Mini Reviews - Summer Edition - Part I

Hey y'all!It's Grace here, to do one last post on Words Like Silver before I officially move into Washington and Lee tomorrow. I'm quite excited, but I'm also bored out of my mind. (Which is shocking - I'm actually never bored. I always find something to do, but recently...)It's not thrilling to be stuck in town while all my friends are at school, but luckily I've actually just been stuck in Charlottesville rather than Tampa. I'm a UVA legacy on both sides and my brother goes there, so we have a lot of family around the area. More on that in a Day in the Life post to come soon!This summer, I read as much as I reasonably could. Tallied it up, and it comes to 63 books since graduation. Called it a "last hurrah."Because everyone, including the reps and publicists I normally talk to, has told me I'll likely have little time to read when I'm settling in. I've done what I can to remedy that - I'm bringing as many books to school as I can - but I still know it'll likely be a slow year, reading-wise. (Fully planning on doing a bookshelf tour when I'm moved in, by the way!)My roommate Laney actually texted me that I got a package from Hachette (love you, NOVL!) along with our John Belushi poster, so I'm itching to get in my room already. It occurred to me the other week that I had to update the publishing houses I talk to most regularly with my new address.Aside from little maintenance things like that, all I've been doing is breaking in my hiking boots, transferring dates to my shiny-lovely planner, and rearranging my Spotify playlists. And reading, of course. I'm not sure I'll decide on a hiatus for my first weeks at school, so I'm trying to round out some my summer reads with my most recent thoughts. They're all on my Instagram as well. More to come soon!Without further ado...

Summer (Mini) Reviews

wink poppy midnight instaNovel: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke | GoodreadsRelease Date: March 22, 2016Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin)Format: ARCSource: Publisher

Every story needs a hero.Every story needs a villain.Every story needs a secret.Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.What really happened?Someone knows.Someone is lying.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 5.26.30 PMThis is actually a reread, but I loved it even more the second time around because I knew what to look for. I don't make a habit of rereading suspenseful books, because most of the tension dissipates for me in hindsight, but it'd been a while so I didn't quite remember all the details. Furthermore, I realized that I never wrote a review for this one - and I wanted to share the love.I have a lot of friends who have picked up this one based on my Instagram recommendation a while back - thinking, based on the typography, that they would like it no matter what - with relatively mixed reviews. It always makes me laugh when someone walks into it blindly, because I can imagine how it might be overwhelming. The synopsis is just vague enough for you to stumble over.Wink, Poppy, and Midnight are all morally complex characters. They're all eerie and weird in certain ways, relatable in others. Wink is the ethereal, naïve one who reads stories to her younger siblings and doesn't mind the teasing around town. Poppy is the biting, savagely cruel girl who's used to getting everything she wants - except for one singular item. Midnight is stuck between them, a solidly transient kid sharing elements of both.Although this is a book filled with story - anything by Tucholke would be - it's still relatively character-driven. Much of my enjoyment of the book derives from the increasingly strange and powerful interactions between the three main characters, as well as the (thoughtfully developed) supporting cast. The ending is worthy of a gasp. Love the lovely descriptions of food. It's a sinister, warped, beautiful read that left me with a lot of questions - both times I've read it.cursed child instaNovel: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling | GoodreadsRelease Date: July 31, 2016Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)Format: HardcoverSource: Bought

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 10.29.16 PMI decided when contemplating this one that I just needed to rip off the Band-Aid, per se, and read it all at once. The magic of Harry Potter, for me, has always been how immersive it is: how distinct a world, so endearingly shaped. Recently - having viewed publishing and book trends on a macro level - I seem to have lost the ability to be truly shocked by a book. So one night, I settled in to read.I had difficulty with the play format, at first. Especially since the beginning is pretty rapid-fire in terms of plot and progression. (I bet those sequences are absolutely marvelous to see onstage.) Maybe about thirty pages in, I finally settled into a rhythm.Although I did spy some plot holes, and I'm no longer basking in the childlike innocence that let me dive into Harry Potter so easily as a kid, I still loved it wholly and without abandon. I felt the satisfying pull of the story, the same warm appeal. J.K. Rowling is undeniably a talented writer, and her skills translated well to a script. I can see why some people weren't fans, but I definitely was one.Within the story, there were certain elements I enjoyed and others that I wasn't crazy about. Props to Rowling for the narrative risks!I appreciated - so, so much - the conflicts between Harry and Albus. I found so much value in having theirs be a rocky relationship, because it subtly underscored the original books and fleshed them both out as characters. I want to have a book club conversation specifically about that dynamic.I do wish that other characters had some more depth - Hermione? Ron? Ginny? - but overall I was happy with the way most things were done. The plot was good; I wish there'd been more context and tension, because it seemed a little rushed, but I'm not sure how much of that is due to the medium by which I consumed it.So all in all, although I can be picky about a few flaws, I loved it for what it was. A nice foray into a world that I miss.Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 5.28.40 PMNovel: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake | GoodreadsRelease Date: September 20, 2016Publisher: HarperTeenFormat: ARCSource: Publisher

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 5.28.46 PMI wasn't sure what to expect going into this one. Kendare Blake is the undisputed queen of horror in YA. I listened to Anna Dressed in Blood on audio and quite loved it - Halloween is my favorite holiday, both personally and bookishly, as evidenced here and in many other places on WLS - but still. It's not usually my cup of tea, but I've been getting into it lately. And horror as a sub-genre has become more prevalent in young adult lit.Retroactively, I'm still not totally sure that it aligns with my taste, but it's a great book. As I mentioned in my Instagram post, it's absolutely bloodthirsty. Might I say vicious? Blake pulls no punches with the upsetting, violent, raw experiences that her protagonists undergo, as well as the unsettling veins of a society dependent on that kind of system.I loved the blend of high fantasy and horror - a melded genre that worked really well with Blake's sharp writing and keen imagination. The cultural events and traditions pressed notes of strain and urgency into the plot itself, creating an environment both lush and gloomy. And the girls! Each of them had compelling reasons  to root for them, and a fundamentally different perception of the events unfolding - making it feel as if we were undergoing the painful experiences of Three Dark Crowns in separate, equally valid ways. The range that Kendare Blake had within narrative voices, keeping in theme with the funereal, ferocious world she built, was admirable.I don't think I'm quite enamored with it enough to want to read the sequel, although I am curious. (That ending!) I prefer more gracefully-edged books, although I'm glad I read it. Very out of my comfort zone, but very rewarding.

What have y'all read lately?

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