Blog Tour Book Review + Giveaway: Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

Sightwitch (The Witchlands, #0.5)

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Tor Teen
So, some life stuff happened and I’m only 1/2 way through this book!  So I’m giving you my initial thoughts for this blog tour and 2 giveaways!!  One for a signed UK mass market paperback (US only unless you pay for shipping!) and one for a sea fox taro card designed by myself and signed by Susan Dennard (INT since it’s flat)!
IMG_4703

Continue reading

Advertisements

Book Review: Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett

Marabel and the Book of Fate

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
A cute MG that features a brave princess, her best friend/maid servant, and a snarky unicorn. I hope they change the cover to match the unicorn’s description though as he is described as a blue unicorn with gold horn and white mane/tail. The cover has it backwards! I don’t think that adults or teens would find as much enjoyment in this tale, but there are good lessons such as believing in yourself, looking past appearances, working through problems, and even tackling xenophobia and compromise. Definitely a title to recommend and shelve in school libraries.

Summary:

Free-spirited Marabel must defy expectations to rescue her brother–and their kingdom.

In Magikos, life is dictated by the Book of Fate’s ancient predictions, including the birth of a royal Chosen One who will save the realm. Princess Marabel has grown up in the shadow of her twin brother, Marco, who everyone assumes is the true Chosen One. While Marco is adored and given every opportunity, Marabel is overlooked and has to practice her sword fighting in secret.

But on the night of their thirteenth birthday, Marco is kidnapped by an evil queen, and Marabel runs to his rescue. Outside the castle walls for the first time, accompanied by her best friend and a very smug unicorn, Marabel embarks on a daring mission that brings her face-to-face with fairies, trolls, giants–and the possibility that all is not as it seems in Magikos.

Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, #1)

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Flatiron Books
 This was an incredibly told, well-written, spooky dark, original fairy tale that was absolutely sucked me in and wouldn’t let go!  Yeah, so I ended up loving this book as it hits on a large chunk of the reasons I love to read fantasy.  I really don’t want to give away any of the fun twists and turns, but I will say that this is a bit of a meta story with tales being told and lived within the overall narrative.
The only part I didn’t care for was the male companion to the main character.  I didn’t feel like he really added that much.  Maybe I missed something.  But I’m pretty sure many readers will ship them, and I won’t begrudge them that.  I just personally didn’t care for him.
Having listened to this as an audiobook, I wanted to quickly comment on the lovely narrator, Rebecca Soler.  You might recognize her for narrating The Lunar Chronicles, which is how I found her.  Rebecca is one of my favorite narrators and her reading just enhanced my experience with this book.
One last statement: Normally, I love long series featuring favorite characters, and while I wouldn’t mind seeing where this story continues, I’d also be ok with it as a stand alone.  Not sure what it’s planned for, but either way I loved this book!

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Waiting on Wednesday: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)

Hardcover, 160 pages
Expected publication: January 9th 2018 by tor.com
As expected, I loved this installment just as much as much as the previous two!  This story picks up shortly after the end of Every Heart a Doorway and gives us several new characters to fall in love with as well as checking up on others from the first book.  I really enjoyed the mix of fresh and loved character development.  We were even treated to more diverse characters such as a Muslim baker and a bigger girl happy with her appearance.
I can’t wait for more of these books to follow!  Seanan confirmed that there are plans to continue the series for another couple of books at least.  And hopefully more.  As long as they keep selling, they will keep coming.  I wholeheartedly support this trend and will do my best to make sure that the publisher knows we want more!

Summary:

Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

Hardcover, 376 pages
Published August 28th 2017 by Random House Children’s Books
Recently, I finished listening to the audiobook of Leigh Bardugo’s latest book, the first in the DC Icons series.  While Wonder Woman is not my favorite superhero, I have found her Greek mythology storyline fascinating, so I was expecting good things.
I was a little disappointment.  And I’m not sure if it was the writing or maybe the narrator.  There were parts that I really liked, such as the oracle, the bracelets, Diana’s realizations about humans and her place in the world.  But the overall story felt a bit contrived?  I wanted to finish the story but I had to force myself to get started every time.  I just wasn’t motivated to keep going.
I guess I got caught up in the hype and expected too much.  My plan still definitely includes reading the rest of Leigh’s backlist as I enjoyed the first Grisha book very much and am excited to read Six of Crows.  If I had to guess, WW didn’t surprise me because WW doesn’t lose.  UGH, I feel like I’m rambling now, so I’ll leave it here.
Let me know what you thought about this book.  Did I miss something epic?

Summary:

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Book Review: Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko

Scion of the Fox (The Realms of Ancient, #1)

Hardcover, 440 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by ECW Press
Once I read the description comparing this book to a combination of American Gods and Princess Mononoke, I knew I had to read it!  Much to my surprise, when I reached out to ECW Press via Twitter playfully asking a signed arc make its way to me, they sent me a DM saying they couldn’t send a signed copy but would be happy to send an arc my way.  I was super ecstatic by the news and eagerly awaited its arrival.
 Turns out that I wasn’t able to fit it into my review cycle until October, but that was absolutely perfect.  It definitely has some eerie, spooky parts and the spirits are monstrous in their descriptions.  When I wasn’t reading this book (ie at work), then I was distractedly thinking about what would happen next or picturing what some of the characters look like.
Although the book had a bit of a pacing issue, I greatly enjoyed this novel for multiple reasons.  Great diversity of cast is high on that list.  The main character is a redhead!  And her friends aren’t cookie cutters, they have thoughts and emotions and distinct voices.  One of them was born without legs and another is plus size.  I really liked that each character did have a distinct voice because this book is multiple POV and we could have gotten lost easily but the author handled it very well.
Last thought: the writing in the this book really spoke to something inside me.  I can’t quite describe why but I think it comes down to word choices.  They appealed to my fantasy reader/book nerd self.  Like I said, hard to explain.  Hope you all can give this one a chance!  I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!!

Summary:

As the winter ice begins to thaw, the fury of a demon builds — all because one girl couldn’t stay dead . . .

Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not sotypical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly. A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay. Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox.

American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in this powerful first installment of a trilogy sure to capture readers’ imaginations everywhere.

Surprising Reads: Lighter Than My Shadow, Thornhill, and The Witch Boy

Here’s three new books this year that I didn’t know I would be reading.  On a whim, I picked these up and ended up reading each in a single day.  While they aren’t the best books I’ve read this year, I wanted to share them with you because of their content and the questions they ask and answer.  Read on for brief summaries and my thoughts and opinions on each.

Lighter Than My ShadowLighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

Summary:

Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She’d sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she’d have to eat it for breakfast.

But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly.

Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the vulnerable, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness.

My Thoughts:

This is a painfully frank and graphic description of what it feels like to live with an eating disorder.  As someone who has not lived through this but loves to eat and frequently stress eats, I’ve often wondered what it feels like.  Since this is a memoir, I can only assume that the author has the authority to speak on this subject as I have no point of reference.  Even without color, I found myself drawn into this powerful story of pain, suffering, asking for help, and following through again and again.  If you want to see inside the head of someone battling a variety of eating disorders and the kind of help you can seek.  I’m looking forward to reading this story again in color when it releases to see what impact that provides.

-Reviewed from an advance copy through work, trigger warnings for sexual abuse, nudity, and slicing off body fat

Thornhill

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Summary:

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

My Thoughts:

Here’s two stories that parallel each other, told through differing mediums.  The past is told through journal entries belonging to Mary while Ella’s present story is told through wordless illustrations.  The story flowed really well and I devoured the whole book in one sitting.  My main issue with the story is that <SPOILER> it appears that Ella commits suicide at the end to be friends with Mary, who had also committed suicide due to bullying.  And a third girl is introduced at the end, mirroring the beginning of the book and suggesting that the cycle will probably continue.  So I’m conflicted about whether I’d be comfortable recommending this book to middle schoolers, who I believe are the intended target audience.

-Reviewed from an advanced copy through work, trigger warnings for suicide, bullying, and possible off screen rape

The Witch Boy

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

Summary:

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

My Thoughts:

This story did not go the way I thought.  From the description and the beginning of the story, I thought this might be about transgender expectations.  Instead, the story tackled gender a little differently.  I’m not sure that the characters did much for me, but I like that this graphic novel is something that can be given to middle schoolers as part of the ongoing discussion of why we separate genders in so many areas.  It may not be my favorite, but I already know a few people I’ll be sharing this.

-Reviewed from an advanced copy through work, no overt trigger warnings

 

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

The Tea Dragon Society

Hardcover, 72 pages
Expected publication: October 31st 2017 by Oni Press
HOW CUTE ARE THESE TEA DRAGONS?!?  I absolutely adore these cute little things and the fact that they are in a fantastic story is just amazing!

Image result for tea dragon society

This story was originally released as a webcomic, which can be found by following this link.  You should definitely go check it out.  I’ll wait.  No, but seriously go check it out. I don’t mind if you get lost and forget to come back here!  I know I’ve gotten lost in the world and art of Katie O’Neill’s fabulous work 🙂

Image result for tea dragon society

Hey, glad you came back!  Now that you have explored a bit (or perhaps even all) of The Tea Dragon Society, I want to tell you why I fell so deeply in love with this magical slice of awesome.  Obviously, the art and concept really spoke to me, but once you dig deeper, you find that there are several layers to explore.  I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t discovered them, so let’s just say that the diversity and inclusion were presented as natural and constant.  Neither were plot points, but accepted by the inhabitants without reproach.

I think my only regret is that this book is so short.  I guess that just means that I’ll have to be on the lookout for more from Katie in the future.

Besides following the webcomic, I did receive an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which did not affect my honesty in any way.

Summary:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Legend of Shadow High by Shannon and Dean Hale

Monster High/Ever After High: The Legend of Shadow High

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 17th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
 After completely falling in love with Shannon Hale’s original Ever After High Trilogy, I was so stoked to discover that she was coming back to write another book in the same universe AND that it included characters from Monster High as well.  Unfortunately, I think I over-hyped it in my head.  It didn’t come together as well as I was expecting.
It also didn’t continue the original story!!  Aaah.  I was so hoping to get back to find out about those loose threads, but there was no hint of those here.  I also didn’t get the same Narrator/Maddie interactions that I loved.  Maybe if I had read this book first and followed it up with the original trilogy.  But as it is, I was sad that it wasn’t what I was expecting.
That said, I liked the crossover idea and getting to dig into the lore that encompasses all the realms.  The interactions between monsters and fairy tales were so much fun to read that this is definitely something that I plan to share and recommend.

Summary:

A dangerous story is bubbling and almost all the Narrators are scared to tell it. Cracks in the World of Stories are spreading, and the ominous Shadow High is gaining power. Only one young, brave Narrator, Brooke Page, is ready to tell this tale.

As the first cracks show, Frankie and Draculaura are accidentally transported to Ever After High, where they meet Raven Queen and Apple White. After the girls recover from the shock of learning that fairytales and monsters are real, they discover that the Evil Queen has escaped her mirror prison in search of the ultimate power, hidden in Shadow High. Frankie, Raven, Draculaura, Apple, and Brooke must stop the Evil Queen and save the World of Stories from the evil that lurks in Shadow High!