all time favourite novels, Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, although they are coming at the topic in very different ways. Lucy trying to reconcile her feelings about the people she meets and what the Bible has taught her is played up very well in this story, and I think this is just another area where Lord shows magnificent growth for Lucy as a character.

The Names They Gave Us is a beautiful, smart, sensitive read that offers amazing and thoughtful character development. Lord continues to show readers that she can work with tough issues, make them accessible, and still write a heartbreaking and touching story. WhileWhen We Collided still remains my favourite of hers, this one is a close second.