Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Me on Mask of Shadows

Title: Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

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 steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. But 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. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Mask of Shadows is thrilling and compelling, a tale of survival and revenge, of shaky alliances and unexpected truths.

Sal is a thief, but they're a determined thief. Willful, skilled but acknowledges that they have flaws and weak points. Maybe a little broken, a little lost and lonely. They're on a mission, they have a purpose. Revenge. To expose those who left Sal's homeland of Nacea a scorched ruin. But first, Sal has to make it through the audition, survive the plots and plans and poisons of their fellow hopefuls in order to make it to the top, The Left Hand of the Queen.

One important part of this story is that of Sal and their identity, their being gender fluid. In no way is this a coming out story. It's just how it is. Sal knows who they are, how they want to be addressed on certain days depending on what they're wearing or how they're feeling. Which is great to see, especially in fantasy. How Sal was accepted warmly (with the exception of a few who didn't care if they misgendered Sal) and how so much of the book's focus was Sal's revenge, their honing their assassination skills, and their struggle to survive to the end.

What is revenge? For Sal, it's important. It pushes them forward, drives them, but at times it blinds them. More than one plot is circling, and there are those besides Sal that might want to change things in Igna. This is a rather dangerous, rather complicated tale of a young thief looking for revenge and those around them, those who help and those who hinder. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for something different and diverse in fantasy, in a land drained of magic but rich in secrets and shadow.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (272)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hi there! I'm back from my week at the library, which was weird in that it was a good week of teens writing and creating and sharing ideas broken up by a bad migraine and me not getting a lot of sleep. And so I'll take the weekend to sleep and feel better and gather up notes from a bunch of books I finished this week. Because there's so much still to read because of all the books coming out in September and October.

Reviews going up this week will feature Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (Tuesday) and Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast (Friday). :)

No books this week! Maybe next week. :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (271)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

It's still warm out there but it's not as smoky anymore! The air's been so stale and dry out there, everyone's really wanting some rain to come in to clear all the dust and smoke away.

No reviews next week! I'll be doing my usual volunteering in Vancouver at the kids writing and book camp all of next week. Reviews will be back the week of the 21st. :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp (e-galley from Sourcebooks through NetGalley)
The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle (physical copy from Scholastic Canada)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Me on Wicked Like a Wildfire

Title: Wicked Like a Wildfire
Author: Lana Popović
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

All the women in Iris and Malina's family have the unique magical ability or "gleam" to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love. But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Wicked Like a Wildfire is deeply, darkly magical, lush and sinister. It's about the secrets we keep, the family that claims us, and what lurks, waiting for us to fall in love.

Iris is bold and rough, bright and full of thorns. She's the rough sandpaper to her twin Malina's soft glide of silk. She argues with their mother, constantly butts heads with her, and continuously heads out at night to do her own thing. She doesn't understand why, when they were younger and their mother used to encourage their little bursts of magic, now they can't do anything. The lack of using her gleam has it waning in Iris, only appearing in fractal flowers. She doesn't understand their mother anymore. But then she's attacked, then she's taken, then whispers and wants weave their way through Iris, and she and Malina slowly discover the reason why their mother left her family so many years ago.

There's something so visual and expressive about this book. It's the descriptions of Iris' flowers and fractals and glasswork, the descriptions of Malina's songs. It's the emotions and sensations they impart on those around them, the feelings they stir up. The shivers and the shudders, the quakes, the laughter and the tears. This book is full of sisters and magic, of Eastern European and Romany folklore and myth, of secrets. Of fate and purpose and death. Of the power we hold when we fall in love, and the lengths some will go to to grab hold of that power. I would recommend this to those who enjoy contemporary fantasy with layers of family and mystery, something slightly similar to Jennifer Bosworth's The Killing Jar or AnnaMarie McLemore's The Weight of Feathers, but know that this is the first book in a duology so there will be some waiting to read the second book.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (343)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: The Witch Boy
Author: Molly Knox Ostertag
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press

From Goodreads:

In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

The cover is great and this sounds sweet and complicated and I just want to read it so much. :)