Monthly Archives: October 2017

ARC Review – Berserker (Berserker #1) by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Berserker (Berserker #1)

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.

Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Emmy Laybourne writes some fast-paced novels, and her latest,Berserker is not exception. I’d even argue it’s her most unique book to date given it is a Western-meets-Norse Mythology-meets-Historical Fiction. It’s a cluster of so many genres, a mish-mash that is though very fun, doesn’t entirely work together as well as it could.

I’m all for a genre mash-up, but Westerns tend to be always a difficult genre to mash given it has very specific tropes that it follows. Weirdly, I loved the Western-y bits of this story, but mixing it with Norse Mythology is a bit of an odd choice given how rich Viking culture is. This book has so much in it and at times it can feel very overwhelming, and yet it is also such a compulsively readable book where you want to know what is going on. There’s so much action and insanity, it makes for an entertaining read. Laybourne is great at bringing fun and disaster to her stories and Berserker doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

While I loved the action, gore and just utter insanity of the story, I wish I had enjoyed the characters more. Henne is a fun character who is troubled by her powers of murder, but if I am being frank, a lot of the characters felt very interchangeable for me and didn’t feel too distinctive on their own. Mind you, I’ve always felt that as a writer, Laybourne’s characters are not always the starring attraction (unless we are talking Max from Monument 14 aka the best character), but it’s the worlds that she creates which are truly the draw.

Berserker is a book where I need to explain to readers going into it before hand to just “go with the flow.” It’s a fun, delightful romp, but it’s also messy in that it’s trying to do a lot at once creating sensory overload. I still think it’s a great read for those who love a fast-paced story full of crazy and murder. I definitely am still curious as to where the next book in the series is going to go as well.

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

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a round up of comics, graphic novels, and manga that I want to share with you all. Again, I’ve read some interesting and unique stuff. Any of these recommendations can be purchased in physical or ebook form, and also consider grabbing them from your local library! You can also Read the previous issue.

Without further ado! Let’s talk comics.

My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 (My Brother’s Husband Omnibus #1)
by Gengoroh Tagame

This. manga. Holy crap. This is an emotional read that had me sobbing from the first couple pages. It focuses on a Japanese man and his daughter who find out that his twin brother married a Canadian man. It looks at issues surrounding homosexuality in Japan and Canada, and it’s just super sweet and emotional. I absolutely loved this one and it’s been a book I have been recommending constantly to anyone and everyone.

Lucky Penny
by Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota

Adorbs and totally for fans who love heroines that are always looking on the brighter side of life! This comic is delightfully funny, utterly charming, and Penny will just make you laugh. Seriously, this is just too funny. Seriously, Penny is plucky and down on her luck, but you will fall in love with her!

Spinning
by Tillie Walden

This is a beautiful illustrated graphic novel that focuses on figure skating and learning about your sexuality. Spinning is just absolutely stunning, beautifully written, and I can’t wait to see what Tillie Walden does next. You can read my full review here!

Motor Crush, Vol. 1 (Motor Crush #1-5)
by Brenden Fletcher et al.
OMMMMMMMMGGGG THIS SERIES. THIS SERIES. What if Mad Max met Death Race! With motorcycles! Motor Crush is cool as hell. There’s motorcycle trippy drugs, there’s beating up rival biker gangs, and Domino is just such a badass rad ladyboss who NO ONE should mess with. Also the art and colours in this graphic novel are just stellar. Check this one out!
The Beauty, Vol. 1 (The Beauty #1-6)
by Jeremy Haun et al.
What if beauty was a transmittable disease? That’s the premise of The Beauty. It’s weird, uncomfortable, and it leaves you thinking about vanity quite a bit. It’s also just SO DAMN CREEPY. Like ragdoll people creepy. If you like to be spooked, or you want something with a more intriguing but uncomfortable premise, this is worth reading.
Wonder Woman 77  Vol 1 
by Marc Andreyko
Okay, so while Greg Rucka and Gail Simone are king and queen of writing Wonder Woman, I want to give a shout out to Wonder Woman ’77 which looks at the Linda Carter years. I ADORED the cornball 70’s style storytelling and humour that comes with comic. There’s only two volumes, but the art is gorgeous, the stories are corny, and just total fun. Also looking forward to the cross-over comic that is out with Batman ’66.
The Backstagers, Vol. 1 (The Backstagers)
by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh
Diverse, charming, and full of life, that is what The Backstagers is all about. This book is full of wonderful friendships, slice of life humour, and the characters are just completely lovable.  If you love inclusive comics and haven’t checked out The Backstagers, you are missing out on something wonderful. Sasha. ❤
Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 (Akatsuki no Yona #1)
by Mizuho Kusanagi
This series was pitched to me by a friend who loves Fushigi Yuugi. I read this while I was at a cottage and this is pretty spectacular. It’s about a princess who witnesses her father’s murder. This situation really causes her to change dramatically, and her situation is very sad. However, there’s more to this and all the characters are a lot of fun. I have only read the first volume, but I definitely need to read more of them (and perhaps request it at the library for purchase!)
Brobots series
by J. Torres & Sean K. Dove
This is an adorable kids comic series about three “Brobots” who have wacky adventures fighting kaiju monsters, while also enjoying every day activities like fishing. Very cute, simple, and definitely a fun read for children. Also there’s a little chubby bot, and he is the cute one.
Essex County 
by Jeff Lemire
I love Jeff Lemire, and that’s pretty evident on this blog given I am constantly recommending his works. Essex County looks at Lemire’s life through some unique characters and people. It’s won so many awards, and each of the three stories that exist are haunting, cold, and uncomfortable. A+ for comic lovers who love realistic or autobiographical works.
So that was ten more recommendations, which I hope you all check out. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these or if you have recommendations. I always love finding new comics, graphic novels or manga. 🙂

ARC Review – Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Title: Wild Beauty

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I LOVED When the Moon Was Ours, and it is a book I recommend so easily to teens who come into the library looks for magic realism or diverse reads. I have yet to read The Weight of Feathers, but I knew after my first Anna-Marie McLemore book that I would be sold on her for life. She’s an amazing writer who weaves such unique stories together while also featuring under-represented groups of people as the leads.

Wild Beauty and I actually didn’t connect right away. This book is slow, thoughtful, and it marches to the beat of its own drum. Apart of me as I was reading it felt like I didn’t entirely understand what was going or who the characters were becoming. However, the more I read, the more captivated I was by all the feelings I was having. This book just has such an ethereal quality to it — it’s like getting lost in something so beautiful, yet simple. There is so much mystery, intrigue, and I feel like I was being swept away.

And that’s really all I am going to say about Wild Beauty. While it has moments where it’s very slow, it’s a book that you need to keep going with it because it will grab you and when it does it doesn’t let go. The characters, the world, the writing, it’s so magical, and it’s an experience to say the least.

Blog Tour – Robots & Repeats (Secret Coders #4) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes

I was asked to participate in the blog tour for Robots & Repeats (Secret Coders #4) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes. One of the things I was asked to do was show you my coding skills! Huge thank you to First Second for allowing me this opportunity, and if you are interesting in learning to code, I have provided a link to the suggested tutorials.

Without further ado, let’s see how I did with coding!


SAM LEARNS TO CODE!

I am admit, I am not great when it comes to math and science. I am a huge supporter of STEM and STEM activities, and I even run programs related to this at the public library where I work. My knowledge of coding really steams from basic HTML and I know a little bit of Scratch, which I teach to children during Canada Learn to Code Week. Otherwise, my experience is very limited!

However, I decided I wanted to rise to the challenge that came with this blog tour and learn to code using Turtle Academy. Gene Luen Yang uses Logo to teach coding in Secret Coders, but I decided to go the Turtle route if only because I love having step-by-step instructions.

It’s a lot of fun to see the turtle move in different directions and curl around. Being able to easily put commands in and seeing success is pretty wonderful. What’s great about using Turtle Academy is that it’s very user friendly, encouraging (you get badges!) and it will provide you with hints and solutions if you are unsure of what you need to do next.

As I progressed through the tutorials, it got to the point where I could hide my turtle, and then re-show him. LOOK! MY TURTLE IS MISSING! NO!

Overall, I really loved these coding activities and it’s definitely something that I am going to incorporate for the next Canada Learn to Code Week. It’s a lot of fun, and I appreciate the simplicity of the program given my skills in coding are very basic. This was very engaging and I think for a lot of kids, they will take to this program like fish to bait.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He has written and drawn many graphic novels, including American Born Chinese, which was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His graphic novel set Boxers and Saints won the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize. He has also written for  the hit comics Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman.

Mike Holmes has drawn for the comics series Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time, Secret Coders, and the viral art project Mikenesses. His books include the True Story collection, This American Drive, and Shenanigans. He lives with a cat named Ella, who is his best buddy.

 

 


CHECK OUT THE SECRET CODERS SERIES

Secret Coders

Paths & Portals

Secrets & Sequences

Robots & Repeats


Want to see how other Kitlit bloggers fared with the coding challenge? Check out the rest of the blog tour! Thank you again to First Second for allowing me this chance!

Check out how everyone did!

#TeensReadFeed Winter/Spring Preview!

On Saturday I had the chance to spend the afternoon learning about Raincoast Books upcoming YA titles for Winter/Spring 2018. There were so many interesting titles, and easily something for everyone. From a retelling of Jane Eyre in space to dark fairy tales to swoon-worthy romance. I thought I’d share the three titles from the event that I am most excited about!

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert (January 30th 2018 by Flatiron Books)

This book sounds like something I would love to pieces. It’s a darker fantasy story that takes place in the contemporary world, and it’s about a cult-classic novel, death, and it just seems like it’s going to be a fantastic book to check out this Fall (even though it comes out in Winter!). It just looks like it’s going to be quite the adventure. Plus, Molly loved it and I trust what my co-blogger thinks when it comes to books.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein
by Jennifer Roy (February 6th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers)

This book had me at it’s title. There’s something intriguing about a book that has both the words Atari and Saddam Hussein in it. This middle grade read takes place in 1991 and follows an eleven year old boy who loves video games. Over forty-three days we learn about how the main character, Ali’s family survives bombings as Saddam Hussein goes to war with the United States. I feel like this is going to be a wonderful, smart, challenging read and I can’t wait to check it out.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
by Pénélope Bagieu (March 6th 2018 by First Second)

This graphic novel offers mini-comics for many badass ladies throughout history. I feel like I am a huge fan of books that teach me about women and women’s accomplishments, as I loved Badass Ladies Through History and Wonder Women. I just want more books like this and since it’s a graphic novel, I feel like I’m going to be all over it.

During the event we also learned about Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke (releasing January 9th 2018 by Clarion Books), who was discussing her writing process, her beginnings as a writer and how he got her publishing deal. It was such a fantastic talk to listen to, and it has me excited to read the book when it releases. Then there were prizes, which is always fun. I ended up winning the “Hazel Wood” prize pack, which has me interviewing Melissa Albert, and I am stoked to have that opportunity. No pressure though, right? So excited!

There was also food, swag bags, and so much wonderful and thoughtful discussion. I also ended up with too many books added to my TBR, but you know what? I accept that I am going to die with a TBR pile and I love learning about new reads. Huge thank you again to Raincoast for allowing me the opportunity to hang out with them and learn about the new reads, and for the awesome prize which I cannot wait to share with you all!