Great Canadian Reads! [2017]

Hey all! Happy Canada Day! Today we thought we would share some great Canadian reads (books by Canadian authors) that have recently been published, and later in the post, we’ll share some that we are HIGHLY anticipating! Let’s get started!

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1. Frostblood by Elly Blake

27827203The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

2. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston

25528801Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine. 

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

3. The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant (The Valiant, #1)Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

4. Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan

22400015Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.

It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned–crime pays.

Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding–though from what or whom?

Worse, Julia suspects that there’s a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.

The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she’d ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.

5. Internet Famous by Danika Stone

31145123High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.


Now it’s time for some upcoming reads we’re excited for:

1. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

32667458In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

2. Siege of Shadows (Fate of Flames #2) by Sarah Raughley

34109695There’s nowhere to hide.

Not when you’re an Effigy. No matter where they go, Maia and the other Effigies can’t escape the eyes of the press—especially not after failing to capture Saul, whose power to control the monstrous Phantoms has left the world in a state of panic. It’s been two months since Saul’s disappearance, and there’s still no sign of him, leaving the public to wonder whether the Sect—and the Effigies—are capable of protecting anyone.

When Saul suddenly surfaces in the middle of the Sahara desert, the Sect sends Maia and her friends out after him. But instead of Saul, they discover a dying soldier engineered with Effigy-like abilities. Even worse, there may be more soldiers like him out there, and it looks like the Effigies are their prime targets.

Yet the looming danger of Saul and this mysterious new army doesn’t overshadow Maia’s fear of the Sect, who ordered the death of the previous Fire Effigy, Natalya. With enemies on all sides and the world turning against them, the Effigies have to put their trust in each other—easier said than done when secrets threaten to tear them apart.

3. A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena (okay, this is 2018, but we’re SO excited for it!)

29451548A timeless exploration of high-stakes romance, self-discovery, and the lengths we go to love and be loved. 

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.

 

We hope you enjoyed this post! Until next time,

 

Sarena & Sasha

May Wrap-Up [2017]

Hey all! We’re having a tough time believing it’s June already; seriously, where does time go?? We did some pretty cool things in May, so let’s take a look!

Sasha read: 0 books (sigh!). She did, however, read MOST of ACOWAR. 😀

Sarena read: 3 books

  1. Trials of Apollo 2: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan — 4.5*
  2. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo — 4.5* (review here)
  3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han — 5*

This month we also did something REALLY awesome. We signed with our literary agent, Pete Knapp (you can read our story here). We are so excited to get started on revisions for this new book!

On May 4 we attended a book signing for Nicola Yoon! I loved TSIAAS so that was really exciting!

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Nicola Yoon with the director of Everything, Everything!

On May 6 we were invited to the Raincoast blogger preview (which we watched from the comfort of our home, yay!). We are so stoked for the books coming this fall from Raincoast/Macmillan, like Renegades and Language of Thorns!

We also began interning for the awesome book packager CAKE Literary. (Seriously, they’re awesome.)

On May 21 we attended a signing for SJ Maas! We got to the mall location at 8:45ish and got one of the few final tickets for the signing at 1PM. The store was PACKED. (Photos below!)

Now let’s take a look at our month via Instagram photos:

Books we got from the Raincoast event:

Got this awesome book when we were out for Mother’s Day:

And we got these in the mail — STILL FLAILING.

Just got these in the mail!! SO EXCITED! 💕📚😮🎉 #whendimplemetrishi #flameinthemist #bookstagram #booknerdigans #books

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From said signing with SJ Maas:

Also, we attended an awesome Penguin Random House book sale!! Check out all these awesome books!~

And finally, we got this awesome ARC from S&S Canada. Very excited for this!

We hope you all had a great month! Look out for a May book haul on our Instagram soon 😀

-S&S

We Have a Literary Agent!

The title of this blog post says it all, but … we have a literary agent! *cue confetti* You may have seen us reveal the announcement on Twitter this week, but in case you haven’t, we are now repped by Peter Knapp at Park Literary. (!!!) We’ve talked briefly about how we’ve been querying over the past few years, but never really went in-depth. We enjoy reading “How-I-Got-My-Agent” posts and reading stats, so we’re going to discuss how we got an agent for our newest manuscript through a pitch contest! Continue reading

[ARC Review] I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Hey everyone! Today we’re back with a book review for an upcoming YA contemporary that releases this Tuesday: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo.

Disclaimer: We were provided with an ARC from Raincoast Books to review–this has not biased our thoughts in any way. Thank you, Raincoast!

Let’s look at the super cute cover + synopsis!


31145133Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.


Continue reading

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi — Book Review

Hey all!! We are very excited to be reviewing an awesome new MG adventure/fantasy, THE GAUNTLET by Karuna Riazi.

**Disclaimer: We received a finished copy from the publisher, S&S Canada, for review. This has not biased our opinions. Thank you!**

Before I dive into the review, you can take a look at the cover & synopsis:

29346880A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?


First off, I have to say how excited I’ve been for this book, especially with the announcement of it being published under Salaam Reads. As soon as I got it in the mail (the day it came out), I knew I had to dive into it. Luckily that was the last week of classes before exams and I had basically 3 weeks off until our first exam. I spent that coming Thursday and Friday reading it. The only thing that got in my way was watching Beauty & the Beast on Friday, but even then I finished the book that night!

I fell in love with the concept as soon as I heard it. Anything Jumangi-esque captures my attention right away, and of course, I knew that a Middle Grade like this would do the concept justice. This was such a quick, fun read. I love how the diverse elements feel so natural. I’m not Bangladeshi, though I did know some of the foods that were mentioned, and I could easily visualize the places that were depicted. One metaphor that stuck with me was a palace with tips spun like cotton candy. The writing was definitely intended for a Middle Grade audience, and yet it was still super evocative and well-imagined in a way that I could definitely see in Karuna’s future YA works. I also really enjoyed the settings, especially the set-up of the levels in the Gauntlet and Paheli, and especially the souk!

What’s more, I really felt the connection between Farah, the main character, and her brother–the fear for him going missing, the obligation to be the Big Sister and somehow defeat villains in a strange new landscape. I also love how the book ties in the idea of different games/puzzles–and they’re no ordinary games/puzzles. Many of them are quite complex and I had to take some time to really visualize them, since I’m pretty used to straight-up card games, etc. Still, I think the pacing of the book was strong and I loved the way the author introduced a great, diverse cast of characters and, for some, left the ambiguity of their morality to question. My favourite character outside the main three was probably Vijay! He has such an interesting past.

This book can definitely be read by 10 year olds, but it could be easily enjoyed by an older audience, too. (Hey, I’m 20!)

Rating: 5/5 stars!

Until next time,

S&S

Fantastic Beasts — New Edition from Raincoast!

Hey all! Today we are super delighted to share our excitement for a new and improved version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them by JK Rowling. This book recently released alongside two other Harry Potter-world novels,  Quidditch Through the Ages and Tales of Beedle the Bard.

**Note: We received Fantastic Beasts from Raincoast Books for the purpose of this post. Thank you, Raincoast and Bloomsbury!**

Here are the fantastic (get it?) new covers from Bloomsbury (UK/Canada):

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Aren’t they awesome? Let’s dive into some pictures we took of the interior for Fantastic Beasts!

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The new foreword is by Newt Scamander, including some information divulged in the new movie!

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We also love the A-Z alphabetized collection of beasts!

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We particularly love the niffler 😛

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We love the back and of course that blurb from Dumbledore himself!

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We had to get a picture of the book with Ron, too!

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We really enjoyed the additions to the original version of Fantastic Beasts. If you loved the movie, this is a great accompaniment and goes into great detail about MACUSA and the beasts themselves. There are some spoilers for those who have NOT seen the movie, so be wary!

We love Newt and the movie, so picking this one up was a no-brainer. Thanks again to Raincoast/Bloomsbury for the book!

Have you picked up the new Fantastic Beasts edition? Until next time,

S&S

April Wrap-Up [2017]

Hey all! So we’ve gone on an accidental hiatus, mostly because in April we were super busy with school and exams, and after that we were busy revising our book. Still, we did get some reading done!

Sasha read: 

-Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (5*)

-Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson (4.5*)

-The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (5*)

-Saints and Misfits by SK Ali (5*)

-Second Born by Arnold Robinson

-Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (5*)

Sarena read:

-Imagination Bigger Together by Casey Rislov (5*)

-Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (5*)

-The Water and Murder Flow South by Ken Stichter

-Hosanna by Katelyne Parker (5*) must read!

-The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (5*) another must read!

Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson (4.5*)

-Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin (4*)

 

In April we finished exams and also participated in an awesome pitch contest called DVPit, which you should totally check out! Thanks so much to Beth Phelan for organizing it!

We also attended the Indigo YA Preview on April 5 at Indigo headquarters. It was so much fun! Here are some pics from the event & the ARCs we got:

There, we met SK Ali and got signed ARCs of SAINTS AND MISFITS! It was so great meeting her, especially since we’ve known each other via Twitter for a while!

Dinner + current read! 📚🍴 #amreading #saintsandmisfits #yalit #booknerdigans #bookstagram

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Some more Instagram photos:

Still haven’t read a Sarah Dessen book … woops!

We hope you all had a great April!

-Sarena & Sasha