Friday, June 30, 2017

June Wrap Up 2017

   Like most of the months, June was all over the place for me. From graduations, to my sisters finally being done school for the summer, and to getting a new job! So it was busy and hectic as usual, and of course all the days blurred together. 
   Unfortunately for June, I wasn't able to get out of my book slump, which was my fault. I ended up picking two books that I just could not enjoy, resulting in me not wanting to pick anything else up after them. Hopefully the next thing I pick up ends up being really good and fixes my mistake for June.
   Some of you may follow me on Instagram, or maybe just noticed that I changed my Bio on most of my social media platforms, but for those of you who haven't noticed or heard, I got another job! Come the last week of June, I got a call for an interview to one of my favourite places, McNally Robinson. Also known as my local Indie bookstore, one which I occupy more frequently than not. Anyways, shortly after the interview they called me back and I was hired! I've already had my first shift, and I couldn't be happier working there. Having already known most of the people in the department that I'm in, from always stopping by, everything has been so easy to adjust too! You'll probably be hearing much more about the store in the next upcoming months!
  Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, June time brings graduations, and one that I went to this Spring was for my good friend Sabrina, who you all know from the book blog Beyond the Book Reviews. So if you guys have a spare moment, definitely head on over to her blog and congratulate her!

   That pretty much sums up my month, so now onto the monthly stats!


Books Read:

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau 
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Book Haul:


Books Reviewed:


July Releases I'm Excited For:



   That's it for this month! Come back next month to see what shenanigans I partook in during the month of July!



Monday, June 26, 2017

Surprise! New Blog Design!

   Hi Guys!
   So you may have noticed something different on the blog today, hmm I wonder what could it be? I got a new blog design, TA DA!
   I've been in a blogging and reading slump since school ended, and I thought revamping my blog might help change things up. I'm not sure if it'll work, or if I'll end up hating the new design in a few days or so, but I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
   So I hope that you guys love it, or at least grow to love it. I've always been a huge simplicity themed fan, so I think that this new design showcases that off a bit.
   Anyways, like I said, I hope that you guys love it.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Read: June 4th-7th, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 528 pages
Source: McNally Robinson/ Be First Book Club




Description from GoodReads:


   An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

   Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

   But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

   Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.


Review:


   Wait until you fall for the boy who can't love you back.
   Last year I had picked up My Lady Jane to read, after receiving it in the June 2016 OwlCrate, and I fell in love with the historical and comical aspects of the book. Since then, I've kept an eye out for that particular kind of book, and that's how The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue came into my radar. I was also lucky enough to have picked up a copy for McNally's Be First Book Club.
   Even though the book was from a completely different author than My Lady Jane, I couldn't help but compare TGGtVaV to My Lady Jane for the entirety of the book.  My Lady Jane contained magical aspects to the book, aspects that I couldn't help but feel like were needed in TGGtVaV, and thus I just couldn't help but not feel a big pull of interest to the book. In this case I blame myself for not being a big fan of contemporary novels, as well building the book up to be something completely different in my head.
   Although I had ruined the book for myself, I was still able to enjoy different aspects of the book, the characters and relationships in particular. The main character, Monty, is a bisexual who lives sometime in the 18th century, and life in the 18th century certainly isn't easy for a bisexual. Along with being a bisexual, being a person of colour or even a woman, aren't any easier when it comes to that time period. The three main characters that we encounter in the book happen to fit one or more of these categories. Although the novel pays more attention to the bisexual aspects of the book, and how the people of the time period don't support it or even view it as appriotate, Lee does a terrific job of also drawing attention to the way people of colour were/are treated poorly, and how the women of the time had to fit the mold that was created for them. Lee would throw in little facts throughout the book that made you pause and consider the truth in what was being said, instances like, "There is nothing good about watching another man claim your ship because your skin is too dark to do it yourself" and "Ladies haven't the luxury of being squeamish about blood.". Lee would never tiptoe around the truth, and would give you the facts as they were, you couldn't help but love the book because of this.
   Out of the main characters, I absolutely hated Monty. He was always so ignorant, could only ever care about himself, and not to mention he made so many problems for Percy and Felicity. In the end Lee could have made him perfect, but she made him imperfect which I couldn't help but enjoy, even if he infuriated me. The same went with the other two characters, Lee made them both imperfect as well, like all people are. It was different from most YA novels, and I hope to finally see that become a norm.
   And finally, I know it's only a small piece but I really enjoyed how the cover's little sketches predicted what was to come in the novel. The little sketches seemed like they were just kind of there when I began the novel, but I can't help but love them now.
   The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue was not what I had hoped it to be, but it did have some phenomenal parts to it and I would certainly recommend to to anyone who needs a "Big Gay European Road Trip Novel".  I will probably end up picking up the books companion spin-off, The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy when it releases in 2018.


Rating:

Favourite Quote:


"What we once were, that you are now. What we are now, soon you shall be."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:


Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQA+ Stories, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date: June 6th, 2017
Read: June 8th-16th, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Dividing Eden, #1
Format: ARC, 336 pages
Source: McNally Robinson/Two Thumbs Up Program




Description from GoodReads:


   Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

   But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

   As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

   With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?


Review:


   Do you wish to refuse the task, Princess?
   The cover of Dividing Eden was one of the reasons I had originally picked up an ARC at McNally Robinson for their Two Thumbs Up Program. Simplicity in covers is one of my favourite book cover trends, so that was definitely a factor when picking up a copy, but once I read into Dividing Eden a bit more, I was also intrigued with the synopsis and couldn't help but be excited to read the book. 
   Whenever I look back at Dividing Eden, I will only have happy memories of the cover, because in the end the book did not meet my expectations. Throughout the 336 pages of the book, I was constantly bored and found the plot to be extremely predictable. At times I even wanted to just give up on the book because I just couldn't stand it anymore.
   Then there was the vagueness that clung to everything. There were many occasions throughout the book that information was given, but it was so vague that you couldn't help but wonder what the point was. Especially when they brought it up so frequently. One major point would be the Xhelozi, they were continuously mentioned throughout the book and were considered a major threat but in the end they only had a minor role for a few pages and then were done. It was disappointing. 
   Dividing Eden wasn't what I wanted it to be, at all. I was disappointed and bored throughout the whole book, it is more than likely that I will not be picking up the sequel when it releases. 

Rating:


Favourite Quotes:


"I'm worth more than the few coppers you have in your pockets."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:


Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Royalty, Princesses, Princes, Monsters, Competitions 



Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Review: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Release Date: June 6th, 2017
Read: June 2nd-14th, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: N/A
Format: ARC, 464 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review




Description from GoodReads:


   When all hope is gone, how do you survive? 

   Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

   Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

   Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. 

   This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

Review:


   I've never been good at letting go.
   I haven't read a Dystopian YA book in forever, after Divergent and the Hunger Games, the trend ended for a good while. Come 2017, it's slowly making a comeback with The Sandcastle Empire.
   The Sandcastle Empire was a disappointment from the moment I started it. It took me way too long just to read 142 pages of the book. The beginning was slow, and it felt like more plot was needed for the book to be more interesting. In the end, I DNF'd the book at 31%.
   In a way I wanted The Sandcastle Empire to have had more of an Indiana Jones feel to it.  With the wolf pack being similar to the Nazi, and the book taking place in a jungle, some comparisons could be made, but not enough so that my Indiana Jones expectations were met.
   What I did like about the book was the odd short chapter where the protagonist would reflect on her backstory before the main story takes place. Eden, the protagonist, would show us her favourite memories, and I just couldn't help but find some of them cute.
   I did not enjoy The Sandcastle Empire, and unless I see raving reviews about Olson's next book, I probably won't be picking up that one either. The book was just not for me.


Rating:

Favourite Quote:


"It was our last hope in this broken/ chaotic world. Where is there to go from here?" 


Recommend to People Who Enjoy:


Young Adult, Dystopian, Survival, World Wars, Indiana Jones



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Review: The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty

Release Date: May 9th, 2017
Read: April 18th-20th, 2017
Publisher: Imprint
Series: Traitor's Trilogy, #1
Format: ARC, 352 pages
Source: Publisher/Raincoast Books in exchange for honest review




Description from GoodReads:




   An obstinate girl who will not be married. 

   A soldier desperate to prove himself. 

   A kingdom on the brink of war.



   With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.


   As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom. 


Review:


   After living the longest and worst days of my life, I can not wait any longer to hold you again.
   Before getting my hands on Traitor's Kiss to read and review, I heard quite a few different things about the book. Things ranging from it being a Mulan retelling, to receiving backlash for offending POC. In the end I received a copy for review, and even though I'd usually avoid something that's received bad praise for cases like this, I still ended up reading it for the publisher.
   Right as you begin the book you notice why there is the backlash, just as the characters are being described, Erin Beaty insensitively refers to the Asian characters as dark when their complexion is described, and in some cases even refers to them "fading in the shadows". This happens throughout the book, sometimes frequently and sometimes not. With this being Beaty's first novel, one can hope that she has learned from her mistakes when it comes to future novels.
   Although I was first introduced to the novel as a Mulan retelling, I wouldn't recommend it to people as one, I find that introduction to be a bit of a stretch from the truth. The novel itself does feature a lot of resemblances to the beloved story, but the story itself as a whole can't be seen as one. With connections to matchmakers, soldiers, and even some disguised deception, it's understandable why it was originally described as such.
   I've read a lot of fantasy in my days of being an avid reader, a lot of them featuring soldiers and generals, etc. Never have I read a fantasy so in depth when regarding the tactics and strategies of the soldiers. The way Beaty described how Captain Quinn and his men acted was so intriguing and different all at once. Once I finished the novel I learnt that this was because Beaty was once a weapons specialist as well as a leadership instructor and actually knew her stuff. I found her expertise made the novel all that much more exciting, and found myself wanting to continue on with the book just because of the tactics and strategies.
   I was a bit conflicted with our female protagonist Sage, her character fell into the trope of believing that she wasn't like the other girls in the regard that she shouldn't be given to the matchmaker to have her wed. Throughout the book when she travels with the Matchmaker, she even looks down upon the girls who her Matchmaker is setting up with people. When it came to her in these regards, I couldn't stand her. But in another case, I also admired and liked her for her spying techniques. I think the spying made her all that more interesting, but I wouldn't say that I'm a fan of hers.
   If you're willing to look past the why Beaty describes her characters complexions, then I think Traitor's Kiss was a hit! I do not believe that a sequel has been purchased by the publisher quite yet, but when it does you can certainly see me on the top of the list of people who want to read it!

Rating:


Favourite Quote:


"You're a complication, Sage, one I never could have planned for."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:


Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Military, Matchmaking, Strategy 



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Read: November 16th-December 7th, 2016
Publisher: Flatrion Books
Series: Caraval, #1
Format: Signed ARC, 401 pages
Source: BEA 2016




Description from GoodReads:


   Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

   But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.


   Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Review:


   I'm so pleased that you could make it.
   Back at BEA 2016, Caraval was one of the most anticipated YA book drops. The only thing was, they never told anyone when the book was going to be dropped. So in a very Caraval fashion, they dropped it randomly and very mysteriously in bags that the publisher was handing out. The author also happened to be there signing books too. Although I hadn't really heard much about the book, I was willing to give it a try especially it was supposed to be a magical book that was supposed to be focused on the relationship between two sisters.
   It took me a long time to finish Caraval, something about the book never clicked with me, making me feel like I couldn't care less about the characters. My sisters and I have a very close relationship, and so I understood where our protagonist got her drive to partake in Caraval, to save her sister, but in the end I just could never connect with them. Everything about the characters just felt like I was experiencing them through a glass wall.
   Once thing that I could appreciate about Caraval, was the magic that went into the story. I loved that in a way it was a carnival, but at the same time it was something different. The roses, and the carousel were my favourite.
   Caraval didn't end up becoming a favourite of mine, but in the end I think I was still able to enjoy it to a point where I'd still go out of my way to pick up it's sequel when it releases. The sequel to Caraval is set to release in 2018.

Rating:



Favourite Quote:

"The past is only mostly set, and the future is harder to change than you would think."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:


Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Games, Mind Tricks



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Book Review: Dreamfall by Amy Plum

Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Read: April 5-7th, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Dreamfall, #1
Format: Signed ARC, 288 pages
Source: Author in exchange for honest review




Description from GoodReads:


   Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn’t get any worse...but she was terribly wrong.

   Soon after the experiment begins, there’s a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

Review:


   One of you is a psychopath.
   I've been in love with Amy Plum's writing since one faithful day in my local library when I picked up her debut, Die For Me, and finished it in one sitting. Her story, along with her writing made the series such a compelling read. Bounce forward to this previous fall, I learned about Plum's latest and greatest, Dreamfall. When I heard that it was a thriller that was combined with nightmares and monsters, I just knew that I was going to be hooked.
   Dreamfall was a short and quick read, for most of the book I read thinking that it was supposed to be a standalone novel. Imagine my surprise and frustration when the novel ended on a cliffhanger, alongside a bunch of loose ends. Shortly after I realized that it was in fact a duelogy, that was when I was able to appreciate the book more.
   Plum managed to take everyones worst nightmare and include it in Dreamfall, in one way or another. Yes, she even included clowns. She even managed to include one of my worst nightmares as well. Using compelling and suspenseful writing, Plum pulls off one of the most creepy and incredible novels of the year.
   One of my favourite aspects of the novel was the different variety of characters that we met. With the novel taking place during an experimental procedure, each character had their own kinds of mental illnesses and PTSD that in the end made them the prefect subjects for the experiment, it also made them the perfect characters when it came to the story. Not only did these characters did these characters have to deal with the nightmares that were forced upon them, but they also had to be able to overcome and manage their illnesses and PTSD.
   Dreamfall has been one of my favourite reads of 2017 so far, with battling monsters and nightmares of the realistic and not so realistic variety, one can not help but need to know which characters makes it through their own personal hell. Neverwake, its Dreamfall's sequel releases May 2018, and it couldn't come any faster.

Rating:


Favourite Quote:


"The traitor spread honey atop pretty lies.
Only the love of his victims he asked.
For deceiving the lamb is the wolf's cherished prize.
And only in death is the true beast unmasked."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:


Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Monsters, Nightmares



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Read: May 12th-June 4th, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: Witchlands, #1
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Source: Bought




Description from GoodReads:



   In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

   Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

   Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

   In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Review:


   Sometimes justice was all about the small victories
   I've wanted to read Truthwitch since it released in early 2016, but of course my busy schedule always keeps me from all the books that I want to read. It was when I received an ARC of it's sequel, Windwitch, that I finally when out and bought a copy.
   Truthwitch wasn't what I was expecting, not at all. In a bunch of ways it reminded me of a bunch of other books mixed together, and could be confusing at times.  Throughout the book, I constantly felt Throne of Glass and The Infernal Devices vibes. From the two chosen ones, and kingdoms fighting, I couldn't help but always compare the storyline of Truthwitch to ToG. Then when it came to the characters, I always pictured Merik and Kullen as Will and Jem from TID.
   Overall, I did enjoy the witch powers that the kingdoms had, and their tattoos that marked who they were. I think the different levels to the powers, and the different powers themselves were fascinating. It made me curious as to all the different levels and kinds of powers that could be seen throughout the series.
   One thing stood constant throughout the book for me, I hardcore shipped Safiya and Iseult. With the connection they have as friends, it just felt like it could be something more in the end. So with the direction that the book went, I was a little disappointed but I still have hope for it to happen in the next two books or so.
   It took me a good while to get into Truthwitch, but in the end I'm happy to have picked it up. I look forward to seeing what happens to our characters in Windwitch.

Rating:


Favourite Quote:


"I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:


Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches, Magic, Chosen Ones, Sisters




Friday, June 2, 2017

June TBR Pile 2017


   So I know that the list of books for this month is kind of huge, but it's basically all the current books that I need to review for publishers. I haven't been in the mood for reading lately, so I'm hoping that by making my TBR all my review books then I'll have more chances of getting out of my stump. Anyways, here's hoping to me actually getting through some of these books this month! 


June TBR Pile:











 

   That's the list for this month! I can't wait to read these bad boys!