Tag Archives: tundra books

ARC Review – Megabat and Fancy Cat (Megabat #2) by Anna Humphrey & Kass Reich

Title: Megabat and Fancy Cat (Megabat #2) b

Author: Anna Humphrey & Kass Reich

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. AND it’s haunted . . . or is it?

Megabat was just napping on a papaya one day when he was stuffed in a box and shipped halfway across the world. Now he’s living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there.

Daniel realizes it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute. Megabat realizes that not every human wants to whack him with a broom. This one shares his smooshfruit. Add some buttermelon, juice boxes, a lightsaber and a common enemy and you’ve got a new friendship in the making!

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I have not read the first Mega Bat book, but now I kinda want to. This is a chapter book series that I’m positive you don’t need to read in order, but considering how fun this book was, I wanna check out the first book. I can totally see why kids would love this chapter book series — it’s funny, clever, and super duper sweet.

This is a quick read, and Daniel, our main hooman character is wonderful. This book has a wonderful lesson teaching what it means to be different and how to love comes in different forms. Mega Bat and the cat’s relationship is funny and I love how the author teaches these lessons through the two characters. Also I LOVED the artwork in this book and I think it reflects the characters and story well. It’s cute, detailed, and very soft looking.

I look forward to sharing this series with parents and kids looking for chapter books that are great for beginner readers moving into that realm. It’s so so so so adorable!

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ARC Review – Look Out for the Fitzgerald -Trouts by Esta Spalding

25648162Title:  Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts

Author: Esta Spalding

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Kim Fitzgerald-Trout took to driving with ease–as most children would if their parents would ever let them try. She had to. After all, she and her siblings live in a car. Meet the Fitzgerald-Trouts, a band of four loosely related children living together in a lush tropical island. They take care of themselves. They sleep in their car, bathe in the ocean, eat fish they catch and fruit they pick, and can drive anywhere they need to go–to the school, the laundromat, or the drive-in. If they put their minds to it, the Fitzgerald-Trouts can do anything. Even, they hope, find a real home.

Huge thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Once in awhile I get sent a random book in the mail. Sometimes I look at it and I’m like “I am not sure this is for me” and other times I get really excited. When I got this gem in the mail, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my jam, but then it was endorsed by my Book Angel, and she’s usually never wrong when it comes to quirky middle grade.

Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts is a middle grade adventure starring four children who live in a car. There are numerous occasions where they parent the adults in the novel, and sometimes crazy antics ensue. I love a middle grade novel that is both hilarious as it is heartfelt, and that’s what this book gave me. The Fitzgerald-Trouts kids are delightful and memorable, from Pippa’s parenting skills, Kimo’s kindness, Kim’s antics, and Toby’s sweetness, all make for a rich characters in a fun story about finding “home.”

The humor in this book is very tongue-in-cheek and quirky, and the writing is playful. What I loved about this novel was how invested I got in the children’s story, and how I found myself comparing it to a more humorous very of classic tales of what it means to be trapped on an island. The way this book ends I can only hope there is a sequel (TELL ME THERE’S A SEQUEL?!).

But seriously, if you love an adventurous middle grade romp with sweet characters and great humor, then you need to meet with Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts . You will laugh until your face turns blue, and seriously, don’t mess with Pippa.

ARC Review – We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

19405297Title: We Are All Made of Molecules

Author: Susin Nielsen

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but “ungifted” socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed “It” girl of grade nine, but her marks stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. “The Brady Bunch” it isn’t. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it, but Ashley is 110% horrified. She already has to hide the truth behind her parents’ divorce; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: they–like the rest of us–are all made of molecules.

Huge thank you to Random House Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

To be honest, I am aware that Susin Nielsen is a house hold name in Canadian Kit Lit, having written quite a number of middle grade novels and was a writer on Degrassi (which I enjoyed as a youngin’). This is my first Susin Nielsen book, and I can easily say it will not be my last. We Are All Made of Molecules is just such a peculiar book, chock full of humour and heart.

Stewart has lost his mother to cancer, his father is remarrying, and he gets himself a new sister. At first he’s completely thrilled, thinking he and his new sister will be besties. Scratch that out when Stewart meets Ashley, a dippy, full of herself girl who wants nothing more than her father to NOT be gay and her mother to NOT remarry. She wants nothing to do with Stewart, and that’s where the novel begins.

For the record, Nielsen plays with a lot of different stereotypes, but she does it in such a wonderful and charming way. Ashley is very ditzy, but speaks in such a matter of fact way, and yet she’s not actually as stupid as she comes across. Part of it is a defence mechanism, the other felt like she was sincere when she didn’t know something. She’s quite the frustrating character, and reminds me a bit of my own sibling in terms of having to always be right, always needing the approval of others, which really is what makes her work so well contrasted to Stewart.

Stewart simply wants to be accepted. He’s hyper-intelligent, kind, and social awkward. He feels as though he has some great qualities and yet he doesn’t entirely understand why he’s at the bottom of the food chain at school. He’s a character that wants to build relationship with others his own age, and yet he gravitates to those much older to him. I could totally relate to his character, especially at his age because I did a lot of the same things because I felt like people didn’t understand me or want to accept me. Nielsen does a great job making both Ashley and Stewart feels so natural.

And the humour in this book is wonderful and cheeky. There are so many moments where both Stewart and Ashley just made me burst out laughing because they are both crazy and yet neither of them see it. I also liked how Nielsen handled parents in this novel, as they all felt just real enough, especially when they would intervene between the two protagonists.

I found myself very fond of Ashley’s dad, who came out very late in his life, and admits to changing his family’s dynamic, but never ever loving them any less. Ashley struggles throughout the novel with having a gay parent — she feels it will make her less popular or people will pick on her, and yet her father gets it, respects it, but tries to make her see that this is something she must either accept or walk away from. Nielsen nails this with ease, and she makes the problems between Ashley and her father complicated, but really moving at the same time.

I loved, loved, loved this book and I’m so happy I was given the opportunity to check it out. Susin Nielson really knows how to balance humour, complicated emotions, and heart with such ease. Plus her writing is just a lot of fun. I found myself constantly thinking about this book well after I finished it, because I loved the complexity of the characters in this story, even if they really were built off of simple stereotypes. This one is definitely worth checking out, especially because Stewart really will warm his way into your heart.

ARC Review – The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

22388931Title:  The Swallow: A Ghost Story

Author: Charis Cotter

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: In 1960s Toronto, two girls retreat to their attics to escape the loneliness and isolation of their lives. Polly lives in a house bursting at the seams with people, while Rose is often left alone by her busy parents. Polly is a down-to-earth dreamer with a wild imagination and an obsession with ghosts; Rose is a quiet, ethereal waif with a sharp tongue. Despite their differences, both girls spend their days feeling invisible and seek solace in books and the cozy confines of their respective attics. But soon they discover they aren’t alone–they’re actually neighbors, sharing a wall. They develop an unlikely friendship, and Polly is ecstatic to learn that Rose can actually see and talk to ghosts. Maybe she will finally see one too! But is there more to Rose than it seems? Why does no one ever talk to her? And why does she look so… ghostly? When the girls find a tombstone with Rose’s name on it in the cemetery and encounter an angry spirit in her house who seems intent on hurting Polly, they have to unravel the mystery of Rose and her strange family… before it’s too late.

Huge thank you to Tundra Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I love ghost stories, and the more authentic they feel, the more I find myself connecting to it. The Swallow is beautiful in every sense of the word — gorgeous prose, strong, well developed characters, and the power to keep the reader guessing from start to finish. It has a very classic feel to it, so all the suspense keeps building, building, building until you hit the surprise and it’s a good one, I must say!

What initial drew me to this book was that it was a ghost story set in Toronto in the 60s. Toronto has a very rich paranormal history (lots of haunted buildings and mysteries afoot), so to read about Toronto and know where every location was mentioned in the story made me really happy. I admit, I love reading about the city I live in and being able to visualize it crystal clear. I feel like Cotter did an amazing job accurately describing the city and making it so recognizable.

Then comes Polly and Rose who are the heroines of this story, and they were magical. They have such a beautiful friendship and meet on such similar terms, but have enough differences that each girl is her own entity. The narrative voice does often make them a bit similar, so I wish the voices had been more distinctive and not just their personalities. Furthermore as the mystery is unravelled other characters, as well as the girls do a really good job of tricking the reader to throw them off course as to who the ghost is. It’s so well done, and I flew this book because I just loved the characters and the mystery was so engaging throughout.

Although this novel is classified as middle grade, I think there’s enough complexity and intrigue to keep even young adults entertained. Although the point of view change happens fast and frequently, I don’t feel like it’s too difficult to follow, though that really will depend on the kind of reader you are. This is a perfect fall or Halloween read, and I know for me personally, is one that’ll stick with me a good, long while.

ARC Review – What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn

18209349Title:  What We Hide

Author: Marthe Jocelyn

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny’s chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don’t. Brenda won’t tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother’s memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.

Deftly told from multiple points of view in various narrative styles, including letters and movie screenplays, What We Hide is provocative, honest, often funny, and always intriguing.

Huge thank you to Tundra Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am torn when it comes to What We Hide. It has an intriguing premise with a lot of mystery surrounding the characters within the story, and each character is connected to another by a small thread. The writing is gorgeous, it keeps you guessing, and yet, I struggled to connect with it. 

There are so many perspectives in this novel, and I think that’s what’s problematic about it. I never felt like I understood a lot of the characters or their motives, so a lot of their secrets didn’t feel naturally exposed, and to be honest I ended up with more questions than answers, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it made for a confusing story a lot of the time.

There is also so much intertextuality in this book, which you don’t see in a lot of YA, but when you do it can be a nice break in the story. In What We Hide however, it just become more questions and often it made the text very jarring to read because the transition between letters, scripts and first person perspectives feel so mashed together instead of being placed in such a way that the reader would understand WHY the change in format.

I guess for me, it boils down to taste. I think with the right reader, this story will resonate well, but for me I just felt lost and confused a lot of the time. Even when I got to the end I found myself asking more questions and not feeling satisfied with results presented to me. What We Hide is not a bad book, but it definitely requires a ton of patience on the reader’s part.