Showing posts from July, 2016

Candyass - Nick Comilla

Arthur is a young gay man in Montreal at a crossroads. He gets lost in a blizzard of boys and endless possibilities—looking to fall in love and to experience devotion—but he finds himself increasingly immersed in a world of hedonism and deception, especially as he deals with the messy remains of his relationship with Jeremy, his chimerical ex-boyfriend and first love. He moves to New York in search of something more, but due to a lack of foresight and chaotic romantic entanglements, he finds he still yearns for authentic connections with others. In a world that celebrates youth and extended adolescence, what does it mean to grow up?

I want to start this review by noting that while I normally review children's and YA on this site, I have reviewed adult fiction in the past. This is definitely not a book for a young adult audience, even though the protagonist starts out at seventeen years of age in the opening part of the book. There is a lot of sex... and I do mean a lot. That being …

Phantom Limbs - Paula Garner

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.
I really enjoyed this book. But I am also very conscious that I am not, mysel…

The Smaller Evil - Stephanie Kuehn

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to "evolve," as Beau, the retreat leader, says. Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman's not sure, but more than anyone he's ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. Arman is certain he's failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what. And then, in an instant Arman can't believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting t…

The Wild Ones: Moonlight Brigade - C. Alexander London

Kit may have saved the Wild Ones from the Flealess, but he and his neighbors are not out of danger yet. Coyote has taken charge of the Thunder River Rompers, a notorious gang of nearsighted otters, and he has his sights set on Ankle Snap Alley. When, on the eve of the First Frost, Coyote and his henchmen steal all of the seeds and nuts that the Alley's residents have stored up for winter, Kit knows that he can't sit by and do nothing. As he tries to fulfill his school assignments and win himself a coveted invitation into the Moonlight Brigade, Kit knows he must outsmart the Coyote so that his fellow Wild Ones can survive the winter.

With so much depending on him, it's time for Kit to pull off his greatest trick yet and save the community he now calls home. Howl to snap!

In a brand now thrilling adventure, Kit, along with his best friend Eenie, set out to save Ankle Snap Alley from the clutches of Coyote and his gang of ruthless otters. Kit has to use all his cunning and smar…

Moo - Sharon Creech

This uplifting tale reminds us that if we’re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family’s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.

When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn’t know what to expect. She’s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna—and that stubborn cow, Zora.

This heartwarming story, told in a blend of poetry and prose, reveals the bonds that emerge when we let others into our lives.

I didn't read the synopsis prior to reading the book. I picked up the ARC because of the cover and because of some great buzz I heard around the HarperCollins booth at the ALA Annual Convention this June (2016). I was pleasantly surprised by wh…

Picturebook Favourites (Upcoming 2016)

Upcoming favourites of 2016:

Hungry Bird (Sept. 27, 2016) Jeremy Tankard
Bird is hiking with his friends when his tummy rumbles. But no one packed him a snack that he likes! With every step, his hunger mounts until he collapses on the ground. How will Bird survive if he doesn't eat the perfect something this instant?!

Penguin Problems (Sept. 27, 2016) Jory John & Lane Smith

Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it’s a land free of worries and responsibilities! All of your problems will surely be blown away by the icy winds of that lawless paradise! . . . Won’t they?
Think again, my friend. This penguin has come to tell you that his life down there is no more a picnic than yours is here. For starters, it is FREEZING. Also, penguins have a ton of natural predators. Plus, can you imagine trying to find your mom in a big ol’ crowd of identical penguins? No, thank you.

Ninja Bunny (Sept. 13, 2016) Jennifer Gray Olson
Ninja Bunny has faced incredible da…

They All Saw a Cat - Brendan Wenzel

In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?

What can I say? I think this book is absolutely marvellous. It's a truly stunning debut (yes, a debut!!!) I had no idea what to expect when I first saw the cover reveal earlier this year, and when I got my first glimpse at a Chronicle Books event, I was floored. 

Each spread utilizes a unique style of art and perspective in order to show the differences in how various other animals see the cat. Wenzel's illustrations and text encourage young readers to think more consciously about perspective and how differently things can be understood depending on context and underlying biases. This book is much more than it may appear on the surface!

Highly Recommended

(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out Aug. 30, 2016)

A Boy Named Queen - Sara Cassidy

Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don’t seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn’s better judgment. 

When she receives a last-minute invitation to his birthday party, she knows she must somehow persuade her mother to let her go, even if it means ignoring the No Gifts request and shopping for what her mother considers to be an appropriate gift, appropriately wrapped with “boy” wrapping paper. Her visit to Queen’s house opens Evelyn’s eyes to a whole new world. And when it comes time for her to take something to school for Hype and Share, Evelyn suddenly looks at her chosen offering — her mother’s antique cream jug — and sees new and marvelous possibilities.
This is a tiny book with a lot of he…

This is the Part Where You Laugh

Travis plans to spend the summer as follows:
Working on his basketball game with his friend, Creature. Reading excerpts from Creature's novel-in-progress: The Pervert's Guide to Russian Princesses. Canoeing around the lake, trying to catch a glimpse of the beautiful girl who just moved in. Not getting into trouble, not going back to juvie... Searching the homeless camps for his mother, with a jar full of cash to help her get back on her feet. From a powerful new voice in YA literature comes an unforgettable account of growing up, making mistakes, and growing out of the shadow of drug abuse.

I recently got back home from the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Orlando, FL. While there, I had the privilege of meeting an author new to YA literature. Peter Brown Hoffmeister's first YA novel, This is the Part Where You Laugh, is gritty, heartbreaking, and a testament to close bonds of friendship. Travis is the main focus of the novel, though Natalie and Creatu…