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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.

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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.

#FearlessWomen – STARLESS

STARLESS

To me, Brother Saan said, “And how did you find your encounter with Pahrkun and Anamuht?”

“Oh!” Words went clean out of my head at the thought of trying to de-scribe it. “It was . . .  They were . . .”

He chuckled.

“It was awe- inspiring, Elder Brother,” I managed at last. “It was like seeing the very heart and soul of the desert made flesh.”

Brother Saan nodded in approval. “Well said, young Khai. The children of the heavens embody the places to which they are bound.”

A creeping sense of shame nagged at me. “And yet I stood frozen in their presence, Elder Brother,” I confessed. “I dared go no further. It was Brother Merik who led Brother Yarit to safety.”

“Yes, and you who led Brother Merik to find him,” Brother Saan said. “For now it is enough.”

“But one day it will not be?” I asked him.

“You are pledged to Pahrkun the Scouring Wind,” he said. “One day you will undergo a trial to determine if that pledge is worthy of being fulfilled. But that day is far from now.”

 

Starless – Jacqueline Carey

Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.

I was nine years old the first time I tried to kill a man…

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.

0 R

About Jacqueline Carey:

JACQUELINE CAREY is the author of the New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series of historical fantasy novels, The Sundering epic fantasy duology, postmodern fables “Santa Olivia” and “Saints Astray,” and the Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series. Carey lives in western Michigan.

#FearlessWomen_BlogHeader

About #FearlessWomen:

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen will be a coordinated social media celebration encouraging fans to start a dialogue about women in publishing, their worlds, their voices, and their unique stories.

Tor Books’ handles across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@torbooks) will be using the hashtags #FearlessWomen (and #FearlessFantasy and #FearlessSF) to promote excerpts, exclusive content, quizzes and giveaways beginning in May. There will also be exclusive giveaways at BookCon, San Diego Comic-Con, and New York Comic Con. Follow Tor Books online, join the conversation – and get reading!

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.

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.