When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tuWhen Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone. Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans. As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so... what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?
The Cage is mysterious, puzzling, and dangerous. Trapped in an impossible place, will Cora and the others learn the truth of where they are, why they're there, and what's wanted from them? Will they even want to know the truth?
Cora is a bit rough, smart and practical but wary of everything and everyone, which makes sense, considering where she was before the book started. She wakes up lost, confused, wondering why she's no longer with her brother. It doesn't take long for her to realize she's in a place that shouldn't exist, and it doesn't take her long to realize she's not alone. But she never really trusts any of them completely. She's learned not to trust people. Until Cassian.
I worry about the romance between Cora and Cassian. On her side, she's wary, yes, but also confused, in near constant pain from her headaches, desperate to get out, to return home. She's strong but vulnerable in a number of ways. On his side, he seems obsessed with her. He's focused on keeping her alive, keep her her safe, leaning from her. Which leads to her trusting him and him gaining more and more control over her. It doesn't seem healthy to me, seems rather manipulative on his part. I wonder what will happen between them in the next book.
The reason for the teens' abduction is chilling. Captured by aliens, settled in an enclosure to be watched. Their purpose is simple now, according to their captors, but not to them. Their rebellion is human resistance at its best. It's our refusal to be controlled, to have someone in charge of our basic needs like where we sleep, where we live, what we eat, and who we must be with. When Cora and the group realize that they're caged like animals, to be observed in a zoo for the rest of their lives, the primal instinct to flee and find freedom takes over. But it's not that simple. It never is.
This book is rather strange. It went from me thinking it was going to be about finding an escape to some kind of dark and twisted science fiction tale to an exploration of human defiance, risk, challenge, and the strength of our emotions. It's intriguing, yes, but the possibilities of what could happen, what has happened to humans taken previously by the aliens, is disturbing. I'm curious as to how the rest of the trilogy will play out, what other secrets about the aliens will be revealed. What is happening to Cora and the others. I do wonder if everything will end with Cora strong and confident, not taking any lies from anyone, completely in charge and in control, but only time will tell....more
At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospitAt seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French. There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times. But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.
Extraordinary Means is an intriguing look at disease, at the different ways we live, at the different definitions we have for living, and at the second chances we get when it looks like our first is about to run out.
Lane is new to Latham House, a tuberculosis sanatorium for teens. He doesn't want to be there, doesn't want to be sick, and he doesn't understand the doctor's orders. Think of Latham as a vacation? as time away from school to rest? Lane has plans. College, summer internships, business or law school. There's no time for him to be sick, to take nature walks or long naps. He can't be left behind. He can't stay there. He needs to get back to his life.
Sadie is sarcastic, creative, and fearless, but more than a year in Latham House has changed her. If she was sent home, would she know how to life? She acts like her life is on hold, like it will always be on hold. Like she's now living this alternate life of sneaking out, sneaking in contraband, and never taking anything seriously. But then she meets Lane, someone who wants out, someone who wants to go back to their life outside of sickness, and Sadie realizes that life inside Latham House isn't life.
I found the disease, the completely fictional completely drug resistant tuberculosis, rather intriguing. TB attacks the lungs, attacks young people, settles in them and halts their lives. And then what? Lane and Sadie's lives are stuck on pause, waiting. Waiting for anything. To get better, to get worse, a cure. But until then, all they can do is wait. What about their lives? They're stuck not moving forward, not learning, not experiencing all the crap that teens experience. Instead of something, there's nothing but a narrow bed, a wait, and a tissue to cough blood into.
I think a lot of this book is about second chances, about what we do in order to feel like we're alive. At the beginning, Lane's attempts at normal wear him down. He has to keep up with school, he just has to, but it makes things worse. Sadie sneaks out and sneaks contraband into Latham House in order to make it feel like the outside world, but it never really does. There are still alert bracelets and nurses, still confining walls and well-meaning doctors. It's not living, but Lane and Sadie try and make the best of it. Until everything changes. I do think fans of the author's previous book will enjoy this as well as contemporary YA fans looking for something a little serious.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from HarperCollins Canada.)...more
The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one. Camellia's adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom's a seThe only thing worse than being a witch is living with one. Camellia's adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom's a seriously wicked witch. Cam's used to stopping the witch's crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school. Now Cam's suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance. To stop the demon before he destroys Devon's soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she's willing to work spells like the witch... will that mean she's wicked too?
Seriously Wicked is magical, funny, and complicated. Cam's trying as hard as she can to be normal, but it's not working out anymore, and now she's scrambling to keep everything from exploding.
Camellia's distrust and dislike of 'the witch,' as she calls her adopted mom/possible kidnapper, is very obvious. She doesn't agree with her slightly evil plans. She doesn't want to be a witch. What she wants is to be normal, to not get up at 5:30 every morning to care for the dragon or the werewolf pup or hunt down goat's blood. Keeping secrets from her friend Jeneh and everyone at school, she's trying to balance being a teen and knowing everything witch-related. The trying, and the failing, at balancing brings out Cam's clever snark and sass. There are times when she wants to give up, but she has a good heart in her, and so she soldiers on.
Cam's relationship with Sarmine, 'the witch,' is filled with frustration. Cam refuses to be a witch, to research spells. She doesn't want anything to do with the plot to take control of the city, but Sarmine doesn't listen to her. She drills witchery knowledge into Cam, she makes sure to give her spells to research. It's classic child/parent head-butting. I could easily say that Sarmine is at fault for never listening to Cam, but Cam's just as guilty. They butt heads because they're both so stubborn, both refusing to back down. But it's not quite fair of Sarmine to do spells on Cam, like trapping her in a pumpkin field or stealing her senses, when she doesn't listen to her witchy demands.
The way the author has woven in the witch-related backstory and lore into the modern world is interesting. The different ways they use phones and the internet, the spells and their secret codes. I found it amusing and clever.
I think this book is more about Cam waging war against fate than anything else. She's trying to stay same by not mixing the two halves of her life, the witchery side and the normal teenage girl side. But now with Sarmine's newest plan, it's difficult to keep the two apart. The wall she carefully built between the two is crumbling, and Cam's scrambling to solve everything without going too far into maybe actually being a witch. If you're looking for some humour to go along with your witchery, then give this book a read.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find thJonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path.
Illusionarium is magical and mysterious, a journey to a new and dangerous world, one Jonathan might not be able to escape.
Jonathan is a clever young man with good intentions. It's clear that he's never faced danger like this before in his life, the dangers he face in the illusions. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong. He's consistently shocked when someone does something 'wrong' and they aren't apologetic, unused to people without morals, people who act on their own best interest as opposed to acting in order to help others. At times he can be sarcastic and witty, some amusing quips are thrown at certain characters when they're being jerks to him. It lightens the mood at times.
There's some very lush world building going on in this book. First comes Jonathan's world with its aerial cities and airships, the country taking its name from Arthurian legend. Then comes the new world, the world filled with impossible illusions, imaginative illusionists, dangerous foes and almost zero allies. It's a place where Jonathan must stay awake and be light on his feet if he wants to return home.
It took me a little while to get into the story, I kept wondering who the villain was and what Jonathan's motivation was. There was a time or two that, because of the illusions, I was confused as to what was really going on. Was it an illusion, or what it real? Was any of it real? And the cover is rather misleading. Please don't go into this expecting an epic romance, there's barely any romance to be found here. I imagine fans of impossible illusions and clever, well-meaning heroes will enjoy this.
(I downloaded an e-galley of this from Edelweiss through HarperCollins.)...more
Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenage girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that coulBack in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenage girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it. Now she's left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can't escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents. Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn't escaped her past. In fact, she's attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab. She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she's always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori's incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.
Quicksilver is intriguing, intelligent, and mysterious. Tori's waiting, waiting to have a normal life again, then waiting for the other shoe to drop. But she doesn't stand still, she takes change and does what she has to in order to save herself.
Tori is a rather interesting character. Compared to most female characters in YA, she's atypical, which is great. It makes her stand out, makes her interesting to me. The idea that girls who are considered "beautiful" or "pretty" can also be intelligent and skilled when it comes to mechanisms and technology is still something that confuses people. Which is shouldn't. Since when can't "pretty" girls be interested in makerspaces? Since when can't they want to study engineering in university? Tori is driven, foucsed, and intense. All those parts of her make her a compelling person to read about. And she's still scared about what could happen to her, scared of who might be coming for her, and that's fine. Tori's not the kind of girl who's just going to sit around. She'll try and do something about it.
Tori's asexuality is another of those rarely seen in YA topics, and it's so well-written, so well done. What Tori says to Milo about friendship is true, that "[t]here's no such thing as just a friend" (pg. 126). Sometimes it's about companionship. Sometimes we need relationships that aren't about sex or romance, that aren't filled with that kind of pressure. And sometimes, for people who are asexual, that's all there is, and they need it. Tori misses Alison like mad.
There's a mixture of contemporary and science fiction in this book. There's Tori being who she is, dealing with homework and worried parents, missing her friends, needing someone to talk to and be around. And there's Tori hiding from the relay, there's Faraday suddenly appearing in her life, there's Mathis not wanting to lose the data he's collected from Tori since she was a baby he dumped on Earth in order to experiment on. And all the Canadian references, from the food and shops to the perception of what the police can do in Canada and in the US.
I love how there's a layer in this book that challenges our perceptions of people around us based on their looks. Not every gorgeous blonde teen girl is flirty and flighty. Not every teen guy of Asian descent (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc.) is excellent at math and science. Not every teen is a mass of raging hormones ready to have their sexual awakening. Not every teen is human. The story is great, the characters are complicated, and while a small part of me wonders what would happen in a third book, the ending was solid. A must-read for those looking for something a little different, for an amazing asexual main character, and for a lot of humanity in sci-fi.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)...more
Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but "ungifted" socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed "It" girl ofThirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but "ungifted" socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed "It" girl of grade nine, but her marks stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. "The Brady Bunch" it isn't. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it, but Ashley is 110% horrified. She already has to hide the truth behind her parents' divorce; "Spewart" could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: they--like the rest of us--are all made of molecules.
We Are All Made of Molecules is a thoughtful book, a look at change, at perception, at moving on. At the fact that we all have something in common, no matter how different we are.
Stewart is smart and practical, always hoping for the best. He's gifted academically but not socially, which means navigating this new world called high school is a bit of a struggle for him. Which means being in a new environment is a struggle for him. As time passes he learns, he grows. He's hit by some of the more painful and complicated bits of high school but he doesn't let it weigh him down. It helps that he has some very supportive friends to lean on.
His complete opposite, Ashley is bitter and frustrated. She hates the idea of Stewart and his father moving in, her own father divorcing her mother. She over-dramatizes everything and blames everyone. While yes, there are some teen girls who act this way, who love fashion and struggle in school, Ashley's flaws are so overblown she feels like a cliché. She has some depth, I thought her repressed anger towards bother her mother and father needed to be expressed beyond her screams or her silence, but it's hard to find any redeeming qualities. As the book goes on, she does get better, nicer. She learns her lesson, but I'm not so sure that the way it comes about was really the right way.
I think this book says a number of good things about family and friendship, about supporting other people, about working through problems and keeping those you care about close, or in your memories if they're no longer with you. My issue is that most of those moments appear in Stewart's point of view and rarely in Ashley's. I did find some parts of Ashley problematic, as well as some parts of a rather serious near-assault that happens near the end. Perhaps other readers will see her growth more than I can. I do think that some kids will read this and see themselves, or see parts of themselves, and relate to it.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Random House Canada through NetGalley.)...more
For Trevor normal was fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves Trevor with no band, no teamFor Trevor normal was fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves Trevor with no band, no teammates and no chance of graduating. It's kinda hard to ace your finals when you've been in a coma. The last thing he needs is stuck-up Everly Jenkins as his new tutor—those beautiful blue eyes catching every last flaw. For Everly normal was a perfect family around the dinner table, playing piano at Sunday service and sunning by the pool. Until she discovers her whole life is a lie. Now the perfect pastor's daughter is hiding a life-changing secret, one that is slowly tearing her family apart. And spending the summer with notorious flirt Trevor Lewis means her darkest secret could be exposed.
Some Kind of Normal is a look at two teens trying to figure out how to get their lives back on track, back to normal, because they don't feel like what they have now is anywhere close. But what is normal?
Trevor is trying to get back to where he was before the accident. Before the traumatic brain injury, the coma, and the seizures. Everly is wishing her family was back the way it used to be. Before she discovered a secret of her father's, before she realized he wasn't who she thought he was. Both wish they could go back to before but they can't, and they're struggling to keep from falling under the waves of sadness and frustration. There's hope in their voices but it's drowned out by sorrow and anger. And they're just hoping it will all fix itself, they're keeping everything else inside and not relying on anyone for help. Not talking about it. Pretending it didn't happen and things can be normal again. But that never works.
What is normal? Normal is a lie, there is no normal. It's just seeing how put together everyone else looks and wanting to be like that. It's not wanting to stand out, to be stared at and pointed at, to be talked about behind out backs. It's wanting to blend in. We spend out lives searching for something that doesn't exist. Being "normal" is impossible so stop searching for it. Instead, just be you. Be happy, be healthy. Be around those you care about who also care about you. And talk about what's worrying you.
I found that Trevor's post-coma struggles were rather realistic, similar to Trina St. Jean's Blank. He wouldn't just bounce back once he woke up. There would've been a good amount of rehab, of setbacks, of new conditions and hurdles to climb over. It wasn't simple. I do think this book highlights the stress that some teens put themselves through by keeping all their concerns and problems locked away, the struggle that teens go through to put up a façade so they look "normal." It isn't healthy, it rarely works out, because it all gets exposed sooner or later. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the author's previous YA novel as well as fans of contemporary romance.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)...more
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, tAza Ray is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name. Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who's always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza's hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
Magonia is mysterious and wondrous, like a brand new fairy tale. It's the story of a girl who discovers she's more than she thought, a girl with a power and a purpose she's unsure of.
Aza has a realistic and practical attitude brought on by living with her disease. It's a bit of an angry but honest view of the world. She sees through the veils we put up, the fake promises and the dreams, and sees the reality of it all. That sometimes it doesn't matter. She's living as much as she can, But then she's taken, taken up above the clouds to Magonia, and she's lost. Confused. This defies all logic. When she starts to get to know those around her, she becomes wary of their plans. Plans that, somehow, involve her and a hidden power she never knew she had. But they never bother to really tell her what their plan is, what her power is, which is so frustrating.
The world-building is so intriguing. Magonia is a curious place up in the sky, full of airships, magical creatures, and the looming threat of war. The ships travel the world, searching for supplies, cursing those who live on the ground. They stay hidden from human eyes, rooting themselves in fable and myth. What child hasn't looked up at the clouds, at their shifting patterns, and wondered if there was something up there? What child hasn't looked up and thought they saw something that shouldn't be there?
I wonder if one of the reasons why I found this book so interesting is because I was able to let go and believe it was all happening. That I was willing to believe in the impossible, the mystical and the magical and the bizarre. My favourite parts were when Aza was up on the ship, the ways in which the Magonians are different than humans. The birds. Don't be fooled by the the title comparisons. Stardust? Yes, I can see it. The Fault in our Stars? No. In no way is that a good comparison to this book. A definite read for fans of fantasy mixed with reality, for fans of the impossible, for fans of characters lost and struggling to find their own voice in order to save what they care about most.
(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)...more
Enter the not-so-hollowed halls of SuperMutant Magic Academy and let the teenage apathy wash over you. Wendy, Marsha, Cheddar, Frances, and the otherEnter the not-so-hollowed halls of SuperMutant Magic Academy and let the teenage apathy wash over you. Wendy, Marsha, Cheddar, Frances, and the other students will be your guides through the D&D games, performance art, unrequited crushes, and spell-class tests that are the staples of life at a school for paranormal teenagers.
SuperMutant Magic Academy is intelligent, compelling, and bizarre. It's absurd and impossible while being true to the absurdity and impossibility of high school life. Yes, they all have some kind of magical ability, but all of that takes a backseat to the angst and the worry that teenagers face every day. Tests, dating, the future. It's all here in black and white, and sometimes red.
It's hard to describe this book, this collection, beyond what it is overall. There's sort of a set story line, the characters' lives while in high school, both inside and outside of class. Having lunch, doing homework, dating, breaking up, crushing on, fighting. Worrying about life post-high school, worrying about what the future might hold. Worrying about everything. Each page is its own separate story. It's a collection of moments, glimpses in time, until the newly drawn ending that follows more of a set story.
This is the most true to real life I've ever seen fantasy/paranormal characters be. There's Marsha keeping her crush on best friend cat-eared Wendy a secret. There's lizard Trixie trying so hard to fit in, to find a boyfriend, to be pretty. There's bold performance artist Frances and her friend with a large head Gemma. There's magical Trevor, angry and misunderstood, who's possibly just waiting for someone to finally call him on all his crap. And there's Everlasting Boy, lives and dies and lives again. The moments they have are sometimes impossible to understand, like Frances' performance art, and sometimes so familiar it hurts, like when one boy brings another to his dorm room and acknowledges that while it is a mess, it's his mess. It's something that belongs to him. Finally, something that's all his. What teenager hasn't ever desperately craved something that was their own, and rejoiced when they finally found it?
This book is at times bold, weird, and unflinchingly honest. The moments of existentialism alternate with the moments of humour, the moments of how all teen boys can think about is sex, as seen in a number of their D&D games. A must-read for comic fans, for fans of so much reality in their fiction, for fans of storytelling.
(I received a finished copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)...more
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-oldBeneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known. Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act. Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants... and how to take it. But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
The Girl at Midnight is mysterious and magical, the story of a human girl caught up in a neverending war and a near-impossible search for the mythical being that could put a stop to it all. But it's never that easy.
Echo is a lonely girl. Abandoned by parents who didn't care about her, hiding when she was a child until discovered by one of the Avicen who took her in. As a seventeen-year-old, she's still lonely. Out of place among those with feathers for hear and control over a number of magical things. But she's also loyal to the one who saved her. Now she's daring, passionate, and compassionate, and maybe a little stubborn about some things. She's not perfect, which is fine. She doesn't have to be. She's allowed to be normal, human, pickpocketing Echo.
The real world and a fantasy world come together in this book. There are the sights and smells of the human world, the crowds of New York, the markets of Taipei, the cherry blossoms in Kyoto. But there's also the hidden home of the Avicen, the feathers that cover them, the magic that runs through them. The enemy they've battled for centuries. Magic and reality collide in Echo.
This reminds me of both City of Bones and Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The real world mixed with the fantastical, lonely girls and broken boys. The magical, the dangerous and the destructive. The secrets some keep and the hidden that push those searching to move faster harder straight for the end. The consequences that will inevitably confront them when the time is right, or wrong. I won't deny what I've seen in other reviews, that some moments were predictable, and I won't deny the comparisons to the two books previously mentioned, because I still enjoyed this book. It was a race around the world, a race through magical doorways, a race towards fate. It has its own characters and mystical creatures and battles that set it apart from other books. I'll be sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next book, because I have no idea what could happen next.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Random House through NetGalley.)...more
Hallelujah Wonder wants to become one of the first female scientists of the nineteenth century. She knows every specimen and rare artifact that her exHallelujah Wonder wants to become one of the first female scientists of the nineteenth century. She knows every specimen and rare artifact that her explorer father hid deep in a cave before he died, and she feels a great responsibility to protect the objects (particularly a mesmerizing and dangerous one called the Medicine Head) from a wicked Navy captain who would use it for evil. Now she and her friend Eustace, a runaway slave, must set out on a sweeping adventure by land and by sea to the only place where no one will ever find the cursed relic....
Wonder at the Edge of the World is a dangerous adventure for one young girl and her friend. They travel across treacherous lands and terrible seas in order to hide something mysterious, but they must be careful along the way. They wouldn't want to fall victim to the relic's whispers.
Hallelujah is a smart, strong-willed, opinionated girl. She's rather matter-of-fact, something of a know-it-all. She has one way of looking at the world, the way she learned from her father: the scientific, adventurous way. She trusts that what he said was true. Why would he lie? He's why she is the way she is, stubborn, only seeing one way forward. For someone so young, she's very set in her ways. But sometimes it's not all about science.
What inquisitive child of an explorer and a scientist, raised on tales of danger and wonder, wouldn't want to travel? To see the sights for themselves? To have an adventure? Lu's father, before his death, presented the world to her as a place to be discovered. A place where secrets wait to be revealed. And so Lu heads out to do what her father didn't have the time to do.
Something dark is circling Lu, something primal, mysterious, and magical. What is the Medicine Head? What are its secrets? Obsession drove her father to learn more about it, and it drives Lu, but in a different way. To get rid of it. To stop the whispers. But will she be able to resist? Will it fall into the wrong hands?
Lu confronts a number of difficult topics on her adventure. Slavery and racism, obsession and greed. Evil. She confronts all of them, ready to push her way through, ready to do her father proud and finish what he could not. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for a complex and thrilling middle grade adventure story.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)...more
Louisa May Alcott can hardly believe her ears—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and her father won't do anything to stLouisa May Alcott can hardly believe her ears—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and her father won't do anything to stop her. How is Louisa to find the time to write her stories if she has to add taking care of her father and sister to her list of chores? And why can't she escape the boredom of her small town to have an adventure of her own? Little does Louisa know just how interesting her small world is about to become. Before long she is juggling her stubborn father, a fugitive slave who is seeking safety along the Underground Railroad, and possibly even love where she least expects it. Add a slave catcher to the mix, and Louisa has her hands full.
The Revelation of Louisa May is a curious mystery set in the teenage years of one of America's most loved authors. This is a welcome look into her life, into her struggles, and into a complicated web of secrets.
Louisa May is portrayed as a smart and emotional girl, an opinionated girl. One who cares for her family, one who doesn't always understand the choices her parents make. Poor, her family relies on a number of others for support. Louisa's relationship with her father highlights this. In her eyes, he's a man who would love to find work by writing essays and speaking at social engagements, but no one will hire him. In her eyes, he just won't work. But it's more difficult than that. She's a similar way, knowing that to help the family more she would have to leave Concord to find work, but then who would help around the house? How would she find time to write her stories?
It's intriguing to see these imagined moments in American history. The days when Louisa May Alcott was a young girl, before she'd yet to pen a single word of Little Women. The days when her family was struggling for money. The days of Thoreau and Emerson, their move away from industry and excess and back to nature, to living simply at Waldon Pond. The days of caring for your fellow man and woman, no matter their status, level of education, or race. The days of slaves on the run, travelling the Underground Railroad north into Canada where they and their families could be safe.
These fictionalized slice of life mystery novels of MacColl's are ones I've come to enjoy. The peek into history, into the young life of a now famous and well-regarded literary figure, is intriguing. Perhaps these events didn't truly happen, but what if something vaguely similar ever did? As with the previous novels, Louisa May Alcott was a young girl once, with hopes and dreams. I would recommend this to fans of the previous novels as well as those looking for YA featuring American history and a head-strong female protagonist.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Open secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends DuskOpen secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil. They are juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, and they have no fear. They are the Truth Commission. But Normandy's passion for uncovering the truth is not entirely heartfelt. The truth can be dangerous, especially when it involves her brilliant older sister, Keira, the creator of a bestselling graphic novel series, who has left college and come home under mysterious circumstances, and in complete silence. Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed...
The Truth Commission is clever and revealing, baring the truth for all those to see. Whether or not that's good or bad, whether or not it works, that's the question.
Normandy is a bright and clever voice. She's not as open to the idea of revealing the truths of those around her as her friends are, not when a truth about her sister could be dangerous if revealed. She's caught between not wanting to be intrusive and tired of living in a house where so many things are left unsaid. Her family is in a carefully constructed cocoon, but the shell of it is so fragile that the slightest bump might crack it open. Unfortunately, the truth needs to come out.
The narrative non-fiction storytelling aspect of the book is intriguing and interesting. It's all anchored by Normandy's clear voice, her emotions and observations, her fears and her anger and her assumptions about the people around her. It also, in the beginning, made the story feel rather dense. It felt like there was so much to read and to remember, so much going on.
The truth is one of those hard to navigate things. One of those sometimes effortless, sometimes sticky sludgy hard-to-move-through tar pit things. Truths that don't hurt anyone and truths that impact everyone. But there's wanting to know the truth, wanting to expose the flimsy useless lies we use every single day, and there's prying in people's private business. This book did brush up against that line a time or two.
This book explores the truth in an honest way, sometimes a brutally honest way. Sometimes it sets us free, but other times it sucks. Other times we know the truth but prefer instead to ignore it, to avoid it, because it makes life easier. An interesting story, to be sure. On a personal note, there were parts I liked, like Normandy, like her humour and personality, and there were parts I didn't, like some of the side characters. But that happens to everyone, yes? I would definitely recommend this to those looking for a well-written and realistic narrator and a mystery of sorts to fall into....more