The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt, Clue #: 2

I know what you’re here for: your next clue. Because you’re a detective, right? And detectives look for answers.

Well, I have some for you. But! Patience is a virtue. So read on.

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  • Author: Stephanie Morrill
  • Publisher: Blink YA Books
  • Year: 2017
  • Genre vibe: Jazz age society mystery!
  • At a glance: Piper’s best friend has gone missing. Mysteries just don’t get solved fast enough, so Piper takes matters into her own hands, looking for answers in a lot of the wrong places.

So the One Year Adventure Novel program is a thing that I did, and their Summer Workshops are a thing that I have attended. This is where I met Stephanie and heard her speak–and then I met Piper.

This is a book that just feels very nice to hold onto. You know the sort. Just the right heft and weight and amount of pages. And to top it all off: she matches my outfit.

lostgirlFast forward a few months of somehow managing to ignore the ARC I was so lucky to acquire, and here we are nearing the launch date, and I’m given the honor to join in and help send Piper out into the world. Enter Linnea, stage right, furiously reading. But this was by no means a difficult task.

This book is amazing. Jazz age YA fic is kind of my gig, and there’s not a lot of it out there, and even less of it that’s a mystery. So this book was like an answer to my little bookish prayer.

This will come as a surprise only to newcomers: It’s super hard for me to fall in love with Strong Willed Female Characters. This is generally perceived as a shortcoming of mine. And, true to form: Detective Cassano is my favorite thing about this book…HOWEVER.

Piper Sail is a glorious creature. Sometimes, characters with her type of situation and even her temperament make me want to pull some hair out along the way, but I can’t remember a moment I was annoyed with her. I enjoyed her position as a narrator, I believed her decisions and emotions, didn’t ever hate her for looking for answers, and I didn’t feel cheated out of a poignant story moment because she was being “~driven~”, and that ends up not being her only character trait, as well, which is a bonus.

That being said: Detective Cassano. If miss Piper is a standout lady detective, Cassano is her perfect match in a multidimensional, easily-fallen-for supporting role. The twisting roles he plays in getting Piper her answers thicken the plot quite nicely–and just make him all the more fantastic.

It’s difficult to review the plot of a mystery without screwing it up for everybody, so let’s just skip to the end, shall we? Stephanie was amazing and allowed me to have her fill in my wrap-up points for this post, so before you get your clues, have some authorly insight!

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ILLUMINAE

There are books that you say you mean to read, and you actually mean to read them. Then there are books that you say you mean to read, and you don’t totally mean it–all you really mean is that it looks interesting.

And then there’s books that just wait, crouched on the shelf, until you walk by with your unsuspecting interest, and in a crime of opportunity: you pick it up.

ILLUMINAE is that kind of book. And it doesn’t just grab you. It attacks you.

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ILLUMINAE

  • Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Year: 2015
  • Genre vibe: SPACE SCARES
  • At a glance:SPACE SCARES

So let’s face it: it’s been about a month and a half since I read this book.

And yet, here I am, reviewing it anyways. I can’t seem to get it out of my brain. And while I may not have anything in particular to say about it, per se, I…can’t stop thinking about it.

That counts for a lot, I think.

I’m a fan of Amie Kaufman’s similarly co-authored Sci-fi Romance STARBOUND trilogy. I saw Jay Kristoff’s teases for the upcoming NEVERNIGHT and just about melted through the floor. And then ILLUMINAE happened.

This book. This book is a great many things. In addition to being an experimental medium (Imagine being handed a file on an incident. That’s the book.), it’s just…really scary.

Here’s a chain of events for you:

-Your planet basically gets blown to pieces.

-You and a small portion of your world escape on 3 ships.

-There’s an AI on one of those ships.

-There’s you on anther.

-And then your ex on the final.

I’m sure it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see how things could go downhill pretty quickly with that particular cast of characters around. ILLUMINAE is packed with twists, turns, ups, downs, you name it, ILLUMINAE has it. Including heart-wrenching feelings.

(Sorry–can’t get away from those on this blog.)

ILLUMINAE is, in short: intoxicating. You think it’ll be a fun high sci-fi ride. It’s not. It’s a drug in book form. The kind that makes you see space for days. Weeks. Months. Years.

Which is a good thing, by the way.

So overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Sci-fi fans and not sci-fi fans alike. Anyone that likes to see experimental mediums done well.
  • Lasting impression: There’s a little girl walking through the hallway, tugging something along with her. You don’t want to know what it is.

 

A Fierce and Subtle Poison

Say what you will about familiarity, classics, and favorite places. But there may be nothing I love more than genreless or genre-bent stories. You know the ones. The ones that go on just about every one of your Goodreads shelves because…what the heck is it? And does it even matter?

Add to that a stunning cover, a YA debut, and a good word from Maggie Stiefvater and guess what? I’m sold.

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A Fierce and Subtle Poison

  • Author: Samantha Mabry
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
  • Year: 2016
  • Genre vibe: We discussed this already. There’s poison, storms, and murder.
  • At a glance: Lucas feels like he belongs to this place more than he belongs with his Rich White Father™. There’s a house at the end of Calle Sol. Ask anyone for a different version of the story that belongs to it, then go throw a wish to the poisoned witch that lives there.

 

I was itching to get this book when it first released. But I learned that Samantha would be at NTTBF16 and I said “Self, you have to wait. You can get it signed there.”

Well, NTTBF16 turned out to be such a madhouse that I did not, in fact, get to meet miss Mabry. But my best friend did, twice, and informed me that she was the Cutest of Cuties and her book was incredible. So I dove in as soon as I figured out the rest of my leftover TBR. What I found was kind of shocking.

I didn’t know much about this book, going into it. I fell in love with the lush cover and the title and the fact of a brand-new, un-genre-ed debut. Then I cracked it open and found a blonde-haired-blue-eyed-sarcastic-as-hell protagonist and after that, I was sold.

There’s something about this book that makes it kind of un-quantifiable at first. It’s sitting on the corner of my desk right now, and it’s sort of asking me to read it again because isn’t there a chance you missed something, Linnea?

There is, and I probably did. It was intoxicating to read in one go, and I got caught up in a deluge of rain and pain and holy crap that ending. It was a ride, and one I’m glad I took. But here I am on the other side, thinking “Man, what just happened?”

It’s been a couple days, and I’m still not quite sure about all of it. But one thing is for sure: Samantha Mabry is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a kind of underlying power in her words and imagery that makes me wish and wish and wish for more of her writing. I can’t wait to see what happens from here–and I can’t wait to revisit the house at the end of Calle Sol and see what other wishes I can make there.

So overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 Stars
  • Recommended to: Fans of intrigue and whirlwind-type stories that don’t let you ask any questions before you get going
  • Lasting impression: Sand on the soles of your feet. Rain and rain and rain and the crash of the sea so constant you forget about it until it swallows you.

King’s Folly

An extremely exciting thing happened yesterday. Jill Williamson’s KING’S FOLLY  was released into the wild.

I’ve had the extreme privilege and pleasure to be on the promotion team for this book, and now it’s here, ready for your hands.

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King’s Folly

  • Author: Jill Williamson
  • Publisher: Bethany House
  • Year: 2016
  • Genre vibe: High fantasy
  • At a glance: The Five Realms are in danger. Volcanoes, earthquakes, and other kinds of disasters plague them, and the king of Armania is certain the gods are angry with them. But that’s not quite the case–and the princes realize that.

King’s Folly is a story about many people doing many things–some of those things are good, and some of them are not so good. Many of these people don’t know that the things they’ve done are not so good. Basically everyone in this book is misled in some form or another, and that’s kind of the whole point. Grit and hope combine in what ends up being a wonderful concoction of problems and problem solving.

Sounds great, right?

Well, if you’re not convinced, here are five realms of reasons you should read King’s Folly:

i.The Characters

While King’s Folly may be an Adult Christian Fantasy™, it doesn’t beg to be described like that, mostly because of the people that inhabit its pages. Think of that genre and you probably don’t have a character that comes to mind, right?

King’s Folly is different. Even going beyond the simple fact that many of its cast are young people, King’s Folly is a book that doesn’t rely on atmosphere or ideals so much as it relies on the morals and questions of the people inside of it.

Prince Wilek is quite easily one of my new favorite characters, and he and his brother and the rest of the crew all carry this story on their shoulders. And it works.

ii.The Depth

King’s Folly is five layers deep in everything it does. (how many Five Realms jokes can I make in one post? (a lot)) Williamson is an incredible world builder, for starters–there aren’t any detectable holes in the way thing work, and if there are, you can probably explain them away if you think hard enough.

Beyond that, King’s Folly is one of those books where you get the sense that whoever wrote it really knew what they were doing. The plot is a progression, and one that makes sense to boot. From a writer’s standpoint–the sheer amount of planning that had to go into this is crazy.

Which brings me to:

iii.The Heft

My print version of King’s Folly is five hundred and forty-four pages long, and there’s two books left to come out. But don’t let that intimidate you! There are two reasons why.

One: This book is not just thrown at your face like a brick. It is released in bite-sized e-book formats.

S E E ?

Totally doable.

Two: Hefty books are good for you. I was an epic fantasy kid–I devoured books almost this size in days. And then I grew up and found my true genre and stopped reading so many of them because, well, they just weren’t my thing anymore, right? Which doesn’t mean anything besides the fact that, well, five hundred and forty-four pages seems like a lot when you’re used to two-fifty.

But it’s good to read long books. It’s good to be engaged for that long. Your brain can handle it, I promise. And with King’s Folly, it doesn’t even seem that hard.

iv. The Colors

I mean…have you seen the cover? Red and gold never looked so good. (except for maybe in Gryffindor.)

The colors don’t stop there, though. The inside of King’s Folly is just as nice as the outside. Varied and rich, from characters, to beliefs, to places and beyond, King’s Folly is painted in shades of bronze and red, gold and blue. It has a strange sort of indeterminate aesthetic that it almost seems to not realize it possesses.

Lots of high fantasy has a not-aesthetic like this, but a lot of high fantasy takes the “not” to a deeper level than the rest of it. But King’s Folly kind of just…rolls with it.

v. This awesome playlist I made

Because what kind of book promoter would I be if I didn’t give you music to accompany your reading experience?

So what’re you waiting for? Here are picture links to help you begin your journey. (click to visit)

This is music:

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This is the free e-book of part one:

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And overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 stars for impressing the unimpressed
  • Recommended to: Anybody that was a high fantasy kid, and anybody that’s got a Christian Speculative prejudice (like me).
  • Lasting Impression: Prince Wilek’s bowed head; the foggy red lake. The way your heart feels when you know something they don’t.

 

 

I’ll Give You The Sun

Sometimes, friends recommend books.

Other times, friends throw books at you until you catch them.

Still others, friends leave you in the dust while they read a new book, and you’re forced to no longer be left behind.

I think I’ll Give You the Sun was a combination of all three of these tactics.

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I’ll Give You The Sun

  • Author: Jandy Nelson
  • Publisher: Dial
  • Genre vibe: Contemporary, with superstitious and inspirational leanings.
  • At a Glance: NoahandJude has been what these two twins have been their whole lives. Then tragedy strikes, and it’s one thing after another as we follow the siblings through their pitfalls and otherwise, watching either of them trying to figure out their individual issues.

Alright. It has to be done.

*Obi-Wan voice*

This is not the book you’re looking for.

This book is absolutely none of what I was expecting it to be. To be fair, I didn’t research what it truly is very much beyond reading the synopsis a few times. I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out a couple years ago, and kind of forgot every now and again what it was even about beyond twins, romance, and art.

So when the superstitious–even supernatural–elements, and the sheer eccentricity of the side characters happened, when it got as imaginative and out-there as it did, well…I admit I was thrown off and even a little put off, even though those are all things that I actively look for in books.

None of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy this book. No, I severely enjoyed this book. It was incredible, Jude’s voice was amazing, Noah’s character arc was satisfying, Oscar was beautiful. The setup and structure of this book was amazing. It’s everything people told me it was.

I just spent most of the book trying to reconcile the idea of it I had in my head with what it really ended up being, and what it felt like it was missing.

My favorite kinds of books are the ones where their soul thing speaks to mine. I’m pretty sure that’s what most people look for in a book. There are books where there’s an obvious one that can apply to almost everyone, and those books are quite often masterpieces.

But then there’s the quieter ones, where the soul thing is very obviously there, but can only apply to the people it chooses.

This book is of the latter type. And I feel a bit privileged to know the soul thing and see it belong to other people rather than keep it for myself. Watching this book happen to other people is, I think, one of the better parts of reading it.

So overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Lots of people. Just so long as you don’t go into this expecting codependent siblings.
  • Lasting Impression: The beach that night, Jude. The way you couldn’t see far enough that other night. Kissing him, Noah. Kissing him, Jude. Stone stone stone.

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.

 

 

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Adventures do things to me. It’s a requirement of travel that anytime I am out of town, I buy a new book.

Dangerous philosophy, but it makes for memorable reading and is an excuse to visit bookstores. Fair enough, right?

So a visit with  Snifferblog included a trip to an interesting coffee shop containing a used bookstore. Imagine my delight. And my instant gravitation to the tiny YA section tucked into the corner that some people didn’t even know was there. And when I stumbled upon a book I’ve been meaning to read, how could I say no? I mean, have you seen the spines on Carrie Ryan’s books?

So there I was, new book in hand. What I found inside its pages grabbed me, and then…bit really hard on my fingers.

The_Forest_of_Hands_and_Teeth_pb_coverThe Forest of Hands and Teeth

  • Author: Carrie Ryan
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Year: 2009
  • Genre Vibe: Post-apocalyptic cult-horror zombies.
  • At a glance: That’s basically all you need to know, not going to lie.

So Carrie Ryan is a beautiful person. I heard her speak at NTTBF last year, and her story in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys was the single most unnerving thing I’ve read all year. She’s quite the lady.

I just don’t know what to do with her book.

See, Forest of Hands and Teeth is a neat little concept wrapped up in some beautiful writing and made of things that are completely weird. Usually not in a very good way, which means I feel like this book can be summed up by saying “Mary gets very angry very easily and sometimes she pokes zombies with sticks. Other people die.”

In doing what this book was meant to as far as genre goes, it succeeded completely. It weirded me out, jump scared me once or twice, and made me think about the condition of zombies and what place they have or don’t have in any given world and how humans always react to them. As a piece of technical horror: this book is brilliant.

But as far as order of events, and readability goes? I admit to being pretty lost once the weird stuff started to happen. Mary’s mother gets turned into a zombie: awesome. Mary deals with internal struggles following her death: even better (seriously the best part of the book.). Zombies attack the village: definitely good.

Mary occasionally empathizing with the zombies, or completely forgetting they exist while surrounded by them? …not quite so much.

Mary is a very troubled girl with at least some level of insanity to a point. But some of the things she thinks and does just don’t make sense. Like she’s leading you one way and only taking part of you with her. I could take the romantic distress as legitimate, but when she started doing things like trying to identify zombies and poking the masses of them with spears? I had to look at her just a little askance.

Because the sad thing is: Mary’s character arc is incredible. She lost everything, and then every new thing she tried to take for herself got taken from her. She lost her heart and a little bit of her mind and anything she could’ve called her own save her all-consuming desire for the ocean. But the way she went about achieving this path of character change wasn’t interesting or even very emotional. It was just strange, and at times very, very abrupt.

Forest of Hands and Teeth was addictive and gripping, but it really gnawed on a couple of my peeves. And yet still the need to know how the whole story ends makes me think I ought to read the rest of the books.

So…mission accomplished, if you want to look at it that way.

But overall:

  • Rating: 2.5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: I dunno, do you like weird things and love triangles tinged with lust and madness? Then this book might be for you,  as long as the ‘weird things’ part is a prominent feature in your book tastes.
  • Lasting impression: I dunno if I said this before but Mary once poked a mass of zombies with a long stick and I’m just never going to forget that.

The Lost Sun

Happy 2015, readers.

This Christmas, while browsing the signed books table at my local Barnes & Noble, I discovered Tessa Gratton. Really, I have known about her for almost as long as I’ve known about Maggie Stiefvater, since they are critique partners and friends. But never had I actually read any of her work. And so I received a signed paperback of The Lost Sun and quickly fell in love. Gratton, Stiefvater and Yovanoff have all now stolen my heart. It happens.

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The Lost Sun

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The Lost Sun

  • Author: Tessa Gratton
  • Publisher: Ember
  • Year: 2013
  • Shelved in: Teen Fantasy and Adventure
  • Genre vibe: Mythological fantasy, Adventure, coming of age, and a good old roadtrip story, believe it or not.
  • At a glance: Soren is a berserker. He doesn’t want to be. Astrid is a seer of sorts. The A in USA stands for Asgard. Baldur has gone missing. Adventure ensues.

The Good Stuff

I’m kind of in love with this book. I admit I was worried for a little while; things seemed from the synopsis like they could get a little too political or dystopian for my taste. But I was so pleasantly surprised it’s hard to even get across how pleasant the surprise was. I got a roadtrip adventure coming of age story featuring one of my favorite character types and probably one of the best relationships I’ll read all year.

And, you know, a heartbreaking bittersweet ending and a really cool world. Just in case all that wasn’t enough.

In addition, Gratton’s prose is stunning. It carries some of the same elemental qualities of Stiefvater and Yovanoff, kind of tempered with a little bit more of a  myth-like, storytelling vibe. Which is incredible, considering that the setting kind of calls for that.

I’m just kind of in love all around. It’s such a great book and I can’t believe I didn’t pay attention to it sooner. It carries the comforting quality of a roadtrip novel, and the familiarity of a coming of age story, all packed around with adventure, romance, sword fighting, and Norse gods.

I feel like I should be able to go on forever about this book, but I’d just be saying the same things over and over again for the most part. But it really is that good. I finished it a few days ago and I find myself loving it even more as time goes on.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

Uh. . .

Nope.

When can I get to the bookstore for the next book?

Overall

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Most people. You like really good romance? This book. Like things inspired by mythology? This book. Like roadtrip stories? This book. Like adventure? Like duels? Like heroes and gods? This. Book.
  • Lasting impression: Steadfast bravery, shoulders straight under a heavy burden, and the kind of loyalty forged between those going through something. Together.