Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One.
Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a party Sierra talks to Robbie as requested and quickly finds herself being pursued by the bodies of people who used to be friends with her grandfather but are now dead. As Robbie explains to Sierra the mysterious power of shadowshaping, placing the spirits of dead ancestors into art to give both spirits and art more power, Sierra discovers her family's deepest secrets. Now Sierra, Robbie, and their friends have to fight to put to right her grandfather's biggest mistake and defeat a murderer intent on taking all the power of the spirit world for himself.
Every single character in this book is wonderful, led by Sierra. Young, talented, passionate, confused, defiant, stubborn, and full of snark, Sierra is a fully realized and powerful heroine. She is very much a teenager often acting on impulse and trusting blindly, but she proves to be brave and quick thinking when it is most important. She also has an amazing supportive community to fall back on. Her best friend Bennie is smart and helpful when it comes to research and dating advice. Also hair braiding. These girls are tight and have each other's backs in amazing ways. Their group is rounded out by two other girls, Izzy and Tee, who are dating each other and are masters at the art of banter. The scenes with the four of them together are the best. Sierra's brother Juan is a typical older brother, teasing, competitive, and willing to put his entire life on hold to run to his sister's side when he knows she is in danger and needs him. Robbie is a fabulous complement to Sierra. Equally passionate about art, deeply concerned with maintaining the balance of shadowshaping, and a fabulous dancer, his support and pursuit of Sierra is everything. EVERYTHING. I love how all of these characters are such teenagers too. They decide to make out at inconvenient times. They bounce back and forth between being deeply serious about what they are doing and goofing off. They don't always use their best critical thinking skills. They kind of fly by the seat of their pants a lot. And it all just rings so true to life.
The core of this book is about relationships and community. Sierra's family relationships have a lot of cracks. Her mother and aunt have no desire to even discuss shadowshaping. Sierra's grandfather had some misogynistic ideas about how shadowshaping should work. Sierra's lack of knowledge of her family's past and powers made her more vulnerable than she should have been. Rebuilding trust and filling in the gaps of what she missed is an important part of her journey. And I love that not all of that is completely resolved. Families are messy. Sierra's friends are important to her and their interactions were some of my favorite parts of the book. I really liked how this wasn't entirely perfect either though. There are times when they don't believer her. Not all of them are capable of standing up with her and being brave. Again, I liked the realism in this.
Then there is the relationship between Sierra and Robbie which is just amazing in every way. I like how Older wrote Sierra's realizing her attraction to him and how it grew. Their relationship develops fast and under fraught circumstances but it is believable and organic. I love everything about them: the art, the dancing, the flirting.
The setting of the book is incredibly important too and just pops off the page. I really felt like I as there with noises, smells, and sights of Brooklyn. Through this part of the book, Older is able to highlight some themes of gentrification and its impact on neighborhoods too. It works really well because it is a part of the lives these kids are leading. They see it and the way they are processing it is incredibly interesting. Adding this to the themes of community and family really strengthened the book. And all of that is on top of its thrilling edge-of-your-seat plot. I could not put this book down, but at the same time never wanted it to end because I didn't want to say goodbye to these characters and their world....more
I try to avoid books that have rape in them as a general rule of thumb. I know they are important lifelines for some peoNope. Nope. Nope. So much no.
I try to avoid books that have rape in them as a general rule of thumb. I know they are important lifelines for some people. But they do nothing good for my mental health. (And I've never experienced one. I can only imagine what it does to some who have). So all the heads up and trigger warnings on this. The rape happens off page and isn't described but there are vague flashbacks and it was still highly disturbing. That it was an incestuous rape is important to note too.
I do like what McGinnis was trying to with the idea of what makes a person mentally ill and the history of how we treated such people-and how easy it was to get someone committed-through the first part of the story. But then the book took a horrifying turn into the worst revenge plot of all time. And while how that went, ostensibly supported the ideas McGinnis was playing with it made me highly uncomfortable. And more than a little angry.
I read a galley provided by publisher on Edelweiss....more
Laura Amy Schlitz writes beautiful books. The Hired Girl like all her other books puts the reader very firmly in the story. This historical d3.5 stars
Laura Amy Schlitz writes beautiful books. The Hired Girl like all her other books puts the reader very firmly in the story. This historical details are perfectly rendered and the voice sounds exactly as it ought for a 14 year old girl in 1911. Joan is a likeable yet flawed heroine who has a yearning to learn as much as she can and escape the life of drudgery her father has planned of her. I would have loved this book so much more if it had been shorter. As true as Joan's voice is and as wonderfully authentic as the setting is, I did not want 400 pages of either. It was far too easy for me to wander away from it and not want to come back. I do like this as a contrast to Anne of Green Gables. Schlitz did an excellent job of maintaining the same sort of wonder in life voice while portraying a harsher world reality
This is one of those books that will appeal to upper MG and younger YA readers who like historical fiction. ...more
I have wanted to read Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood since buzz first started to go around about it when it came out in Australia. I waited and waited for it to be published in the US. When Wildlife was published last year I hoped it meant we would be getting this one too. (I was even more eager to read it after the amazingness of Wildlife.) It's been a long wait for this book, but it was well worth it.
Dan Cereill is not having the best year. His family has lost their fortune. His father has come out as gay and left his mom. He has to switch schools halfway through the year. He is living in the house of his dead great-aunt. The only thing getting him through his break is his neighbor Estelle who is beautiful and who he has so much in common with. His problem is that he hasn't actually met her. And how he knows they have so much in common is a secret that he never wants to think about let alone have any one discover. Especially Estelle. Once Dan starts school and reenters life, his path begins to cross with Estelle more an more until he feels like he is really getting to know her and he just may have a chance to accomplish the six impossible things that may set his life to right.
I adored Dan's voice. He is snarky and vulnerable at the same time, and his desperate loneliness is heartbreaking. Losing all of his money and most of his privilege is hard, but harder still is the break with his dad. Dan and his father were always pretty close. Dan does not have a problem with his dad being gay. He has a problem with him leaving him. All Dan wants is his family back, but he knows that isn't possible and it hurts. His mom is not the same either. Fueled by sadness and desperation, she has started a new business which she is sabotaging due to issues she has yet to resolve from her ended marriage. Best not to go into the business of making wedding cakes when one is going through a divorce. I really loved the relationship between Dan and his mom. I liked how he tried to care for her. She wasn't at her best as a mother, but it was clear that she loved Dan and wanted him to find happiness and get through their hard time. I found their interactions and struggle with their individual and shared sadness to be realistic.
All the other relationships in the book are also done incredibly well. I loved the friendship between Dan and his best friend, Fred. They are there for each other and have each other's backs. The growing relationship between Dan and Estelle was also done very well. It was obvious it was heading toward rough times because of course she was going to discover hi secret, but I felt this was handled well and I loved the resolution. Dan also has a developing friendship with Lou (one of the main characters of Wildlife) which is incredibly enjoyable as well. It is strange that the two books were published in a different order in the US. Since Wildlife takes place later and references a devastating incident in Lou's (and Dan's) life that takes place sometime between the two books, it made from some stressful reading. Because I didn't realize that incident took place between the novels until I was more than halfway through with this one, so I was reading this in fear of that. It made it a little difficult for me to fully throw myself into certain parts of the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this, and would be happy to read anything Fiona Wood writes in the future. I hope she continues to get published in the US. Wood writes frank honest looks in the lives and thoughts of teens.
Content Warning: underage drinking
I read an ARC received from the publisher, Poppy, via Edelweiss. Six Impossible Things is on sale August 11th. ...more
I love a good mystery story, but I admit to being kind of picky in my literary detectives. The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos was intriguing enough in its premise that I knew I wanted to read it.
Imogene has no memory of her mother. All she has the story fanciful story her father has told her since she was little of how they met and fell in love. Her father was a forensic pathologist and her mother was there to identify a body. When Imogene's father goes missing, he believes one clue behind with Imogene. A clue Imogene is convinced is meant to lead her to both her parents. With the help of her friend Imogene begins to look into her mother's past and follow a trail of clues that will hopefully lead her to the answers she's always pretended she didn't need.
Imogene has spent her entire life never getting too close to anyone. She convinced herself that her dad was enough. She didn't need the risk. As a result, Immogen looks at most of her relationships as mutualism. She has a pretty amazing best friend who she is judgmental and dismissive of most of the time. Until she needs her help. Imogene is incredibly selfish and self-centered. It makes her incredibly real, but also frustrating to be in her head sometimes. However, there was a lot about her I understood and appreciated too particularly regarding her relationship with books. And Podos does not allow Imogene to escape the consequences of her selfishness and has her grow from the things she learns about herself and her relationships with other people. Jessa may be a better best friend to Imogene than Imogene is to her, but I enjoyed watching Imogene realize that and see that growth. Lindi, her stepmom, also suffers from the walls Imogene has put up in her mind and heart against others. Their relationship also undergoes changes and Imogene's appreciation of her stepmother grows as the story progresses. I really enjoyed this book for these relationships in particular, but also that it was so much about relationships in general. I also thoroughly appreciated how the relationship between Imogene and Jessa's brother, Imogene's long time crush, resolved. It was a unique and refreshing thing to see in a YA novel.
Both Imogene's parents suffer from depression or a disease that influences their behavior and emotions. Not having experienced what either of them do, I can not speak to how well this is handled for their particular diagnoses. I do like how the book portrayed the need for and helpfulness of therapy and medication. It really stressed how bad it is to trust your emotions and thoughts and how important taking the meds for continued health are.
The mystery of the book is not nearly as important as Imogene's personal journey. She isn't the detective she thinks herself, but her investigation and the way the author revealed each piece of the puzzle kept me riveted and reading. My big problem with the book is the end is a little too wrapped up. I would have preferred the end without the very last chapter (which is very much an epilogue even if it's not really called an epilogue). Imogene's character development up to that point was clear. Enough was figured out and set in motion for a hopeful future. The last chapter overdid that. This made me sad as the book was incredibly well executed up to that point.
The Mystery of Hollow Places is a book I definitely recommend to those who enjoy good character stories and puzzles.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Balzer & Bray, via Edelweiss. The Mystery of Hollow Places is on sale January 26th....more
I enjoyed Dead Ends, the only other book by Erin Jade Lange I've read, and I was excited for this book based on its blurb. I think the blurb is a little misleading. If you are going to compare something to The Breakfast Club it better have fun. And hijinks. The funny kind not the terrifying kind. This book is like terror thriller Breakfast Club. That's not to say that I didn't like it. Just that I quickly had to adjust my expectations while reading it.
Sam had a plan. Buy her mom's present for her anniversary of sobriety after another boring evening at work. Her plan falls apart when she is fired from her job for being rude to a customer. From there her night descends into mayhem when she follows a classmate into the woods at a party to retrieve a stolen item. When the cops come to break up the party in the woods, Sam finds herself hiding with Andi (the thief who is a former popular girl), York (a former football player who is drunk and has a major chip on his shoulder), and Boston (York's nerdy genius younger brother). They decide to steal a car to escape and that is only the first in a series of very bad decisions that snowballs into a night of tension, fear, and running for their lives.
Reading this book is kind of like watching a train wreck. It is rather impossible to look away. The writing is what I expected it to be from reading Lange's previous book. The train wreck aspect is what the characters are doing to their lives. It is a series of bad decisions I can totally see a group of four misguided teens making. It is enough to strike fear in the heart of any parent. (I read this on the same day I had to talk a group of tween girls that included my daughter out of jumping off a balcony into snow that wasn't as deep as they thought it was only to find out they went back and did it anyway after I left. So yeah. Fear). I think this is probably going to get a lot of complaints about the characters being stupid and the events unrealistic. I don't think they are. I think the characters are teenagers whose brains aren't fully developed and the way the plot is tied together in the end makes all the strange events make complete sense. The plot is action packed and the pacing well done. Lange allows for a series of breaks and breathing points before sending the reader careening through another series of turns and jolts in the action. It's a roller coaster ride for sure.
The characters make some incredibly ridiculous decisions. They are young. They are scared. They are directionless. I really loved the bond that formed between this ragtag group and came to appreciate each of them individually. They all have strengths and weaknesses. All of them learn and grow (though some more than others). In the official blurb each of the characters is tagged with one of the labels in the title, but it isn't quite as simple as that. Each of them have elements of all four of these in them. At different points in the story they each show a different label as their dominant trait. The way Lange showed this through their actions, conversations, and interactions was really well done. It is a study in how each person is more than one thing and we are formed by experiences even as we sometimes try to outrun them.
This is a good book to give teens who enjoy action and thrills.
Content for those Wary: underage drinking, some language, references to sex
I read an ARC made available by the publisher, Bloomsbury USA, via NetGalley. Rebel Bully Geek Pariah is on sale February 16th....more
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a timely and necessary novel. It is the story of two boys, one white and one black, and the experience of and aftermath of police brutality.
All Rashad wanted was a bag of chips. What turned into a quick stop at the local bodega became the worst day of his life when an accidental collision with another patron results in Rashad being accused of shoplifting and dragged from the store by a white police officer. He wakes up in the hospital with broken ribs, a bruised face, and a host of emotions he now has to sort out and overcome.
Quinn was just trying to score beer to share with his friends and chill on a Friday night. Instead he comes up on his best friend's older brother, who has always been like his own brother and hero, beating up a black kid in handcuffs on the street. Quinn gets away as fast as he can, but escaping what he witnessed isn't that easy especially when he realizes the kid on the sidewalk is his classmate.
As Rashad's days in the hospital stretch out, the events occurring in the community escalate. People are taking sides. Protests are being organized. Rashad sits in his hospital room trying to come to terms with what happened to him and how it is affecting his family. Quinn goes to school every day trying to come to terms with what he saw and what it means about himself and the world in which he lives.
All American Boys covers a topic that is hotly debated every day in this country. It covers an incident similar to ones we've seen over and over again. The events unfold exactly as you would imagine from having seen those news stories and the resultant news and online commentary. Alternating between both boys' points of view the story covers every angle of the issue. Being in Rashad's head, the reader sees what it is like to be afraid for your life simply by being who you are. In Quinn's head the reader sees what it means to confront the ugliness that exists underneath in the world and people you love. Through both of them the reader sees the reality of profiling, the mistakes and prejudices of good cops, the reality of bad cops, the politics of media representation, and how the choices we make daily, no matter how small they seem, makes us into the people we are. I loved the relational impact the situation had on both boys too, how it affected every relationship in their lives for good or bad and helped them forge new relationships with people too.
The first half of the book was perfect in every way for me. The voices and characters were strong and so were the theme. As the book progressed, the message overtook a lot of the other literary elements, but it was still incredibly strong. After all the message is an important one, and one it is clear people need to have explained to them. I know this from being on Facebook.
Some Favorite Quotes: I gotta admit, there was a part of me that, even though I felt abused, wanted to tell him to let it go. To just let me heal, let me leave the hospital, let me go to court, let me do whatever stupid community service they wanted me to do, and let me go back to normal. I mean, I had seen this happen so many times. Not personally, but on TV. People getting beaten, and sometimes killed, by the cops, and then there's all this fuss about it, only to build up to a big heartbreak when nothing happens. the cops get off. And everybody cries and waits for the next dead kid, to do it all over again. That's the way the story goes.
Maybe for this one practice we were all thinking only about the team: one unit, one thing, no parts, one whole, no problems, just one goal for one team, none of us thinking about race or racism, all of us color-blind and committed like evangelicals to the word "team", just like Coach wanted. Maybe. But I doubted it. That's what I wanted to think, but it wasn't what was in my mind or gut. Instead I k new there was a problem, and I was beginning to think I was part of it-whether I was in the damn video or not.
But here are the words that kept ricocheting around me all day: Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. If I didn't want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the r right things and not say the wrong things.
I also love the title All American Boys and everything it symbolizes and represents.
I highly recommend this to everyone. I already liked Jason Reynolds before reading this and I now want to read more by Brendan Kiely too....more
Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier was one of my favorite books of last year. I basically wanted the sequel from the moment I closed the book. When its publisher, Strange Chemistry, closed its doors, I knew a moment of panic that I would never see it. Fortunately Rachel Neumeier is self-publishing the sequels. (I reviewed the collection of short stories a few weeks ago.) Pure Magic, the second novel, is available now, and it is fantastic.
Following a tragic flash flood that took the life of his mother, Justin is wandering with no direction. One night after accepting the hospitality of a priest, he finds himself the target of a vicious werewolf attack. Two other werewolves intervene and save his life. These two are more civilized, but very insistent that Justin come with them to a place called Dimilioc claiming he is Pure and that this attack won't be the last. In fact they're completely confused as to how Justin has survived this long not knowing anything about the magic running through his veins. They are also surprised that he is a Pure male. This is new. Justin finds himself reluctantly accompanying them to the mysterious Dimilioc to meet their Master and discover the dangerous heritage in a violent world he only vaguely understood from the new before this. There he meets the other Black Dogs and Natividad, a Pure girl who can help him unlock his abilities and teach him how to wield his power. But Justin is not convinced he belongs in this world, and he wants some answer. He decides to go and see what his grandmother learns and Natividad leaves with him on a mission of her own. There are dangerous and violent changes occurring in the world of the Black Dogs though and that danger is going to stalk the two Pure and help from their Black Dog allies may be too far away-and too distracted by their own troubles-to help them.
Coming into the world Neumeier created from an outside perspective in this second novel is an interesting way of reintroducing all of the important players and elements and also adding to the layers of the world. Justin is so much more than a vehicle for the reader though. Confused, angry, desperate, and so sad, he is overwhelmed by all of the new information coming his way when he was already feeling alone and emotionally wrecked. His reactions to being thrown into this world and experiencing the violence of the Black Dogs up close for the first time are completely relatable and serve as an interesting contrast to Natividad and Miguel's easy acceptance of the life they were born into. As a new character in the story, he also brought out aspects of the other character's personalities and revealed new things about them. Justin's relationship with Keziah does not start off well. There are expectations about relationships between Black Dogs and the Pure. Even though Justin is the first Pure boy anyone at Dimilioc has encountered, matching up with Keziah is the first thing that pops into everyone's heads. She's not happy about it. He is even less so when he realizes what everyone is thinking. She terrifies him (understandably), and he terrifies her in a different but no less potent way. I really enjoyed watching the two of them warily feeling each other out. Justin actually learns Pure magic quickly because he is a math genius and I loved this dimension of his character.
Natividad has just as much page time in this novel as Justin does and is still very much a main character. Her 16th birthday is rapidly approaching, and she is still trying to figure out exactly where she stands in Ezekiel's mind. Is she merely a convenience being the only Pure girl around or does he really want her? Natividad uses her road trip with Justin to work through some of her confused feelings. I loved the way both of these relationships developed over the course of the book. Natividad and Justin make a really good team and they bond rather quickly. Granted they have little choice but to learn to work together quickly or die. However, they do work hard to understand and learn from each other. The development of Natividad's relationship with Ezekiel is more complex. Again, Ezekiel is my favorite part of this book. (There is an added dimension to the tension here that comes from having read his story in the short story collection. You can still appreciate everything that happens here without reading it, but it's so good and adds so much that I highly recommend you do.) He makes some decisions that won't entirely make sense if you don't fully understand his past. It was a nice change to see him not so entirely in control in this and more than a little vulnerable.
There is a lot going on in the plot of this book. The Blood Kin, who the Black Dogs thought they had completely eradicated, seem to be rising again. There is a rogue band of Black Dogs wreaking havoc. With Dimilioc's decreased numbers from the war, they are vulnerable on every side. Justin and Natividad putting themselves at danger by going on a road trip without protection spreads Dimilioc thin. And basically all Hell breaks loose in more than one place and threats are everywhere. It is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish and I could not put the book down. I love all these characters and thoroughly engrossed in their lives and the story unfolding. There are a lot of unanswered questions still as there is another three books yet to come, but this one ends in a satisfying way. (Though I still can't wait for the next book.)
I read an ARC sent to me by Rachel Neumeier....more
I have to turn this in to the library tomorrow, and I'm only on page 87. Maybe I can try this again this summer,*hopes fervently Beth doesn't hate me*
I have to turn this in to the library tomorrow, and I'm only on page 87. Maybe I can try this again this summer, but....I'm. Just. So. Bored. Not by the politics, because I LOVE the politics. If the book had more politics, I might be having a better time. It's Meg I find completely uninteresting. She is sometimes snarky-funny, but I've already had enough of her apathetic ambivalence to everything. She has no personality beyond being a candidate's daughter. There are these really long internal monologues she has too, which are basically just family backstory info-dumps. I'm looking for any excuse I can find to not read it so I'm taking a break. ...more
Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson caught my attention with the title and held it with the synopsis. This sounded like a great fit for me and the perfect read for the mood I was in at the time. While I have a few quibbles, it is a fun read that brought me much enjoyment.
Verity Newton is newly arrived in New York City after being not so gently pushed out the door by her father. Her trip to the city was eventful as the train she was riding on was robbed by the infamous Masked Bandits. Then upon her arrival, she meets up with the equally troublesome Rebel Mechanics who are not so quietly rebelling against the against the Magisters who are the ruling class of British aristocracy in the American Colonies. The Rebel Mechanics are trying to prove that they can build even better machines that run on science and engineering. Verity procures a position as governess in the home of the a young Magister who has the guardianship of his nieces and nephew (the three children also happen to be the grandchildren of the Governor). Verity becomes friends with several members of the Mechanics and is drawn to their cause, writing articles for the illegal newspapers they circulate. At the same time, she is being drawn deeper into the world of her employerShe soon finds herself torn between what she knows of both worlds she is straddling. And she is keeping secrets that could destroy her own life as well as the causes of her closest friends.
Rebel Mechanics takes place in an alternate 1888 where the American Revolution never occurred due to the ruling class of British having magic when the lower class citizens did not. But now that science and invention have taken hold in those classes, there is a fighting chance for actual change. Many of the Magisters don't even really know how to use their own powers relying on the ingenuity and work of their ancestors to keep their world running. It is a fascinating and fun concept, and I enjoyed how well Swenson drew her world without over explaining it. The machines the Mechanics have invented are interesting. The Masked Bandits add a dash of exciting capers to the mix. The politics are interesting and colored in exactly the right shades of gray to show the complexities of revolution.
Verity is a heroine I enjoyed following and rooting for. She is incredibly intelligent but has led a very sheltered life in her parents' home. She has had no interactions with Magisters and only faintly heard about the revolutionary aspects of her country. There is a sense of wide-eyed innocence about her. She is incredibly trusting. There were times as a reader where I knew she was being taken advantage of, but she didn't even suspect. It worked because it made sense for her. Verity is savvy though and she figures things out quickly enough that I never lost my belief in her as a character.
Talking about the rest of the characters is now hard without spoilers. I will say these things: I loved the three children. (Even Flora in all her teenage elitist snobbery.) I ship the ship VERY MUCH. I had a hard time liking the people taking advantage of Verity because I thought the way they were deceiving her was particularly gross and underhanded.
This leads me to my main quibble with the book. I found myself really frustrated through the middle because even though I understood how Verity would not see how she was being manipulated, I still wanted to move past all that and get to the part where she realized and did something about it. Also it was interfering with my full enjoyment of my ship.
I am definitely in for the rest of this series though and am looking forward to the sequel.
I read an ARC made available by the publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR), via Edelweiss. Rebel Mechanics goes on sale July 14th....more
The story of Scheherazade is one that is tricky to do as a retelling. There's so much potential for the problematic. E.K. Johnston is one of the few authors I would name as one who could tackle this and do it well if I were asked. And in A Thousand Nights she did just that.
Lo-Melkhiin has wed-and killed-300 different girls. The first few caused unease but went generally unremarked by the nobles. When the numbers started to pile up, a law was passed. One girl from each village in turn and then he could start over again. One girl has the courage to make herself the target of his eye in order to spare the life of her sister. After she survives the first night and then another she begins to realize she has a power her predecessors did not have fed by her sister's prayers and rites that have made her into a small god. The demon who inhabits the body of the once great king is intrigued by this new wife. When he realizes the power she has, he becomes greedy to share it and use it for his own bent purposes. Unfortunately for him, he never bothered to understand the power of the small gods or the strength of the women who who tend them.
A Thousand Nights is as beautifully written as I've come to expect from a book written by E.K. Johnston. The prose pulled me right into the rich desert world and oppressive palace where Lo-Melkhiin makes his home. The richness of the world is in the details Johnston includes and her beautiful imagery which calls to all of the senses. Not every aspect of the world is explained. She leaves a lot to conjecture, but it works well for the story she is telling. In another type of book this might irritate me, but here I preferred it to the alternative.
Discussing the characters is a little difficult as none of them save the possessed king have a name that is mentioned. This is another thing that might be irritating in another type of story but works incredibly well here. The heroine is in no way lacking despite only being referred to by the various titles she holds to those who love her. Her act of sacrifice for her sister makes her courageous and laudable, but she is also clever and industrious. She is being fed power by the rites her sister and the women in her village are performing, but she is the one whose keen mind and willing hands figure out how to manipulate it and negotiate the dangerous life she lives in the palace. The heroine's sister, though we get to see less of her, is also possessed of industrious heart and keen mind. It is through them working together though they are miles apart that great things are accomplished and I truly truly loved this aspect of the novel. It demonstrated the power and strength and contributions that women make by doing whatever it is they excel at. It also showed how easy it is for those things to be overlooked and for their power to go unappreciated and underestimated.
The aspect of this retelling I enjoyed the most was that there is no attempt to turn this into a story about romantic love. It is, first and foremost, a story about sisterly love, but there are all other sorts of relationships celebrated as well. And it is a story about women: their friendships, their alliances, their arts, and their bonds with each other.
I read an ARC provided by a friend who had finished with it. A Thousand Nights goes on sale October 6th....more
I was very much looking forward to Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt because I generally really enjoy Gary Scmidt's books. After reading the first chapter, I was certain that this one would wreck me emotionally. Possibly more than any other. I wasn't wrong. But I also wasn't right. I was expecting a good sort of emotionally destroyed. A Code Name Verity type of emotionally destroyed. That's not what I got.
Jack lives a quiet sheltered life on his parents' farm in Maine until his family takes in a 14 year old foster kid named Joseph. Joseph became a father at 13 and was sent to a Juvenile Detention Center. Broken and sad, Joseph's one dream is to be reunited with his infant daughter, Jupiter. Jack's life is changed by seeing his school, town, and life in general through Joseph's eyes.
The harsh events of Joseph's life is all too realistic. He is an abused child who was screwed over by the system on pretty much every level imaginable. He is incredibly smart particularly when it comes to Math. He really and truly loved Jupiter's mom and only wants to take care of his baby.
Jack is greatly impacted by the tragedy in Joseph's life. He wants to be his friend and have his back. He stands up for him at school and tries to keep him from getting hurt. He is haunted by the words Joseph speaks during his nightmares at night. The relationship that develops between the two of them is an interesting one. Joseph is not really sure what to do with Jack at first, but he begins to share parts of his life with him and give him advice.
While I found all of the events of Orbiting Jupiter to be incredibly realistic, I can not say the same for the characters. There are far too many perfect people inhabiting this book. And the characters who aren't perfect are horribly cliché in their awfulness. Jack and his parents are amazing, and there are truly amazing foster families in this world. I know. I'm friends with many of them, but no one is perfect. Everyone has their breaking points and resentments in these situations. That none of them ever came out made it hard to swallow. Then there is Joseph himself who is not responsible for pretty much any of the terrible that has befallen him. He got a girl pregnant. Her parents were displeased. Everything else is not on him. The book goes out of its way to make him a helpless innocent victim of the system. This is particularly annoying given the conclusion of the book. I would say more about why this bothers me, but can't due to spoilers. In the end I found the book to be emotionally manipulative rather than emotive.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Clarion Books, via Edelweiss. Orbiting Jupiter goes on sale October 6th. ...more
I may never have known Audacity by Melanie Crowder existed if it weren't for Book Riot's post on feminist YA books of 2015. Thank you, Kelly Jensen, for writing that article. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else, and that is a shame. This is a brilliant and moving book. And I may need to officially revise my stance on verse novels.
Audacity is the story of Clara Lemlich. It begins when she is a teenager living in her shtetl in Russia. After a series of harsh pogroms agains the Jews, Clara and her family immigrate to America. The book chronicles their stay in a poor house in London, the steerage passage to the US, and their entrance through Ellis. Then it changes pace as Clara gets a job in a sweat shop and begins her fight for unions and justice in the garment industry. Told in beautiful first person perspective verse, Audacity is the story of a girl who had a fire burning inside her too bright for anyone to put out, and how she used it to warm and change the world.
Clara Lemlich was a real person, but this book is historical fiction as it takes some liberties with the story here and there. Nothing is changed to take from the historical authenticity of the novel, there are just some thoughts and interactions Clara is involved in that would not be documented. There is a fascinating interview with her daughter and several of her grandchildren at the end that is also worth reading.
Clara was born into a family where the men studied the Torah and the women did the work. She was not allowed to go to school, not allowed to speak Russian, not allowed to learn to read or write. She defied her parents and secretly learned to do all of these things. She was constantly told good girls are obedient. Good girls do what they're told. But Clara made her own rules and fought for the herself and the girl she sat beside in the sweatshops day by day. Despite being beaten, jailed, and harassed, she never gave up. Audacity wonderfully captures her struggle and spirit.
Some excerpts that show the beauty and scope of the story: How can I ever be more than just someone's daughter wife mother if I cannot study if I cannot learn if I am not permitted to have even one book?
The mother of the exiles holds her torch aloft greeting us in the water The clouds break apart and for a moment pure clean rays of sunshine reach through the heavens to dance across my cheeks
One by one the foreman pats the workers down roving over curves and creases searching for scraps of fabric or thread or dignity that might find their way out of the shop
I know he thinks to break this thing in me that insists I think for myself
Just think Pauline says, if thousands of tiny lights can outshine the moon, is there anything thousands of us cannot do?
Audacity is full ideas: feminism, idealism, the power of knowledge, fighting for what is right, and never giving up no matter how hard it gets. Clara's story is inspiring in thousands of different ways, and this should be included on shelves everywhere.
The book is considered YA, but strong MG readers can handle it as well. I can't wait to share it with my own daughter....more
I've heard a lot of good things about Nova Ren Suma's books. When the opportunity to read an ARC of her latest, The Walls Around Us, came up, I decided it was the perfect time to try her writing. I can see why so many have sung her praises, but sadly this book didn't work for me personally. There are several good aspects to it, but as a whole it was just not a Brandy book.
Violet is a star ballerina headed to Julliard and ready to leave behind her past. Part of the past she's escaping is the horrible memory of her best friend Ori and what happened in the tunnel of trees behind their ballet theater. The incident that sent Ori to prison and handed Violet all of her dreams. Amber was serving a sentence in the youth detention facility Ori was sent to. Amber was found guilty of murdering her step-father. Amber knows she has no future beyond the life she lives in the facility. Both girls tell their stories and, through them, Ori's story is told. Combined, the three girls share one story of friendship and hate, murder and revenge, ambition and power.
The combination of ballet and prison is an intensely interesting one. As you read both Violet and Amber's accounts there are a startling number of similarities between the two cultures. Hierarchies, those who bully, those who try and keep their heads down, the push and drive to become the most powerful. It is a fascinating study. I would love to hear from people involved in both worlds how accurate the representations here are, but from a purely literary standpoint, the comparison is incredibly well done. Violet and Amber play similar roles in the worlds they inhabit, the main difference being that Amber is more of a planner and better at execution when she wants something done. They both tell lies, not just to the people around them, but to themselves as well. Through them both, the reader sees plainly the power your mind has to manipulate your memories and make you believe what you want. This is a thing everyone does, just not on as grand a scale as Violet and Amber do it. Of the two girls, Amber was the person whose point of view I preferred. Violet was so self absorbed and unrepentant that I hated being in her head. I do think it is important that we were given that opportunity though. It's an important part of the story, and the dual narration lends the novel its sense of mystery and intrigue. I was saddened by how little we truly knew of Ori. Both girls have her on a pedestal-to them she is utterly perfect. Violet wants to knock her off that pedestal. Amber wants to worship her on it. I never got a sense of who she truly was a person, which was a real problem for me given the end.
The ending is my biggest issue with the book, and it's frustrating that I can't fully explain why without spoilers. I'll just say that the resolution didn't work for me at all. I didn't understand the mechanics of it. What on earth???? The supernatural aspects of the novel were really well done up until that resolution, and then I was just left feeling incredibly let down because it didn't make sense. I also feel like it counteracted a lot of the rest of the novel thematically.
I'm thinking I will read at least one of Suma's other novels to give her a fair chance, but this particular one left me confused, frustrated, and sad (sad because I feel like beautiful writing and well done characterization was wasted on an end that was ridiculous.)
I read an ARC received from the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, via Edelweiss. The Walls Around US is available on March 24....more
Incredibly well done historical fiction with a diverse cast of characters and a realistic resolution to the girls pretending to be boys. I thought itIncredibly well done historical fiction with a diverse cast of characters and a realistic resolution to the girls pretending to be boys. I thought it could have been a little shorter and tighter plot-wise, but overall a good recommended read. ...more
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds came out the first week of the year. I heard good things from several people, and was eager to try on of Reynold's books. Boy was I not disappointed.
Matt Miller is a boy who wears a black suit to school every day. His mom died of cancer recently, but that's not the reason for the suit. Matt, a senior on an abbreviated schedule due to good grades, works every day at a local funeral home. He arranges flowers, sets up buffets, washes cars, and sometimes acts as pall bearer. He also attends most of the funerals. Sitting in the back, he soaks up every ounce of heart splitting grief he can. Matt has close friends, both old and new, who are there for him though and don't allow him to get swallowed up in his own grief. Friends who will have his back, broaden his horizons, and bring him back, little by little, into the world of the living.
Matt's world shrunk considerably when his mom died. He lost his position at the bank he was supposed to be working at for school. His father started drinking again after years of sobriety. He lost almost all the joy in his life. Matt loves to cook but finds he can't because it reminds him too much of his mom. In the days closest to her death, you can see that he is only hanging on by the barest of threads. As the days and weeks pass, it gets a little easier. His method of coping is a bit odd. He goes to the funerals and focuses on the person who appears closest to the deceased, and then eagerly awaits for the breakdown of grief he knows is coming. Like living vicariously through these grieving people keeps his own close enough that he never forgets what he's lost. Then his father ends up in the hospital and he's living alone. I felt so bad for Matt and worried for him. But I like his progression away from his grief too. He slowly begins to live a little. He hangs out with his best friend, who works hard to keep things as normal as possible between them. Matt's new boss becomes his mentor, sharing the hard times of his own life and giving Matt advice. Then there is Love, a girl Matt meets who brightens his world. She expands it too, dragging Matt into places he's never been and sharing her own pains. Through his relationships with the people around him, Matt takes his steps back into his full self, slightly altered but with a sense of purpose and reason to keep living.
The relationships and community are central aspect of The Boy in the Black Suit, and I found them all equally real, important, and necessary. This book showcases how the people in a person's life can make all the difference in times of crisis. I enjoyed all of the interactions between Matt and the other characters from the playful typical teenage banter he shares with Chris to the deep philosophical discussions with Mr. Ray to the tentatively healing superficial conversations with his dad to the gamut of conversations he has with Love, all of them are important and fit the characters and setting.
The setting of Bed-Stuy is fully realized as well, showcasing a community of diverse people with different motivations, pasts, potential futures, problems, jobs, and lifestyles. I really felt like I was experiencing the streets, restaurants, noises, and hilariously frightening cab drives right along with Matt.
The Boy in the Black Suit is an excellent look at the process of grief and the importance of community. ...more
I was introduced to Laura Ruby through my Twitter feed courtesy of Anne Ursu. She is an expert ranter about the things she is passionate about, and as we are passionate about many of the same things, I jumped at the chance to pick up an ARC of her new book, Bone Gap. I already knew she had a way with words and I couldn't wait to see how that manifested itself in a fiction narrative. It turns out Ruby is even more amazing when writing fiction.
This book is one that needs to be read. It begs to be read. Nothing I say in this review is going to do this book justice. It's one of those books you simply have to experience. Just read the book.
Bone Gap is a tiny midwestern town full of fences, cows, chickens, corn, and gaps. Gaps a person could disappear into never to be heard from again. Bone Gap is a place most people can't wait to get out of. This is true for the O'Sulivan boys as much as anyone. Older brother Sean had dreams of going to medical school, but put them on hold to stick around for his kid brother after their mom leaves them for an orthodontist who doesn't like kids. Younger brother Finn is in the summer between his junior and senior year of high school and working hard to get ready for his college applications. They will be his ticket out. But the brothers are currently both reeling from the disappearance of Roza, a beautiful girl who mysteriously entered their lives, and then just as mysteriously left them. Sean has resigned himself, figuring she chose to go of her own accord just like so many others had, including his mom. Finn knows better. He saw the mysterious man who came and took Roza away. Unfortunately he can't remember enough to help find her. As the summer continues, Sean's anger and resentment toward Finn grow. Finn, haunted by nightmares of Roza's disappearance, takes to going out at night and meeting up with Petey, the girl he's always had a crush on. As their relationship grows and the time since Roza's disappearance lengthens, Finn begins to feel better. But soon discoveries are made that make it impossible for everyone to ignore some harsh truths about themselves and life in Bone Gap.
Bone Gap is told in third person and follows the perspectives of several characters, mostly focusing on Finn and Roza. The reader also gets several glimpses into the mind of Petey and Sean. I loved the switching perspectives and how they give such a complete picture of what is going on. At the same time though, the way Ruby pieced these perspectives together gives the book a thrilling, edge of your seat, sense of urgency and mystery. Bone Gap is a puzzle where each piece is handed out one at a time, ending in a beautiful picture of family, community, love, friendship, and hope for the future. But some of the pieces are dark. Very dark. And that is part of the beauty of the finished picture. Ruby pulled it all together so well. And she has some great things to say through both Roza's story and Petey's story about the expectations society has for women and how that can trap a person. There is so much richness and depth to the whole book.
Bone Gap itself comes to life and is just as important to the story as any character. I have said before I have issues with small town books that are full of quirky characters. Ruby managed to stay balanced on the fine line between necessary oddness and too much quirk with Bone Gap. Bone Gap is a weird place for many reasons beyond being a small town. Reasons that become more evident as the story unfolds. The residents themselves are fairly typical people with their own little quirks and foibles, but there is never an overwhelming sense of it being too strange to be real. The people in the town and their stories are real and are brought to wonderful life.
As amazing as the plot, themes, and setting are, the characters are what truly won my heart. I'm a character reader and Ruby does characters well. There is a richness and depth to all the characters that make them feel so real. I haven't been this thoroughly immersed in the lives of the people in a book for quite some time. Finn and Petey in particular have my heart. They are both so odd and awkward. She is prickly and angry much of the time. He is confused and muddled. Together they manage to find peace and happiness, but even then things aren't easy. It's just so real. And I love how their relationship developed from the giddiness of first experiences to dealing with the harsh realities of fitting together two individuals with insecurities and problems. Sean and Roza have a similar dynamic with their own set of issues, and I like how the two relationships contrasted each other. Roza's story, for all its steeped in the magical, is all too real and harsh. They all have so much to offer as people, and so much to overcome to be able to do that. They are people I want to know, and this book makes me feel like I do know them. Like I'm part of their story.
This is my favorite read of 2015 so far and I've really liked all the books I've read this year so that's saying something. it is one of those books that I'm going to be telling everyone about and harassing them to read.
I read an ARC received from the publisher, Balzer & Bray, at ALA Midwinter. Bone Gap goes on sale March 3....more
Christmas stories. I love them. I can't get enough of them. I spend most of mid-November through December desperately trying to do fit in as many new ones as I can find and doing rereads of old favorites. (This has been a particular challenge the past couple of years as I've also been a first round Cybils panelist.) Needless to say when I found out My True Love Gave to Me was going to be a thing, I was excited.
This is an anthology of short stories written by YA authors. As a whole, I would say it is definitely worth reading and that you can read it leisurely as each story is its own little gift. It is as diverse as the authors who contributed to it, and that is its greatest strength as a book. There are, of course, some stories I like more than others. I'm going to just say a couple things about each story. I've put asterisks on my favorites.
*"Midnights" by Rainbow Rowell: This is a compilation of the midnights celebrated on New Year by a group of friends over four years and the romance that comes grows between the two main characters. Sweet and short, it is all about a friendship to love relationship and is probably my second favorite thing Rowell's written next to Attachments.
"The Lady and the Fox" by Kelly Link: This is a Christmas Tam Lin retelling. It's not the most original Tam Lin story I've ever read, but it was such a delightful surprise to find it in a place I was not expecting to. I love Tam Lin stories.
*"Angels in the Snow" by Matt De La Pena: This is a wonderful story that highlights some troubling truths while managing to be fun and romantic at the same time. Too few books deal with the fact that people don't have enough to eat and are truly starving. I also l loved how this highlighted the transition that college is and how difficult it is to completey step out of the world you were born into and enter into something wholly different.
"Polaris is Where You'll Find Me" by Jenny Han: Not one of my favorite stories. It is an Elf type story about a girl who is adopted by Santa and lives at the North Pole. Except there is no Will Ferrel, and this isn't funny. Kind of creepy in some aspects actually.
*"It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins: This book takes place in Asheville, NC. I used to live there and it was fun to actually get every single reference in this story to things I knew. Beyond that it's just a really good story about two young people ready to move on in life, but unsure how to get what they want. They know where they want to go, just not how to get there. Then they end up finding each other. And it's pretty awesome.
"Your Temporary Santa" by David Levithan: This story is nothing that I'm looking for in a Christmas story. While the end is sweet, it's actually kind of depressing. I know some people find Christmas depressing and they should have stories too. Just not my thing.
"Krampuslauf" by Holly Black: This story is a little strange, but I liked that it dipped into a mythology that few people really know anything about. That was fun.
*"What the hell have you done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman: Freshman year of college. So hard. Especially if you are a fish completely out of water. This is a story of two such fish finding each other and finding the spirit of the holidays they both needed. Lovely.
*"Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus" by Myra McEntire: This is my FAVORITE. I have never read a book by McEntire but I think I need to change that. I could write an entire review on this one story. The character growth in a few short pages is remarkable as is McEntire's ability to convey much with few words.
"Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Keirsten White: This is cute, if completely predictable. I found myself wishing it would move a little faster.
"Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter: This is another fun yet predictable one that was good, but that I wouldn't ever feel the need to reread.
"The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor: Beautifully written as is everything Taylor writes, but also not at all my thing. Taylor and I seem to have that problem meshing. I love her writing but not what she writes about. Sigh.
I definitely recommend this if you are in the market for a fun compilation of Christmas tales. There is bound to be something that satisfies everyone here.
Note on Content: Some references to alcohol use; Some strong language...more
I read the first Wingfeather Saga book when it came out. It was okay, but not great enough to make me want to continue the series. I only read this beI read the first Wingfeather Saga book when it came out. It was okay, but not great enough to make me want to continue the series. I only read this because it was nominated for the Cybils. I have to say going into this one not having read the middle two was rather confusing. There are a lot of characters and place names to keep track of. It is epic fantasy so that is to be expected, but the fourth book in a series is probably not where you want to start. And this book is looooong. Too long. I won't lie: I skipped huge chunks of the middle. Like not just skimming but whole chapters. Honestly I wasn't any more confused doing that than I was reading every chapter. A lot of the text is superfluous. I know there is this general consensus among epic fantasy writers that if their book isn't long, they must be doing it wrong. But you know what? I'm going to say that even Tolkien could have used some better editing (gasp! horror!), and just because you think it is crucial to the world doesn't necessarily mean it is. More people need to go to the Megan Whalen Turner school of saying lots with fewer words.
My biggest problem with this book though is the problem I had with the first book. Who is this for? The absurdity of the villains and the lack of any true urgency makes me think it is intended for a younger MG audience, but there's no way that audience could access this text. A few of them could, but the majority wouldn't be able to. Is this intended to be a read aloud for that group? I just don't know.
That all being said, there is a good redemptive story arc for the characters, which is why this is getting two stars rather than just one. But honestly, there are books that do even that far better without the verbiage. Like these....more
I read Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas earlier this year and found it to be quite fun. However, I LOVE her new book Top Ten Clues You're Clueless. It's basically The Breakfast Club with Christmas thrown in. Because instead of serving Saturday detention, this group of unlikely teen companions are all working the same Christmas Eve grocery store shift.
Chloe is a list maker. She starts every day with a list and makes several more as she goes about her day. She has many running lists to which she continually adds. In addition to being a list maker she is a reader of mysteries, a red head, a girl with a massive crush on a co-worker, and a diabetic. On Christmas Eve she is required to work her regular job as a cashier at the grocery store. Many people are working including all of the young high school employees. All six of them. When there is a lot less money in the holiday donation box than is expected, all six of the teens are accused of working alone or together to steal the money and are held at work until the police can arrive to question them. In the interim they have to decide whether or not to trust each other and band together. In the process they begin to bond and get to know each other better than they ever thought possible.
This book is all about the characters. Zaina: the perfect, beautiful, Muslim, Lebanese immigrant who just wants the chance to figure out who she is outside of others expectations of her Sammi: the tough skater girl with an attitude and an interesting rapport with Gabe Gabe: basketball player, charmer, flirt, and golden rich boy who seems to understand Sammi better than she understands herself Micah: a sweet, nerdy, homeschool boy who loves science and is curious about the world and everyone in it Tyson: charming, fun, polite, and always willing to help out, he is just trying to save as much money as he can for college and is the object of Chloe's affections
Their story is narrated by Chloe and while she is ostensibly the focus, the reader comes to know all of them well as the narrative unfolds. The cast of characters here is diverse and yet there isn't a reliance on stereotypes or cliche's to mold them. Instead Czukas allows dialog and interactions to reveal each person's character and uses the other character's assumptions-assumptions most readers would have too-to challenge and bring out hidden details. All of these characters are so endearing. I loved every single one of them. I do think Chloe is the best vehicle through which to tell their collective story, but I find myself really wanting to have stories from all of the rest of them too, particularly Sammi and Zaina. I also enjoyed the wider observations of the world at large that came from seeing a grocery store through the eyes of the people who work there. Chloe's voice is genuine, a combination of cluelessness and wisdom that teens just starting to figure out the world often have.
The mystery isn't all that hard to figure out, but I completely bought how all of it came together. I could see the decisions that led to a bunch of mostly minors being held for hours at their job on Christmas Eve actually happening. I could also see why they all decided to cooperate and not give their parents the details of why they were staying late. The set-up is perfect in every way, and the conversations about life that came out of it were equally perfect.
There is a touch of romance, but it is not the focus of the book. It really is just the briefest of touches. And I love that this also turned out to be a Christmas story. It is one I will buy and enjoy every year now.
I read an e-galley provided by the publisher, Harper Teen, via Edelweiss. Top Ten Clues Your Clueless is available for sale on December 9th....more
So many people who I share reading tastes with loved this book, but I just couldn't get into it at all. It's hard for me to put a finger on exactly whSo many people who I share reading tastes with loved this book, but I just couldn't get into it at all. It's hard for me to put a finger on exactly what wasn't working for me, but I was bored and avoided it for days so just gave up. ...more
If I bought this book rather than checking it out from the library I would be MAD. I can not believe that the publisher has the audacity to charge a hIf I bought this book rather than checking it out from the library I would be MAD. I can not believe that the publisher has the audacity to charge a hardcover price for a book that is nothing more than a bloated prologue to Winter. This story could have been told in 1/4 the space and released as an e-novella or even just as an extra in the paperback for Cress. There isn't much here we don't already know, except for the details of Levana's relationship with her sister and her marriage to Winter's father. Again, this does not require 200 pages to make clear. I didn't need that much time in Levana's twisted head while she rehashed the same things over and over and over.
Things I did like: I like that Levanna was explained without attempting to excuse her. She is cruel. She did terrible things for which she is not at all sorry. She had terrible things done to her too. I also liked that we are able to see (view spoiler)[how gosh darn awful Cinder's mother was. Holy cow. (hide spoiler)]
This series started, if not strong, than well. I really thought it had the potential to just keep getting better. Instead I feel as though this and Cress have been too long and not edited well enough. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Over a quarter of a way through this book it still hadn't gotten to the point. (By point I mean the girls still didn't know about the shape shifting.Over a quarter of a way through this book it still hadn't gotten to the point. (By point I mean the girls still didn't know about the shape shifting. If it's in the synopsis, it should show up and get the plot ball rolling earlier than that.) In addition I just wasn't caring enough about any of the characters. I'm very sad about this because I usually really like Jessica Day George's books and I was looking forward to this one. ...more
This is a fun end to what has been a nice fluffy YA fantasy series. This one contained a little more angst than I was in the mood for, but it does fitThis is a fun end to what has been a nice fluffy YA fantasy series. This one contained a little more angst than I was in the mood for, but it does fit well with Dusty and Eli's story and personalities. ...more