Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

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Title: Tin Star
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781596437753
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Author Website: castellucci.wordpress.com
Twitter: @MacKidsBooks, @misscecil
Format: Hardcover
Available: February 25, 2014
Rating: 4/5 stars

Tula Bane and her family are on their way to settle a new human colony, until she begins to question Brother Blue, the leader of their colonizing cult, who then beats her supposedly to death and leaves her stranded on the Yertina Feray space station, which is basically the ghetto of the galaxy. The only human on the space station, Tula needs to learn very quickly how to navigate the social & political workings of the numerous alien species on the space station, where Tula is considered the lowest of the low, being a human. Eventually she befriends Heckleck and learns how to work the criminal element of the space station to her advantage. As Tula continues to research what happened to the rest of the colonists under Brother Blue, she begins to uncover an intergalactic conspiracy and finds herself soon embroiled right in the middle of it.

Cecil Castellucci has described Tin Star as a retelling of Casablanca, which I completely missed until she pointed it out at a signing that I attended at my local Indie. Regardless, I really enjoyed Tin Star. The writing is solid and the characters are varied and solidly fleshed out. It's very clear that Castellucci has done her research, and the science behind the science fiction is firmly grounded in reality. With the way the book ended, I know that there's got to be at least a second book released eventually, and I'm certain that I'll be picking it up when it is.




To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel by Katherine Harbour

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Title: Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel
Series: Night and Nothing Novels, Book 1
Author: Katherine Harbour
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780062286727
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Author Website: katherineharbour.com
Twitter: @HarperVoyagerUS, @katharbour
Format: Digital copy supplied from Edelweiss for an honest review
Available: June 24, 2014
Rating: DNF

I tried very, very hard to like this book. Really, I did. It seemed like it should be something that I would like, but the more I read, the less I liked the book. Maybe the prose was just a little too purple for my liking? Maybe the book was just a little too "new adult" for my liking? To be honest, I haven't read much in the "new adult" genre (or however it's called - personally, I'm not even entirely sold on idea of "new adult" being a thing), but I have to think that possibly this is a publishing trend that I'm going to be able to skip.

The story revolves around Finn, who with her father has moved to a small town in upstate New York to attend an art school after her sister's suicide. As she beings to settle in and find her place amongst the eccentrics of the town, Finn finds herself a small group of friends, and finds herself attracted to the mysterious Jack Fata, a member of the richest family in the small town. It would seem that Jack and his family have some ties to the Fae, and that Jack has an infatuation for Finn, but somewhere along this plot thread, I totally lost any momentum in the story. Everything was becoming too muddled in atmospheric situations and random encounters.

I have no doubt that the book will end up doing well. I can tell that for the right crowd, this book is going to be very popular, but it just wasn't working for me. I wouldn't even go so far as to not recommend it to people. The writing is solid, and Harbour clearly has an idea where her story is going. For the right reader, this book will be fantastic.




To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lost Children of the Far Islands by Emily Raabe

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Title: Lost Children of the Far Islands
Author: Emily Raabe
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780375870910
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Author Website: emilyraabe.com
Twitter: @HMHKids, @randomhouse, @ecraabe
Format: Hardcover (provided from publisher for an honest review)
Available: April 8, 2014
Rating: 4/5 stars

As I approached recently to be a part of Emily Raabe's blog tour for her debut middle grade fantasy novel, Lost Children of the Far Islands, I thought I'd like to be a part of the tour, especially after learning what Emily and her husband are doing. From Boulder, CO to Burlington, VT, they are going on a road trip to visit local, independent bookstores and blogging about their adventures. Isn't that a cool idea? I hadn't heard of her book before, so I'm also always looking for new authors to discover as well, so for me, this was a win-win situation; I get to read a new author, and support her in an amazing adventure!

It turns out that Lost Children of the Far Islands is actually a charming book! It follows the adventures of twins Gus & Leo and their younger sister, Ila, who are whisked off to a remote island off the coast of Maine when their mother falls mysteriously ill. On the island, under the guidance of their grandmother, the Morai, the discover that they are actually descendents of the Folk, magical creatures who can change from human form to that of an animal. It also comes to light that their mother is ill because she's been trying to protect them from the Dobhar-chu, the King of the Black Lakes, who will do anything to break free of his prison (where the Morai has been keeping him in check), and return to power.

Steeped in actual mythological lore, Raabe's book is plenty full of magic and adventure, but it's also full of well-polished characters. We get to see the first hand impressions of the children as they begin to become acquainted with their animal forms, and it's clear that Raabe put a lot of research into the marine life that she presents in her story. The kids themselves also act their various ages, and I liked the quirky tightness of their family. Personally, I think this is a great book for kids and highly recommend it for young readers!

So, does this sound like something you'd like to read, or do you know a young reader that would enjoy this book? I'd love to pass this book on to a fellow reader so that they could enjoy the story as well, so I'm offering my copy up for a giveaway. If you'd like for a chance to win Lost Children of the Far Islands, just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway





To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bluffton by Matt Phelan

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Title: Bluffton
Author: Matt Phelan
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9780763650797
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Author Website: www.mattphelan.com
Twitter: @candlewick, @MattPhelanDraws
Format: Hardcover
Available: July 23, 2013
Rating: 3/5 stars

Matt Phelan's love letter to Buster Keaton and the summers he spent in Muskegon, MI, as a youngster in the early 1900s, Bluffton is a cute little book, the pictures are charming, but really, for me, this is a one trick pony. There is nothing here that is going to bring me back to this story. Will it be good for kids? Not sure. I don't have kids of my own, so I don't know if this would work for them, but I don't know that the kids around me that I do know what really get to much out of this book. I think this is definitely made more for adults who lived during these times in Muskegon and would like a walk down memory lane. This is definitely not a bad story, just ultimately not for me.




To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below by Patrick Rothfuss, illustrated by Nate Taylor

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Title: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below
Series: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle, Book 2
Author: Patrick Rothfuss, illustrated by Nate Taylor
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 159
ISBN: 9781596066199
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Author Website: www.patrickrothfuss.com
Artist Website: natentaylor.king-sheep.com
Twitter: @PatrickRothfuss, @subpress
Format: Hardcover
Available: November 30, 2013
Rating: 3/5 stars

Continuing the adventures of the Princess and her stuffed bear, Mr. Whiffle, The Dark of Deep Below delves a little more into her life and family dynamic (such as discovering that the Princess does in fact have parents, a trifling fact that seemed to be missing from the first volume). This time around, the Princesses little brother is kidnapped by goblins, and the Princess must decide whether she goes to rescue him or not, because she's really not that sure that she likes having a little brother in the first place. As with the first volume, there are 3 different endings that you can choose from and decide for yourself how you would want the story to end. And yes, these look like children's books, but they ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN. Nope, not at all.

Rothfuss and Taylor have taken their precocious character and her stuffed teddy and given them a longer, more involved story this time around, but somehow it didn't seem to live up to the first story for me. I more or less knew that there was going to be a twist at the end, and while I didn't foresee what exactly it was, knowing it was coming slightly downplayed it for me. Still, this is one of the more unique picture books you'll find out there for adults (seriously, don't read this to your kids!), so it's still worth reading, especially if you enjoyed the first one.




To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hoots and Toots and Hairy Brutes: the Continuing Adventures of Squib by Larry Shles

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Title: Hoots and Toots and Hairy Brutes: the Continuing Adventures of Squib
Author: Larry Shles
Copyright: 1985
Pages: 80
ISBN: 9780395395035
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Twitter: @HMHKids
Format: Paperback
Available: September 1, 1989
Rating: 3/5 stars

A "self-help" book of sorts, Hoots and Toots and Hairy Brutes is the story of Squib, a small owl who is unable to hoot, only toot. The story is fairly straightforward, how Squib is looked down on as inferior because of his inability to hoot, but in the end, he proves that even his shortcoming can prove to be useful. This book was part of my grandmother's library, and while I don't know for sure, I would assume that this was a gift to her from a friend since my grandmother loved all things owl. It was recently passed on to my sister, and I found it on her bookshelf when I went out to visit her. A very quick read, and honestly nothing all that special in the story, but the illustrations are rather good.


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Fierce Reads Tour comes to Schuler Books

http://www.fiercereads.com/

Schuler Books was lucky enough to again host the Fierce Reads Tour, celebrating the YA authors of Macmillan. This time around, the tour spotlighted Leigh Bardugo (promoting Ruin and Rising, the final book of her Grisha Trilogy), Ava Dellaira (promoting her debut novel, Love Letters to the Dead, Emmy Laybourne (promoting Monument 14: Savage Drift, the final book in her Monument 14 trilogy, and last but not least Jennifer Mathieu (promoting her debut novel, The Truth About Alice). There was a great turnout at the store, and the authors were awesome, as always. There was a great Q&A session followed by a signing, and every author took time with everybody that wanted to get a book signed, furthering my belief that all authors are superstars.


Jennifer Mathieu & Emmy Laybourne


Ava Dellaira & Leigh Bardugo


The Fierce Reads authors and Whitney, events coordinator for Schuler Books


Everybody looking fierce at the Fierce Reads tour!

What I'm reading now (Part II)


So... I got a little distracted from The Quick by some other books that popped along, but I'm getting back into it, and I'm loving it all over again!

Horrorstör: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

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Title: Horrorstör: A Novel
Author: Grady Hendrix
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781594745263
Publisher: Quirk Books
Author Website: www.gradyhendrix.com
Twitter: @grady_hendrix, @quirkbooks
Format: Paperback
Available: September 23, 2014
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is a damned clever book. Taking place in an Ikea knockoff store called Orsk, Horrorstör is presented in a format that resembles a catalog that someone would get in the mail from one of these flat-box furniture stores, complete with order forms, product descriptions and drawings of furniture sold in the store (that slowly morph in appearance and description into products that have a more sinister feel to them). Everything about the actual look and feel on the book is spot on in creating the feel of one of these catalogs. Kudos to the design team at Quirk!

Possible Spoilers!

The story opens like any other day at a retail location, with employees plodding along to their job. Amy is a disillusioned Orsk employee, and she's trying to stay out of her manager, Basil's, way, as she's sure he is out to get her and she's trying to keep from being fired before her transfer to another location comes in. Hendrix really gets the feel of the various retail employees. Amy, the disillusioned clerk who feels she's suited for better; Ruth Anne, the overly energetic and bubbly employee that everybody likes; Basil, the over optimistic manager who tries to turn everything into a learning opportunity for his employees; and so forth. On this particular day at Orsk, tho, something has happened that has Basil worried. Someone has vandalized a couch on the sales floor overnight.

The story falls back on several familiar horror tropes, yet doesn't feel familiar when you read it. The Orsk store is built on top of an old prison (the Beehive) that was demolished over a century ago, and since it's construction, there has been more and more unusual activity happening in the store. Thinking it's no more than vandals that sneak into the store at night, Basil decides to bring in two employees to stay overnight (Amy and Ruth Anne), to try to catch the culprits before Orsk corporate managers arrive at the store in the morning to evaluate what exactly is going on. What follows is a slow decent into madness for the Orsk employees as their world and that of the Beehive begin to blur and collide inside Orsk.

Really, this is one of the most unique horror novels, in both presentation and story, that I've read in a while. I'm hoping that there will be more to this story, as the ending leaves a little, tiny gap for more to happen. Recommended!

Horrorstör: A Novel by Grady Hendrix will be released on September 23, 2014, from Quirk Books.




To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!