[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

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!

Some more Instagram photos:

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

We hope you all had a great April!

-Sarena & Sasha

March Wrap-Up [2017]

Hey all! Even though it’s already April (how?!) we decided to share our March wrap-up. Here it is!

What We Read

Sasha: 

  1. Die Laughing (3*)
  2. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket (ASOUE #3 – 4.5*)

Sarena: 

  1. Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson (5*)
  2. Valpartha by Dale Shillito (3*)
  3. Empress of a Thousand Skies (4*)
  4. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (5* review to come!)

We also posted a guest post from author Karuna Riazi on social media.

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What We Did

This was a really busy month for us since it was the last month of school. Basically, we did a bunch of homework. But we also hosted a launch for our club’s magazine, Scribes Slate, attended a launch for a journal Sasha published a short story in, and our club won an award at our university formal. So, some exciting stuff!

On March 3, we also presented our creative writing journey to 6th graders at our old middle school:

We got these awesome books in the mail:

And got these for review:

We hope you all had a great March as well! Until next time,

Sarena & Sasha

The Perfect Night In — Book Edition

Sometimes, weekends were made for staying in, curling up with a good book, and pretending nothing else exists.

Okay, as much as we wish this were more like every day, these blissful retreats seem to only happen every once in a while. So, what’s our perfect formula for staying in?

We were inspired by Leesa, an online mattress company, to share our staying-in essentials! Let’s get started.

First, and this basically goes without saying, but you’re going to need a good book. It’s best to find something you know you can easily get lost in. How about a thriller? Or some good ol’ Harry Potter (and maybe a movie marathon or two while you’re at it).

Image result for harry potter gif

Next, you’re going to need a) a warm blanket, b) a warm fireplace, or c) (and the best option of the three) ALL OF THE ABOVE. This is one multiple choice answer that’s not hard to figure out!

Of course, one of our essentials is hot chocolate, or whatever warm cup of tea/coffee you prefer. It’s part of the perfect recipe to staying in!

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On a wintry day, we would definitely recommend reading The Prisoner of Azkaban (HP3) and having a cup of Butterbeer instead!

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*salivates*

Snacks are also a huge must. Popcorn is a good one-hand snack, or better yet, cubes of cheese. Mmm.

Lastly, a day in requires a fort. It could be made of blankets, or maybe you could build a fort of books all around you. It would take a while, but it’s *so* worth it.

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Think you’re ready for a day in? Plop yourself on the couch, turn off the TV, and grab a great read!

Until next time,

Sarena & Sasha

February Wrap-Up [2017]

February was a strange reading month; even though it’s over halfway through March, we needed to post a wrap-up! So here’s some cool stuff we did in February, along with what we read:

Sasha read: 0 books (sigh)

Sarena read: 3 books

  1. Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
  2. Steel Scars by Victoria Aveyard
  3. Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

Some fun bookish stuff we did:

We visited the HarperCollins Canada offices to check out their YA preview for spring/summer books!

We also got awesome signed copies of THE HATE U GIVE for our university book club. That book, guys. *heart eyes*

Thanks so much again to HCCFrenzy for those! We also got this awesome book mail from Scholastic for Valentine’s Day:

We also spent our reading week doing a LOT of writing–not reading, haha. We wrote about 50,000 words that week … yeah. (How? I don’t know, either.) Our first draft wrapped up at around 100k, and now we’re planning to edit, edit, edit! Here’s a timelapse of a short writing session:

Last cool thing, and this is SUPER cool. We saw our books at our university library!! All shiny looking, too 😀

We hope everyone’s having a fantastic March!

-Sarena & Sasha

[ARC Review] The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is known for her books told in verse, but her newest release, THE YOU I’VE NEVER KNOWN, is told in both verse and prose. Filled with poetry and deep messages, this novel was the most light-hearted-yet-emotional book by Hopkins thus far. I was offered a review copy by Simon and Schuster Canada, so big thanks to S&S for being so kind to send me an ARC. Without further ado, let’s get into the review by beginning with the synopsis. (I will admit, the synopsis gives away quite a bit relating to the ‘twist,’ so if you don’t want to read the synopsis, skip down below!)


30312837How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.


***Disclaimer: I received a review copy from S&S Canada. This has in no way impacted my review.**

This book was an emotional ride. It’s definitely a lot lighter compared to some of Hopkins’ other works, like IDENTICAL and BURNED, both of which I read and remember having heavier themes than this one. However, at the heart of this book, what I liked was that it contained a story about family. First and foremost, the novel was always about identity, family, and finding yourself. I liked how Hopkins was able to diverge from her usual writing style (verse) and use a mixture of the two to get across a unique dual PoV. Though I guessed the twist not long before it was revealed, it still came to me as a shock. (Kudos, Hopkins!) I especially enjoyed the diverse aspects of the novel, especially the exploration of bisexuality.

Now, let’s get into the two characters themselves. Both are young women, in their teens, exploring different parts of themselves. Ariel has never known life outside being with her father. Though her father was definitely the worst, Ariel was still able to forgive him for certain things, which I found to be very mature. I liked how different Maya’s voice was compared to Ariel’s, considering Maya’s parts are told in prose and Ariel’s in verse. I still have to say, though, that Hopkins’ verse is one of the best, so Ariel really stole the show for me. I wanted to keep reading her parts, which took up most of the novel compared to Maya’s sections, as they were really quick to get through.

I especially liked Monica and Gabe, though Monica won my heart in terms of BFFs-to-more characters. The fact that she’s Mexican and brings with her a rich culture and language made the story even more organic and diverse.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, though I’m not sure if I liked it more than the other two I’ve read by her. Those were hard-hitting with twists I did not see coming, especially in IDENTICAL. I remember reading IDENTICAL in one day, as well as BURNED. It’s been a few years since then, so I thought it was time to pick up another one of her books, but this one took me a bit longer to get through. This one did have a lighter tone, though, and made for a different, perhaps more unique (and maybe more enjoyable for some!) read.

My rating: 4.5/5*. This book released on Jan 24, 2017.

Until next time,

S&S

 

2016 Highlights + Wrap-Up

2016 was … a year, that’s for sure. There were some good things, and some very (very) bad things. However, we can’t forget all of the amazing things that DID actually happen, and that we accomplished in 2016. So we’re going to go through, month by month, and tell you 1 highlight, along with our favourite book we read that month. Let’s get started!

JANUARY

Ah. The beginning of 2016. The start of a new, fresh year. And let’s just say, we had a good month! (For both the reading and school category, and lots and lots of editing!). We didn’t attend any book signings or anything, but it was a good month for reviews and blogging! Our favourite post of the month was definitely… Continue reading