Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: Love Spell

Title: Love Spell
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: CoolDudes Publishing
Publication Date: June 1, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance C├ęsar, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart. 
Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

A cute, heartwarming tale about finding love and finding yourself. Chance doesn't quite know where he fits in life. His larger-than-life personality doesn't mesh well with the town he lives in (it seems like a small town mentality, but it's large enough to have a frozen yogurt shop, so not that small by my standards). He has an almost non-existent relationship with his parents. Not to mention the overwhelming confusion when it comes to his gender identity.

I enjoyed the mix of more modern themes like gender identity with classical themes like the importance of being yourself. It allowed the author to explore Chance's sexuality, while still embracing the other themes of the human condition (because LGBTQ+ people are people and therefore deal with issues that effect everyone, not only gender/sexuality specific issues).

Chance was a bit over-the-top for me. He was a total drama queen and annoyed me a bit at times. He can lay it on a bit thick sometimes and I felt like he was a bit oblivious about Jasper's feelings, which were pretty obvious to the reader. 

I really wish that Chance's parents had played a larger role in his life. It didn't seem realistic to me how little they were involved in his life.

Overall, I enjoyed Love Spell, although it lacked that special something to elevate it to favourite status. But it was a lot of fun and a good addition of some reading diversity.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: The Diviners

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Source: Gifted

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I really liked this book! The characters were great, the plot was awesome and I loved the 1920's setting. 

Our main character Evie is a bit of a trouble-maker. She's a young flapper with a peculiar ability to read the history of an object. She is interesting and flawed, but still very likable (although a couple things she did at the end pissed me off).

The other characters were interesting as well. I think my favourites were Theta and Memphis, although I am also intrigued by Sam Lloyd. And poor Mabel, always being relegated to Evie's sidekick. I really enjoyed Libba Bray's writing style, where she would switch over and follow a character other than Evie for a while so we get a larger story.

The plot was wonderfully creepy. From the very start, I could tell I was going to enjoy this ghost story. Naughty John is so evil and the cult of the Brethren was fascinating (cults in general are fascinating to me). I really enjoyed all of the supernatural aspects of this book and can't wait to see how some of them develop.

As I mentioned above, I also really enjoyed the 1920's setting. I enjoyed the inclusion of historical events like prohibition and particularly the author's use of period slang. It made me want to be a flapper!

Overall, I though this book was very well done. It's long, but never dragged. The characters were interesting and enjoyable and I loved the supernatural elements. I can't wait to read Lair of Dreams.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Review: Spinning Starlight

Title: Spinning Starlight
Author: R. C. Lewis
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary eARC in exchange for a honest review.

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

I enjoyed this book, although not quite as much as I enjoyed Stitching Snow. The problem for me was the pacing; this one dragged a bit for me in the middle. But I did enjoy the story in the end.

Liddi is insanely famous. As the heir to a massive corporation and youngest member of a genius family, she is under a lot of pressure. Liddi was a fairly likable character. I really felt for her lack of privacy in the beginning and appreciated her love for her brothers. I didn't fall in love with her, but I did like her.

Once the story really gets going, she meets Tiav, who is pretty much the nicest guy ever. He is so patient and understanding with Liddi. In fact, it seemed a touch unrealistic to me. But not too bad, since he did seem like a genuinely nice guy.

The big issue for me was the plot. It just dragged on in the middle, since Liddi can't explain anything, so we spend the majority of the book waiting for Tiav to figure out what is going on. I understand that Liddi's inability to communicate was a major part of the plot, but it got a bit tedious after a while. Other than that, the plot was fairly interesting.

I got a bit confused on this one, since I thought it was going to be a sort of sequel to Stitching Snow, but it wasn't. Not even set in the same world. Confusing for me, because the covers follow the same theme. So don't go in expecting a sequel!

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

CBC's 30 Works of Canadian Fiction to Read Before You're Thirty

Sunday was my birthday (woo!). I turned 27 this year. A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon this list from CBC books. Since I'll be 30 in less than 3 years (Wait, what?!?!?!). And I've only read 3 of the books on this list and 2 of those were 5 or more years ago! So 27 books to read in 3 years. Sounds like a plan! I'm going to aim to read 1 book off this list per month. I'm starting this month with Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley.

1. Bear by Marian Engel 
2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery  - Read as a child - might reread
3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood  - Read as a teenager
4. Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler 
5. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
6. De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage
7. Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
8. Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
9. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
10. Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo
11. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
12. Generation X by Douglas Coupland
13. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
14. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
15. When Everything Feels like the Moviesby Raziel Reid
16. Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill
17. No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
18. Obasan by Joy Kogawa
19. Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
20. Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan
21, Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
22. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
23. Neuromancer by William Gibson
24. The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis - Read in approximately 2011/2012
25. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
26. The Book of Secrets by M.G. Vassanji
27. The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
28. My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
29. Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley
30. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Monday, October 5, 2015

August + September Wrap-up

I missed August and am a few days late for September, but here we go!

Books Reviewed in August:

The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan - 4 stars
The Riddles of Hillgate by Zoey Kane and Claire Kane - 3 stars

Average rating = 3.5 stars

Books Reviewed in September:

The Talisman of El by Alecia Stone - 2 stars
You Won't Remember This by Kate Blackwell - 2.5 stars
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott - 4 stars
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - 4 stars
Crossing into Brooklyn by Mary Ann McGuigan - 2 stars

Average rating = 2.9 stars (not a great month, but it's interesting to note that 3/5 books were written by a Kate or Katie).

Books Received in August/September:

For Review:

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
Sweet Madness by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie
Perdita by Faith Gardner - Thanks to Merit Press for this one and the two above
Dragon Heart by Cecelia Holland - Thanks to Tor for this one


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass - Forgot this one is a previous haul. Thanks to It Starts at Midnight!

Amazon Freebies:

Crystal Magic by Madeline Freeman