It’s Grace. Camp is absolutely wonderful. Because I’m taking care of ten eleven-year-olds (they’re cuddly and sweet and I adore all of them), I’ve been a little too busy to read much. We do have rest hour after lunch but I crash after teaching dance in the morning and nap from the first bell to the last. But camp is where I return to myself and so I relish being here, trying to “be a great girl” and have my campers love Illahee as much as I do.
I’m going to try and do a couple editions of mini-reviews, spurts of two or three at a time. Aside from that, I have a new feature coming (!!!) once I get the graphic from my fabulous designer as well as a blog tour in the works. So WLS is definitely starting back up again after my hiatus.
On my time off, I finished Stand-Off by Andrew Smith, and a few others – warranting a full review later on. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on some of my most recent reads.
Novel: A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz | Goodreads
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.
But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.
This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.
I’ve read one or two of Moskowitz’s contemporary reads – which I enjoyed, although I thought they were really gritty. This one is no exception. You definitely have to have the stomach for it, yet Moskowitz writes in such a unique, engaging way that it makes me really wonder what goes on inside her head.
This book makes you uncomfortable because of how thoroughly it tackles the issues. It’s filled with so many raw ideas and emotion that it strips you of everything you have. While slow-paced, the elaborate world-building and complexity of each character kept me enthralled.
The fragmented writing style did it for me. As my blog name suggests, I seek silver-tongued writers, and Hannah Moskowitz fits the bill. Her poetic style and lithe, fearsome way of exploring her characters was gratifying to me.
And one more thing – the packaging? The team at Chronicle must be BRILLIANT because there were little details – “glued in” pages, drops and scrapes on the pages, that built the character of the medium itself. What’s more, that actually makes sense within the story. It’s a story that feeds directly off the book, and vice versa.
It’s both heart-wrenching and fearsome, but rooted in such a building fashion that it’s never overwhelming. I don’t think it’ll appeal to everybody, but I think those who read it will appreciate it. It’s weird, but I loved it.
Novel: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston | Goodreads
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.
I picked up this read expecting a nice fairy-tale retelling, but I was greeted with even more: a lush cultural background, dreamy description, lovely language. I’ve heard a few mixed things about the book but I really loved it.
The main character was thoughtful. She volunteered to save her sister (a familiar trope, hey) but the way she did it made it even better. Her description and melancholy march to her death was saturated with this poignant internal monologue, and plenty of imagery. The stories themselves were rooted in a very old-timey feel that I adored.
There were plenty of cool little details that made it stand out: like the fact that E.K. Johnston doesn’t actually name any of her characters (they refer to each other as “my sister” or “father of my heart” or “lady-bless” in ways that feel interesting and not contrived.)
For some reason, I’ve heard a lot of mixed reactions about this one. It tells more than shows but is also so absorbing and gorgeous that I’m totally okay with that. I think there are some cultural details that are really under-explored in YA and so I loved the feel of this one – and will definitely be seeking it out in the future.So I found this one fascinating, and absolutely captivating.
Novel: Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales | Goodreads
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux BYR (Macmillan)
From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven’t met yet.
Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.
Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called “Tonight the Streets Are Ours,” the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.
During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.
Leila Sales does an excellent job creating characters I care about. She’ll start off with a touching anecdote about their childhood – how they developed into who they became – and I’m hooked. It happened with Elise in This Song Will Save Your Life and it happened again with Arden in Tonight the Streets Are Ours. While they’re two separate, multifaceted characters, they shared the same empathy and strange innocence that made me connect with them thoroughly.
The book itself was in third person, which I wasn’t expecting.
Arden was likable, a bit plain. She was wholly tired of being pushed aside in search of bigger and better things – the type who would be “recklessly loyal” and put a friend before herself, no questions asked. She wasn’t self-centric, but she was anxious. She worried about her impact, how she affected people, how to deal with her mother leaving. I had a lot of respect for her by the end.
Her story itself was thoughtful and slow, but still likable enough for me to fully LOVE it. It was sweet and had the perfect dashes of realism, those small human details that Leila Sales excels at – the reason why everyone was clamoring for this read in the first place. It was cute and humble enough and everything I could look for in a sweet read. I think it’ll be a solid read for a lot of girls (and guys) looking for good stories.