Category Archives: bookish posts

Upcoming Scholastic books I’m intrigued by

Continuing with my occasional flip through a publisher’s offerings. These are all from the Fall 2018 catalog and, since it’s Scholastic, are all written for a kid audience.

Middle grade

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab; August 28. Middle grade from Schwab! I think her only other middle grade was part of the Spirit Animals series. This one sounds spooky and atmospheric, so I’m in, and also curious about how she translates her no-holds-barred sensibility to a younger audience.

Dactyl Hill Squad: Rescue Run by Daniel Jose Older; September 11. I’ve liked Older’s other books, and this sounds like a really interesting middle grade alternate history. Plus, I mean, DINOSAURS.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sarah Anderson; September 25. The draw for me here is Baba Yaga, because I love Baba Yaga. I’m not 100% sure how much I’ll end up liking this one, but I’m still planning to read it. Hopefully it’s great!

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty; October 9. Moriarty’s books are usually right up my alley and I’m curious about her take on middle grade; also I resonate with the idea of Extremely Inconvenient Adventures on an almost cellular level.

Young Adult

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten; July 31. This one could really go either way for me, based on the summary. Sometimes a twisty and complex read is exactly right and sometimes it can feel a little bit like shock value for the sake of being shocking. So we’ll see which way this one falls!

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Chapter books about art heists and mysteries

Recently I noticed something intriguing–the number of chapter books that feature mysteries about arts. Heists, thefts, and other strange situations apparently attract kids who are the only ones who can solve them! Of course, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is perhaps the classic, but there are lots more! Here is a selection if, like me, you find this kind of storyline catnip.

The Art of the Swap by Kristine Asselin and Jen Malone
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Masterpiece by Elise Broach
Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne
The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
London Art Chase by Natalie Grant
The Mystery of the Mona Lisa, France by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
Hannah West, Sleuth in Training by Linda Johns
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Mystery of the Martello Tower by Jennifer Lanthier
Manhunt by Kate Messner
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt
The Sweetest Heist in History by Octavia Spencer
Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells

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Books I added to my TBR: May 2018

I’ve shared books I’m adding to my TBR once or twice before and thought it might be fun again! Here they are, plus the reason I’m adding them.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious by Shannon and Dean Hale. Reason: SQUIRREL GIRL! And the first Hale-authored SG book was very delightful.

Blood, Water, Paint by Joy McCullough. Reason: Leila liked it, and I’ve heard good things from a couple of other sources.

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. Reason: I’ve liked her other books, especially When the Moon Was Ours, and “Snow White, Rose Red” is a favorite fairy tale.

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark. Reason: Tor.com’s novella line is enviably strong, also this appears to be a heist story with airships?? I’m in.

Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear. Reason: It’s a sequel to Karen Memory, which I liked quite a lot; Liz Bourke liked it.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. Reason: it’s a debut and I need to read more debuts, and the worldbuilding sounds pretty cool.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi. Reason: A couple people I follow really, really liked this one, and I’m in the mood for a nice romance.

Dreamstorm by M.C.A. Hogarth. Reason: I hear M.C.A. Hogarth’s name but have yet to read any books; also it sounds like this one is interested in aftermath and that’s always a draw for me.

The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson. Reason: Katy liked it, plus the cover is lovely! (Sometimes that’s all it takes.)

Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren. Reason: any Diana Wynne Jones comparison piques my interest! Furthermore, Charlotte liked it and I trust her.

The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher. Reason: faith in fantasy books is a draw for me, and I like other Vernon books but haven’t read much of her T. Kingfisher stuff.

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April 2018 reading

 

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Seanan McGuire 4.28
Blood Road Amanda McCrina 4.28
Aru Shah and the End of Time Roshani Chokshi 4.28
New Shoes Sara Varon 4.28
Be Prepared Vera Brosgol 4.26
Becoming Madeleine by Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy 4.21
Binti: Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor 4.20
Hamster Princess: Whiskerella by Ursula Vernon 4.19
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison 4.19 (reread)
White Road of the Moon Rachel Neumeier 4.16
Shadowhouse Fall Daniel J Older 4.15
Step Aside Pops Kate Beacon 4.9
Hark a Vagrant Kate Beaton 4.9
Emperor of Mars Patrick Samphire 4.7
Acquiring the Mind of Christ Arch. Sergius Bowyer 4.6
Rise of the Jumbies Tracey Baptiste 4.6
Bird Angela Johnson 4.2
Cobalt Squadron Elizabeth Wein 4.1

Total books read: 18
Total rereads: 3 (The Goblin Emperor, Step Aside Pops, Hark a Vagrant)

Favorites:

  • Cobalt Squadron
  • Rise of the Jumbies
  • Whiskerella
  • The Night Masquerade
  • Becoming Madeleine
  • Be Prepared

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Diving into the TBR stacks

Are there some authors who perpetually hang out on your TBR list? Not because there’s anything wrong with their books, but just because there are so many. I have a few I’ve been meaning to get back to for *ahem* some time now and I need a little push to get me to actually do it. So here I am, committing to reading the following books by the following authors sometime this year.  We’ll see how this project unfolds!

An Earthly Crown by Kate Elliott

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

The Sleeping Life by Andrea K Höst

The Lost Steersman by Rosemary Kirstein

Half-Resurrection Blues by DJ Older

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Blood Spirits by Sherwood Smith

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Currently reading: 4-23

 

My current stack of books:

Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow by Cheryl Knott

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (reread)

Blood Road by Amanda McCrina

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between books recently, but last night I sat down and read most of Cuckoo Song in one gulp, so it might be time for some more focused attention again.

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

In my personal experience, there are two kinds of Holly Black books: the ones I like and the ones I don’t. And the whys and wherefores of which book will be which are not always obvious. I bounced hard off of the Tithe series but love The Darkest Part of the Forest, for examples. The Cruel Prince is by and large the kind of Holly Black book that I do like; it’s spikey and vivid and brilliant and full of interesting tensions between characters.

One of the strengths of this book is the relationship between Jude, the narrator and main character, and her sisters. I’m very much a fan of books about sisters and female friends, so any story with that theme is generally a draw for me. Here, Black gives us a complicated and sometimes tense history between Jude, Taryn, and Vivi. All three sisters have their own goals and agendas, and they intersect and conflict with each other in a way I found believable and effective.

I also really loved the details of this fairyland; I’ve said before, I think, that I’m most interested in fairylands which are all about what is dangerous and beautiful woven together, fairies who convincingly don’t think or react in human ways. Black delivers on that here, with details of the customs that are ancient but not unchanging, political minefields that Jude can only half-see because, as she remembers and reminds us throughout the story, she doesn’t belong here. At the same time, there’s a beauty to the descriptions of the food, clothes, and the society that help sell Jude’s fascination with the fairies and her desire to be part of their world.

That fascination and ambition drive the plot of the book, as Jude attempts in to earn her place in fairy society in several different ways. I really liked how ambitious she’s allowed to be, and while the story doesn’t exactly reward that, she’s also not punished for it. Too often female main characters are only allowed to want things to a certain degree, whereas here the conflict comes in large part because other characters also have their own goals and ambitions that don’t sit easily with Jude’s. I also really liked how she cares about her sisters but doesn’t necessarily change her course of action based on that care.

There is a big old However looming here, and that is Carden. I’m simply less and less interested in this kind of male character, in the guy whose cruelties are waved away because of his own pain. This goes double when there’s any question of his being the love interest. Black treads a really fine line here and does it semi-successfully–I did not throw the book across the room, and I will most likely read the next one. But that’s in spite of Carden, not because of him. (I do want to acknowledge that I’m not a teen reader, but I also feel like modelling healthy masculinity is important in teen books? And also that we do teen girls a disservice by assuming that they’ll only be interested in jerks? I don’t know; I went back and forth on this point a lot.)

So, The Cruel Prince: fascinating world, surprising twists and turns, and mostly compelling characters, with a few points where I remain Dubious.

Other reviews of The Cruel Prince:
The Book Smugglers
Emma @ Miss Print
Rachel Pfeiffer @ The Young Folks

Other Holly Black reviews here:
The Darkest Part of the Forest
The Iron Trial
Doll Bones
White Cat
Red Glove

Previously:
The Changeover by Margaret Mahy (2011)
Ursula Le Guin Reading Notes: Voices

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