Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on MORE THAN WE CAN TELL

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer.  The idea of this young man having to revisit traumatic events from his childhood makes this story sound so compelling, especially when you factor in friend (or maybe more than friend) he finds in Emma who is going through an equally rough time.  I also liked the added element of Emma being a computer coder who is dealing with an online troll since trolls seem to be everywhere now.

 

MORE THAN WE CAN TELL by Brigid Kemmerer

Publication Date:  March 6, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

From the author of Letters to the Lost comes a heart-wrenching story of two teens with big secrets and a love that could set them free.

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Hidden Gems in YA Fiction

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Hidden Gem Books in X Genre: Pick a genre and share with us some books that have gone under the radar in that genre!

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I chose to use a broad brush when selecting books for this topic and just went with Young Adult Hidden Gems in general.  I included several contemporary reads that I loved but it seems like not many others have read yet, as well as a couple of fantasy reads, and at least one historical fiction.  I did cheat a bit with my last three entries (sorry!) and have written little explanations for each cheat below.  Can’t wait to see what hidden gems others have come up with.  I feel like this is one of those TTT topics that is going to cause my TBR pile to grow even taller!

 

Top 10 Hidden Gems in Young Adult Fiction

 

1. WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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2. THE MEMORY OF THINGS by Gae Polisner

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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3.  WE ARE STILL TORNADOES by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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4. ZENN DIAGRAM by Wendy Brant

(Find out what it’s about…)

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5. HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring Blake

(Find out what it’s about…)

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6. A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL by Eric Lindstrom

(Find out what it’s about…)

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7. AIR AWAKENS by Elise Kova

(Find out what it’s about…)

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8. AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green

Okay, I’m kind of cheating on this one.  It’s John Green so how hidden is it really?  But I chose it because out of all of his books, it seems to be the one that gets the least amount of attention even though, for me anyway, it was just as good a read as any of his other books.

(Find out what it’s about…)

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9. THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON by Katherine Locke

 

I’m cheating on this one a bit as well, considering it’s just now coming out.  It’s a fabulous read (Check out my 5-star review) and yet it just doesn’t seem to be generating as much buzz as I would have expected it to.

(Find out what it’s about…)

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10. LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer

  

And here’s me cheating one last time with a book I haven’t even read yet.  This is one of my most anticipated releases for the year and I’ve read several great reviews for it, but it still doesn’t seem to be getting nearly the attention it should.

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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Question:  What are some YA fiction reads that you consider to be hidden gems?

ARC Review – Mask of Shadows

ARC Review – Mask of ShadowsMask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
three-half-stars
Series: Untitled #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 29th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Sallot Leon, the protagonist in Linsey Miller’s Mask of Shadows, is out for revenge.  Sal is the sole survivor of the territory of Nacea.  Nacea and all of its people were destroyed when the land of Erlend started a Civil War with the land of Alona.  Erlend was supposed to protect Nacea but when mysterious and deadly shadows were unleashed during the war, the Erlend lords chose to abandon Nacea and retreat to safety.  Completely alone and forced to live as a thief in order to survive, Sal is determined to make those Erlend lords pay for what they did to Nacea.

When Sal steals a poster advertising a contest to become Opal, one of the Queen’s group of elite assassins, it sounds like the perfect way to gain access to the lords and thus begin seeking revenge.  There’s just one catch – the competition to become Opal is basically a fight to the death, the last one alive wins.  So Sal’s plan is ultimately to get revenge or die trying.

 

LIKES

I’d have to say that Sal is definitely my favorite part of the novel. They are charming, witty, and extremely resourceful.  Sal is also the classic underdog in this competition because the majority of the competitors are heavily trained in combat and other lethal skills, whereas Sal is used to getting by on their street smarts.

You’ll also notice my use of ‘they’ as I’m referring to Sal.  Sal is a gender fluid protagonist, and in most cases is referred to as they, although Sal indicates that what gender pronouns are used should be dictated by what type of clothing is being worn. If Sal is wearing a dress, for example, using ‘she’ is perfectly acceptable.  I had never read a book with a gender fluid character in it before so this made for a unique read.  I don’t know much at all about gender fluidity but I thought Miller did a very nice job portraying it here.  I also liked that it was incorporated smoothly into the overall story and didn’t overshadow other plot points.  A few characters inquired about it in terms of how to address Sal, but otherwise they accepted it without question and moved on. It wasn’t treated as an oddity.

Another aspect of Mask of Shadows I enjoyed was the competition itself.  Yes, it was reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but it was still an exciting, action-packed part of the book regardless.  The rules were basically to kill as many of your fellow competitors as possible, but do so without being caught.  Since the competition is to become one of the Queen’s assassins, stealth is one of the most important qualities needed.  Miller does a fantastic job of building plenty of tension and suspense as the reader follows Sal through the competition, playing this ultra-intense kill-or-be-killed game, never knowing when a potential assassin might be hiding around any corner, or up in any tree, looking for the perfect opportunity to take them out. One distinct difference between this competition and The Hunger Games was that all of the competitors were referred to by numbers and wore numbered masks over their faces at all times.  They were only referred to by their numbers, which added an almost-dehumanizing element to the competition. I had mixed feelings about the masks because there were a few competitors I would have liked to know more about, but it was hard to connect with any of them since they were just faceless numbers.

Also somewhat reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but in a good way (for me anyway) is that each competitor is assigned a servant to help them dress, bathe, ensure they have safe, non-poisoned food to eat each day.  Sal’s servant, Maud, was one of my favorite characters in the book.  She’s not allowed to give Sal any kind of advantage during the competition, but behind the scenes, she is hard core in Sal’s corner.  Why?  Because if Sal wins, Maud gets a reward and a huge promotion.  So she’s very excited each day that Sal doesn’t die.  She’s sassy too, so she adds a much-welcomed element of lightheartedness in the middle of what is otherwise just scene after scene of murders and attempted murders.

DISLIKES/ISSUES

My biggest issues with Mask of Shadows had to do with pacing, which was slow at times, especially when the author was detailing Sal’s backstory and the reasons why they wanted to become one of the Queen’s assassins.  I lost interest a few times along the way and only came away with a vague notion of what the world of Mask of Shadows entailed so I would have loved more world building, but without it being in the form of info dumps.

I also had issues with the romance, which I found to be out of place and unfortunately distracting from the main storyline.  Although I thought Sal and Elise had a lot of chemistry when they first met (while Sal was robbing Elise), as the story went on and they are reunited as part of the competition, I preferred them  as teacher and student rather than romantic partners.

Overall, I think more action-packed competition scenes and little or no romance would have better served Mask of Shadows.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While I did have some issues with it, overall I still enjoyed reading Mask of Shadows.  While parts of the storyline are in some ways reminiscent of The Hunger Games, the similarities did not bother me because there are still enough differences to make it a unique and entertaining read.

RATING:  3.5 STARS

Thanks so much to Netgalley, Linsey Miller, and Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me to preview this book.  This in no way shapes my opinion of the book being reviewed.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home. 

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge. 

three-half-stars

About Linsey Miller

A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. She is currently an MFA candidate represented by Rachel Brooks of Bookends Literary. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in August 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

Weekly Recap #15: Week of 8/20 – 8/26

 

Hey everyone!  It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Last week was such a hectic week for me that I can barely even remember what happened.  Gotta love weeks like that!  We were short-staffed at work so I spent all day everyday stressed out and running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  My son also started soccer practice this past week and had two birthday parties to go to, so I think I also spent most of my non-working hours also running around like a chicken with my head cut off, haha!  Needless to say, I’m very excited to be on vacation this week.  I’m really looking forward to sleeping in, relaxing, and of course, getting lots of reading done.  I’m also anxiously waiting to see if I can score tickets to Springsteen on Broadway since they go on sale this week.  I desperately want to see his show so fingers crossed!

For the blog, I managed to finish reading Mask of Shadows this week so stay tuned for my review of that.  I also just started reading Girls Made of Snow and Glass, which is a Snow White retelling.  So far it is meeting my expectations and I’m enjoying it, so hopefully that will continue.  I should also have a review for it up by the end of the week.  I’ve also said that I’ll be hosting my next giveaway when I reach 1,000 followers on twitter and I’m getting really close, so hopefully there will be a giveaway soon! 🙂

I think that’s it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

   

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

      
 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     
      

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

ARC Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

ARC Review:  The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine LockeThe Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
five-stars
Series: The Balloonmakers #1
Published by Albert Whitman Company on September 1st 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 256
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Katherine Locke’s The Girl with the Red Balloon is such a gorgeous and moving book that I’m nearly at a loss for words to convey just how good it really is.  I finished reading it a few days ago and just can’t stop thinking about it.   The Girl with the Red Balloon is not a light read by any stretch of the imagination – it deals with weighty subjects like the Holocaust, racism, homophobia, and what it was like to live behind the Iron Curtain before the Berlin Wall fell. For the most part, it’s a dark and gritty dual time period read that shows how horrific it was for Jews during World War II as well as how difficult it was to live under the eye of a totalitarian regime in 1980’s East Germany. It’s not all darkness and horror though. Katherine Locke uses a hint of magic and a bit of romance to offset all of that darkness.  You see, not only is this novel historical fiction that deals with more than one time period.  It’s also a time travel novel.

The Girl with the Red Balloon begins in present day Germany where we meet one of our main characters, sixteen year old Ellie Baum, who has traveled there on a class field trip.  She sees a red balloon floating nearby while hanging out with her classmates and asks her best friend to take a photo of her with it for her grandfather.  It reminds her of a story her grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, always tells her, about how a girl in a purple dress handed him a red balloon when he arrived at a concentration camp during the war, and the balloon floated him out of the camp and to safety.

When Ellie grabs the balloon, however, the unexpected and unbelievable happens.  She travels back in time to 1988 and finds herself in East Berlin and in imminent danger!  There she is found and led to a safe house by Kai and Mitzi, a Romani gypsy and a German lesbian, who are part of a magical resistance group who uses red balloons to float people over the Berlin Wall and into West Germany.  The catch?  These balloons, while magical, are not supposed to travel through time.  The balloon makers are stumped as to what has happened to bring Ellie to them and are therefore unsure of how to get her back to her own time period.  The resistance group vows to keep Ellie safe from the East German police and to do everything they can to find a way to get her home, but when dead time travelers start turning up with red balloons, it becomes clear that someone is experimenting with forbidden dark magic and time travel.  Why is someone trying to travel back in time and why are they so willing to do it, even at the expense of innocent lives?  If others are dying when they grab these balloons, how was Ellie able to safely travel back in time? It becomes a race against time to stop who is behind this before the bodies start piling up, even if it means Ellie loses out on perhaps her only way back to the future.

LIKES

This is another one of those books where I could just write pages and pages about what I liked.  I don’t want to give anything away though so I’m just going to list a few highlights.

The friendship between Ellie and her two protectors, Kai and Mitzi, was one of my favorite parts of the book.  These three become fast friends while living in the safe house together, and their chemistry is fantastic.  They’re immediately like The Three Musketeers, all for one and one for all.  I also loved the diversity that these characters represented – Ellie is Jewish, Kai is Romani, and Mitzi is a lesbian. This diversity further forges a bond between them since all three are considered undesirable in East Berlin during this time frame.  The police would love nothing more than to find a reason to arrest them, so they always have each other’s backs.

As I mentioned, there is also a romance in this book and even though on the surface it might sound like somewhat out of place since we already have time traveling, the Holocaust, magical balloons, etc., the romance actually worked well for me.  First, it’s not instalove, so yay.  No, instead, the relationship develops quite naturally as Kai and Ellie get to know each other better.  Kai is kind of dark and brooding at times and he sees Ellie as this softness and light that he needs in his life.  Ellie becomes attracted to Kai, not just because he is handsome, but because of how he puts himself on the line trying to help as many people as he can get over into West Germany.  Ellie is also touched when she sees how devoted Kai is to his younger sister, Sabina.  He would literally do anything to keep Sabina safe and it’s heartwarming to see.

I was incredibly invested in this relationship not just because I liked that it developed naturally and that their two personalities really complimented each other, but also because it just tugged at my heart strings.  What happens to their relationship if the balloon makers are able to figure out how to send Ellie back to her own time period?  Would she go or would she stay with the man she is falling in love with?

Other highlights for me were the completely unique premise and the major themes of the novel.  Seriously, it doesn’t get much more creative than the idea of using magical red balloons to save people.  In addition to the unique premise, there were also so many themes that resonated me with as I was reading.  With respect to those balloons, I loved the beautiful message that there were heroes everywhere, both during World War II and during the time of the Iron Curtain – people who risked their own safety trying to save as many people as they could.  Another darker message that resonated with me as I got further into the story was more of a question of ethics – if a person’s overall intention is good, does that excuse any unethical behavior he or she may engage along the way accomplishing that goal?  This was definitely food for thought for me as I was reading.

A final highlight for me was the way the story was presented.  It’s presented in alternating chapters from the perspective of Kai and Ellie in 1988 East Berlin and from Ellie’s grandfather, Benno, as a young boy during World War II.  I loved how presenting the story this way effectively moves Ellie’s time traveling story forward as well as her relationship with Kai, while at the same time, circling back and showing the origin of the red balloons.  Seeing Benno’s horrific experiences in the Jewish ghettos, surrounded by disease and death, served as a poignant reminder that without that red balloon, neither Ellie nor any of her other family members would exist in present day.  Ellie literally owes her life to that magical balloon.

DISLIKES/ISSUES

The only real issue I had with this book was that it took me a few chapters to acclimate to the three alternating points of view.  I’m not going to call that a dislike because once I got used to it and remembered, I thought it was a beautiful way to tie together what happened with Benno and a red balloon during the war and what happened to his granddaughter when she touches a red balloon over 40 years later.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Girl with the Red Balloon is a book that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, magic, time travel, romance, and even mysteries.  Not only does it have a little something for everyone, but it’s also just a beautifully written story that will be on your mind long after you read the final pages.

RATING:  5 STARS

Thanks so much to Katherine Locke, Netgalley, and the Albert Whitman Company for allowing me the opportunity to preview an advanced copy of this book. It in no way shapes my opinion of the book.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

five-stars

About Katherine Locke

Katherine Locke lives and writes in a small town outside Philadelphia, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. She writes about that which she cannot do: ballet, magic, and time travel. She secretly believes all stories are fairytales in disguise. Her YA debut, THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON, arrives September 2017 from Albert Whitman & Comapny.

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on REIGN OF THE FALLEN

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh.  I have to admit the cover is what initially attracted me to this book.  The skull wearing a crown certainly does make an impression.  But then when I read the synopsis, it captures my attention every bit as much as the cover.  Someone is intentionally creating zombies?!  Why?!  I have to know!

REIGN OF THE FALLEN by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Publication Date:  January 23, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

An LGBT fantasy series that follows a talented necromancer who must face down a deadly nemesis who has learned how to turn her magic into a weapon.

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

A lavish fantasy with a surprising and breathtaking LGBT romance at its core, Reign of the Fallen is a gutsy, unpredictable read that will grab readers by the throat and never let go….

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top 10 Books I Was Required to Read for School But Ended Up Loving

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Back To School Freebie: anything “back to school” related like 10 favorite books I read in school, books I think should be required reading, Required Reading For All Fantasy Fans, required reading for every college freshman, Books to Pair With Classics or Books To Complement A History Lesson, books that would be on my classroom shelf if I were a teacher, etc.

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When I think of back-to-school, the first thing that comes to mind are Required Reading Lists.  I don’t know about you guys, but even though I’m a lifelong bookworm, I still hate it when someone tells me what I HAVE to read.  Even if they were books I probably would have read at some point myself, making it a requirement instead of a choice just irritated me.  I was a good student though so of course I always completed my required reading assignments.  And yes, there were quite a few times where I actually ended up loving the books even though I was annoyed that I was forced to read them in the first place.  So that’s what I’m focusing on this week – Top 10 Books I Was Required to Read for School But Ended Up Loving.

In some cases like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, I loved them for their feisty heroines.  In other cases like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Lord of the Flies resonated with me because they were a reminder that no matter how bad I thought my life was at any given moment, things could really be a lot worse.  Books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl remain some of the most powerful and eye-opening books I’ve ever read.  Shakespeare’s tragedies spoke to me in that even though they’re hundreds of years old, their themes are still just as relevant today as they were when originally penned.  And the list goes on…All of these books went from required readings to all-time favorites so I’ll send out a huge thanks to every English teacher who ever made me read a book.

 

Top 10 Books I Was Required to Read for School But Ended Up Loving

 

1. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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2. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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3.  THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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4. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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5. 1984 by George Orwell

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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6. OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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7. FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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8. THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE by Pat Conroy

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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9. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding

 

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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10. THE TRAGEDIES OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (Basically All of Them!)

 
 

(Find out what it’s about…)

 

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Question: What are some books you were forced to read for school that you ended up loving?

Book Review – This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Book Review – This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Also by this author: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
five-stars
Series: Monsters of Verity, #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 464
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

MY REVIEW:

Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic series was such a glorious read that I was actually a little hesitant to move on to This Savage Song.  As good as its synopsis sounded, I was just convinced that nothing could top the adventures of Kell, Rhys, and Lila and the 4 Londons.  Well, my concerns were completely misplaced because while it may not have topped Shades of Magic, This Savage Song is equally brilliant in its own way and easily one of the most compelling books I’ve read this year.

This Savage Song is an urban fantasy set in the war-torn city of Verity.  Not only is the city practically destroyed by war, but the violence that has taken place has actually led to the creation of actual monsters who threaten to overrun what is left of the city.  A treaty has divided Verity into two halves, one run by the ruthless Callum Harker, a crime boss who controls the majority of the monsters.  Being the “nice” guy that he is, Harker offers his services to protect the citizens on his side of the city from the monsters – for a fee.  Cross him or don’t pay your protection fee, and you’re the monsters’ next meal.  The other side of the city is run by Henry Flynn, a much more fair-minded individual who just wants to honor the terms of the treaty, keep the peace, and most especially, keep the monsters at bay so that his people are safe.

The story doesn’t actually focus on these two men, however, but rather on their children.  Kate Harker and August Flynn, and what happens when two children of powerful men become desperate to prove themselves to their fathers. But if you’re familiar with Schwab’s stories, you can guess that this is not your typical coming of age story.  Why?  Because August Flynn is a monster…literally. Yes,  Henry Flynn has monsters of his own, a rare breed that Kate’s father would love to get his hands on.  When August is finally given the opportunity to prove himself useful – by posing as a student at Kate’s school in case the Flynn resistance needs to grab her to use as leverage against her father, he actually ends up befriending Kate. He has to be careful though because if Kate finds out what he really is, what better way for her to prove herself to dear old dad than by capturing and bringing home one of Flynn’s rare monsters?

If you’re not familiar with Schwab’s writing, all I can say is be prepared for a ride that is dark, intense, creepy, and thrilling!

 

LIKES

I could go on for days about what I loved in this book, but here are some highlights to give you an idea of how amazing this book is.

The Monsters! I never thought I would hear myself gushing about a collection of monsters, but Schwab does a brilliant job of coming up with some of the most unique monsters I’ve ever encountered, and the idea that these monsters are “born” from violent acts committed by humans is just pure genius.  Schwab gives us the flesh-eating Corsai, who appear mainly as shadowy figures; the Malchai, who look like corpses and drink blood, and then finally the rarest form of monster, the Sunai.  The Sunai can actually pass for humans and they are the soul stealers.  The Sunai are, by far, the most fascinating of the three types, primarily because whereas Corsai and Malchai will attack anyone at any time, the Sunai seek justice and will only attack those who have committed heinous crimes.  They’re even more fascinating in terms of how they actually “attack” – each of the three Sunai uses music as their weapon.  They play music and draw the human’s soul to the surface and then feed on it.  It’s beautiful and awful all at the same time.

Complex Characters.  Kate Harker and August Flynn are the definition of complex characters.  Kate is a young woman determined to prove herself to her father by behaving like a monster, while August Flynn actually is a Sunai monster who wants nothing more than to be human.  August constantly fights against the Sunai instinct to feed on souls and just wants to prove himself to his “father” by being an active participant in the resistance.  In this sense, This Savage Song is as much a coming of age story as it is a dystopian story.  Both Kate and August have to make some difficult decisions as they decide what kind of people (or monsters) they want to be.

Action-Packed.  This Savage Song is set in the middle of a city that is already war torn and where the monsters are getting restless. There are monster attacks, assassination attempts, resistance missions, and so much more.  If you like action, this is your book.

The Overriding Theme.  The central idea that runs through This Savage Song – that human beings can be monsters may not be a unique one, but the way Schwab presents it – contrasting the behaviors of humans with actual monsters — totally is. It’s also a theme that seems very relevant these days with everything that is going on in the world.  There’s just so much hate and division out there.

 

DISLIKES

I thought the book was fantastic and had no issues with it at all.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

While it is a very different kind of read from what we saw in the Shades of Magic, This Savage Song is still a powerful read.  If you’re into dark, gritty narratives that make you think about human nature and the tough choices we all have to make in difficult times, This Savage Song is a great choice.

 

RATING:  5 STARS

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. 

five-stars

About Victoria Schwab

ve schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

She is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary and Jon Cassir at CAA.
All appearance and publicity inquiries should be directed to either her agent, or one of her publicists:

Harper: Gina.Rizzo@harpercollins.com
Tor: Alexis.Saarela@tor.com

Weekly Recap #14: Week of 8/13 – 8/19

 

Hey everyone!  It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

So all of that insomnia I talked about last week did have one good thing come out of it…I actually managed to finish the final 7 books for my Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge!  Not the ideal way to complete a challenge, but I’ll take it, haha! I actually put a visible dent in the pile of books stacked up in my office, so I’m pretty stoked about getting so many older titles off my TBR.  I still have plenty more to get through though so if anyone knows of any good fall reading challenges coming up, let me know!  For now though, it’s back to the ARCS I have coming up for review and also getting caught up on my blog comments, which I had slacked on a bit while trying to complete my challenge.

Off the blog it was a pretty quiet week, although it will probably be the last quiet one for a while.  We’re getting geared up for back-to-school and for my son’s fall soccer season so things will definitely start to pick up again.  I have one more week of work and then I’m on vacation (YAY!)  I decided not to go anywhere so I’m hoping for good weather here so that I can at least enjoy a few relaxing moments out on my deck reading.

Oh well, that’s enough from me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

   
  

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

 
    
 

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     
     

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Summer TBR Wipeout 2017: Wrap-Up

 

The Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge ends today so it’s time to wrap up and take stock of how I did.  Can you believe I actually ended up reading all 12 of the books I had chosen for the challenge?!  After my last update, I still had 7 left on my list and was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it through all 12, but I really kicked it into high gear and finished the final book this morning.  I’m excited because it actually put a visible dent in the pile of books stacked up in the corner of my office.  I’ll definitely be looking for a similar reading challenge as we move into the fall months.

 

BOOKS I READ FOR THIS UPDATE:

 

   
      
 

I adored This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I’m working on a review for this one right now so I won’t say too much here, but it was a fantastic read full of creepy monsters.  It’s everything I hope for when I pick up one of Schwab’s novels.  This was a 5 star read for me.

Cress by Marissa Meyer.  My love for The Lunar Chronicles series has only continued to grow with my reading of Cress.  I’m forever amazed how Meyer managed to keep weaving new versions of these classic fairy tale characters into her unique narrative.  I keep thinking it’s going to start to get hokey at any moment, but it never does.  Cress adds a Rapunzel-like characters to the narrative who takes a liking to my favorite character from the series, Carswell Thorne. (Man, I just love that guy!)  The action really ramps up in Cress too as our fairy tale-inspired characters get closer and closer to taking out the evil Queen Levana.  This was also a 5 star read for me and I can’t wait to get my hands on Winter, the next book in the series.

Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can was a quick and fun read for me.  Its similar in style to Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody in terms of it being a collection of humorous essays, but I enjoyed Lauren’s.  I don’t know if it’s because Lauren is closer to my age and so I found some of it more relatable or if I just liked that Lauren reminds me so much of her most famous character, Lorelai Gilmore, but it was just a delight to follow her on this journey.  I especially loved the parts of the book where she talked about writing both of her books – her writing process, meeting deadlines, etc. My absolute favorite part was the section where she talks about the Gilmore Girls Netflix revival series and even includes some of the journal entries she wrote while filming it.  I loved that she was experiencing so many of the same emotions that most fans were feeling at first hearing the news that there would be a revival and then actually sitting down and finally watching it.  She was as much of a blubbering mess as I was, lol.  This was such a fun read, 4 stars.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was another quick read for me.  I loved the characters, Maddy and Olly, and watching how they were able to forge a beautiful relationship in spite of a rare and potentially deadly illness that has kept Maddy locked in her home and home-schooled, completely isolated for most of her life.  She’s basically the girl in the bubble.  Olly is Maddy’s new next door neighbor.  After seeing Maddy watching him from her window a few times and then being turned away at the front door by Maddy’s mom when he tries to come and introduce himself, Olly decides to get creative and puts his email address on his window.  Maddy writes to him and they immediately click.  The more they talk, the more Maddy desperately wants to meet him in person, even if it could compromise her health.  Her nurse secretly helps her set up a short meeting, and as soon as she and Olly finally meet in person, Maddy realizes that this life in a safe bubble is just not what she wants anymore even if it means she doesn’t live long.  I just thought this was such a beautiful story and then the plot twist near the end is just OMG, WOW!  I don’t want to give that away, but needless to say, it completely blew me away.  This was a 4-star read for me and I’m really looking forward to watching the film when it comes out.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  What a heart-wrenching story this is! I think this is one of those books best read not knowing too much about it ahead of time, so I’m not going to say too much about it.  I’ll just say that it’s about monsters, both literal and figurative, and it’s about the lies we sometimes tell ourselves to help us through difficult times and what happens when those lies are shattered and the hard truth is all that’s left.  Filled with incredible illustrations, this is a read unlike any other.  4.5 Stars.

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie.  Fractured is a thriller in the vein of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and The Party by Robyn Harding.  You know the type — something horrible has happened and the reader spends the entire book trying to figure out who’s telling the truth, who’s lying, and who’s ultimately responsible.  Yeah, that kind of book.  Fractured was great because even though you find out almost immediately that someone has died – it’s not until the closing pages that you find out who and how.  This was also one of those books where I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, but the story was so compelling, I still couldn’t put it down.  Instead, I actually hated a couple of the characters so much, that I spent most of the book hoping they were the ones who turned up dead during the reveal.  If you read this and meet Cindy, you’ll know exactly what I mean, lol.  If you like a plot filled with twists and turns and lots of domestic drama (OMG, you went jogging with my husband, you whore! – I’m paraphrasing here but that’s the gist anyway), then you’ll love Fractured.  It’s a wild ride for sure.  4 Stars from me.

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess.  I just read this yesterday and absolutely devoured it.  In some ways it reminded me of the Harry Potter series almost as soon as I started reading. Since I adore HP so much, I was hooked by this story immediately.   Henrietta Howell learns that she is a sorcerer and that she fits the description of a prophecy that says she will be the one to help defeat a group of ancient monsters who are hell-bent on wreaking havoc and destroying London.  When the Sorcerer’s order finds her, they bring her to London so that she can begin training to be a sorcerer because they want her to join Her Majesty’s sorcerers as soon as possible because the ancient monsters have been attacking the city more and more frequently.  It’s a race against the clock to get the ‘Chosen One’ up to speed before the Ancients are able to break through the protective ward that has been placed around the heart of the city.  Most of the book is centered around Henrietta’s training, which doesn’t go all that well.  Henrietta soon finds out why her training isn’t going well and what she learns throws into question everything –  she may not be the Chosen One after all and may not even really be a sorcerer for that matter.  Lots of twists and turns in this story as she tries to figure out who she really is and how she fits into the Prophecy, if at all.  I loved watching Henrietta go through her training and interact with her classmates, all of whom were male. This leads me to my one gripe about the book. Henrietta is the first female sorcerer to come along in 400 years and these boys act like idiots gawking at her.  It’s like the love triangle/love square from The Red Queen where everyone who sees Henrietta is immediately infatuated with her.  Can we stop doing that, please?  Thankfully there was lots of action, bloody battles, and wild sorcerer magic tricks to distract me from these ridiculous boys and keep this at a 4 star read for me.

 

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So, there you have it.  Challenge completed!  Thanks so much to The Candid Cover for hosting it!  And now it’s time to move on to the rest of the books piled high on my TBR pile. 12 down, countless more to go….