Tag Archives: arc reviews

Late to the Party ARC Review – They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Title: They Both Die at the End

Author: Adam Silvera

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I read this book in two long sittings. I was glued to the pages and intrigued by the concept of The Last Friend app and Death-Cast calls. The idea of having a phone call tell you that it’s your last day to live is utterly terrifying, but also a bizarre motivator to attempt to live your last day to the fullest. Silvera pulls no punches with this story — it’s emotional, it’s raw, and it’s going to hurt like hell.

As the title suggests, Mateo and Rufus are going to die at the end of the story. The problem with this is that Silvera makes you fall deeply in love with both boys so that when this happens it rips your heart out and the belief in love is destroyed. You never truly feel ready for the impact of the end of this book and that’s probably why it works so well. There’s moments where Silvera tries to fake out the reader in when the boys are going to die and it just pulls at the heartstrings.

I loved Mateo and Rufus. Mateo’s anxiety, his father being in a coma, and his fears of leaving the world without real accomplishment was something I truly could empathize with. He doesn’t hold himself in high regard, but once he meets Rufus you see Mateo come out of his shell, even if it almost feels like it’s too late. As for Rufus, he’s a character that understands the kinds of wrong-doings he’s committed, and you get a large sense that he wants to atone for past action and strive to be someone better… even if he only gets a day to do it. In a lot of ways that’s why this story works so well is you’re seeing all these positive changes in these characters, but you know that this is all brought down because it’s their last day to be alive.

I even liked the side characters, especially Aimee and Lidia. I feel like they added a lot of characterization to both Mateo and Rufus. I also liked the little vignettes of other people in the story either receiving the call or not and how that affects their day or last day for that matter. They are cleverly done and just as punch as the main story.

And it hurts so much. I cried, I was angry, I felt tired after finishing this book because my feelings were all over the place. They Both Die at the End was a heavy, emotional read for me, but it was one I flew through because I found myself connecting so deeply with the story and it’s characters. There is no right headspace for reading this book, just remember that the title rings true and that you’re going to need a lot of tissues to get through this one.

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ARC Review – Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: Moxie

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

This is a book I want in the hands of every young girl. I wish I had this book when I was growing up. Moxie is a book about girl power, girl friendship and the need to band together to fight injustice. Once again, Jennifer Mathieu has written a damned winner with this book, and if this doesn’t become mandatory reading for young feminists, I may cry.

Vivian is an amazing heroine who gets fed up with the sexism that exists in her school. Girls being told to go home and “make a sandwich” to trying to deny the existence of sexual assault, Viv can’t take it anymore. What does she do? She channels her inner Riot Grrl and creates “Moxie” a zine that focuses on the importance of banding together against injustice and to fight the rampant sexism that exists at East Rockport High. Vivian begins to start a hidden movement, with girls being able to find their voice.

HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK. I read this book in two full sittings and was completely glued the story. Mathieu does an amazing job building every action and consequence in this story. There is this fantastic build in the story that makes you want to get to the climax and then see how everything falls into place. This is a girl friendship book and that is the larger focus in this story, and it’s amazing because you see supportive girls, you see them protecting each other, wanting to do what is right. Even the romance with Seth in this book is done well. I love how he makes such a huge mistake and Viv doesn’t just cave to it — she wants him to learn and wants him to build his understanding. She calls him out, and we need more of that. Women calling men out for their crap.

Moxie is an amazing read, and easily a favourite. I loved the characters, the friendship and the power of feminism that exists in this story. I can only hope this gets turned into a film or at least ending up in the hands of girls who need this understanding, this pick me up, this reminder that we need to stick together. Thank you, Jennifer Mathieu for continuing to write books that challenge, intrigue — if you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

ARC August Week 3 Update

 

Wow! We are wrapping up Week 3! While I only read two ARCs in the first week from my list, I read two ARCs this week! One on this list and one that wasn’t. Oops! Still I am super pleased with myself. Here’s how the challenge is going:

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Thornhill by Pam Smy (Release Date: August 29th)
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Release Date: September 19th)
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (Release Date: December 26th)
  • Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Release Date: September 26th)
  • These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips (Release Date: August 1st)
  • Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt (Release Date: August 22nd)
  • That Inevitable Victoria Thing by E.K Johnston (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Release Date: October 10th)
  • Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (Release Date: October 3rd)

ARCs Read:

Thornhill by Pam Smy – Already reviewed this gem!  ★★★★

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno – Doesn’t release until October, but I’ve got a review ready. This one is heartbreaking to say the least. ★★★★

Other things I read this week:

Welcome to the Ballroom Vol 3 and 4 by Tomo Takeuchi — OMGTHISSERIESLOVEIT. ★★★★ x2

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley — This was this award-winning book in 2014 that I heard nothing about, put it on my TBR and then forgot about. This book is about 90’s music, family, romance, and it’s an interesting contemporary novel. I loved the music sections of this book and the family sections, didn’t entirely care for much else. The writing was awkward at times. Good, not amazing. ★★★

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
by Mark Manson — I found this self-help book useful in terms of helping me come to terms with the idea that if you want to give a f*ck about something, you need to figure out is it entirely worth it? What is worth giving a f*ck over and how to deal with your feelings of entitlement and happiness. Interesting stuff. ★★★★

Green Lanterns, Volume 2: The Phantom Lantern – Jessica Cruz is adorable, and Simon’s grandma is the best. ★★★

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – I had too many feels while listening to this audiobook. FEELINGS. ★★★★

Tally:

Number of ARCs on the list read: 5/10

Number of ARCs Read: 6

Number of Non-ARCs Read: 16

ARC August Week 2 Update

Wow! We are wrapping up Week 2! While I only read two ARCs in the first week from my list, I read two ARCs this week! One on this list and one that wasn’t. Oops! Still I am super pleased with myself. Here’s how the challenge is going:

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Thornhill by Pam Smy (Release Date: August 29th)
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Release Date: September 19th)
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (Release Date: December 26th)
  • Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Release Date: September 26th)
  • These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips (Release Date: August 1st)
  • Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt (Release Date: August 22nd)
  • That Inevitable Victoria Thing by E.K Johnston (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Release Date: October 10th)
  • Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (Release Date: October 3rd)

ARCs Read:

Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt – You can check out my review that has already gone live for my thoughts on this one! ★★★★

The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle – Also shared a review for this one earlier in the week. Here’s my thoughts! ★★★★

Other things I read this week:

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi – A friend of mine recommended this manga to me. Fushigi Yuugi is her favourite manga ever and she said this had some interesting similarities. Since reading this, I’ve been seeing this manga pop up on my Goodreads feed a lot lately, so it’s definitely got some popularity behind it. Volume One ends on an interesting note, so I definitely think I need to investigate this one further. ★★★★

Who Is AC? by Hope Larson – This graphic novel is an odd duck. It’s clearly inspired by Sailor Moon and it has a lot of ideas though none of them particularly go anywhere or seem to gel in a way where the story feels cohesive. The art is really great, there’s a lot of diversity, but I wish the story itself had been much more solid in the end. ★★ 1/2

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul – I devoured this book in an day. A lot of these essays are very in-your-face offering perspectives about being a woman of colour, the racism the author felt growing up and even now, and her desire to find change. Many of the essays were funny, sometimes she’s punch just hard enough at the reader to make them stop and think. I also loved reading about growing up in an Indian family and her father reminded me at times of my own (who was short, fat, bald and Italian. Not even close to Indian). This book hurts at times, but with good reason. ★★★★★

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart – This is a beautiful middle grade book about a boy and his horse. Wasn’t sure if I was going to like this one with the slow start, but then halfway through I devoured it, bawled like a little baby and just loved it. ★★★★

Spider-Gwen, Vol. 3: Long-Distance by Jason Latour et al. – Not really enjoying this whole alternative world Spider-Gwen. It’s getting kinda weird, and just less and less appealing. Matt Murdock in this setting is dreadful, and I don’t like how Cindy is handled either. ★★

Green Lanterns, Volume 1: Rage Planet by Sam Humphries  et al. — Not bad, not great. I really don’t know much about the Green Lantern-verse and it’s characters and truthfully this didn’t do much for me. I really liked Jessica as a character though!

Tally:

Number of ARCs on the list read: 3/10

Number of ARCs Read: 4

Number of Non-ARCs Read: 10

ARC Reviews – A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

28575699Title: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Author: Eric Lindstrom

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at arm’s length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she’s been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?

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

Sam’s Review:

I had a weird relation with this book as I was reading it. In fact, for such a short book I had put it down for six days without reading it because something within its contents gave me a reason to. I won’t lie to readers, Mel is a challenging heroine — she’s very distant from the reader, sometimes to the point where you never feel like she’s going to be open enough either. I hit a point with her where I was frustrated and it caused me to put the book down.

After some internal monologue and a few days away from the book, I picked it up again, determined I needed to see it to the end given I have this habit that I don’t like to give up on people or ficitional characters apparently. I am happy I saw her story to the end.

Lindstrom’s writing has a very simplistic quality to it that makes it very engaging. Mel is so into her own mind, thoughts and feelings that she doesn’t see beyond the world. She’s so focused on the death of Nolan, the guilt and anxiety that is present within her and its to the point where everyone she’s ever loved has been pushed far, far away from her. I can relate to that. Sometimes it’s on purpose, other times its just done unconsciously. My frustrations with Mel came from seeing myself in her and I think it’s why a part of me avoided this book for the while that I did.

Mel’s illness is rough, but her reactions and responses are so realistic, right down to the friends she keeps. I really liked the way Lindstrom handled the teenage drama in this book because the responses didn’t feel melodramatic, but rather on point. People do blow situations out of proportion, some people do try to be an alpha in a friendship, some people will try to take all the attention for themselves — all these reactions felt right in place with the story. I felt so angry with a lot of the characters in this book because none of them every stopped to look at the bigger pictures, which again shows a lot of strength in the story being told here.

There are parts of this book that I think will make readers uneasy at times, but I do think A Tragic Kind of Wonderful offers some wonderfully realistic characters trying to seek light in dark places. It is for those who wish to understand those with mental illness, and what Mel feels throughout the story sheds a lot of light on the stigma of mental illness, even if she s a character can feel really infuriating at the same time. If you like deep contemporary YA, this is definitely worth checking out.

ARC Review – Blood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf, #2) by Ryan Graudin

26864835Title: Blood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf, #2)

Author: Ryan Graudin

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

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

Sam’s Review:

One of my favourite reads from last year was Wolf By Wolf. It just married everything I love in a story together: awesome action, great characters, a well developed and (in this case) researched story. I am also a sucker for alternative history stories, which was another reason why Wolf By Wolf won me over. I have been anticipating the sequel, Blood for Blood since I finished the first book, and I actually managed to hold off reading this until now.

And then I tore right through it. Much like Wolf By Wolf, Blood for Blood had the exact same addictive qualities. Yael is still an amazing heroine, and her thirst for revenge and vengeance for her people is much more violent in this book. The stakes also feel much higher, and there’s such an aggressiveness in Yael, Mariam and Luka’s cause. Even the scope of this story feels so much larger and terrifying, and at times I felt so afraid for these characters, but I also loved that even though they were in frightening situations, they managed to keep their eyes on the proverbial prize.

I also loved that we finally got to learn more about Yael and Mariam’s origins, as well as about skinshifting, and all the experimentation. Graudin has this real knack for giving the right amount of dealt without providing information overload, something which I feel like in the hands of an unskilled writer, would pose a major problem.

I cried, I cheered, I yelled, I threw my arms up reading this book. It took so many fantastic twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. Whenever I had to put Blood for Blood down to go back to work, I was always waiting and thinking about what was potentially going to happen next and if the tables would be turned. There is a lot of real surprise in this book, and I am sad that this duology is over. I felt exhausted by the end, and yet I felt that this ending was just so satisfying and dynamic, ending the only way it could have. I STILL LOVED IT. This book is a wonderful conclusion, if you haven’t read Wolf By Wolf, get on that ASAP.

ARC Review – Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil

28114572Title: Girls Like Me

Author: Lola St.Vil

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Shay Summers is trying to cope with the death of her father, being overweight, and threats from a girl bully in school. When she falls in love with Blake, a mysterious boy online, insecure Shay doesn’t want to tell him who she is. But with the help of her two best friends, as well as an assist by Kermit and Miss Piggy, ultimately Shay and Blake’s love prevails. 

 

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!
Sam’s Review:

Girls Like Me was a book I came out coveting from the #TeendsReadFeed event hosted by Raincoast. With its adorable cover and its interesting pitch, I thought this would book would be a grand slam for me. I love books about underdogs, about people don’t necessary fit into the molds of society, who want be loved, but there was a lot about this book that simply didn’t work for me.

First off, I really didn’t understand why this novel was written in verse. I like to think when a novel is written in verse that it’s attempting to highlight something specific by using the style to explore whatever it is they are attempting to show. In this novel, I found I just never connected with the use of verse. It was there but it didn’t evoke any real meaning or feeling for me. Also the sections that were written entirely in text message? Those were simply painful to read, and while I am sure teens likely do text that way, I had moments where it was hard to decipher what some of the short hands even meant.

The other thing is that I wanted to love Shay and I wanted to root for her, but the book was missing something there as well. All we know is that she’s bullied and she fat, but neither of these aspects are really explore because this is all we are really told about her character. We don’t actually know much about why she is bullied (although in truth, it is high school and sometimes bullies bully for the sake of it), but it just felt like something more was needed to make me connect to her on that emotional level, which I just felt like I never got reading this book. Being emotionally connected to characters is important to me, and I felt like Shay was very distant and very closed despite this being her personal thoughts.

The other thing I wish this book had pushed harder and started to before it fizzled off was looking at being “body positive.” It was there, then it kinda disappeared and I felt like the messages that the author was trying to convey started to get lost and over showed by Shay’s romantic feelings, which is totally fine, except that I don’t feel like I really got to know the guy she was falling for.

While I felt horrible for the way Shay was treated in the novel and the names she was called, I feel like this book was missing the spark for me to cheer for her when she does fight back. This isn’t a bad book at all, and I do think there will be readers out there who will connect emotionally to Shay’s story, I just wish I had been one of them.