Teen Titans: Raven was fun and entertaining, even if you have next to zero knowledge of the wo~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
Teen Titans: Raven was fun and entertaining, even if you have next to zero knowledge of the world of Teen Titans. I've never seen any of the TV show/movie, and can count on one hand the number of comics I've read in general. I still thoroughly enjoyed this coming-of-age story for one of the main characters from Teen Titans. The plot is very basic, but it answers the story of how Raven came to be who she is and the awakening of her powers well enough. I would have liked a little more...personality, I suppose, in Raven. She seems a little flat, as the only two emotions she really seems to have are fear and anger. The ending also seems open-ended, perhaps for future books?
The artwork is very atmospheric, staying almost entirely in shades of gray, black, purple, and white. The detail is quite good, and the font is easy enough to read (a plus for those of us with less than stellar eyesight).
3.5/5 stars. Another excellent contribution to the DC Ink lineup!
No Place Like Here was so much more than I expected! I went into it thinking I was getting a s~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
No Place Like Here was so much more than I expected! I went into it thinking I was getting a somewhat fluffy summer camp novel (at only 272 pages I finished it in half a shift at work – yes, my job is that slow). While there were fluffy aspects, it was so much deeper and touched my heart in ways I was completely surprised by.
Ashlyn’s entire world has been turned upside down. All her plans for the summer have gone out the window. Her parents BOTH seem to have abandoned her. She’s been shipped off to stay with relatives she hasn’t seen for nearly a decade. She plans to just keep her head down and her mouth shut, just like she has for the entire life she’s spent with her overbearing, self-centered father. But then she realizes that she does still have a family that cares about her, and she starts to grow into herself. She grows SO MUCH in this short book, it was really amazing and yet still very believable.
I loved that she didn’t just grow up and shut her parents out. She grew up and at least tried to start the healing process with them. Her mom’s struggle with depression felt realistically portrayed, and I really appreciated the positive mental health rep in the book! Getting help is NOT a weakness, or a waste of time. YES!
Also, a HUGE thank you to Christina June for not making this a “romance is the answer” story. There is a little flirtation, a little kissing, a lot of attraction – but no real romance. So many stories portray romantic relationships as the cure-all for what ails us and it’s just so not true!
Now I need to go back and read the books that came before this one. Apparently some of the same characters show up, so I’m personally hoping that after No Place Like Here we get to hear more of Baxter’s story…
5/5 stars. I loved this book! I’ll be waiting for anything else Christina June puts out.
I’ve really been on a middle-grade kick lately and I was super excited to get to review this b~*Check out all my reviews over at The Bent Bookworm!*~
I’ve really been on a middle-grade kick lately and I was super excited to get to review this book! Ghosts and ghost stories have fascinated me since I was a kid, so as soon as I read the synopsis I was all on board. Overall I gave it 3.5/5 stars!
Things I Liked:
- The ghost bits were particularly well done. I found the hairs on the back of my neck raising at several passages! Eeeesh. - Descriptions of the old house were awesome. I looooove old houses and exploring. The author did make sure to not have the kids trespass – due to Pekin’s “business,” they have the permission of the current owner to go snoop. - I liked the difference in ghosts. Hard to say more without spoiling, but I really liked that there were distinct differences. - Scout and Pekin were cute. Very young teenager-y. 😉 I loved all the bumbling and muddling about over their feelings, but there wasn’t TOO much drama.
Things I Didn’t Like So Much:
- It really feels like the author doesn’t know modern teenagers very well. They are supposed to be fifteen and sixteen years old, but most of the time they seem to act much younger. Yes, this is a middle grade book…so why not have middle-grade age characters? Maybe it’s just me. - The adults are stupid. Ridiculously so. Their interactions are just…not…believable, for the most part. But they’re a minor part of the story. - The whole “love saves the day” vibe. UGH. Didn’t need that, but ok. Still thought the couple was cute!
Many thanks to the publisher and Xpresso Book Tours for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Two Like Me and You is a quirky, funny debut novel about two teenagers trying to navigate thei~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
Two Like Me and You is a quirky, funny debut novel about two teenagers trying to navigate their own mental and emotional growing pains, and their quest to help an old man find the girl he lost in the chaos of World War II. I was a bit skeptical of the tone of the book at first, but soon it becomes apparent that Edwin, our narrator, just has a rather anxiety-filled yet still somehow irreverent way of looking at life. And that he’s still not over his now famous ex-girlfriend, Sadie.
Parker is hilarious and so unashamedly herself, I absolutely loved her. I would love to see another book from her point of view. She isn’t afraid to take chances (to the point of stupidity, at one point, but thankfully no one was harmed), and she isn’t afraid to be different. That’s my kind of girl!
There is a lot of stuff going on in this story that just…would never, ever happen. I know it’s fiction, of course, but still. I expect my contemporaries to be a little more realistic. For instance, there is NO WAY IN HELL any nursing home would have let an old man go off with two high school kids. Definitely not the way it’s explained away in this story, anyway. Also all the running around and dodging of police? Come on, y’all. Just be prepared to have to suspend a little more disbelief than you might be use to.
The romance was cute, very puppy-love like. Edwin is sweet, but he has a lot of growing up to do. Parker does right by him though. She totally does. You’ll have to read it to find out what I mean!
Overall this was a very enjoyable read, lighthearted but with some really heartfelt bits when Gordon is telling his story of being in France and meeting the love of his life during the war. I was expecting a little more of a Letters to Juliet type story, but I was still quite satisfied with how this turned out. 3.5/5 stars!
What a fun book! Like it's companion book "Amazing Evolution," the illustrations in "Amazing Expeditions" are absolutely lovely. Covering explorers frWhat a fun book! Like it's companion book "Amazing Evolution," the illustrations in "Amazing Expeditions" are absolutely lovely. Covering explorers from modern day all the way back to BCE. I was very happy to see that the author did not cover only European explorers, but included some from China and the Middle East. Of course, there were very few women explorers (that we know of), so the gender ratio is quite skewed, but there are a couple of historic women included as well as some more modern ones. Highly recommend for any library!
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Amazing Evolution is a beautifully illustrated, bite-sized science overview of the origins of humankind. Probably best for middle to late elementary sAmazing Evolution is a beautifully illustrated, bite-sized science overview of the origins of humankind. Probably best for middle to late elementary school students, but the illustrations will capture the eyes of any age group (including adults)! The topics range from the beginning of our modern theory of evolution to how we categorize organisms (Kingdom, Phylum, etc.). There are no pictures at all, but the illustrations are clear and lovely to look at. The text is well organized, with no one section or paragraph so long as to lose the attention of a young reader. I wish I had had this book when I was a child!
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Blonde Rattlesnake is a thought provoking book. Not particularly immersive or nail-biting, it nonetheless tells Burmah Adams White's story in a fairlyBlonde Rattlesnake is a thought provoking book. Not particularly immersive or nail-biting, it nonetheless tells Burmah Adams White's story in a fairly unbiased way, unlike the newspapers and radios of the time of her arrest and trial. While the book includes some of those, the author also includes quotations from Burmah herself, as well as from her mother. Unlike many biographical fiction books, there is not any creative nonfiction here, it is strictly written in a journalistic style.
The book focuses less on the crimes committed - though there is plenty of page time given to those - than on the corruption in the California legal system in the 1930s, and whether or not Burmah actually received a fair trial. Also on the WHY she acted as she did, which is never answered fully enough to truly decide. No doubt as many people at the time did, some readers will decide for themselves whether or not she acted of her own free will or if she was coerced by an abusive husband, but for myself, I was never completely satisfied and couldn't state an opinion either way.
3.5/5 stars, rounded up.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Pumpkin War (due out on May 21, 2019) is a story of friendship and family, of getting back~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
The Pumpkin War (due out on May 21, 2019) is a story of friendship and family, of getting back to the earth and enjoying the small things in life – and all this in a beautiful setting, with writing that seems just perfect for a middle grade audience! I was quite impressed. Usually books that try to take on this scope of feelings and events end up falling flat in one way or another, but this one is just right. I feel like Goldilocks, dancing around with glee after finding the three bears’ house and baby bear’s “just-right” porridge.
Billie is 12 years old, the oldest of three siblings. Their dad is Irish and their mom is Ojibwe, and they live on a Canadian island. Billie is fiercely competitive in all ways, and ESPECIALLY when it comes to growing monster pumpkins! She has been in an almost year-long standoff with the boy who used to be her best friend, since she is convinced he knocked her out of last year’s pumpkin race on purpose.
I loved the depiction of rural life in Canada. Billie not only takes care of her pumpkins, but also bees. Bees! Also there is more about fishing, and gardening, and the traditions of the Ojibwe. It was just so…homey. Down to earth. I loved it, and I think middle-school-me would have loved it as well. Also, adult-me loved her parents! Their differences in background were lightly touched on, and Billie obviously embraces both sides of her heritage. She even finds out about some “family secrets” part way through the book (nothing adult level), and has a part in reconciling her dad with his past. Also, Billlie’s youngest sibling is born near the beginning of the book and the struggles of adding a new baby to family life are also portrayed – Billie’s mom and dad aren’t perfect, and I totally sympathized with them.
Billie struggles all summer long to come to terms with what happened with Sam in the last race. Despite his efforts, she’s not quite willing to forgive him. Will she let a mistake ruin their friendship? Is being first more important? I thoroughly enjoyed the way this played out, and also the fact that the author didn’t make her competitive nature a bad thing (as happens so often when it is a girl character being competitive).
5/5 stars. This book will be going on my shelf!
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review!
The Golden Acorn is a sweet book with adorable illustrations of forest animals. Squirrel is a competitive little racer who keeps a trophy collection fThe Golden Acorn is a sweet book with adorable illustrations of forest animals. Squirrel is a competitive little racer who keeps a trophy collection from all the many races she has won. But the Golden Acorn race has a new twist this year - only TEAMS will be allowed! Squirrel is put out, but rounds up her friends anyway. But on race day, will she be able to remember that the whole team has to work together?
This is a cute picture book for young children, and the pastel colored illustrations really complement the woodland setting. A beautiful addition to any child's library.
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
I absolutely loved this little chapter book! It's the perfect story to introduce kids to the idea of fostering pets that are looking for their foreverI absolutely loved this little chapter book! It's the perfect story to introduce kids to the idea of fostering pets that are looking for their forever families. Kaita and her family already have a dog that they rescued, but they decide to open their hearts and homes to Truman, a black lab who needs a new home. Truman is past the cute puppy stage, but still has a lot of the destructive puppy behaviors. Kaita's family helps him get over some of his shyness and bad behaviors.
The story does discuss how hard it is for foster families to let go of their foster pets, but also shines a light on how important the care of pet fosters is for the families looking to permanently adopt. There's also a nice little story in the back of the book on the real Kaita who inspired the fictional Kaita, complete with pictures.
5/5 stars, highly recommend. This is one of a series of four books covering pet fosters, and I'll be keeping my eye out for the others!
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Mummies Exposed! is a fascinating look at the subject, at an appropriate level to maintain the interest of an upper-elementary or middle school level.Mummies Exposed! is a fascinating look at the subject, at an appropriate level to maintain the interest of an upper-elementary or middle school level. The book covers mummies from all over the world, and is complete with many photographs. As always, digging up the dead - no matter how old - comes with a certain amount of controversy as many cultures and religions find it extremely disrespectful. The author has managed to cover both the science and the cultural implications with a sympathetic viewpoint.
Also included is an extensive bibliography in the back, quite impressive for a book of such small scope. While there are quite a few different mummies covered, the details are somewhat sparse (as suits the age level the book is targeted at). But, the bibliography gives an excellent starting point for further reading for either kids or adults.
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
The illustrations in this book are lovely. The white/black/gray of everything except what is near Vincent, or the people he cares about, really emphasThe illustrations in this book are lovely. The white/black/gray of everything except what is near Vincent, or the people he cares about, really emphasizes how gloomy and lonely he feels in the city with his Aunt Mimi. Soon he meets Toma, and the very first day they play together they take some odd "dirt balls" that Vincent's Aunt Mimi asked them to get rid of, and toss them over the wall into a vacant lot. From then on the boys are fast friends, and the weeks speed by. Then one day, their neighbor notices something in the vacant lot...their dirt balls are growing!
Children will enjoy this book for the developing friendships, and it's a lovely way to bring a little plant life into the city.
A beautiful book for children about losing a beloved family pet. Originally published in Norway, both the text and the illustrations are sweet yet heaA beautiful book for children about losing a beloved family pet. Originally published in Norway, both the text and the illustrations are sweet yet heartbreaking. Pets are such special part of our families and our hearts, losing them is incredibly painful even as adults. Children often really struggle to understand and deal with the death of their four-legged best friend, but this book portrays one little boy's special relationship and painful goodbye in such a way that children will be sure they are not alone in their pain.
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
For all the ways I want to disappear and not let people see me, it still cuts me every time they don’t.
All We Could Have Been was a very emotional book. While it is YA, it tackles some very adult themes and thoughts – maybe because the main characters, while still teenagers, have both experienced life events that forced them to grow up very quickly. It seems to be marketed as a thriller, which isn’t entirely accurate as it mostly focuses on the aftermath of a crime rather than the events around the crime. There are some flashback sort of memories about it though, so I guess maybe that’s why…YA thriller seems to be a hard genre to pin down.
I hurt so much for Lexi. For Marcus, too, but mainly for Lexie. She has been so scarred by her brother’s actions and the hatred that people in general turned on her family after his crime, that she has (as many of us do) started to believe it of herself.
You ruin everything, I remind myself. There’s nothing you can keep safe.
Lexie’s parents have tried, but they’ve been dealing with their own trauma, and haven’t entirely kept up with their very nearly adult daughter. Their best advice to her is to lay low, not attract attention, and please-for-the-love-of-god maybe consider not color coding her clothes to the day of the week. Despite sending her to a therapist, they seem to have no grasp of how important coping mechanisms are to Lexie, even something as small as clothing colors.
I also caught a case of the feels for Lexie and Marcus together. They aren’t the most romantic couple – their relationship is built more on a need for support and understanding that they can’t seem to find from anyone else. While I wouldn’t ever *recommend* a romantic relationship based on such, the fact is that it happens often, I’ve been IN a relationship like that, and sometimes it is what people need at that time. Such relationships may not be the most lasting, but they have their place.
Lexie grew SO MUCH in the course of this story. She’s not perfect, or “fixed” as some might be inclined to call it, but she makes so much progress. She keeps trying. Which, as anyone with depression or anxiety can tell you – IS HUGE. Sometimes it is so difficult to keep trying.
Aside from Lexie, there is an entire cast of other interesting people! This made me really happy because often secondary characters are so similar I can’t remember who is who or did what.
- There is, of course, Marcus – who is supposed to be this bad boy with a horrible reputation, when all he really seems to be is a kid who did what he had to do to survive and ended up getting swept under the rug by the school system.
- Ryan is Lexie’s first real friend at her new school, and he has a secret too, but one that’s entirely personal. (view spoiler)[Ryan is asexual, which has caused him some grief at school and is something he really struggles with. He has come to accept it about himself but isn’t ready to be public about it. (hide spoiler)] I really like Ryan, until about the middle of the book, when he does something that seems entirely selfish and unreasonable and very out of character, IMO. Meh.
- Chloe – Chloe is somewhat petty and self-centered, but she has a respect for human feeling that a lot of people don’t. I can respect her, in the end, even if I didn’t really like her.
- Aunt Susie – I love adult characters that I can empathize with. This is probably less of a big deal for the intended audience of All We Might Have Been, but as an adult reader I totally felt a kinship with her. She is Lexie’s mother’s sister, and while she is trying to be the “parent” figure Lexie’s parents want her to be, she ends up treating Lexie more like an adult. Huge props.
Most of the book takes place in and around Lexie’s high school – the one she’s starting at the beginning of her senior year in hopes she can make it 160 days. Normally I’m annoyed by school settings, but this one didn’t bother me, I think because it was much more character focused than it was on any particular setting.
Mainly Ryan’s abrupt character switch in the middle of the story. I felt like it was unnecessary and really sad – and very NOT in character for him. It really dampened the entire rest of the book. Also in the beginning there is some weird, over-the-top descriptions that really threw me for a loop…I think maybe the author was trying to get Lexie’s sort of dry, sarcastic humor across but it really just felt strange.
“Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.”
Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows feels like the start of something big. While there’s not a TRUE cliffhanger ending, there is so much unfinished business – I was happy to see this is supposed to be the first of five books!
Thomas is an ordinary kid, obsessed with comic books and having doodle wars with his best friend, Enrique. His dad disappeared years ago and his mom is an insanely busy professor, but he’s mostly pretty happy and knows he has a good life. Then weird things start to happen, weird things involving a book with a changing cover, and strange people appearing and seeming to stalk him. So yes…this book falls into the “chosen one” trope…but tropes only become tropes because people love them. We all just have our favorites. 😉
The first half of the book was setup. Which was…slightly off-putting. I was convinced this was going to be a 3 star read until I was over halfway through, but the last parts of the story bumped it up to a solid 4 stars! The writing during the first half is at times kind of clunky and awkward, not unlike the middle school audience the book is aimed at but hopefully not enough to put them off.
THEN, the action starts. And I was intrigued by the puzzles and the magic and the intrigue. It was really cool and I just kept finding more things to be curious about. This is also where all those loose ends start to appear, which obviously are leading into a huge epic adventure for the series. Thomas is kind of pulled in two directions here, as he’s uncertain who to trust – and who wouldn’t be, with all the things he thought he knew about himself and the world in general, suddenly appearing to be lies – and wants to both be loyal to his family and friends, and save the world. *wink wink* He’s an incredibly likable character, as (so far) he has stayed humble and true to himself even with the discovery of his special abilities.
The bad guy, who stays in the background for most of the book, appears only in about the last quarter. And then, what do you know! Is he REALLY a bad guy? Oh boy. Who is Thomas supposed to believe? I love that this presents a somewhat (only somewhat) morally gray appearing character in a story for this age group.
Obviously, there is a lot more to come in this story, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria. Also, I’m totally on board with the galaxy-ish looking covers for these books.
When You Find My Body is the story of Geraldine (Gerry) Largay, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who disappeared in 2013. I was very excited to see thiWhen You Find My Body is the story of Geraldine (Gerry) Largay, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who disappeared in 2013. I was very excited to see this book is coming out, as my husband and I are avid hikers and I distinctly remember hearing about her disappearance and wondering if we would ever find out what happened to her.
First of all: this book is being marketed as a thriller and or true crime. WHAT?!? It is neither of those, least of all true crime. There was no crime committed here! None! Nothing at all! This is a complete misnomer and will undoubtedly lead to a LOT of disappointed readers. I went into this expecting something like an Ann Rule book, as I didn’t actually know what had happened to Gerry and it said true crime. I was at first very irritated, but decided that it probably isn’t the author’s fault and I really wanted to read Gerry’s story regardless. I’m glad I did, but just be forewarned. NOT A TRUE CRIME OR THRILLER.
The author gives a lot of background information on Gerry, which I was very glad to read. It made her seem more like a real person and less like a statistic. It was also rather sad, as clearly her husband, children, and grandchildren miss her deeply. Gerry touched a lot of lives not only in her “regular” life but also in her life on the Appalachian Trail, where she was known as Inchworm. I loved that she clearly had a sense of humor and could laugh at herself, as she was one of the slower hikers on the trail.
One thing that really was a drawback to this book was the amount of time the author spent on things that had very little relation to Gerry, her family, or her disastrous hike. In one case several pages are spent going over details about the Navy SERE school…totally unnecessary. There is also a lot of background on the AT itself and how it came to be, which might be considered unnecessary as well, but I think gives a really nice look into the history and motivations of people who hike the trail, both in the past and present.
Gerry’s story in the end is a real tragedy, especially when reading how – if she had possibly been better prepared – it most likely would have been avoided all together. I’m sure the author and her family hope that from the writing of this book, people will go out better equipped for whatever adventures in the outdoors they might seek.
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
3.5/5 stars. The Burning Chambers is the first in Kate~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
"Kill them all. God will know His own."
3.5/5 stars. The Burning Chambers is the first in Kate Mosse’s new series, set in a similar historical time period as her earlier series, but this time entirely in France during the bloody wars between French Huguenots and Catholics. This book started out reeeeeeeally slow. So slow that, had I not been given a review copy, I probably would have put it down indefinitely. However, the description was excellent and so was the writing, it was just…so much. Also SUCH a huge cast of characters! There was a three page list of characters at the very beginning (which honestly terrified me before I even started reading). A lot of focus was on the religious conflict, too, which I found kind of off-putting but I understand that it was a HUGE part of life at that time, and was the motivating factor for a lot of the characters’ actions. There was SO MUCH double-crossing in this story...it made my head spin at times, trying to figure out who was on what side and who was a spy and who was playing both sides!
The story is centered around Minou and to a lesser extent Piet, but there are so many chapters from such a variety of people it was rather mind boggling. Minou is great and I loved that she acted demure enough to blend in seamlessly in the current French society no matter where she was…but beneath all that “proper-ness” was a backbone of steel and GOD HELP ANYONE who tried to hurt her loved ones. Phew.
Piet is a good, steady man with a heart of gold and again the backbone of steel. Despite getting something of the short end of the stick in life, he is still unwilling to believe the worst of people (something that comes back to bite him in the behind). I liked him, but I wasn’t swooning over him. I guess I prefer more of the bad-boy/wounded hero type. He’s just too…nice? (What kind of a person does this thought make me…)
However, all that said, my favorite character was Minou’s little brother. HE is going to grow up to be just the sort of bad-boy-with-a-cause I can get behind, I just know it! The most INTERESTING character is actually the villainess, but the interest of spoilers I’ll leave it at that.
The Huguenots (Protestants) and the Catholics of 16th century France hate each other for various reasons, and those with no strong religious sensibilities want only to profit from war. Minou’s father has been keeping some dark family secret, Minou receives a vaguely threatening letter…and she is oblidged to leave her beloved Carcassonne for the “safety” of Toulouse, which turns out to not be safe at all.
I really thought this would be more of a historical thriller than it was. As it turned out it was much more of a political/social commentary for the first 75%, with a insta-love sort of romance thrown in. It was sweet, but seemed QUITE unfounded…however, ignoring that little issue, the last quarter of the book really picked up the pace and made me MUCH more invested in the characters and their story, as everyone actually came together instead of being scattered all across the map.
3.5/5 stars, rounded up. The last quarter really saved the book, and I’m hoping all the meandering and emphasis on the societal aspects of the Huguenot/Catholic wars was setup for the future books in the series, which I will definitely be reading!
“Always remember who ye are,” Granny says. “Descended of the great bards of old. Honord by princes near and far they were. Sought out for music and for counsel. Keepers of history. Writers of songs.”
I was excited to read Last of the Name, being of partial descent from Irish immigrants myself. It’s not a topic I’ve often seen covered for this age group, and I was thrilled to see it done so well.
Last of the Name is a middle-grade book about the arrival of Irish immigrants to the United States during the time of the Civil War. 12-year-old Danny has lost everyone dear to him except for his sister Kathleen, either to war, famine (by hunger or in attempts to steal enough food for their family to survive), or the crossing to America. He rebels at dressing as a girl to be a maid alongside Kathleen, but since it seems their only hope of staying together and surviving in the bitter, angry stew that was New York City in 1863, he goes along with his sister’s plan.
Kathleen is the sort of believer who believes more the less evidence there is. She could be on her knees for days on end. I’m going to die of hunger while she prays to save me from a bountiful future…If only there was a patron saint of those afflicted by tyrannical sisters there’d be hope for me.
Despite his complaining, it’s clear Danny dearly loves his sister and will do anything for her. As the city grows more and more hateful, both towards free blacks and the Irish (coming to steal jobs, naturally), it becomes almost as dangerous for them as it was at home – except here, people appreciate Danny’s voice and his dancing feet, which maybe – just maybe – might be the key to their survival in New York City. But when the draft is initiated and the Irish immigrants of the city bear the brunt of it (so much for random!), the whole city looks to go up in flames.
I’m not going to lie, I teared up several times reading this story – and I’m not even sure why! It just felt so poignantly REAL. Danny was adorable and I loved Kathleen’s fire and backbone.
“You Irish,” says another [man], just as stern. “It’s your own out there doing the lynching and the burning. What do you have to fear from your own?”
“You fat old men!” Kathleen shrieks. “What do you know of fear, you with your broad shoulders and your full plates! We have to fear what every woman fears her whole life long. Ye heartless men! When have you ever been small or hungry? Would you send a German child out on the streets this night? Aren’t we Catholic like you? Don’t we sit side by side in church?”
As is historically accurate, Danny and Kathleen’s Catholic faith does play a part in the story – but never in a proselytizing way. The story really shows how much conflict was in the United States at this time, not only around color, but around religion, politics, even denominations. It’s rather disheartening to see that we’ve never really moved on, the names of the different factions have just changed. Despite all that, the story is one of beauty and hope and I’ll be adding it to my own library.
5/5 stars. Highly recommend, and it REALLY needs much more attention than it’s getting!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
I sort of do know what she means, sitting here in the semi-dark and the semi-silence. I have a scratchy, restless feeling, as if my soul were grinding against my skin, my bones, not necessarily wanting to get out but urging my body to go to impossible places, convinced I can touch the stars and not burn.
The Waking Forest is a story that is a true journey. I wasn’t EXACTLY sure what to expect going into it, and I was almost halfway through before I was even sure what the heck I was reading! Perhaps not the most stellar start for a debut novel, BUT. Bear with me – and bear with the book, too. While I did only rate it at 3.5/5 stars (rounded up), I also feel it is totally a book worth reading and I will gladly be reading the next novel that Alyssa Wees comes out with.
The first half of the book is told in alternating chapters between Rhea, in our modern world, and the Witch of the Wood, in a very odd dream-like world. I was SO confused as to what was supposed to be happening in these…but the writing is beautiful. If you are not into heavy descriptions and very sustained metaphors, you might not enjoy it. It’s a very different style from what I’ve been reading recently, so it took a little while for it to grow on me. But grow on me it did, and eventually the prose (which could, admittedly, be considered kind of “purple” prose) was just painting these amazing pictures…so even if I was turned around and had no idea where the story was going, I was just enjoying the journey.
Eventually the two tales merge, and that is rather…mind-bending. There is enough foreshadowing that you sort of see it coming, but not…not…in the way it played out, or at least I didn’t. The story shifts to an entirely fantasy world, with incredible creatures and magic. I really wish the magic had been better explained! I was still kind of confused by how everything worked in the end, but it was glorious and shiny and I liked it.
My absolute favorite part was Rhea’s relationship with her sisters. These four girls are kicking ass and taking names and making no apologies – and dealing with their own issues along the way. There is some beautiful encouragement for those of us who struggle with anxiety in these pages – and the characters aren’t considered less than or incapable because of it! I loved it. Absolutely loved it.
Overall, The Waking Forest isn’t perfect but if you like fantasy and quirky characters, definitely give it a try. And keep an eye out for more books by Wees!
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is the kind of book I would have LOVED reading as~*Check out all my reviews on the blog over at The Bent Bookworm!*~
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is the kind of book I would have LOVED reading as a nine or ten-year-old. It has strong, independent kids with their own unique voices, an intriguing mystery (that the adults are dead-bent on NOT being helpful with), and juuuuust enough creep factor to make a warm blanket desirable.
Emmy's father disappeared when she was a toddler, and her mother is a "parenting expert" that is rarely around and emotionally distant even when she's physically present. At the start of the story, Emmy is shipped off to a boarding school in England, despite having never been there in her life. Never one to remain down for long (however much her mother's actions might hurt her), she acclimates quickly, making new friends with some of the more colorful characters at the school.
The mystery of Emmy's father's disappearance is a main theme, as she is (as many of us would be) desperate to find out anything about him, his life, and yes of course his disappearance. It was very intriguing to have all that thrown in with the typical school stuff (reminds me vaguely of Harry Potter here, considering the main friend group is also three people), and it seems the groundwork has been laid for future books in the series. Some questions were answered by the end, but even more were asked! I'm very eager to see when the next book will be released and what will happen to Emmy and her friends next.
I did wish there had been at least ONE adult who was straight with the kids, instead of constantly blowing them off or just trying to pretend things hadn't happened. Children are smarter than we give them credit for, and often able to handle things much better than we might anticipate.
I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. LOVE. I’m slightly obsessed with that particular story arc/plo~*Review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~
I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. LOVE. I’m slightly obsessed with that particular story arc/plot and love seeing the different spins authors put on it. I think part of it is because I absolutely adore castles, and COME ON who hasn’t been obsessed with the Beast’s library?
When I first read the blurb for this one, I got super excited – and then read a very negative review (by a reviewer I usually agree with and whom I really respect), which made my toes curl…butbutbutbut it was Beauty and the Beast! So I decided to give it a shot anyway, and lo and behold I was approved for an ARC. I’m so glad now that I didn’t let one review decide whether or not I would read the book. While of course no two people are going to feel exactly the same and the reviewer was perfectly professional and within rights to feel as they did, I personally felt the book was lovely!
^This is pretty much EXACTLY how I picture the Beast’s castle as written in this book! – photo from Boredom Therapy
This book surprised me by how closely it follows the original. Of course it is not exact, but it has many more similarities than most of the adaptations I’ve read. It is set in old France, in the 18th-ish century. Isabeau i.e., Belle, is the youngest daughter of a merchant with three daughters. The beast, cursed for an undetermined amount of time, has spent years wandering the woods around his cursed castle and later within the castle itself, attempting to claw his way back to some guise of humanity.
I looked down at my hideous, beastly paws. Thickly furred on the back; black, leathery palms; and those terrible claws I could not sheate. I was overcome with shame. Who am I to love such a one as her? Just as quickly, my shame turned to anger. My talons sunk into the back of the chair. My heart is human! I cried in my mind.
The magic of the story is rather different, as there are no talking candlesticks or clocks and no Mrs. Potts (so sad), but the Beast’s house definitely has a mind and life of its own and is indeed very magical…more on that later.
First of all, the Beast. He’s a very sympathetic character, though a flawed one. He was cursed by a faery who had a long history with his family, and cursed NOT for being evil, but for another reason that you’ll have to read to find out. He is very…well, mopey. Which is really quite understandable given the circumstances, but sometimes I did want to shake him. He recognizes, too, that his manipulation and threatening of Isabeau’s father was wrong and cruel, and he is sorry for it, but as Isabeau later tells him,
“Desperate men do desperate things.”
The Beast definitely grows and changes throughout the story, as he does in the original and most retellings. His woe-is-me attitude sometimes crept in and made him annoying, but overall I liked him.
Isabeau is your typical Belle, except – and I can’t quite forgive this – she is NOT as obsessed with books as my idea of Belle always is! In fact, she declares that she doesn’t quite know what she is good at or what she really enjoys, as her last few years have been spent just trying to make ends meet and help her sisters and father out of the deep depression they collectively fell into after the demise of their father’s fortune. Oy. She remains mostly the same through the book, except of course she comes to see the Beast in a very different light by the end.
Isabeau’s father and sisters were rather different than any portrayal of them that I’ve read, as well. I didn’t particularly like any of them except the oldest sister, but they provided a nice contrast.
The Iffy Stuff
The negative review I read said the Beast was essentially a voyeur and that was a large part of the reviewer’s problem with the book. So, I went into this expecting him to basically be a peeping Tom, mainly on Isabeau. Which wasn’t really what happened at all. Again, YMMV and of course if it bothers someone they should say so! However…the so-called voyeurism occurs at the behest of the Beast’s magic mirror, which is part of his house’s magic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – and not always when he wants it to. The book DOES use the mirror A LOT to let the reader see perspectives other than the Beast’s, which is effective but given that he is seeing everything that we are, is kind of…odd. But then, what exactly is normal about his circumstances? He’s much, much older than anyone else still living. His house magically manifests food and clothes. His lands are in all four seasons at once. What’s a magic mirror added to all that? Also, the fact that sometimes it just shuts him off made a difference to me. Sometimes, even when he desperately wants to see something, the mirror says no.
Overall, 4/5 stars. I wish I had been a little more invested in Isabeau and the Beast’s romance, but it was still very sweet and they are both very likeable characters. I loved the descriptions of the old, crumbling yet magical castle and grounds. I especially loved how the Fairy’s relationship to the Beast’s family, particularly his grandmother, was revealed. I’ll definitely be getting a copy of this for my shelf!
------------------------------------ I have so many thoughts about this book. Also I'm conflicted about whether to count this as a 2018 or 2019 release because I got a copy of the ARC for the US version, which releases this month, but it came out in the UK last year...anyway, full RTC!...more
The Victory Garden is a poignant, sweet book that takes place at the end of WWI in England. Emily is jus~*Review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*
The Victory Garden is a poignant, sweet book that takes place at the end of WWI in England. Emily is just turning twenty-one as the book starts, and she at last has the legal standing to shake off her overprotective parents and really DO something for the war effort. Having already lost her brother, she feels the need to do something to honor him.
“I want to be useful. I want to do my bit, so that Freddie’s death was somehow not in vain.”
In the process of finding how she is going to do her bit, she (naturally) meets a dashing young pilot (Australian! Gasp!), falls in love, her lover dies a hero, and it turns out she’s pregnant.
All this is revealed in the blurb, so I picked it up thinking that it had to be more than just a romance since…well, you know. Hard to have a romance when one party is deceased, however heroically.
The “more” turns out to be the massive amount of growth and experience Emily goes through in less than a year. She becomes a “land girl,” – something I was not familiar with at all, and I think many Americans would be there with me. She stands up to her parents, who despite being protective are just as much about their own egos as they are about shielding her from heartbreak. She takes a chance on love, knowing that it will most likely end in heartbreak. In the process, she discovers the power of both independence and female friendships. Britain lost a large majority of their fighting age men in WWI, something I hadn’t honestly given much thought. The story really shows just how that loss changed – or at least how it began to change – societal roles for both genders.
The Victory Garden isn’t particular heavy on either history or romance. In fact, there could have been less of a romance and the story would have worked just as well. I knew going in that Emily’s dashing aviator was going to pass, as so many of them did at that time, so I went in willing myself to not get too invested. The history was interesting but not overwhelming in detail.
As far as the actual garden, there was SOME emphasis on it in the last half of the book, and a little tiny bit of a mystery involving an old journal Emily finds, but it was very…well, I wish had been more about the herbs and the garden. It seems like the title is a bit of a misnomer. 😛
Overall, 4/5 stars. I closed the book feeling a little sad, but hopeful for Emily’s future with her child.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!
I was expecting a much longer build-up and story, but A Coastal Christmas turned out to be a super short little novellaWell, that escalated quickly.
I was expecting a much longer build-up and story, but A Coastal Christmas turned out to be a super short little novella that I read in less than forty-five minutes - perfect if you want something sweet and quick! Just not so perfect if you want something very believable, in my opinion. There is much Christmas cheer for everyone, and a sweet little homey-feeling town. The characters aren't very well fleshed out, but that is more due to the length of the story than the author's writing, I think. Jessica and Dean connect on purely a physical level...even though the author has tried to tie in something more to the story, it really just felt like grasping at straws and I think to try to give them a HEA was just a little much. Nothing wrong with a holiday fling! And Jessica definitely needed a good rebound after her boyfriend's antics on LIVE TELEVISION no less. Sometimes it takes another person to jolt us back into ourselves and what we really want out of life. In Jessica's case, she suddenly realizes that maybe she's not as in love with the big city life as she once was.
3/5 stars. Writing was good, the story was just really too short for the author to do the characters and theme justice. I'll be keeping an eye out for future books by Kaya Quinsey!
I was intrigued by the premise of The Psychology of Time Travel. Time travel itself has always fascina~*Review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~
I was intrigued by the premise of The Psychology of Time Travel. Time travel itself has always fascinated me, and I loved the idea of it being a group of women pioneers who actually made that leap for the first time. Also, the author herself is a psychologist, which I think lent a special depth to the characterization and some aspects of the story (notably mental health issues).
Characters [image error] ^Unfortunately I couldn’t find a picture with a redhaired model, but this is about how I picture Ruby.
Within the first couple of chapters we are introduced to one of the main characters, Ruby, as she changes the oil in her motorcycle, and I was SOLD. I’m hopeless when it comes to mechanical things myself, but I love seeing women mow down that stereotype. Also motorcycles are just awesome. I miss ours…but I digress.
The characters – and there are MANY – are from various walks of life, various sexualites, various cultures. I enjoyed all the diversity but the constant perspective hopping became exhausting rather quickly. Especially since even after the book was halfway over, there were STILL new characters being introduced! I almost went cross-eyed trying to keep them all straight. That said, the friendships developed through the book are really what MADE the story. Not the romance – which was a little hard to believe – but the friendships.
I struggled some to connect with the characters, sadly, and only really felt invested in two. The others I didn’t really care that much about, they were interesting but if they lived or died I was just…meh.
The SCIENCE Yes, all caps, because the amount of thought put into just how time travel would work – really, actually, maybe work – was very much evident. Unlike a lot of books with time travel elements, there are no dire consequences if your younger or older self sees you as a time traveler (no time-turner woes here), it’s just an accepted part of society and life for those travel. There is new slang and jargon for time travel and the occurrences that go along with it – even down to terms for sex with one’s older or younger self! The story also probes into thedisregard for death that most time travelers either already have, or develop through their career. After all, if someone they love dies, they can just travel back in time and see them again. Despite that…they aren’t actually able to change the past. It’s all very mind-bending.
The Mystery There’s a behind-a-locked-door murder mystery plotline as well, and it was quite interesting. However, that is definitely not the main draw for the story.
Overall, 3.5/5 stars. The Psychology of Time Travel is a very intriguing story, especially if you like seeing things from many different viewpoints and angles.