Behold The Bones

Some books you’re just so excited for, you can’t even say why.  You just need them right now and you don’t know why you’re excited for anything else at that point.

Natalie C. Parker’s BEHOLD THE BONES was that book for me.

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Behold the Bones

  • Author: Natalie C. Parker
  • Publisher: Harper Teen
  • Genre Vibe: Southern Gothic + an Old Ghosts vibe
  • At a Glance: There’s a lot of things that Candace Pickens can’t do. But there’s a hell of a lot more that she can. (also: ghosts and swamp weirdness and crazy rich kids invading Sticks)

I received this book in an ARC prize pack that I got through a twitter giveaway Natalie ran for the release. It’s the first ARC I’ve ever gotten myself, and I pretty much just screamed for a minute and stared at it when it got here.

(thanks again to Natalie, because. it’s my favorite thing.)

I sat it on my desk and made it wait until I re-read BEWARE THE WILD in preparation. I had already started, and I am not a quitter. A day or two later, I snatched it up and began, using it as my first book for the #5books7days challenge that I may or may not be a book behind on by now.

It was a wild ride. That’s for sure.

I loved the setting and poetry of BEWARE when I first read it, and BEHOLD is no different. Parker is a goddess when it comes to lyrical wording and that indistinguishable “this-is-not-technically-a-scary-book-but-oh-my-god” feeling that creeps up your spine.

The sheer depth of her swamp is incredible to me; you’re never, ever wanting for something to make sense when it comes to this. There are no loose ends you have to imagine for yourself or anything of that sort. Natalie knows what she’s doing. She’ll take care of you. Promise. She just may also spring swamp ghosts on you.

Which is another thing I absolutely loved about this book. Ghost stories rank among my favorite story types ever, and that’s not at all what I was expecting when I went into BEHOLD. But it is–in part–what I got. The swamp ghosts were important and present, and while their scares weren’t the point, they were potent.

That’s a good word for this book. This book has a lot of ‘P’s. Poetry, potency. Pints. There’s a lot of alcohol in this book. That was good too.

Natalie is a goddess amongst character handlers; her skill with a side character will be legendary. I found myself a little in love with everybody, I think. And the way they fell in love, too.

All in all, BEHOLD THE BONES is too good to pass up. I’ll definitely be revisiting it once or twice more in the future.

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Southern gothic fans, EVERYONE who read Beware the Wild, and if you haven’t, then people fed up with ~Strong Female Leads who want a real one
  • Lasting Impression: Cherry blossoms and bones bones bones and the quiet; the missing places in  your memory.

 

 

Black Heart.

Black Heart.
What else is there to say? I spent all day yesterday through a double shift at work trying desperately to come up with a clever name for this post.

It didn’t work.

Black Heart is the reason for reading this series, honestly. There are a million reasons. There are so many “whys” and so many arguments and so many talking points I use to convince people that these things are worth the time. And Red Glove may be what I carry around with me the closest, but Black Heart? Black Heart is the reason for these books.

Black Heart is the best view of the city. Black Heart is the best kind of mess. Black Heart is the worst kind of pain.

It’s not the book with the most coffee consumption. Or the book with the most conning. Or the worst breakdown. Or the most magic. Or the book with more anything than any of the others, honestly. But what Black Heart is that the rest of the series isn’t, is the end.

The big score.

Throughout this whole entire freaking book, Cassel Sharpe is one big mess. He is. He’s angry. He’s so torn up over everything that by now, he’s not even trying to find the pieces again.

And then there he is, at it again at the very end. Just like we’ve grown to know him to be.

Cassel’s the whole point of this whole series, for me. He’s my third favorite character of all-time, and he’s my favorite character type, and the journey he takes in these books–Black Heart especially–is something that I want to write. Over and over again it has echoes of the stories and ideas and themes that call me to all of my favorite things, and that’s important. Cassel Sharpe calls me back to what it means to be me. And that’s a good thing.

So, if you’ve made it this far, and you read the books and understood any of what I just said: congratulations. Thanks for joining me. Our next adventure here will be the #5books7days challenge over on Instagram.

 

For now, have a mixtape for our devil boy. This took a while to put together, because Cassel is a mysterious amalgam of weirdness and I couldn’t decide if I wanted a playlist for him, of him, or from him. So it’s a little of all three. (click image for link)

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A Red Glove Love Letter

So week two of the first annual Reach reread concluded yesterday, with Red Glove, book two in Holly Black’s CURSE WORKERS trilogy.

Red Glove is undoubtedly my favorite of the trilogy.

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True, White Cat is a beginning. It is full of small sins and smaller cons, and there’s that moment where everything falls into place, and you wonder how anyone could write something so simply masterful.

But Red Glove is something special. Red Glove is not super exciting. Red Glove is not super complicated, or undyingly emotional. Red Glove is full of tension, and uncertainty, and 2 pots + 13 cups of coffee. (possibly this is a reason for some of that tension, honestly.)

I love this book. I love everything about it. That’s the short version of this post: I love Red Glove.

The longer version is that there’s nothing I’ve read that’s like Red Glove. There’s nothing that matches it for the the rawness of Cassel’s character arc. There isn’t another book with such a twisted set of emotions that still make so much sense to me.

Cassel Sharpe is the one and only book boyfriend for me, and Red Glove is the book that made me fall in love with him. There’s characters out there that I identify with better than I do with Cassel. There are characters that I relate to better. Characters that make me sadder, gladder, and madder than Cassel. But I’ve never felt for someone like I feel for Cassel, especially in this book.

This boy is good.

He is.

He also enjoys being bad. He does. Cassel Sharpe is a con artist and a liar–and an idealist at heart. The loyalty of this one wronged kid is contested in all the YA lit I’ve read only by Richard Gansey in The Raven Cycle.

Red Glove is basically made up of pure hurt for Cassel, and somehow he makes it through with flying colors and one of his more brilliant cons pulled off flawlessly.

(Seriously, the long con in Red Glove is amazing. If you’re finished you’ll understand. That wrapup scene kills me every single time.)

This book has all of my favorite snapshot moments. Cassel drunk in the basement, AKA the first time I realized how fantastic he was. Sam and Cassel in the trunk of Sam’s car. Cassel and Sam and Lila celebrating after the job they pull in the apartment building. Cassel and Lila and cherry slushies at the movie theater.

This book is most definitely the reason cherry slushies are a movie theater ritual of mine. I won’t even try to deny it.

Red Glove is pure and simply a people book, and that’s why it’s so important to me.

I love Curse Workers for a lot of things, its genre included, but mostly? Mostly I love it for Red Glove.

 

 

 

 

Look at us laugh. Look at us lie.

Welcome to the end of White Cat Week, Reachers. White Cat’s pages have flown by me once more, and once more I have fallen in love with Cassel Sharpe. So what else is new? We’re pretty much always in love with him, around here.

It’s been a fun week. Snifferblog and 2 AM Readers both joined me this week (thanks guys!) and both of them had some lovely things to say about the book that I so generously forced upon offered to them.

Mariesa from 2 AM summed up our fearless leader quite well this morning:

Cassel

somewhat. vaguely. good job cassel.

“Coffee stained” indeed, as Cassel Sharpe consumed 12 individual cups of coffee and 1 whole pot (in one evening) over the course of this book. He may die of caffeine overdose before the next book is out, honestly. We’re all kind of worried about him.

Our old friend Snifferblog somehow managed to get along with this book as well, even given its feline heritage. He wrote a super intriguing review about it and everything.

And then there’s me.

So I read in my new Simon and Schuster misprint this time, and somehow ended up doing a vague job of annotating, keeping count of Cassel’s coffee intake and making notes to no one in particular.

My handwriting is almost as messy as Cassel’s life, but here’s a few of my favorites:

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(“Honestly, it’s a wonder Cassel survived past age five, what with the combination of smart mouth and horrible brotherly love he’s got going on.”)

 

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He’s totally fine.

 

 

 

Cassel “I’m fine with showering alongside arachnids” Sharpe. As one does.

And finally, a decent summary of the whole entire book:

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He does try. He tries very hard. He tries to be good, he tries to think straight, he tries to exist without copious amounts of caffeine…

Okay, maybe not that last one.

But in almost every other aspect of his life, Cassel Sharpe tries very, very hard.

And I think that continues to be one of my favorite parts of these books. In a post a while ago, I talked about Cassel in correlation to his setting, and that still stands quite firmly.

Cassel is a product of his circumstances and places, his family, his setting, his genre. But he is also a mess of his own making, and that is what makes him special.

And so here we are on day one of RED GLOVE WEEK. Have fun, tweet lots, and I’ll see you on the 14th with more coffee stats.

I Crossed A Wasteland for “The Witch’s Boy”

Middle Grade doesn’t normally happen on this blog. But thanks to some random dog I’ve definitely never met before, it will shortly, all because of this review.

Sniffer Blog

The best book-finding moment come when your map is wrong. The treasure is buried in the wasteland instead of the paradise, and you have to dig a long way for it. The best moments are when the treasure is worth crossing ten thousand wastelands.
The wasteland in this story: Middle Grade Fiction.

The Witch’s Boy in One Sentence
A Middle Grade novel that transcends all the juvenile tendencies of the genre with brilliant wit and deeply emotive prose.

Rating
• • • • • •
6/6

Genre: Fantasy

Why The Witch’s Boy?
I don’t read much Middle Grade fiction. My heart is hardened against immature humor, half-baked character development, and the contemporary tone saturating most of the genre. But my heart is also soft toward Middle Grade novels that actually succeed as living, breathing, meaningful stories.
I don’t find many of those.
While I was in Barnes and Noble the…

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Hold me Closer, Necromancer

Some books are a calling. Other books are a destiny. Still others are a demand, and then what’s leftover are a journey.

Sometimes, those journeys last a long, long time.

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Hold me Closer, Necromancer

  • Author: Lish McBride
  • Publisher: Henry Holt
  • Genre vibe: Urban paranormal
  • At a glance: Samhain Corvus LaCroix is a fry cook. He is definitely nothing special. He’s also a huge smart ass with a penchant for getting into trouble, it seems. And, as it turns out, he’s also a necromancer.

Every book discovery story is different. This one started in February 2015, Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo Washington. The shiny cover with the raven on the front snagged me more than the staff recommendation slip inside of it did. I was overcome by my first indie bookstore experience and the discovery of a copy of one of my favorite books (The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff), and yet somehow I convinced myself not to buy it.

I looked and looked and couldn’t find it after that. I’m notorious for forgetting to order books that I want to read.

Flash forward to October 2016, the Half Price Books by my house. I discover the sequel on the clearance rack.

I’m outraged.

Christmas 2016 rolls around and my best friend gifts me with a shiny new copy of the first one.

Success. My adventure begins.

And what a strange adventure it is. NECROMANCER is a weird book. The characters are pretty good, and the writing is pretty good, and the plot is really good. There’s just…a lot going on.

When I first got into it, what I got introduced to were dark, disturbed necromancers, mothers who were also witches, and things that left mysterious claw marks on people. I figured I knew what kind of magic I was in for, and the types of things that would show up.

Then as the book went on, more things showed up, and I tried to make room for them in my perception of the situation.

Then more.

And more.

And more.

Until suddenly there were magical creatures fighting on this necromancer guy’s lawn, and I realized I wasn’t prepared for this. I was enjoying it, but it didn’t fit with what I thought the book was going to be, and I think that threw me off more than a little.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It was worth all the while it took to acquire it. It was fun to read, and by the middle of it, I cared about Sam and Co. quite a bit, and was actually super interested in the magic aspects that I actively saw.

But there was a lot going on. There was some pretty dense writing at more than one point, and there were too many people+places+things for me to really follow. I ended up picking SAM and RAMON and focusing on those two things any time something happened.

I will absolutely be reading the sequel.

Just not very quickly.

So overall:

  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: People who like wit and comedy, good male characters, and a lot of interesting fantasy elements
  • Lasting impression: Sam’s apartment. Scars on his shoulders. A crooked grin without any malice or cleverness behind it.