Monthly Archives: August 2019

The Scott Challenge – May & June Selections

So sue me, I am behind on sharing the Scott Challenge. Scott has done a special job of remembering each month to give me a book to read. Here’s where we are at with May and June’s selections!

May’s Pick:

The Dragon’s Path
(The Dagger and the Coin #1)
by Daniel Abraham (Published April 7th 2011 by Orbit)

I started this book in May and didn’t finish it until the beginning of July. It didn’t suck me in right away, and Abraham had a lot of pieces to the world that he needed to establish to the reader. I loved that there were tons of diverse races in the story, from orcs, to bug people, to the usual fantasy trappings. Cithrin the orphan banker had the best plot line of all the characters, and the ending was just all right. I haven’t decided if I will be reading the second book or not, though my husband assures me this series gets better. 3 Stars.

June Pick:

Mobile Suit Gundam: The ORIGIN,
by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (Volumes  3-12, published 2004 in Japan)

One area of media I am working towards this year, is upgrading my Gundam-ducation. I’ve watched and sobbed my way through Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans (my new favourite series besides G Gundam). I am going through a lot of the anime slowly, but enjoying my time with it. Scott challenged me to read Gundam: THE ORIGIN, a retelling of first Gundam. This beautifully illustrated and story was so captivating and the politics really keep the reader fixated on all the problems the world is facing. There’s definitely some messed up moments, so sympathetic moments, and overall there was just simply no bad volume in this series. 5 Stars for all volumes.

 

Books I Reviewed For the Library – Issue #1

One thing I now have to do as part of my job is review and curate our Fave Books of the Month lists. I do reviews for both our middle grade selections and young adult, and it’s easily one of the more interesting parts of my job because essentially I am reviewing titles that I want to see succeed in the library’s collection. I’ve also actively been picking titles I don’t have ARCs for or items that have already released so our customers can enjoy them right away. Here’s two reviews I did for our collection maintenance. 🙂


Tilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co. #1) by Anna James – Have you ever wanted the ability to travel into your favourite books? Anna James’ “Tilly and the Bookwanderers” is a bookworm’s dream! Tilly is a young girl who lives in her grandfather’s book shop, spending her days reading and devouring stories. When she accidentally meets Anne Shirley from “Anne of Green Gables,” shenanigans begin, and Tilly must come to terms with the fact that her favourite stories have come to life and that perhaps, there’s a larger mystery afoot. “Tilly and the Bookwanders” is filled with magic on every page, and is one of those books that feels like a nice warm hug when you read it. One of my favourite elements of this story was anticipating who Tilly would meet next! This is a love-letter to bookworms everywhere, and is a complete must read for those who love to dream about their favourite stories.


Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell – Freddie and Laura have a routine – they fight, the break up, they kiss and then they make up. At least, that was the story for awhile. When Freddie catches Laura in the act of cheating, she begins to question the healthiness of their relationship and what kind of a friend it makes her. This book is an emotional roller-coaster, especially for anyone who has dealt with a toxic relationship. Freddie is forced to question her actions and determine the kind of person she wants to be, which I think many readers will be able to relate to. The artwork in this graphic novel is gorgeous and flows beautifully with the story as well. “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me” is about finding your support networks and reminding yourself that you don’t have to put up with people treating you like crap.

Late to the Party ARC Review – Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

Title: Caterpillar Summer

Author: Gillian McDunn

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond–Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When he has a “meltdown” she’s the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She’s the one who knows what Chicken needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat has been the glue holding her family together.

But even the strongest glue sometimes struggles to hold. When a summer trip doesn’t go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another’s shoes.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Caterpillar Summer was a total cover grab for me. There’s something about two adorable children and fishing that just screams a summer read. This book is a gentle look at sibling relationships, grief, and learning to walk in someone else’s shoes, even if it’s for a little while. There’s also a lot about fishing in this book, which definitely gave me fond memories of my childhood at my parent’s cottage.

Cat and Chicken are lovable characters, each with the ability to control each other. It’s very clear that Cat, in particular, has had to grow up very quickly and become responsible for Chicken at such a young age, so it was nice to read a narrative where the author takes that concept and offers the character an opportunity to be a child again. There is such a reluctance from Cat’s character at times, almost as though she is afraid of having the rug swept from under her feet.

There is a kindness and curious nature in that book that makes it a slow, but compelling story. This is very much a character focused story, and one where you are watching both Cat and Chicken grow. I loved their grandparents, and I also appreciated in the story how they were okay with the hesitation from Cat and Chicken given the estrangement. There’s a lot of growing and learning in this story, and I love that both cat and Chicken wear their flaws on their sleeves.

Caterpillar Summer is a lyrical book about childhood and grief, but it’s full of gentleness and hope. Coupled with some beautiful illustrations throughout, if you are someone who loves a softer middle grade story, this one is easily for you.

ARC Review – The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

Title: The Revolution of Birdie Randolph

Author: Brandy Colbert

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.

Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Brandy Colbert has yet to disappointment. Her stories are have such raw portrayals of teens coping with difficult issues, and it’s why I always keep coming back to them. The Revolution of Birdie Randolphlooks at a disjointed relationship between sisters, a girl who is forced to study and has no means of blowing off steam, and a boy who’s been to juvie and is trying to make amends for his actions.

If there is one thing Colbert is a master of, it’s writing family dynamics in such a realistic way. Birdie’s home-life and her relationship with her parents has moments of discomfort, but also moments of joy. I think the book also has some fantastic twists and turns in terms of large scale secrets, and I think Colbert gives the right amount of bread crumbs to get those conclusions. I found myself very engaged by the family plotline (as I usually do), but I actually also liked the relationship storyline between Birdie and Booker (our boy outta juvie) as well. Romance isn’t normally my bag, but this one worked for me most of the time.

I think what I loved about Booker’s character in particular is that he recognizes the kind of harm he caused in his past and he wants to atone and become a better person. I also appreciate how sex-positive this book is, in that he never pressures Birdie into anything either. I feel for Booker through, simply because he gets pigeon-holed by so many people in the story and it takes awhile for people to warm up to him due to his past.

If I am being honest, I really loved all the characters in The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, and I like that the majority of them grow with the story, each with their own flaws. The flaws feel true to the nature of the story and don’t feel shoe-horned in any way. If you’ve read and enjoyed Colbert’s novels in the past, then this book is a no brainer. However, if you’ve been meaning to read Brandy Colbert’s works and haven’t, this one is a pretty good place to start.

A Late Fave of the Months – June & July

Hi everyone! I am not dead! But Summer Reading Club is out to kill me and I come home happy and tired every night. So much so, that I haven’t been turning my computer on when I get home from work. It’s funny for me, as someone who loves to surf the web or play PC games that all of a sudden I come home from my full-time job and go “No thanks.”

Despite it being quite here on the blog, I’ve been reading A LOT. I just haven’t had the energy to post. You are going to see me try to get active again, and come fall I feel like that will be a million times easier when I have less programs on my plate and more time to focus on my collection work.

For now, let’s play catch up with two faves of the month!

June

Ghost Boys
by Jewell Parker Rhodes (April 17th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
One of the last books I read in June, but easily the most important, Ghost Boys looks at two entwined lives: the ghost of a recently murder 12 year old boy, Jerome, and the ghost of Emmett Till, the famous boy who was killed by white men for supposedly cat-calling a white woman. The parallels between Jerome and Till’s life are super important in this story, as the author, Jewell Parker Rhodes reminds readers that white cops are still killing young black people and this shit needs to stop. I want to stress how heartbreaking this book is, as well as the constant anger I felt towards the cop who “just felt like he was doing his job” but still insisted on killing a young black boy. The audiobook for this is phenomenal and highly worth the listen, and I feel this middle grade gem is going to continue to be important for generations to come.
July
Tilly and the Bookwanderers
(Pages & Co. #1)
by Anna James (Published September 18th 2018 by HarperCollins)
This adorable, funny, clever, book. I had to write my first middle grade book review for work and this ended up being my selection. I kept passing it every time I was helping customers and finally decided one afternoon to take the plunge.
I read it very quickly.
Tilly and the Bookwanders is a book lover’s book. It focuses on adventure, with gentle and sweet characters, and offers a sense of wonder in the familiar. Tilly is able to wander through her favourite books such as A Little Princess or Anne of Green Gables and she befriends the characters and helps solves their problems. I am beyond excited for the sequel when it releases, because Tilly and fairy tales is going to make for an interesting adventure.