Monthly Archives: November 2017

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – November Reads

November I am doing things a bit differently, partly because the two challenges I finished, I used ARCs to complete them, so they have full on reviews which I will link. I have exactly two challenges to complete in December, and I have picked the two books I am going to read for those challenges. We will see how well I do because I have so many books I want to knock out before the end of the year that have been calling to me. \

Anywho, here’s what was tackled in November.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Completes Challenge #16: Read a banned book or frequently challenged book in your country.

Thoughts: I changed this challenge a little bit given that I’ve read so many challenged books that exist in Canada, and frankly there isn’t usually too many. So I decided I wanted to read a book about banned books and still count it for this challenge. Ban This Book by Alan Gratz is a great middle grade read that looks at banning books and what it does to education, and you can read my review here.

 


They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Completes Challenge #20: Read an LGBTQIA+ romance novel.

Thoughts: This book emotionally wrecked me and I feel like Adam Silvera is great at feeding on people’s tears. My best recommendation with this book is to make sure you have your tissue box handy, because the feels are going to come hard and fast. You can read my review here.

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Late to the Party ARC Review – The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe & Lilit Thwaites (Translator)

Title: The Librarian of Auschwitz

Author: Antonio Iturbe & Lilit Thwaites (Translator)

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust. Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

The Librarian of Auschwitz is a novel based on the life of Dita Kraus, a young woman who risked her life to protect literature in a Nazi death-camp. Dubbed “The Librarian of Auxchwitz,” Dita made it her priority to protect the books that were found on the grounds, while also helping those in need during a period of turmoil.

This book is depressing, but important. There is so man sad and horrifying moments that remind you how truly dreadful human beings are. This book reminds readers of the horrors of the Holocaust and how difficult that event truly was. I loved Dita’s courage in the story and I appreciate that as someone as young as she is, she decides to be brave in a place where bravery could potential mean death. There’s a vividness in this translation that gives the reader the sense of tragedy and foreboding. There is discomfort, fear, and sadness in these pages, and I found myself truly feeling for people represented in this story.

This book shows so much hope in the darkness, and while I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, I appreciate the learning opportunities that come from a well researched book. The Librarian of Auschwitz is a slow read, but a thoughtful one throughout.

Late to the Party ARC Review – Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Title: Ban This Book

Author: Alan Gratz

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library–by starting her own illegal locker library!

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That’s when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate’s mom thought the book wasn’t appropriate for kids to read.

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.

Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements for its inspiring message, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a voice.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I enjoyed Ban This Book. It’s the story of a girl whose favourite library book has been removed from her school’s collection on the challenge by one parent. This parent then uses her power of the school to have other popular titles banned so that they cannot be enjoyed by others.
Our heroine, Amy Anne, tries to go to a school board meeting to speak out against this decision, but she afraid and in the end doesn’t. Mad at herself for not fighting back in that instance, she begins to hide popular banned books in her locker for the students at her school to check out. It’s a story about trying to make changes and have other’s make formulate their own opinions before books should be challenged.

Ban This Book has a lot of charm to it as Amy Anne and her friends are very cute, and you gotta love their gusto about preserving and sharing books regardless of content. I will admit that parts of the writing style did annoy me at times (especially any time ‘she wanted to say this, but instead didn’t,’ which is mentioned far too many times). However, despite my gripes, I love how this book was a love letter to banned books, and it was great to see a history of popular banned items shared throughout the story. I also loved that it shows such a level of love and respect to library workers and what kinds of complicated feelings go into collections and ensuring that everyone has equal access to materials.

I believe that Ban This Book has a wonderful and important message about censorship and the freedom to read. It’s a great middle grade novel that will introduce readers to so many books that have been banned or challenged, what the reasoning was and how people come together all in the name of literacy.

#TBRTakedown 6.0 & #TomeTopple TBRs

November seems to be the month of read-a-thons, which is awesome given I have such a strong desire to push through a lot of reads that I want to get to before the end of the year is up. Let’s be honest we have about a month and a half left of the year, and while I’ve read over 400+ books (remember I count comics!), I still have so many more titles I want to get to.

Enter #TBRTakedown and #TomeTopple read-a-thons. I’ve done both in the past and have enjoyed doing them immensely. #TBRTakedown 6.0 is being hosted by Shannon @ LeaningLights and is happening on Nov 18-22, 2017. The second is #TomeTopple, which is hosted by Samantha @ ThoughtsonTomes, and it runs from Nov. 17-30. The goal of Tome Topple is to tackle books over 500+ pages.

Here is my TBR for #TBRTakedown:

Here are the challenges that I am going to try and complete during the read-a-thon!

Oldest book on your shelf – Walking Home by Eric Walters

Most recent haul – Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Continuation in a series – The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Fairyland #5) by Catherynne M. Valente

First book in a series – Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Throckmorton #1)
by R.L. LaFevers

Out of your comfort zone – The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

And with #TomeTopple I am going to be counting The Librarian of Auschwitz as my ARC is over 500+ pages. If I finish that, then I am going to try and reach for another 500+ tome that is on my shelf. We shall see how this goes! Bit if you’re interested in either of these read-a-thons, check out Sam and Shannon’s channels for more.

ARC Review – Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl

Title: Kids Like Us

Author: Hilary Reyl

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Martin is an American teen on the autism spectrum living in France with his mom and sister for the summer. He falls for a French girl who he thinks is a real-life incarnation of a character in his favorite book. Over time Martin comes to realize she is a real person and not a character in a novel while at the same time learning that love is not out of his reach just because he is autistic.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was so excited when I received Kids Like Us because I have been wanting to read more stories that focus on characters with autism. I think my expectations were a bit too high, because when I started the book I was into it, then I hit the middle and wasn’t enjoying it, and then the ending happened. It was an interesting ending.

I think my biggest problem with this book is the very stilted narration. Martin’s voice, though I’m sure could be authentic, is very awkward. It also does one of my bookish pet peeves where the main character will say a word and then define it for the reader. It’s also a hard book to enjoy because I think at times Martin’s voice would fluctuate between a middle grader or a high schooler. The book is also so, so, so slow and given how short the book is, I found myself not liking the meandering pace that it had.

I see value in a story such as Kids Like Us, but ultimately I feel like it wasn’t to my taste, even as a reader who loves tough issue YA. Still, I feel like I did learn a lot about autism, but I’ve heard there are definitely better books out there on the subject. I think with the right reader this book can have the emotional impact I think it was trying to have, but it just didn’t work for me.

Late to the Party ARC Review – They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Title: They Both Die at the End

Author: Adam Silvera

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I read this book in two long sittings. I was glued to the pages and intrigued by the concept of The Last Friend app and Death-Cast calls. The idea of having a phone call tell you that it’s your last day to live is utterly terrifying, but also a bizarre motivator to attempt to live your last day to the fullest. Silvera pulls no punches with this story — it’s emotional, it’s raw, and it’s going to hurt like hell.

As the title suggests, Mateo and Rufus are going to die at the end of the story. The problem with this is that Silvera makes you fall deeply in love with both boys so that when this happens it rips your heart out and the belief in love is destroyed. You never truly feel ready for the impact of the end of this book and that’s probably why it works so well. There’s moments where Silvera tries to fake out the reader in when the boys are going to die and it just pulls at the heartstrings.

I loved Mateo and Rufus. Mateo’s anxiety, his father being in a coma, and his fears of leaving the world without real accomplishment was something I truly could empathize with. He doesn’t hold himself in high regard, but once he meets Rufus you see Mateo come out of his shell, even if it almost feels like it’s too late. As for Rufus, he’s a character that understands the kinds of wrong-doings he’s committed, and you get a large sense that he wants to atone for past action and strive to be someone better… even if he only gets a day to do it. In a lot of ways that’s why this story works so well is you’re seeing all these positive changes in these characters, but you know that this is all brought down because it’s their last day to be alive.

I even liked the side characters, especially Aimee and Lidia. I feel like they added a lot of characterization to both Mateo and Rufus. I also liked the little vignettes of other people in the story either receiving the call or not and how that affects their day or last day for that matter. They are cleverly done and just as punch as the main story.

And it hurts so much. I cried, I was angry, I felt tired after finishing this book because my feelings were all over the place. They Both Die at the End was a heavy, emotional read for me, but it was one I flew through because I found myself connecting so deeply with the story and it’s characters. There is no right headspace for reading this book, just remember that the title rings true and that you’re going to need a lot of tissues to get through this one.

Five 2018 Releases That Are On My Radar

November is the month where we realize that December is around the corner and the year is nearly over. However, it’s also a month that sometimes feels longer than it should too. While I still have lots of 2017 releases in need of being read, my eyes are already looking at some of the shiny titles for 2018. While I’ve read a couple of 2018 releases, I am not going to include them in this list simply because I didn’t read them in 2018. I always try to pick five releases for the year that are considered my must-reads and here’s the ones so far I am anticipating.

Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)
by Marie Lu (Release Date: January 2nd 2018 by Random House Books for Young Readers)

I am a huge Batman fangirl. I didn’t grow up on Marvel comics, but I did DC and I have always had a more affinity with the DC Heroes. Batman was always a favourite, and even now I still watch all the animated movies that come out, and I still try to stay as current as I can with Batman comics. I really liked the first book in the DC Icons series, Warbringer, which was about Wonder Woman. Marie Lu has always been a bit of a hit-or-miss author with me, but I have faith her Batman will be good.

Girl Made of Stars
by Ashley Herring Blake (Release Date: May 15th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers)

While I was at the recent Raincoast #TeensReadFeed presentation, Ashley Herring Blake’s works can up twice, and both really caught my attention. I love books that focus on tough issues, and Girl Made of Stars is a book I feel like I am really going to enjoy and have many feelings towards. I still need to read her debut, Suffer Love, which I have. I may have to prioritize that before this book releases!

The Way You Make Me Feel
by Maurene Goo (Release Date: May 8th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BFYR)

While I haven’t read Maurene Goo’s debut novel, I LOVED I Believe in a Thing Called Love. It was quirky, fun and just such a palette cleanser from books I had been reading at the time. Every time I see the title for this book I just start singing Michael Jackson, which I am not sure if that was intentional or not (seems likely though). I am hoping this book will have everything I liked about Maurene Goo’s previous book and more. Also Korean leads in books are always interesting to me and this cover is beautiful.

A Girl Like That
by Tanaz Bhathena (Release Date: February 27th 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young)

I am very hyped for this book. I think it will be an enlightening read looking at teens and racism as a topic. I am loving reading about groups of people that are different from me and what kinds of differences they have. This sounds like such an ambitious debut that looks at topics like race, identity, class, and religion,  I will have to get my hands on it when it releases in February, and bonus that this is also written by a Canadian author! Whoo!

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1)
by Tomi Adeyemi (Release Date: March 6th 2018 by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)

I used to love reading science fiction and fantasy, but over the last year or so it’s something I have been gravitating towards less and less. I can’t really explain why, but I feel like it hasn’t been grabbing me as of late. This book however, I feel like I am going to love. This debut is written by a Nigerian-American author, and focuses on the idea of destroying magic and fighting vengeful spirits. I’ll be intrigued to see how Nigerian culture comes into play, but I am sooooo excited for this read.

And there you have it! These are the top five books that I am super anticipating for 2018. I realize this list could go on forever, but these were the ones that were definitely sticking in my mind, all things considered. I’d love to know what 2018 reads you are most anticipating in the comments below!