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.

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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!

Throwback Thursday: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Hardcover, 358 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Company
 To be completely honest, Leigh Bardugo wasn’t on my radar until after the release of Six of Crows when I attended ALA for the first time through work.  I had heard really great things about it and that the sequel would be releasing soon, so I bought a used copy of Shadow and Bone to get signed and made up bookplates as well.  Just in case I fell in love with her writing 🙂
After meeting her briefly in the signing line and seeing her have lots of fun up on stage with Marissa Meyer, who I did love, I was convinced I would love Leigh’s books as well.  Unfortunately, I still didn’t get around to making time to read any of them until last week.  When I knew I was planning to meet her on tour tomorrow!  (I think it might have been that the original cover doesn’t appeal to me very much.)
The Gathering Dark (The Grisha, #1)
When I finally did start reading the first Grisha book, I was not at all surprised to find that I did like the story.  A lot!  I was compulsively reading it whenever possible and finished it quickly.  There are a lot of reviews out there that break the book down and talk about worldbuilding and characterization (both are great).  And plenty of fans that will tell you how amazing the author is (it’s true).  Plus several that will mention that the story isn’t new (because it’s not).  However, the only opinion that matters is how this story makes you feel.  That’s what reading is all about, right?
I liked this story a lot.  The characters were fun and the world was interesting (if a little confusing on some points).  But it made me remember why I like reading.  And that’s pretty awesome 🙂  So I definitely plan to finish this first trilogy and dive into Six of Crows with high expectations.  And hopefully, Leigh stills has some stories to tell in this world!
Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Summary:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Waiting on Wednesday: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1)

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 29th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
There are various reviews roaming the internet about this book.  I don’t think any had an issue with representation though, so I decided to give this book a try.  The first chapter was amazing!  Then it took a step back and did character introductions and a bit of world building, but then we were thrown right into the competition.  Non-stop action, revelations, and exploring genderfluid as an accepted form of identification.  While this story may not be new territory (think Hunger Games and Throne of Glass), I enjoyed the author’s writing style and the characters presented.

Continue reading

Manic Monday: Heathen Vol. 1 by Natasha Alterici

Heathen

Paperback, 115 pages
Published August 8th 2017 by Vault Comics
First off, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I downloaded this title from NetGalley.  The cover art looked intriguing and it kept popping up all over the place.  So I decided to give it a shot.  And I’m very glad that I did because Heathen was a beautifully illustrated tale that weaves together Viking folklore, bisexuality, fighting for your dreams, and many other threads and themes in a way that appears seamless.

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Book Review: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 25th 2017 by Harlequin Teen

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, I thought the concepts and characters were really interesting.  On the other, it took me almost three weeks to finish reading.  Not sure if that’s because of pacing in the book or because of real life issues I was dealing with, but I’m disappointed that it took me so long to finish.  As a debut, Daughter did a great job introducing characters and various levels of story threads.  I think it could have used a bit more world building though since this is a planned stand-alone.

Throughout the story, I felt myself questioning why certain things were happening and how Gomorrah fit into the rest of the world.  I also kept forgetting that our main character was only 16, but I always have that issue, and that she has no eyes.  I certainly liked this aspect, but we find out a little more about it while investigating things later in the story, but I’m not sure I quite understand the whole missing organ that still works just fine bit.

I will definitely be recommending this book to friends, family, and random internet folk like my readers here.  I never thought about giving up on the book, and it was definitely different and compelling.  The author is lovely human being, who I met at ALA Annual a couple months ago.  I even won a set of eyeshadow colors from promoting the release (I’ll share more on that in a different post soon!)  There’s a whole lot of awesome going on in this book that readers will for sure enjoy.  I just got a little hung up on miscellaneous stuff.

Have you read it yet?  What were your thoughts?

Summary:

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.