Thursday, April 28, 2016

This Savage Song

They're not under your bed.
They're not in your closet.
They're stalking you in the city.  They're watching you as you sleep.  Born from death and destruction, monsters are oh so very real.

Welcome to Verity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen

"My heart had not been false and that knowledge was unshakable and scrawled on the secret joints of my soul, like a spell that kept it whole."

Proclaiming a book "one of the best of the year" can be a bit dicey, particularly when it's only April and you've got a long way to go until December.  Math!  I can do it!  But I am confident in declaring Roshani Chokshi's The Star-Touched Queen one of the best books of 2016, and one of my favorite romantic YA fantasies ever.  It's Hades and Persephone meets Beauty and the Beast meets Indian mythology.

Monday, April 25, 2016

DNF: Alight

After the disaster that was Alive, I was fed up with this clichéd attempt at a YA series.  And yet, Alive hooked me with the last few chapters.  Curses!  Incredibly (and irritatingly), I was curious to see where this story of super-hot and ridiculously smart vat-grown teenagers IN SPACE would go once they landed on the planet below.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Heart-full and heartsick

T.S. Eliot, I concede the point.  For years, I have maintained that February is the cruelest month, because it's smack-dab in the middle of Wisconsin winter and the jetstream knows this and sends massive blizzards our way.  I hate February.  But this year, for the first time in a long time, I can agree that "April is the cruelest month."

It's also National Poetry Month, so go to your local library and check out some poetry!  May I suggest Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It by Gail Carson Levine?

My librarian is showing.  Let me just ... tuck everything back in.  There we are.  

Professionally and personally, April has been a really rough month for me.  I don't know where I'm going or how I'm going to get to the place that I don't know I'm going to.  My brain feels like it's falling apart, and my heart can barely beat because it's stuffed full of all these emotions that won't go away.  Like anger and frustration and pain.  

I may not be reviewing as much in the upcoming weeks.  I need to just read for the sake of reading.  I need to remember what it's like to write for the joy of writing and not to get pageviews (not that I have any).  I need to let my heart process things.

Ever since I can remember, when bad things happen, I automatically feel as if it's my fault.  I also reason that if it happened to me, then things would be better.  Like if someone I know is sick or dying, I often wish it was me because then I could spare them that pain.  I know it doesn't work like that, but my instinct is to apologize for everything.  Needless to say, I felt quite at home when visiting London.  Perhaps that's why I like Canada so much.  

This probably sounds rather odd, but I'm always thrown into this odd spiral of depression whenever someone famous dies.  I often remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news.  They need not have been someone particularly important in my life for me to have a reaction.  I remember visiting London with my mom while I was living overseas and seeing all the papers spread out when Heath Ledger died.  I remember exactly how the sidewalk looked and the angle of the sun shining into my eyes.  I remember hoping that the sunlight was blinding me and I was missing a crucial word in the headlines.  I remember thinking it was a joke.  It couldn't be real.  And it was.  

When I was working today, I found out that Prince died.  I'm too young to be a die-hard Prince fan, but I enjoy his music and I respect him enormously as a creator and musician.  But mostly what I think about is how, as a child, I sat entranced by his music in Tim Burton's deliciously bizarre Batman.  Watching Jack Nicholson attack the citizens of Gotham to the tune of "1999" scared the pants off of me.  It's a part of me, and so is that music.  I didn't know him.  I cannot mourn him as I would a close friend or family member.  But I can feel lost and heartsick.  

And my first thought was that somehow, in some way, it was my fault.  It's irrational and silly, but it still haunts the back of my brain, taunting me.  If only I'd done this, then that would not have happened.  My ability to live in the moment and not in the past may be described as execrable.  Heinous.  Non-existent.  

So here I sit, pondering what to do with the next days of the rest of my life.  Telling myself things will be, if not okay, at least tolerable.  Perhaps even handsome enough to tempt me into smiling again.  One never knows.  Life is full of surprises, and I have to believe that not all of them are soul-crushing.  I have to believe that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Raymond Feist's Magician has taken over my life.  I've pretty much halted progress in every other book just to read that one.  I know it's a very boys-club old-school fantasy, but it's comfy and cozy and I don't even mind the derivations of Tolkien that I'm finding.

Otherwise, I'm supposedly (I guess???) still reading Les Mis and Great Expectations, but haven't made much progress.  I submit my wrist for slapping.

Also begun, halted, but not forgotten:

Monument 14: Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne.  Yes, this is one of my favorite series and I never finished the last book.  Oy.  I love how accessible the writing is in Emmy's books--I can hand this to a reluctant reader or a die-hard post-apocalyptic book fiend with equal ease.

Roses by G.R. Mannering.  This came out a few years ago, but for some reason, Netgalley had it available.  It's wonderfully weird.

The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge.  I will read anything she writes.

Paper Hearts

I'm going to be that person.  The person who doesn't heap praise on a book along with everyone else.  The spoilsport.  The mean lady.

Let me be clear: Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott is a fine book.  However, it is not an extraordinary book, and I do wonder at all of the five-star reviews when I found the narrative to be lacking in many ways.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Nest

This is the second children's book that I've read this year (the first one was The Inn Between) that frightened me more than any Stephen King novel I've ever read.  More than any adult horror novel I've ever read, to be frank.  And I wonder if it's just the story, or the fact that the story is intended for kids and I cannot imagine ever reading this as a child.

Friday, April 15, 2016

DNF: Becoming Darkness

I feel ashamed that I even checked this out. I'm even more ashamed that I bought it for the library.  I hope it was one of those cases where the reviews available at the time didn't accurately reflect the actual book (ahem, see also: The Doubt Factory, When My Heart Was Wicked).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

DNF: Revenge and the Wild

Maybe I just shouldn't read westerns.  Maybe the book universe is trying to tell me something with The Revenge and the Wild.  So far I've attempted Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (eh), Rae Carson's Walk on Earth a Stranger (excessively boring, too reliant on male characters to drive female characters' decisions, and problematic regarding Native people), and Grace and the Guiltless (absolutely not.  No.  I can't even.) and I just can't find anything to love.  Bowman's book at least had a seriously kick-butt character ... until she went and fell IN LURVE with the brooding hero.

But I tried.  I really did.  I wanted this to be a western I could love.  And looking at all of the other early reviews, I'm the only one who didn't love it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jane Steele

Orphan.  Heiress.  Murderess.

One of the defining moments in Jane Steele's life was the discovery of a novel by Charlotte Brontë detailing the life of a girl who resembled Miss Steele in many respects.  Jane Eyre grew up a shunned orphan in her aunt's home, went to a cruel boarding school, and fell in love with her employer.  But the Jane of Lindsey Faye's story follows a much different trajectory in life, and yet finds her own, unique brand of happiness after traveling her own personal hell, which has a lot more blood in it than her literary namesake's life ever did.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Exit, Pursued by A Bear

I do not expect books about rape to leave me feeling hopeful.  I do not expect books about rape to make me want to be a better person.  And yet, enmeshed with the pain and horror of the violation of this despicable act, Exit, Pursued by A Bear gave me loving friends, caring family, and a strong-willed heroine who is one of the bravest people I've ever had the luck to read about.  And I don't mean that in a patronizing way: I mean that she does things I never have and until now, never thought I could.  But Hermione made me rethink my restrictions.  She made me want to be more than I ever thought I could be.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Mini-Review: The Nameless City

I am, to be modest, a really big fan of Faith Erin Hicks.  My absolute favorite work of hers is The Adventures of Superhero Girl, which tends to fly under the radar, but you should really just D.E.A.R. it (shout out to Beverly Cleary and my girl Ramona!).  Her characters have this vibrancy to them that I just love, and her style is a cool manga-traditional fusion.

So, when I received my copy of The Nameless City, I knew it was going to be great.

I love it when I'm right.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Really late to this one!  It was a wild day.  I kept wondering if the moon was full, but it's not.  Mysteriously odd behavior strikes again!

Currently I'm reading (in addition to my two faithful classics):

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse.  I've heard loads of praise about this and so far it's very, very good.

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto.  Although I haven't had much luck with YA westerns in the past, this one intrigues me.

Monument 14: Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne.  I can't believe I never finished the series!  Finally snagged a copy of the book and will finish it properly.  I adore these books and so does my mom!

The Dead House

I have to apologize in advance for the scattered nature of this review.  Perhaps it's the format and topic of the book taking its toll on my brain, or perhaps it's just that writing this particular review was hard.  Either way, if you want to quit now, while you're ahead, I won't be too hurt.  Much.  Just crying into my pillow at night.  That's all.  Totally crushed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Tyranny of Petticoats

As pretty much everyone reviewing this notes, it's difficult to rate because anthologies are, by their very nature, a mixed bag.  Overall, I quite enjoyed this, and some of the stories were downright brilliant.  Others were ... not.  I'm very excited that Jessica Spotswood will be doing a follow-up anthology, because I need more kick-butt girls in my life.

Monday, April 4, 2016

In which I rant about the agony of dashed hopes

I am not happy right now.

Nope.  Not happy at all.  And what makes this doubly hard is that I had such high hopes for this book, as the author has written two other books that I love (In the Shadows with Jim DiBartolo and Illusions of Fate(.  I genuinely don't want to hurt authors in my reviews.  But I do have a question: why?  Why?  Why? Why? Why? WHY?

The book that's causing me to go on the fritz is And I Darken, Kiersten White's newest book.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mini-Review: Raven: The Pirate Princess Vol. 1

Between Rat Queens, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and Princeless, I could read no other comics and be completely satisfied.  Mostly satisfied.  As satisfied as someone with an insatiable appetite for books and OOH LOOK NEW SHINY can be.