Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

White shouldn't be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn't even be a default.






Because it shouldn't have to be said, but it beautiful when someone can write something so powerfully beautiful that isn't harping at you or trying to shove your square peg into the triangle hole on the board. I have all kinds of love for this book - and not just because Simon is a character who is so easy to love, but because it's real. It's so very real, and there is nothing that perverts the relationships between peer, parents, children and paramours here - there is only open honesty and something that many people can relate to - love.

I take a sip of my beer, and it's - I mean, it's just astonishingly disgusting. I don't think I was expecting it to taste like ice cream, but holy fucking hell. People lie and get fake IDs and sneak into bars, and for this? I honestly think I'd rather make out with Bieber. The dog. Or Justin.




There were so many moments in this book that made me remember what it was like being a teenager (ok yeah, it's been a while now) and how I felt about certain things. The first time I had beer being the big one - I'm with you Simon, that stuff is disgusting! I thought it the first time I tasted it, and I still think it many years later. I think that's part of the charm, that no matter how much time passes, things don't really change that much.

There are so many social issues in here to deal with that I think it's beautiful how Becky Albertalli married it all into Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. There wasn't anything like this when I was younger and dealing with issues - there wasn't anything like this and that's the saddest part, because with something positive to read I might have internalized the it does get better and there are reasons to believe motto rather than the it will never be better for you and this is all you deserve in life, to be be unhappy motto that put me in therapy many, many years later. It doesn't matter if you're a teen who's questioning your sexuality, the nerd they make fun of, or the one who didn't quite fit in and couldn't seem to make themselves fit (like me) that they tortured both in school and online, there is something here for you. There's a positive message for you, and I think that's key.

A full 5 stars for this one, I'll be reading The Upside of Unrequited soon because of how wonderful this one was. I can't recommend Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda enough!

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Sons of Ares

Sons of Ares Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think that it was a guaranteed 5 stars with me for this. Pierce Brown has something with this series that is electrifying. It has a rhythm that beats in syncopation with the hearts and minds of all those searching for equality, freedom of choice and fighting back against persecution of any kind. By putting this prequel series in a different medium, he's accomplished something that can be incredibly difficult and this first edition was GLORIOUS!



I think this was probably the best representation, to bring the story to comics instead of an ordinary prequel novel (because prequels usually leave something to be desired). This does NOT! It's not clean, Golden coloured richness - it's gritty, just like you'd expect Fitchner's history to be but the artwork is beautiful and very fitting for the themes. I cannot wait for more! We're off to a great start learning just why Fitchner became who he was for Darrow (view spoiler) and more importantly it reinforced the similarities with Sevro (and I love Sevro and would protect him with my life!

Five stars for this fantastic start to the Sons of Ares prequel series!

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Review: Lalibela's Wise Man

Lalibela's Wise Man Lalibela's Wise Man by Matshona Dhliwayo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was provided a PDF of this book freely by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Matshona Dhliwayo clicked on the button to add me as a friend one day, and I always love adding more people to my reading circles and had no clue that Matshona Dhliwayo had written anything! I’m glad I had the chance to read this lovely novella that inspired some deep thinking from me. It did, and did not, surprise me in that fact as Matshona always shares some beautiful and thought provoking quotes on Goodreads.

I didn’t quite know what I was going to be stepping into with this one when I first opened Lalibela's Wise Man. I wanted to read it at least a couple of times to make sure that I was going to offer a clear and concise opinion here for anyone interested. I certainly made enough notes that I should have something to offer all of you, though I’m going to keep it brief otherwise I think I could ramble on longer than the length of the novella! Lalibela's Wise Man is a brief read (hence, novella) and can easily be read in one sitting, but with deeper meanings that will stay with you much longer than you expect them to.



Christian’s story is a study in self-exploration and positivity, that being a force that is lacking in our current world. Christian’s exploration and discovery also hold a more inspirational message. I know, I know, that rings as something that is a bit foreign for me but I must tell you that regardless of faith (or lack of faith as the case may be) there was never any doubt that biblical standards have always held something valuable for the world to learn. At least, not in my mind…
This is a story that teaches the value of happiness and the power of money. Money can’t the truly important things in life, something that Christian comes to truly understand. I loved the idea that he was searching his soul, searching for the true meaning of why his father had sent him on the journey to Ethiopia, left him without anything though he was the favoured son. This is a voyage of discovery, a study into what truly makes a person of character with a rich, full life.

And that ending?



Three stars from me – I liked this a lot, that said there were places and things that could have been better fleshed out. I think this could have been an even deeper, more thought provoking story if there had been more to it.


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Review: Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED this! I was always a great fan of mythology when I was growing up, though I must say that I stayed usually in the bounds of the more known and comfortable Greek and Roman Gods, but even I noticed some stories here that I knew. Or at least stories that I recognized. Norse mythology is something that is vaguer and less well known in may cases as the information hasn't been written down and passed down through millennia of lore. The only story I truly knew, or knew a version of, was The Master Builder in which the sun, moon and Freya's hand in marriage are promised to a builder who could construct a wall for the gods in one season.

Most of what the current generation knows of Norse mythology is what is given to us by, and c'mon you know I'm right here,



And while what they give us of Thor, Odin and (to an extent) Loki is wonderful and somewhat based in the few remaining tales known to us from civilizations past, this man:





While he may be wonderful...



Is not what Thor was originally intended to be.



I think that's partially why it's so beautiful that Neil Gaiman decided to dip his hand into Norse mythology and show use more how the gods were originally portrayed. Read here about Thor, Odin the all father, and Loki his blood brother whom they hated and yet loved in a complicated manner. I think I'd like to see more about the gods that have been left untouched, you have such a beautiful and lyrical mind Mr. Gaiman, I think you could create a world to rival that of what is told by the actual myths that have been handed down!

Neil Gaiman always inspires me, and this is not his first foray into the landscape of Norse mythology. If you enjoy this one, I recommend Odd and the Frost Giants afterwards - classed as a children's offering but still a beautifully inspired tale in its own right. Five enthusiastic stars, and two thumbs up for Norse Mythology!

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Loose Yourself in Avalonia and a Giveaway!

I am absolutely honoured to have been selected to be part of the official blog tour for The Rise of the Dawnstar, book two of Farah Oomerbhoy's enchanting Avalonia Chronicles series.

 


The Rise of the Dawnstar, book two of The Avalonia Chronicles.

Aurora Firedrake returns in the spellbinding sequel to The Last of the Firedrakes. The seven kingdoms of Avalonia are crumbling and evil is spreading across the land like a plague. Queen Morgana is close to finding a way to open The Book of Abraxas and it’s only a matter of time until she uses the power trapped inside its pages to enslave the entire world. With Avalonia growing more dangerous by the day, Aurora must travel through war-torn lands and deep into the heart of the fae kingdom of Elfi. Her goal is to find a legendary weapon infused with the last of the realm’s ancient magic—the only weapon in the world powerful enough to stop the queen. Aurora might have survived her first battle against Morgana, but the true fight to save her kingdom and restore her throne has only just begun…

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Many thanks to NetGalley, Wise Ink Creative Publishing and last, but never the least, the author Farah Oomerbhoy for providing me a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review. 

When we left Aurora Firedrake last at the end of The Last of the Firedrakes, she was running with Kalen and Rafe in tow, off to find the Dark Dagger and the secrets to breaking the curse that would set her mother free.  Still reeling in the aftermath of the battle with Morgana and her Shadow Guard, Aurora is left overwhelmed with all that has happened and trying to come to terms with who she thinks she is and who she will be.

The first thing we need to talk about is the cover!  Absolutely gorgeous, just as The Last of the Firedrakes was breath taking this cover is enchanting, much like the story inside.  I couldn't put it down.  I devoured it in about a day and then went back through more slowly, highlighting passages that I fell in love with as I went along.  This is a series that you can lose yourself in.  


The Rise of the Dawnstar picks up right where we left off (THANK YOU FARAH!) and while many authors would think a time jump would suit the story, the right choice was made here to see what life was like for Aurora on the run and how she came to be closer to both Kalen and Rafe. She comes to learn slowly that the people who had thought her the answer to their prayers at first now cower from her after the destruction of the Shadow Guard and seeing how vast her power truly is.  They even want to turn to her over to Morgana in favour of the devil they know than the potential of something much worse should Aurora turn to dark magic.

This sequel surpassed all of my expectations - and they were soaring let me tell you!!!!  Flirtations, action, adventure, pirates (yes, there are pirates!), epically magical battles, and a torrent of heartbreak and manipulations inside the Elfi court.  I wasn't Tristan's biggest fan when we first met him, but there is something about him, though I am still firmly planted on the side of Team Rafe! There is truly something in The Rise of the Dawnstar for fans of every type of fantasy! 

"I have told you once, Captain Gerard," I snarled softly, looking him straight in the eyes.  "I did not kidnap your prince, and I don't know where he is.  Maybe you should check the brothels and taverns back in Neris.  That is where he usually spends all his time, I hear."
Aurora is still the feisty, sassy heroine that I came to admire and she is still growing into herself, still becoming more assured in the power that she can wield and what her destiny is.  She can be cutting when her ire is raised and her back's against the wall.  She can also be tender and vulnerable, a mark of strong female role model for young girls.  I lost myself in her, a character that is so captivating I couldn't tell where she ended and I began during my reading - a mark of excellent writing!  My heart broke for her in moments and soared in others (no spoilers here, you'll just have to read it yourself!!!!).

I really don't know how I'm going to survive the wait for the final instalment of the trilogy - and no one would hold it against you Farah if you decided to add a little more to this universe at all!

Prepare yourselves for the battles to come, for there is hope for this world yet.  The Age of the Dawnstar has begun.

 5 of 5 Stars and Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me!

About the Author

Farah OomerbhoyFarah Oomerbhoy is the international bestselling author of The Avalonia Chronicles. Her first book, The Last of the Firedrakes, was originally published on Wattpad where it gained over two million reads and a Watty Award. Since publication, her debut has gone on to win a silver medal in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, along with winning a finalist placement in the USA Best Book Awards. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. With a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai, Farah spends her creative time crafting magical worlds for young adults. She lives with her family in Mumbai, India.
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Giveaway! 


Everybody loves a giveaway, don't they?  I know I do! Take a look at what's up for grabs for all those following the blog tour for The Rise of the Dawnstar.
Grand Prize


 First Runner Up
Second Runner Up


For each stop on tour, there will be a special number at the end of the post. Collect all the numbers, add them up, and enter to win one of three prizes! Once you have all the numbers you can enter the giveaway here: http://farahoomerbhoy.com/rise-dawnstar-now/ 

The giveaway closes on May 21st, 11:59pm Eastern US time. 

My number is 30. 

Good luck! 

Visit some other members of the tour for their numbers!  Lisa Manterfield has an Interview with Farah as well there are excellent reviews from The Reading Cat and The Book Lover.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review: The Last of the Firedrakes

I started writing my reviews in this blog after the following was written March 29, 2016 on Goodreads.  If you aren't a member there yet, Goodreads is a great place to find your next read, information about books that your interested in, or even to find out what your favourite author is currently reading!  It really is a community of readers, and if you head over and sign up, feel free to send me a request - I love getting to know readers with similar tastes to mine!

In light of the surprise review coming on Monday, *cue sneaky ahem coughings*, I thought I would share the review of a book very dear to my heart.  I actually read this again a few weeks ago and found that I love it as much now as I did then - actually I think I love it a little more.  As the release to the anxiously anticipated sequel draws near, it's time for you to take a look at The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy and wait with me for April 24th and the sequel's release...


The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles #1)The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received my copy of this eBook free in exchange for an honest review.

Wow! All I can say is WOW! This was a beautiful tale - it started slowly, but by the time it reached its climax I was really pulled into the story. Who hasn't wanted to be the hero? What little girl hasn't wanted to be a princess and a the hero of her own fairy tale? I know that I always did. Aurora spoke to me, called out to me and it was beautiful to find someone that I could identify with on so many levels. I love that she is strong, unable to shy away from danger based solely on an indelible curiosity fuelling her every move.

I hate the love triangle, or maybe, that was entirely the point. It felt ridiculous to have a character who is very much a 'Robin Hood' Rafe be forced in to a marriage with the seeming 'Sheriff of Nottingham' that is Leticia? That's not even the best example, but she is more suited to the evil cousins than she is to Rafe. Kieran is never really a love interest for Aurora, but there's a pseudo triangle mounted there between Rafe, Kieran and Aurora. I have one piece of advice - YA books do not ALL need a love triangle! The Rafe/Leticia romance and the realization that this is not a good match and that Leticia is not what she appears, this is the most that should be there. The attraction between Aurora and Rafe is true - now it's just a case of waiting to see if she can defeat her enemies, save her mother, and marry her Robin Hood.

I hate that I have to wait so long for another book, but once it is out, sign me up!!! 4 stars because of the forced love triangle - which I have no doubt will be quickly swept aside by the author's beautiful prose.

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You can pick up your copy of The Last of the Firedrakes  on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, iBooks, Kobo and wherever other fine books are sold. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Exciting News!

I'm sure you've noticed that a lot of the books I read were provided in exchange for honest reviews, and last year during one of these exchanges I managed to read a book that I fell in love with. Now I get to be the kickoff post of the blog tour for the release of the sequel!!!



I hope you all join me on Monday, April 24th, 2017 to celebrate this - and there might be some added bonuses to entice you to read and share alike!