Saturday, September 24, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (225)

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. ;)

Hello! It's raining again! There was a pretty good downpour the other day. It was like heavy-duty movie rain, like when you know they've just got a sprinkler going off up in the air.

So I've been doing that thing that happens almost every fall, which is cramming in reviews of books that're coming out in September and October. SO MANY BOOKS. Ones I have for review or ones I bought or borrowed from the library and want to review. And then I feel like I've scheduled too much, or that I'm not reading enough, but then I sit down to read and I'm just not feeling it. I'm hoping I've settled into a good reading rhythm. But I did just go on a borrowing spree on the library's e-book site. Ooooooooops. ;)

Reviews going up in the coming week will feature Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson (Tuesday) and A Little Taste of Poison by R.J. Anderson (Friday). :)
Timekeeper by Tara Sim (e-galley from Skyhorse Publishing through NetGalley)
The Swan Riders by Erin Bow (borrowed from the library)
Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel (borrowed from the library)
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (borrowed from the library)
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (borrowed from the library)
Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee (borrowed from the library)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Blog tour: Vassa in the Night

Hello! Welcome to the blog tour for Sarah Porter's Vassa in the Night! Many thanks to Raincoast Books for setting up the tour and sending an advance copy. This is definitely not your average story, not your average fairy tale retelling. Today on the tour, you'll find an excerpt of Vassa in the Night. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Me on Enter a Glossy Web

Title: Enter a Glossy Web
Author: McKenna Rhea Ruebush
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books (Macmillan imprint)

Twelve-year-old George has no idea what to expect when she's sent to stay with eccentric relatives following the disappearance of her brother. Soon after her arrival, she learns that Uncle Constantine has been kidnapped. George sets off to recover him and is joined by two orphaned boys along the way and Cavendish, a talking map. Together they visit magical worlds full of monsters, witches, and dragons as they attempt to find Constantine--the Timekeeper--a man of great significance. If he's not rescued, events will cease to happen at their designated times, disrupting the unfolding of the universe. Can this ragtag crew save the future before being outwitted by evil captors?

Enter a Glossy Web is an exciting adventure full to the brim with magic, discovery, impossibility, and danger. Time is running out, and George and the boys have to hurry if they're going to save the universe.

George is a smart girl, a thoughtful girl. A lonely girl. After her brother's disappearance, she can't lose anyone close to her again. She keeps count, but even then, her uncle goes missing on a work trip and her aunt is kidnapped. She's been given an impossible quest, rooted in the fantastical bedtime stories her uncle told her during a meteor shower, and she follows it, determined to save the family members taken from her. But she doesn't want to remember what happened before, in Istanbul. Her companions, the young boys named Caleb and Mikal, are a curious pair. Their story, the beginning that they share with George, is a sad one, and soon they help her solving puzzles and searching for keys. But they also have things they don't want to talk about. They have secrets, they have fears, and they don't want to confront them.

How charming was this book! It reminded me of the impossible magic of childhood, of playing pretend and stories filled with magical creatures and different worlds. Of fantasy stories of children saying the day and adults helping them instead of hindering them. So many supportive adult characters! This was such a joy to read, so much fun to read. I loved reading about George, Caleb, and Mikal wandering through different worlds like the Land of Dreamers and The Children's Republic as they searched for the keys that would help save the worlds. A must-read for middle grade fans, for fans of fantasy worlds and adventure and wonder.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (297)

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

Title: The Lost Property Office
Author: James R. Hannibal
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

James R. Hannibal presents a thrilling adventure through history, complete with mysteries, secret items, codes, and a touch of magic in this stunning middle grade debut.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.

But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.

Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?

Oooooooooo. I like secret things and codes. And I like the cover, the mysterious bug thing (what does it mean?). I've been charmed by middle grade this fall, so I'm looking forward to this. I'm looking forward to the world-building, to what the Lost Property Office is and how it impacts the world.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Me on Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched. The heirs of the city's most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die. Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy... and perhaps turn against his own clan. Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she's the only one who believes it's in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara. Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting...

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is haunting and deadly, a story covered in blood. It's a search for hidden truths, for justice, and for secrets powerful enough to kill for in a city that's slowly dying.

The four main characters are all different, all anchor the story in different ways. Juliet is hard, skilled. She's made to serve, made to kill. She's meant for one purpose: to enact justice on behalf of the Catresou family, to hand out punishment to those who've wronged them. Romeo is foolish and flighty, reckless. Falling in love with the Juliet was something no one expected. But after a childhood of being ignored, how could he become anything but bold with his affections? Runajo is hard, her heart now obsidian. She searches for the truth in belief, in sacrifice, and struggles to find any. Struggles to find anyone who feels the same. Who knows what she knows, that the city is crumbling. Paris is an innocent soldier in the Catresou family's army of clueless sons. He believes in the good of his family, even when they steal and murder right under his nose. Even when the commit forbidden acts. But he must do what he thinks is right.

The world-building was very interesting. The city of Viyara is made up of different peoples, different cultures, because of the fleeing that occurred as the fog of the Ruining swept across the land. There's a intriguing combination of cultures and customs, of rules and faith, of magic and honour. It's all very layered. The Lower City, the Sisters of Thorn, the Catresou and the Mahyanai, the Juliet and her Guardian. I could see the loose bonds that connect it to Shakespeare's original play, the tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers, but that's where it ends. Do not expect an exact copy. This world extends far beyond the play.

It took me some time to realize how involved this book was going to be, how much two groups could be searching and fighting, be looking for the same answers on different sides of the same coin and never come together. Knowing this is the first in a duology, I can understand the ending. The surprises. The resolutions. The secrets still hidden. But it still felt less like an ending and more like a pause, a breath to be taken before the rest of the story continues in the second book. I would like to know how it ends, what happens next, but the wait will be hard.

(I received an advance copy of this title from HarperCollins Canada.)