Tag Archives: features

Guest Post – The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle

If you’ve been around the Canadian middle grade and YA blog tour circuit, you’ve likely encountered Vikki VanSickle along your travels. Easily one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met in my book blogging travels, she’s become not only an amazing source for up and coming middle grade and teen titles, but she’s also a caring individual whom when I see her in public, I love spending time with. Vikki is creative, confident, caring and kind.

Hilariously, her latest book The Winnowing is none of those things. But I still love her and this book any ways. On this leg of The Winnowing blog tour, Vikki shares with us one of her key resources that helped in the process of writing The Winnowing.  This book is unlike anything I’ve seen from Vikki before, and wow is it a roller-coaster!


MYSTERIES OF THE UNEXPLAINED, A Guest Post from Vikki VanSickle

I have always loved a mystery. A dedicated Nancy Drew fan, I graduated from mysteries about lost lockets and broken clocks to UFOs and ancient prophecies. The Mysteries of the Unexplained is an encyclopedia of unsolved mysteries and unexplained phenomena compiled by Readers’ Digest in 1982 (my birth year! Coincidence or conspiracy?!) All the usual suspects (ghosts, aliens, Nessie, Bigfoot) are here, but I also learned about spontaneous human combustion, famous prophecies, lost civilizations, and much, much more.

The book was a flea market discovery that I spent hours reading and re-reading. Arranged in categories with tantalizing titles such as “Beyond the Walls of Time,” “Unearthly Fates” and “In the Realm of Miracles,” it inspired countless stories and fuelled a life-long interest in the bizarre and the otherworldly. When you’re a kid it feels like adults know and control everything. How intoxicating to realize there are great mysteries that may never be solved. It changes the power dynamic and frees you up to think big and dream even bigger.

I still have my original copy and I find myself consulting it if I get stuck in a logic snarl or need a little bit of inspiration. More often than not what ends up happening is I will get lost in these incredible stories and look up an hour later having done no writing, but stoking my imagination all the same.


About the Author

Vikki VanSickle is the author of the acclaimed Clarissa books, including Words that Start with B, Love Is a Four-Letter Word and Days that End in Y. Vikki’s most recent middle grade novel, Summer Days, Starry Nights, has been called “summer reading at its best” and was a finalist for the Red Maple Award. After obtaining an MA in Children’s Literature from UBC, Vikki’s career began in bookselling at The Flying Dragon Bookshop, which earned her the 2011 CBA Young Bookseller of the Year award. Currently Vikki balances writing with her duties as the Marketing and Publicity Manager for Young Readers at Penguin Canada. Vikki lives with a cat named Barb who would prefer not to have to share the house with a sasquatch. — Bio supplied by publisher.

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Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – August Reads

August was a slow month for this challenge as I only knocked out one book. I read A LOT in August, but clearly I need to focus on getting this challenge completed. I think I’ve got a sense of what I want to read for the rest of the year, but it definitely requires me to just get those books either from my work or check my own personal shelves. Hopefully in September I can get my crap together and work on this challenge some more!


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Completes Challenge #3: Read a book about books.

Thoughts: This book. This book was an emotional ride through someone else’s life. A.J Fikry’s life is transformed when a child is dropped off in the middle of his book store, this is after his rare Edgar Allen Poe book is stolen from the shop, and he has just shooed away the possible love of his life. This is a book for book lovers, as Fikry is the kind of snobbish bookseller who wants to share with the world his taste. But it becomes so much more than that — I found myself so invested in everything that happens in this story, and it’s wonderful and just, ugh, feelings.

ARC August Final Update

August flew by and I feel like I didn’t do the best job on this challenge. I read five items from the ten I selected which is all right. I feel like I could have done better. On the other side of it, I am happy I read as much as I did. This last update will be brief, and instead of offering thoughts and feelings, I am only going to do ratings.

  • 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:

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne – ★★★  1/2

Other things I read this week:

 

Persona Q Vol 1 & 2  by So Tobuta – ★★★★ / ★★★

The Flash, Volume 3: Rogues Reloaded by Joshua Williamson et al. – ★★★★

Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 2 by Greg Rucka – ★★★★

Haikyu!!, Vol. 12: The Tournament Begins! by Haruichi Furudate – ★★★

Gotham Academy: Second Semester, Vol. 1: Welcome Back by Brenden Fletcher et al. – ★★★★

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher – ★★★

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay – ★★★★

Tally:

Number of ARCs on the list read: 6/10

Number of ARCs Read: 7

Number of Non-ARCs Read: 24

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 August Week 1 Update

So I thought I thought I’d do updates every Friday I’d share an update of how far I’ve progressed in my #ARCAugust challenge. Here’s what I’ve knocked out so far from my list of ten.

  • 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)

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: I LOVED Moxie and it’s easily in my top three for favourite books so far this year. I will have a review up closer to the release date, but you all know my insane obsession with Jennifer Mathieu’s books and this one is just amazing and needs to be read in every school across the world. ★★★★★

These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips: A review for this one went live already! Please go enjoy that review to get all of my thoughts! ★★★ 1/2

Other things I read this week:

Nobody Cries At Bingo by Dawn Dumont – Had to read this for work, and it’s a funny read with some very heartbreaking moments. Dumont talks about rez life in Canada, particularly growing up in the prairies. She talks about her family and their rituals, This book made me laugh, made me sad, left me thinking. Not every story won me over in the collection and the last story was kind of a big let down. The title story however? Amazing, amazing, amazing. It’s an interesting and eye-opening book about Canadian culture and its connection to First Nations people. ★★★ 1/2

Ghost by Jason Reynolds – I LOVED THE CRAP OUT OF THIS BOOK. A lot of my friends on Goodreads were reading this book and I kept seeing it come up. Walking the stacks at my work I grabbed it and started to read the first chapter and knew I had to take it home with me to be read and loved. This is my first Jason Reynolds book and it for sure won’t be last. I loved this story about a boy who is trying to find the reason he “runs,” and I love the friendship between him and his track mates Lu, Sunny and Patina. I also cannot wait for the next book in this series! ★★★★★

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – I really enjoyed this book! There are some moments that feel a bit problematic, but I weirdly also appreciated Kendrick’s honesty. With her Daria-style sense of humor it is funny how easy it is to feel like you know who Anna Kendrick is. Plus her regard for sweatpants and hibernation? Can we be friends? Seriously. Also I ENCOURAGE folks to listen to this on audiobook because having her narrate the book gives such a nice added layer of entertainment and humour. This is seriously the best way to go! ★★★★

The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney – This was a surprise of a read! This book is about second-chances at a better life, and more specially about rescue dogs who are looking for a forever home but have perhaps done things in the past that make them “unwanted.” This book broke my heart! I own two dogs and I couldn’t be without either of them in my life, but this book reminds us that like people, dogs deserve to be loved and needed. They need to the right person to give them the compassion they need. You learn so much about the dogs in this story, their personalities and it makes me wish I could just adopt all the homeless dogs out there. ★★★★

Tally:

Number of ARCs on the list read: 2/10

Number of ARCs Read: 2

Number of Non-ARCs Read: 4

 

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – July Reads

I had no internet for a chunk of July! It was an odd experience, and one I haven’t had in a long time. On the other side of the situation, I read a lot in the month of July and I am crazy proud of that. I even completed some Read Harder Challenges!

 

The Chinese Knot: And Other Stories by Lien Chao

Completes Challenge #10: Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location

Thoughts: This book was recommended to me by one of my colleagues that I work with. I am not the biggest short story reader, but I’ve found this year I’ve been reading more and more as a means to broaden my reading. These stories look at Chinese immigrant perspectives in downtown Toronto. One thing I immensely enjoyed about the stories is how Lien Chao visualizes Toronto and shows how the city is deeply rooted in many of the new immigrants. “Rose” was my absolutely favourite story in this collection, as it looks as immigration through the lens of someone who has been in the city a long time and watching how it has changed for them over the years. I found most of the stories a bit same-y, but I did think the writing was pretty excellent.