This was my first Brandon Mull. A friend recommended his Fabelhaven series for my chapter-book, How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter-loving son andThis was my first Brandon Mull. A friend recommended his Fabelhaven series for my chapter-book, How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter-loving son and I to read together. Those books were checked out of the library, but Sky Raiders was in, so we picked it up.
Initially, I was concerned that it was a little too old for him - he's a mature almost-eight, and the characters are 6th graders, and there's talk of crushes and girls, most of which frankly bored him. In a way, it was kind of like the Wizard of Oz structurally. The hero begins in an average, bland life, and is sucked into someplace completely foreign and fantastic, from which he is trying to escape. When the narrative arrived in the Outskirts, though, my son was hooked on the action, and I was very taken with the premise.
The characters are a bit wooden, almost as though they are only three dimensional when the spotlight is on them, but the setting is wonderful, and the concept -- especially that of the Cloudwall and the Brink -- fascinating.
I didn't think it was amazing, but very entertaining, and my son wants to read the next one, so I certainly can't complain. I definitely still want to read the Fablehaven books, too....more
I devoured this story, and have recommended it to anyone who will listen. Great characters, history and music all woven into a mystery and a love storI devoured this story, and have recommended it to anyone who will listen. Great characters, history and music all woven into a mystery and a love story of sorts -- wonderful read!...more
**Full disclosure: I am part of the publishing team at Bannerwing Books, so I have a certain vested interest in UNKEPT. That said, we believe in our p**Full disclosure: I am part of the publishing team at Bannerwing Books, so I have a certain vested interest in UNKEPT. That said, we believe in our projects, and my opinion of this novel is part of why we chose to publish it.**
UNKEPT is not a story of heroic people triumphing against insurmountable odds. It is a keening song of surviving a thousand paper cuts. It's the story of damaged people wading out of the muck in their own hearts in search of finding "good enough." It is a ruthless examination of how girls can be, and how those girls might grow up. It's the story of two screwed up families on parallel roads to redemption, and two hopelessly intertwined tales of infatuation played out in full view of a small town over decades.
Seasoned with wry, bleak humor, UNKEPT delves into the uncomfortable, dark truths in the everyday heart....more
I am a devoted Eden Baylee reader. Her erotica is smart, clever, and sexy. Eden understands that the mind is one hell of an erogenous zone. Ms. BayleeI am a devoted Eden Baylee reader. Her erotica is smart, clever, and sexy. Eden understands that the mind is one hell of an erogenous zone. Ms. Baylee is, however, a Jill of Many Genres: Stranger at Sunset, a psychological thriller set in Jamaica, is a slow-burning study of murder, loyalty, and the bonds formed between strangers in paradise. (A luxurious Caribbean retreat was just the getaway I needed, reading from the frosty Boston suburbs this February!) Dr. Kate Hampton, the strong, smart woman at the center of the story, is ever-so-cool, but a bit of an enigma, and it would seem that her carefully compartmentalized past is catching up with her.
It will be a treat to watch Ms. Baylee peel away the layers of this complex heroine in subsequent books....more
A Poison Tree is quite different from Everyone Burns and Hungry Ghosts, for all that it also centers around the life and times of one David Braddock.A Poison Tree is quite different from Everyone Burns and Hungry Ghosts, for all that it also centers around the life and times of one David Braddock. While the first two books follow his adventures as a widower, ex-pat, film-noir-worthy anti-hero in Thailand, this third novel returns to Braddock's married life, a decade before, in England.
(Strong hint: go grab John's twisted, grimly funny short story Jim Fosse's Expense Claim prior to the read. It's a savory little amuse bouche before this main course.)
Opening with an unexpected and shocking proposition, John Dolan builds a simmering, quietly compelling thriller, tangling the lives of a car showroom manager, his wife, his sister-in-law, a prostitute, a vicar, and a psychopath. When the crisis comes, all is not as it seems. Suspicion, passion, infidelity, and murder, all doled out with Mr. Dolan's trademark wit and intelligent prose....more
Welcome to New North, a near-future splinter-nation of a once-great democracy. A walled-off, totalitarian, patriarchal theocracy in which centralizedWelcome to New North, a near-future splinter-nation of a once-great democracy. A walled-off, totalitarian, patriarchal theocracy in which centralized wealth, rigid social castes, legislated segregation and discrimination, and technological reversion leave women powerless, denied the written word, kept as chattel by men: fathers, husbands, or the state.
We meet Andra BetScrivener on her seventeenth birthday, a day on which she is welcomed to womanhood by the Ministry, reminded that she must choose within the year: an appropriate marriage or entrance to a Women's Training Program, in which she will be taught to be a proper, subservient female so that her weak, inferior feminine brain can be put to use for the greater good (servitude or forced marriage). Andra, like her late mother before her, is a gifted artist, but Andra has talents heretofore unheard of in a generation of oppression and subjugation.
When Andra discovers that her unusual talents have far-reaching implications, she must take hold of her destiny and examine the true meaning of power.
A debut novel that is equal parts adventure story and call-to-peaceful-revolution, Lisa A. Kramer's P.O.W.ER reaches out to a broad audience. Echoes of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale mingle with shades of The Hunger Games. Like Atwood's Offred, Andra is a first person narrator, a witness to the events of the tale, but she is a conflicted warrior, a Katniss Everdeen whose bow and arrow are pen and ink, wishing for a life of peace, potential, and freedom from oppression, but drawn into and brought to the front of a rebellion with far larger goals.
Kramer's prose is accessible to YA readers without feeling reined-in, while the themes will give adult readers much to consider. The plot is tight, the conflict consistently present and immediate. This is a perfect book for young women, mothers, sons and fathers, brothers, and all those who both love a great story and believe in the power of community to bring about a better world....more
I had – until last night – three favorite memoirs. Stephen King’s On Writing, Sophie Morgan’s Diary of a Submissive, and Kristin Kimball’s The Dirty LI had – until last night – three favorite memoirs. Stephen King’s On Writing, Sophie Morgan’s Diary of a Submissive, and Kristin Kimball’s The Dirty Life. Words, sex, and farming. What did they have in common that spoke to me? A love story. And yes, I consider On Writing to be a love story.
Seems now I have a fourth.
Not Without My Father is a love story, too. A child’s love story. What begins as a publicity stunt for a talented and ambitious novelist becomes a love song to making the moments of your life count with the people most important to you.
Andra is a storytelling daughter of a story teller, and she gives space on her pages for both her own and her father’s voices. We accompany her on her journey from Natchez to Nashville, along 442 miles of physical misery, hilarity, fear, and transcendent joy. Framed around the music that kept her company on the road, Andra’s chapters unfold like the pages of a map, and like the unfolding reveal of the trail ahead, Andra’s vision lengthens from simply meeting her mile goal to living a life less ordinary with her aging parents.
This is not to say that Not Without My Father is a tender, gentle tale of a family’s journey. Andra presents herself to her readers as she is, shredded feet and exhaustion included. It’s grim, funny, sometimes awkward, and not shy about bodily fluids. It’s also incredibly sweet.
By the end of the story, she not only discovers more of who she is, she sees more of who her father is, who her parents are, and who they are together. She has made memories with them that will keep them with her long after they’re gone, and she urges us – her readers – to do the same.
It wasn’t until I sat down to explain why I loved this book, that I realized I’d made a memory just by insisting that Andra bring me a copy to buy and get some seriously good ice cream on a sunny spring day. Sometimes, it takes a five week journey to make the memories, but sometimes it’s just being in a lovely moment with friends, and I thank her for reminding me of that....more
I had the privilege of reading an ARC of this book prior to release.
It takes a special kind of storytelling to allow a reader to fall in love with a dI had the privilege of reading an ARC of this book prior to release.
It takes a special kind of storytelling to allow a reader to fall in love with a deadly, haunted place, and that it exactly what happened when I stepped inside Elizabeth Yon's Johns Woods, the backdrop for all four stories in Blackfern Girls.
Ms. Yon has a distinct talent for lifting the veil between the world we know and what we cannot see, what is tangible and that which lurks in the corner of our eye. What her very human characters face when the veil lifts tests their mettle at every turn; the outcomes surprise.
While not directly connected, these four stories draw on one another, often revealing a thread from somewhere else in Blackfern County. Much in the way of Stephen King, whose world is vast and populous, Ms. Yon's characters move through their lives--and deaths--leaving marks in others' stories where they go.
Ms. Yon lures readers into the shades and shadows of the Johns Woods, and as her tales make their way into the forgotten hollows of Blackfern County, those shadows grow deeper and show their teeth. Girlhood is indeed hard in these woods, throughout and beyond time and place.
Fans of Ms. Yon's blog, The Palace of Night, will recognize Gideon Crowe, whose cameo in "Local Honey" gives a new glimpse of his peculiar journey, and begs the question, when will Elizabeth Yon give us his story in full?...more
I plowed through this book in a matter of two days, all pun intended, devoured Kimball's story of the unglamourous but purposeful life she chose. HerI plowed through this book in a matter of two days, all pun intended, devoured Kimball's story of the unglamourous but purposeful life she chose. Her language is gorgeous, her memory both soft and unflinching, and I loved every word....more
An imaginative retelling with a plausibly non-magical explanation of the fairy tale elements. Elise is strong protagonist, and a fresh set of eyes toAn imaginative retelling with a plausibly non-magical explanation of the fairy tale elements. Elise is strong protagonist, and a fresh set of eyes to view the time-proven characters....more
To Live Forever is an ambitious collision of near-historical fiction, adventure/thriller, and magical realism. Like a well-simmered gumbo, this bookTo Live Forever is an ambitious collision of near-historical fiction, adventure/thriller, and magical realism. Like a well-simmered gumbo, this book is rich, complex and deeply enjoyable, with just enough je ne sais quoi, that crucial pinch of filé that makes the thing just right.
I devoured the story in great gulps, always sad to have to put it down, but the characters and the Natchez Trace stayed with me, pulling me back whenever my Kindle and I had a moment alone.
In Meriwether Lewis, we find not the encyclopedia-page explorer, but a compassionate and desperate soul, caught between his desire to finish the work of his time in Nowhere and his lack of understanding of exactly what is required of him. Merry is competent, wry, and gentle, but not without the steel that brought him across a continent two centuries before. Emmaline Cagney is a captivating little girl, and while her mother and the Judge are despicable in their aims, I completely understood how Em enchanted everyone she met. She is on the knife-edge of growing up, and her time with Merry tests her mettle far beyond her years. While his "page-time" is perhaps less, the Judge is a villain in the best sense. He is vile, corrupt, and unhinged, but as the story winds the characters together, I saw that like Merry, the Judge is searching for what his believes to be his immortality.
As well as being a rollicking good story, To Live Forever is a literary examination of what it means to love, to give yourself and your legacy over to the keeping of others, to be remembered - to truly live forever....more