Tag Archives: review

Blog Tour – Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner (Review)

I’m going to be frank: I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I was approached by Raincoast to host this stop on the Fish Girl blog tour. If I am being even more honest, I was worried about how I would feel about the book as well. I love when a book proves my feelings wrong, and that is exactly what Fish by Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner has done.

Plus, check out this artwork:


Looks dreamy, doesn’t, it?

Once again, huge thank you to Raincoast for allowing me to share my thoughts on this blog tour stop, and I do hope you check out Fish Girl when it releases on March 7th, 2017.

30971730Title: Fish Girl

Author: Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: In this graphic novel, a young mermaid, called Fish Girl, living in a boardwalk aquarium has a chance encounter with an ordinary girl. Their growing friendship inspires Fish Girl’s longing for freedom, independence, and a life beyond the aquarium tank.

Sam’s Review:

I’m going to be completely honest: I wasn’t sure I was going to like Fish Girl. In fact, when I received it in the mail I did that dreaded thing you sometimes shouldn’t do: judge a book by it’s cover. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the artwork, and the story sounded merely all right. I was colourfully surprised by how much I enjoyed Fish Girl

However, I say this with an air of caution: Fish Girl is a misleading book. While it’s aimed at middle grade audiences, it does shed light on themes of abuse and abduction in a way that is creepy, and seeing it from that point of view can make it a tough read. On the other side of it, this book reads like a fairy tale as well, sharing both consequences and the potential for a positive outcome. It’s a rough read all around, and I think it definitely offers some interesting discussions that can be had with younger readers on these topics.

I actually do think Mira, our Fish Girl, is a wonderful character. She longs to not be an aquarium attraction and wishes to be like the people on the land who come to see her. She wants legs, and adventures, and yet she’s trapped in a fish bowl by a man who wants nothing more than to gain profit from her existence. It’s a solid story, and it shows that people can take destiny into their own hands. Or in this case, also escape abuse. I like the message that this book presents, and I think the ending does a great job of highlighting ways in which people need to stir a course towards what they truly want from life.

I admit, at times I did have a heart time with the artwork, but it did grow on me as I read on. There’s a lot of very realistic looking artwork, the use of pastel colours is really pretty, and there are moments where the artwork is breathe-taking. There are also moments where it doesn’t fit either, which I found somewhat disappointing. That being said, once I got over my initial feelings, I found myself really digging the art style and coming to the consensus that it actually does a great job fitting the story that is being told.

Fish Girl is definitely not for your average middle grader, and that is okay. I think it teaches a lot to the reader, and it doesn’t feel heavy handed in its approach either. I will say I don’t think the art style will be for everyone, but I do believe there is a very special story being told in this book.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for organizing and allowing me the opportunity to participate in the blog tour. Still curious about Fish Girl? Please check out the other tour stops, and consider purchasing the book when it releases this March!

ARC Review – The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater


Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for allowing me the chance to review this book.

While I wasn’t huge on her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, I found myself still attracted to Maggie Stiefvater’s work. She has this amazing way of pulling readers into her stories and even if you don’t like what is happening, it’s still pleasurable to read. I couldn’t believe how much I loved The Raven Boys, and I’m happy to report that The Dream Thieves might in fact be superior to its predecessor.

First off, I loved that the novel was mostly about Ronan, and it was great to finally have his back story. Ronan has a lot of complications, but perhaps the biggest of all, is that his dreams are haunting him both figuratively and literally. Actually, a lot of his novel feels like an untold chapter of Nightmare on Elm Street, only better. I was so pleased to have the story be focused on him because I found myself sympathizing a lot with his family situation, his lack of trust in others, and his desire to find someone who would understand him. He’s a very well-rounded character overall.

What I also appreciated was the constant growth of all the returning characters. A lot of them are finally maturing, and it was quite the wonderful to see. I loved the interactions between Gansey and Ronan, but I equally loved the creepy, almost sinister conversations between Ronan and Joseph Kavinsky — a lot of their discussions gave me the chills! Kavinsky might be one of Stievater’s best written characters as he makes you uncomfortable, hes destructive, and it’s often difficult to know what is truly going through his mind. I am even hesitant to say he might be my favourite character in this series.

Stiefvater also writes wonderful kissing scenes. She makes me happy when characters kiss because to me she makes them sound genuine, tender even. The romance, while not a focal point for me in this story was still very enjoyable. I still think the mystery elements in this series are excellent, and while mainly issues are not tied up entirely, we get a few answers, but lots ore questions.

I really cannot wait to see how this series will continue to develop. For me, I don’t even have to like Stiefvater’s work entirely to see what a talented and strong writer she is. I do think she writes excellent, fully fleshed out characters, and creates worlds with just enough of mystery that she’ll keep you guessing. Magic is a terrifying element, and in Raven Boys’ world it’s something that they will never be able to escape. I really do hate, however, how long I’m now going to have to wait for the next installment of this series.

ARC Review – Relativity, by Cristin Bishara

ImageTitle: Relativity
Author: Cristin Bishara
Rating: ★★★★

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

River’s Review:

I received an ARC from the publisher and I’m writing this honest review to say THANK YOU!

Wow, this was good! I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I requested this, but I’m so glad that I did. I could NOT put it down! Our narrator, Ruby, has a great voice, and the pacing is perfect. I read this while I was commuting, on my lunch break, and before sleeping and I had SO much trouble stopping. My husband had to turn off the light to get me to quit, lol!

Just like the blurb says, Ruby moves to a new town with her father and her new step-mother and step-sister. Ruby is a high school sophomore, and she’s super smart and into science. She finds a tree that takes her to parallel universes and she spends time going through the different universes, kinda checking them out.

The entire time Ruby is doing this, it’s really fun. She’s suffering from a leg injury through the entire thing, so there’s this constant background feeling of ‘HURRY AND GET HOME SO YOU DON’T LIKE, LOSE YOUR LEG’ but you’re also cheering for her to see what’s happening in each universe (like meeting her mother, who’s dead in her own universe).

While Ruby goes around the different worlds she meets alternate versions of the people in her life and she finds out some really cool science stuff (and how the tree came to be/ works) and I got swept up with Ruby in her fun, but towards the end Ruby comes to realize that maybe what she’s doing is actually wrong, and that she wont be able to stay in one of these parallel universes. This revelation comes with a twist and suddenly things are even more chaotic and crazy.

But with that chaos the story started to lose me a bit and the last few chapters made me bump it down from a 5-star read to a 4-star. I LOVED Ruby through the entire book; she had a great voice, I understood her choices, I sympathized with her and empathized A LOT, but at the end she seemed to have changed… not for the worse, but not really the better either. I didn’t like how angry and sassy she got. Maybe that’s the point, because she wasn’t really dealing with her feelings and issues in her OWN universe, but I just didn’t like that change.

Also there’s only a little romance in this, but it is very sweet. So if you’re looking for an engaging read with some interesting concepts, lots of focus on family, and a light romance, you’ll enjoy this a lot!

Book Review – Far From Xanadu, by Julie Anne Peters



Title: Far From Xanadu
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: From the author of “Luna” comes this heartbreaking yet hopeful novel about a small-town girl who falls in love with the cool, complicated, and sexy new girl in town, but who is just out of reach. 

Sam’s Review:

Far From Xanadu was a book I borrowed from a friend, and not one I knew much about. It features a transgender protagonist, particular a female-to-male transformation, and it’s a great story for the most part.

Mike is a great protagonist. His voice is natural, he’s methodical, and the emotions he feels are very genuine. However, he ends up falling for a straight girl whom he is convinced is perfect in every way. When the novel wasn’t about pining for Xanadu it was perfect. 

Mike lost his father, he has a broken relationship with his mother and brother, and he is attempting to accept the reality that he may be gay. These aspects of the story were so raw, so powerful, and the connection is quite deep. Mike is a jack of all trades, but with no way to progress in life due to a lack of funds and no actual support systems in his life. He gets scolded for a waste of talent, yet won’t accept people’s charity either. There was a lot I loved about Mike’s character that the narrative mostly worked for me.

Mike’s love interest Xanadu however? She’s a piece of work. I’m not sure if Peter’s intentionally wrote her to be horrific, but often she came across a user, an exhibitionist and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what Mike saw in her. Mike’s best friend, Jamie, constantly calls her out on her crap behaviour and yet Mike can’t see past it. While the novel ended exactly as I thought it would, it really broke my heat how used Mike was throughout the story. Xanadu never felt genuine, she was suppose to be exotic, but even that didn’t quite work for me. She just seemed as though Mike had to fix every single one of her problems, and like a puppet on a string, Mike obeyed. I’m sure this seems realistic for most, but Xanadu rubbed me the wrong way throughout the entirety of the story.

The novel was at its best when it was about Mike coming to terms with his identity and his family’s problems. When he was pining for Xanadu, the story just didn’t work for me because I couldn’t connect to the actual romance Peters was trying to put forth. I think Peters is a great writer and I’m looking forward to checking out Luna, but Far From Xanadu, though it does have amazing and thoughtful moments is far from greatness.