Blood Red Road: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Lugh got born first. On Midwinter Day when the sun hangs low in the sky. Then me. Two hours later.

“That pretty much says it all.

“Lugh goes first, always first, an I follow on behind.

“An that’s fine.

“That’s right.

“That’s how it’s meant to be.”

Blood Red Road by Moira YoungAll Saba ever needs is to know that her twin brother Lugh is by her side. With him near, Saba can handle the annoyances of her younger sister Emmi; the loss of her mother, who died birthing Emmi; and even the madness that is slowing pulling their father under.

When Lugh is abducted by four horsemen, he tells Saba to keep Emmi safe. But they both know she won’t. Not when Saba promises to follow him–to find him–no matter what.

She’ll follow Lugh into the lawless, wild world beyond her family homestead. In hunting for Lugh she will begin to understand some hard  truths about herself and her sister. She’ll find a gang of warriors and a daredevil who makes her heart flutter. In searching for her twin brother, Saba might even find a way to change her world forever in Blood Red Road (2011) by Moira Young.

Blood Red Road is Young’s debut novel and the start of her Dust Lands trilogy which continues with Rebel Heart and Raging Star.

Blood Red Road is an interesting novel set at the end of the world. Saba’s first person narration clearly brings her stark world to life with hints like ruined skyscrapers and useless books that suggest the world that might have come before.

Books are obsolete in this novel and, perhaps as a direct result, the spoken word and Saba’s narration have a very distinct cadence to them. The entire novel is written in Saba’s dialect as if she were telling the story directly to the reader. Words often have phonetic spelling and Saba’s speech sounds like nothing so much as a character in a twang-filled western. The prose is sparse and often reads like a verse novel with dialogue interspersed throughout without quotation marks or other punctuation to pull them out of the text. While this formatting is jarring at first, it eventually becomes a seamless part of the story and makes Blood Red Road a very fast read.

Saba is an interesting heroine in that she is resilient and inspiring while also being ruthless and often deeply flawed. For a lot of the novel, Saba wants nothing to do with her sister Emmi (to the point of putting the younger girl in very real danger) as she keeps a singular focus on her efforts to rescue Lugh. Young handles Saba’s growth as she learns more about the world (and herself, and her family) throughout the novel expertly to create a character transformation that is authentic and inspiring.

While some aspects of the world building remain murky–particularly in relation to the overarching villain that Saba will be dealing with for the rest of the novel–Blood Red Road is a solid dystopian and a very unique addition to the genre. Recommended for readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic tales with a survivalist slant.

Possible Pairings: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy, Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

These Vicious Masks: A Review

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly ZekasEngland, 1882. Evelyn would rather do anything than spend another night at another interminable party with the same vapid women and the same eligible bachelors that her mother considers ideal candidates for marriage. Evelyn has no desire to be married off so quickly and disappear behind the veiled curtain of domesticity.

Little surprise, then, that Evelyn immediately secures passage to London when her younger sister Rose disappears under mysterious circumstances.

Accompanied on her search by the dashing Mr. Kent and the brooding Sebastian Braddock (who claims Evelyn and her sister have healing powers), Evelyn is thrown in a world of secrets populated by extraordinary people. Evelyn isn’t sure what to believe or who to trust. The only thing Evelyn knows for certain is that she has to find Rose before it’s too late in These Vicious Masks (2016) by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas.

These Vicious Masks is the first novel from Shanker and Zekas. It is also the start of a series.

These Vicious Masks starts with a fun premise. Victorian England. Romance. Superpowers. Action. This book literally has it all complete with a heroine with decidedly modern sensibilities (something that was, personally, less satisfying to read than a character operating within the social mores and expectations of her era).

Evelyn’s narration is filled with snark and humor as she bemoans her status an a young (bored) debutante before her sister’s disappearance. The story is filled with evocative descriptions but thinner on historical detail with the time period serving more as set dressing for the novel than an integral part of the plot.

Readers will follow Evelyn’s search for Rose with as much interest as they will her romantic prospects with the appropriately contrasting suitors of Mr. Kent and Mr. Braddock in a love triangle that is filled with intrigue and tension.

These Vicious Masks is a fast-paced and super fun read. Ideal for fans of light historical fiction and superhero adventure. An open-ended conclusion and shocks in the denouement promise an exciting next installment.

Possible Pairings: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly, The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason, The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey, A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee, The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

*An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

What I talk about when I talk about curating my personal library.

When I was younger I didn’t buy books. I read books at a great enough speed and in enough quality that the library was the only way to go. When I started working in a library I went through a brief and horrifying phase where I would rescue discarded library copies because I might read them someday. Then I started working at Books of Wonder with an employee discount and things really got out of hand. This doesn’t even factor review copies and gifted books from over the years. Not to mention author signings of which there are many because I live in New York.

I always read closely on my first read–taking time to write down quotes I want to remember and, now that I’m a reviewer, making sure to note key information and pages with important points to reference in my review–so I rarely re-read books except for a handful of exceptions.

People talk about dealing with their books in a lot of ways. Culling. Sorting. Organizing. Hoarding. Admiring. Brag shelves. TBR piles. Bookcases. Stashes. I’ve always thought of it as weeding since I have a library background.

Then last year I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō and I started thinking about getting rid of books in a different light. (I haven’t reviewed the book on here but I cannot recommend it highly enough. I really like the idea that you can take and leave what you want from her approach and also that you can find your own perfect balance.) One of the main tenets of the KonMari method is that you focus on what you want to keep instead of what you no longer want. You also keep things that bring you joy.

Now instead of thinking about it as weeding I have started to think about curating a personal library. What titles do I want to have on my shelves? What books do I want to own? What books would I re-buy if I lost them? And so on.

Again, as someone who doesn’t re-read, it’s not always enough to say I enjoy a book or that I want to come back to it. Sometimes even having a signed copy that I bought isn’t enough.

Then there are the difficult books with the prickly topics. Do I want to own a book that reminds me of when my aunt died? What about the novel with a strikingly resilient and strong heroine and a plot also mirrored some of the worst years of my life? Or the book that was painfully beautiful and romantic but also made me physically ill with its description of a character’s fingers being broken?

I think about books in a few ways when they’re on my shelves. There are books I want to keep close (the books I might flip through or reference, books from authors I admire or favorite stories I can’t stop thinking about, books that have a personal connection to me), there are books that make me smile (favorite stories, classic titles, things you would pry from my cold, dead hands), and then there are the mementos (books I got signed by authors I can almost call friends, titles from BEA, a book I’ve had since I was a child).

So the books I asked about before? I probably won’t be keeping those.

I’d prefer to keep room on my shelves for my three copies of The Hobbit and the copy of Ella, Enchanted that my mother got me years and years ago during her freelance stint at HarperCollins which I got signed years after. Instead of keeping books that cause me stress and make me sad I’m keeping my set of Chris Van Allsburg picture books, my multiple editions of Emma and Little Women and my full set of R. L. LaFevers ARCs.

It’s a process and what I keep or don’t keep changes constantly. But that’s how I’m thinking about the books I own now. Not so much as what I do or do not want, but the personal library I choose to curate to represent who and what I am at this moment.

That’s me. What about you? How do you curate your personal library? Tell me in the comments.

February 2016 Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read in January.

Books Read:

  1. A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
  2. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallero

Books On Deck:

  1. Two Summers by Aimee Friedman
  2. Their Fractured Light by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  3. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
  4. Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Books Bought: 0

Gifted Books: 0

ARCs Received: 0

February 4: AGOS was excellent!

Week in Review: January 31, 2016

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Lots of things happening in this week that literally never seemed to end! I’m Hufflepuff on the new Pottermore for one!

BUT the most important to your interests is probably this:

If you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my January Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

Nimona: A Graphic Novel Review

Nimona ny Noelle StevensonBallister Blackheart is a villain. He doesn’t necessarily like it, but there are only so many options available to professionally trained heroes after they lose an arm.

Abrosius Goldenloin has always desperately wanted to be a hero. So much so that he sacrificed his friendship with Blackheart in pursuit of his goal.

Nimona . . . well . . . no one is really sure what Nimona is or what she wants. Sometimes she’s a shark. Sometimes she wants to wreak havoc and mayhem and leave a trail of bodies in her wake. Sometimes she’s lonely and wants a friend.

Blackheart wasn’t looking for a sidekick when Nimona showed up at his hideout. Goldenloin never doubted the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics until his sworn enemy started asking the right questions. Together these unlikely allies and enemies might be able to bring down the Institution once and for all. But only if Nimona can control her powers and doesn’t kill everyone first in Nimona (2015) by Noelle Stevenson.

Nimona is Stevenson’s first graphic novel, originally seen as a webcomic online. Nimona was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

This graphic novel is entertaining and readable although not ultimately groundbreaking in terms of plot. Stevenson includes a fair bit of diversity. Blackheart has a mechanical arm. Nimona is refreshingly curvy. And the background characters come in all shapes and colors. Unlike many graphic novels, Nimona also features a self-contained arc which makes parts of the ending feel a bit rushed.

Although obviously appealing to teens, it’s also interesting to see Nimona published for the YA market when none of the characters are actually teens. (Nimona chooses to present herself as a teenaged girl but, like most of the things Nimona shares about herself, it seems very possible that is just a facade.)

Nimona is a lot of fun. Stevenson’s artwork has a decided cartoon aesthetic that is complimented with snappy dialog and sight gags throughout the story. The one failing here is that the lettering for the dialog is extremely small.

Stevenson blends a medieval setting with modern scientific technology to create a unique setting where she can create her own rules for the fantasy elements of the story. Nimona easily subverts the traditional archetypes for both heroes and villains throughout this story where nothing is ever quite as it seems.

Possible Pairings: I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Vicious by V. E. Schwab

#ADSOMreadalong is coming!

There will be more about this closer to the date BUT I wanted to tell you all about a cool thing coming up.

#ADSOMreadalong (2)Victoria Schwab is reached out to readers to put together a read-along of A Darker Shade of Magic starting on February 1, 2016.

With the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, coming out on February 23 now is the perfect time to get involved either with a first read or re-read of ADSOM.

Want to play along? Just grab your hardcover (or shiny new paperback!) of A Darker Shade of Magic and get ready for February 1!

If you are on goodreads, there’s now a group for the read-a-long: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/182134-a-darker-shade-of-magic-read-along

The hashtag for the read-along is #ADSOMreadalong so watch that tag on Twitter for more info as well!

Here’s the official schedule (per the goodreads group) for your easy reference:

Make sure you get the dates of the read along schedule in your planners/calendars! We’ll be chatting online on twitter every MONDAY in February at 9pm EST with the hashtag #ADSOMReadalong!

Monday, February 1st, 9pm: Intro Chat! Come tell us who you are! We’ll discuss what the plan is and talk all things ADSOM!

  • Monday, February 8th, 9pm: We’ll Discuss Parts 1-5
  • Monday, February 15th, 9pm: We’ll Discuss Parts 6-10
  • Monday, February 22nd, 9pm: Discuss final chapters and talk about our theories for A Gathering of Shadows!

Now spread the word, get your friends to read with you and let’s have an amazing time talking about this incredible series!