Monthly Archives: June 2018

Late to the Party ARC Review – Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Title:  Sky in the Deep

Author: Adrienne Young

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was so excited when Raincoast sent me Sky in the Deep. I haven’t read a lot of novels featuring vikings, let alone one where the lead is a female warrior. Eelyn story is wonderfully compelling, and this book read like candy.

I won’t lie, this book is not to most ground-breaking or well-written. It’s a debut, and it makes a lot of the mistakes debuts have by giving so much in a story without properly providing necessary aspects such as strong world building or deep and developed characters. This is true for Sky in the Deep and yet, I didn’t care. I was having so much fun reading this book, and while I didn’t read it quickly, I appreciated what an easy read it was.

Eelyn is a fun heroine. She’s strong, difficult, and she stands out. She takes to tasks and wants to get the job done, making her quite the boss. She’s also wonderfully flawed, which made me happy given I like a heroine to have flaws that the reader can relate to. This is a heroine who is tough, she mows people down, she has a sense of justice and duty and yet she’s a fighter. I just, I loved her so.

I just had such fun with all the action in the book. I also liked the political aspects between the viking groups, though I wish it had been more developed. I also appreciated that the romance wasn’t the forefront in this story mostly because I found it to be very phoned in. I still say I loved the issues involving the clans (well, any bit of information we received).

I can’t really explained why I liked this book. There’s a lot of action, politics and an awesome heroine, but there’s equally enough problems such as a lack of world-building and characterization among the secondary cast. But I found this to be such an enjoyable page-turner and even with the lack of information at times I was still loving the book, flaws and all. I wish we had more YA viking fantasy, and even with the book’s problems, I am still so happy it exists in the world and I cannot wait to start recommending it.

Advertisements

Cramathon TBR!

I lovelovelovelove readathons and of course they always seem to fall during my busy weeks for work. However, it never seems to stop me from participating! Cramathon is a seven day long readathon, from June 10th to the 17th. It’s being hosted by quite a few booktubers and you can check out their intro video here.

There is seven challenges to complete (if you choose to do so). I haven’t selected a 7th book to read yet, but it’ll likely be whatever I choose to pick up. Here’s the challenges I have plotted out:

  1. A Predicted 5 Star Read – Sadie by Courtney Summers (I love Courtney Summers, all her books make me so happy that they exist in the world)
  2. Book Out of Your Comfort Zone – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
  3. A Book That Has Been On Your TBR A Long Time – The Dust Devils by Sean Williams
  4. LGBTQIA+ Ownvoices Book – Wide Awake by David Levithan
  5. Something That is Not a Standard Novel – Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  6. Book With Your Favourite Colour on it – Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

I don’t think I will get through all of these books, but believe me, I am determined. Here’s hoping for some success!

Four Feminist Reads You Should Check Out

I have had a new obsession lately: it’s reading books about prominent women and their accomplishments. There are so many great microhistory reads out there regarding women and how they have changed the world for the better, how they fought for their rights or created something to better the world. I find this books so thoughtful, educational, and I think they are great introductions to women that you may not have heard of. Here’s five that I recently enjoyed, and I encourage you to check out.

She Persisted
by Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger

This is such a beautifully written picture book that looks at the accomplishments and can-do attitude of thirteen American women and how they were told they couldn’t do something, and they persisted. The women portrayed in this book are ones who spoke out about injustice, prejudice, who believed in kindness and strength. The illustrations in this book are so beautiful, and there’s also sequel that just released looking at women worldwide. This book features such amazing women as Harriet Tubman,  Nellie Bly, and Sally Ride!

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
by Pénélope Bagieu

This fantastic graphic novel provides a wonderful short story for each of the thirty-ish women portrayed in the book. Bagieu’s art is absolutely delightful and expressive, and she chooses a lot of women who have either been neglected for their accomplishments, or ladies who just didn’t give a flying hoot about being recognized because for them it was about empowering others. These short biographical comics showcase the power and strength that women posses, and that’s pretty bad ass.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo

I discovered Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls from a friend of mine who had backed the Kickstarter for this series. I love the way this book is laid out, with over a hundred women, each with their own unique story. Each story is also written like a bedtime story, so if you’re a parent reading this book to a child, you could read a story a night with ease. There’s a heroine for every kind of reader in this book, and if you can’t find one to connect with, there’s even a sequel!

Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World
by Mackenzi Lee & Petra Eriksson

Bygone Badass Broads was a Twitter project started by author, Mackenzi Lee, who commented that there were far more amazing and forgotten women who in the world who made major contributions to society. One of my favourite ladies to learn about was Stagecoach Mary. She was such a badass and she was a favourite of the US Postal Service. Who knew, right? This book of fifty-two ladies offers women of all races, gender identities, and socio-economical backgrounds. It’s very informative and sports some gorgeous illustrations by Petra Eriksson!

If you want to learn more about female contributions and empowerment, I highly recommend reading all of the above. There’s so much diversity in each text, and it’s been so wonderful to learn about what women have accomplished over the years. Let’s continue to celebrate women more and what I hope is more books like the ones above, get into the hands of those who need them. Support women, believe women, we need more of these stories.

ARC Review – Breakout by Kate Messner

Title: Breakout

Author: Kate Messner

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek–two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics–a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project–Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Breakout wasn’t what I thought it would be for a middle grade novel. It is a mixed media novel filled with comics, letters, text messages, and documents that are collected. It’s also based on a jail breakout that occurred in 2015 and the grinding halt it put a town into.

This book took me awhile to read. The first half moved so quickly, to the point where I was pretty swept up in the story. Then I hit the middle and the book came to this weird, grinding halt for me. I mixed media style wasn’t engaging me anymore and if I am being honest, the main fault of this book is that it’s actually a bit too long for it’s own good, and I feel like parts of it could have easily been edited down.

That being said, I loved the social activism in this book. Nora, Elidee, and Lizzie, are very engaged young adults who are trying to understand fear mongering, depression, discomfort, and alienation. The Wolf Creek Community is shocked to its core when two inmates break out of the nearby prison. Nora, Elidee and Lizzie talk about how the adults project onto them, while also writing to a future generation who may not realize what this situation has done to the community.

What I like about Kate Messner’s novels is that they always have an element of excitement to them. They are engaging, exciting, and they have such a consistent flow for readers. This book has all that, but it’s interesting seeing the level of discomfort in the story, and that felt new here. I will also point out, I love the recommendations that Messner put into the back of the book and I definitely want to check out all the books on those lists that I haven’t read yet.

While I didn’t enjoy Breakout as much as The Exact Location of Home, I still think this is going to be a great middle grade novel for readers who love stories that are different. I think this book will kindle the interest of middle graders who are interested in social activism and understanding justice. I think it will spark great conversation as well, and I look forward to recommending it to many of my middle grade readers at the library!

Late to the Party ARC Review – Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Title: Emergency Contact

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’ll be honest: I kind of ignored the hype surrounding this book. I felt like it was going to be a book that I thought would just be “okay” or “that was fine.” When I got it in my Simon and Schuster Canada goodies bag from the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference, I was intrigued, but not in the best frame of mind to read this book.

I loved, and slowly devoured Emergency Contact. I picked it up on a whim during a crazy and difficult period in my life, and it’s a book I was constantly connecting with. I loved Penny and Sam, and I while they do frustrating and even unthinkable things, I cared about their every action, and I wanted them to be better off by the end. I love that this is first and foremost a friendship novel. Penny and Sam meet in such an awkward, uncomfortable way, and they become each other’s “emergency contact” — the person they connect with when life is beating them black and blue.

This book has a very slow build, but I found myself really loving and engaging with it. This isn’t a book I found myself reading quickly, but rather small bits at a time because I found the situations that the characters engaged in to be difficult to read about at times. Sam’s plot-line in particular had me yelling and flailing my arms in anger, while Penny I could easily relate to (despite being nothing like her) and seeing how she has to deal with changes beyond her control. The writing in this book is playful, lyrical and fun despite the darker tone in it, and I think Choi does a fantastic job of getting readers to care and emote while reading this novel.

I am definitely going to have to buy myself a copy of this book because I feel like it’s one I will get the itch to reread. While I feel like this book is pretty hyped, it’s also one I don’t think that had that intention in the first place. This is a very quiet book, and one that builds and builds until it crashes so hard that everything feels messy and raw. I love novels like that, and I think it’s why Emergency Contactresonated with me the way it did. It’s definitely not for every reader, but if you love quieter books that offer a detailed character study of two lost young adults, I think this book is highly worth the read.