Spoiler Alert

“One true pairing- well, mostly true.”

Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. The world may know him as Aeneas, star of the biggest show on television, but fanfiction readers call him something else: Book!AeneasWouldNever. Marcus gets out his frustrations with the show through anonymous stories about the internet’s favorite couple, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone discovered his online persona, he’d be finished in Hollywood.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s long hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobbies from her “real life”–but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her internet critics, truth officially becomes stranger than fanfiction.

On their date, Marcus quickly realizes he wants more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But when he discovers she’s Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to keep from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?

Soooo this is essentially fanfiction and I’m not convinced that it didn’t start on Ao3 before it made its way to a publisher. But that’s a great thing in this case. As an avid fanfiction reader, I loved seeing that aspect of my life in a mainstream novel. Especially with fandom being represented by people in their 30s! It made me feel right at home. I had zero expectations going into Spoiler Alert, other than I was in the mood for fluff and I got fluff with substance!

The fluff was fun, a light romance between two well written (sometimes fandom cliche) MCs with some quality steamy bits. The substance was even better. The novel heavily discussed fat-shaming in fandom and really made me take a step back and evaluate my fandoms. We also have a MC with dyslexia and both MCs have parents who are emotionally abusive in different ways. The novel takes time to address each issue with the care it deserves.

The parallels between Game of Thrones and Gods of the Gates are entertaining, especially if you were a Game of Thrones fan unhappy with how the final season went down.

It was overall a really fun book with all the fandom essentials. It melted my heart with the adorable MCs and their swoon worthy, often steamy, love. If you are looking for a quick read, some fluff with a side of substance, Spoiler Alert is for you.

I definitely intend to read the second book in the series (following two side characters) when it comes out in October.

Until next time,

Falling in Love with Audiobooks

Until recently, my only thoughts of audiobooks was that they were great for other people. Not me, I had to read the physical book, not even an ebook would do. Since my reading struggles (see Learning to Read…Again) I’ve changed my nonsense tune and now I’ve fallen head over heels for audiobooks. They have helped me rediscover the ability to lose myself in a story, something I had been sorely missing.

Here are my favourites so far:

Invisible life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab read by Julia Whelan.

In 18th-century France, Addie LaRue needed to find a way to escape the life she is supposed to live. As the sun sets, she is praying to any god that will listen to help her be free, she accidentally prays to the gods that answer after dark, which she’s been warned never to do. And they answer. 300 years later Addie walks into a bookstore to find a young man at the counter. Upon her return she realizes he remembers her, the first person to do so in 300 years. This is a beautiful book made only more beautiful by Julia Whelan’s stellar narrative and her soft french accent created for Addie. 

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry read by Isabel Keating

1980s pop culture, the Salem witch trials, a losing field hockey team suddenly imbued with dark, witchy powers, powerful female friendship forged in the crucible of team sport and social ostracization— We Ride Upon Sticks has it all. Not to mention the stunning narrative by Isabel Keating brings each character to life.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi read by Elizabeth Acevedo 

“In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic. A smart, funny, gorgeous retelling starring all characters of colour.”

Read by the wonderful Elizabeth Acevedo, author of Poet X, this book is brought to life in a way that’s new and fresh while still timeless. 

Next up on my list is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig read by Carey Mulligan.

Until next time,

Dabbling in Non-Fiction

Jess Kovacs: A Non-Fiction Lover?

Learning is one of my favourite things (just ask my three university degrees) but when it comes to my non textbook reading, I’ve been pretty loyal to fiction. That doesn’t mean I don’t spend hours researching and reading about random topics on the internet, searching for content like you would find…you guessed it, in a non-fiction book. There’s no explanation for twenty something years of nonfiction avoidance. I am the go to Sci-Fi/ Fantasy librarian at work and I’ve been happy there. I’ve always been drawn to the escapism of fiction, despite the fact that sitting down to watch a documentary provides the same amount of intrigue to me. Earlier this year I found myself questioning this weird phenomenon when I was assigned a book talk all about popular non-fiction. It is at this point that I realized the last thing I read that was even remotely like non-fiction was Andre the Giant: Life and Legend the graphic novel biofic. So I resolved to read at least one non-fiction book a month until the end of the year. The year isn’t done yet but I’ve already way surpassed my original goal of one per month.

So for all you fellow non-fiction avoiders…here are my favourite so far:

Depression: The Comedy by Jessica Holmes

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This one may be specific to those battling depression but it’s also hilarious and contains a lot of content anyone would find useful.

 

Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky

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Mildly disturbing (okay really disturbing) but fascinating look at Bellevue and how it shaped the early years of American medicine and found its way to be the revered public hospital it is today.

 

House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg 

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As a massive Anne of Green Gables fan (some would say aficionado) this obviously had to be on my list. Not only is the cover absolutely stunning but it is well researched and written. Keep in mind that House of Dreams is targeted toward a YA audience but I think that is what makes it so wonderful. It makes the amazing story of L.M. Montgomery accessible to so many. 

 

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence

Kind of non-fiction, kind of a creative writing exercise, kind of an ode to books…whatever it is, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is hilarious. I cried, I laughed, I forced everyone to sit through me reading it to them. I have so much love for Dear Fahrenheit 451, as both a librarian and an avid reader. There’s not much more to say, just go read it. Especially if you work in Library Science.

 

And finally, I just finished We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir

by Samra Habib

Habib could have gone deeper but it was still a really beautiful story of self discovery and perseverance in many aspects of life. A unique perspective that many multi generational Canadians may not have considered.

Heads up though: mentions CSA, references to domestic violence, references to state-sponsored terrorism, Islamophobia, and misogyny.

Other notable favourites: Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold, The Push by Tommy Caldwell, Gorilla and the Bird by Zack McDermott, and Supergods by Grant Morrison. 

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And now back to my regularly scheduled fiction featuring The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang.

 

Happy reading fellow book humans!

Until next time,

TheReadersigntransp

Renegade Cover Reveal + Exclusive Excerpt

Renegade finally has a cover and it is visually stunning!

Renegade is the prequel to Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney which releases on July 3rd.


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Isn’t it just squeal worthy!

Check out an exclusive excerpt of RENEGADE below!

Exhaling, the prince took him off guard as he lifted his eyebrow. “What I don’t understand is how the Faes have achieved such loyalty. What did they do?”

He chewed his bottom lip as he hopped over a fallen tree trunk. He looked to Marquis. “They were the dreamers in a time when culture, creativity, and equality were being butchered. The Academy was the foundation of that dream, for desolates, for the people with weaker abilities. For everyone. The people of Kiero followed Roque because they can’t fear him, they can only admire him. How brave he was for standing up to his father, for breaking free of his reign to start his own.”

Marquis chewed his lip. “It sounds like you have a different opinion of him.”

He threw out his hands. “I was born at the Academy. Raised in the Academy. Who am I to doubt the intentions of the Faes? They are practically family.”

Shrugging, Marquis cooed, “Sometimes it is the ones closest to us that betray us first.”


The expansive world building in this prequel had me all kinds of delighted! The descriptive writing only gets better and better. Renegade does a stellar job of filling in some blanks that people may have had questions about from the first book. Especially for those who may have felt Black Dawn was a bit rushed. Plus you will die to see sassy little Brokk! Trust me. The character development is on point.

I may even have loved Renegade more than Black Dawn. Which is saying a lot because Black Dawn was part of my heart, soul, and years of childhood dreams.

P.s. I may be bias because the author is my favourite human in the universe (and my blood) but I was also her first (and hardest) critic.

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About the Author:

Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

Until next time,

TheReadersigntransp

Bruja Born

Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with Latina Brujas

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Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead. Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life. Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back? 

Labyrinth Lost was more like Charmed with Latina brujas but this time around I got major Buffy feels. Complete with a monster of the week type style.

Once again I had the luxury of going into the second installment of this series with little to no expectations except for the need for more bruja mythology. And I was not disappointed.

In Labyrinth Lost, I was not super attached to Lula (I was a big Nova fan and grew to love Alex) so when I heard that the 2nd book would tell Lula’s story I had no base for what that story would look like. Hence the little to no expectations. I was surprised at how quickly the story pulled me in. Lula is definitely a teenager in love, therefore smart choices aren’t always made. It was occasionally frustrating but her actions were consistently rooted in immense pain which made it SO much more understandable and definitely realistic. If having magical bruja powers can be considered realistic.

Lula’s character turned out to be very complex and I had no problem tapping into her mental state. The story that unfolds is an interesting mix of an episode of Buffy/ The Strain. As for the world building, it definitely advanced from Labyrinth Lost but it is still vague in the sense that there is no definition to how many “species” exist in this world. Which maybe makes it strong world building? We’ve found out there are vampires and shapeshifters and given little information about how they fit into the world. Which is totally fine because at no point does it feel like it doesn’t fit in with the story, you are just kind of like okay, that’s another aspect that might be explored later. The continued exploration into bruja mythology was one of my favourite parts of this book. Definitely one of the reasons I mowed through this book in 3 hours. I couldn’t stop once I started, which is always a fantastic sign. The mythology is so strong and such an awesome base for the magical world Córdova has created.

And of course all the wonderful diversity from the first book is still there in the second. We get a lot less Rishi but that’s fine because it wasn’t Alex’s story this time. And my lovely tortured Nova was back in action. I was also chuffed to see Rose’s character come into her own and can’t wait to explore her point of view.

Would definitely recommend, especially to fans of Charmed or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m excited for the next installment, especially seems it looks like we may be diving back into the Faerie world.

Until next time,

TheReadersigntransp

Labyrinth Lost

Charmed but with Latina Brujas.

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Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland?

I had zero expectations for this book; I saw the word Bruja and knew I wanted to read it. And as we all know, if the cover is stunning (which it is) I need to have it. This book hit so many marks for me. Full of POC characters, with a strong and varied female cast, a good portrayal of bisexuality AND bruja mythology.

I was pulled into Alex’s world immediately. Despite not loving her character to start, I grew to understand her rational and was fascinated by her family and cultural dynamics. Power NEVER felt like a positive thing to Alex and she worked to distance herself from her bruja identity. Once the secrets started to unfold, I felt more connected to Alex and loved her blunt sense of humour. Once we hit Los Lagos, things went from mostly paranormal to fantasy real quick. I thought the pacing was good and the world building was detailed enough that I could get lost in it. There were occasional moments when the world building felt slightly vague but it didn’t take away from the plot enough to bother me. That being said, I’m really looking forward to some world building advancement in book two. 

I will say that I was super concerned about potential queer-baiting about halfway through the novel. It was clear that Rishi loved Alex but she was developing a romantic fascination with Nova. What wasn’t clear was if Alex’s love for Rishi was just friendly or something beyond. I honestly thought that Rishi would die after confessing her love and a heartbroken Alex would find solace in Nova. I was clearly being too pessimistic. I was pleasantly surprised when the girls got their happy ending. I was over the moon that Rishi and Alex ended up together but I can’t say that I loved Rishi’s character, despite her being exactly what Alex needed. She just felt slightly one dimensional? I love a salty, mysterious and slightly broken character (Kaz Brekker anyone?) so obviously I was a Nova fan, even after the betrayal. I know we aren’t done with his character though, so I’m really excited to see how that situation pans out in book two.

I enjoyed Labyrinth Lost and it left a very complete feeling but I didn’t end the book with a WOW. I know I loved a book when I can’t help but utter a soft “wow” at the end. Maybe I’ll fall in love with the sequel, which I will definitely be reading. I’m looking forward to diving further into bruja culture and mythology.

EDIT* Just found out book two is going to be about Lula…so maybe no more Nova. But I still don’t feel we’re done with him yet.

Until next time,

TheReadersigntransp

King’s Cage

“All will burn.”

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(Photo Credit: Epic Reads)

Book Blurb from Chapters/Indigo

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

As one of the most anticipated YA novels of 2017 I was pretty excited to sit down Tuesday night and dive back into this world. I meant to read a few chapters before bed but ended up reading the whole novel in just over five hours. I was not disappointed.

It was clearly a “middle” book, very political (which I loved, SO relevant to current events) and it worked to set up the final book for the action/ climax/ultimate emotional destruction. The political hopelessness I can’t help but feel on a daily basis was mirrored perfectly in King’s Cage. But the hope and drive to continue to stand up for what is right was also mirrored.

And my Maven feels were all over the map. I can’t help but hope he can be redeemed, but another part of me knows that he doesn’t deserve to be. Despite his mental struggles and childhood torture. Such a wonderfully complex character can’t help but create mixed emotions in the reader.

And Cal, ohhhhh Cal. No spoilers but there is a scene at the end that may crush some and maybe I should have been crushed but maybe i’m just not as attached to that whole situation as I should be? Definitely attached to the characters but I totally understood where everyone was coming from plot wise, so maybe that’s why I felt slightly detached. Or maybe it was just because it was 3:23am.

I’m already looking forward to the release of the 4th and final book to see how this is going to end.

Until next time,

TheReadersigntransp

Rebel of the Sands

“They say she’ll always be more gun powder than girl. The desert has other plans.”

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Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.  Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead. Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew. Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

Was this book another cover buy? You bet it was. Is this a common theme with me? Absolutely.

I was expecting a lot of spaghetti western and a little splash of Arabian mythology and I’m so glad I was wrong. It was such a wonderful mixture of cultures and mythology, with a touch of badass spaghetti western.

Amani, our sharp-shooting gun powder girl, was so very human – stubborn, unrelenting in her goals and quick witted. Not to mention, her tendency for impulse decisions kept the plot alive. And Jin- wonderful yet slightly vague Jin. He was such a delight. Although he was the obvious love interest (among other things- totally called who he was in relation to the rebellion), there wasn’t the repulsive insta-love I’ve come to expect and hate in YA. Their relationship started as one of convenience and turned from mild reluctance, to mutual respect, to friendship, to something much bigger than Amani ever expected. It was really enjoyable to read. The classic rom-com back and forth was just what I needed.

“Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand”

This was not a character driven book for me (although the secondary characters were fabulous as well). The most vivid part of the book for me was the mythology and atmosphere created. It’s not every day I come out of a YA novel being more jazzed about the mythology than I am about the character driven relationships. I find dijinn mythology fascinating and Hamilton did a fantastic job mixing it into the culture as both fact and fiction to the characters. To Amani, it had always just been old stories of immortals long gone, despite the occasional run in with ghouls and buraqi. To Jin, it was his life and family history. It should have been obvious to me, in that case, that Amani was the one who had dijinn blood in her veins.

Between the unravelling of everything Amani thought she knew, the rebellion, and the epic sibling showdown to end the novel, I was enthralled through all 300 and some odd pages.

I would definitely recommend this debut novel. It does follow a classic fantasy novel arch-type but I found it comforting rather than boring. I can’t wait to see how Hamilton continues to spin the mythology and rebellion in the second book, Traitor to the Throne.

Until next time-

TheReadersigntransp

Heir to the Sky

Because who can resist floating continents in the sky as a synopsis?

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Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits: by her duties as a member of the royal family, by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman, and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft. When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks and other terrifying creatures. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

Let’s just start with this, the cover is stunning. I fell in love with it after seeing it on Harlequin Teen’s Instagram. What can I say? I’m a sucker for good cover art. Then I read the synopsis on NetGalley. An heir to a kingdom of floating continents? Phoenix mythology? Monster hunters? Ummmm…yes please.

This book and I have had our ups and downs. I was originally so excited for it but I received it right at the beginning of a major reading slump. It spent a couple months being moved around my TBR pile and thrown into different travel bags all summer. I finally started it two nights ago and i’m sorry to say but the floating continents…not that interesting (with pretty cliche/vague political plot).

The good stuff came after the fall.

Monsters, Griffin -our rugged hero- and Kali’s determination to be a badass kept me reading. Despite her constant naivety (I mean…come on, who doesn’t realize that they’ve been the target of two assassination attempts?) I have to admire Kali’s refusal to be helpless in any situation she was placed in. Griffin’s story was probably the most interesting part of the book. Other than the obvious discovery that he was one of the fallen, his Benu familial history and life on earth after the fall was a thrilling addition to an otherwise flat, hobbit like, march to the top of a mountain.

And the insta-love. Ohhhhh the insta-love. I realize the plot on earth was meant to be over a month or so but it was a lot for me. Perhaps they follow apocalypse rules? You know, the whole – they’re the right gender for me and don’t appear to be attached so I call dibs because most of humanity is dead- approach? In a world full of chimeras, dragons and leviathans… I would probably hop on that train too.

The ending had its share of excitement though and left me feeling rather content. Overall, it’s a fun and easy read in a world full of some really gut wrenching YA fiction. The concept: flawless. But it could have been so much more than it was. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I read a sequel? Probably not.

Until next time –

TheReadersigntransp

 

Bookish Pet Peeves

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We all have our bookish pet peeves, whether it be folded page corners, broken spines, insta-love, writing style, etc…but I feel like we all have that ONE that can make or break a book for you. Mine broke Miss Peregrine’s and I’m super disappointed about it.

One of my big bookish pet peeves is a book that has an incredible concept but fails in 1st person execution. There are a lot of really wonderful 1st person books out there, a few of my favourites actually. However my big pet peeve is immature, underdeveloped 1st person. Unfortunately for me, Miss Peregrine’s fall in that category.

Stunning concept and great book atmosphere but horrible 1st person narrative. With the movie coming out soon (which looks stunning) I really wanted to love this series but I just can’t 😭😓.

What are your big bookish pet peeves?

Until next time,

TheReadersigntransp