Photographer, book reviewer, mama, cat-lover in Seattle. Originally from England. I'm usually busy taking cat photos at a cat rescue or reading books...
I put my reviews up on Goodreads, Amazon, and Edelweiss+. I have MS so I'm tired a lot but it's a good excuse to have a lie-down and read! My Litsy handle is kamoorephoto
Contact ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a fantastic short story prequel to ‘This Mortal Coil’, giving a brief look at the five Zarathustra children who are being kept by Lachlan Agatta for his painful gentech experiments.
Jun Bei, Cole, Zianna, Anna, and Leoben feel as though, for a moment, that a new life is possible when a visitor from the Cartaxus headquarters, but work in the blackout program doesn’t look good to all of them after seeing a frightful display put on for them.
Within the short novella, we are reminded of the innocence of these kids when Lachlan was doing his work, and get a peek into some of their relationships.
The imagery of the dangerous but beautiful cactus (again, that gorgeous cover art!) is mirrored in Jun Bei/Cat, and is actually pivotal within the short story.
‘This Cruel Design’ has been my most anticipated book of the year, and I’m just starting it now (plus I’m on the blog tour), so this is a great lead-in. Like all of Emily’s work so far, there’s never enough, it’s full of complex imagery within this new world she has built, and I can’t wait to see where her new book takes me.
**You can read this free on Riveted Lit until November 30th!! Click HERE!
I fancied some ‘light’ horror and since a whole bunch of my pals on Litsy have been reaching for graphic novels this Halloween season, I thought I’d try this. And don’t be fooled: this version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ is most definitely HORROR with a capital H. If you are looking for something along the lines of what you would find on the CW when Sabrina was a sitcom, this is NOT it. Forget PG-spooky, it’s definitely the other end of the horror spectrum: S for Sabrina is now Scary.
Set back in the 1960’s, Sabrina is the illicit lovechild of a warlock called Edward Spellman, and a mortal named Diana, and she is raised by her aunts Zelda and Hilda (no news there). Sabrina is approaching her 16th birthday, which means she can become a fully-fledged witch, and pledge herself to the Dark Lord*. Complicating things are having a mortal boyfriend, and deciding if she can kill living animals on the spot. More fun ensues when Madam Satan shows up in town, and she is none too happy about having been sidelined by Edward for Sabrina’s mom. Enough said.
There are all sorts of horror goodies in this jumbo comic edition (it contains comics 1-5 of the ‘Chilling Adventures’, and in the back, has the variants that were printed with the different covers). The fabulous intro by the author Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa lays it all out for the reader, pointing out that the adventures are like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, plus ‘The Exorcist’, ‘The Omen’, and Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ all rolled together. It’s ALL in here. As well as Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, zombies, and vengeance against men who have picked up innocent hitchhiking women.
The retro style of illustration harks back to comics of decades ago, and Roberto explains it’s because he wanted them to have the feel of a ‘period piece’, and it all works flawlessly. There’s plenty of dark humor (very dark), a definite feel of classic horror influencing every frame, and it’s actually no wonder that it’s being adapted into a show on Netflix. I hope they keep it just as gory, retro, and bloody though...
I’ll be continuing the series!
*To any heathens asking: no, REAL witches do NOT pledge themselves to ‘Satan’ or the ‘Dark Lord’.
**You can find this omnibus edition on hoopla!
‘We Sold Our Souls’ is one HELL of a ride. Grady Hendrix, King of horror at Quirk Books, has written a heavy metal masterpiece with a female lead guitarist, Kris Pulaski, as its star.
Less classic horror this time (his previous books are ‘Horrorstör’, and ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’), Hendrix has laden ‘Souls’ with conspiracy theory and real life horrors.
Kris Pulaski was in a heavy metal band called Dürt Würk two decades ago and they were on the brink of success when the lead singer Terry Hunt ripped the band apart and left to start his solo career. And it seems Terry’s rise to success was at the cost of selling the band’s souls.
That’s right, he sold their souls for rock’n’roll…or in this case, heavy metal.
Kris’ pitiful present day existence is working at the reception of a Best Western, and if you can stomach the ‘Welcome To Hell’ chapter (good horror always comes at the cost of reading things that make your stomach turn), then you can follow Kris on her journey as she gets whisked from Pennsylvania to a Satanic rehab center, and then across the country again to grimy Las Vegas. Years of grueling, crazy, exciting, challenging (to say the least), and often nasty experiences on the road with the band, were nothing compared to this trip, and it seems like all Kris’ heavy metal years were preparation and toughened her up. The journey to Las Vegas is overwhelming, but Kris has a mission she can’t ignore. There’s also a whole host of colorful characters along the way, but I do have to wonder if Hendrix has a thing against UPS (you will see what I mean when you read the book).
The greatest thing about this book is that Hendrix has chosen to write ‘Souls’ with a female protagonist. Not just that: a kickass, middle-aged (even though I hate that word, because that’s what I am now, I suppose), female as its lead. And she plays the guitar like a certain other Hendrix. She doesn’t take any bull from anyone and doesn’t stop fighting back once she starts on her new road trip.
While it seems as though she has given up with her hotel job, the revelation that she must stop her old bandmate Terry Hunt, lights a fire in Kris, and the book has that vibe of ‘don’t give up, don’t let the system win, don’t let the bullies push you’. That’s highly clear in the messages of conspiracy theory, our paranoia-laden country, and how culture is selling itself (its soul) particularly out to cell phones and shallow marketing. Reading the book will give you a greater sense of the way the conspiracy theory works in ‘Souls’ - I’m kind of at a loss as how to explain the genius behind how it’s woven in - but Hendrix has cleverly used snippets of radio and newspaper to show how ‘news’ travels and information spreads. This has always been the way conspiracy theories spread and this underbelly of the book is fascinating.
If you don’t know all the music in the book, this may be a little daunting, as there are a lot of heavy metal and music references, but I think if you have even the remote interest in or knowledge of decades old music such as Black Sabbath and Slayer, and remember the days when everyone thought that heavy metal listeners were devil worshipers, you will appreciate what Hendrix is doing here (and no you don’t have to actually like the music). Trigger warnings for sexual assault and creepy crawlies; this is definitely rated R.
Hendrix is an undeniable force in pop culture literature and has written an unforgettable book, one that’s not for everyone, but will be a cult classic, but not like any of the schlock he writes about in his awesome ‘Paperbacks from Hell’. No one writes like this guy; ‘We Sold Our Souls’ is funny, gross, complex, and a wonderful blend of horror, pop culture, conspiracy theory, and is infused with a heavy dose of music history. Only Grady Hendrix could have done that.
**I'm really lucky because this Friday I get to meet Grady here in Seattle at his book signing and I get to have my big stack of books signed.
*Kudos to Doogie Horner again, for another excellent book cover design for Grady. It's worth noting that the hardcover of this book has beautiful black ink-sprayed pages.
What an amazing ‘signing’. To anyone who gets to go to one of the signings on this book tour: Grady will blow your mind with the presentation he has ready for you; I wish I’d been prepared and been able to record it or something, so I could listen to it again (you hear/see that, Grady?).
The whole ‘secret history’ behind heavy metal and how it has rotted so many young minds (aka the wonderful conspiracy theories that set WSOS in motion) is the basis for Grady’s brilliant ‘lecture’, along with a slideshow and I wish I’d at least taken notes, but I chuckled too much to do that. It was the most funny, inspiring, thoughtful signing I’ve been to yet.
THANK YOU TO GRADY for revealing the personal background behind writing this book in particular; I really appreciated your message at the end, you have so much heart, especially for a guy who writes some of my favorite books which are complete with things like people getting their scalps ripped off, beetles crawling down their shirts, and high schoolers needing exorcisms. Plus you will say ‘fuck’ a lot right near the children’s department in the bookstore and do the ‘voices’ of the members of KISS.
And I have NO idea how you have the energy that you do (you delivered about 20-25 pages at cutthroat speed), especially since I’m someone who has zero energy most of the time, thanks to MS.
Us Seattlites apologize for the death of metal circa 1991 when Nirvana et al burst onto the scene (I thought it was funny that you started your tour here*), but you must admit jeans are way more comfortable than leather pants, so that was a godsend. I’d love to hear your take on whether that was a conspiracy itself.
So, thank you for coming and signing my massive stack of books, for your presentation, and for your writing genius. Thank you to librarians for buying secret copies of books for kids like a certain one did for you.
*We would like to reiterate that we did indeed have a very hot and sunny summer here this year (again) in Seattle, and now that it’s raining we are actually all quite relieved. Sorry you had to experience it for your trip though. Make sure you come back for your next book.
It has been two hundred years since an eighteen-year old Mary Shelley gave life to one of the most haunting novels of all time and the first true work of science fiction, so Kiersten White’s retelling of ‘Frankenstein’ couldn’t come at a more perfect time. To think that the original book was written when a young girl accepted the challenge of writing a ‘ghost story’, and she originally didn’t lay claim to her own work.
Kiersten White has chosen to write ‘Dark Descent’ as a retelling from Elizabeth Lavenza’s perspective, a feminist retelling if there possibly can be one, set in a time when women were taught to be objects to be acquired.
In Shelley’s story, Elizabeth Lavenza (later to become Frankenstein) is a ‘gift’ given to Victor Frankenstein, a socially awkward child, and she is taken in by the affluent Frankenstein family in Geneva, saving her from her own mother and a life of destitution. Young Elizabeth tries desperately to win the favors of the volatile Victor, and to secure her place in the Frankenstein household, and soon brings in another young girl, Justine, much like herself, saving her from a life similar to her own. Justine Moritz is brought into the home as a governess to the other Frankenstein children, a calling that she is a natural at, and she and Elizabeth become fast friends. Much of this background is given to the reader by way of flashback interludes, as are the times that Elizabeth and Victor spent together back in Geneva before he leaves.
‘Dark Descent’ traces Elizabeth’s and Justine’s footsteps as they travel to Ingolstadt to find Victor - and his friend, Henry - which is where he went to continue ‘his studies’, but recently haven’t heard from. Following clues that are found in his letters home, they don’t have much to go on, but Elizabeth fears Victor’s obsessions and fevers have overcome him, and only she knows how to help him.
She also comes to the realization of what his experiments really signify, and wants to protect them from being discovered.
Without going further (maybe there are some people out there who don’t know the Frankenstein tale), what I will say is that this is a captivating, dark, and tragic story; times were bleak for many, and even more dismal for women, and this is made painfully clear in this retelling. White has made sure to paint a vivid picture of the ugly prospects that women had in the times of Elizabeth Frankenstein: the choices she mulls over in her head constantly are framed by how society judged women’s place in society and expected them to behave. None of that was science-fiction, and it provides a fascinating historical perspective, and leading questions into feminism. It’s not by coincidence that Shelley herself was the daughter of radical social philosophers, with her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, being a writer of one of the most important founding works on family structure and women’s education in the eighteenth-century.
*It’s worth noting too, that the backstory and tumultuous early life of Elizabeth mirrors that of Mary Shelley (brought up by foster parents, suffered a lot of losses in her life). I find this fascinating, and feel that this permeates the writing of the original novel, and White tries to reflect this shadowing of tumultuousness, particularly in the flashbacks.
Initially I found the book slow to get into, but I later likened it to the slow discoveries that Elizabeth was making, and how the travel at the time must have felt, and I realized that this is the type of novel that I didn’t need to rush through after all. That said, at about half way, the pace picked up considerably and I didn’t want to put it down. Once the ‘monster’ comes into the story, everything seems to happen almost too quickly, and I had a lot of overwhelming emotions in the second half of the book that made it a weightier read as it went on, descending further into grief and desperation. The title is incredibly apt in that respect. I also especially love that the tone and prose feel in keeping with the period; Kiersten did an excellent job with this.
Few works of fiction can garner the status of crossing so many genres (horror, romance, sci-fi, literary fiction), have affected pop culture and so many types of media, for so many generations, and with one mention of the title, conjure up so vivid images and visceral reactions to its central story. Kiersten White has captured those images and the emotions effectively inside her version, without the cartoonish depiction of the modern monster, returning him to Shelley’s imagining. Upon reading, there is a sense that Elizabeth and the monster have much in common, and the misunderstanding from the world around them is palpable. There is a distinct uneasiness at the end though, and much like the end of the ‘Frankenstein’, and even ‘Dracula’, you’re left with the feeling that things are unfinished, and that the myth will continue. It’s a feeling I relish. If you have a taste for dark, gothic, or classic fiction, give this one a read; it’s also a fabulous pick especially for lovers of classic horror and science-fiction. Thank you, Mary Shelley!
*Kudos as always to Regina Flath for her brilliant design of the cover. Stunning.
My newly-formed little book club said they wanted a book possibly with poetry or essays, so this was one of my selections. I knew Joy McCullough’s book came with glowing reviews and it had been on my TBR for a while, but I wasn’t quite prepared for what I was about to read.
‘Blood Water Paint’, based on the true but heartbreaking story of the iconic young Italian painter Artemesia Gentileschi, literally took my breath away.
Reading a novel based in verse (with some portions written in regular prose) with historical facts at its core, was quite new to me, and thank goodness for those mental (natural) breaks that came with the way it’s written, because it was one of the most astounding accounts of rape and incest I have ever read. This may well be based in Rome in 1610 and written in a way that doesn’t reveal certain details of such events as a reader may be used to reading, but I would still put up a big, red flag for a trigger warning. I had to put down the book for a breather about halfway through because of the tragic events unfolding within the pages. It is brutal, heart-breaking, and so emotional.
Artemesia was such a talented artist, but she and other women - within the book, we also learn the stories of both Susanna and Judith - basically had no rights or the right to an opinion in those days; women were stoned to death, and other brutal punishments were served at the hands of men who saw women as property. Artemesia’s father sees his own daughter as such, having her do the paintings and call them his own, and turns a blind eye to the events in this own home while he drinks after his wife/her mother dies. It’s hard to read such things, but throughout, Artemesia stays adamant that she will persevere and not let these men steal her ability to show her truth on the canvas.
It’s uncanny that the ‘me too’ movement resonates so strongly when reading a book like this, but four centuries later we shouldn’t be having to make the comparisons, perhaps. I was so moved by this book, and by my own experience, and I hope many young women reach for this book and get a discussion going. I’m looking forward to our book club meeting; this isn’t ‘light poetry fare’ by any means, and this book SHOULD spark a lot of conversation. Artemesia’s life (and many others) shouldn’t be in vain, for these experiences are too common place.
A note on the writing: Joy McCullough, as a debut author, has written a masterpiece. She wrote this as a play and then adapted it to be read as a book in this form. It’s masterful, and so beautiful to read. Since she’s local to Seattle, I’m happy to say she will be at the book club that will be meeting today; I’m glad we connected. I can’t wait for our group discussion. Absolutely superbly written.
**Update: Congratulations go out to Joy for the announcement that Blood Water Paint is on the long list for the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
I can't express how excited I am to be on this blog tour....
Many months ago I contacted Katya about her book, because I was drawn to the synopsis; here I am with it being a week away from it being on the shelves, and I get to review it for her (finally)!
This kicks off a thrilling season of books, I'm so excited. This one is perfect for all of you who love this witchy, cool season, when the leaves are falling and we are picking out our Halloween outfits.
**Thank you SO much to the amazing Cherry Karl (Karlita) of Tale Out Loud for having me on this one, and hosting this tour for Katya; I wouldn't have missed this one for the world. I wouldn't have allowed it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, KATYA
Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology.
'What the Woods Keep' is her first novel.
ABOUT THE BOOK
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy
RELEASE DATE: September 18th, 2018
'What the Woods Keep' is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home―on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible―something that threatens reality itself.
Add it to GOODREADS!
Now that you have read the synopsis, which really doesn’t come close to explaining how thrilling and complex this book is, let me get into the deep, dark woods of Promise, Colorado. Don’t enter without being prepared to read something that will test your belief in the supernatural, at the same time as serve up facts about physics and give you a story steeped in myth and old blood rites.
This book feels like it blurs the lines between science-fiction, fantasy, and mystery, targeting a young adult audience, but it’s a highly intelligent read (it comes from a real smart cookie of an author, so that doesn’t surprise me).
‘What The Woods Keep’ centers around an eighteen-year old girl called Hayden, who is suffering an identity crisis, as she inherits the Manor she grew up in, and trying to come to terms with her mother’s disappearance so many years ago and the dark secrets behind it. She struggles with how she sees her father’s work and his hair-brained theories that have got him ostracized from the scientific community, and also with what she knows about her mother’s contradictory beliefs of mythology, the rituals she seemed to practice in the woods, and her own frightening dreams.
Hayden’s friendship with her roommate Del, who she brings back to Promise with her, who seems to be her diametric opposite, and a grounding force in her life, is a constant source of support, and a voice of reason (I’ve always wished for someone like that); I thought their interactions were some of the most lovely things about book. Exploring relationships is key to this novel: the two friends, the loss of a mother, how a father impacts his daughter, reuniting with old friends, and navigating it all while developing a relationship with the inner self and growing up.
One of the key elements to the woods and town of Promise giving you nothing but the chills, is the way in which Katya is able to paint such a dark and vivid picture of the inhabitants. I don’t like making comparisons to other books (so I won’t) but since I’m a ‘Twin Peaks’ fan, I’ll go there; I definitely got that sort of vibe when I read this, and I’ll tell you that was my favorite show of the 90’s. The individual characters of Abigail Reaser, Hayden’s childhood friend Shannon, (now all grown-up), the bizarre Elspeth, even Hayden’s psychiatrist…they all are so original and/or fabulously strange. There is also so much atmosphere swirling around the small town, the weather being so stormy, the ravens flying near Hayden, the close by woods, you can feel it all when you’re reading the book; knowing that the girls are out there in that big house alone, it’s all what will make you stay reading with the lights on. The dark and stormy tone of the book, the loneliness of the house in the woods, and the creepy characters particularly make this the perfect autumnal read.
The story beneath the surface of the novel, of the ‘Nibelungs’, is fascinating and mysterious, and having it run concurrently in the same book with a basecamp where blood samples are being collected, mean (Norse) mythology and science-fiction are melded together. Katya’s background in anthropology, Egyptology, and with her traveling around the world, give the pages its personality, and I love how she used everything from her love of movies and books (references to Stephen King and David Cronenburg), to her sense of displacement as an expat (I understand this!) to influence her work. And the beginnings of each chapter are so brilliant, that you may want to have a notebook for all the useful facts**and pieces of knowledge that are shared.
This is seriously one of the most unique, intelligent, and mystical novels I’ve ever read. The twists and turns continue right up until the very end and the pages will take you to strange depths that are unexpected and exciting. And the further you delve into the woods, the more likely it is you will be pulled in to Miss Katya’s ‘Promise’; it’s quite the adventure, with an ending that will leave you hoping there’s another book coming.
**Facts and topics included: laws of thermodynamics, sleepwalking, Norse gods. If anything, you will be a smarter person for having read this book!
- Order on Amazon
- Buy from B&N.com (Barnes & Noble)
- Order at Book Depository
- Get at Books-A-Million
- Order from Indiebound
AND FINALLY....THE GIVEAWAY!
There are 2 COPIES of WHAT THE WOODS KEEP up for grabs, and all you need to do is ENTER *HERE* ~ GOOD LUCK!!
You can follow the whole blog tour and all my blog buddies by following this *LINK*
As always, HAPPY READING!!
PS. Katya, it was definitely to my liking.
*Warning: words en Francais may appear sporadically.
This book is…enchanting. I didn’t have it on my radar until quite simply everyone seemed to be asking about this novel about two sisters living in Paris during the French Revolution, one with the gift of magic, and with the desperate need to get themselves out of the dire situation they are in. They are poor, with Camille using her magie to turn pieces of metal they find in the dirt into coins, while Sophie is ailing, weak with a terrible cough. Their brother Alain is a drunkard and cruel, deeply in debt from his gambling, and the sisters just dream of finding a home away from their brother, Sophie perhaps marrying into aristocracy and money, while Camille has dreams of owning a print shop like her deceased father once did.
I’m not usually swept up into a book such as this, one that is a spell-binding combination of magic, romance, historical fiction, and fantasy, but although it’s a long book (some parts seemed overly long, and I felt like the whole thing could have been quite a bit shorter), I was entranced by the characters, as well as the setting.
Author Gita Trelease has painted a vivid portrait of Paris in the 18th century in ‘Enchantée’, when the contrast between the rich and the poor was stark, and Marie Antoinette was taking court. Readers will be pleased to know that they will served up ‘beacoup de’ servings of what it was like to live as a French aristocrat at that time, as Camille takes on a new persona, as the Baroness de la Fontaine, when she uses her ‘magie glamoire’ to gain entry to Versailles to play and turn cards. While there she rubs elbows with the rich she would otherwise detest, but ends up making friends as she makes enough money to change things for herself and Sophie. She internally struggles with her use of magie and the differences between the rich and the poor at that time, even though she is using it to change her fortune.
There’s a ‘rags-to-riches’/Cinderella tale here, a face-off between the handsome suitors (the handsome, devilish rogue, Seguin, and the more reserved but romantic ingenue, Lazare). The book provides a wonderful look at the culture of the time (I absolutely loved all the research obviously done regarding the use of hot-air balloons; that was probably my favorite part), as well as our protagonist wrestling with so many ideals and virtues. This gives a fantastic deeper edge to the book, and gives a real nod to climate preceding the Revolution. The poverty that was experienced by the ‘poor’ thanks to the disparity created by taxes and wheat prices, is fervently clear throughout, and it’s the thing that drives Camille all the way through her saga at Versailles, and pushes her use her magie. But the question is always, is it worth it? And does this make her just like the aristo? I think the answers are a bit murky at the end, despite the ‘happy ending’.
I would very much imagine that many of those who have fallen particularly for the setting of belle Paris, have not had the privilege, like myself, of visiting France, and may not even speak much French; the book is addled with short French phrases, for which, Trelease has put a glossary in the back of the book. It may remove a little enjoyment to keep looking things up, if you don’t know the meaning of those words, but my guess is you have rudimentary French knowledge to have interest in the book in the first place. I appreciate the explanation of all the historical facts and figures as they appear in the book, as they are fascinating.
The pace of the book picks up rapidly at about half way through the book, which I felt could have been a lot plus rapide; I feel as though a historical fiction/romance is a bit extravagant at close to 500 pages. If you’re looking for a book with lots of action and adventure, this one isn’t it, and thanks to the coy teasing nature of the romantic flirting, even that isn’t super juicy and doesn’t take up a wild amount of those pages. But of the ones that it does, they’re not overdone or too sickly sweet.
‘Enchantée’ is a fabulous romantic story set in Revolutionary France and I’d say ‘vas-y’ (that means go for it), if you’re enamored by historical romance at all. This has a sumptuous setting, unique voice, and made a change in all the YA I’d read lately.
By the way, Paris remains one of my most favorite cities today; take a plane and read ‘Enchantée on the way (sorry that you have to wait until February for it, malheureusement)!
It’s probably humanly impossible to not like a book with fluffy clouds and a little squirrel holding nuts on the cover. So far, I believe this to be 100% true.
‘Unclaimed Baggage’, while having nothing to do with now-endangered and very cute red squirrels, is just as adorable a book on the inside as it is on the outside, and if it’s that cover that draws you in (like it did me), so be it). It’s the goods inside though that will make you stay a while.
The title of the book is the name of the store that brings three new and unlikely friends together in small town Alabama. Doris has been working at Unclaimed Baggage for a while, and takes great pride in her work, unpacking suitcases that have lost their owners somewhere along the way on their journeys around the world, left at airports, unclaimed, unnamed. The contents of the bags are then sold in this unique store, which gets customers from all over the place, and even has an Instagram feed.
Nell is the newcomer, who has been made to move from the Chicago suburbs to this tiny Southern town, away from her boyfriend and BFFs, and at the start of the summer too. Forced to get a summer job by her rocket scientist mom, she fortunately meets Doris at the store.
And to round out the unlikely trio, we have Grant Collins, the hometown (but recently disgraced) football star, struggling with a drinking problem, having recently lost his girlfriend, as well as his way. His mom calls in a favor and gets him a job at the store, which is probably the best thing to ever happen.
Over the course of their summer (but barely a couple of my days) this trio is taken through a bonding experience like no other, and not only do they have infinitely a more exciting summer than I had, these unlikeliest of friends learn some big eye-opening things about the world.
Author Jen Doll is a smart writer, and beneath all the adorable quirkiness, she presents a whole host of issues that teens (and a lot of us, in fact), have dealt and might deal with: sexual assault, alcohol abuse (particularly how it’s accepted in certain groups in high school), grief and loss, racism, a particular brand of which is still especially pervasive in the South, as well as an expectation for everyone to subscribe to the same Christian dogma.
Doll also gives us these wonderful teen characters that challenge these issues in a way that I found, for a change, to be brave instead of obnoxious, to be thoughtful instead of preoccupied, and actually give us cause to be sympathetic to their faults (especially dear Grant).
One key element of this novel, underneath all that quirkiness which I just loved, is relationships, and since this is a contemporary YA novel, it’s worth noting that it isn’t filled with text conversations, and there are also positive family relationships in this book, with the parents actually feeling like real people. I’m finding this is becoming a rarity in my reading lately (is it really so bad to put that out there?). Additionally, the close relationship Doris had with her aunt Stella, who’s passed away, plays a big part in the book; the exploration of Doris’ grief and the influence she had on her, adds depth to this story and her character.
All of this though, is served up with heaps and heaps of Southern fried syrupy goodness and charm, or at least, a furry manatee, and suitcases with their own names. The ‘scenes’ at the store were so wonderful, I wanted more, with all these amazing artifacts and personal belongings from people all over the world ending up on their shelves with the teens wondering their backstories.
I also didn’t even mind the fact that Jen Doll uses the alternating ‘voices’ of Doris, Nell, and Grant, to tell the story, which is a writing device I was becoming tired of lately but in the case of ‘Unclaimed Baggage’, I found it worked well. The book is also divided up into the three months of the summer vacation, to give you a sense of time flow.
However ‘slow’ their (or anyone’s) summer went, I raced through this book. It is funny, quirky, thoughtful, and full of so much heart that I can’t help but love it to pieces.
*I gratefully received this ARC as part of Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program.").
This squirrel is being released into the wild on September 18th, ‘18.
It may not have been wolves that compelled me to get on this blog tour, but after a book-blogger friend raved about the book, and another said they’d buy anything that Nova Ren Suma writes, I definitely wanted to read ‘A Room Away From The Wolves’. I won’t lie - that beautiful skyline on the cover was a big draw too. When I read that this book is a story about a young girl who runs away from her home because she just can’t take the abuse there anymore, and it turns out to be a novel that is ghostly, as well as layered with human connections, it called to me.
So dig into my breakdown of this beautiful book and be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom for a chance to win a copy!
*Thanks again to The Fantastic Flying Book Club again for having me on the tour!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, NOVA REN SUMA
Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels THE WALLS AROUND US as well as the YA novels IMAGINARY GIRLS and 17 & GONE, which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. Her middle-grade novel, DANI NOIR, was reissued for a YA audience under the title FADE OUT.
She has a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center.
She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing workshops. She is from various small towns across the Hudson Valley and lives and writes in New York City.
ABOUT THE BOOK
'A Room Away From the Wolves' by Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Mystery
Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—
a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.
Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets.
There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave...
This wonderful story has one step inside reality, and the other is deep inside somewhere quite otherworldly, which is also somewhere that Nova Ren Suma’s writing sits. Her writing is what gives this simple tale of a young girl ‘Bina’, who runs away from home to a boarding house in New York City, so much character, originality, and mystery.
Bina and her mother fled their home once before, last time to escape her cruel father. They never made it beyond the home Bina has to share now with a stepfather and two stepsisters that eventually has become a new hell she’s decided she must escape on her own. Bruised inside and out, she feels betrayed and let down by her mom, and sees no other way.
Eight years after her and mother once ran from her father, she heads for Catherine House, the place she heard so many stories about from her mom, and asks for the very room that she stayed in.
From the moment Bina arrives in Greenwich Village, something is strange, and somehow connected to the opal ring her mother gave her, and to the original owner of the house, Catherine herself.
I don’t want to go into too much explanation of the story because there would be too much given away. I’ll lead this by saying that if you like your stories served up on a platter, without beautiful prose laden with wonderful imagery, this may not be the book for you. Suma writes with so much mesmerizing imagery wrapped in every sentence, that you’ll miss half of the tale she’s written for you if you don’t dig a little deeper.
This is a modern ghost story as well as a heart-breaking tale about the connection between mother and daughter, and how families make mistakes and let each other down. This part of the book is the guts of why Bina ends up Catherine House, and made me long for my own mom who is thousands of miles away.
Bina feels betrayed by her mom and looks to her mother’s past for answers, but there’s so much that’s tragic about this; reading the book it felt like Bina carries such a weight for a young girl, but doesn’t truly complain. It’s especially tragic because her father has already let her down, and she’s now being bullied by her stepsisters.
The other characters in the novel bring out all sorts of thoughts and memories for her: Monet is the girl in the room below, and is a fascinating character and one who Bina is drawn to, without explanation. She makes Bina question everything and gives her clues as to what is really happening.
There are twists and portals and thrills in this novel that make it a page-turner, and it’s as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching. There’s some spookiness that might make you feel like you’re not alone when you’re reading this (maybe you’re not).
*Bonus points: cats involved!
*Trigger warning: suicidal ideation
WIN THE BOOK!
You have a chance to win a copy of the book by entering a GIVEAWAY! You just have to click RIGHT HERE TO ENTER! Good luck!
Prize: 1 copy of A ROOM AWAY FROM THE WOLVES by Nova Ren Suma
And finally here are the links to BUY THE BOOK:
Buy on Amazon
Order from Barnes & Noble
Order from Book Depository
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Indiebound
Get it on iBooks
And to follow along with the rest of the blog tour, here is the BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE!
Thank you for checking out everything that there is to know about this beautiful book! It’s out so soon now, so make sure it’s on your TBR, and get it ordered. It’s unlike anything else you’ll read any time soon.
Happy reading, friends!
PS. To easily start following my blog, just click on the BLOGLOVIN’ (assuming you have that!) to the left...
This was a hard one to put down, I'll be honest, even if I didn't rush to pick it up because of it being yet another psychological thriller in my hands. Immediately though, the story of Joe Lynch, English teacher, and devoted father and husband, drew me in very quickly.
Joe's drive home one evening with his 4-year old son William, takes a nasty turn and sets the whole book's plot in motion, when he sees his wife's car pulling into a hotel parking lot. It seems his wife Mel is meeting with another man and hiding behind a web of lies, and soon enough, Joe is pulled into a game of 'cat-and-mouse' with this man that is set to destroy everything he knows and loves.
From the very beginning this is an addictive read, with the action and twists never letting up from page one until the book ends, something that is vital for a successful psychological thriller. Since this is such a saturated genre (hence my earlier comment, not that I'm actually really complaining about so many thrillers), it's necessary to bring something fresh to the table.
Debut author T.M. Logan does several things to make this book different from the 'rest of the pack'. Perhaps drawing from what he knows best, Logan gives us a male lead over the stereotypical and usual neurotic and crazed young single female. Not only is our protagonist a family man he's deeply committed to nurturing his preschooler, is deeply aware of his environment, but he has a 'humble' teaching job and lets his wife take the job lead in the household, not minding that his wife is pursuing her career ambitions. Joe is the one who is the parenting heavyweight, and it really made a change to see this, and also write his character in a way that didn't seem contrived.
A few other things that I appreciated: not having yet another thriller with alternating perspectives or voices (this has been done to death lately), especially since I'd like to focus on one unreliable narrator at a time. Writing one voice at a time is often the best way to dig into the mind of a character and this is where 'Lies' is successful'; Logan really gets us into the mind of Joe so well that it's hard to get out of it. No wonder his character gets so little sleep (like myself).
Technology, like computers and cell phones, plays a vital role in this novel, and the way it's used is done so cleverly that, like all books written in this day and age, makes it especially current, and since these things permeate all our lives, there's no wonder they're good fodder for literary weaponry. They certainly leaves us feeling vulnerable and with a sense of constant uncertainty.
My biggest complaint about the book is the relationship Joe has with his wife, Mel, and her character, but since Joe finds he is surrounded by lies (surprise!), and nobody can be relied upon, it's hard to like many people in his life.
I can't give too much more away about anything but Logan weaves all the lies and twists fantastically throughout this novel, and the ending really is a turn that the reader won't expect at all. I'm mostly curious to hear what other people think about it, but I can't talk about it, because I'm spoiler-free girl! You'll have to read it yourself to see what I mean!
Super clever read by another new author. Hope there's more from T.M. Logan.
*Thank you to St. Martin's Press for my early copy of this book for review.
This is a breakout bloody good book (pun totally intended), and if you don’t like blood, the idea of autopsies, or a lot of gore, I would stay far far away. But if you’re anything like me, and you don’t keel over at the thought of body parts being cut off (I know someone who does), and you’re looking for the most original dark fantasy this Fall (some would definitely call it horror), look no further.
In ‘Not Even Bones’, Rebecca Schaeffer has given life, as gory, twisted, and fantastical as it may be, to a sort of anti-hero we can’t help but rally behind, Anita, who not only is masterful when it comes to dissecting dead bodies, but who possesses magical capabilities (she’s able to turn her pain receptors on and off, and do amazing things like heal parts of her own body).
Nita and her mother have traveled the world working within the black market of selling body parts of other ‘unnaturals’; Nita’s mother does the killing and Nita does the dissecting, something she enjoys, but she uses the moral reasoning whereby ‘it’s all okay because she’s not actually doing the killing, her mom is’. She even has dreams of one day doing medical research and putting her skills to good use.
But then the day comes when Nita is betrayed and she ends up on the wrong side of the ‘Death Market’, and possibly will become body parts herself, and she really has to question all those good morals and boundaries she has set up for herself. She ends up putting trust in someone she’d never have imagined she’d have to, and doing things she’d sworn to herself she never would. And there’s a LOT of blood and guts along the way.
I don’t like making comparisons, and make a point of not doing so myself, but the one that has been made about ‘Not Even Bones’, and is right on its cover, is that it’s a mashup of ‘Dexter’ and ‘This Savage Song’ by V.E. Schwab. I could barely tear myself away from the TV show ‘Dexter’, I loved it to death, but this isn’t why I read this book (just look at the scalpel on the cover), and making comparisons like the one made here doesn’t give author Rebecca Schaeffer the true credit she should even give herself (Dexter is referenced in the book, so I know she loved the show too). I relished all the adventure and the gore, but I also found the writing and story captivating, and not worth comparing to anything else, especially once I got lost inside this new world and involved with the characters.
Above all, the questioning of Nita’s own existence, her morals, and her judgment in the situations that come up, was so fascinating to read, this book has levels beyond the ears and toes in jars of formaldehyde. It was so thought-provoking amidst all the horrifying bloodiness and excellent world-building, and that was so unexpected.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this series progress; the fate of Nita looked precarious at the end of the book, and I can’t wait for more blood and more magical ‘monsters’ to be cut up into tiny little pieces to make her strange future right again. One can only hope, and even if she doesn’t really ‘deserve’ it.
This is a wildly inventive and brave thriller, one that weaves ‘Sadie’s’ story, in which a teenage girl tries to find the man who has killed her beloved sister Mattie, together with a ‘podcast’ called ‘The Girls’. The two writing devices make this a refreshing read, and now with the podcasts actually streaming (yes, in real life), Courtney Summers and Macmillan have made this book a living breathing thing.
The book feels so 'alive', that you almost forget that Sadie (who has had a tough life: she has a stutter, her sister has been murdered, her addict mother has left) is missing. Author Courtney Summers opens the book with: 'Girls go missing all the time', so we may think of our main character as just a number, but then we are challenged when we are forced to get to know this young girl and so we start to have emotions towards her as we read the book.
Sadie wants to find the man who killed her little sister Mattie, and through both Sadie's perspective as she goes from buying a car so she can leave the tiny town of Cold Creek, to the shocking and emotional end of the book, along with 'The Girls' podcast as recorded by West McCray, this is a great big hunt; it's a hunt to find this man, a hunt to find Sadie, a hunt for the truth. There are lots of characters along the way that West speaks to, who knew the girls, their mother, who have made assumptions, as he tries to find the truth and get to Sadie, and he uncovers a tragic home life, and uncovers what likely many runaways and abused children go through each and every day beyond these pages. Sadie becomes more than just a vigilante seeking retribution for her sister; she is a tragic character who represents that 'lost little girl', the scared abused teenager on-the-run.
*Needless to say, many push-button issues come up in this book: child abuse, pedophilia, addiction, so there may be some readers who need to stay away for those reasons.
I left this book with a big hole in my heart, knowing that the issues contained within are real, even if the story isn't, even if Sadie isn't a real girl who went looking for her sister with all that love in her heart. The final two pages had me crying and smiling at the same time, and even with a bit of an open end (be warned, if you don't like those - I happen to love them), 'Sadie' finishes perfectly. Kudos to Courtney (and Macmillan) for bringing Sadie to life.
I first looked at this book and thought it would be a 'warring princess book', or something similar. I was so wrong. Books that challenge the way in which females are brought up to think of themselves, and encourage them to see the different sides of their true nature are brave, and necessary, and even if you read this and see none of that, 'Grace and Fury' is still an amazing book. Women can be graceful, and at the same time, be emboldened with fury, and I'm grateful for all the writers out there right now giving us readers so many strong female characters.
Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for having me on this book tour, because Tracy has written a book with some inspiring 'ladies'; this one caught me by surprise, big time!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, TRACY BANGHART
Tracy Banghart grew up in rural Maryland and spent her summers on a remote island in northern Ontario. All of that isolation and lovely scenery gave her the time to read voraciously and the inspiration to write her own stories. Always a bit of a nomad, Tracy now travels the world Army-wife style with her husband, son, cat, and sweet pupper Scrabble. She wrote Grace and Fury while living in Hawaii.
Tracy's beautiful website and links to all her other social media is *HERE*
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: GRACE AND FURY
Author: Tracy Banghart
Pub. Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.
Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.
Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.
My Review (previously posted):
I usually have a ‘thing’ about books with images of people on the cover (is that strange?), so when I first saw ‘Grace and Fury’ with the striking, and beautiful, photo of the two girls, who are the two main characters in the book - Serina (Grace) and Nomi (Fury) - I was a bit flummoxed. I’d heard good things, PLUS the caveat is that we only see half of their faces. I could continue!
‘Grace and Fury’ also turned out to not be your usual ‘princess’ tale, even though YA fantasy is inundated with them, and that was my worry going in. Quite quickly, the story of Serina and Nomi was turned upside down. Serina and Nomi live in a world where women basically have no rights, and they have few choices as to what they are going to do with their lives. Serina has spent her short life being groomed to become a ‘Grace’, basically a submissive concubine for the Heir to the throne. Nomi, her sister, smarter and more rebellious, is Serina’s handmaiden, and makes the mistake one day of being caught ‘reading’ while they’re at the royal palace, but Serina takes the fall for this, and is exiled to Mount Ruin as punishment, and Nomi remains as one of the chosen Graces; they’re both suddenly severely out of their element.
What Serina finds though, is that the women on Mount Ruin are used for, is basically entertainment for the guards there, fighting to their deaths like gladiators. And Nomi is trapped inside a life she didn’t want, inside the palace, where although she may not have to fight for her food, instead she’s ‘competing’ for a place at the side of the Heir, something she never wanted in the first place. She is in an environment where there are few people around her, and deception by those close to her feels likely in every conversation she has. They are both life sentences that they see no immediate way out of.
Both sisters try and hatch plans to escape and get to each other, and they don’t know who to trust, and what’s fascinating about this novel is seeing their individual growth and self-discovery, particularly Serina’s, as they are locked inside their individual new inescapable (and very lonely) hells. The world that is created by author Tracy Banghart is particularly brutal and some of the scenes that are written on the island of Mount Ruin are especially bloody and violent; the fighting that occurs between the women is at-once survivalist but forced by the guards, and the descriptions of it are very detailed. This book certainly isn’t your usual ‘princess in the palace fairytale’.
We are left with a grand cliffhanger and I’m fascinated to know what happens next, especially since the ‘supporting’ characters played a big part in creating a lot of intrigue and interesting storylines. ‘Grace and Fury’ surprised me and gave me a new ferocious, if not bloody, wake-up call to the princess fairytale; these two sisters are saying a big fat ‘NO’ to the patriarchy in this one and I hope it has as strong a voice in the sequel.
AND GUESS WHAT? There's a GIVEAWAY!!!!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of GRACE AND FURY, US Only.
Just head to the GIVEAWAY LINK by ENTERING *HERE*
And to follow the entire Grace & Fury Book Blog Tour here is the TOUR SCHEDULE
I hope you love it as much as I did; tell me if you have read it and if you plan to order it!! And I'll tell you how lovely Tracy is; my friend told her my birthday was coming up, when she was at a book signing, and Tracy surprised me by mailing a signed bookplate and card! How awesome is that? (I sooo want the pin next!)
Anyway, good luck with the giveaway, and HAPPY READING!
x ~ K
One of the most clever books I’ve read all year, and I don’t see author Gia Cribbs disappearing from the writing scene as a result, for an extremely long time (no WITSEC for her!). I chose this as my second book during a recent ‘readathon’ (I think I’d been subconsciously waiting for some excuse to be able to just lay there and read it without being bothered), and it really was the perfect choice for that.
The premise is entirely fresh, especially for a YA thriller, and I couldn’t wait to dig into this story about Sloane Sullivan (assumed new name and identity), who is just now starting at a brand new school in a small town in North Carolina. Sloane is almost 18 and this should be her last few months in the WITSEC (witness protection program), after spending just about 6 years under 19 assumed identities, before she can finally break free and go and live a ‘normal’ life and go to college. She lives with a Marshal under the witness protection program, Mark, who has pretended to be every sort of relative over the years to protect her while they have moved place to place on the run while in the WITSEC program: father, brother, uncle, and he is loyal to a fault, teaching her how to protect herself and how to remain anonymous.
Now that Sloane has found a new school, she is determined for it to be the last stop before freedom, but her usual plan to fade into the background so that no one notices her, goes awry almost as soon as she enters the building on the first day, when she realizes she has bumped into an old friend, the boy and best friend she dearly loved, the one she left behind many years ago. AND suddenly everyone wants to be her friend. But she can’t afford to start over this close to getting out of WITSEC, and keeps this from Mark, and hopes that Jason doesn’t recognize her.
So that’s the basic premise in my words. From there on out, and literally from the first page onwards, this book was nothing but engaging. Sloane still hasn’t pieced together everything that happened on the night that the crime that sent her and her family into witness protection, and her memories have been repressed for the longest time, so as they start to come out, she gradually realizes the danger of the memories of the past.
Losing her father and mother are integral pieces of her character; Mark has had to replace those figures in her life, and understanding the facets of Sloane’s personality and how they relate to the loss and detachment she’s had to endure as part of the program is quite heart-wrenching. All the time she is around her new friends and her long-lost best friend, it’s incredibly hard for her to assimilate those new people into new roles, and learn how to trust again, at the same time as hiding so much from them still. Author Gia Cribbs has done a fantastic job of writing these complexities of how Sloane would react in situations that would make her feel awkward, and actually how her past would give her the hallmarks of PTSD. Also, the way in which she relies on Mark is a very interesting relationship too. Cribbs has mastered all the depths of communication (particularly the young people in the book) and different relationships of her characters to make so much of this book work and it’s really remarkable.
Without going into the plot points, ‘Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan’ is flawless, as far as I could tell, in terms of story flow, and the flashbacks to the past, especially when revealing Sloane suddenly remembering pieces of the organized crime (murder) she witnessed, and they are seamlessly written in.
All the twists and turns that come in the novel kept me reading for more and more, right down to the way the other teenagers’ actions are unknowingly affecting Sloane’s grand plans and future. Plus the characters and the pop culture (cue the 80’s!) are so fun! And the penultimate twists at the end are just brilliant.
I’m so glad this book didn’t disappear into oblivion, and it didn’t just get seen by Gia’s daughters (as she mentions in her acknowledgements in the back); this, and every book that I hope Gia has up her sleeve, deserves to be read, and on bookcases everywhere. Especially mine.
PS. It’s totally worth entering preorder giveaways when you send in receipts for preorder incentives when you buy your book, because I won a prize pack for this one! It was awesome! (This is no way shaped my opinion of the book, by the way)
*You will all have to read the book and find out how those movies fit!
‘The Brilliant Death’ just quite simply is a beautiful book. It defied and exceeded my expectations for it, and I could barely put it down once I started. I didn’t actually even mean to read it right now, and what I mean by that is, my plan was just to ‘read a little bit’, ie. The Prologue, and well…suddenly, I’d read the whole book.
The premise of the book rolls some themes together but once you start reading ‘The Brilliant Death’ you find it’s more than a sum of shape-shifting magic plus warring Mafia-style crime families.
The story revolves around this wonderful character Teodora, and the book opens with her remembering the first time she saw her father kill someone, in order to protect ‘his family and his mountains’. She learns early on that her father is a powerful man.
Teodora di Sangrò is the daughter of the ‘great Niccolo di Sangrò’, who has control of the Uccelli region and heads a loyal family. One day Niccolò is suddenly poisoned by a letter he receives from the Capo, who has taken over the governance of all of Vinalia.
The Capo has summoned ‘the heirs of the five families’ as these poisonous letters have left the fathers for dead (except Niccolò, who is barely grasping onto life), to his home in Amalia, but Niccolò had wanted his second son, Luca, to become the heir.
Before Luca sets off on his trip to Amalia, Teodora/Teo catches the ruthless eldest son Benaimo, brother to them both, skinning Luca alive, so she dares reveal her greatest secret to them both, which is how she’s managed to carry out her ‘work' (ridding the kingdom of ‘bad people’) for her family for so long without a drop of blood being shed: Teo is a strega, and she has been turning nasty human beings into (mostly) inanimate objects for years. This time though, she manages to turn her brother into a vicious owl.
Luca and Teo set off on their journey to Amalia, set on finding an antidote to their father’s poisoning and to fulfill the Capo’s Summons, with a plan in mind, and luckily they meet another dashing and knowledgeable strega, Cielo, which means they have hope.
I don’t want to reveal much more of the plot beyond that because once Teo, Cielo, and Luca start their journey to Amalia, the story really gets going and it’s hard not to become fully invested after that point.
The storyline builds from the journey that the trio take, and this involves Teo learning more of her magic (and her self-discovery), to a novel that involves the deception and intrigue we often see in a royal court. Yet this time, these ‘families’ who are convening are basically feared mobsters in an Italian-style court of old, and the lush world-building that the author Amy Rose Capetta has conjured up for them is vivid and so different from every other court or castle I’ve read of lately.
The magic that is central to this book is a very special kind of magic, it’s shape-shifting, and that’s important to the most wonderful, surprising, and probably groundbreaking part of this novel: Teo (and Cielo) learns to change from a girl to a boy, and back (as a strega), and the conversation about how she/he feels in that body at different times. The power to change the body, and how Teo learns to harness magic is a fascinating part of this book, and Capetta approaches it with a delicateness, and at the same time, boldness, which makes the ‘gender-bending’ so unique and so wonderful to read.
The love story that is wrapped up in the magic, as well as the danger and adventure, is so original, that it’s hard to describe. I found myself loving these ‘odd’ characters, and even though I found a few holes to pick at and a few slight issues with pacing (slight rushed parts), the writing is beautiful; my eyes didn’t want to leave the page, plus I enjoyed the different sections Capetta used to divide the book up with.
This is an absolute stunner of a fantasy for this coming Fall (the cover even stands out in its lush Autumn tones), and this is sure to capture lots of peoples’ attention with its enthralling magic, and uniquely wonderful gender-bending love-story. A ‘Brilliant Book’.
I jumped at the chance of getting on this blog tour the second that I could! This book is so up my alley I can barely get the words out quickly enough (and I’m not sure I can get them all out).
Having worked on horror movies in the past (more about that below) there’s no way I could have passed this book by, and neither should you! It’s genius, in that it’s funny, endearing, clever, thought-provoking, and just brilliantly-written.
So read on…especially since there’s a giveaway at the bottom!
Thank you so SO much to Rockstar Book Tours for including me on this one!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, DEREK MILMAN
Derek Milman was born in New York City, but grew up in Westchester, NY, where he wrote and published a successful underground humor magazine that caught the attention of the New York Times, who wrote a profile on him at the age of 14.
Derek studied English, Creative Writing, and Theater at Northwestern University. He began his career as a playwright (his first play was staged in New York City when he was just out of college), and earned an MFA in acting at the Yale School of Drama.
Derek has performed on stages across the country, and appeared in numerous TV shows and films, working with two Academy Award winning film directors.
Scream All Night is Derek's debut YA novel. He currently lives in Brooklyn where he is hard at work on his next book ('Night Flight').
ABOUT THE BOOK, SCREAM ALL NIGHT
Pub. Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about growing up and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Running With Scissors.
Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.
But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.
With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?
BUY THE BOOK!
**AND I will point out NOW how easy it is to go and PRE-ORDER the book TODAY; go to THIS LINK because there are both the links to where you can BUY THE BOOK (Amazon, Skylight Books, B&N.com ) and for the PREORDER GIVEAWAY (FEATURING MOVIE POSTER SWAG FROM THE BOOK)!**
PS. The preorder giveaway ends at the end of today (7/20) so order RIGHT NOW!
And of course, it's NOW MY TURN....
Now that you have read the synopsis, I know you must be intrigued, and honestly, I feel like this is one of the most unique and original YA novels that I’ve read in some time, particularly in terms of setting (does it even have to be listed as such, just because the characters are young? This is unique, period).
Dario, our ‘lead’, is both witty, and tragic, and I found it hard not to fall for him in terms of wanting things to work out as he’s finding his way through all the craziness: his brother Oren, his father, the studio, his past, reuniting with his ‘lost’ love Hayley. He’s real and honest, and it’s tough to read some of the sections of the book about him and his mom because he’s had to deal with a lot of sadness.
That said, this is a ‘coming-of-age’ story, one where hard decisions about life have to be made, but it’s also a darkly comedic one; there’s so much humor, so much vivid imagery, and it hit the right tone with the ‘difficult’ spots, as well as the lighter ones. Milman is able to shift easily with this writing to make this both a poignant but funny and clever book.
Describing film/movie making is really hard to do, since you’re discussing a world within a world (and it’s so visual), and Milman has created this whole Moldavia Studio ‘world’ and then had to also translate as much as he can about filmmaking while keeping it easy to ‘get’. He has film terms and crew positions in there that maybe some people won’t understand (but I got a real kick out of; I could absolutely imagine this stuff) but nothing that made it confusing. *If you’re in the biz though, it’s just a bonus.
**EXTRA PERSONAL NOTE:
A quick word about why I jumped on this book like Vincent Price on a bare neck: you see, while I didn’t actually live in a castle like Moldavia Studios, which is where the book’s lead character Dario grew up, where dozens of cult classic horror movies got made, I did get close enough to my own version of this slice of craziness quite a few times. I have my degree in film and video production (and even got to take a brilliant 3 credit class all on vampire movies one summer), and spent a good decade or so working on feature films (and TV, commercials, etc), as continuity/script supervisor.
I tell you this because some of my favorite film-making memories were of making horror movies. My most fun times, as hard they were, were standing on snowy mountains seeing ‘someone getting slashed’ and hung on the ski-lift. And not many people have images of actors having their lunch with ice picks sticking out of their backs, or in bloody nightgowns but with grins on their faces. And even though I’ve even seen a house set on fire at the end of a film shoot and more fake blood than I can fathom, it doesn’t make me lose my love for the great horror classics.
I love horror movies (and books), and have taken great fascination into the old Hammer Studio movies in the past. The campy gore, the cult classics. And having Derek Milman put this into a book as a backdrop was an absolute delight, right down to all the movie names he cleverly came up with.
I absolutely can’t wait to see what Derek comes up with for his next book, although I think before that, it would be fantastic to sit down and make either a campy horror movie (it’s been a while!), or have a Hammer-Horror movie marathon!
Congrats on the new book, Derek! It’s genius.
THE BOOK GIVEAWAY
Everyone who enters the Rafflecopter giveaway at the link below has a chance to win a copy of the book and swag!
**1 winner will win a signed finished copy of SCREAM ALL NIGHT & swag, US Only.
Enter by clicking HERE
And you can follow the whole book blog tour by following this link:
This was a really fun book to read and I'd love to hear if anyone preorders it or reads it, as it comes out just next week! It's a real scream!