Friday, 1 February 2019

Girls Who Bind by Rory James

A poetic look at the emotions/feelings/concerns of a teen who binds their chest.  While they realize that they are genderqueer, their family and friends think that they are female, just as they always have.

Jamie is having a hard time deciding how to tell their parents and friends.  They told their best friend Levi about being genderqueer, but wasn't ready to tell about the binding.

I really like this book.  I found the poetic presentation stripped the story down to its basics, making the issues clear.  This book could be a great aid to those considering similar questions.  Parents would also benefit in learning more about some of the many issues under consideration by their children and their friends.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from West44Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Stealing the Sword: Time Jumpers 1 by Wendy Mass, Oriol Vidal

Time Jumpers #1: Stealing the Sword

Siblings Chase and Ava travel to  different locations and times  in this new book series.  They are given a mysterious suit case that contains a number of unusual item.  They'll have to work together if they are going to figure out what to do with the case and its contents.

This is an enjoyable story for young readers.  It is full of adventure and at the same time readers will learn about bit about history with enough clues to encourage independent research,

The series continues with The Escape from Egypt

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

 I was totally caught up in this unique magical story.

Set in Paris, France, Anouk has never ventured out into the world she watches from the windows.  She is much too young and in-experienced.  Even though she looks seventeen, Mada Vittora created her just over a year ago. Mada is part of the magic world that lives parallel to, though unknown to the Pretties, the everyday common world.

Anouk has become caught up in a power struggle between the magic royals, the witches and the goblins.  She just doesn't know how much influence she could hold over the outcome.

Along with her created friends, and some unlikely alliances, she ventures out into the Pretty world and realizes there is far more to it than strolls down the boulevard and other such frivolities.

I loved this story.  The story line was unique and Anouk was such a refreshing character.  She was so innocent of the ways of people/witches and she managed to maintain much of that throughout the many trials she endured.  Her trust and reliance on her friends made me feel safe along with her.  I found myself cheering for her and encouraging her to venture out of her safe little world of housekeeping.  #TeamAnouk

The is much more of her story to be told and I eagerly await author Megan Shepherd's future writings.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Well worth the read.

I'd read about 10% of the book when I decided that it just wasn't working for me. I was going to stop, but then considered, what would a tell a teen who asked me about it at work one day.  I'd better read a little more, give it a fair chance at least.

I tried to put myself in a more 'teen' frame of mind and plunged back in.

I already liked Norris. He was kind of cool, but feeling out of place with the move to Austin from Montreal.  I had moved overseas at the same age and found myself a visible minority at my new school.  I couldn't fault his mom for moving the two of them, university positions aren't easy to come by and this job was a perfect fit for her knowledge base.

Back to the high school.  Sure, it was larger than Norris's previous one, but essentially the same just with a larger assortment of students.  He'd soon find a way to fit in.  The cheerleaders, jocks, geeks, loners and more were all there. Which was he. It was a new school, a new start, he could have his pick.

Writing in the journal that was given to him the first day of school became his coping method and sounding board.  He wrote down first impressions and observations at first.  It quickly became his 'thing'.  The novel itself is written as though a field guide. At the start of each chapter is heading such as: observable characteristics, attire, habitat, preening habits etc.  At first, I only glanced at these not realizing that I was missing out on a valuable part of the book's approach.  When I started reading them more closely, the concept of field guide became clear.

I'm glad I stuck with this book as I found myself really enjoying it.  The family dynamics between Norris and his parents seemed so real, both the good and the bad.  The inviting atmosphere at his part time job should have been a signal to Norris and I was waiting for him to get it.  Now when I'm at work and a teen asks me about this book, I'll be prepared and will gladly recommend it.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 16 January 2019

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

I was totally blown away by this book.  I picked it because I thought it had a cool premise, but as I started reading, each chapter drew me deeper in.  I had one guess at where Ozzie was coming from, but it didn't really fit and turns out I was way off base.

Ozzie and Tommy had been in a relationship after knowing each other for most of their lives.  One morning, Ozzie wakes up and Tommy has disappeared, not just from his life, but from the world. No body knows nor remembers him, not even his mother.  As he continues to tell his story, we soon learn that something is very wrong, not with anyone in particular, but with the world it's self.

I loved the assortment of teen characters in this book.  They seemed so real.  They had love issues and stresses.  School was still the pain it was in when I attended and college acceptance letters were still pending.  Ozzie has no trouble with being gay, while Lua is exploring her identity, swinging daily between her male and female persona's.

I fully recommend this book for teen readers as well as their parents.  I am looking to reading more by author Shaun David Hutchinson.

I read and online version of this book available from Rivited which is hosted by Simon Pulse.


Friday, 16 November 2018

All Those Explosions were Someone Else's Fault by James Alan Gardner

A romp through my old stomping grounds.  Okay, maybe a parallel romp since there doesn't seem to be magic in my world, but there is the University of Waterloo and it's neighbourhoods.  Author James Alan Gardner has set his book in an area he knows well, though he's tweaked it a bit and added some rather cool stuff.

Kim, her three roommates and one boyfriend are at the University of Waterloo (UW) on a stealth mission.  When Kim spies six darklings entering a lab, her curiosity is aroused. Shortly afterwards an explosion ripples through campus and the four women go to investigate.  They enter the devastated lab and become encircled/invaded by something that effects changes in themselves.  They are transformed to sparks, essentially the good or light ones who counter the darklings.  Did I mention the campus police?

This sets the four off on a series of adventures while they seek to understand what has happened to them.

There is so much wonderful stuff that happens in this book that I can't even begin to explain. I can tell you that this was a lot of fun to read and experience.  It was discussed at my book club, and we all enjoyed it and most of us plan to read the next instalment.  We couldn't put any labels on this book as it's most unique in plot. Yes, there is dark and light but there is a lot of fuzzy as well.  Suspend disbelief and just go with the story line and enjoy.

I loved that this book is set in a location that I am very familiar with.  I attended UW some years ago and it was great to re-visit sites that I have a variety of memories of.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Anyone's Game : Cross Ups #2 by Sylv Chiang

Wow, this was great.

Jaden and Cali have been friends for years and during that time have played uncountable Cross Ups games.  Now that she is living in Montreal with her dad, they can only get together during their online gaming.  Jaden has noticed that Cali has been off her game lately but doesn't know what's bothering her, maybe it's just the physical distance between them.  When he is invited to play in a tournament in Montreal, he figures he'll have a great time with her.

The online community presents a social challenge.  You can't really know the person on the other end of the connection.  This is very true in the gaming world where children can compete equally against adult players.  Both of the friends are learning that this is not always a healthy environment.

Bullying and sexist attitudes are main topics in this book.  I feel that they are handled quite well and most suitably for pre-teen readers.

While this is the second book in the series, you can read it without having read the first book.  There is a lot of gamer talk, but it does not overwhelm the storyline nor preclude non-gamers from enjoying the story.

I received a review copy of this book from Annick Press in exchange for an honest review.