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Furyborn ~ Claire Legrand

June 22, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

ISBN: 9781492656623

512 pages

Source: Barnes and Noble

Hold on to your seats, kiddos, because Furyborn is a WILD ride.

I have taken to calling it the lovechild of Throne of Glass and Ember in the Ashes.

It’s is gloriously long and complex, switching chapters back and forth, seamlessly, between one thousand years.

One one hand, we have the accused (or proposed, depending upon whose side you’re on) Sun Queen, Rielle, callee upon by her kingdom to prove she is, in fact, the benevolent Sun Queen and NOT the prophesied horror that is the foretold Blood Queen. She is tasked to go through a series of grueling trials to prove just that (very reminiscent of our all powerful Sarah J Maas for those following along). She managed to secure a few loves and more than a few enemies along the way.

On the other hand, we have the fearless assassin and all around mercenary, Eliana, coming into her own ten decades after Rielle has left the scene. She has been a sword for hire for the kingdom in power for most of her life, her only ambition: to survive and make sure her family does, too. Her priorities shift when a handful of women (including her from town go missing and she throws in her lot with the plainly people willing to help.

The book weighs in just over 500 pages but it feels like much more than that because the world building is just completely all consuming. I lost myself inside the story and my god I was glad when I remembered it was just the first in a trilogy.

I HIGHLY recommend Furyborn if you haven’t read it, already.

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Labyrinth Lost ~ Zoraida Caordova

June 21, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492623168
352 pages
Source: Little Shop of Stories

Holy cow, y’all, this book is incredible.

I had the amazing blessing to meet Zoraida, the other night, and she said her vision was to have a Charmed style story with latina brujas. And, it is that but it is so much more.

Alejandra grew up in a cluster of powerful, female brujas (witches in Spanish but her family is quick to remind her of the differences between the two) and wants very little to do with the family business. Stuck between her perfect older sister, Lula, and her clairvoyant little sister, Rose, Alex just wants a normal Brooklyn teenage life.

That wish is shattered when she tries to return her powers to the Deos and instead of her powers going missing, her family disappears. Whoops, big time.

She ends up on a trek into the underworld to bring back her family, mashing together Latinx folklore, family ties, heavy magic, and a whole lot of snark.

I grew up in a female-dominated family, with my mama and my little sister, my grandmother, and various aunts. Though ethnically different and, well, minus the magic part, that was a warm fuzzy thread that endeared this story to me from the very beginning.

The other piece I absolutely loved was the undertone of bisexuality during the journey. Y’all know by now that I love a good queer story and this one did not disappoint. It wasn’t as much in your face as some but it was a calm, cool stream, running throughout the entire story.

I highly recommend this to fans of the Rick Riordan set for its mythology and adventure. And anyone who loves love, magic, and an incredible story.

YATL Wednesday!

June 21, 2018

Y’all! We had the very best time.

YATL put on the most amazing event at the Decatur Library.

Dhonielle Clayton (THE BELLLES), Julie Murphy (DUMPLIN’, PUDDIN’, and RAMONA BLUE), Zoraida Cordova (The Brooklyn Brujas series), Mark Oshiro (ANGER IS A GIFT), and Scott Reintgen (NYXIA) we’re all in attendance for this awesome panel.

It was light and hilarious but also had some serious moments with some really well placed calls to action surrounding ICE and the most recent atrocities at the US borders.

I love that the kid lit world is so in tune with the world around us and is willing to throw down for kids and families EVERYWHERE.

If you have a moment, do what you can to support the YA and KidLit community and their efforts on this front here.

Such a great time. Check out ALL of these writers. They made my night and make my reading so much better.

Siege and Storm ~ Leigh Bardugo

June 18, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Square Fish
ISBN: 9781250044433
435 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

Bardugo has managed to do what few other writers have.

She has written a “book two” that is miles better than the first.

I felt a little lost through the entirety of Shadow and Bone but Siege and Storm managed to pull all of the random pieces from the first part of the story into an awesome mashup of adventure, love, trust, and betrayal.

Without giving too much away, the groundwork that was laid out at the beginning of the story morph and merge into a full-tilt rush toward survival. Alina, out fearless protagonist, has once again, gotten herself in way over her head, always with some dreamy but untrustworthy boy by her side.

Siege and Storm finds a much stronger and braver Alina, who is far wittier than her self-doubting, self-pitying attitude from the first book. There is a lot to be said for understanding and fearing the power we have the potential to possess and what we are will to sacrifice in order to save the people and places we love.

Another piece of the second book that took me by surprise was the humor. Again, this was a very different Alina than we met before and the dialogue showed that transformation. this time around, she was confident and witty, maybe a little bit bitter but far less timid. It had me laughing out loud which was pretty unsuspected.

I am hoping that the third book follows the trend of getting better and better as the series progresses. If you haven’t read this series or, if you stopped at the first book, I highly recommend giving it a chance, if mostly for the second book. Onward we go to Ruin and Rising!

Sunday Wrap Up: The Great American Read Edition

June 17, 2018

Have you all voted for your favorite book for PBS’s The Great American Read?

If you haven’t, here’s the link, so get to voting!

(Click me and vote, now!)

Here is the rundown of the event leading up to the broadcast:

“THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey).  It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience.”

This is coolest, nerdiest thing and I hope you are all as excited as I am.

Full disclosure: My all time favorite will always be The Giver. I think it launched both my love of reading and my love for dystopian novels. It’s gritty and dark and really gets under the skin of social constructs.

So, you don’t need to tell me what you voted for but do let me know that you voted (it’ll make my day) and pass on the word to anyone else you think might enjoy the game.

Blood Will Out ~ Jo Treggiari

June 15, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Horror

Publisher: Penguin Teen

ISBN: 9780735262959

288 pages

Source: Publisher

I am not usually a horror, serial killer gal so when Penguin sent this my way, I wasn’t sure if could get through it. I wanted to give it a try, though, just to feel brave.

I’m really glad I did because it turned out to be an excellent story. It was written a lot like Dexter in that it follows the victims in alternating chapters next to those from the point of view of the killer.

For a different take, however, the story from the killer’s perspective is told in first person and contains neither a name nor gender which allows for a certain amount of mystery throughout the book.

The writing is excellent and has a way of sucking the reader into scenes that I, for one, wasn’t sure I could stomach but powered through because of the prose.

It was very well done and if you’re a horror fan, I highly recommend it.

Shadow and Bone ~ Leigh Bardugo

June 14, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Square Fish
ISBN: 9781250027436
358 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

I’m pretty sure that Bardugo is some sort of Grisha, herself. At least a storytelling magician.

I have managed to read her books in all the wrong order, starting with her short stories and then Six of Crows, only now finding my way to The Grisha Trilogy.

That said, the continuity didn’t suffer all that much and I really enjoyed this one.

It took off a little slowly, for me but by the end, it was zipping right along.

The book starts with the story of two orphaned kiddos, Mal and Alina, making their way in a world turned upside down by a vicious swath of evil that cuts across their country.  When they hit their teens, they land in trouble which ultimately finds Alina saving Mal’s life with powers she didn’t even know she had.

After her brave display, Alina is whisked off to Grisha Training camp and falls in with people who claim to have her best interest at heart.

We all know how that story goes. The resulting chain of events sends the friends on a wild ride to stop the rising darkness, but they are running out of time.

At the outset, the synopsis sounded like every other fantasy adventure story but Bardugo’s knack for world building and tale-telling is so unique I found myself constantly muttering “This is so different and cool!”

One of the things I love about Leigh’s stories, from Six of Crows to her short story collection to this trilogy, is that she weaves Russian storytelling and mythology into her books. It’s the corner of the world my family is originally from so it feels like home in a warm fuzzy sort of way.

I also love her ability to write female heroines as complex, flawed humans as opposed to these flawless, magical pixie girls. Her protagonists always feel so relatable.

I really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy and I am sitting down with the second as soon as I wrap up this post.