Tag Archives: Sam

Late to the Party ARC Review – Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Title: at and Meg Conquer the World

Author: Anna Priemaza

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos.

It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—if they don’t kill each other first.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

One thing I’ve often disliked in contemporary YA is the lack of friendships between girls. I mean the genuine, well-meaning, kind of friendships where there is mutual respect between the characters. Stories about friendship often have more to do with romance, but what I loved about Kat and Meg Conquer the World is that the friendship is the large focus, while the girls also attempt to conquer their mental illnesses while maybe like-liking a cute boy here and there.

Priemaza’s debut is wonderful. There’s a distinct difference in Kat and Meg’s voices, and I found myself able to visualize what the girls were doing, how they were behaving, and of course, the video game they are both obsessed with. It is so AWESOME to see girl gamers being represented in stories without it being a quirk in their character. There’s a lot of care and attention to detail in the way in which the girls interact with the MMORPG that they play online, and how online culture can feed into mental illness, in Kat’s case anxiety and depression, and Meg’s ADHD. Even the way in which mental illness is represented in this novel is just very thoughtful and mindful of those who suffer from them.

I adored Kat and Meg Concuer the Universe because it’s such a true-to-life story with fangirls who want to be accepted by others, but ultimately themselves. Kat and Meg’s friendship is easily one of the strongest and most complex part of this story, and it’s so easy to fall in love with the characters and root for them when they succeed and feel empathy when they fail. I urge people to check this book out, especially if you’re looking for a story with complex female friendships and ya don’t mind a dash of gamer culture.

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Five Favourite Books I Read in 2017 (That Weren’t 2017 Releases)

While I focused a lot of my reading energy on 2017 releases, I will say I had favourites that I read this year that came out past years. It’s hard to fit in reading time for older titles when there is so many new and shiny reads coming out and demanding your attention. It’s true and utter hardship, I tell you. However, I have five books I read this year that didn’t release in 2017 that I loved to pieces and want to recommend.

Crooked Kingdoms by Leigh Bardugo

Hello, my name is Sam, and I only just read the sequel to Six of Crows in the last week of November. Seriously though, THIS BOOK. There was so much drama, intrigue, failures, successes, discomfort — I was a ball of emotions reading it, particularly during one point where I sobbed like a huge baby. This duology is easily a favourite because it’s one of the few cases where I can say I loved the entire ensemble cast of characters and wanted to protect all my babies in one go. I maintain that Inej and Nina’s friendship may still be one of my favourite things about these books, but in all honesty, Crooked Kingdoms was just such a satisfying conclusion for me. Thanks for all the pain, Leigh.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime was a book I picked up on a whim thanks to a friend and co-worker’s recommendation. This book looks at Trevor Noah’s life living in South Africa and being born to an African mother and Swiss father. Being mixed race in South Africa is considered a crime, and Noah leads up through all the lengths of what his family did to keep him safe, while also sharing amazing, if often sad stories of his life growing up. I LOVED this book, and it was one of those books that kept me wanting to read just one more chapter, and another and another. This is a great non-fiction read, and a great gate way into non-fiction if it’s something you don’t read very often or at all.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

This is a beloved book that has been floating around Booktube for along while. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel reading this book, but I am glad it was my companion for my cottage driving that I did. This book is full of magic, heartbreak, and is a true book lover’s book. The ending wrecked me while I was listen to the audiobook (a bad plan!), and admittedly I couldn’t stop thinking about this book as I listened to it, gasping in situations that surprised me, chatting to myself when something happened. I loved this book and it’s one I want to gift every person I know who loves books as much as I do.

The Collected Essex County by Jeff Lemire

My husband and I adore Jeff Lemire’s works. They are twisted, dark, psychological and just plain intriguing to read. Essex County has won numerous awards in Canada, and I felt it was finally time to check out why. Each of the three stories is gripping, uncomfortable, and simply difficult to read. Lemire doesn’t shy away from topics and his work tends to face challenges head on in ways that can be difficult for some readers. Regardless, I loved this book, and all his other books as well.

Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I grow up, I want to be as badass as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I want to put that out there. Purple Hibiscus was a eye opening read for me in terms of learning about Nigeria, family relations, and culture differences. It made it a hard read at times, but one that just offered so much clarity and insight. Plus her writing is simply gorgous, engaging and completely sucks you in. I still have a few more of her books to check out, but right now I am a huge fan.

I am always looking for new book recommendations, so please feel free to leave me some in the comments below. What were your favourite non-2017 releases you read this year?

Five Favourite Books I Read in 2017

As we are winding down the year, I thought I’d share five reads this year that stuck with me since completion. I read a lot of books this year (with less than a month to go!). I read over 400+ books (including comics) and I thought I’d narrow it to five simply because if I shared all my favourite, this post would go on forever and no one would read it.  All these books released in 2017, and I will be doing a post of favourites I read that didn’t come out this year soon!

Shall we begin?

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoron Tagame

This beautiful manga looks at one man’s relationship with his brother’s husband. Yaichi is a single parent raising his daughter, Kana, when a Canadian man named Mike shows up at their doorstep informing them that he is the husband of Yaichi’s deceased twin brother. This manga stuck with me all year since I read it — it looks at blended families, cultural differences, issues of homosexuality in Japan versus Canada. It’s just an amazingly well-woven story that made me snob, laugh and smile all in one go. I highly, highly recommend this manga to those looking for something meaty but thoughtful.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The premise of this novel-in-verse is based on an elevator ride that Will is taking and contemplating. Going down the elevator, Will is trying to figure out why his brother was murdered and given the “rules” of their family, one of them is exact revenge. This novel shows Will’s thought spirals as he tries to determine who his brother’s killer is, and can he commit murder. Gorgeously written,  Jason Reynolds work became a favourite of mine throughout the year, but this is the book that has stuck with me so far. I still have Boy in the Black Suit and his Miles Morales novel checked out from the library to read.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

It is no secret on this blog that I am an intense fan of Jennifer Mathieu’s books. I have yet to be disappointed, and Moxie was the first of her books to come out with any sort of hype behind it. This book was worth the hype. It’s a feminist manifesto that looks at issues of sexual harassment, lady friendship, and taking matters into your own hands for the purpose of protest. Viv is a fantastic heroine who is someone many of us can relate to with ease, and how she grows in this story is easily one of the book’s best parts. Moxie is a kick ass novel through and through.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E Schwab

This conclusion left me a hot mess after completion. There is something about this world, these characters, and the way in which all the magic and politics flow in the story that keeps you guessing. Kell and Lila go through so much in this story, and it just felt like a roller-coaster of my feelings plummeting down the deepest slop, then feeling slightly relieved, only to find the hidden drop on the ride that makes you scream the loudest. I am so excited there will be more books set in this world, but A Conjuring of Light reminds a very satisfying and emotionally charged conclusion to an amazing fantasy series.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I recognize that this is THE novel of 2017, but I think that title is well earned. The Hate U Give is a book I found myself recommending to patrons at the library frequently, regardless of whether they were readers of young adult fiction or not. Offering amazing insight into the Black Lives Matter movement, Starr and her family are memorable, wonderful, and people who are flawed but fighters. This book reminded me of when I was growing up, something I mentioned to Thomas when I met her back in the summer. While I will never understand what it is like to be a young black person, I have so much respect and an even greater desire to understand. This book was emotional, painful, and truthful. A hairbrush is not a gun.

These are some of my favourite 2017 releases that I LOVED this year and that stuck with me throughout. What are some of your favourites? I’d love to know in the comments below.

ARC Review – Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Title: Foolish Hearts

Author: Emma Mills

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I swear when it comes to writing friendship stories, Emma Mills always knocks it out of the park. What I love about Foolish Hearts is that this is a story about an unlikely friendship through boy band fandom.

Claudia and Iris do not seem like the kind of people who would be friends, but when Iris and her girlfriend Paige suffer a nasty break up, Iris is forced to work with Claudia to work on a school paper, as well as the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. However, one day while working on said project, Claudia learns that Iris loves TION (or This Is Our Now), a boy band that takes over every inch of her bedroom wall. They begin to foster a friendship through their love of TION, and it is adorable.

What I love about Emma Mills’ books is that they are very genuine, her heroines very believable, and it’s always chock full of humour and heart. I adored the characters in this story, I loved the building of Claudia and Iris’ friendship, and I loved all the feelings this book gave me. Even the romance between Claudia and Gideon was adorkable. I just loved everything about this story and the cast and I just found myself in such a happy state of mind while I was reading this book.

Reading an Emma Mills book is like comfort food. It’s happiness and fun, and I just love what she does with her characters. Much like This Adventure Ends, I feel like Foolish Hearts is just such a memorable read, and I will continue to support Emma Mills if she continues to keep writing fannish, fluffy, contemporary novels.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – November Reads

November I am doing things a bit differently, partly because the two challenges I finished, I used ARCs to complete them, so they have full on reviews which I will link. I have exactly two challenges to complete in December, and I have picked the two books I am going to read for those challenges. We will see how well I do because I have so many books I want to knock out before the end of the year that have been calling to me. \

Anywho, here’s what was tackled in November.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Completes Challenge #16: Read a banned book or frequently challenged book in your country.

Thoughts: I changed this challenge a little bit given that I’ve read so many challenged books that exist in Canada, and frankly there isn’t usually too many. So I decided I wanted to read a book about banned books and still count it for this challenge. Ban This Book by Alan Gratz is a great middle grade read that looks at banning books and what it does to education, and you can read my review here.

 


They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Completes Challenge #20: Read an LGBTQIA+ romance novel.

Thoughts: This book emotionally wrecked me and I feel like Adam Silvera is great at feeding on people’s tears. My best recommendation with this book is to make sure you have your tissue box handy, because the feels are going to come hard and fast. You can read my review here.

Late to the Party ARC Review – The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe & Lilit Thwaites (Translator)

Title: The Librarian of Auschwitz

Author: Antonio Iturbe & Lilit Thwaites (Translator)

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust. Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

The Librarian of Auschwitz is a novel based on the life of Dita Kraus, a young woman who risked her life to protect literature in a Nazi death-camp. Dubbed “The Librarian of Auxchwitz,” Dita made it her priority to protect the books that were found on the grounds, while also helping those in need during a period of turmoil.

This book is depressing, but important. There is so man sad and horrifying moments that remind you how truly dreadful human beings are. This book reminds readers of the horrors of the Holocaust and how difficult that event truly was. I loved Dita’s courage in the story and I appreciate that as someone as young as she is, she decides to be brave in a place where bravery could potential mean death. There’s a vividness in this translation that gives the reader the sense of tragedy and foreboding. There is discomfort, fear, and sadness in these pages, and I found myself truly feeling for people represented in this story.

This book shows so much hope in the darkness, and while I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, I appreciate the learning opportunities that come from a well researched book. The Librarian of Auschwitz is a slow read, but a thoughtful one throughout.

#TBRTakedown 6.0 & #TomeTopple TBRs

November seems to be the month of read-a-thons, which is awesome given I have such a strong desire to push through a lot of reads that I want to get to before the end of the year is up. Let’s be honest we have about a month and a half left of the year, and while I’ve read over 400+ books (remember I count comics!), I still have so many more titles I want to get to.

Enter #TBRTakedown and #TomeTopple read-a-thons. I’ve done both in the past and have enjoyed doing them immensely. #TBRTakedown 6.0 is being hosted by Shannon @ LeaningLights and is happening on Nov 18-22, 2017. The second is #TomeTopple, which is hosted by Samantha @ ThoughtsonTomes, and it runs from Nov. 17-30. The goal of Tome Topple is to tackle books over 500+ pages.

Here is my TBR for #TBRTakedown:

Here are the challenges that I am going to try and complete during the read-a-thon!

Oldest book on your shelf – Walking Home by Eric Walters

Most recent haul – Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Continuation in a series – The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Fairyland #5) by Catherynne M. Valente

First book in a series – Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Throckmorton #1)
by R.L. LaFevers

Out of your comfort zone – The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

And with #TomeTopple I am going to be counting The Librarian of Auschwitz as my ARC is over 500+ pages. If I finish that, then I am going to try and reach for another 500+ tome that is on my shelf. We shall see how this goes! Bit if you’re interested in either of these read-a-thons, check out Sam and Shannon’s channels for more.