Mini Review: Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

25318441Two Naomis

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

5/5 stars

Release Date: September 13, 2016

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

A realistic contemporary story of two girls, both named Naomi, whose divorced parents begin to date—perfect for fans of Lisa Graff, Sara Pennypacker, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.

Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.

When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family.

Review:

Today I’m posting a mini review of Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick. This isn’t as detailed as my usual reviews, but I really wanted to share the book here.

TWO NAOMIS is absolutely incredible, I was thrilled from start to finish! Reading the synopsis, I knew it’d be super cute but it was also so emotional. From happy to sad to angry to I-don’t-know-what-I’m-feeling-but-I’m-super-emotional. The character development of Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith were off the charts. The authors’ were very good at making sure the reader understood not only both Naomis but their parents, family, and friends. It was like being in their heads’.

I loved both Naomis but I would say I connected with Naomi Marie a little bit more. She loved going to the library and making lists, just like me. She is also a bossy big sister, like me (haha). This is not to say I didn’t love Naomi Edith, because I did, but I definitely saw more of myself in Naomi Marie. Both characters were incredibly unique and brought something different to the story.

This is such an important novel for MG readers with divorced parents, to understand that change is okay. I definitely wish I had this book growing up. Two Naomis is also valuable for MG readers with non-divorced parents, to see from someone else’s perspective. If there was an emoji that was the combination of the heart-eyes emoji and the crying emoji, that would be my reading experience. I love, love, loved this!!

😍 + 😭 = this book ❤

June + July Wrap-Up Post

IMG_4906As I was writing up July’s post I realized I hadn’t done June’s! I’ve decided to just combine both posts. In June I read four books 😦 and in July I read five. Some of my favourites include:

Of Fire and Stars – this is a standalone YA fantasy novel by Audrey Coulthurst with an f/f romance. I absolutely loved this one! I liked that even though the main characters, Denna and Mare were very different, I didn’t favour one over the other. Sometimes with books, there’s that one character I really admire over the others, that one character I look up to or really want to be. With Denna and Mare, I honestly couldn’t choose who I liked more – they were both incredible protagonists.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories – this is a middle-grade anthology edited by Ellen Oh and I think it was my first ever anthology. Most of the stories were four or five stars for me, so if you’re looking to get into middle-grade, this is a great way of finding authors and seeing what writing styles you like/dislike.

See You in the Cosmos – this MG debut by Jack Cheng was unlike anything I’ve ever read! The protagonist, Alex is a really smart but naive kid who wants to send his iPod into space so that aliens can see, or rather hear what life on earth is like. An interesting aspect of this novel, the author has turned the recordings into transcripts, so it’s like the reader is the one who received them. Dialogue would either be Alex repeating or summarizing what someone said, or someone(s) talking as Alex is recording (like a script). If Alex didn’t record something, we didn’t hear about it. Whether or not you’re a big MG reader, this is definitely not a book you want to miss out on!

June Books Read:

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

Flying Lessons and Other Stories, Edited by Ellen Oh, Authors: Kwame Alexander, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson

Naruto Gaiden by Kishimoto Masashi

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

July Books Read:

How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

Inuyasha Vol. 10 by Rumiko Takahashi

ICYMI:

Top 5 June Releases

Mini Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Top 5 July Releases

Mini Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

8 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Today I’m sharing 8 books you need on your summer reading list! For some of these, I went with the obvious summer/water/beach theme. I also chose some books that are either really fantastic or I’ve heard amazing things about them. With these on your summer TBR, there’s no way you’ll be let down. I’ve reviewed a couple of these in the past, just click on the titles to view them.


22537367Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

Disney-Hyperion | May 3, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

When I was planning this post, Summer of Sloane was the first book that came to mind. Hawaii. Summer love. Angst. Betrayal. This is probably the perfect beach read. I think this is also OwnVoices for a Hawaiian MC.


31123249Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | June 13, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Saints and Misfits is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. While there’s no beach/water theme, reading this can only enrich your summer (hopefully haha). This is OwnVoices for a Muslim MC. TW: Sexual assault.


32890474The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Duet Books | May 4, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is another highly anticipated read! This has mermaids, vikings AND it’s a bisexual, Norse myth retelling of The Little Mermaid.

TW: Misogyny in a dystopian society, discussions of infertility/worth (#ownvoices: the author has a hormonal condition/fertility disorder, but the discussion in the book may be heavy for some), non-binary character is a villain (taken from the author’s website).


Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Harper Teen | July 24, 2012

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

The first reason for including Something Strange and Deadly on this list is because it’s one of my favourite series of all time! The second reason, the entire series was just re-released with these shiny, new covers, so it was kind of the perfect time to re-share them. The cover on the left is the original one, the cover on the right the new. With zombies and necromancy, this steampunk novel will be unlike anything you’ve ever read!


29640839Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman

Sourcebooks Fire | May 2, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

I would definitely consider Girl Out of Water a summer read. You have the summer romance but there’s also angst, family relationships and friendship. It’s at the top of my TBR pile.


24790901The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Flux | February 8, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

Sea monsters. Pirates. A post-apocalyptic world. Being set on the ocean doesn’t really make this a “beach read” but it has pirates in it, which makes everything better. The Abyss Surrounds Us was one of my favourite reads of 2016 and is perfect for fans of Pacific Rim.


33282947See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Dial Books | February 28, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s and Walk Two Moons.

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

I recently finished this middle-grade novel and it was unlike anything I’ve ever read. I know I said that about SS&D, but so is See You in the Cosmos. The protagonist, Alex is a really smart but naive kid who wants to send his iPod into space so that aliens can see, or rather hear what life on earth is like. A really interesting aspect of this novel, the author has turned the recordings into transcripts, so it’s like the reader is the one who received them. Dialogue would either be Alex repeating or summarizing what someone said, or someone(s) talking as Alex is recording (like a script). If Alex didn’t record something, we didn’t hear about it. This book will make you happy, sad, laugh, and cry. And cry some more.


32182684The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

Wise Ink | December 6, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

I’ve been meaning to read this for the longest time because it sounds incredible! Time-travel, ancient Egypt and a beautiful cover, what’s not to love?!

Mini Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

30256109American Street

Ibi Zoboi

5/5 stars

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

Review:

Today I’m posting a mini review of American Street by Ibi Zoboi. This isn’t as detailed as my usual reviews, but I still wanted to share the book here.

This was so good and I’m having trouble putting that into words. Zoboi is a gifted storyteller. The characters of AMERICAN STREET captivate you from the very first page. I would say the character development is the strongest aspect of this book and the story is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read. I also loved how Fabiola would compare her experiences as a Haitian immigrant in America with Vodou culture. I’m paraphrasing here but Fabiola described her situation as, “American by birth, Haiti by blood”. I didn’t expect the magical realism and it was a really beautiful surprise. A superb debut YA novel! I’m avidly awaiting Zoboi’s next work.

My review has a second paragraph but I didn’t include it here because it’s a huge spoiler. You can find it on Goodreads, where the spoiler part is hidden. Thanks for reading!

Top 5 July Releases

Today I’m sharing my top 5 July releases! I’ve been counting down the days until I could read some of these, so I’m happy it’s finally release day 🙂 I hope you add these to your TBR, buy/preorder them and request them at your local library. If you’ve read any of these, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and other book retailer sites – long, short, positive, negative, it all counts. You can read more about this feature here.


32766747The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Razorbill | July 18, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?


28872472The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey (The Girl at Midnight #3)

Delacorte Press | July 11, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

The sides have been chosen and the battle lines drawn.

Echo awakened the Firebird. Now she is the only one with the power to face the darkness she unwittingly unleashed . . . right into the waiting hands of Tanith, the new Dragon Prince. Tanith has one goal in mind: destroy her enemies, raze their lands, and reign supreme in a new era where the Drakharin are almighty and the Avicen are nothing but a memory.

The war that has been brewing for centuries is finally imminent. But the scales are tipped. Echo might hold the power to face the darkness within the Dragon Prince, but she has far to go to master its overwhelming force. And now she’s plagued by uncertainty. With Caius no longer by her side, she doesn’t know if she can do it alone. Is she strong enough to save her home and the people she loves?

Whether Echo is ready to face this evil is not the question. The war has begun, and there is no looking back. There are only two outcomes possible: triumph or death.


30289938This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes

Harper Teen | July 11, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.


30312855The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Simon Pulse | July 18, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.


30955863-2Heroine Worship (Heroine Complex #2) by Sarah Kuhn

DAW | July 4, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right.  They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable.

It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission.

All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever.

Mini Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

I read Empress of a Thousand Skies back in May and while I wrote a short review on Goodreads, I never reviewed it here. I’ve decided to do a short mini review of it because it’s such a fantastic book that I really wanted to share. I’ll be posting mini reviews of other books too, every once in a while. They won’t be as detailed as my usual ones, more of a “this book is awesome you should read it!”. So please check out my mini review below! The second paragraph has minor spoilers if you’d like to avoid them, but it’s not a huge one – it won’t ruin the book.


30269126Empress of a Thousand Skies

Rhoda Belleza

5/5 stars

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Publisher: Razorbill

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

Review:

EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES by Rhoda Belleza is one of the best sci-fi novels I’ve ever read. Strong writing, compelling characters and action-packed scenes are combined to create an all-around fantastic debut. Not only does the author introduce themes of racism and prejudice but unpacks them through her characters, their actions and the world-building. Whether or not you’re a fan of space opera, this is one book not to be missed. Belleza is sure to bring you to the dark side.

SPOILERS START

I think I misinterpreted the synopsis. I pretty much expected Rhee and Aly to meet at some point and was a little disappointed when this didn’t happen. I would be waiting for something to happen because of the way the synopsis was written. I still enjoyed the novel and liked how the author showed the ways two people’s lives can intersect without actually meeting. This is a dual POV and because the two characters don’t actually meet it’s almost like getting two books in one (a good thing for me). The reader gets to see Rhee and Aly unravel the plot in different ways. I actually think this fits more with some adult SFF books – you could have several main characters but they don’t always meet or they don’t meet right away.

SPOILERS END

The POV changed every other chapter and the transitions were pretty smooth. The end of each chapter had that perfect sort of cliffhanger – you want to continue with Rhee’s POV but are still excited to start Aly’s. All in all, I would 100% recommend this amazing sci-fi debut!

ICYMI: Top 5 June Releases

I meant to write a post like this back in June, but life just got in the way and I never ended up doing one 😅 Even though it’s July I still wanted to feature some June books I was super excited for, so this is more of an in-case-you-missed-it post. If you’re not familiar with this feature, you can read more about it here; I basically share my top 5 releases of the month that I’m just dying to read. So, add these June releases to your TBR and buy or borrow them from your local library (if you’re able to). If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to know what you thought!


29387853Want by Cindy Pon

Simon Pulse | June 13, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?


32075664Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh (sequel to Ivory and Bone)

HarperTeen | June 13, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

In the sequel to Ivory and Bone—the prehistoric fantasy novel that New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman described as a “richly crafted world of life-and-death stakes”—the story shifts to Mya’s viewpoint as vengeful adversaries force her to flee the life she once knew.

After surviving the chaotic battle that erupted after Lo and the Bosha clan attacked, now Mya is looking ahead to her future with Kol. All the things that once felt so uncertain are finally falling into place. But the same night as Kol and Mya’s betrothal announcement, Mya’s brother Chev reveals his plan to marry his youngest sister Lees to his friend Morsk. The only way to avoid this terrible turn of events, Morsk informs Mya when he corners her later, is for Mya to take Lees’ place and marry him herself.

Refusing to marry anyone other than her beloved, and in an effort to protect her sister, Mya runs away to a secret island with Lees. And though it seems like the safest place to hide until things back home blow over, Mya soon realizes she’s been followed. Lurking deep in the recesses of this dangerous place are rivals from Mya’s past whose thirst for revenge exceeds all reason.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, Mya must make a move before the enemies of her past become the undoing of her future.


31123249Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | June 13, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?


32912370The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen (prequel to Stolen Songbird)

Angry Robot | June 6, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A prequel to the USA Today bestseller and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy).

Below Forsaken Mountain, a revolution stirs with the aim to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right hand of its leader. It’s a secret more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it from everyone, even the girl he loves.

Since a tragic accident revealed her affliction and ruined her sister’s chance at the throne, Pénélope is an anathema to her father, the Duke d’Angouleme. Deeming her life worthless, he gives her one chance to survive: find proof that the boy she loves is a leader in the sympathizer revolution.

Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.

Except being together might be the greatest risk of all.


32075448Thief’s Cunning by Sarah Ahiers (sequel to Assassin’s Heart)

Harper Teen | June 13, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

The companion novel to Assassin’s Heart—an action-packed fantasy that Printz Award winner Laura Ruby said “will keep you turning the pages all night long”—Thief’s Cunning picks up eighteen years later and follows Allegra Saldana as she uncovers the secrets about the line of killers she descends from.

Allegra has always had to look over her shoulder. As the niece of the infamous assassin Lea Saldana, Allegra is used to hiding from people who want her dead. Once the strongest clipper family in the Kingdom of Lovero, the Saldanas—or what’s left of them—are now the most hunted. Their number one enemy is the Da Vias, whose thirst for retaliation is almost two decades in the making.

But lately Allegra’s getting fed up with everything being kept from her—including her parents’ identity. When she finally learns the truth about her family, though—that she’s a Da Via—her world crumbles. Feeling betrayed by the people she trusted the most, Allegra turns to Nev, a Traveler boy whose presence makes her feel alive in ways she’s only dreamed of.  But getting caught up in Nev’s world has consequences Allegra never saw coming.

In this dark and enthralling fantasy that fans of Sarah Maas and Leigh Bardugo will devour, one girl must decide if she’s destined to pay for the wrongs of her family’s past—whether Saldana or Da Via—or if the future is hers for the taking.

May Wrap-Up Post

I’m finally blogging about what I read in May! I don’t think “a little late” even begins to cover it because this is basically when I’d be posting my June wrap up 😅 Anyways, May was a fantastic month; I read 9 books in total. My favourite reads were Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza and American Street by Ibi Zoboi. Both were impressive debuts and I can’t wait to read the authors’ next works. The first is an action-packed space opera with a diverse cast of characters and the latter is about a teen girl’s experience as a Haitian immigrant in America. American Street has absolutely captivating characters and Zoboi is a gifted storyteller. I would 100% recommend both books, they’re sure to top your favourite reads of the year! 

Books Read:

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Inuyasha Vol. 7-9 by Rumiko Takahashi

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

In Plain Sight by Laura Langston

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel by Patti Laboucane-Benson

Boruto Vol. 1 by Kodachi Ukyo and Kishimoto Masashi

ICYMI:

Top 5 May Releases

The Broken Ones Blog Tour: An Interview with Danielle L. Jensen

Kobo Emerging Writer Prize: Ann Y.K. Choi, M-E Girard & Lynne Kutsukake

IMG_4388The shortlist for the third annual Kobo Emerging Writer Prize was recently announced and I was so thrilled to see Canadian authors Ann Y.K. Choi, M-E Girard and Lynne Kutsukake on the list. Their debuts are some of my most anticipated so I wanted to take the time to highlight them:

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake

This award is handed out to a debut novel (published the same year) in each of three categories: Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, and Genre Fiction (Speculative Fiction this year). Along with a $10,000 CAD cash prize, each winning author receives promotional, marketing, and communications support. This is such a big award for Canadian debut authors and I’m especially happy to see a YA title on an awards list usually dominated by adult books. If you haven’t already, add these three books to your TBR. You can check out the rest of the shortlist here.

Also, if you’ve read any of these be sure to leave a review on book retailer sites like Amazon, Chapters/Indigo and Kobo. For this specific award, book completion rates, customer ratings and reviews were considered when selecting the shortlist titles. Your reviews, even if only a few lines, do matter! You can also follow these authors on Twitter by clicking on their names below:


Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi

Simon and Schuster | May 3, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s.

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety vocatively portrays the life of a young Korean Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.

-I believe this was published as adult fiction but could appeal to YA readers


28217802Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

HarperCollins | September 6, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.


25893533The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake

Knopf Canada | April 5, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Set against the pulsing backdrop of post-war Tokyo, The Translation of Love tells the gripping and heartfelt story of a newly repatriated Japanese-Canadian girl who must help a classmate find her missing sister. A dazzling New Face of Fiction for 2016 that will appeal to readers of All the Light We Cannot See and Anita Shreve.

Thirteen-year-old Aya Shimamura is released from a Canadian internment camp in 1946, still grieving the recent death of her mother, and repatriated to Japan with her embittered father. They arrive in a devastated Tokyo occupied by the Americans under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Aya’s English-language abilities are prized by the principal of her new school, but her status as the “repat girl” makes her a social pariah–until her seatmate, a fierce, willful girl named Fumi Tanaka, decides that Aya might be able to help her find her missing older sister. Beautiful Sumiko has disappeared into the seedy back alleys of the Ginza. Fumi has heard that General MacArthur sometimes assists Japanese citizens in need, and she enlists Aya to compose a letter in English asking him for help.

Corporal Matt Matsumoto is a Japanese-American working for the Occupation forces, and it’s his overwhelming job to translate thousands of letters for the General. He is entrusted with the safe delivery of Fumi’s letter; but Fumi, desperate for answers, takes matters into her own hands, venturing into the Ginza with Aya in tow.

Told through rich, interlocking storylines, The Translation of Love mines a turbulent period to show how war irrevocably shapes the lives of both the occupied and the occupiers, and how the poignant spark of resilience, friendship and love transcends cultures and borders to stunning effect.

Blog Tour: The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen

thebrokenones_144dpi-676x1024The Broken Ones (prequel to Stolen Songbird, Hidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch)

Danielle L. Jensen 

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Publisher: Angry Robot

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A prequel to the USA Today bestseller and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy).

Below Forsaken Mountain, a revolution stirs with the aim to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right hand of its leader. It’s a secret more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it from everyone, even the girl he loves.

Since a tragic accident revealed her affliction and ruined her sister’s chance at the throne, Pénélope is an anathema to her father, the Duke d’Angouleme. Deeming her life worthless, he gives her one chance to survive: find proof that the boy she loves is a leader in the sympathizer revolution.

Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.

Except being together might be the greatest risk of all.

I’m so happy to be part of the blog tour for THE BROKEN ONES by Danielle L. Jensen. Today I’m posting an interview I got to do with the author. THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY is one of my favourite YA fantasy series, so I was thrilled to hear there’d be a prequel. If this series is new to you please check out STOLEN SONGBIRD, the first book. This gorgeous debut has trolls and magic and a city under a mountain. If you haven’t read STOLEN SONGBIRD, I recommend reading it before THE BROKEN ONES. Thank you to Danielle for joining me on the blog today.

interviewlogo

Q: In THE BROKEN ONES, Marc and Pénélope find themselves right in the thick of the complex politics of Trollus, both holding dangerous secrets of their own. How did writing THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY, which became more complex with each book, prepare you for this story?

A: It taught me patience. I’d love to say that all the interconnections and depth of plot for the trilogy appeared fully formed in my brain, but that was really, really, not the case. While writing those three novels, I learned to dig deeper. To make sure actions had not just one believable motivation, but layers of them. To find the connections between characters and events, even if those connections didn’t make it onto the page. THE BROKEN ONES is technically the backstory for the trilogy, but calling it such makes it sound boring. I prefer to consider it the beginning of the story. There are countless ties to the trilogy, some big and some small, that I hope readers will pick up on, and building those in was part of what expanded THE BROKEN ONES into a full-length novel. This is just a silly, non-spoiler example, but did you ever wonder how Tristan managed to smuggle a piano into Trollus for Cécile? Well, he didn’t – it was already there… 🙂

Q: THE BROKEN ONES is told in the joint point of view of Marc and Pénélope, different from THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY, which were told in the POV’s of Cécile and Tristan. What was that like? Were you ever worried that Marc and Pénélope would sound too similar to Cécile and Tristan?

A: I didn’t worry about it, because the characters are so different. Pénélope is the quintessential quiet heroine. She’s soft-spoken, thoughtful, elegant, and about as far from my reckless and impulsive Cécile as you can get. Marc is a younger, slightly more naïve, version of the troll you got to know in the trilogy, and he also has a much quieter voice than Tristan. Tristan has a huge role in THE BROKEN ONES, so you’ll get PLENTY of his younger, smart-ass self to sate yourselves! I’m digressing here a bit, but as much as the cover copy makes it sound like THE BROKEN ONES is about Marc and Pénélope’s relationship, it’s actually just as much about Marc’s relationship with Tristan. They have their fair share of conflict, but they have an exceptionally close friendship that didn’t get the page-time it deserved within the trilogy.

Q: This is a prequel to your debut novel STOLEN SONGBIRD. What was it like writing something where the ending is already in print? Were you ever worried the plot would head in a different direction?

A: It was tough, for sure. I never felt like the plot was driving toward a different ending, but it was often challenging ensuring that how I got to that ending remained consistent with the details I provided within the trilogy. There were many times when I was banging my head against my desk, because what I wanted to write wouldn’t work within the parameters I’d inadvertently set for myself when drafting the other books. But that forced me to dig deeper and get creative, and I think the novel is better for it.

Q: This book was originally supposed to be a novella. Is it safe to say you really enjoyed writing it? What was your favourite part about returning to this world?

A: I LOVED writing it! Trollus was my favorite setting within the trilogy, and it felt so good to walking through its streets again.

Here’s the thing about it morphing from a 30k word novella to a 68k word novel: if it had remained a novella, all it would’ve contained would be a slightly elaborated-upon version of what readers already knew. And I wanted it to be so much more than that. Marc deserved more than that. Despite readers knowing the ending, I wanted the story to be exciting and unexpected and full of new plot that would leave readers wondering if they actually knew how things would turn out. As far as what my favorite thing about writing it was… I’d say the cameos, especially the appearance of Chris. His friendship with Tristan was one of my favorite things to write in the trilogy, and it was great to include their relationship’s origin story!

Q: If Marc and Pénélope lived in our world, what books would they be reading right now?

A: Haha, this made me laugh, because there is a scene in the novel where Pénélope confesses that she doesn’t spend much time reading – she prefers to spend it on her art. That said, she is a guild-trained artist, so I’d envision her with a book about art history or technique. Marc is deeply concerned about the state of Trollus, so if he lived in our world, I’d see him reading non-fiction about social or political issues. How different they are from Cécile and Tristan, who both like to read escapist fiction!

aboutauthor

DaniellView More: http://heatherpalmer.pass.us/danielle-jensene L. Jensen was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous, and it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy: Stolen SongbirdHidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch.

Follow Danielle L. Jensen on Amazon

My website: danielleljensen.com

Twitter: @dljensen_

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Facebook: @authordanielleljensen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7091823.Danielle_L_Jensen