[ARC Review] Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Akemi Dawn Bowman’s debut Starfish is a colourfully painted, masterfully crafted YA contemporary about growing up biracial, fitting in, and what it means to have a place in this world.

I absolutely loved this novel. But before we dive into the review, take a look at the cover and blurb (from Goodreads):  Continue reading

#IndigoYAPreview Fall 2017 Recap

Hey everyone! Yesterday we were lucky enough to attend a YA preview event hosted by Indigo Books at their head office in Toronto. We’ve attended their previews twice before, and as always, we had lots of fun! Thank you to Indigo for inviting us and to the publishers for donating awesome books for us bloggers/readers to take home.

This post will mostly be photos, and of course, we’ll share the awesome books we took home!

We started by mingling and eating (photo below); we got there around 4:50, and it was due to start at 5pm. The preview covered YA books, but we also talked about everything from graphic novels/manga to romance reads and crossover adult titles! Continue reading

A Very Late September Wrap-Up/October Releases [2016]

So, it’s already almost halfway through October… and we haven’t posted on our blog in 3 1/2 weeks. (How did that happen?!) Time definitely got away from us and we fell into a blogging slump, with #PitchWars and school and school readings and SCHOOL. But that doesn’t mean we’re not in the Halloween spirit (who isn’t?!) and ready to binge Halloweentown all day (seriously, when are those movies coming on TV?!). But without further ado, considering this is long overdue, here’s our rather small September Wrap-Up and all the books we’re excited for this spooky October season.

Sasha read three books: 

  1. Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands (4/5* — review here!)
  2. Empire of Storms (4.5/5*, will review this one soon!)
  3. Broken by Shane Driver (this is a collection of creative non-fiction short stories by a fellow student at my university who took the writing class I’m in currently!)

She also started Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Not Wanted on the Voyage, and Snow Like Ashes! 

Sarena read three books: 

  1. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (4.5* — review here!)
  2. Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley
  3. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (4/5*)

She also started Replica and The Thousandth Floor!

September was full of revisions and schoolwork, so not a whole lot of fun stuff, but we did get tons of books! Be sure to check out our Instagram (sarenasashabooks) to see our September Book Haul!

And now it’s time for all the shiny October releases, starting with one of Sarena’s most anticipated books of the year!

MAGNUS CHASE #2: Hammer of Thor

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SPELLS AND SORCERY by S. Usher Evans

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NEMESIS by Anna Banks

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GEMINA by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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THE MIDNIGHT STAR by Marie Lu

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WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore

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REPLICA by Lauren Oliver

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A DARKLY BEATING HEART by Lindsay Smith

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REMEMBER YESTERDAY by Pintip Dunn

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LAST SEEN LEAVING by Caleb Roehrig

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SPEED OF LIFE by J.M. Kelly

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SOMETHING IN BETWEEN by Melissa De la Cruz

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There are TONS of other books coming out this month, but these are a few we’re genuinely excited to read and share and talk about! Which books are you excited to read this month? Let us know in the comments below! Also, expect a review of EMPIRE OF STORMS soon, and perhaps some Halloween-esque posts! Until next time…

S&S

A Super-Late August Wrap Up & September Releases! [2016]

It’s almost halfway through September, and we haven’t posted our August Wrap-Up yet… (blame school!). Well, here it is! We’re going to go through all the fun things we did in August (there were a lot!), all the things we posted on our blog, and what we read during the month! Followed by our *most anticipated* September releases–and buckle in, because there are tons on this list!

WHAT WE POSTED: 

ARC August TBR [2016]

GIF Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Waiting on Wednesday #32: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

The Book Buzz #7: The Cursed Child, Ascendant, + More!

Olympic Book Tag! 

Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog Tour: Reasons Why We Need SJTR in Our Hands!

We’re #PitchWars 2016 Mentees!

[Review] The Thousandth Floor By Katharine McGee

#IndigoBookPreview and Frenzy Presents Event Recaps

As you can see, we did quite a bit this month! We voraciously read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, watched the Olympics (who didn’t?!), entered an amazing contest by the name of #PitchWars (and got in!) and attended some amazing events like #IndigoBookPreview at their headquarters in Toronto, as well as the HarperCollins Canada offices! Oh, and on top of that, we got out G2 drivers’ licenses. Woohoo!

In terms of what we actually read… well, let’s just say we didn’t exactly stick to our ARC August TBRs. Let’s take a look at what we did manage to read in the hectic month of August!

Sasha read six books:

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (still not sure how to rate this one…) by Jack Thorne
  2. Ruined by Amy Tintera (4/5*)
  3. Trick or Trap by R.L. Stine (3/5*)
  4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (4 – 4.5/5*)
  5. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (4.5/5*)
  6. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (4.5/5*)

Sasha’s favourites were a tight tie between More Happy Than Not (so emotional!) and The Thousandth Floor (so good to fill your PLL hangover!). 

Sarena read five books:

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne
  2. Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (5*)
  3. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (5*)
  4. Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana (4.5*)
  5. A Torch Against the Night (5*)

Sarena’s favourite book this month was A Torch Against the Night–and her favourite book of 2016 so far! 

And now, onto the SHINY September releases! Many of which have already come out…

EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas

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THE FEVER CODE by James Dashner

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STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco

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CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo

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GIRL MANS UP by M-E Girard

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AS I DESCENDED by Robin Talley

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BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE by Rosamund Hodge

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EVERY HIDDEN THING by Kenneth Oppel

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THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis

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LABYRINTH LOST by Zoraida Cordova

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STEALING SNOW by Danielle Paige

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And we’re sure there are many more that we’re missing! What are your most anticipated September releases? Sasha’s is definitely EMPIRE OF STORMS (and she’s currently working her way through it–no spoilers, please!).

Until next time,

-S&S

[ARC Review] Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands

Hey, all! Today we’re here to review MARK OF THE PLAGUE by Kevin Sands, the action-packed sequel to THE BLACKTHORN KEY. We read and reviewed THE BLACKTHORN KEY last year, and really enjoyed it! Now the series continues with even more codes and riddles and fun things to uncover! Let’s get into the non-spoiler review–but first, here’s a synopsis off Goodreads, along with the book’s cover:


28954112Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this follow-up to the Indie Next pick The Blackthorn Key, which was called a “spectacular debut” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.

And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before…


***Disclaimer: We received this book from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacts our thoughts.

Sounds epic, right? Well, this book was definitely full of twists and turns, as promised. Let’s begin with the characters–starting with Christopher. Christopher’s a smart, intelligent kid, but it’s no secret to him that he’s struggling financially. Something I loved about this book was the aspect of adventure toward finding treasure; it gave the main character something to look forward to, something to guide him along as this dark plague began taking root in London.

Next up is Tom. Tom is the comic-relief of the series–and for good reason! He’s the perfect foil to Christopher, who wants to blow things up all day; meanwhile, Tom tries to stay away from the fire/booms/cannons/all-around-fun-but-unsafe stuff. Tom was definitely our favourite character, because he’s funny and witty and always has the best responses to all of Christopher’s explosive–literally–ideas.

As always, Bridget the pigeon and Sally were a plus. They also provided a bigger scope to the MC’s life, friends, and relationships.

The mystery element of the book was by far the best part–Christopher not only had to find a treasure, but work through understanding what these mysterious prophets, apothecaries, and assassins were hiding about the plague. I mean, everyone loves a good conspiracy, right?

A lot of the twists and turns had us gasping and wide-mouthed. Like, whoa! Christopher was able to decode a very tough riddle his Master had left him, all the while the plague was killing those around him–and the sickness was looming closer to him and his home.

The only thing that held us back from giving this book a full 5* was length. It was a bit too lengthy, strangely enough, though it’s an easy, quick read. Still, there was enough action and suspense at the end to tie things together and make for an intriguing read! Though this is an MG, we felt that certain things–perhaps it’s because it takes place in the 1600s–were slightly violent, but maybe that’s just our anachronistic perception, looking back on the text and the time it takes place in.

Overall, a solid, enjoyable installment in the BLACKTHORN KEY series. It’s the perfect gift for young readers, and even older(ish) ones like ourselves!

We rated this book a 4/5 stars.

Until next time,

-S&S

Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog Tour: Reasons We Need SJTR in Our Hands

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco releases in just under a month, and we’re so happy to be a part of the online blog tour leading up to the release date! It comes out September 20th, 2016, from Jimmy Patterson books (a new imprint of Little, Brown). Before we get this post rolling, we’d like to thank the awesome Ava @ Bookishness and Tea for organizing this awesome tour and street team! Here’s the cover and Goodreads synopsis.


28962906Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.


Now THAT’s a creepy synopsis! Let’s get started on the reasons why we need SJTR in our hands, stat.

We’re not just going to list any reasons, though. We’ll be listing them according to the acronym “SJTR.” I.e., one reason for “S,” one for “J,” … you get the picture.

1. S

SERIAL KILLERS. Of course, serial killers are scary, but … in thrillers? Sign us up! The scarier the book, the better. We’ve been getting into horror/thrillers a lot over the past three years, and … our love for them keeps on growing!

2. J

JIMMY PATTERSON. AKA, James Patterson. AKA, James Patterson made a new imprint under Little, Brown and SJTR is the first book to be published! How cool! We’ve read and enjoyed his novel ZOO, so we’re excited to see what this book brings to the table under this exciting new imprint.

3. T

THE HORROR. Now, we’re not the biggest “horror” or “gore” fans out there–in fact, we prefer a deep psychological thriller to anything straight-up “horror”–but the premise of this novel, plus the opening scene, intrigue us way too much to be ignored. You can read an excerpt of the novel here. Yes, gory. Yes, bloody. Yes, we need this book right now.

4. R

ROMANCE! Now, Sarena and I are not huge proponents of romance novels, but we’re always in for a romance subplot! We weren’t expecting a romance in a serial killer story, but that’s what makes it all the more intriguing! We can’t wait to add another OTP to our never-ending list. A new book boyfriend is cool, too. 😉

And that’s it! Our reasons-to-read-SJTR-based-on-the-acronym post! We hope you enjoyed it, and we hope YOU pick up a copy of STALKING JACK THE RIPPER when it releases this fall!

Until next time,

-S&S

GIF Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child released almost a week ago (the release party was epic!) and we’ve both already finished the whole thing. We don’t typically review anything Harry Potter-related, because a) it’s pretty well-known we love HP, and b) we’ve never really seen the point in reviewing it. But now? A script-turned-book? Sign us up! Here’s our GIF review for HP & the Cursed Child! We’ll try our best to keep this non-spoilery!


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Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.


I mean, first off, let’s start with the announcement of the script-book. Harry Potter must’ve been like…

And here’s how we felt upon seeing the book IRL for the first time:

(You could say we were really excited.)

And then there was a rush of nostalgia as we read the opening of part one, act one:

And this was us as we learned what the REAL plot of this book–ahem, play–was about…

I mean, it was both weird and super cool? Just the fact that there’s an eighth book/play, and that everything that what was happening was CANON, is still surreal.

But don’t get us wrong, amongst the strangeness and the constant shouting of “WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING?” we were like: 

Aaaaand, of course, there were a lot–a LOT–of moments where we couldn’t even believe what was happening was real. (BUT: those callbacks to the original series! WHAT EVEN?!?!)

I think we’re in the majority when we say Scorpius Malfoy was the best character out of them all. Amiright? Every time he came “on stage” this was us:

Overall, this script-book was packed with non-stop action, twists, and nostalgia. Of course, we think the original Harry Potter series is much better, and we think this would have been 100x times better in actual play format, but … our love for Harry Potter knows no bounds. And yeah, we still enjoyed this play to the fullest extent we could.

We’d give this play somewhere between a 4 – 5/5 stars. How much did you enjoy (or not enjoy! opinions rule!) this script-book? Let us know in the comments below! Until next time,

-S&S