Tag Archives: adult fiction

ARC Review – Vi by Kim Thúy

Title: Vi

Author: Kim Thúy

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: The youngest of four children and the only girl, Vi was given a name that meant “precious, tiny one,” destined to be cosseted and protected, the family’s little treasure.
Daughter of an enterprising mother and a wealthy and spoiled father who never had to grow up, the Vietnam war tears their family asunder. While Vi and many of her family members escape, her father stays behind, and her family must fend for themselves in Canada.
While her mother and brothers put down roots, life has different plans for Vi. As a young woman, she finds the world opening up to her. 

Huge thank you to Random House Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I adored Ru back when I read it. I found it to be such an emotional journey, and Kim Thuy’s prose is some of the most beautiful that I’ve read over the years. He latest book, Vi looks at the youngest daughter of three, and a family of refugees trying to make a new life in Canada. This book is as short as Ru, and while it hits similar notes, it doesn’t quite deliver for me in the same way.

Part of my issue with Vi is how much it jumps around in terms of location and time. I found myself reading this book slowly, flipping back through pages just to ensure I understood where Vi was and the timeframe. I loved learning about Vi’s family, and I love how Vi is swept away from life and her new surroundings. She sees so much of the world, witnessing many important historical events, and making even larger personal milestones. This book truly is about a journey, both as a refugee and the more personal one about making your mark in the world, especially when the world feels like it may be against you.

The writing in this book is gorgeous beyond belief and Shelia Fischman’s translation makes Thuy’s prose so beautiful and raw. I loved seeing the transformation of Vi and the evolution of the world around her, and I think the vignettes that we get in this story do a great job of giving the reader just enough information. That being said, this is not a book for those looking for a concrete story, as this book meanders through various moments in time.

Despite some of my issues with this book, Vi is a good read and it’s one I think worth going into blind. While it didn’t make the same impact on me that Ru did, I still find myself compelled in wanting to read the rest of Kim Thuy’s works, because I do find that learning about Vietnamese-Canadian relations to be an interesting topic. This book is definitely made for those who love being whisked away on a journey, and don’t mind winding paths along the way.

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ARC Review – Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Title: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

Author: Kelly Robson

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted pass.

In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity’s ancestral habitat. She’s spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Walking around the Ontario Library Association Super Conference, I tend to pick up a lot of random titles. While I was stopping over at Raincoast, Kelly Robson was beginning to sign her latest, Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach. I had zero idea what it was about and I had to know what tis “lucky peach” was. I also didn’t realize that Kelly Robson was married to a sci-fi author I love, A.M Dellamonica.

This delightful piece of candy reading is about time travel, octopus, and an ecological crisis. Minh, our protagonist, is tasked with reclaiming humanity’s ancestral habitat, Earth. Earth is no longer as habitable as it once was, and her group of merry companions are the last hope in changing the world for the better. For such a short novel, I loved how it was written. It had a great pace, the characters were fairly entertaining given how little time is spent on each one. The story next felt confusing or bloated, and it moved at such a brisk pace.

I liked that there were two stories at work and I enjoyed how they both connected in the end. The story at the beginning of each chapter with the battle between gods and monsters was just so interesting, and part of me wishes we had that story on it’s own as well. The other half, Minh’s story is very technology focused, and Robson’s take on time travel is a lot of fun.

I am crazy glad I read this, and knowing that Robson has other short stories to check out as me very excited. There was a lot to love in this story given how short it was, and the journey to finding out “the lucky peach” was pretty fun in itself. I would highly recommend checking out this novella, especially if you like time travel stories, when it releases in March.

ARC Review – Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges

Title: Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home

Author: Nicole J. Georges

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: When Nicole Georges was sixteen she adopted Beija, a dysfunctional shar-pei/corgi mix—a troublesome combination of tiny and attack, just like teenaged Nicole herself. For the next fifteen years, Beija would be the one constant in her life. Through depression, relationships gone awry, and an unmoored young adulthood played out against the backdrop of the Portland punk scene, Beija was there, wearing her “Don’t Pet Me” bandana.   Georges’s gorgeous graphic novel Fetch chronicles their symbiotic, codependent relationship and probes what it means to care for and be responsible to another living thing—a living thing that occasionally lunges at toddlers. Nicole turns to vets, dog whisperers, and even a pet psychic for help, but it is the moments of accommodation, adaption, and compassion that sustain them. Nicole never successfully taught Beija “sit,” but in the end, Beija taught Nicole how to stay.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I knew this book was going to emotionally wreck me. This is the story of Nicole J. Georges and her dog, Beija. Beija is a shar-pei/corgi mix with some behavioral troubles. She’s not comfortable with people petting her, she’s somewhat aggressive when people emit different kinds of energy levels. She is constantly told by people that she is a horrible, no good, bad dog. However, reading this graphic memoir you can see through Nicole George’s perspective that Beija is also a misunderstood dog.

As someone who owns a bulldog, I actually found myself understanding where the author was coming from. It’s hard because in some circumstances you understand why people see and say what they do when they think something is wrong with a dog’s behavior, but the fault in that is that often people don’t give certain breeds of dog a chance to become better.

It’s very evident in this story how much the author loved her dog and how much her dog helped me with a dark period of her life. Animals have magic powers in this regard, they know when their companion needs them and will do anything to try and make things better. I also loved the artwork in this graphic memoir. It’s got great visual appeal and the author does an amazing job of illustrating the story that she wanted to tell.

I really loved this story, and I definitely want to check out more of Nicole J Georges graphic memoirs. Fetch is both funny as it is heartbreaking, and if you are an animal lover and owner it will probably make you cry. I know I did.

ARC Review – Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

Title: Amberlough

Author: Lara Elena Donnelly

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Welcome to Amberlough City, the illustrious but corrupt cosmopolitan beacon of Gedda. The radical One State Party—nicknamed the Ospies—is gaining popular support to unite Gedda’s four municipal governments under an ironclad, socially conservative vision.

Not everyone agrees with the Ospies’ philosophy, including master spy Cyril DePaul and his lover Aristide Makricosta, smuggler and emcee at the popular Bumble Bee Cabaret. When Cyril’s cover is blown on a mission, however, he must become a turncoat in exchange for his life. Returning to Amberlough under the Ospies’ watchful eye, Cyril enters a complex game of deception. One of his concerns is safeguarding Aristide, who refuses to let anyone—the crooked city police or the homophobic Ospies—dictate his life.

Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, top dancer at the Bee and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Amberlough was a book I randomly grabbed while I was at this year’s OLA Conference. I didn’t know much about it, but I found the cover very striking. Cabaret? Spies? Fantasy? LGBT? All checkmarks for things that I love to read about.

What I loved about this book was the world that Donnelly has created. It’s got a seediness to it, something that feels so colourful yet vibrant. I really loved the characters, especially Cordelia who is an absolute boss. I also loved Cyril and Ari, and I thought they were such a delightful couple. The characters are just a lot of fun, and they have just enough depth given that this story is more about solving a mystery and dealing with an uncomfortable political atmosphere.

Spy fiction often doesn’t get it’s due in fantasy, but I love the way in which this book meshes both genres together. This book has both glitter and glamour, but it also has so much discomfort when you start to learn about what the One State Party is after. I felt like the world of Amberlough in itself was a character in the story as well! The world building just really stuck with me as the story progressed, and I knew I was easily along for the ride.

If I have any complaints about this story, it’s really that I just didn’t want it to end. I was just so completely glued to what I was reading, and I loved following these characters through this vibrant world. This is just a wonderfully impressive first novel, and if you love fantasy that has a very political spin, or you love the glitz of cabaret like I do, then Amberlough is worth your attention.

Four Books About Convention Life That You Should Check Out

mitsuadaI love conventions, and they were a huge part of my life for many years. Video games, anime, cosplay, fanart, deal’s room, big scale guests, these were my favourite things to immerse myself in during the summer months. I adored cosplaying, even if my costumers were a bit more DIY than those with real sewing talents. Often we’d go in large groups, protraying characters from one favourite series. Some of the best memories and friendships I’ve made, are because of fandom and cons.

Becoming more of a working girl has made it more difficult for me to get out there and enjoy them over the last few years, but it hasn’t stopped me from loving stories that ineveniblity come out of them. Here are four books I absolutely ADORE that all focus on convention culture and waving your geek flag high and mighty. Definitely check out these books, they will make you smile.

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The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love was a book I picked up on a whim while I was at work browsing our new arrivals section. The cover seems a bit corny, but the contents inside this book? Utterly delightful. This is the story of one guy’s quest to tell the girl he loves how he feels by taking her to Comic Con. However, nothing is ever as it seems, and shenanigans are afoot. I loved this book so much! It reminded me of my own con-romance that I had with my now-husband (which no, we didn’t meet at a con, we were lab partners in school, but we were reunited at a con). There is just so great entertainment and this book does an amazing job of painting the convention backdrop with a great amount of authenticity. If you want a book that depicts the fun in conventions, definitely look no further.

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Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

While Queens of Geek doesn’t release until next March, I had the chance to read this one and early, and my goodness is it a favourite. I am not a huge romance reader, but conventions really do lend themselves to the romance genre well. This book isn’t specifically about convention romances, but it does look at how deeply fandom runs in people and how far we are willing to go to follow our con-related dreams. This is another book that again authentically portrays convention life and how insane con weekends can really be. I thought both plot-lines in this book were just utterly fabulous and I think Charlie, Taylor and Jamie really do a great job of stealing the reader’s hearts.

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Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

The only non-fiction book on this list but important none the less, Sam Maggs’ Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is a handbook for the modern geek gal that offers a plethora of information from cosplaying to convention etiquette, to simply ‘how to survive cons.’ This book is written with charm and wit, and Sam Maggs knows how to deliver thoughtful information with quite the one-two punch. If you’ve never been to a convention, or are afraid to share your geek pride beyond your peers, this book offers a lot of great tips to discovering fandom and first time convention goers. This is an essential handbook for con-life, yo.

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One Con Glory by Sarah Kuhn

Last book on this list is the first book I had ever read that was set in an convention. This is a very sassy read about a young woman who is constantly forced to show her geek cred, how she combats it, and how she kicks major ass. This book is adorable, it’s clever, and Julie is just such a misanthrope with her fellow nerds (Think April Ludgate in Parks & Recreation and you have Julie). While this book is far from perfect, it was Kuhn’s first novel, and I still think even now it’s worth the read just show readers can see that rougher side to conventions. Seriously no one should have to constantly prove their geek cred, and those that do that? Shame on you!

I hope this list of recommendations helps to get you excited for the 2017 convention season. I am hoping to make it back to a convention of some kind in 2017, but we will see given that life works in mysterious ways. Definitely check these books out and let me know what you think of them down in the comments below.

Late to the Party ARC Review – The Gallery of Lost Species by Nina Berkhout

26114471Title: The Gallery of Lost Species

Author: Nina Berkhout

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Edith grows up in her big sister Vivienne’s shadow. While the beautiful Viv is forced by the girls’ overbearing mother to compete in child beauty pageants, plain-looking Edith follows in her father’s footsteps: collecting oddities, studying coins, and reading from old books.

When Viv rebels against her mother’s expectations, Edith finds herself torn between a desire to help her sister and pursuing her own love for a boy who might love her sister more than he loves her. When Edith accepts a job at the National Gallery of Canada, she meets an elderly cryptozoologist named Theo who is searching for a bird many believe to be extinct. Navigating her way through Vivienne’s dark landscape while trying to win Liam’s heart, Edith develops an unlikely friendship with Theo when she realizes they might have more in common than she imagined; they are both trying to retrieve something that may be impossible to bring back to life.

Huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy of this book for review!

Molly’s Review:

This book was just okay for me. It’s an adult novel but the main character, Edith, is a teen and then in her early twenties for the entire book, so it’s bordering on the YA side of things. I went into this expecting things from the synopsis and it really didn’t deliver.

I did enjoy the writing and the story of the two sisters. Edith and her sister Viv are two very different girls. Edith loves to read and collect junk with her father while Viv lets her mother parade her around in child beauty pageants. The mother is a piece of work and I loved how complex her relationship was with Viv. Viv is also an artist, like her father, but she succumbs to drug and alcohol abuse and kinda ruins her artistic career.

Edith grows up into a normal young woman and she gets a job at an art gallery. She works in the collections room cataloging items. I was lead to believe that she was going to forge a deep friendship with one of the researchers who frequents the collections room and that that was going to be a core part of the story. But that was very brief and I didn’t even feel like their friendship and connection went that deeply. I was also disappointed that there wasn’t more done with the researchers quest for the mythical extinct bird.

And the whole love story with Liam was just weird and kinda gross and I didn’t really like him or the relationships that he had with either sister. I felt like Edith was rather pathetic when it came to Liam and even when she did get into a normal relationship she was still kinda pathetic about it.

And Viv’s ending was very unsatisfactory. I really was disappointed with the lack of resolution with her and her family.

Overall this book looks and sounds like it’s going to be gorgeous but it’s kinda just meh.

ARC Review – The Ghost Rebellion (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #5) by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

26814043Title: The Ghost Rebellion (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #5)

Author: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: The chase is on! After rescuing Queen Victoria from the clutches of the Maestro, Agents Eliza D Braun and Wellington Books are in hot pursuit of Dr Henry Jekyll. While he continues his experiments on the aristocracy of Europe, he leaves a trail of chaos and despair in his wake. However when Eliza and Wellington run him to ground in India, they are forced to come face to face with ghosts from the past, and the realities of empire.

Meanwhile Ministry agents Brandon Hill and Bruce Campbell travel deep into Russia hunting down a rare ingredient to save Queen Victoria’s life. Amid the cold they uncover a threat from the revitalized House of Usher that comes directly from their new Chairman.

All in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences will find their allegiances in question, and their mettle tested as a new dastardly era of international intrigue dawns.

Huge thank you to the author for this ARC! This is no way effects my review.

Sam’s Review:

I have read every book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrencesseries, and have loved each one for different reasons. It’s hard not to love Books and Braun, as their steamy chemistry and kick butt attitudes always make for fun dialogue and crazy adventures.

The Ghost Rebellion is a great instalment to the series, and one chock full of mystery and adventure. I was completely invested in the mystery behind the Ghost Rebellion, and I found a lot of the Interludes this time to be quite gripping. It took me a bit to realize some of the connection this time around, but there was certainly a lot more “aha” moments this time around. A lot of the new characters were really interesting, though some of them, particularly O’Neill, were quite frusrating (and rightfully so).

I completely flew through this installment. There is just so much action, and even the politics in this novel were just facisnating to read about. I found myself captivated by the way in which Hill and Campbell handled certain situations, as well as how they dealt with some of the cultural issues as well (the situation with the Russian… oh boy). I actually liked their plotline a lot. Plus, so happy this didn’t end on a cliffhanger! Because the last few have driven me crazy because of that!

But the dialogue was on point, the comedy was still golden, and I am always happy to fall back into this universe. There’s always so much adventure, and the sexual tension! (Well, that isn’t sexual tension so much anymore) is still wonderfully steamy. While this isn’t my favourite installment of the series, I’ll definitely still be recommending it to my fantasy readers at the library.