Monthly Archives: January 2018

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2018 Challenge – January Reads & Challenge Wrap Up

New year, new challenge! I LOVE doing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and January… man I am off to a good start. Of the twenty challenges, I’ve knocked out seven. Here’s what I read, what challenge it completed and some quick thoughts.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Completes Challenge #1: Read a book published posthumously.

Thoughts: This book was such an emotional and difficult read for me. Part of it is being I could relate to a lot of what the author’s wife was describing in the Afterword of the book. Read about someone’s life as they are dying is an eye-open and uncomfortable experience, and this one definitely stuck with me even long after I completed it.


Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

Completes Challenge #3: Read a classic of genre fiction.

Thoughts: This was a book I borrowed from my bestie forever ago, and I told myself that this would be the month I tackled it (it was even on my monthly goal list). This was all right, though at times for a fantasy novel I felt like it dragged on a bit too long. I wasn’t entirely fond of the characters either. One point though in it’s favour is I really found the abortion discussion really interesting, especially given this book was written in the early 90’s. Good, but definitely something I wouldn’t have picked up without a bit of a push.

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

Completes Challenge #4: Read a comic written and illustrated by the same person.

Thoughts: This was such a magically little book that explores a family’s immigration story through a magic pashmina. This graphic novel was so heartwarming and comfortable, and while I am not Indian and have not had what happen to Priyanka’s family, the author does an amazing job of getting the read to empathize with the experiences in the story. The art was adorable and vibrant as well. Definitely worth checking out if you love graphic novels.

Crash Override by Zoe Quinn

Completes Challenge #14: Read a book of social science.

Thoughts: This was such a valuable read regarding internet safety and combating online abuse. I learned so much from Quinn’s personal story, but also loved that she provided a variety of tools and resources regarding how to keep yourself safe, especially given how toxic social media has become in the last few years. She’s done some amazing work with her organization Crash Override and I am happy to hear she’s making video games again. If you’ve never played Depression Quest, please do — the message is so important

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Completes Challenge #15: Read a book in one sitting.

Thoughts: I loved the crap out of Katie O’Neill’s Princess Princess Ever After. Color me excited when I saw she had a new graphic novel out. This such a sweet, calming graphic novel that takes place during different seasons. It’s a book about friendship, and written for loves of dragons and tea. I loved learning about tea and tea varieties at the end of the book as well! Plus the illustrations are gorgeous!


Voltron: Legendary Defender Vol 1. by Tim Hedrick

Completes Challenge #18: Read a comic that isn’t published by DC/Marvel/Image.

Thoughts: My darling friend and fellow Voltron fanatic Nick gifted me this comic for Christmas in 2017 and OMG SO FUN. This is such a fun follow-up to the television series with little vignettes for stories. Seriously if you aren’t watching the new Netflix Voltron series, YOU NEED TO. I SHIP EVERYONE.



The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

Completes Challenge #20: Read a book with a cover you hate.

Thoughts: I have made it clear I am not fond of the cover for this book, but OMG READ THIS BOOK. I want more people to check this one out because I feel like it completely went under a lot of people’s radars and it’s an amazing contemporary YA novel packed with some wonderful characters and a great story. Don’t believe me? Check out my review and then get the book.

ARC Review – Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy & Ali Fadhil

Title: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein

Author: Jennifer Roy & Ali Fadhil

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: At the start of 1991, eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil was consumed by his love for soccer, video games, and American television shows. Then, on January 17, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein went to war with thirty-four nations lead by the United States.

Over the next forty-three days, Ali and his family survived bombings, food shortages, and constant fear. Ali and his brothers played soccer on the abandoned streets of their Basra neighborhood, wondering when or if their medic father would return from the war front. Cinematic, accessible, and timely, this is the story of one ordinary kid’s view of life during war.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was intrigued by Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein when I heard about it during Raincoast’s Fall #TeensReadFeed preview. It’s a story about living through bombings, yet still trying to live life despite constant fears. This book takes place during 1991 when Saddam Hussein goes to war with the United States. Ali Fadhil, an eleven year old boy, who just wants a normal life of loving soccer, video games and American television.

This was an interesting read since it’s grounded in historical events. Ali is such a sweet main character who seeks normalcy with his friends and family. His siblings Ahmed, Shirzad and Shireen are also such wonderful characters. You learn so much about their family life and how as children they have to cope with a war that is surrounding them. I felt so many feelings read this book, from sadness to laughter. There’s a lot of emotion in this very short read and a lot of Ali’s feelings truly pack a punch.

Overall, I really enjoyed Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein. It’s a very compelling read, and the author’s note is really intriguing given Ali’s life situation and who he becomes much later in life. I wish there had been a bit more characterization to all the other characters as they did feel a touch one note, but since this book is more about an event and a family’s connection to it, I can be forgiving. This is a great story and an absorbing read.

Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2018 – Jan.20th – 26th

It is time for the first round of the Biannual Bibliothon! The Winter 2018 challenges are up and I am determined I am going to be participating, even though I have a very busy work week ahead of me. The group book this time around is Otherworld by Jason Segal and Kristin Miller, which I am debating on picking up. I put a hold on the audiobook so if it comes in, awesome, if it doesn’t I won’t stress about it. Truthfully, I think I’m going to just stick to the main six challenges and if I have time to do the group book, I will. Here’s a visual look at my TBR for the event!

The Challenges:

  1. Read a book you’ve never heard of: Heartwood Hotel: True Home by Kallie George
  2. Read a sequel: Heartwood Hotel: Great Gift by Kallie George
  3. Read a book about mental illness: A List of Cages by Robin Roe
  4. Read a book mention in another book/movie/tv show: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (mentioned in Gilmore Girls!)
  5. Read a book under 200 pages. The Changeling by Sean Williams
  6. Read a backlist title: Palimpsest by C. M Valente (published in 2009)


Here’s hoping I can complete all of these by the 26th. Should be interesting. If you are participating in the Biannual Bibliothon, I’d love to know in the comments about what you are planning to read for the event.

18 Books to Read in 2018

I seem to like to make all the reading goals. It’s a problem I have at the beginning of every year because I tend to get super excited over all the books. Since I’m likely moving this year, my large focus is going towards books I own and have in my possession though there’s a few books on this list that I’ve had a hold on at my library that are coming to be expired, so I should probably read those soon. Let’s dig into the eighteen books that I need to read this year or consider unhauling! I am hoping to do a round up of thoughts at the end of the year, even if they are quick little one liners. Let me know if you’ve read any of these in the comments below.

Salvage (Salvage #1)
by Alexandra Duncan (Released: April 1st 2014 by Greenwillow Books)
This was a book that back in 2015 my co-blogger, Molly, was completely over the moon for. Space adventures are usually more her jam compared to mine, but I do love books that take place in space and show the discomfort of the unknown. My friend, Melissa, gifted both and the sequel, Sound to me, and both books have been calling my name.
False Hearts by Laura Lam (Released: June 14th 2016 by Tor Books)
This was a book recommended to me by my friend, Katherine, who raves about Laura Lam’s works. I’ve read Pantomime and the sequel (but have somehow missed out on the third book, I suck at keeping up with series). This one is pitched as Orphan Black meets Inception — sounds engrossing!
The Secret History of Wonder Woman
by Jill Lepore (Released: October 28th 2014 by Knopf)
This book was recommended to me by my best friend years ago. It examines the origins of Wonder Woman’s inception and the polyamorous relationships that creator William Moulton Marston had. Could be intriguing, and it’s one of the few non-fiction titles on my list.
The Devil You Know
by Trish Doller (Released: June 2nd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens)
Recommended to me by my librarian friend, Liz, this is one of those books that I meant to get to when I had gotten it in the mail. I am a sucker for road trip stories, and this one may be a road trip filled with regrets. Should be fun fun fun times! (Or terrifying, which ever!)
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
by Stephanie Oakes (Released: June 9th 2015 by Dial Books)
I won this book in a giveaway back in 2015 and on the high of reading Jennifer Mathieu’s Devoted, picking this book up should have been a no-brainer. There is religious cults, murder, and intrigue. A thriller that I know once I do read, I’ll likely get sucked into without trouble.
Staked (The Iron Druid Chronicles #8)
by Kevin Hearne (Released: January 26th 2016 by Del Rey)
I am trash for this series. I am also behind. I have work to do.
As Brave As You
by Jason Reynolds (Released: May 9th 2017 by Atheneum)
Hell, my name is Sam, and I am a Jason Reynolds fangirl. My goal is read every one of his books that has been released, and I don’t actually have many left. My colleague read this one and she said it made her feel so emotional. So yeah,a  typical Jason Reynolds book.
Sunny (Track #3)
by Jason Reynolds (Expected publication: April 10th 2018 by Atheneum)
See above. The Track series is amazing and you need to read it. RIGHT NOW.
Everything All at Once
by Katrina Leno (Released: July 25th 2017 by HarperTeen)
Katrina Leno is one of Molly’s favourite authors and since she has published three books, I have read zero of them. The worst part is I know I will adore them, though I have been warned that a lot of her writing might hit too close to home for me which is why I have avoided this one for awhile. However, this is the one I own, and this is the one I’m reading. I am hoping I love it.
Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia (May 30th 2017 by Greenwillow Books)
This book was gifted to me at the last #FrenzyPresents event. It also looks like a book I would be head over heels in love with as it focuses on fandom, mental illness, and a lot of subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I’ve only heard positive things about this one and I am looking forward to giving it a read in 2018.
Far from the Tree
by Robin Benway (Released: October 3rd 2017 by HarperTeen)
It’s a new Robin Benway book, and I forgot it existed! I only remembered because it won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2017. I am made of fail, especially give my love of YA contemporary.
Gone Rogue (Wires and Nerve #2)
by Marissa Meyer (Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Feiwel & Friends)
I needed this sequel the moment I finished the first volume. It’s hard not to love the Lunar Chronicles universe, and I adore this cast. It’s also so wonderful to Iko to have her own story and this is just so well done. I hope I love volume two as much as the first.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World
by Ashley Herring Blake (Expected publication: March 6th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, gimmie more LBGTQIA+ middle grade fiction PLEASE. This one focuses on friendship, blossoming sexuality, and artwork. Between this and Herring Blake’s other release Girl Made of Stars, I really just need both right now.
Tess of the Road
by Rachel Hartman (Expected publication: February 27th 2018 by Random House Books for Young Readers)
Hellllllllllloooooo new Rachel Hartman book with dragons. I LOVE Rachel Hartman’s fantasy novels, and Tess of the Road looks like it’s going to be quite the epic adventure. I need it now.
Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)
by Seanan McGuire (Released: January 9th, 2018)
2018 is the year I want to catch up on my Seanan McGuire books. I am behind on October Daye by two books, I’ve just caught up on InCrypid for the moment (then March will be another book and I will be behind again) and then there is this beauty, book three in the Wayward Children series. I can at least have that one completed this year, right? RIGHT?
Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky Albertalli (Expected Release: April 24th 2018 by HarperCollins)
Leah was one of my favorite characters in Simon vs the Homo-sapiens Agenda. I am interested to see what her story has in store. I can only hope it will be as fun and upbeat as Becky Albertalli’s other books.
Past Tense
by Star Spider (Expected Release Date: April 10th 2018 by HarperCollins)
I know nothing about this book other than it’s an LGBTQIA+ YA release. One of my wonderful publishing contacts thought that this would be a book I would enjoy, and I really hope she is right. It comes out in April, so I suppose I should get to this one soon.
In Search Of Us
by Ava Dellaira (Expected publication: March 6th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
I enjoyed Love Letters to the Dead when it released, though I admit, I can’t entirely remember what it was about. This new release seems like it’s going to be very heartfelt, given it’s a mother/daughter story. I don’t know if I am emotionally ready for that, but I am going to try my best to not weep into a ball of goo.
Annnnnd these are my picks! I think this is overly ambitious, but this is me were talking about and I like to over extend because yay goals! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these, because I’d love to know which ones to prioritize. I think if I get through all the ones I own physically, my Shelf of Shame will thank me.

Late to the Party ARC Review – The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

Title:  The Closest I’ve Come

Author: Fred Aceves

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Marcos Rivas wants to find love. He’s sure as hell not getting it at home, where his mom’s racist boyfriend beats him up. Or from his boys, who aren’t exactly the “hug it out” type. Marcos yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren’t falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood—which seems impossible. When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program for troubled teens with potential, he meets Zach, a theater geek whose life seems great on the surface, and Amy, a punk girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. These new friendships inspire Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and along the way, Marcos starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn’t about acting tough and being macho; it’s about being true to yourself.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Sometimes it is extremely hard to not judge a book by its cover. There are some books that simply don’t win the cover lottery, and often that’s a shame given it means potentially missing out on a great read.

The Closest I’ve Come is an example of that. When I received it in the mail the cover caused me to put it off. Then, it just kept staring at me and I knew I had to see if the text would grab me. I am so glad this book exists. This amazing debut looks at Marcos, a boy who gets admitted into a special program for teens who are troubled, but show potential academically. Marcos picks fights, and believes that bravery comes from having a lot of machismo. Clearly he learns this isn’t the case.

The joy I felt reading this book was infinite. Marcos’ is a tough guy — vulgar, rough around the edges, but learning to become a better person is a lot of what this story entails. Marcos wants to win the affection of Amy, who happens to also be in the same special class as him. Amy is a rough and tumble gal who needs no man, and boy does she let Marcos know. This book looks at the emotions of under-privileged Latino teens, and I felt for the cast. There’s also an amazing twist that happens in this book that I remember when I read it, my hand slammed down on the table freaking out.

Seriously, what a hidden gem of a book. While The Closest I’ve Come doesn’t exactly have the most appealing cover, the contents inside are worth investigating. Fred Aceves’ debut is an interesting novel about growing up, and Marcos takes so many interesting directions in this story. While Marcos’ voice is rough around the edges, he’s worth sticking with, because watching his friendships develop and seeing his self-growth are enjoyable for start to finish.

2018 Reading Goals!

I love making goals. In fact, I have a goals bullet journal that I use to keep myself on track. This journal encompasses all of my goals, which includes reading, of course! While I completed all of my main 2017 reading goals, any of the bookish events I did, I didn’t complete most of the time. However, I am perfectly okay with not having all my boxes checked. Maybe this year I’ll read some of those books I meant to… story of my life, right?

But in all fairness, I decided that this would be the year I tackle both my gaming and reading backlogs in a way that allows me to try and consume as much as I can. There’s going to be highs and lows, but that is the reality of having so much media to consume. I want to be able to pare down what I have and try to accumulate less if I can swing it. It’s going to be hard, but I know I can make a dent. This is why having the goals bullet journal is handy!

Anywho, here’s some of the goals I want to complete reading-wise in 2018.

  1. Read my own books – Yeah, this is a no brainer. I have too many books and two TBR shelves and I really need to work on reading my own books. Working at the library it is so easy to get caught up in ALL THE BOOKS that I end up bringing home more stuff and neglecting what I currently own. I need to stop doing that. This month I will finish what I have out and then going on a library ban (minus movies and comics). If I can find audiobooks at work for some of the books I own, that I will consider to be okay. Here’s my “Shelves of Shame.” I am hoping by March to do an update and show you guys if I’ve made any real progress.

2. Read 10 Non-Fiction books – As I have gotten older, I’ve been reaching for non-fiction more. I spent last year reading so many great non-fiction reads, so I want to continue exploring this genre further and see what else is in store for me.

3. Read 5 Books over 500+ pages – Also a doable goal. I am generally not huge on reading books over 500+ pages usually because I feel like they are pretty bloated. Still, I have series I have started with installments that are over the 500 page mark and need to be read. Again, totally doable goal.

4. Complete the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge – I LOVE the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. It is one of my favourite’s to do because it forces me to read a bit more diversely. I usually end up reading a lot of new favourites when I do this challenge. Since the year started, I’ve already knocked out two challenges. I’ll share my results at the end of the month with some thoughts!

5. Read 200 books.  – This is currently what my Goodreads goal is listed at. I finished almost close to 500 books (because I count comic trades) last year. I don’t think I’ll ever get that close again, but I sure as heck would like to try.

6. Unhaul books – If I am being honest regarding the shelves above, it is that I know I need to unhaul some items. Items I likely won’t read or have lost interest in. Frankly, I know I need to KonMari that shelf and see where it goes. I think it’s doable, especially since my husband and I are planning to move this year. I’ve been packing away stuff I know I am keeping, so I need to start looking at parting ways with stuff I may never read again or have no attachment towards.

7. Be content. – Reality is that reading is not a competition. It’s easy to get into that mindset. However, I read a lot because it’s just my passion. I love getting lost in a good book, and reading is a part of what I actually do for a living. If I don’t hit my goals, that is totally okay, If I do, even better. It’s trying to not be hard on myself if I don’t succeed and being content with whatever I actually manage.

Here’s to another successful year of reading!

Book Piles By the Month (Round 3!) – End of 2017 Edition

I am a bit late getting this up, but here are my last two book piles for 2017. November and December were fairly rough months for reading my own books. As I say frequently, it is so easy working at a library to just bring home items that pique your interest, so the bulk of my reading last year came more from work than my personal collection. This year, I do need to change that, but that is for a different post. Here’s how November and December shaped up!



I would say I am pleased with myself all things considered. In both those months I knocked out some hefty sized books and managed to read a variety of genres as well. In 2018 I really hope to try and knock out more books and see where things go from here. Hopefully the first few months have some nice-sized completed piles!

ARC Review – Busted by Gina Ciocca

Title: Busted

Author: Gina Ciocca

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Busted is in some ways, my kind of book. I am a sucker for teen private eye’s and stories about where cheaters never prosper. Our heroine in this book, Marisa, is a young investigator with a website that is out to help teens at her high school who are suspecting that their partner may be a cheater.

If I am being honest, this book was pure candy for me. It’s fun, cheeky, and when it goes to some darker places, it’s got all the melodrama. Like, all of it. Kendall is crazy and overeager, TJ is the ‘mysterious boy”, Jordan is a jerk, the list goes on. Each of the characters has a trope that they follow to some extent and if you are looking for deep characterization, Busted is not it. This is a very plot-driven story, but I wish the characters outside of Marisa had been fleshed out a bit better.

Still, this was a fun read that really is a love-letter to Veronica Mars in so many ways, and I appreciate that. There’s parts of this book that felt crazy, silly, even immature at times. Yet, I couldn’t stop reading this book because Bustedmade me trash for it. I am a sucker for ugly people doing ugly things, and perhaps that why this book hooked me the way it did. For all its imperfections, I still happy want to recommend this book because I feel like there is going to be readers out there who won’t mind teen meladrama or candy factor.

Late to the Party ARC Review – Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life by Shelley Tougas

Title: Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life

Author: Shelley Tougas

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: A life on the prairie is not all it’s cracked up to be in this middle-grade novel where one girl’s mom takes her love of the Little House series just a bit too far. Charlotte’s mom has just moved the family across the country to live in Walnut Grove, “childhood home of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Mom’s idea is that the spirit of Laura Ingalls will help her write a bestselling book. But Charlotte knows better: Walnut Grove is just another town where Mom can avoid responsibility. And this place is worse than everywhere else the family has lived—it’s freezing in the winter, it’s small with nothing to do, and the people talk about Laura Ingalls all the time. Charlotte’s convinced her family will not be able to make a life on the prairie—until the spirit of Laura Ingalls starts getting to her, too.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I admit, I am not a huge Little House on the Prairie fan. It’s not something I grew up around so I will say I did have a bit of a difficult time with this one. While the story is an adorable tale of a mom moving her kids to the birth place of Laura Ingalls in an attempt to write her masterpiece of a novel, there were a few things that didn’t work for me on this one.

On one hand, this is a story about friendship and growing up, but I won’t lie and say that Charlotte is a likable character. In this regard, I think Tougas does a good idea of showing how easily judgmental children can be. These issues of friendship in particular are handled well and I feel like the children in this story were far better developed than the adult characters. It was great to watch Charlotte develop friendships with Bao and Julia, and I appreciated that their discomfort of each other went both ways.

The adults in this book, however, are the actual problem. They are very flat or lacking in any characterization. Charlotte’s mother in particular was a bit of a caricature as opposed to a character, as her only defining characteristic is her positive attitude. Whenever Charlotte deals with her in the story, those bits were sometimes difficult to shallow because I felt like Charlotte’s mother forcing her positive attitude may not have been what was best for her children. There’s also her obsession with Laura Ingalls, which I admit, I didn’t understand or really care for. I think if I had been a fan of Little Housethis book likely would have appealed more to me.

With all this said, I do think Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life is a delightful read for the most part. There’s moments of well-timed humor and I think Charlotte is a heroine that many kids will be able to relate to whether they like her or not. I am still glad I read this book and gave it a chance, and I’m curious as to what Shelley Tougas has in store for middle grade audiences in the future.


Author Interview – Q&A with Melissa Albert, Author of The Hazel Wood

Back in September during Raincoast’s last #TeenReadsFeed event, I had actually won the grand prize: an interview with debut author, Melissa Albert. The Hazel Wood is a book that is getting so much buzz, and rightful so. It’s dark, creepy, and full of intrigue and discomfort. During this interview I had a chance to discuss portal fantasy, inspiration for the book, and other cheery things.

If you want to know more about my thoughts regarding The Hazel Wood, please check out my review. The Hazel Wood arrives on January 30th, 2018. Huge thank you again to Raincoast Canada for this amazing opportunity.