Tag Archives: features

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – January Reads

I wasn’t fond of the challenge list for last year’s Book Riot’s “Read Harder Challenge.” I adored and completed the 2015, which I chronicled on the blog two years ago now, and realized how much I missed doing this year long event. Here is the full list of challenges. Every month I am going to share with you all some progress I’ve made on the challenges, as well as some thoughts on each read.

Let’s get to it!

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The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander

Completes Challenge #1Read a book about sports.

Thoughts: I actually participated in a blog tour for this book, which you can read my full thoughts here. If I am being honest, I am not that big on sports (unless you count, like, figure skating and bowling), so this challenge was going to be tough for me. Then I read this gem, which is a book about sports and it’s also about being inspiration and using sports metaphors to explain how life can work sometimes. Kwame Alexander is an amazing writer whom I am glad I have discovered at the beginning of this year, and I already plan to make time to read the rest of his current published works as I get my hands on them. Seriously, a small book with a big impact.

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Midnight Without A Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

Completes Challenge #2: Read a debut novel.

Thoughts: Another book I reviewed, and you can read my thoughts on here. This book is a stunning debut that looks at racism in 1955, during the time in which Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Beautifully written, it’s one of those books that you have a hard time believing is a debut as you read it. Rose Lee Carter is definitely a heroine you can cheer for. Loved this book to pieces. ❤

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by Mike Maihack

Completes Challenge #6: Read an all-ages comic.

Thoughts: I LOVE the Cleopatra in Space series, and this is the third volume. I think Mike Maihack is really talented at making characters that children and adults can relate to while also creating a very addictive plotline. Cleopatra is a heroine who is easy to root for, once in awhile follows her namesake to a tee, and often gets into a lot of trouble. She also has a fabulous supporting cast as well. This is a fantastic middle grade adventure series that definitely will get even reluctant readers asking for the next volume.

29775583Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II (Ms. Marvel, Volume III & IV #6)
by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Adrian Alphona 

Completes Challenge #18: Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

Thoughts: I LOVE Ms. Marvel, though I admit I haven’t really been keeping up with Civil War II (frankly, I’m not that interested in it either). But I do love Kamala, and I always want to see what my girl is up to. This installment starts off with a hilarious short story that pits Miles and Kamala against each other. It is pretty genius. The rest of the comic focuses on her newfound frustrations with Captain Marvel, and a nasty disagreement. There’s some witty writing here, art is still fabulous and this adds another darker layer to Kamala’s story. Good stuff.

I think I am off to a good start. Here’s hoping for more great reads next month!

2017 Releases That Are On My Radar

The new year is coming and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface with all of the releases that 2016 has had to offer. It’s the same old song and dance, there’s never enough time to read everything, but darn it you’re going to give it a college try!

I thought today I would focus on a few releases in 2017 that are coming and I have on my radar. These are books I am super curious to get my hands on and read just to see if they live up to the expectation that may be forming in my head. Also for the purposes of this post I am avoiding books I actually have ARCs for, mainly to spotlight stuff that I am interested in reading at some point.

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Once And For All by Sarah Dessen (June 6th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers)

I am so jazzed for a new Sarah Dessen book. She is one contemporary YA author who I have religiously be reading for over five years. I always find I have such a deep connection to her characters and there is always something in her writing style that just clicks with me. Also this book has a cynical main character who has a dislike for weddings. I may be married and have had a wedding, but man weddings are draining things. I think I am going to like this one!

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Blueberry Pancakes Forever (Tuesday McGillycuddy #3) by Angelica Banks (February 7th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

This is a reminder to all middle grade fans out there that you should be reading the Tuesday McGillycuddy series. Creative, delightful, and just plain fun this series has been one of my go tos when I am doing middle grade Reader’s Advisory. I think it’s just such a fantastic and imagaintive series for all ages. This is the third adventure for Tuesday and I am dying to see what her and Baxterr’s next adventure is going to be. Have I mentioned this series has the best covers ever? Because they do.

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When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon (May 30th 2017 by Simon Pulse)

THIS BOOK SOUNDS ADORKABLE. I am not always the biggest on romance, but I don’t mind it in YA if the plot is really well fleshed out and it isn’t just a love-at-first-sight-thing. This book gives an inside look to Indian culture and practices, but it also looks like it shows taking charge of oneself and becoming who one wants to be. It just sounds like a great little romance, and I love reading about other cultures, especially ones vastly different from my own.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee (June 20th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books)

Confession time: I still haven’t read Mackenzi Lee’s debut and I know I need to. In fact, my bestfriend lent me her copy of the book to ensure I would make time to read it. GGtVV sounds like it’s going to be a crazy fun historical romp, and this is a romp I wanted to read and have fun with.  Yeah, I just want it. I want it now.

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Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2)
by Seanan McGuire (June 13th 2017 by Tor)

I absolutely adored Every Heart, A Doorway, and Seanan McGuire is a favourite author of mine. Colour me crazy surprised that there is going to be a sequel! And I couldn’t be more excited. I won’t say too much about the plot, but definitely read the first book if for the portrayal of an asexual heroine. Seanan McGuire is such an amazing writer and her worlds are always so vivid and it’s always why I keep coming back.

What are your five must-have reads for 2017? Let me know in the comments.

Ten Books to Read Before 2017

Last year I made a list of ten books I wanted to read about the year was out — I decided that list in December, got distracted by shinies and did not complete my challenge. I got through most of them, but I still feel like I failed somewhat. I decided this time around that I would start in November, and hopefully I can knock these ten reads off my TBR. I’ve been dying to read all of these books and for whatever reason I just haven’t grabbed them yet! Let’s look at the ten books I’d like to read before the new year hits (can you believe we only have two months left? Time flies!)

 

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

I got this book via #BooksforTrade over Twitter because everyone and their grandmother told me this book was fantastic. I tend to be wary of people stating when something is the best book ever, but I do love historical fiction (I just have to be in the right mood for it) and this novel’s premise sounds like it will be both interesting and heartbreaking. I love the idea of fated meetings, though I’m not always huge on books set during WWII. I cannot wait to give this read a try!

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Midnight Without a Moon
by Linda Williams Jackson (Release Date: January 3rd 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers)

One of my quests doing RA work is to work on reading more diversely (though as my husband has pointed out, I predominately read novels written by women). I want to work on reading more novels that feature Own Voices and also People of Colour because I think that is such an important issue. I also want to read more novels where the protagonists are not White. What stuck me about Midnight Without A Moon is that it is another piece of historical fiction, written for middle grade audiences, focusing on an event in 1955 when Emmett Till, a young Africian-American boy, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. That story is so famous and haunting, and I am interested to see what Linda Williams Jackson shares with that as the backdrop for this debut novel.

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The Monster on the Road Is Me by J.P. Romey

My co-blogger Molly shared this particular novel in her favourite books set in Japan and this one stuck out for me because of what she said and its beautiful cover. I LOVE Japanese folklore and I love books set in Japan, and through the synopsis it just sounds like this book is quite the wild ride. Definitely check out what Molly thought of this book, and I bet you it will sell you on this novel. As for me? I need to make time for it because it sounds like my jam.

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The Burning Chaos (Smoke and Mirrors, #2) by Melissa Giorgio

I LOVED The Fading Dusk last year, and I thought Melissa created a really delightful fantasy world in that story. The sequel released, and of course somehow I haven’t read it yet (I am a crappy friend!). But seriously, the ending of the first book was a fantastic cliffhanger that left me wanting this sequel, and I just can’t believe I didn’t read it right away. I plan to remedy this, and you all should check out the first book because it is AWESOMESAUCE. You can purchase it here if you are interested!

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Black Apple
by Joan Crate

I have actually had an ARC for Black Apple since January of this year and somehow I haven’t read it yet. I’ve heard so many mixed things about this book that it has left me somewhat wary of what I am going to find here. This book is written by a Canadian author and is focusing on Native issues, and I am always a bit hesitant on books like this when they aren’t written by a Native author. I know there is an insanely important message regarding Natives in Canada and the Residential School system, which I do think is an under-discussed issue. I am looking forward to seeing what I think of this one.

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Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)
by Marissa Meyer

I only finally got to Winter this year, and gah, I loved that book so much. Of course this being a short story collection, you would have thought I would have ripped through this after I finished Winter, no? Well, I took a break, and now I want to make sure I read this before the Iko graphic novel Nerve & Wires comes out next year. I also promised my bestie she could borrow this, and should probably make good on that promise.

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The Pants Project
by Cat Clarke (March 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire)

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 and I already have an ARC of it. Part of me knows once I read it, I won’t be able to stop myself. Following the coat-tails of the delightful George by Alex Gino, Cat Clake brings up the tale of a transgendered middle grader who is in transition. I LOVE stories like this, and I will always continue to support books that focus on the transgendered experience. I feel like The Pants Project is going to give me some knowledge and perhaps some bigger feels.

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Love and First Sight
by Josh Sundquist (January 3rd 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

I loved Josh Sundquist’s non-fiction novel We Should Hang Out Sometime, mostly because I loved the honesty and over-the-topness of some of his dating escapades. He’s also just a great speaker in general, and I love how he reminds people that living with a disability doesn’t mean he is any less of a person. This is his first fictional YA novel, and I am looking forward to see if his signature voice and humour may translate over. We shall see, but I am stoked to read this book!

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Caraval (Untitled #1)
by Stephanie Garber (January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books)

This is THE BOOK I keep hearing about in all of the YA bloggosphere, and I am so excited but so nervous to read this book, omg. I am trying to think of coherent thoughts about this book, but all of my lady friends who have read this book have told me nothing but amazing things. AMAZING THINGS PEOPLE. I need to read this, like, now. NOW NOW NOW. *faints*

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American Girls
by Alison Umminger

This is another book a lot of my friends have been raving about and Molly was kind enough to send me a copy of it. Molly and I have this trend in YA that we love and have dubbed “pretty-ugly girls,” which are, pretty, mean and yet we can’t look away from them. I am kinda hoping this fulfills that for me because I haven’t really read any books this year that really fits that trope, and it makes me kinda sad. I definitely need to read this one before the year is out.

 And there you have it! If you have read any of these books I’d love to know your thoughts on them — which are worth reading, passing on, which are OMGAMAZEBALLS and which ones are just ‘okay’. What are some books you want to get to before the year is out? Let me know in the comments!

Ten Comics & Graphic Novels, and Manga You Should Check Out! October 2016 Edition

Hi! I haven’t forgotten about you beautiful people. Life is… life. However, I have been reading a crapton of graphic novels and comics and I have another ten that I definitely want to share with you all. If you have a favourite retailer, or your library is great at keeping a good stock, then you need to check some of these guys out.

Previous Lists:

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Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra
by Kevin Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau

This is a comic series that I discovered through Elena @ Elena Reads Books Youtube Channel and it sounded like a fantastic twist on the magical girl storyline. Yes these girls have magic powers but they also have real problems that don’t consist of the male variety. I love the way in which the friendships are written, I love how they combat their monster problems with real life ones, and the humour is just so delightful. Definitely great for fans of Giant Days, Sailor Moon or Lumberjanes.

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The Tiny Titans series & The Superman Family Adventures series by Art Baltazar & Franco

I have recently gone on a huge binge read of Art Baltazar & Franco’s Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures. Both series are written for younger comic audiences, but I love the way in which the authors play with a lot of the DC characters and focus more on the quirky bits of theirs personalities. These comics are charming, funny, and my goodness Aqualad never gets a real break — but it’s part of the fun. These books are so well loved at my work place that I find myself both enjoying them and repairing them so kids can also be entertained by them. We need more Tiny Titans, darn it!

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Danganronpa by Spike Chunsoft & Takashi Tsukimi

I am a huge gamer, and one of my more recent obsessions is the Danganronpa series. If you aren’t a gamer, but love anime and manga, then you can still check this series out. It’s not for the faint of heart, however, as it’s about a mutual killing game and a creepy bear with a lust for murder. But it is such a fascinating series at the same time, especially for those who love psychological thrillers or love a strong mystery series. There’s only two of these graphic novels out at the moment, and a new game is coming next year. Seriously, if you loved messed up storylines, then Danganronpa will have you covered. Then go watch the new TV series, because oh my stars I keep crying, I can’t even.

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Long Walk to Valhalla by Long Walk to Valhalla
by Adam Smith & Matthew Fox 

Long Walk to Valhalla is weird as all hell, but it’s part of its charm. It has a similar vibe that I Kill Giants provided, providing a larger metaphor for something that is hard to definite or be made tangible. It also does an amazing job twisting Norse mythology on its head, which I am always a fan of. It has a really lovely, sketchy art style that also gives it a real beautiful visual appeal as well. If you can find this one, it’s worth a read

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The Legend of Bold Riley
by Leia Weathington

This graphic novel was a beautiful and wonderful surprise. Featuring a lesbian heroine, it focuses on one woman’s desire to be a heroine and move beyond boundaries. There’s a lot of sword, sorcery, romance, swashbuckling, and lady love, and it just warmed my heart. Riley was also so easy to love and Leia Weathington’s storylines were just fantastic. I just found this book to be such a fun read.

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Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Vol. 1: Baby Talk 
by Dennis Hopeless & Javier Rodriguez

Of all the Spider-ladies, Jessica Drew was the one I knew the least about and from the comics I read that she starred in, I didn’t entirely enjoy her character either. However, this installment by Dennis Hopeless caught my attention because pregnant super heroines are… pretty non-existent. Outside of Jessica Jones, super heroines who are still fighting crime while pregnant is just unheard of, and I love how Jessica Drew doesn’t allow her pregnancy to feel like a hindrance when she’s out on the job. There was something crazy empowering about this run, and I really began to enjoy Drew as a character more through Hopeless’ writing. I don’t have any children, but I loved the way in which the trials and tribulations of being pregnant were shown here. Fun stuff!

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Paper Girls series 
by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang & Matthew Wilson

Paper Girls is messed up. It’s crazy strange, and reading it makes you feel like you’ve entered bizzaro-world. The first volume is really weird, very unsettling, and if anything, doesn’t feel like it gives you a full picture of the story until you hit the cliffhanger. Brian K. Vaughan is one of those storytellers who is very good at giving you bits and pieces, but never the full picture, which is so true of Paper Girls. I can’t wait to dive into volume two at some point because shit has hit the fan hard.

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We Stand On Guard (We Stand On Guard #1-6)
by Brian K. Vaughan & Steve Skroce

I realize this is getting a bit Brian K. Vaughan heavy, but I can’t neglect this series. We Stand On Guard is an amazing alternative history story where Canada has been taken over by the U.S and it’s now an insane dystopia. This comic stirred a lot of emotion in me — it made me angry, it made me feel very patriotic to my home nation, and it is just violent and crazypants. The characters are really interesting, the hook is great, and it keeps you guessing how Canada will survive this totalitarianism.

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Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka

SO SO GOOD YOU GUYS. This is the kind of Wonder Woman I’ve been wanting to read about for ages, and I am so glad that she is in the hands of Greg Rucka. This is an amazing omnibus collection, and it does an amazing job of reminding the reader about who Diana is and her sense of justice and duty. Plus her encounters with Batman are easily some of the highlights in this collection (especially boot to the head — so classic!). I have always loved Diana, but I admit I have always been picky about how she is portrayed, but this has restored my faith in comics humanity. Definitely check this out if you want to read Woman Wonder but disliked the old sexist portrayals that other authors have ruined her with.

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Awkward
by Svetlana Chmakova

The last item I want to recommend is the middle grade comic, Awkward. This is a fantastic story for younger audiences that focuses on friendship when you get to the age where “boys and girls can’t be friends.” There is something so delightful and innocent in this story that really drew me in. The characters were clever, and I loved that they never fall into the trappings of peer pressure. There’s a fantastic message in this story that reminds us that friendship with the opposite sex doesn’t always have to lead into romance. If you have a middle grader in your life or love middle grade, this is definitely worth looking into. Plus the artwork is adorable.

As always, I hope you enjoy these recommendations. I also hope that you share with me some of your recent findings, as I am always looking for more comics, graphic novels and manga to check out. Let me know in the comments what youve been loving lately!

September Wrap Up and October Goals ~

I don’t feel like I read a lot of my own books in September. In fact, unless it was comics related, I only read books I got from my work instead. Here’s the small pile of books I managed to read from my own collection in the month of September.

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This seems like a sad amount given the Shelf of Shame still hasn’t shrunk enough in my eyes. One of the other issues I am facing is the amount of sequels that have sat unread on my shelf. This needs to change! I have a lot of fantasy sequels I’ve neglected over the month, so my goal is to try and read as many as I can. Here’s a few sequels I have outstanding that I could read:

  • Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin (Which doesn’t release until November)
  • Catalyst by Lydia Kang (which Molly got me forever ago and I still haven;t read. I SUCK MOLLY)
  • Invasion of the Freaks by Sean Williams (4th and final book to his Fixers series)
  • Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire (5th book in her InCryptid series)
  • Once Broken Faith (10th boon in her October Daye series)
  • Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest (6th book in the Clockwork Century series)
  • The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano (2nd book in the Pram series)
  • The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson (6th book in the Mistborn series)
  • Staked by Kevin Herne (8th book in the Iron Druid series)

So these are a few books I am considering reading in October. Let’s try to play sequel catch up, shall we?

Five Must-Have Books from #TeensReadFeed

Raincoast invited me and a bunch of other bloggers to an event in Toronto to showcase their upcoming line-up of titles for Winter/Spring 2017. The list of titles that they narrowed it to was completely insane, and if I am being frank, I need to say how impressed I was given the plethora of titles releasing in Winter alone. However, what I love about the #TeensReadFeed events is that they are a chance to talk to other bloggers and publishing staff to learn what folks think are going to be the it titles. It also helps that the event is run by some of the best and most delightful people in the publishing business.

There was also a special guest via Google Hangout for the Toronto Crowd, which was Mary E. Pearson! I am a shame to admit I have only read one book by her. After her discussion about writing and the writing process, I am super excited to check out some of her other books and perhaps continue the Remanent Chronicles. Those lucky ducks in B.C had her in person! SO COOL!

It was hard for me to narrow down the five titles from the event that I believe will be must haves for me personally, but I am going to give this a try. Let’s be honest, I kinda wanted to read all the darn books on the list.

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Caraval by Stephanie Barber (Release Date: January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books)

Oh all the books showcased at the event, this was the one everyone repeatedly stated they wanted to read. I was lucky enough to trade for a copy of it at the event, so I am pretty darn excited to read this one (and keep finding myself tempted to pick it up and fly through it). I am a large sucker for “circus”-style books, or books where it is about performances or games, and this book seems like it’s just a little bit of everything, pixie-dust and more. I’ve heard the writing is beautiful, and that apparently it is a favourite in the Raincoast offices at the moment. Colour me super excited to get to this one. 🙂

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Under Rose-Tainted Skies
by Louise Gornall (January 3rd 2017 by Clarion Books)

Those who have been around the blog long enough know I am a lover and advocate of tough!teen literature, and I love books that focus on much more difficult subject matters. This book is about mental illness, and even more specifically about a girl with agoraphobia and OCD. The author is a mental health advocate, and I am a sucker for books like this which discuss illnesses that I am less familiar with. Sometimes their are topics you just want to have more perspectives on, and I admit that agoraphobia is not a topic I have read a lot about. I am excited to see how Norah’s journey will unfold when the book releases!

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Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (April 4th 2017 by Chronicle Books)

I have been wanting to read this novel since it released in Australia, and I never bothered to import it (or ask my favourite Aussie about it). I looooooove contemporary fiction sent in Australia, and there’s something about their YA authors that gets authentic teen voices just right. Not only is this an LGBT+ novel, but it looks like the story is going to have a lot of heart, humour and personal calamity. My kind of book!

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The Pants Project by Cat Clarke (March 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire)

Hot on the heels of Alex Gino’s George (a book I adored in 2015) comes The Pants Project by Cat Clarke, a book about a transgendered middle grader who is forced to be someone else because of a school dress code. I always love stories where boundaries must be addressed and broken and I think this book has such the potential to be the kind of story that can punch you in the gut and potentially provide all the feels. I am definitely looking forward to this one!

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The Stone Heart (Nameless City #2) by Faith Erin Hicks (April 4th 2017 by First Second)

And this wouldn’t be a Sam blog post if it didn’t include a graphic novel. I finished The Nameless City back in 2014, and I was clamoring for this sequel the moment I finished it. This book has been a very hard wait for me, even after talking with Faith Erin Hicks back at TCAF 2016 and some of the elements of the story that she said would ramp up in this installment. April is going to be a hard wait for me, but I loved the first book so much that I think I can stick it out (maybe, no, no probably not). I ended up recommending this book for the public library I work at and it has been a hit with a lot of the readers who have been checking it out. If you haven’t read the first book, get on that STAT!


It was so hard to narrow down five picks, but these are the five I am super jazzed about. If I am being honest, almost all of them sound like wonderful reads and I am sure I will likely get to most of them throughout the year.

Huge thank you again to Raincoast for the invite, the food, the swag and the hospitality. I love going to these events and seeing what kind of new gems are going to be releasing. I hope all of these books rock my blogger socks off when they release!

#ARC August Wrap Up!

ARC-August-2015

#ARCAugust is hosted by the amazing Octavia & Shelly @ Read. Sleep. Repeat! Thank you again ladies for running an awesome event!

Let’s see the results!

  • The Dog Who Dared to Dream by Hwang Sun-mi (September 6)
  • This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills (October 4)
  • The Infinity Year of Avalon James by Dana Middleton (October 11)
  • Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure by Ann M. Martin (September 6)
  • Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil (October 4)
  • When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (October 4)
  • Speed of Life by J.M Kelly (October 11)
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (September 6)
  • Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel (September 20)
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
    by Adam Gidwitz (September 27)
  • Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin (November 1)
  • Afterward by Jennifer Mathiu (September 20)
  • Write This Down by Claudia Mills (September 27, ebook)
  • The Swan Riders by Erin Bow (September 20)
  • Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands (September 6)

Total Read:12/16

Well, my last week of #ARCAugust was a bit of a bust as I only finished Girls Like Me. I am super proud of myself for the number of books I managed to complete during the event, as well as the number of reviews I managed to write as well. I always find #ARCAugust to be a super motivating and positive event to participate in and it was no different this year. I only hope everyone else had a crazy awesome #ARCAugust and managed to get through a chunk of their ARC backlog. I still don’t feel like I made enough of a dent, but you know what? Can’t be hard on myself considering I see my results as quite the accomplishment.

Here’s hoping I have as much success in September!