Review: The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower

themagnificentflyingbaronestateThe Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 16th, 2017

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Pages: 242 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Waldo Baron awakes one morning to find his inventor parents have turned their house into a flying machine, and they intend to enter into a race across the country in the hopes of winning the $500 prize. His parents’ plans go astray when they are kidnapped by Rose Blackwood, the sister of notorious villain Benedict Blackwood, who intends to use the prize money to free her brother from prison. But Rose is not what she seems to be, and Waldo finds himself becoming friends with their kindly kidnapper as they race across the country in the magnificent flying Baron estate!

____________________________________________________________

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This is such a fun, adorable, and hilarious little novel. It is an extremely quirky adventure on a crazy flying machine, filled with ruthless bandits, insane inventors, and quite possibly the clumsiest kid in the world. While it is an incredibly over-the-top and outlandish story, I personally loved the randomness and absurdity of these characters’ journey. Every aspect of this novel is charming, having an overall atmosphere of warmth, family, and love. Though I am far from the target age-range of the intended audience for this book, I still had a fantastic time reading it—I could hardly keep a smile off my face.

In this novel, we follow a young boy named Waldo “W.B.” Baron as he wakes up one day to find out that his crazy inventor parents have renovated their house into a flying home. They plan to enter a competition where they are meant to fly around 1890’s North America on a scavenger hunt—the first people to return with every item on the list will win five-hundred dollars.

However, their plans take a twist when Rose Blackwood, the sister of the country’s most notorious criminal, sneaks aboard their flying house and holds W.B. and his family hostage. Her plan? To complete the race with the Baron family, then rob them of the prize in order to break her brother, Benedict Blackwood, out of jail. But, Rose Blackwood turns out to be much different than W.B. expected, and soon, relationships change and unexpected alliances form as they flounder through one outrageous event after another.

I absolutely flew through this novel, and not only because of its length—with nonstop action, there was not a single moment that dragged along. The readability as well as the weirdness of this story are really what pulled me in. There is a twinge of childishness to it, which is to be expected from a middle grade novel, but personally as an adult, this did not deter me in any way.

Bower’s characters were a fantastic part of this novel. W.B. was loveably dorky and clumsy, and someone you can’t help but root for. His parents are welcoming and kindhearted, and unabashedly goofy, but also highly intelligent scientists. Rose Blackwood was easily the most complex and interesting character in the whole story—and she has quite a bit in common with W.B. They both feel like outcasts in their own lives, in their families, and are struggling to assimilate. But along the way, they both learn their significance and where they fit in the world, as well as how to love themselves, faults and all.

This novel felt very jumbled, which many times negatively impacts a story—however, in this case, that was not necessarily true. Each individual event that occurs all come together in one nonsensical escapade—and honestly, it works, at least it did in my experience. It adds to the craziness and quirkiness of the characters and how they handle the obstacles that are thrown their way. Much of the humor comes from this element of as well—from both how utterly random and out-of-the-blue every event is, to how the characters flounder around on their way through each stage of the challenge.

This is a novel that readers will only enjoy if they suspend their disbelief and just immerse themselves in the unique world of W.B. and his gang. There are parts that become a bit repetitive, and certain scenes feel like they are rushed through much too quickly, but these are really just signs of the genre and length of the novel. That is one of the reasons I found this to be one of those middle grade books that is going to primarily garner a younger following rather than a much more universal one.

As for the actual writing itself, I really liked Bower’s style. His writing flowed very well and carried the story along at a fast yet easy to follow pace. Bower’s humor was wonderful and absolutely perfect for a middle grade novel. There is a very child-like feel to this story overall that makes it, as I said, something that is a bit less of a multi-generational read than some other middle grade stories.

This primarily focuses on being a novel for a younger audience. However, I do think that it can be fun for both children and those who are children at heart. It is a novel that anyone of any age can fall right in to and love every second of. With plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and heartwarming relationships, it’s hard not to become invested in the lives and escapades of these characters.

It is a big-hearted story of learning to accept both who you and the people in your life are. It is about learning to hold your own, be happy with yourself—inside and out—and finding out where you fit into the great puzzle that is life. Though the eccentricity of the plot might not strike the right chord with everyone, I would wholeheartedly recommend giving this story a try.

4.0 TARDISes

logo2

May 2017 TBR

may2017tbr

Happy May, everyone!

Wow, this month really flew by! I had a surprisingly good reading and reviewing month, especially compared to the last few. I think I can safely say that I am out of my reading and blogging slump!

This past month, I ended up reading twelve books, which is insane considering I was barely managing to read one book per month for so long! I definitely want to keep up this momentum while I have it. My goal for each month is about ten books, so I’ve decided my TBRs will consist of ten to fifteen possibilities to choose from…that are most definitely subject to change since I am a mood reader! 😛

May TBR

Spellslingers by Sebastien de Castell

spellslinger

There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your fourteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.”
Kellen’s dreams of becoming a powerful mage like his father are shattered after a failed magical duel results in the complete loss of his abilities. When other young mages begin to suffer the same fate, Kellen is accused of unleashing a magical curse on his own clan and is forced to flee with the help of a mysterious foreign woman who may in fact be a spy in service to an enemy country. Unsure of who to trust, Kellen struggles to learn how to survive in a dangerous world without his magic even as he seeks out the true source of the curse. But when Kellen uncovers a conspiracy hatched by members of his own clan seeking to take power, he races back to his city in a desperate bid to outwit the mages arrayed against him before they can destroy his family.
Spellslinger is heroic fantasy with a western flavour.

Alice by J.M. Sullivan

alicewanderland

“Always protect your queen.”
Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.
Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.

Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid

pretendwearelovely

Consuming and big-hearted, Noley Reid’s Pretend We Are Lovely details a summer in the life of the Sobel family in 1980s Blacksburg, Virginia, seven years after the tragic and suspicious death of a son and sibling.
Francie Sobel dresses in tennis skirts and ankle socks and weighs her allotted grams of carrots and iceberg lettuce. Semi-estranged husband Tate prefers a packed fridge and secret doughnuts. Daughters Enid, ten, and Vivvy, thirteen, are subtler versions of their parents, measuring their summer vacation by meals eaten or skipped. But at summer’s end, secrets both old and new come to the surface and Francie disappears, leaving the family teetering on the brink.?
Without their mother’s regimental love, and witnessing their father flounder in his new position of authority, the girls must navigate their way through middle school, find comfort in each other, and learn the difference between food and nourishment.

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

itstartedwithgoodbye

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

afacelikeglass

In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . . 

Roses by Melinda Michaels

roses

When Poppy Pruette comes home for the summer after her first year at college, she expects it to be just like every summer before it: filled with cookouts, nosy neighbors, town hall meetings and long, hot days.
She never expects a murder. Not in Miner’s Way, Virginia. 
But the sanctity of her small town is shattered when Poppy’s widely beloved grandmother, Rose, is brutally killed the night of a neighborhood barbecue. No one knows what to make of it or who might be responsible, least of all Poppy—until Detective Owen Peirce arrives from out of town with strange questions and a family history far more sinister than Poppy ever imagined.
Owen believes Poppy was the intended target, not Rose. Now, to save herself, Poppy must go into hiding and learn the truth about her family legacy. What she uncovers will change her life forever. 
A grim and delightfully plausible fairy tale retelling, Roses is the story of a young woman contending with the question: what do we owe to our ancestors?

The Perfect Stanger by Megan Miranda

theperfectstranger

In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.
Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later. 
Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.
Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower

themagnificentflyingbaronestate

Waldo Baron awakes one morning to find his inventor parents have turned their house into a flying machine, and they intend to enter into a race across the country in the hopes of winning the $500 prize. His parents’ plans go astray when they are kidnapped by Rose Blackwood, the sister of notorious villain Benedict Blackwood, who intends to use the prize money to free her brother from prison. But Rose is not what she seems to be, and Waldo finds himself becoming friends with their kindly kidnapper as they race across the country in the magnificent flying Baron estate!

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

royalbastards

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness. 
Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.
The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

traitorsblade

With swashbuckling action that recalls Dumas’s Three Musketeers, Sebastien de Castell has created a dynamic new fantasy series. In Traitor’s Blade, a disgraced swordsman struggles to redeem himself by protecting a young girl caught in the web of a royal conspiracy.
The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world. A carefully orchestrated series of murders that began with the overthrow of an idealistic young king will end with the death of an orphaned girl and the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to foil the conspiracy, save the girl, and reunite the Greatcoats, they’ll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug, and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor’s blade.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

everythingeverything

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjork

imtravelingalone

A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree with a jump rope around her neck. She is dressed in strange doll’s clothes. Around her neck is an airline tag that says “I’m traveling alone.” 
A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger’s first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Krüger to come back to the squad–she’s been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past. When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number “1” carved into the dead girl’s fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning. She’ll soon discover that six years earlier, an infant girl was abducted from a nearby maternity ward. The baby was never found. Could this new killer have something to do with the missing child, or with the reclusive Christian sect hidden in the nearby woods?
Mia returns to duty to track down a revenge-driven and ruthlessly intelligent killer. But when Munch’s own six-year-old granddaughter goes missing, Mia realizes that the killer’s sinister game is personal, and I’m Traveling Alone races to an explosive–and shocking–conclusion.

The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork

theowlalwayshuntsatnight

When a troubled teenager disappears from an orphanage and is found murdered, her body arranged on a bed of feathers, veteran investigator Holger Munch and his team are called into the case. Star investigator Mia Kruger, on temporary leave while she continues to struggle with her own demons, jumps back on the team and dives headfirst into this case: just in time to decode the clues in a disturbing video of the victim before she was killed, being held prisoner like an animal in a cage.
Meanwhile, Munch s daughter, Miriam, meets an enticing stranger at a party a passionate animal rights activist who begins to draw her into his world and away from her family.
Munch, Kruger, and the team must hunt down the killer before he can strike again in this sophisticated, intricately plotted psychological thriller by the newest phenomenon in international crime fiction.

April Wrap-Up

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco – 3/5 stars (Full Review)

Bitter Roots by C.J, Carmichael – 1.5/5 stars (Full Review)

The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz – 5/5 stars (Full Review)

A Chosen War by Carly Eldridge – 2/5 stars (Full Review)

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – 5/5 stars (Full Review)

The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan – 4.5/5 stars

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – 5/5 stars

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang – 3.5/5

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke Allen

Volume 1 – 3/5 stars

Volume 2 – 4/5 stars

Volume 3 – 3/5 stars

Volume 4 – 4/5 stars

What books are you guys planning on reading this month? What were some of your reads last month? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

signaturetardis1

logo2

Review: The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

thewingsnatchersThe Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Carmer and Grit

Date Published: April 25th, 2017

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 368 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A stunning debut about a magician’s apprentice and a one-winged princess who must vanquish the mechanical monsters that stalk the streets and threaten the faerie kingdom.

Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly. 

In this story perfect for readers of the Lockwood & Co and Wildwood series, Sarah Jean Horwitz takes readers on a thrilling journey through a magical wooded fairyland and steampunk streets where terrifying automata cats lurk in the shadows and a mad scientist’s newest mechanical invention might be more menace than miracle.

____________________________________________________________  

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I just finished this novel, so I’m still having a bit of trouble settling my thoughts down so I can put them into actual words. Over the years, it has become much rarer for me to give out a full five-star rating to a book, but I absolutely adored this novel. After only the first chapter—maybe even the first few pages—I was already completely hooked and in love with everything about it. It is one of those books that is written for a younger audience, but ends up transcending those limits, creating a magical tale that can be enjoyed by anyone.

This is truly a heart-pounding book. Horwitz quickly makes her readers fall in love with her characters from the very start, causing us to feel a huge range of emotions through all the trials and successes, funny moments and those that break our hearts. I laughed so hard. I deeply felt the moments of fear, pain, and sadness. And I have to admit, I even shed some tears, primarily at the nostalgic feelings this novel evoked for me. I tore through these pages, finding it so hard to put down. I just had to know the fates of these characters I had come to love so much.

Full of mystery, magic, industry and mechanical science, from start to finish it is a compelling tale full of captivating steampunk goodness. It has been a long time since I have been so drawn into a novel. It threw me back to my childhood, to all the years I spent dreaming up fairytales and magical worlds. To all the years of constantly hoping to reach a point where I am able to spend the rest of my days bringing these stories to life for others on paper and in their minds, the same way they came to life for me—the same way they have given me life all these years. This particular tale is most definitely going to stick with me for a long time.

In this novel, we follow the adventures of a young boy named Felix Cassius Tiberius Carmer III (Carmer for short) and a one-winged fairy princess of the Seelie realm named Grettifrida (but always call her Grit). Carmer, a magician’s apprentice and aspiring inventor, and Grit, a sassy, flightless fire fairy, are thrown together as a chance meeting evolves into a race to save the entire fae realm—as well as themselves and the city of Skemantis—from a mad scientist.

When fairies begin to go missing, captured by an unknown evil they have named “The Wingsnatchers”, it is up to Carmer and Grit to get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearances. And what is the connection of these odd events to the unexplainable ones simultaneously occurring in the human world? Mixing science with fantasy, real magic with the closest replications that humans can accomplish, this is an enchanting and fast-paced modern fairytale that will leave readers on the edge of their seats, wanting more.

The depiction of the characters—both the main and the side ones—was one of the standout points of the book for me. Every single one of her characters are fleshed out quite well, and even the most minor of characters are memorable. Carmer and Grit have such a lovely friendship, even though they are each struggling through plenty of their own troubles.

Carmer is attempting to take control of his future and leave behind his past as an orphan, and Grit is trying to make others understand that her disability does not define her—that she is as strong and capable as anyone else, despite what people may think. Though they have some extreme—and understandable—differences and find themselves at odds occasionally, once they learn to trust one another, they end up making a brilliant duo.

This is Horwitz’s first novel, but it reads as if she has been writing for decades. Flawlessly executed and incredibly beautiful, her writing is fluid and easy to fall into. It grabs hold of your imagination, your senses, and hangs on long after the final page has been read. Her vibrant descriptions and world-building are solid, showing her talent for weaving her stories into the minds of her readers.

I truly had an enjoyable time using Horwitz’s vivid narrative to put myself into this unique setting. I felt like I was there watching these events unfold right alongside the characters. She also relates this book to our present world by dealing with some themes that are very common in society today. Horwitz handles every aspect of the novel with care, meticulously unfolding an action-packed narrative. This was just such a fun adventure I did not want to pull myself out of it until I ran out of book.

I will reiterate—though I know I don’t have to at this point—that I completely fell head over heels for this novel. And unsurprisingly, I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It is a beautifully crafted tale of family, friendship, and how two exceedingly dissimilar groups can set their differences aside and team up to fight a threat that affects them all.

Overcoming obstacle after obstacle—even those their own families and sometimes they themselves place in the way—Carmer and Grit unite in a heart-warming friendship that withstands the forces that test it. This is a fantastic beginning to a promising series. Though I don’t quite know how I am going to stand the wait, I am extremely excited to get my hands on any and all future novels.

5.0 TARDISes

logo2

17 Books I Want to Read in 2017

17in2017

Hi everyone! 🙂

I’m not sure exactly why, but I have suddenly gone from having the biggest reading slump of my life to reading for hours every day. I have had more motivation to read than I have had in a long time, which is why I made a very impulsive and completely insane choice the other day—I want to take on the one-hundred book challenge!

Yes, I know I’m absolutely crazy for deciding to attempt this when we are already four months into the year, but I really want to give it a go. A few years back, I didn’t start reading much until the beginning of summer, and I ended up reading over eighty books. I’m very much hoping to have that same sort of year! I don’t know if I will complete this—I most likely won’t reach this goal, to be honest—but I figure, why not put this sudden motivation to use while I have it. I’ll try my best, so no matter what, I’ll be happy with the outcome!

All this being said, I figured it would be a good time to start talking about my specific reading goals for the year (even though I am horrifyingly late with this!). One of my favorite things in the world is to make lists, so here is a list of the top 17 books I want to read in 2017, as well as a few goals pertaining to book series.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

darkplaces

Libby Day was just seven years old when her older brother massacred her family while she hid in a cupboard. Her evidence helped put him away. Ever since then she has been drifting, surviving for over 20 years on the proceeds of the ‘Libby Day fund’. But now the money is running out and Libby is desperate. When she is offered $500 to do a guest appearance, she feels she has to accept. But this is no ordinary gathering. The Kill Club is a group of true-crime obsessives who share information on notorious murders, and they think her brother Ben is innocent.
Ben was a social misfit, ground down by the small-town farming community in which he lived. But he did have a girlfriend – a brooding heavy metal fan called Diondra. Through her, Ben became involved with drugs and the dark arts. When the town suddenly turned against him, his thoughts turned black. But was he capable of murder? Libby must delve into her family’s past to uncover the truth – no matter how painful…

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

thewomanincabin10

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

kingdomofashandbriars

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.
Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

mysisterrosa

What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister?
Seventeen-year-old Aussie Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa. But he’s also certain that she’s a psychopath—clinically, threateningly, dangerously. Recently Rosa has been making trouble, hurting things. Che is the only one who knows; he’s the only one his sister trusts. Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and very good at hiding what she is and the manipulation she’s capable of.
Their parents, whose business takes the family from place to place, brush off the warning signs as Rosa’s “acting out.” Now that they have moved again—from Bangkok to New York City—their new hometown provides far too many opportunities for Rosa to play her increasingly complex and disturbing games. Che’s always been Rosa’s rock, protecting her from the world. Now, the world might need protection from her.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

morethanthis

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? The street seems familiar, but everything is abandoned, overgrown, covered in dust.
What’s going on? Is it real? Or has he woken up in his own personal hell? Seth begins to search for answers, hoping desperately that there must be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife…

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

myladyjane

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

thedeadhouse

Welcome to the Dead House. 
Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.
Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, “the girl of nowhere.”
Kaitlyn’s diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn’t exist, and in a way, she doesn’t – because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.
Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It’s during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.
Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary – and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

caraval

Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

whenthemoonwasours

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

thefirstfifteenlivesofharryaugust

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.
Until now.
As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’ 
This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

amancalledove

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis

blackfinsky

When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.
Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

furthermore

A captivating and colorful adventure that reads like a modern day fairy tale, from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.
Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.
But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

thehobbit

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.
The prelude to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies since its publication in 1937, establishing itself as one of the most beloved and influential books of the twentieth century.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

astudyinscarlet

From the moment Dr John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind. 
In A Study in Scarlet , Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood. 
The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge . . .

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebecca

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

thehateugive

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Series to Finish

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Series to Start

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

What are your reading goals for 2017? Which books do you definitely want to cross off of your TBR by the end of the year? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

signaturetardis1

logo2

April 2017 TBR

april2017tbr

Hey everyone!

I can’t even believe it’s already April! This year is going by so fast! I’m happy to say that I am fairly certain I’ve emerged from my reading slump. Though I only managed to read four books last month, I feel really good about that—it’s a lot more than I’ve been able to read recently. I feel a lot more motivated to get going on my TBR, so I’m definitely going to be taking advantage of that!

Like last month, this will most likely be another review copy catch up month! I’m going to start out the month with the last few books I didn’t get to from my March TBR, and then begin these. This list is probably way too ambitious, but I’ll give it my best shot! 🙂

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

adarkershadeofmagic
Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

strangethedreamer
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? 
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real? 
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
Welcome to Weep.

The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

thewingsnatchers
Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.
In this story perfect for readers of the Lockwood & Co and Wildwood series, Sarah Jean Horwitz takes readers on a thrilling journey through a magical wooded fairyland and steampunk streets where terrifying automata cats lurk in the shadows and a mad scientist’s newest mechanical invention might be more menace than miracle.

The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta

theheartstonethief
In the City of Brea, thieves and sorceresses do not mix.
When Curtis Vance—professional thief—stumbles into a sorceress’s trap, he’d prefer to kill her than help her. Now bound to the insane sorceress, his only escape (and chance to turn a profit) is to find the long forgotten Dragon Eye gem. Little does Vance know, the Dragon Eye holds more than the key to Vance’s freedom. The Eye could awaken a devastating power—a worldkiller bent on destruction, and Vance is all that stands in its way.

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

maresi
Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Thirteen-year-old novice Maresi arrived at the Abbey four years ago, during the hunger winter, and now lives a happy life under the protection of the Mother. Maresi spends her days reading in the Knowledge House, caring for the younger novices, and contentedly waiting for the moment when she will be called to serve one of the Houses of the Abbey.
This idyllic existence is threatened by the arrival of Jai, a girl whose dark past has followed her into the Abbey’s sacred spaces. In order to protect her new sister and her own way of life, Maresi must emerge from the safety of her books and her childish world and become one who acts.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

everyheartadoorway
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. 
But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter. 
No matter the cost.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

furthermore
Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other. 
But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem

thewaterfalltraveler
All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive with the power to travel through water—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressed city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.
In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unexpected love, Ri must discover her own strength to save the men she cares for.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

geekerella
Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

madmissmimic
Born into an affluent family, Leo outwardly seems like a typical daughter of English privilege in the 1870s: she lives with her wealthy married sister Christabel, and lacks for neither dresses nor trinkets. But Leo has a crippling speech impediment that makes it difficult for her to speak but curiously allows her to mimic other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back… and watch as she unintentionally scares off every potential suitor. Only the impossibly handsome Mr. Thornfax seems interested in Leo…but why? And does he have a connection to the mysterious Black Glove group that has London in its terrifying grasp? Trapped in a city under siege by terror attacks and gripped by opium fever, where doctors (including her brother-in-law) race to patent an injectable formula, Leo must search for truth in increasingly dangerous situations – but to do so, she must first find her voice.

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

followmeback
Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…
Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.
When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…
Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.

What books are you guys looking forward to reading this month? What are your favorite books this year so far? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

signaturetardis1

logo2

Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

wonderstruckWonderstruck by Brian Selznick

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: September 13th, 2011

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pages: 640 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for his unknown father. Rose scrapbooks a famous silent actress. When Ben finds clues and Rose reads enticing news, the children independently run to New York for what they are missing. Ben’s story in words, Rose’s in pictures, come together in deafness.

____________________________________________________________________

This is a spoiler-free review.

Brian Selznick is a complete master of his craft—of turning the experience of reading a traditional novel into something so much more unique and powerful. This story is a particularly intense and utterly enthralling demonstration of that. Selznick’s novels take the reader on an adventure of the senses, producing a sort of “silent film” effect in novel form, which works on so many levels here. The style that he has chosen to use in order to unfold and bring together these two character’s lives is an absolutely brilliant one, and once again, I must complement his boundless creativity.

In Wonderstruck, Selznick alternates between the lives of two children—Ben Wilson, whose story is told solely through text, and Rose Kincaid, who is portrayed entirely in illustrations. Rose’s story takes place in the 1920s, while Ben’s is in the 1970s, but the many ways in which their lives tie together throughout the novel is mesmerizing. Each tale twists into the other, revealing piece after piece of the plot in turn as they weave toward the end. This technique creates a very fast-pace that carries the reader over the pages, holding onto them until the final image.

The main aspect of this novel that makes the alternation between text and image especially powerful is the overarching theme of deafness and silence. Ben is deaf in one ear, while Rose is completely deaf, making her story perfect for recounting through images rather than text. Rose becomes enamored by silent films and their actors as she lives alone within her own personal silence. Ben is on his own, in mourning for his mother. Both children are trying to find better lives for themselves, and end up discovering a mutual home in the comfort of a museum, another hall of silent stories. The full importance of this theme to each character’s life and the overall tone of the novel becomes magnified through the art of wordless storytelling.

With lyrical prose and expressive sketches, Wonderstruck is classic Brian Selznick material. He expertly plots out the progression of both storylines so that the juxtaposition of the illustrations and the text lines up to fully bring the setting to life, even with the difference in time period. Each progression in one story layers more intrigue onto the other, building and entwining, not missing a step, until the most important connection is revealed at the climax.

Selznick has a very singular art style that might not appeal to everyone, but I personally love it. His work has the feel of quick, casual scribbling—a bit rough, yet packed with so much intricate detail. It works well with the text, producing the same voice in an extremely different sort of narrative. Overall, he performs multiple artistic roles at the same time with an equal amount of competence, creating an imaginative and unified piece. Neither the text nor the art suffers for or at any time feels eclipsed by the other—he skillfully achieves a solid balance between the two.

This novel is another incredibly masterful piece of art produced by an extraordinarily talented man. It is one of those books that everyone will thoroughly enjoy, no matter what age they are. Using both text and illustration, Brian Selznick perfectly demonstrates multiple methods that humans can use to paint a picture for an audience—an audience that he effortlessly captivates. Time and time again, he shows that he knows exactly how to interlace the two mediums fluidly so that one builds on rather than overpowers the other. I found Wonderstruck to be a particularly strong example of this style of his—a story that it truly enriches the meaning of—and I highly recommend giving it a read.

 

4.0 TARDISes

logo2

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

amonstercallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 5th, 2011

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 215 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

____________________________________________________________________

This is a spoiler-free review.

No matter how hard I try, I am never going to be able to sufficiently capture my love for this book in words. Simply put, this novel is completely and utterly beautiful. It was not at all what I was expecting when I picked it up, but it took me completely by surprise in the best of ways. It is a novel that is intensely thought-provoking and unexpectedly haunting. Heartbreaking and deeply moving, A Monster Calls is a captivating picture of love, loss and, ultimately, hope.

In this novel, we follow a young boy named Conor, who wakes from his recurring nightmare one evening to discover a monster at his window—not the one from his nightmares, but the yew tree from the backyard. He faces it with bravery, as he has far more frightening things in his life vying for his attention. But this monster is persistent, returning to him multiple times, bringing a new story with each visit and only hoping to yield one thing. The monster knows Conor is hiding something from everyone and expects him to be the one to tell the last story, finally revealing the truth he is so desperate to avoid.

a-monster-calls-illustration-_thumb

As I have said, the story ended up being far different than what I had originally been anticipating when I discovered this novel—and I am so glad that it was. It was chilling in unique and unexpected ways that had me glued to every page. The narrative is rooted in an intriguing combination of psychological and supernatural elements, while also maintaining a great deal of realism.

The plot, first and foremost, consists of the monster’s visitations and the discussions he and Conor have. Given the realistic nature of the setting and other scenes, with any other novel, a reader might be inclined to immediately dismiss these occurrences as delusions. However, the way Ness writes this aspect of the story is extremely clever—there is a great deal of believability to it. After each encounter, we are left wondering about the actuality of this monster. It is a question that adds great complexity to the plot, and haunts until the final pages.

Ness uses a seemingly paranormal experience to portray the real-life struggle that Conor is going through. He pays homage to the tangibility of grief—how, many times, grief can feel like a concrete, physical being. He also touches on the sort of surreal façade life seems to put on in the midst of pain and sadness. We get to see how a shared pain manifests in different people, demonstrating the similarities and dissimilarities in the way human beings experience and handle a common emotion.

This psychological aspect of the story is what impacted me the most. We have all faced that moment in our lives when we realize that monsters exist in our world, though not in the forms we believed them to take when we were children. We can even feel like monsters are living inside of us when pain controls our thoughts, or possibly when light is shed on the truths we try so hard to conceal. The truth can make us question our morality, our humanity. Conor is being thrust into this awareness at such a young age and this, along with the reason for it, makes the story all the more poignant.

This novel holds some of the most stellar writing that I have ever come across—Patrick Ness is a true master of the written word. His prose is full of such exceptional beauty, and flows fluidly and poetically all the way through. Everything about his writing is enormously compelling. It is simple, yet vivid, forceful, and most importantly, highly effective and engaging. I devoured every word.

Ness makes you think sincerely about your own life, the grief you have experienced and the way you dealt with it. He has a knack for evoking strong emotions and making the reader feel utterly vulnerable and completely human. He also does justice to the complexities of profound sadness with the candor of his writing, never once letting the text feel emotionally manipulative and thus taking away from the earnestness of the story. This novel touched me in a greater way than any other novel ever has.

Jim Kay’s illustrations are done to perfection, and further add a vast amount of depth and life to the narrative. They weave seamlessly with the text and assist in setting the eerie and unnerving tone. Though the palette is simple—consisting of blacks, whites, and grays—the effect it creates is anything but. The stark contrast between light and dark gives the images a penetratingly bleak feel. The surreal and sketch-like design contributes to the frightening atmosphere, particularly when the realistic is juxtaposed with the bizarre. As a whole, the end result is unbelievably powerful.

Patrick-Ness-Quelques-minutes-apres-minuit-03

A Monster Calls is an enthralling story that packs an emotional punch and does not disappoint. This novel has become one of my favorites of all time, and has placed Patrick Ness solidly among my favorite authors as well. The plot and the characters stick with you, making this a difficult story to get off your mind when coupled with the already mentally stimulating nature of the themes and text itself.

It is a dark and incredibly heartbreaking story, but also very touching in many ways—Ness completely nails that balance. I genuinely cannot think of any issues that I had with it—it was a true five star read for me. He has created an absolute masterpiece that delves skillfully into one of the most relatable aspects of human life. If you have not picked it up yet, please do. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.

5.0 TARDISes

logo2