Tag Archives: canadian literature

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.


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!


ARC Review – Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

25125773Title: Mad Miss Mimic

Author: Sarah Henstra

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: London, 1872. Seventeen-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to society — again. She’s strikingly beautiful and going to be very rich, but Leo has a problem money can’t solve. A curious speech disorder causes her to stutter but also allows her to imitate other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back…and watch as Leo unintentionally scares off one potential husband after another.

London in 1872 is also a city gripped by opium fever. Leo’s brother-in-law Dr. Dewhurst and his new business partner Francis Thornfax are frontrunners in the race to patent an injectable formula of the drug. Friendly, forthright, and as a bonus devastatingly handsome, Thornfax seems immune to the gossip about Leo’s “madness.” But their courtship is endangered from the start. The mysterious Black Glove opium gang is setting off explosions across the city. The street urchins Dr. Dewhurst treats are dying of overdose. And then there is Tom Rampling, the working-class boy Leo can’t seem to get off her mind.

As the violence closes in around her Leo must find the links between the Black Glove’s attacks, Tom’s criminal past, the doctor’s dangerous cure, and Thornfax’s political ambitions. But first she must find her voice.

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Mad Miss Mimic when I started it. The writing style was odd, if a bit tough to get into, and the content itself was a tad slow at first. Thankfully, this is one of those novels that is a slowburn, but when it hits it’s stride, it moves, and moves quickly.

Sarah Henstra introduces readers to Leonora Somerville, a very unreliable and difficult narrator to really grasp. Dubbed “Mad Miss Mimic”, Leo often ends up dipping in and out of mimicry depending on the situation she is forced into. Our heroine has a stuttering disorder, but often in times of self-confidence, she is able to mimic those around her. It’s quite fascinating really, because it’s not as though the use of mimicry is a defensive mechanism (though I suppose it could be viewed that way). I saw it more as a means of manipulation, which made Leo all the more interesting as a protagonist.

What I really loved about this novel was the historical elements, and when you read Henstra’s Author’s Note at the end of the novel, it’s apparent what liberties she has taken and which elements are historical fact. She weaves all these facts and liberties into a really fantastic mystery, and although the book was predictable at times, it oddly never deterred from my enjoyment — I was always happy to uncover more about Leonora and her desires to marry Francis Thornfax.

Truthfully, all the characters in this book are horribly dishonest, but it’s actually what keeps them interesting. Francis Thornfax is not who he seems on the surface, and as the reader continues on, his shadey dealings become so much more apparent. The servants are just deplorable at times, and Leonora herself can be so aggravating and frustrating, but on the other hand, so cunning and intelligent. I never found myself hating these characters, but always needing to know more about them, understanding their motives, and I feel like I got that for the most part.

Mad Miss Mimic is one of those books where the writing style is going to play into your level of enjoyment. It’s not easy to get into by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s one I encourage readers to try and stick with if you can. The story itself is intriguing, highly entertaining, if a touch predictable at times. Still, Henstra keeps the reader guessing, and that’s always a sign of a great mystery novel, isn’t it?

5 Reasons Why You Should Read the Clarissa Delaney Books by Vikki VanSickle

8474886This post has been awhile coming, especially now that I’ve completed all three books in this series. I completely powered through this series, and I want to share why I think Clarissa Delaney’s story is worth looking into.

1) This series is proudly Canadian, and if you are a Canadian reading it, then you get to play the “I KNOW WHERE THAT IS!” game, and I like that Vikki VanSickle doesn’t change the story to be somewhere else. Toronto, as described by Clarissa, does feel like it’s own character at times, and I like that.

2) Clarissa completely acts her age. Middle grade is such an hard area to write, especially in terms of contemporary fictions. Here is where we get all the growing pains, and Clarissa has her fair share of them… on top of the fact that her mother is diagnosed with cancer. This is a tough age group to have dealing with that type of crisis, and I like that Vikki never, ever shies away at this being a difficult subject matter. Clarissa responses the way any seventh grader would — scared, but wanting to understand as best as possible. 11459003

3) Clarissa is wonderfully sassy, kinda bratty, and knows how to speak her mind — in fact, the girl comes across fearless at times… well, until Michael shows up. Then she’s tongue-tied! But seriously, I appreciate having a heroine in a story who is able to articulate her feelings in such a way where you understand where she’s coming from. When Doug enters the picture in Love is a Four-Letter Word, Clarissa’s response to him, though horrific, makes perfect sense. You have a man who wants to be a part of her life, but with no father to look towards, how do you accept someone new to possibly attempt to fulfil that roll? I actually loved Clarissa’s interactions with Doug, and he got a lot of my sympathy in books two and three.

4) Benji will make you grin. No seriously, the kid is brilliant, ridiculous and loveable. He easily will steal your heart and he has some of the best moments in this series. Especially all of Love is a Four-Letter Word. No really, go read it and see what I mean.

172079105) These books teach wonderful lessons without beating a younger reader over the head. This series is loveable in so many ways — there’s well crafted characters, some gut-punching yet touching moments, secrets that will keep the reader guessing (especially in Days That End in Y), and it’s so easy to fall in love with Clarissa’s voice. It’s distinctive, but has the right amount of innocence to it. That is to say, Vikki VanSickle does an amazing job of making contemporary middle grade feel accessible, something we can relate to, and still pack a ton of feels in each book, from start to finish.