Tag Archives: adult

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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Late to the Party ARC Review – Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant

Title:  Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1)

Author: Mira Grant

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

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

Sam’s Review:

It feels so good to read a Mira Grant horror story again. I loved herNewsflesh series, and wasn’t as big on her Parasite trilogy. However, the idea of murderous mermaids and a killer ocean swallowing people whole? What a horror show.

Into the Drowning Deep is a captivating story about a voyage gone wrong, a mystery surrounding it, and how people’s lives become at risk when uncovering the secrets of the ocean. This book is uncomfortable to read at times, and you get a large sense of looming dread from the cast of characters. Grant’s writing is descriptive, and her monsters really have the ability to strike fear in a reader. I spent a lot of this novel hoping, begging, and pleading that my favourite characters wouldn’t be killed off, and hilariously, they all were.

What I also love about this story is it plays with the readers perception of others. It’s hard to know which characters are trust worthy because Grant does a great job tricking the reader. I also loved the ASL representation in this novel, as it was great to read about a character who was deaf and used sign language as a means to communicate. I equally loved the attention to detail that was placed on this character, as it shows that she was written with a lot of care. Oh, and the killer mermaids? They are real. They are subtle. They are scary.

Into the Drowning Deep was a fun, terrifying little horror show of a novel. I enjoyed how unpredictable it was and how Grant plays with the reader throughout the story. If you loved Newsflesh, but didn’t care as much for Parasite, try Into the Drowning Deep. It will make you want to avoid the ocean for awhile.

Ten Comics & Graphic Novels, and Manga You Should Check Out! January 2017 Edition

A new year means a whole lot more comics, graphic novels and manga to devour. While the year has just started, I have actually managed to check out a lot of great new stuff that I want to recommend to you all. I have some new middle grade reads, some manga, and well, let’s just say I have a bit of everything. Let’s get started!

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Hexed by by Michael Alan Nelson et al.

Hexed is a very addictive, if short series. It focuses on a heroine named Luci (short of Lucifer), a thief who dabbles in the occult, and the occult wants nothing more than to devour her. This series is only three volumes, but each volume series packs a wallop. There’s an intense amount of detail in the world building, the characters are a blast, and it’s just action-packed. Definitely for fans of Jessica Jones, especially those who love a little street with their magic. 30220713

Space Battle Lunchtime, Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess

Can I gush for a second about Space Battle Lunctime? Because I REALLY adored Space Battle Lunchtime. I am a sucker for tournament stories, and in this case we have Iron Chef in SPAAAAAAAAACE. There is so much comedy gold in this series, and Peony will totally steal your heart… and you’ll want her to bake you cupcakes. Great for kids of all ages, and adults who happen to just be big kids.

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Snow White: A Graphic Novel
by Matt Phelan

This is a very unique retelling of Snow White, and one that I think will surprise a lot of readers. Transplanting the story to New York City, 1928, we are given a a beautifully illustrated story that feels both fresh and familiar. The artwork is breathtaking by the way, and while there is minimal text, there’s still a very vivid story being told. If you love noir and fairytale retelling, this one is definitely worth checking out.

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Mockingbird, Vol. 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain &  Kate Niemczyk

Can I explain to you all my intense love of Chelsea Cain’s version of Mockingbird, because holy crap it is amazeballz. Seriously, she breathes new life into the character of Bobbi Morse, and given how comics have treated her over the years, it’s great to see Bobbi back in action and potentially the best version of herself. I am super sad that this is going to be a very short run, because the writing in this is witty, clever, and quite dark at times. I need more Bobbi in my life.

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Another Castle by Andrew Wheeler & Paulina Ganucheau 

A super feminist comic about swords and sorcery, and my goodness is it a lot of fun to read. Wheeler’s writing is very clever and cheeky, and Ganucheau’s art is absolutely vivid and stellar. Again this short series (five issues total) has an amazingly diverse cast of characters, romance, girl-power and more. A comic for fantasy lovers, and a love letter to those who adore Dungeons and Dragons.

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Princess Princess Ever After
by Katie O’Neill

This is a beautiful LGBTQIA+ comic that features two heroines who couldn’t be more opposite of each other, but fall in love. Princess Amira and Princess Sadie are delightful, adorkable, and easy to root for. Diverse, queer friendly, and all ages appropriate, Princess Princess Ever After is just buckets of fun. Too bad it is so darn short, though!

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JUDGE by Yoshiki Tonogai

Told in six twisted volumes, JUDGE is not for the faint of heart. Much like Danganronpa, we have people thrown into a horrific game where each person is labelled a seven deadly sin that represents their personality. People die, and people die horrifically in this series. There’s some great twists and turns, and though I wasn’t huge on the ending, I found the build up to be exceptionally worthwhile. I definitely want to check out more of Yoshiki Tonogai’s work, but I need to remember to breathe while reading it!

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Adventure Time by Various

I have intense feelings for Adventure Time. The show makes me laugh, it makes me smile, it gives me all the feelings. The comics are no different, though admittedly they vary in quality. I’ve enjoyed the majority of the ones I’ve read, and I think they are great for fans of the series. Some personal favourites include President BubblegumMarceline and the Scream Queens & Marceline Adrift, Candy Capers, and any of the ones written by Ryan North because they are made of LULZ.

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Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

I have adored every one of Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels, but I think this one has got some of the best emotion in it. This book is not only about sisters, but it’s also about what it means to help others (in this case, Cat’s sister has cystic fibrosis). There are ghosts of friends, families, loved ones, and the setting in this novel is just absolutely stunning. I LOVED Maya and Cat’s relationship and it felt so authentic. If you haven’t read this gem yet, do so.

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Jessica Jones (2016-) by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos & David W. Mack

I had a love-hate relationship with both the original Alias series, and Brian Michael Bendis. When Bendis writes street, hes fabulous, when he goes beyond that… it’s often a hot mess (see the ending of Alias). However, my bestie has been loaning me this ongoing run and right now I am super intrigued by it. Luke Cage is chasing Jessica Jones, asking about their daughter. Jessica also feels so distant in this series (to the point where she rubs it in Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman’s face that she is the superior detective). I like this so far, but I don’t want to jinx myself either. I do think at this point, however, it’s solid and worth the recommendation.

Have you guys been reading any new comics lately? I am always looking for recommendations! I am hoping 2017 is a solid year of more comics, graphic novels and manga. We shall see!

ARC Review – The Dog Who Dared to Dream by Sun-mi Hwang & Chi-Young Kim (Translator)

30651306Title: The Dog Who Dared to Dream

Author: Sun-mi Hwang & Chi-Young Kim (Translator)

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: This is the story of a dog named Scraggly. Born an outsider because of her distinctive appearance, she spends most of her days in the sun-filled yard of her owner’s house. Scraggly has dreams and aspirations just like the rest of us. But each winter, dark clouds descend and Scraggly is faced with challenges that she must overcome. Through the clouds and even beyond the gates of her owner’s yard lies the possibility of friendship, motherhood and happiness – they are for the taking if Scraggly can just hold on to them, bring them home and build the life she so desperately desires.

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

Sam’s Review:

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started reading The Dog Who Dared to Dream. I am a huge sucker for animal stories, but this one in particular read more like a folktale than the average story about a courageous dog.

Written in short vignettes, Sun-mi Hwang weaves a tale about a Scraggly dog, and we the reader watch her life past. We learn about the relationship she has with her owner, the first time she gives birth to puppies, and her slow descent into old age. This story is heartbreaking, sad, but at times filled me with hope. Scraggly is someone worth cheering for and she has a lot of conviction within her. I loved the way she is humanized in the story, and a lot of what happens to her, you feel for her.

I particularly loved when she had birth and then the owner threaten to sell the pups to pay for his roof — Scraggly felt so betrayed and the way this scene is written is just lovely, because it reminds you that dogs are very familiar with emotion. They always remember. Also can I just say the cat in this novel was kind of a jerk? I will say, I did like the resolve to that towards the end. Besides, the hen was much worse!

I really enjoyed this book and I think it does a great job illustrating the kinds of relationships animals have with their humans, and even other animals. Although the translation read a little stiff at times, I think there’s still a lot to enjoy here. Just prepare yourself or a lot of feelings. Seriously, I had feels.

Blog Tour – A Daughter of No Nation (Hidden Sea Tales #2) by A.M. Dellamonica (Review and Q&A)

A.M Dellamoncia is an author I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting a few years back. During Fan Expo (?), we bonded over being Italo-Scotches, people who are half Italian, half Scottish. I had purchased a copy of Indigo Springs, which I’ve since read and enjoyed (really nifty stuff there!). She’s a very funny individual with a good sense of humour, and if you live in the Toronto area when she’s doing an event, I urge you to go and see her — she’s a great person. Her latest series Hidden Sea Tales, is a series I became smitten with last year, so when Raincoast approached me to be a part of the blog tour for the second book, how could I resist?

Below you will find my review of the second book and a short Q&A with A.M Dellamonica, where she discusses Bram (aka my gay book boyfriend) and her inspiration for this series. Enjoy! And make sure to check out A Child of the Hidden Sea (out in both hardcover and paperback) and then the sequel, A Daughter of No Nation which released in hardcover on December 1st.


25543928Title:  A Daughter of No Nation (Hidden Sea Tales #2)

Author: A.M. Dellamonica

Rating:  ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: As soon as Sophie Hansa returned to our world, she is anxious to once again go back to Stormwrack. Unable to discuss the wondrous sights she has seen, and unable to tell anyone what happened to her in her time away, Sophie is in a holding pattern, focused entirely on her eventual chance to return.

With the sudden arrival of Garland Parrish, Sophie is once again gone. This time, she has been called back to Stormwrack in order to spend time with her father, a Duelist-Adjudicator, who is an unrivaled combatant and fearsome negotiator. But is he driven by his commitment to seeing justice prevail, or is he a sociopath? Soon, she discovers something repellent about him that makes her reject him, and everything he is offering. Adrift again, she discovers that her time spent with her father is not without advantages, however, for Sophie has discovered there is nothing to stop her from setting up a forensic institute in Stormwrack, investigating cases that have been bogged down in the courts, sometimes for years. Her fresh look into a long-standing case between two of the islands turns up new information that could get her, and her friends, pulled into something bold and daring, which changes the entire way she approaches this strange new world. 

Huge thank you to Raincoast Books/Tor for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Let me preface this review by stating how much I adored Child of the Hidden Sea. I WAS IN LOVE WITH IT! I found it just a unique and refreshing take on both time slip fantasy and pirates. Just the fact alone that pirates are such a dying breed in literature make me depressed considering how much fun and roguish they can be.

And here’s the kicker: I was so excited about a sequel for Child of the Hidden Sea because I loved the world, I thought the characters were a ton of fun (BRAM!) and because at the end of the day, I liked how Dellamonica gave the reader a lot to think about. Sophie is wonderful as a heroine who is delectably flawed, but charming nonetheless. Something about A Daughter of No Nation did not grip me right away the way the first book did. I struggled with the majority of this book, and if I’m being honest, I can’t really explain why given that everything I liked about the first book was definitely still here and if anything there was moreof it.

But I struggled, and realized it wasn’t the book: it was me. I was trying to force myself to read this book when I wasn’t in the mood, and as a result my enjoyment suffered. This is not a bad sequel by any stretch of the imagination, but rather it didn’t hook me the way the first book did. The writing is still quite stellar and vivid, and while I enjoyed it, I felt a bit more lost considering I hadn’t reread A Child of the Hidden Sea, and I think I should have.

What I will say, however, is the last hundred pages are what did it for me. I was completely glued the story, turning the pages and demanding the need for more. All of a sudden the book had this grip on me that refused to let go until I had gotten to end. I won’t spoil this book, but for those who loved the first one, those last hundred pages will keep you so invested and remind you of why the first book worked so well.

So while this sequel was a bit slow for me and didn’t really work for me mood-wise, I still plan on reading book three when it releases. I think sometimes a second book can suffer from a middle book syndrome and sometimes that is okay too. I just admit, I wish there had been more Bram. Any time Bram was around, the book had my fullest attention because darn it, he’s just so damn delightful.

A. M. DELLAMONICA is the author of Indigo Springs, winner of the
Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, and its concluding sequel, Blue
Magic. Her short stories have appeared in a number of fantasy and science fiction
magazines and anthologies, and on Tor.com.

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Q&A on A Daughter of No Nation (and why you should join the Bram train!)

The amazing folks at Raincoast gave me the chance to ask A.M Dellamoncia a few questions about the Hidden Sea Tales, and she was awesome enough to answer them! Here’s the results:

Bram is my favourite character in the series. He’s delightfully sassy. Where did the inspiration for his character come from?

I don’t think there was ever a point where I didn’t know Sophie would have a brother.My siblings (a category that includes inlaws who’ve been part of my life for almost
thirty years as well as my sister and stepsibs) are a crucial thread within the fabric of
my life.

The Hidden Sea Tales are about microclimates, as well as a hundred other things, and I
believe that families are social microclimates. By this I mean that the only person whose
experience of growing up can ever be remotely like your own is that of a kid who’s grown
up in the same household. Even then, of course, two different children can come away with
completely different perspectives on what happened in their shared past, and this is
pretty much true of Sophie and Bram. They have very different takes on their dad in
particular. Even so, they are close–there’s a scene in A Daughter of No Nation where
they’re each so determined to protect the other from physical harm that they’re
practically stumbling into each other, and thereby putting themselves in more danger
rather than less.

As someone who is queer, I also have some familiarity with the experience of building
your own family from the close-knit circle of people with whom you share many experiences
but no actual DNA. Bram is definitely inspired by many of the smart and thoroughly
wonderful gay men I have come to know over the years.

One aspect I love about this series is the time-slip nautical/pirate theme that you have   working through the story. What made you decide to blend so many different genres to craft this series?

I am very proud of my first two books, Indigo Springs and Blue Magic, but they are
somewhat somber and the latter, in particular, has a shockingly high body count. When I
set out to write a Child of A Hidden Sea, I wanted to have fun. I started by making a
list of everything I love: sailing ships, Sherlock Holmes, biodiversity, portal fantasy,
sea monsters, wildlife biologists, crime procedurals, nature documentaries, photography,
pirates, magic, volcanoes… okay, I admit it was something of a nerdy list.

The sensible thing at that point would have been to pare down that initial brainstorming
session, choosing a few absolute favourites and saving the rest for the next book. But I
wanted to go at it like a kid attacking a pile of birthday gifts, by keeping everything
on the list that I possibly could. I had a lot of fun writing these novels, and I think
it shows.


Huge thank you again to both A.M Dellamonica and Raincoast for all their time and effort in this blog tour. Both Child of the Hidden Sea and Daughter of No Nation are out NOW!

Wanna see where the tour is heading next? Check out the tour stops below!

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River and Sam’s Top Five Books We Want To Get Our Hands on in 2016

Once again we are coming to the end of the year, and once again there are an insane amount of 2016 releases that River and I are insanely excited for. Well, let’s be real, the one book we both want more than anything is The Raven King, but there are others, we swear! Today I thought we’d share the Top Five book we cannot wait for that are releasing in 2016.

River’s Top Five:

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  1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  2. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab
  3. Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
  4. Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker
  5. The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno

Sam’s Top Five:

A Gathering of Shadows Final

  1. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab (as well as This Savage Song!)
  2. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (as well as the next Pip Bartlett book!)
  3. When We Collided by Emery Lord
  4. The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
  5. A Week Without Tuesday by Angelica Banks

What are your most anticipated 2016 reads that you need to get your hands on ASAP? Let us know in the comments, because we want to hear about it.

ARC Review – Radiance: A Novel by Catherynne M. Valente

23014329Title:  Radiance: A Novel

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Rating:  ★★★

Synopsis:  Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood-and solar system-very different from our own, from Catherynne M. Valente, the phenomenal talent behind the New York TimesbestsellingThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.

Told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.

Huge thank you to Raincoast/Tor for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

So, Radiance is a weird, weird book. It’s not bad weird, just very out there. If people were to ask me how I described the book, I’d probably tell them it’s a confusing, yet charmingly deceptive book about film-making in space. There’s Hollywood glitz and glam and it’s all happening in the solar system. The book is alsovery old Hollywood, which is something I adored about it.

Here’s the thing, the writing in this book is stunning, and not in Valente’s usual way. It’s gritter, much more technical through the use of mixed media (such as scripts, letters, etc) and she really does this amazing job of painting space-Hollywood in a way that feels so familiar, and yet at the same time she puts enough distance between the world and the readers to remind them that not everything is as it seems on the surface. I loved that about this story, and really the writing and the world building were the parts that really kept me involved and drawn in to the overall narrative.

But if I’m being frank, I’m not sure I totally understood the story on this one. Parts of it felt slow or all over the place, and there’s this feeling of franticness that fits what is happening the story, but it makes it hard to follow. Furthermore, I wasn’t in love with these characters and I did find them memorable at all. What I was in love with was how film-making techniques were integrated in the story, the old world Hollywood elements just captured me in a way that made me want to rewatch classic films. But I wanted to connect to these characters, and struggled, hoping one of them would be someone I could connect with.

I think if you’re a hardcore Valente fan like I am, you’ll probably find something to love about this book. I do not recommend this book if this is your first time reading her work (I’d also say start with Fairyland or some of her short stories) because he writing is very unique and it’s definitely not for everyone. I think there’s a lot to enjoy about Radiance, I just found it for me personally, to be a tougher reader than some of her other works.