Thursday, June 21, 2018

QSR: Twitter Chat Schedule

Hey Scouts! How's everyone doing? Are you getting ready?

One thing that we loved doing last year and are super excited to bring back are twitter chats. This year we decided to have one every Saturday at the same time, so it's a bit easier to remember when they're happening.

Welcome Chat: July 7th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Come introduce yourself, share your reading plans or ask for recommendations, talk about your summer plans, or just hang out and meet other members!

RoAnna Sylver Chat: July 14th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

For the second year in a row, we have RoAnna Sylver, author of CHAMELEON MOON, THE LIFELINE SIGNAL, STAKE SAUCE, and MOON-BRIGHT TIDES.

Ashley Woodfolk Chat: July 21st 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Join us and chat with Ashley Woodfolk, author of THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS, and the upcoming WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING

CT Callahan Chat: July 28th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Come chat with CT Callahan, author of PLASTIC WINGS and ARE WE HUMAN?

Check-In Chat: August 4th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

It's halfway through, so come tell us about your progress, how your summer's going, or just chat!

Claudie Arseneault Chat: August 11th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Also for the second year in a row, welcome Claudie Arseneault, author of VIRAL AIRWAYS, CITY OF STRIFE, and the much-praised around here BAKER THIEF.

General Chat: August 18th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Come hang out and chat about anything!

JL Douglas Chat: August 25th, 2018 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Chat with JL Douglas, author of LUNASIDE.

Wrap Up Chat: September 1st 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

For our last chat of the summer, tell us how you did, tell us how we did with our events, or just hang out and chat for a little bit before it's officially not summer anymore.

You can also check out this handy dandy graphic, and save it for easy reminders.

Remember, everything must be tagged with #qsrchat for us to see it during chats. Hope to see you all there!

Peace and popsicles,

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (12)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick:

Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie

Release date: July 17th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor's salary isn't enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she's from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha's and Key's paths collide, and the two must learn to work together--a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

Why I'm excited: I heard there's an aromantic character in this, and that's enough to sell me on anything.

Seriously, I'm that easy.

Peace and cookies,

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

QSR 2018 Link-Up

Hey Scouts!

We're going to try a new link-up widget this year, because I think last year's didn't work. *sheepish grin* This one should actually allow you to link things to it, and be visible and whatnot. The useful things.

So, if you've written something about Queer Summer Reading, we want to see it!

Have you come up with your challenge books and made a post about them? Written about something else? Did basically literally anything that mentions us? Share!!

Remember when you sign up, that "Your Name" is what will show on the link. When I do these, I write "Laina @ Laina Has Too Much Spare Time".

We're super excited about seeing posts from you all!

Peace and popsicles,

Monday, June 18, 2018

Adult Review: Baker Thief

What a strange creature for these here parts.

Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault

Published: To be released June 26th, 2018 by the Kraken Collective
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy with some science fiction elements
Binding: E-arc
Page Count: Around 400 but there's not a paperback yet.
Part of a series? Goodreads says this is the first in a series! I suspect it will be one that follows different characters in the same universe, not the same characters through different books.
Got via: Claudie sent it to me for review consideration. Claudie is a friend, which is why I broke my usual review rules, but this will not stop me from giving an honest review. Claudie, don't read this, okay? ;)
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound / Gumroad / Everywhere else

Summary (from goodreads): Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker.

Claire owns the Croissant-toi, but while her days are filled with pastries and customers, her nights are dedicated to stealing exocores. These new red gems are heralded as the energy of the future, but she knows the truth: they are made of witches’ souls.

When her twin—a powerful witch and prime exocore material—disappears, Claire redoubles in her efforts to investigate. She keeps running into Adèle, however, and whether or not she can save her sister might depend on their conflicted, unstable, but deepening relationship.

Review: This is none of the things I usually read, and I'm honestly kind of shocked by how much I liked it. I kind of signed up to review it on a whim, honestly, because the cover was really pretty and it had an interesting premise with some representation I was really excited about. I was honestly so impressed by how good this is, and it was a really fun read. I'm going to spend so much time bugging Luci to read this now because I think they'll love it and turnaround is fairplay.

Plot Talk: The summary is great, just read it. I'm so bad at trying to talk about plot, and the one already there is great. I will say that the execution of the plot is great. I did think it dragged just a tiny bit at the end, and could have been just a little tighter, but honestly it wasn't enough to make me want to stop reading or anything.

Oh, and since I usually put this here, the worldbuilding is great. It's set in a world that has magic alongside more futuristic technology/science, which is super cool. I really liked the blend of the magical elements with a more "modern" setting.

Characters: The characters are amazing in this. It's definitely one of the strongest elements, which I think after this long you all have noticed works for me. I actually don't want to give a certain thing away, so I'm going to neatly sidestep talking about the characters for the most part, besides that I really, really liked them. They're just... great.

And the thing I really do want to talk about is how great the diversity in this is. In the main characters, there is demisexual rep, aromantic rep, genderfluid rep, and that's not even getting into the side characters where you can find multiple instances of nonbinary representation, binary trans representation, more aromantic rep, and on and on. I also thought having a main character with asthma was something I don't see enough in books, and that's really interesting. It's just a lovely thing to read a book that so well reflects a diverse world.

PG-13 stuff: This is an adult book, so there is some adult content. Actually, the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book pretty much cover the section for this, so I'll just hit those up, honestly. General trigger warning for genocide, police violence, and then there are more specific ones for breaking and entering, gunshots, food, alcohol, mob violence, human experimentation and trafficking, accidental misgndering, fire/burns, and breathing difficulties/asthmas. There is also some sexual content - talk about sex and one POV character experiences sexual attraction/arousal and describes it. However, I don't think there's anything that a teen couldn't handle in this, and while it is NOT YA, I think the appeal for teens who also like to read adult books is totally there.

Gosh but this part's easier when the book does it for me.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I don't really have much? Besides that the plot dragged a tiny bit for me at one point, and the fact that it seriously made me hungry every single time I read it because of the amazing food descriptions, I honestly just enjoyed this and was really pleasantly surprised by how much I did.

Cover comments: The cover was totally the reason I was like "I want to read that", because it's so freaking cute. THERE IS A FAT CHARACTER BEING A SUPERHERO ON THE COVER. And it's purple! Like. Like honestly look at this on my blog. This is my colour scheme. This is QSR 2018's colour scheme. This is just everything. I kind of want to take inspiration from this for a page in one of my colouring books actually... but, yes. I love it.

Conclusion: Sorry if this is a bit short, but I don't have anything bad to say. I think this was super fun, and if you think the idea of witches and thieves and a whole lot of descriptions of really delicious sounding bread (which, if you preorder the book, you get a cookbook with it!) in a super diverse, unique universe sounds good, you should check this out. That includes you, Luce, you'll like this. It's only three dollars, and that is a great deal for a really, really good book. I spent more than that on Oreos today, y'all. Solid four out of five roses from me.

Other notes:

- Did I mention the fat rep is really, really good? This is going on my fat positive goodreads shelf for sure.

- There are really great sibling dynamics in here.

That's about it for me!

Peace and cookies,

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Blogger Hop (8)

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books and is now hosted by Billy of Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week's question is: You have just won a $100.00 Visa gift card. Will you spend the entire amount on a rare collector's edition you have always wanted, or buy several newly-published books? Explain your choice.

If I find $100 giftcard, I'd spend it on groceries. Your blogger is broke. Or, no, I'd probably spend it at Warehouse One. Your blogger always wants new leggings and Warehouse One is my favourite clothing store. Or maybe ASOS, because I need a pair of capris or two, and some plain black leggings, and ASOS is actually the cheapest place to buy leggings for me, which seems weird to me.

But if I was given, say, a $100 Amazon or Borders giftcard, I would probably buy like one new book that I really wanted, and then look through all the cheapest bargain books, because that's what I usually do, lol. I like buying the ones that are like three or four years older and you can buy hardcovers for like four dollars. I'm cheap!

Although I do have some really random books I would love to own. I wouldn't really call them collectors's editions. Mostly I have random whims to own books that I owned as a child, or random books about mythology, or books to complete series that I own parts of. I will leave a shameless Amazon wishlist plug here, because why not.

Sorry this was a bit of a boring answer, but it's the truth!

Peace and cookies,

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (11)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

This week my pick is:

I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall

Release date: July 24th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): After - Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.

Before - Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.

After - With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.

Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father… and she wants revenge

Why I'm excited: REVENGE. Okay, I'm just being silly, but this does sound super cool. Survival YA for the win. Heck yeah. I haven't read anything like this in a while, and it's sounds great.

Peace and cookies,

Monday, June 11, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (72): All Around Me Are Familiar Faces

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island, New York's Most Notorious Jail by Liza Jessie Peterson

Published: May 2nd, 2017
Genre: Memoir
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 243 including all the acknowledgments and such.
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Eighteen years ago, performance artist Liza Jessie Peterson never thought that her day of substitute teaching at Rikers Island C-74 would change the course of her life, but it did. It ignited a lifelong passion--which continues in her work with incarcerated kids today--to make a difference in the lives of youth in trouble.

Her powerful narrative captures the essence, humor, intellect, creativity and psychology of children in the penal system. She intimately introduces readers to her students. We see them, smell their musk, feel their attitudes, hear their voices and learn how they came to be jailed--residents of "the island."

Everyone in the classroom grows-including the teacher-in this must-read memoir for anyone who cares about children and education. Peterson's perspective and insights will make any teacher a better teacher. This book will encourage and empower anyone committed to social justice.

Thoughts: This was really interesting. I don't have a ton to say about this one, and I'm probably not going to rate it on goodreads because I just don't feel like I know enough about the subject matter to really have any clue what I'm talking about and I'm just going to come off ignorant and out of my lane, because I would be.

I will say there was some fatmisia from the author (using "oversized" and "obese" to describe the bodies of others), and that irked me. I enjoyed her voice a lot, and it was a very easy book to read, and very approachable. Oh, also, can we talk about how gorgeous this cover is?

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

Published: February 27th, 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers which I believe is an imprint of Macmillan.
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 369 plus acknowledgments and stuff
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): 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.

Thoughts: This was interesting. I was surprised about how much the book was about things not mentioned in the summary. TWs for rape culture and child neglect/abuse, bullying, sexual assault... I think this review has a good summary of the content warnings for this. I personally found this easy to read despite that. It's not that it's a light book or anything, but I think the author manages to balance heavy topics without feeling like you're drowning. That will obviously differ for everyone, especially if those things are a specific trigger for you and not just generally upsetting.

And if you want to go into this book not knowing what's going on with the premise beyond the content warnings, skip to the next book. Since this stuff happens basically on the first page, I'm not really considering it a spoiler, but you know. You do you, boo.

Now, to actually explain what I'm actually talking about - this book has a similar premise to If I Stay, in that the main character(s) are dead when the book starts, and it's told mostly through flashbacks. Cool premise, and I think it's very interesting to do that from a perspective that isn't Christian or Christian-adjacent. Zarin's thoughts of afterlife and what she thinks could happen are really cool. However, I think the book kind of loses at some points. It's almost entirely negated to the first and last chapters, and the epilogue. It doesn't connect to the rest enough. There isn't really perspective from people in the present about what happened, so it seems more like just a normal book than a flashback or anything. While it's told in past tense, it's still as though things are just happening to characters in the moment.

Honestly I wish it had used that more often. It would have been very interesting to see the characters in the present reflecting on it more. It's kind of a bummer because it is a very unique premise, and I don't feel like it delivers on that.

One thing I really liked was Zarin pointing out how hard it was for her to get popular YA books like the Hunger Games. We as a community tends to take it for granted that access to books is easy for us, and that if you can't afford them, there's always the library, when that's really not true in all places. I found a couple reviews that I'm going to link to because some parts of this isn't my place to be talking about, but overall, I thought the voice of this was great, and I thought it was a solid read.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Published: Originally published April 29th, 2008 by Henry Holt and Company, my edition was releasedd September 1st, 2009 by Square Fish.
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 265 plus discussion questions, author interview, and an excerpt.
Part of a series? Yes, this is the first of the Jenna Fox Chronicles trilogy.
Got via: According to the sticker on the back, it was an amazon bargain book.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Everything is different

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma - so she's been told - and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She's been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won't anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions.

What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?

Thoughts: How is this book nine years old and I managed to avoid being spoiled but I get spoiled for movies the day after they come out? No, I'm not bitter!

Anyways, I don't actually want to talk abou this one too much because I don't want to ruin it for you all if you've managed to avoid finding anything out about it either. I don't think it's the most unique premise ever, or one that you have to not know to enjoy the book, but I think it's a lot of fun to try and figure it out yourself as you read.

It kind of super lacks almost any type of diversity, and honestly I don't personally think there was any need for a sequel let alone a trilogy. I kind of felt like the ending wrapped things up well enough, and there didn't need to be more books. But, you know, yay for the series being successful and the author making money and everything. I'm just probably not going to seek them out. I will keep this one, though, and I'd totally reread it. It's a neat book and I really enjoyed it.

I would love to read like a really detailed analysis on this book/series from someone who's disabled, though.

Shadow Girl by Liana Liu

Published: December 19th, 2017 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA horror
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count:
Part of a series? Honestly that'd be cool, but it's very well finished and leaves everything wrapped up as a standalone.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The house on Arrow Island is full of mystery.

Yet when Mei arrives, she can’t help feeling relieved. She’s happy to spend the summer in an actual mansion tutoring a rich man’s daughter if it means a break from her normal life—her needy mother, her delinquent brother, their tiny apartment in the city. And Ella Morison seems like an easy charge, sweet and well behaved.

What Mei doesn’t know is that something is very wrong in the Morison household.

Though she tries to focus on her duties, Mei becomes increasingly distracted by the family’s problems and her own complicated feelings for Ella’s brother, Henry. But most disturbing of all are the unexplained noises she hears at night—the howling and thumping and cries.

Mei is a sensible girl. She isn’t superstitious; she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Yet she can’t shake her fear that there is danger lurking in the shadows of this beautiful house, a darkness that could destroy the family inside and out… and Mei along with them.

Thoughts: I really liked this. I didn't really realize what this book was really about when I ordered it. Which is kind of silly, because it's not unclear in the summary, lol, and that is what I read when I ordered it. But my memory is terrible at times, so. It was a really pleasant surprise when I started reading it and realized how much I was probably going to like it because it's a kind of book I really like.

And I was right! That atmosphere in this is really, really great and there's a certain way that the book uses repetition very strategically to install a sense of deja vu and really unnerve you that I loved. I thought it was neat that this was a book set during the summer after the MC had graduated high school. Those seem to be becoming more common. It also had a really good "creepy summer" atmosphere that I'm super fond of. And since Mei is Chinese, the book does talk about microaggressions and I suspect that was done well, along with the rep in general, since this is ownvoices, but you know. You should trust my opinion on that about as much as you should trust my opinion on which fuel works best in a rocket ship. I'll try and find some reviews to link to before this goes up.

The book's not perfect. There was one moment that made me be like "wow, that's not really very ace/aro friendly" and it lacks diversity in other areas - there's not really many fat people, no disability rep, absolutely no queer characters. But overall it did a whole lot that I really liked and I had a lot of fun reading it. I read it basically all in one sitting and if you want a spooky summer read, I'd recommend it for sure.

Also, the cover is great.

Geez, look at all the faces in this post! That's weird when something like that happens. It wasn't on purpose or anything.

Thanks for reading!

Peace and cookies,