Weave a Circle Round: A Review

cover art for Weave a Circle Round by Kari MaarenFourteen-year-old Freddy just wants to be normal. She wants to blend in at her high school and disappear. But that’s hard when her step-brother Roland is always telling outlandish stories and leaves a trail of chaos in his wake despite his best efforts. Meanwhile her little sister Mel is like an amateur detective.

Freddy’s mother and step-father are so wrapped up in each other they hardly notice. And it’s not like they can force Freddy to like her siblings anymore than they can force her to learn sign language so she can talk more with Roland.

It becomes even harder to pretend everything is normal when new tenants move into the house on Grosvenor Street–hardly a surprise since the house always seems to be in a state of flux.

Cuerva Lachance and Josiah aren’t like any of the people who have previously rented the house on Grosvenor street. In fact, based on the way the house begins to defy the laws of physics, they may not even be people in Weave a Circle Round (2017) Kari Maaren.

Maaren’s debut standalone is an intentionally chaotic and frenetic novel about time travel, family, and the power of story and talismans. Maaren pulls intricate plot threads together to create a story with eclectic characters and detailed world building.

Because of Freddy’s age and the overall tone of the novel, Weave a Circle Round feels much younger than marketing would suggest–something not helped by flat and often one-dimensional characters. I’d put this book much more firmly in the middle grade category than YA were it left to my own devices.

While I’d love to give Weave a Circle Round points for inclusion, I can’t. Every synopsis I found for this novel describes Freddy’s sister Mel as smart and Roland as . . . deaf. That’s it. He gets no other defining attribute despite being one of the more layered characters in the novel not to mention being key to the plot.

Roland’s deafness feels more like a plot device than a key trait and is only ever seen in relation to Freddy. Freddy finds Roland tedious. She doesn’t want to interact with him or learn sign language to talk to him. She has to get over that to move the plot forward. Bizarrely Roland talks throughout the book with only minimal mention of sign language at all. He also falls into the common trap of being a super lip reader carrying entire conversations with multiple people without signing at all.

Weave a Circle Round is likely to appeal to fans of A Wrinkle in Time and books in that vein. Unfortunately this story never quite realizes its potential or does right by its characters–especially Roland.

Possible Pairings: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Alchemy by Margaret Mahy, In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan, Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

Advertisements

April 2018 Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read in March.

Books Read:

  1. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
  2. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
  3. Bad Girls With Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten
  4. Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
  5. Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick, illustrated by Thomas Taylor
  6. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
  7. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten
  8. The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott, illustrated by Robin Robinson
  9. Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D. G.
  10. Cucumber Quest: The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D. G.
  11. Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray
  12. Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Books Bought:

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller

ARCs Received:

  1. Royals by Rachel Hawkins (Vine)
  2. Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth (Scholastic)

Here’s my planned to read list:

Do you plan ahead what you’re going to read? 📚 (Do not hit me up saying you’re a mood reader! Reading is a mood-based activity. That’s why I plan a stack with no special order.) 📚 This is my to read stack for April. I think it’s a little too ambitious but I’ve carried over most of these books for two solid months so it’s time. As is my way I am currently reading something else but really hoping to knock a couple of these out soon. 📚 Have you read any of these? Where should I start? 📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookishfeature #bookstafeatures #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #bookstack #toread #toberead

A post shared by Emma (@missprint_) on

 

Week in Review: March 31: In which I am maybe back to 80%

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

 

I’m late getting this up. I had a three day weekend for Easter and spent most of it quite tired. I’m still not feeling fully recovered from the flu. Maybe 80% but it’s really been a slog and this lingering cold weather is no help at all.

I started selling hardcover books I don’t want on ebay and have made a couple bucks. I’m not sure how I feel about Ko-Fi. I think if I’m going to be shilling I might just do it through the Paypal.Me I use for ARC adoption instead.

One good thing is that I am feeling back on track with instagram at least and I even have some photos queued up for the rest of this week.

I finished The Bone Witch and I am totally obsessed. I’m trying to knock out some lingering TBR books this month but also NEED to make time for The Heart Forger.

What if you’re the villain in your story, not the hero? 📚 Tea never meant to raise her brother from the dead or expected to become a dark asha—a bone witch to those who revile them—but that is exactly what happens and sets Tea’s life on a dramatically different course when she is thirteen and first receives her heartsglass. 📚 Asha training is rigorous and perilous but Tea acclimates well to her new life. But that doesn’t explain what happened four years later to leave Tea banished to the Sea of Skulls and telling her story to an exiled bard. Tea claims she is searching for a way to save dark asha lives. But in doing so she may also have to remake the world as she knows it. 📚 I am almost done reading The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and I am loving everything about from the intricate world building to the contrasts between Tea’s past as she discovers her powers and her present as an exile plotting revenge. There’s nothing like the shock of realizing you might be rooting for the villain of the story. 📚 Who are some of your favorite villains? 📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookishfeature #bookstafeatures #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #thebonewitch #rinchupeco #villain #fantasy

A post shared by Emma (@missprint_) on

Here are two of my favorite posts I shared on Instagram this week:

Happy #MapMonday! Song of the Current is a rollicking sea adventure and I love having this oversized map from when it was an #uppercasebox selection. ▪️ Caroline Oresteia's family has guided wherries across the Riverlands for generations–all of them called by the river god. Caro knows that her home is on the river, but she has never heard the river god call her in the language of small things. Now seventeen, she's starting to wonder if he ever will. ▪️ After her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate, Caro volunteers to deliver the cargo for her father's release. Being no stranger to the Riverlands, it's an easy assignment save for the pirates who want the same cargo. But traveling with the mysterious cargo soon draws Caro into a dangerous web of political intrigue and secrets forcing her to choose between the life she always dreamed of and a much grander future–if she's brave enough to claim it. ▪️ I was tagged by @deadtossedwaves to do the #favouritecharacters from my #favouriteseries tag. I tagged some friends but feel free to join the fun and let me know who you choose! 💙The Queen’s Thief: Eugenides 💙A Darker Shade of Magic: Kell/Lila 💙Caraval: Scarlett 💙Leviathan: Wildcount Volger/Dr. Barlow 💙Abhorsen: Lirael/Nicholas Sayre 💙Giant Days: Everyone! ▪️ #instabooks #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookishfeature #bookstafeatures #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #songofthecurrent #sarahtolcser

A post shared by Emma (@missprint_) on

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

How was your week? What are you reading?

Audrey’s Magic Nine: A Graphic Novel Review

cover art for Audrey's Magic Nine by Michelle Wright, illustrated by Courtney Huddleston and Tracy BaileyAfter ten long years in foster care and increasingly worse foster home situations, it finally looks like Audrey’s luck is turning when she is adopted. Her adoptive parents are a bit over-zealous with the extracurriculars and a bit too enthusiastic but Audrey has her own room and plenty of food which is more than she could say before. It could be worse.

Turns out it could be stranger too. Audrey doesn’t know much about her puppet Asa–just that she’s had him since she was a baby. When Asa starts talking, Audrey realizes she isn’t the only one with a mysterious past. Turns out Asa is part of a legendary council of magical creatures. The council of nine fought evil but during their last battle something went wrong and transported Asa and the others to Earth where they have been turned into puppets.

Once she sketches out a plan Audrey is ready to help but finding the puppets is only half the battle as she and Asa try to figure out how the portal sent the council to Earth and how to get them home in Audrey’s Magic Nine (2018) by Michelle Wright, illustrated by Courtney Huddleston and Tracy Bailey.

Audrey’s Magic Nine is a webcomic turned graphic novel. The first volume follows as she (spoiler) tracks down the first three puppets. Like a lot of comics, things end abruptly but the book includes four bonus comics to flesh out Audrey’s world.

The comic features full color illustrations along with Audrey’s own sketches of her life (and her plans to help Asa). The story blends humor and action as Audrey braves a startling puppet theater and a sentient slide in her quest for answers.

Audrey is a young black girl adopted by white parents. I didn’t love the way that the foster care and adoption situations were portrayed–one as painfully horrible and the other as comically simple–but it works well to get the story moving (and isn’t too different from anything we see in many middle grade novels). While Audrey’s parents initially adopt her as a prop to keep up with their popular neighbors they do begin to genuinely bond with Audrey. The story also gives Audrey plenty of space for Audrey and readers to see that her adoptive parents are absurd and misguided in many ways.

Audrey’s Magic Nine is a rollicking adventure filled with action, humor, and powerful friendships. Not to mention a healthy dose of magic. Recommended for graphic novel readers and fantasy readers alike.

Possible Pairings: Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke, All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson, Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Midnight at the Electric: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“You become as strong as you have to be.”

cover art for Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn AndersonKansas, 2065: Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars as a Colonist. With just weeks before her launch date, Adri is sent to acquaint herself with the only family she has left–an aging cousin named Lily that she’s never met before. While Adri trains for life on Mars and prepares to leave Earth behind forever she finds an old notebook about a different girl who lived in the house more than a hundred years ago. As she says her goodbyes to everything she’s ever known, can Adri find answers about the girl in the notebook and what happened to her with what little time she has left?

Oklahoma, 1934: Catherine dreams of a life away from the danger and severity of the Dust Bowl. She pines for her family’s farmhand, James, even as she knows must have eyes for someone else. Most of all she yearns for a way to help her younger sister before the dust finally kills her. A midnight exhibition at a strange traveling show called the Electric promises hopes and maybe a cure. When everything goes wrong will Catherine have the courage to leave everything she knows behind to save the person she loves most?

England, 1919: The Great War is over and things should be going back to normal. But Lenore isn’t sure what normal means when her brother died in battle. Desperate for a chance to start again, Lenore plans to sail to America and her childhood friend. In the days leading up to her departure Lenore keeps writing. As more days pass without a reply, Lenore wonders will the friend she remembers be the same one she meets? Will their reunion will be enough to help Lenore remember herself?

Three young women separated by miles and generations, three stories, one shocking moment of connection in Midnight at the Electric (2017) by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

Anderson’s latest standalone novel blends romance, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction in three interconnected stories. Adri, Catherine, and Lenore’s stories unfold in alternating parts as their separate paths begin to connect and even intersect.

Adri’s story unfolds in close third person while Catherine story is presented through her diary and Lenore’s through letters she writes to her friend in America. These changing formats offer windows into each girl’s personality. Adri is clinical and detached while she prepares to become a Colonist. Catherine is more conversational and clings to optimism to try and make sense of her bleak possibilities in the Dust Bowl. Lenore is all bravado as she tries to chase away the shadows and grief left in the wake of WWI.

At its core this is a story about leaving. All three heroines are hoping for something more–an adventure, salvation, change–if only they can reach that next destination. But before they can pursue what comes next each girl, in their own way, has to make peace with what came before and let it go.

 

Midnight at the Electric is a brief book that packs a punch. This character driven story offers poignant vignettes about human connection, loneliness, and perseverance. This book just about broke my heart in half while I was reading it. But then it mended it too. If I had to rank the stories I would say my favorite–and the one at the core of the novel’s overarching plot–is Catherine’s, followed closely by Adri’s, then Lenore’s. While Catherine’s story was the most buoyant and hopeful, Adri’s story and her relationship with Lily just about wrecked me. I cried for the entire final part of the book and I doubt I’m the only one.

Anderson has outdone herself in this beautifully written novel with a clever premise that is truly high concept. Midnight at the Electric is a book about leaving and endings but also about origins and coming home—even if home isn’t the same place as where you started. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Possible Pairings: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore, Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis, The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu, All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry, Where Futures End by Parker Peeveyhouse, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater, Selling Hope by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Nothing But Sky: A Review

Grace Lafferty began performing stunts as a wing walker with her uncle Warren and his barnstorming team, The Soaring Eagles, when she was thirteen years old. Her uncle didn’t know what to do with her after becoming her guardian when the rest of her family died an outbreak of Spanish Influenza. But even Uncle Warren knows better than to try and keep Grace out of the skies.

Five years later in 1922 Grace fears that the Soaring Eagles will soon be forced out of the sky by bigger teams or stricter air regulations. Determined to keep her chosen family together Grace will do whatever it takes to get to the World Aviation Expo where they can compete to win a lucrative contract with a Hollywood studio.

Throughout her preparations for the Expo Grace fights sabotage attempts from a rival barnstorming team and her growing attraction to new mechanic Henry. Haunted by nightmarish memories from the war and a limp from a battle injury Henry is stoic, professional, and infuriating to Grace who initially distrusts him. When a routine stunt goes wrong Grace wonders if she needs more than raw ambition to plan for her future in Nothing But Sky (2018) by Amy Trueblood.

Trueblood’s historical fiction debut looks at the years immediately following WWI when veterans returning home with flying experience and decommissioned fighter planes gave birth to barnstorming performances.

Grace is an ambitious narrator and daredevil with a singular focus–often to the detriment of the team she is supposedly desperate to keep intact. Henry’s struggle with shell shock makes him one of the most developed characters but it is handled poorly being used repeatedly as a reason for the team to distrust him. The sweetness of his fledgling romance with Grace is overshadowed by these constant doubts and a general lack of nuance in Grace’s worldview.

When Henry becomes the prime suspect for the team’s sabotage it is problematic as it builds to a predictable twist when it comes to the actual culprit. Breakneck stunts and romance lend Nothing Buy Sky high action while also detracting from the rich but often under-developed historical setting.

Possible Pairings: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel, Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

*A more condensed version of this review appeared as a review in the February 1, 2018 issue of School Library Journal*

Week in Review: March 24: What a Difference a Week Makes

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Yesterday I posted a big post highlighting everything I have to offer here on the blog in terms of posts and author interviews (and more!) along with links to all of my social media and indexed post pages.

I also wanted to say here that I made a ko-fi page for anyone who might want to support the blog in a monetary way. Obviously there is no obligation and I’d be just as happy with a comment or some social media follows BUT if you appreciate what you do and would like to show that by buying me a figurative coffee, you can now do that through a button on my blog sidebar and right here:

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

I feel so much better, guys! So happy to see the other side of that flu. It was hard getting back to work this week because any stamina I had for my commute/work was effectively gone. BUT we had a snow day on Wednesday which was a big help for me. Phew.

Here are two of my favorite posts I shared on Instagram this week:

What happens when the worst thing you ever said is the only thing people know about you? ▪️ Winter Halperin has always been good with words—something that served her well as a National Spelling Bee champion a few years ago. ▪️ Now, after sharing one thoughtless and insensitive comment online, words (and the entirety of the internet) have turned against Winter. As Winter grapples with the aftermath of the Incident she is forced to confront hard truths about her own bigotry and its role in what happened as well as the nature of public shaming in the internet age. ▪️ #ifyoudonthaveanythingnicetosay is a timely, sometimes brutal contemporary. Add it to your to read list and watch for it this May. ▪️ #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookishfeature #bookstafeatures #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #leilasales #contemporary

A post shared by Emma (@missprint_) on

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

How was your week? What are you reading?