I’m actually reviewing a BEA ARC on time! I give this one 3 stars for being an enjoyable adventure but not having as much world building or character development as I would like.
Michaela and I picked this one out for a PopSugar challenge for a book popular the year we were born, and really thought we’d like it. We didn’t! We were surprised! And sad! Find out why…
Look what we’ve managed! A second joint review. Unlike with Paper Towns, this one is a lot more divided – but that is why we do these things! Michaela liked it more than I did, but we both had our issues with this one. Turns out, hype is not always what it’s cracked up to be!
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
A lyrical and moving debut in the tradition of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood, introducing an original and commanding new voice in fiction
As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, sending the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.
In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives–offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.
Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age.
Gretchen’s Rating: 3 stars | Michaela’s Rating: 4 stars
Lions in the Garden (The Uprising #1) by Chelsea Luna
Ludmila Novakova–Mila–has barely set foot outside Prague Castle in her seventeen years. But with the choice between braving the bandits and wolves of Bohemia’s uneasy roads or being married off to a disgusting old baron, she’s taken what she can carry and fled.
Escape won’t be easy. Even Mila has heard the rumors of a rebellion coming against the court. The peasants are hungry. The king hasn’t been seen in months. Mila’s father, the High Chancellor, is well known and well hated.
But Mila can’t sit behind a stone wall and let fear force her into a life of silk gowns and certain misery. Her mother’s death has taught her that much. She has one ally: Marc, the son of the blacksmith. A commoner, a Protestant–and perhaps a traitor, too. But the farther she gets from the castle, the more lies she uncovers, unraveling everything she thought she knew. And the harder it is to tell friend from enemy–and wrong from right…
Thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books and Lyrical Press for this eARC! This title will be published on March 1, 2016.
As a lover of anything vaguely historical fiction, I knew I had to request this from NetGalley. Luna tackles a period of history and a place that I had never read anything of before, and that alone hooked me. However, the first few chapters … well, they were really rough.
Welcome all to my first video review without Michaela! Given separation anxiety (and because he also read it anyways) Taylor from Bibliomancy for Beginners is also guest starring! It is a longer review, but that’s because this is a short story anthology … and we can’t stop insulting each other.
After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
If the melt-down, flood, plague, the third World War, new Ice Age, Rapture, alien invasion, clamp-down, meteor, or something else entirely hit today, what would tomorrow look like? Some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature answer that very question in this short story anthology, each story exploring the lives of teen protagonists raised in catastrophe’s wake—whether set in the days after the change, or decades far in the future.
New York Times bestselling authors Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis, and Jane Yolen are among the many popular and award-winning storytellers lending their talents to this original and spellbinding anthology.
Gretchen’s rating: 3 stars | Taylor’s rating: 4 stars
The Twentieth Wife (Taj Mahal Trilogy #1) by Indu Sundaresan
Published February 18, 2003, by Washington Square Press
An enchanting historical epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India’s most controversial empresses — a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal Empire. Skillfully blending the textures of historical reality with the rich and sensual imaginings of a timeless fairy tale, The Twentieth Wife sweeps readers up in Mehrunnisa’s embattled love with Prince Salim, and in the bedazzling destiny of a woman — a legend in her own time — who was all but lost to history until now.
Random historical fiction alert! This is for my Pop Sugar Reading Challenge and also happens to be a re-read. I haven’t read this since high school, but I remembered really liking it. I took my original review down from four stars, for reasons I’ll explain, but I think I’m still really excited to read the next book in this series, The Feast of Roses.
Look who’s here for our first joint video review! Today, Michaela and I are discussing Paper Towns by John Green! It also happened to work for our PopSugar challenge, though for different sections!
Paper Towns by John Green
Who is the real Margo?
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…
My overall rating: 3 stars | Michaela’s overall rating: 3 stars
Meet Harriet M. Welsch — one of the most unforgettable, funniest characters in children’s literature. Harriet is a girl with only one ambition in life: to be a spy. She works hard at it — filling her secret notebook with observations about her parents, friends, and neighbors. But when her classmates find her notebook and read her mean comments about them, Harriet finds herself shunned by everyone. How can she put her spying talents to good use and make her friends like her again?
So maybe I’m a sap. Maybe I’m a purist. Maybe I want to believe that children’s literature is meant to teach the child reading it something. I don’t know. What I do know is that Harriet the Spy was interesting, cute in parts and rather funny other times–but that the ending was one of the least satisfying things I’ve read in a while.
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?
Thanks to Walkers Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for this eARC! This title will be released on October 1st, 2013.
I have a soft spot for Simone Elkeles’ books. When I saw she was writing a new series, I jumped up and down with glee. I had hoped that with this one Simone might try for something a little different, and it certainly seemed that way. But what I got was more of the same tried and true Simone Elkeles, but not in the best way.
Sara Crewe seemed just like a real princess… When Sara Crewe arrives at Miss Minchin’s London boarding school, she seems just like a real little princess. She wears beautiful clothes, has gracious manners, and tells the most wonderful stories. Then one day, Sara suddenly becomes penniless. Now she must wear rags, sleep in the school’s dreary attic, and work for her living. Sara is all alone, but keeps telling herself that she can still be a princess inside, if only she tries hard enough.
Yet another story I have to admit that I didn’t read until my Children’s and YA Lit class here at Ithaca College. Depressing, I know, but still the truth. Honestly, I’m not sure I could have made my way to the end of this one if it wasn’t required. Still, I didn’t come out hating it as much as I thought I would.