Author Archives: samcmar

Hiatus Until August

Hi everyone,

Blogging is going to go on hiatus for the month of July as my husband and I prepare to move to a new place. This means my time is mostly going to be focused on packing, cleaning, and generally trying not to die. I hope to come back with some stronger content, more reviews, personal posts. I also have a trip to Japan coming up as well, so you’ll definitely get some of that on the blog during the month of September.

I hate when life gets so crazy that things you consistently do fall to the wayside. However, this is a huge step for us and it needs to get done with a lot of care and focus. Please don’t forget about me! And who knows, maybe Molly will share some posts while I am gone like she did the last time. You never know. 😉

Love,

Sam

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Book Riot’s Read Harder 2018 Challenge – May and June Wrap Up

You may have noticed that I skipped a month for this feature. If I am being realistic, given how much crap has been going on in my life, it was an easy thing to forget. However, since then, I have read a few more books for my challenge. Lemme share what the last two months have brought me.


Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Completes Challenge #10: Romance Novel by or About a Person of Colour

Thoughts: While this book is getting a lot of mixed reviews, I personally loved the crap out of it. I loved the meet cute between Penny and Sam, and I loved how organic their friendship was from the start and how it blossomed into quite the dramatic romance. This book has great friendships, and while Penny and Sam are challenging characters to enjoy, I think Choi does an amazing job of getting the reader to understand where they are both coming from. Check out my review here.


The Emissary by Yōko Tawada

Completes the Challenge #19: Book of genre fiction in translation

Thoughts: I found this on our New & Popular shelf at work and decided to give it a whirl.  I don’t mind a very abstract read, but something about this book left me feeling very lost and confused a lot of the time. Maybe it’s me being out of practice reading Japanese Literature, or maybe it’s the fact that this novel jumps around with too many ideas but nothing feeling concrete at all. Yeah, not sure what happened here.

 


And there you have it! It’s another two reads, one for each month. I didn’t do so hot, but let’s be honest: I’m trying to do a bit too much on top of getting ready to move and go on vacation. Here’s hoping for a better month in July! (Though I doubt it.)

Three Contemporary Novels I Want to Read This Summer

Summer is here and it always puts me in the mood to read contemporary. There’s just something wonderful about a summer-focused novel, be it a beach read, a summer road trip, or just an adventure in dealing with feelings that feel so brand new, contemporary is just what I want to devour throughout July and August. I thought I’d share five contemporary novels I want to get to this summer.

Finding Yvonne
by Brandy Colbert (Expected Release Date: August 7th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

I am very fortunate at the moment to have an ARC for this novel. I loved Little & Lion, and I own Pointe, which I rescued from being put in the trash at my work (old weeded copy) that I still haven’t read yet. Regardless, I was beyond impressed by Little & Lion that now Colbert is an author I watch. I love her stories that focus on family, diversity, and how change affects young people. There’s a sharpness to her words that I instantly connect with and Finding Yvonne sounds like it may break me.

The Way You Make Me Feel
by Maurene Goo (Published: May 8th 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux Books)

I loved the comedy of errors that was I Believe in a Thing Called Love. It was cute, quirky, and just so so funny. I’ve heard great things about The Way You Make Feel, and I feel like it’s going to be a book that is going to leave me so hungry given it has to do with a summer romance and food trucks. I am not the biggest romance reader, but I like how Maurene Goo writes them, so I am in it to see what all the fun is about.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson (Published: June 5th 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Whenever I think of summer reads, two authors usually spring to mind: Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson. Since I have read all the Sarah Dessen, it would seem I now need to catch up on the latter, I have only read Amy & Rodger’s Epic Detour and The Unexpected Everything, both which I thoroughly enjoyed. I ended up picking up Save the Date from my local book store on a whim, and I feel like it’s going to be a fun read.

What are some contemporary books you want to check out this summer? I’d love to know in the comments.

Cramathon Wrap Up!

So Cramathon happened back from June 10th to the 17th, and despite all the crazy in my life, I decided I wanted to participate. Of the seven challenges, I completed five! I thought that was pretty good given it was happening during a very busy and crazy work period. Since the read-a-thon ended I am still working on the last two challenges, which are finishing Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now (which I am enjoying a lot!) and staring Dear Martin.

 Predicted 5 Star Read – Sadie by Courtney Summers – It was, in fact, a five star read and definitely what I needed to be reading in my life. I am going to have a review coming closer towards the date, as well as another post discussing Sadie a bit more loosely in weeks to come. Let’s just say if you love a thriller, you need this book. 5/5 Stars.

Book Out of Your Comfort Zone – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi – This book was so WEIRD, but so beautifully written that I couldn’t take my eyes off the page. It’s a difficult book to describe, but one if you’re interested in works by Nigerian writers. 4/5 Stars.

A Book That Has Been On Your TBR A Long Time – The Dust Devils by Sean Williams – I finished the first book in this series earlier in the year and enjoyed it. I decided to check out the sequels, Dust Devils and The Scarecrow and for me this series just didn’t do it for me. It was an okay fantasy series, but I just never truly felt invested. 2/5 Stars.

LGBTQIA+ Ownvoices Book – Wide Awake by David Levithan – This book was weirdly uplifting, kind of utopian, and a very interesting take on if the world wasn’t filled with discrimination. Not the most realistic book, but definitely one I loved just because I loved how hopeful it was throughout. 4/5 Stars.

Something That is Not a Standard Novel – Dear Martin by Nic Stone – INCOMPLETE

Book With Your Favourite Colour on it – Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis – INCOMPLETE.

Read Seven Books – Flor and Miranda Steal the Show by Jennifer Torres – Yes, yell at me! I decided that this was my freebie book for the read-a-thon since I already had it started and had finished on the first day. You can read my review here. 4/5 Stars.

Five out of seven challenges isn’t too bad. The next read-a-thon I am hoping to participate in is #TomeTopple which starts on June 29th. I will be so happy if I complete two 500+ page books (well one comic, one book). We shall see. Let me know if you participated and whether or not you completed the challenges! 🙂

Late to the Party ARC Review – Tiny Infinities by J.H. Diehl

Title: Tiny Infinities

Author: J.H. Diehl

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: When Alice’s dad moves out, leaving her with her troubled mother, she does the only thing that feels right: she retreats to her family’s old Renaissance tent in the backyard, determined to live there until her dad comes home. In an attempt to keep at least one part of her summer from changing, Alice focuses on her quest to swim freestyle fast enough to get on her swim team’s record board. But summers contain multitudes, and soon Alice meets an odd new friend, Harriet, whose obsession with the school’s science fair is equal only to her conviction that Alice’s best stroke is backstroke, not freestyle. Most unexpected of all is an unusual babysitting charge, Piper, who is mute—until Alice hears her speak. 

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This book was very much a slow burn for me as far as middle grade reads are concerned. This is a book about loss, change, friendships, and swimming. When Alice’s father leaves her family, she decides to take refuge in his old Renaissance tent in the backyard. Her summer is showing constant change, as she meets a new girl who loves science, but is a bit odd. She meets a girl who is a mute that she attempts to befriend, and she spends her days learning that perhaps difference and change isn’t such a bad thing.

Alice’s story is one I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to. She’s learning to deal with her family getting a divorce, she’s determined to try and stop her world for changing. Alice is lovable as a heroine — she’s stubborn, determined, and a bit shy. She’s a character I think a lot of readers will connect with because she goes through events in her life that are challenging, and there is such an unknown feeling to the changes she encounters.

I also really liked the writing in this book, even if the story was a tad slow. I did find Harriet, Alice’s newfound friend, to be a bit of a difficult character. At times she read very robotically, though that may stem from the fact that she is very intelligent and somewhat socially awkward. I think she’s a character kids may have some trouble with just because her vocabulary is so advanced compared to other children in the story, but I think given how she is portrayed, it makes a lot of sense.

I enjoyed my time with Tiny Infinities. I loved it’s message about how adapting to change can be wonderful and rewarding, and I loved that as a middle grade story, it had subject matters that kids could relate to, but they were still complex enough to be challenging. I definitely look forward to recommending this to more patient middle grade readers. I don’t recommend this for readers looking for a fast paced adventure, because that doesn’t exist here.

Late to the Party ARC Review – Who’s Who When Everyone Is Someone Else by C.D. Rose

Title: Who’s Who When Everyone Is Someone Else

Author: C.D. Rose

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Fleeing heartbreak, an unnamed author goes to an unnamed city to give a series of lectures at an unnamed university about forgotten books…only to find himself involved in a mystery when it turns out the professor who invited him is no where to be found, and no one seems quite sure why he’s there.

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This pains me, but I struggled with this book. I picked it up on a whim at this year’s Ontario Library Super Conference after reading the blurb. I love the “Who’s Who” series, and I think that’s entirely where my brain was going when reading this novel.

It was partially that, and partially something harder to describe. This is a book that features “lectures” (or rather, waxings) on particular novels, and as well as the story of an unnamed author and journey through an unnamed Middle-European city. No one in this novel really has a name or even a role persay — bur rather, this is a novel that feels very meditative and thoughtful, but nothing really happens either.

That’s ultimately what I struggled with. I don’t mind a novel that feels aimless, let alone one that is poetic and thoughtful, but the writing in this book felt so dense at times that for every beautiful line or passage, there was something hard or difficult to navigate through in terms of the writing.

This is a book lover’s book for sure, and it’s a love letter to readers and that is abundantly clear. I just wish I had connected more with it or had been in a better head space to appreciate a lot of what C.D Rose was attempting to accomplish here.

ARC Review – Flor and Miranda Steal the Show by Jennifer Torres

Title: Flor and Miranda Steal the Show

Author: Jennifer Torres

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Miranda is the lead singer in her family’s musical band, Miranda y Los Reyes. Her family has worked hard performing at festivals and quinceañeras. Now, they have a shot at the main stage. How will Miranda make it a performance to remember? Flor’s family runs the petting zoo at Mr. Barsetti’s carnival. When she accidentally overhears Mr. Barsetti and Miranda’s dad talk about cutting the zoo to accommodate Miranda y Los Reyes’s main stage salary, she knows she has to take action. Will she have the heart for sabotage once she and Miranda actually start to become friends? 

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

Sam’s Review:

Flor and Miranda Steal the Show was a book I didn’t even have on my radar. Going to HGBC ARC list, I read the synopsis and decided to give it a whirl because it felt like something children at my library branch would enjoy. For such a such book, it took me awhile to read — not because it was bad, but because it was rich in entertainment and meaningful discussion.

Miranda is the lead singer in her family’s ranchera band, while Flor is a girl who works in her family’s petting zoo. When the carnival states that they are losing funds, Flor over hears that the petting zoo is in danger and that the money will go towards Miranda’s ranchera band, which is growing in popularity. This premise tells you a lot about the story on the surface, but what it doesn’t show is just how intense Miranda and Flor’s friendship is.

This is a book about family trials and tribulations and how desperate stakes can affect a friendship, and this element is done so well. You feel for both Flor and Miranda, you see how their friendship is in jeopardy, but you also see how the girls work to try and show value for each other and their families. The book also shows the level of sacrifices the girls are willing to make to take care of each other, which is crazy unheard of in middle grade.

Flor and Miranda Steal the Show is a wonderfully crafted middle grade story that focuses on so many different topics, and does it with humour and heart. It’s a story that shows how friends can work together to overcome difficult challenges, and even how they can advocate for each other. I adored this carnival tour, and I cannot wait to share this book with younger readers.