WHO I WAS WITH HER by Nita Tyndall

There are two things that Corinne Parker knows to be true: that she is in love with Maggie Bailey, the captain of the rival high school’s cross-country team and her secret girlfriend of a year, and that she isn’t ready for anyone to know she’s bisexual.

But then Maggie dies, and Corinne quickly learns that the only thing worse than losing Maggie is being left heartbroken over a relationship no one knows existed. And to make things even more complicated, the only person she can turn to is Elissa — Maggie’s ex and the single person who understands how Corinne is feeling.

As Corinne struggles to make sense of her grief and what she truly wants out of life, she begins to have feelings for the last person she should fall for. But to move forward after losing Maggie, Corinne will have to learn to be honest with the people in her life…starting with herself. 


Title : Who I Was With Her
Author : Nita Tyndall
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Harper 360
Release Date : September 15, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I went from being unsure about this book to being impressed by the end. This was definitely the kind of story that built into a fuller appreciation of the characters. WHO I WAS WITH HER was a story of loss, grief, discovery, confusion and pressure to come-out. There were definitely difficult themes here but they were written with sensitivity and realism in terms of the age of the characters.

The story plunged the reader into the immediate death of Corrine’s girlfriend, Maggie and it was a tough start. I felt a little jarred by this but in retrospect, I get why this was the right way to start the narrative. The author used past and present really well to tell the story both of Maggie and Corrine but also the story of Maggie’s understanding of her own bi-sexuality. All the time frames were very clear.

Corrine was understandably messed up by Maggie’s death, but being unable to talk to anyone about her loss was a tough ride. She was closeted to her friends and family and finding someone to talk to was crucial to her being able to get through those early days of grief. Corrine made some rushed decisions and you could judge she was foolish but I totally got why she did some of the things she did; it felt realistic.

I loved her friendship with Julia, how they evolved to understand one another. I liked how Julia’s self discovery was a conduit for Corrine. I was less enamoured by her friendship with Elissa but the need for this outlet became clear. Corrine’s home life, her running life, college expectations and closeted-life all came to a cresendo. I appreciated the culmination and how things were resolved.

I feel that this story is potentially important for young people who aren’t out. There shouldn’t be any pressure from anyone to be out until you’re ready. I think this story tackled those issues well and I’d definitely like to read Nita Tyndall again.

Please be sure to check out some own voices reviews on this one too.

Thank you to Harper 360 for the review copy.

BLOODY ROSE by Nicholas Eames

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side. 


Title : Bloody Rose
Author : Nicholas Eames
Series : The Band (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 479
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : August 28, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

This is a hard review to write because there’s so much of what I adored about KINGS OF THE WYLD in here, not to mention some great writing by the author, and yet I feel like the magic wasn’t as present? This just didn’t draw me in, or keep me entralled, the same way.

Maybe it has to do with how much more serious this installment feels. Gone are the heroes of old, aged and out and shape, and here is the new generation; still fighting monsters but not for the same reasons. There is a sense of manufactured fame and glory to this new crop of mercenaries, to the new world order where monsters are caged and fought in arenas, as opposed to out on the road, and I love how Eames explored that — how he gave us Tam’s point of view where the glow and awe of the legends one grew up with faded into something more like sadness, shame, and disillusionment. It was a fascinating element. I just wish I had loved everything else as much as I loved that.

Another bit that didn’t quite measure up to book one was the characters. I feel like I enjoyed the group, the band, the pack’s, dynamic and even some of them individually. But as a whole I didn’t quite feel as much chemistry as I would’ve expected. And I mean that both platonically and also romantically, for those who were. Something was just missing and I again go back to that bit of magic, that wonder, I felt in book one. It just wasn’t really here.

But this world, this writing? I really love it, I do. It’s creative, it’s weird, it’s wonderful. I would still recommend you pick this up, particularly if you loved the first installment, and if there’s anything more to come? I will definitely read on (GR has a third title listed but no plot or date, so, who knows! fingers crossed).

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden – double review!

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.


Title : The Bear and the Nightingale
Author : Katherine Arden
Series : Winternight #1
Format : Ebook / physical hardback
Page Count : 328
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Del Rey Books
Release Date : January 12, 2017

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 -4 star review

This read has been a journey, from starting the wrong book in the series first – I started Girl in the Tower, I don’t know how to explain my idiocy. Then I got back on track with the right book and found a slow build of the world and story. By mid-way I didn’t know if I was going to move from my middling feeling but the second half completely won me over.

This was a historical story of a Russian family, reasonably well off, living in a forest community with harsh conditions. But really this was a story of folklore, a reimagining of Russian tales and assembled around the character of Vasilisa (Vasya). Vasya was a daughter, a sibling but more than anything, she was wild, free and spirited. Added to that spirit, she saw the forest and house spirits and made friendships with them.

Some of Vasya’s family were great and some were not. I enjoyed reading about the family dynamics, her father, her brothers and her step mother. For a while though, it seemed slow and Vasya was young for a long time. In retrospect, I see how this built to a story of detail and depth and it made the foundation for the second half rich.

I loved when we finally got to Morozko, I felt like the whole story had been sewing seeds to get to this point. The cresendo of the story was creepy to me but I got through those aspects and loved where the story ended up. So here I am, converted unexpectedly. I feel like this is one of the cleverest tales I’ve read and I’m really looking forward to starting The Girl in the Tower again.

Thank you to the posse who have been book-pushing this one for a few years but mostly to its first champion, Hollis the bear-pusher.


Hollis’ 4 star review

This was a reread for me, my third in fact (!), and for some reason I thought my last visit had been more recent, that I had read this last year. Nope, it was 2018. I cannot believe how long it’s been, considering how much I love this world, but also I was definitely due to revisit. I needed this. And I had some rereading buddies along for the ride this time which as a lot of fun.

I think you should be careful, [..], that God does not speak in the voice of your own wishing.

That said, I’m going to cheat and just copy in parts of my original review from GR here to the blog. Mostly because I’m lazy but also because none of my opinions have changed.

It’s time to put aside dreaming. Fairy tales are sweet on winter nights, nothing more.

For fans of UPROOTED who have still not read this book, I have one caution for you : I did feel the beginning of this book to be a little slow. But that’s likely because most readers come into this expecting a breakneck fantasy instead of a fairytale. Additionally, Arden takes the time to set up her story, layer it, with different perspectives from different characters prior to the birth of our heroine. And those multi-perspectives continue even as Vasya does become our main gateway into this story.

So you mean to go to the woods and die? A noble sacrifice? How will that help anyone?
I have helped all I can, and earned the people’s hatred. If this is the last decision I can ever make, at least it is my decision. [..] I am not afraid.

However, that slowness doesn’t mean it’s boring. Unlike the aforementioned novel this book is compared to, THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE is one in a series, not a standalone, so we can afford this gradual unfurling of setting, people, and atmosphere. And they are all excellent.

Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than you willed it.

The first in the Winternight Trilogy blends legend with religion, myth with reality, and the upcoming battle to be waged between two forces, all set in the northern region of Rus. Vasya’s character was so charming and she’s also such a perfect role model for any YAers reading this book; strong, not traditionally pretty, adventurous, kind, wanting more for herself than is expected of her sex. Really, she’s a role model for us all. 

All my life, I have been told to ‘go’ and ‘come’. I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed to me.

Wild and fey, she roams the woods, seeing things others don’t, and eventually it’s she who sees the damage being done by the newly arrived priest who urges the townsfolk to let go of the old ways and embrace God. The use of fear as a tool is what lets in the very real, very evil, darkness, what puts Vasya and her family at risk, and while there is loss and tragedy that befall those she loves, there is still such hope and lightness in the story. 

You should not have left your hearth.
I had to. They were going to send me to a convent. I decided I would rather freeze in a snowbank. Well, that was before I began to freeze in a snowbank. It hurts.

The last time I had read this book I was preparing for book three. Now, knowing everything that is to come, and how it all ends, gave me such a new perspective, let me pick up on a few things I might’ve missed. And yet it didn’t take away any of the joy, the heartbreak, or the wonder. This story is so magical, Arden’s writing so bewitching and clever, and even in the telling it really feels like curling up with an old favourite, a familiar tale you’d grown up with but forgotten over the years. It’s nostalgic and comforting and yet I am so excited to read on and get to THE GIRL IN THE TOWER. Where it’s everything I mentioned above but so so much more, too.

BLOG TOUR – FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez – double review!


In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.


Title : Furia
Author : Yamile Saied Méndez
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA Contemporary
Publisher : Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date : September 15, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 5 star review

Wow!

This was a fantastic feminist YA, with coming of age themes all set in the context of futbol in Argentina. I love a sporting context book, especially those empowering women and if you want a YA that strongly empowers young women, then look no further. There is a romance in this story but it is pitched well and doesn’t overpower the story or the amazing heroine Camila ‘Furia’ Hassan.

Set in the barrios of a city in Argentina, the background for FURIA was rich, vibrant, dangerous and varied. The environment was one where women were oppressed but fighting for equality, rights, a life and dreams. There were background story lines that painted a picture of life for all females especially children and young women, that were chilling.

Our family was stuck in a cosmic hamster wheel of toxic love, making the same mistakes, saying the same words, being hurt in the same ways generation after generation…I was la Furia, after all. I’d be the one to break the wheel.

Camilla ignited my interest like a flame with her hopes of becoming a professional futbol player and going to the USA where there were more possibilites. In fact, Camilla had familial credentials in professional football but no-one was championing a young women like Camilla, no matter how talented she was.

Camila however, had drive for her dreams and played secretly in a team. I loved the scrimmage and match play narratives, the description was excellent and I truly felt like a spectator watching ‘Furia’ come alive. Camila’s dream and life was complicated by Diego, her childhood friend returning for a visit from Juventus. Sparks ignited between these two and it was something real and beautiful.

This story took a direction that made my feminist heart sing for Camila. The decisions and sacrifices she made; the fights physical, verbal and emotional were all worth it to have hope. This was a read of excitement, with beauty in the barrios and characters to feel truly wrapped up in, but most of all it conveyed an empowering message for young women.

“There are too many people whose opinions control how you perform. Let them go. Be yourself. You’re la Furia, but remember, the game is beautiful.”

I highly rec this book, it’s going to be a favourite of the year. FURIA, FURIA, FURIA…(in football chanting song).

Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the early review copy.



Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I was | | close to rounding up on this one because there are aspects of this story that are so strong, so wonderful, but I can’t quite boost it.

In my barrio, most of the people didn’t know my name or even that I existed. To them, I was only Pablo’s sister, or Andrés and the seamstress’ daughter — my mom, too, was nameless. But I was determined to leave my mark.

If what you’ve always wanted in life is a YA version of KULTI by Mariana Zapata but with a heavy dose of feminism and very relevant, and present, topics of life in Argentina, you absolutely have to pick this up. This story is both empowering and heartbreaking and sometimes those conflicting feelings are rooted in the same moment.

Fútbol could do that — make people forget about the price of the dollar, the upcoming elections, even their love lives. For a few hours, life was beautiful.

There were many triumphant moments both for our protagonist, Camila, and for her team. But not every triumph was due to winning. I loved how the author made a point to balance this group of women’s ambitions, including that of the coach, but constantly remind the team — and through them, us — to play for themselves, for joy, no matter the score. I feel like if you take away nothing else from this story, particularly the younger readers, that would be enough. But there are even more powerful messages within the pages, too.

I’d leave the house the first chance I got, but not by chasing after a boy, including my brother. I’d do it on my own terms, following my own dreams, not someone else’s.

I think what really took away some of the enjoyment for me were the family dynamics. I have no doubt it is more common than not but some of it just felt a little OTT or extra and while much of it shaped Camila, drove her, to be something else.. I don’t know, I just wanted those moments over with. So that’s definitely a personal thing. As for the romance, I initially thought it might have been the weaker element of the story but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong and, also, surprised by how that turned out. No spoiling!

Overall, I think this is definitely a book worth picking up, even moreso as it’s #ownvoices. And, I mean, did you read Micky’s review? Even I wanted to award this five stars after reading her thoughts — and even though I’m not, I would definitely read this author again.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine American who loves meteor showers, summer, astrology, and pizza. She lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable dogs, and one majestic cat. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Méndez is also part of Las Musas, the first collective of women and nonbinary Latinx middle grade and young adult authors. Furia is her first novel for young adult readers.

Furia
By Yamile Saied Méndez
Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15, 2020 | ISBN: 9781616209919
$17.95 | 368 pages
www.algonquinyoungreaders.com

BROTHERSONG by TJ Klune

In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone. 

Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity. 

But he pushes on, following the trail left by Gavin. 

Gavin, the son of Robert Livingstone. The half-brother of Gordo Livingstone. 

What Carter finds will change the course of the wolves forever. Because Gavin’s history with the Bennett pack goes back further than anyone knows, a secret kept hidden by Carter’s father, Thomas Bennett. 

And with this knowledge comes a price: the sins of the fathers now rest upon the shoulders of their sons. 


Title : Brothersong
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Green Creek (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 522
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy/paranormal
Publisher : BOATK Books
Release Date : October 13, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

When I tell you this book made me cry a lot.. I don’t think that is going to come across in a way that you’ll understand until you read this book. I shed tears, I wept, I held back sobs. Over and over again. I don’t know what it is about this author and his ability to wreck me (us) with his words but oh god. Prepare youself for devastation, for beauty, for heartbreak, for healing, for sadness, for quiet moments.. everything.

We weren’t Ox and Joe. Or Kelly and Robbie. Or even Gordo and Mark, though the fuck you vibe was apparently a family trait.

I can’t really say anything about this beyond that. Not only is BROTHERSONG a sequel but it’s an end. For us. Whether something new might begin? Who is to say. So many songs have been sung along the way; from wolves, to ravens, to hearts, and brothers. This series is about bonds, formed out of blood or built out of friendship, connection, and the fact that I’m tearing up as I write this, when I should long have run out of tears, says it all.

Three years. One month. Twenty-six days. I lived through that. I lived through the thirteen months it took for us to get [spoiler for book three] back. I saw firsthand what happened with Mark and Gordo. And then you decided to.. what? Be wholly original and leave, too?
Whoa. That was a bitchy thing to say. Go Ox.”

I reread the books leading up to this, thinking I needed it all fresh in my mind, needed to once again be close to these characters before I could say goodbye, and while I’m sure many Klunatics are doing so? It’s not needed. So much of this book hashes out previous events, prior wrongs, in an attempt to come together, to finally do more than just apply bandages on still lingering wounds, so they can let go and face this big conflict that might be the end of them. This family, this pack (packpack), has so much baggage and Klune makes them work through it. It can be agonizing at times, to go through it over and over again, to see the same choices lead to the same mistakes, but it’s utterly human; for all that these characters are mostly not.

Will, sit your ass down and leave my customers alone.”
I’m his constituent. I have a right to know what’s going on in my local government, especially when it involves shape-shifters. Huh. Of all the sentences that have ever come out of my mouth, that one was the strangest.”

Is it perfect? If I were to reread it, would I award it full marks, or would I downgrade like I did on my WOLFSONG revisit? Hard to say. But right now? It gets everything. Not just because I cried an ocean but because I couldn’t tear myself away. In a time when even when I’m loving a book I’m still occasionally distracted, reaching for my phone, I didn’t do that once. The only moments I stepped away were to blow my nose (seriously, the crying, it was ridiculous) so, I mean, there were a lot of those moments. But it was impossible to look away for anything else.

Don’t take the chance that he’ll always be there. We must remember to say what’s in our hearts aloud because we can never know if it’ll be the last time we’ll ever get the chance.

I can’t wait for this book to be out in the world, I can’t wait for all the longtime fans to get their paws on it, I feel so lucky to have read this early, particularly as I’m rather new to this world, but I promise you it’s worth the wait. You know the drill by now; you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll do both at the same time, you’ll break apart only to be stitched back together. Again and again. Because that’s how it goes.

Packpackpack 4ever.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

HEARTSONG by TJ Klune

All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine. 

Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home. 

But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told. Whispers of traitorous wolves and wild magic abound—but who are the traitors and who the betrayed? 

More than anything, Robbie hungers for answers, because one of those alleged traitors is Kelly Bennett—the wolf who may be his mate.

The truth has a way of coming out. And when it does, everything will shatter.


Title : Heartsong
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Green Creek (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 464
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy/paranormal
Publisher : BOATK Books
Release Date : October 22, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

I think it’s official. I think this might be my favourite of the bunch (so far!). And while I admitted to downgrading book one from a full five to a four and a half.. this one goes the other way. My original GR rating was four but I’m rounding right up to top marks.

Memories are funny things. I carried them like scars.

Overall this story is the one with the most surprises, in all manner of speaking, and it’s also the most.. tender. It’s both quieter but also more devastating. Which won’t make sense when you get to the big showdown, as it’s anything but quiet, but it makes an interesting contrast.

I swear to god, witches and wolves are the most dramatic bitches I’ve ever known in my life. Like for once can we just have a norma day without stupid shit happening?

I also just feel like Klune really hit his stride with this book. Sure, he’s gearing up to the end, he’s laying out some cards, but by now we’re so in love with these characters, this world, and he’s still treating them with care as opposed to tossing them around into positions he needs them to be in for everything to make sense. You know what I mean? Maybe not. But it’s there anyway. It could also be because he did something very different with this one, both in the telling and with the couple, and I absolutely love a break in formula.

Instagram. You want me to look at your Instagram.
Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much disdain in such few words.”

There may have been a few less laugh out louds than there were in book two (though there was one rather casual exchange that had me, no pun intended, howling) but I think this is the one that made me cry the most. And for me that’s an upside.

Last time I read these books there was only one novella/short post-book three. This time there are two. I’m preparing for more tears because I cried my way through 2.5. And oh yeah, hey, if you didn’t know.. Klune has these extras available for free on his site. Definitely go check them out. That said, next time we talk (aka I talk at you, reader) I’ll have read BROTHERSONG. Eep.

PUNCHING THE AIR by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born


Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today


Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both. 


Title : Punching the Air
Author : Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Harper Collins Children’s Books
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This book made my heart hurt. A short story, told in verse, drawing on Yusef Salaam’s experiences and channeled into Amal, a young man wrongly convicted of a crime. Injustice and justice was on the menu here and the use of verse poignantly reverberated the message.

So
I am ink
He is paper…
I am criminal
He is victim
I am alive
He is almost dead
I am black
He is white

The narrative in this novel had a moment-to-moment feeling that was pretty tension ridden and I read much of it with that sense of doom and despair conveyed by Amal’s feelings. There were some areas of the book that I felt were particularly impactful – both sides defendant and perpetrator were the same age, yet one was referred to as a boy and the other a man. That point really hit me deep. There were many more examples but I don’t want to spoil.

All of this book is relevant for now, for 2020 and beyond, I am sure. It couldn’t be a better time to pick this up amongst your menu of BIPOC fiction and it would complement anyone’s plan to educate themselves more.

The illustrations/formatting didn’t come across particularly well on the ebook galley but I imagine the hard copy will convey the visual elements much better.

Please make sure to also check out some black reviewers on this book.

Thank you to Harper Collins Childrens for this early review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is the start of a brand YA new series by this beloved duo (and beloved authors on their own right!) that blends fantasy and sci-fi and mystery and romance. Check out our review here.


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Prince North’s home is in the sky, in a gleaming city held aloft by intricate engines, powered by technology. Nimh is the living goddess of her people on the Surface, responsible for providing answers, direction—hope.

North’s and Nimh’s lives are entwined—though their hearts can never be. Linked by a terrifying prophecy and caught between duty and fate, they must choose between saving their people or succumbing to the bond that is forbidden between them. 


Title : The Other Side of the Sky
Author : Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series : The Other Side of the Sky (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 480
Genre : YA fantasy / science fiction
Publisher : HarperTeen
Release Date : September 8, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I don’t know why I’m surprised by how much I liked this, because I requested it solely as a result of the author names, without knowing (or caring) about what the plot would be, but oh wow did I really really like this. Also, yes, I went in to this totally unaware of the summary even after I was approved for the ARC, no one is surprised.

This is nothing like either of the authors’ work before as solo writers or partners and I actually found everything about the story, in general, to be so interesting and unique. There is a definite worlds divide feeling about THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY both in current day living and mythology as well as belief. We spend more time in one world than the other but knowing how this ended I’m sure we’ll get a deeper look at the opposite in book two and I can’t wait for that. But the world of the Below was so.. rich, so interesting, such a fascinating blend of faith and magic whereas the world Above we know is the complete opposite. Just like our protagonists.

I know there’s always a dialogue regarding YA feeling too YA and adults who read YA getting some criticism for picking up those books and then being disappointed by them because of their target audience. But my rebuttal is always that there are ways to write for an audience while still satisfying those outside of it. Or just writing so well that it trancends age groups. That’s what some authors can do well and others can’t and generally that’s where my criticisms come from. Sure, you can still write well but nonetheless have characters that read too young for you, or find themselves in situations that adult readers can be frustrated by. That’s still valid. I’m sure I’m guilty of it. But. These authors? I doubt I’ll ever have a problem with them and I’m so happy, after all these years, they are still writing YA. Though, hey, if they dropped an adult title? I’d be first in line.

But that tangent has nothing to do with this story or why you should read it. It doesn’t go into detail about the complexities of the world, the characters, how things connect or how they circumvent a path you think you’re on.. and surprise you with something else. This story does all that and more all whilst immersing you into a world I wasn’t really expecting to love so much.

If this book isn’t already on your radar, it absolutely should be.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss+ and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

RAVENSONG by TJ Klune

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.

It should have been enough.

And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.

Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.

But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.

Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.


Title : Ravensong
Author : TJ Klune
Series : Green Creek (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 480
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy/paranormal
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (originally, now BOATK Books)
Release Date : July 31, 2018 (re-released September 26, 2019)

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

My first time around with RAVENSONG I wrote maybe one of the most negative four star (though apparently I equated it more to 3.5) reviews I’ve probably ever written. I don’t necessarily disagree with my previous thoughts (it’s on GR if you’re curious!) but maybe knowing what is to come, maybe loving these characters a little more, I just feel less.. critical? To me this definitely is a solid four, no question.

You could have become the villain, Gordo. And it would have been within your rights. Instead you just chose to be an asshole.
Are you.. complimenting me? Because if you are, you’re doing a really bad job of it.”

Overwhelmingly the themes of family, both blood and found, of friendship, of love, of forgiveness.. everything is strong. Everything is lovely and wonderful even when it aches and breaks you apart. For me, at least, that is the standout beyond anything else I could be nitpicky about. However I’ll still break some of those down for you because.. of course I will.

They were all so different, these lost boys. But they did have one thing in common. All three were assholes who didn’t know when to shut the fuck up. And I was stuck with them.

There are elements to this installment that do feel a little samey to book one in build up but for very different reaons; so that makes it both the same and very much not, I guess. But some elements manage to stand out, too. Team Human? The best. That bar scene? Pure gold. There are very moving moments (tears, they were shed), exchanges of utter hilarity (my house echoed with the sound of my cackling), and this one might have some surprises for new readers who might not see certain things coming, might not pick up on the foreshadowing. Which, by the way, was fun to see this time around. Klune is tricksy.

Does she live in a broken-down cabin in the middle of the woods? Like, eating children and shit? Is that offensive to witches? Are you offended? I’m sorry if you’re offended.
[she] lives in an apartment in Minneapolis.
Oh. That’s.. disappointing.”

Thankfully book two doesn’t lean into that one particular annoying mantra from book one as much, though it does make a few appearances, but my biggest gripe the first time I read this (and stays true!) were.. the monologues. So long. So many. So much nope. But it’s fine, we’re moving on.

Other than finally getting to read BROTHERSONG (I hear you calling my name!), I might be most excited about book three, actually. I think they might be my favourite couple (which might get revised after book four!) and I just remember certain things.. breaking me. So, yes, it with both much anticipation and a healthy heaping of dread that I gear up for the next installment.

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