Week in Review: July 20


This week on the blog you can check out:

Blind is an exciting review because it’s an adaptation of my first review published in School Library Journal by the way :)

This has been a really long week. I didn’t sleep well. It was hot. And I was just really not happy and at sixes and sevens all week. I’m feeling better as I write this up (on Friday) but I’m hoping for better things next week.

This week I finished Clariel by Garth Nix, read Damaged by Amy Reed and started 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma. I have no bought any books besides my preorder of Isla and the Happily Ever After and I hope to continue with the not buying through August at least. I’m still getting books for review consideration and for my committee so I simply have NO EXCUSE to buy books. (My friend from work Nikki also is moving to California for a super awesome opportunity as a YA Librarian so I even got some books from her before she left!)

Nicole and I are hanging out on Sunday (for the first time since BEA! *gasp*) and we will be making matches for the Summer Box Swap so everyone who signed up will be getting their match soon. (I’ve been hoarding books I don’t even need so I have fun things to give whoever is my match!)

I’m trying to plan my blog birthday giveaway right now. Also want to start up Miss Print’s Re-Prints. Then I had an idea for Clariel. So Clariel is a prequel to the Old Kingdom series. And the more distance I have, the more I love it. The ending is seriously heartbreaking but it is so well done.

In getting ready to review Clariel I also realized I no longer like the review I have for Sabriel and I never reviewed the other books in the series. SO I’m thinking of taking October and making all of my Chick Lit Wednesday Reviews center around the Old Kingdom books. Since Clariel is a prequel and publishes October 14, I figured I’d start with Clariel in the second week of October and then move through the other three books (Sabriel–I don’t want to just erase my old review so I figured I’d just publish a whole new one, Lirael and Abhorsen–with Abhorsen being reviewed November 5) and then run a regular/non-Wednesday review of Across the Wall. Anyway. I think this is a great idea. What do YOU all think?




Linktastic! July 18, 2014 Edition: Infographics, Feminism and Puns!

Many links today!

A Creature of Moonlight: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca HahnThe villagers have been talking of the woods all summer. More than usual. Farther from the woods than usual.

It’s one thing, now and then, for a stray bit of the woods to encroach. A well lost here, a path obstructed. Such things are to be expected.

This summer is different. The entirety of the woods seems to be moving in leaps and bounds, creeping closer than they have in years.

Marni knows the woods are dangerous place–a place of magic and wonder that often draws girls to it only to swallow them whole. Still, time and again, she finds herself sneaking there–away from Gramps, away from the prying eyes of the villagers who buy their flowers, away from the life that was snatched from her the day her mother was killed.

Marni has always walked a narrow path between the life the was stolen and the life she has with her Gramps. But now, with the woods moving closer and promises being made, Marni will have to decide where she will stand in A Creature of Moonlight (2014) by Rebecca Hahn.

A Creature of Moonlight is Hahn’s first novel.

Hahn masterfully weaves a world here where magic is as beautiful as it is dangerous–a world populated with calculating lords and kings as well as dragons and Phoenixes. Marni is a fascinating narrator, one who views both the humans and the woods with a healthy sense of skepticism. She is a strong heroine with a strong sense of self and an even stronger desire to secure her freedom.

She also has a very strange twang to her entire narration that is more reminiscent of a novel set in the Depression Era west (or just the West) than it is to this bit of higher fantasy. Marni reckons about many things and is none too afraid to say so neither. Her voice is often extremely jarring as readers are drawn repeatedly out of the story to ponder the choice of words on the page.

The story is typical coming of age fare as Marni learns more about both sides of her “family” such as they are and, over the course of the novel, comes into her own in various ways.

A Creature of Moonlight is decidedly short on peripheral characters, making the time spent in Marni’s head often claustrophobic as so much of the story centers on her inner conflicts. While her observations of the woods and at court are often entertaining and razor sharp, Marni’s motivations are never as clear as they should be.

While it is refreshing and modern to see Marni repeatedly turn down marriage proposals, the logic behind her deep conviction to not marry is murky at best–particularly given the specific set of obligations that will come with a life at court (which Marni adopts at one point in the plot).

Though often unsatisfying, A Creature of Moonlight remains a solid debut from an author to watch.

Possible Pairings: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, The Glass Casket by Templeman McCormick, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Top Ten Tuesdays: TV Shows

Top Ten Tuesdays img by Miss Print

While you’re here, be sure to also sign up for the Summer Box Swap I’m co-hosting with Nicole the Book Bandit! Sign ups run through July 19!

I watch a lot of TV but here are some of my current favorites:

  1. Big Brother–I’ve been watching this reality show since the first season and have no plans to stop now. I secretly dream of being on the show but I think I’d probably have a breakdown in the first week.
  2. Longmire–This is a great show about a small town sheriff and cool mysteries. Robert Taylor is fantastic as are supporting cast members Lou Diamond Phillips, Katee Sackoff and Bailey Chase. I can’t recommend it enough!
  3. Suits–while I hate seeing Mike and Harvey fight this season. I love this sleek lawyer show. Especially for Donna and Louis.
  4. Endeavor–This is a Masterpiece Mystery series about a young Inspector Morse. Set in the 1960s it’s a really thoughtful, well-done English mystery.
  5. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries–Australian mystery set in the 1920s based on a book series. This show is zany and fun but honestly it would be worth watching just for the clothes.
  6. Death in Paradise–Oh look, another British mystery. This one is set on the island of Saint Marie. I still haven’t recovered fully from Ben Miller leaving the show but it’s a lot of fun.
  7. Scott & Bailey–(Along with 4, 5, 6 this is another show I watch on PBS–I feel like I should donate to them.) This is a weird soap opera cop procedural that is oddly compelling and always ends abruptly so I feel like I can’t stop watching.
  8. Reckless–new lawyer show on CBS. It’s kind of like time traveling to 2000 because three of the stars are Cam Giganet, Adam Rodriguez and Shawn Hatosy.
  9. Major Crimes–I watch a lot of cop shows, okay? This is a cop show with heart and madness and a great ensemble cast. I would pick a favorite but I can’t even decide.
  10. Taxi Brooklyn–This show has a terrible title. But it’s actually a really good cop show (act shocked, go ahead!) about a woman cop whose license is revoked so she has to work with an immigrant taxi driver (who used to be a wheel man in a crime ring in France) to get around. Sounds insane but it’s kind of great.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

(Image made by me.)

Blind: A Review

Bline by Rachel DeWoskinWhat starts as an ordinary fourth of July watching the fireworks becomes something much worse in an instant when Emma Sasha Silver is blinded by a stray firework at the age of fourteen.

A year after the accident, Emma is still learning how to negotiate her large family, school, and everyday tasks without her vision when one of her classmates in the suburban town of Sauberg is found dead. As she struggles to make sense of this sudden death and her own drastically changed life, Emma wonders if losing her sight means she has also lost her chance at a bright future in Blind (2014) by Rachel DeWoskin.

DeWoskin offers a well-researched and much needed story. Emma is a capable heroine who negotiates her disability with the expected dejection as well as sudden moments of grace. The narrative is well-informed with Emma learning how to organize her life as well as travel with a cane as she begins to accomodate for her lost vision.

While this is a valuable story, DeWoskin’s efforts to describe Emma’s world in the form of sounds and textures can feel excessive. Similarly, side plots involving tested friendships, a large family, several crushes and musings about the death in town make this contemporary story convoluted and detract from Emma’s growth in the final quarter of an otherwise lengthy novel.

Although Emma is fourteen going on fifteen, she often feels and sounds younger giving Blind crossover potential (aside from some kissing and bad language) as a middle grade as well.

Emma remains strong and resilient during the story and gives a face to an often under-represented group in YA stories. Blind is also a positive portrayal of blindess without any negative tropes (such as being “cured” or somehow being “punished” in relation to a disability.)

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the June 2014 issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen in various sites online including an SLJ Spotlight*

Week in Review: July 13


This week on the blog you can check out:

Before I talk about my week, you can also see an essay thing I wrote about my mom’s brain surgery on Terra McVoy’s website as part of her release week content for In Deep. I love Terra and was really honored to be a part of this. It was pretty harrowing to write and gets me a little teary and upset when I read it. But I think it’s a pretty solid piece and might extend it into some kind of longer personal essay one day.

This was a really fast week right until Friday when it felt like I hit a wall. The day dragged. I had to run to a bank on my lunch hour but was sent to an ATM location first so I had to go to TWO banks basically and I just heard my building is “modernizing” our elevator which is well and good except we won’t have access to the laundry room in the basement for five full weeks. Also because my mom is disabled she won’t be able to go out. Like, what the heck? I’m just feeling really frustrated I guess.

I’m still reading Clariel as of this writing. It’s good but things took such an unexpected turn that I haven’t really been able to wrap my head around it and keep reading. In other blogging news I’m hoarding books for Summer Box Swap and sent out two sets of author interview questions to two of my favorite picture book authors so there is going to be a lot of fun content coming your way.

Nicole and I are hosting a box swap. Sign ups close July 19. It’s going to be awesome and you should sign up! Details: Summer Box Swap: Sign Ups and Info


The Edge of Falling: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca SerleCaggie should have everything she could want growing up as part of New York City society. She used to. She had a picture perfect family. She lived in a beautiful Manhattan apartment. She went to an elite private school. She had a handsome, smart, nerdy, perfect boyfriend. She had a quirky, beautiful best friend even if she did live all  the way downtown.

She had everything until she lost the most important thing.

Nothing seems to matter quite so much now that her younger sister is dead. Drowned.

Caggie blames herself–maybe for the right reasons. Maybe for the wrong ones. She can’t be sure when nothing makes sense anymore. Even Caggie’s attempt to escape at a classmate’s party goes horribly awry. Now everything thinks Caggie is some kind of hero.

She doesn’t know a lot, but Caggie is certain she isn’t a hero.

When she meets Astor, Caggie thinks he might be the perfect solution. Someone to help her forget. Someone who never heard about the drowning. But Astor has his own secrets; his own grief that he’s been carrying.And his own secrets.

Caggie was already buried under her own grief, her own regrets. Now, as she becomes closer to Astor, Caggie will have to decide if the combined weight of their loss will be too much for either of them to hold in The Edge of Falling (2014) by Rebecca Serle.

Caggie is a realistic, honest character. She is quick to point out her own shortcomings and accept her due in terms of blame. Although narrated by Caggie, the story eventually comes full circle as Serle illustrates that a tragedy never affects just one person.

Set in New York City’s upper class, The Edge of Falling is set against the privileged, shining backdrop of New York’s Upper West Side. What could have made the story flippant or decadent is instead tastefully handled with Caggie–a character who has never felt comfortable with her own family’s wealth.

Sharp, though sometimes predictable, The Edge of Falling is a quiet, meditative story about loss and what comes after.

Possible Pairings: Where She Went by Gayle Forman, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Hero Type by Barry Lyga, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb, We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin