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!

Every Hidden Thing

Some books are undoubtedly, absolutely, inexplicably, every single thing you have ever wanted, and everything that you didn’t even know that you did.

Welcome to my favorite book of the year.

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  • Author: Kenneth Oppel
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Year: 2016
  • Genre vibe: PALEONTOLOGY ROMANCE. NEED I SAY MORE?
  • At a glance: Samuel’s and Rachel’s fathers are paleontologists. Feuding paleontologists. Whenever Rachel and Sam meet, sparks fly. Whenever their fathers meet, fists do. Then the two pairs find themselves prospecting the same stretch of badlands territory for the same fossil. More sparks, more fists, and plenty of dinosaurs.

Alright, let’s start off with a scientific fact: At the very top of my Favorite Things list is Indiana Jones. The pitch for this book? Indiana Jones meets Romeo and Juliet.

You bet I’m sold.

Top it off with getting to meet Mr. Oppel at TTBF in Austin this year, and I’m practically swooning. (Oppel’s Airborn was my first venture into steampunk almost five years ago. I owe a great deal of my imaginative qualities to this guy. Thanks, Mr. Oppel.)

There are a thousand things I want to say about this book. I want to pick apart every piece of it that I loved. I want to excavate it from the rock it’s in right now and tell you “Look at this beautiful fossil I’ve found!” and then somehow get you to read it and love it and display it with pride in the museum of your bookshelves.

But that may be a bit excessive, and also, I doubt anyone has the time for that.

So what it boils down to is this: This book is so good that the last time I was this starry-eyed over a story, I was watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for the first time.

There is something quintessential about an adventure story. About dust and science that just goes together. About the excited light in a certain adventurer’s eyes when he tells you what he’s up to. A girl and her dreams and her fight, an unyielding land, an unknown frontier. There isn’t a good way to sum up the feeling that this kind of story gives me, because they’re the reason I make stories of my own, and the reason I love stories in the first place.

Every Hidden Thing is a masterpiece. The find of a century. It’s the crowning jewel of any aspiring geologists rock collection, the first treasure in a chest, a clue on a map long since discarded. It’s feeling like a kid again, wanting to be a treasure hunter or an astronaut or a scientist and not knowing yet that it took more than a hell of a lot of enthusiasm to get there.

Samuel and Rachel are some of the strongest protagonists I’ve read this year. Oppel has always been an author with master craftsmanship, and the narrative power of this duo is a cut above even the rest of his work. Pile on top of that the depth of their relationship, and the complexity of their individual struggles, and what you have is one of the best kind of characters you can ever see on the page: enthralling.

The supporting cast as well was phenomenal–Rachel’s and Samuel’s fathers were just as much a part of the story as Rachel and Sam themselves. There wasn’t any part of this book that seemed unfinished or under appreciated.

This book is a whirlwind. ( And that’s without mentioning the racing-heart and muttered “oh god please no please no please no please” that happened when the last few scenes started up. Ohhh boy.) This book is a gigantic boulder rolling towards you, and it’s standing under a huge fossil in the museum and being dwarfed by it. Wonderment and a thirst for adventure.

You can’t top that, can you?

So, overall, this book is…

  • 5/5 stars
  • For anybody that’s ever wanted to don a fedora and hit the pavement looking for something awesome. And people that like kissing. And people that like dinosaurs.
  • Dust on the bridge of his nose, something heavy in your hands, cool water on a hot day, safety. Just safety.
  • THIS PLAYLIST that I made specifically to make you want to read the book!

Hey, if you’ve been here awhile–thank you so much for reading! It’s been a hell of a year in a lot of senses of the word, and if this blog brought you anything from a brief “wow her jokes are super dumb” chuckle to a new book, I’m glad! Looking forward to a bright and book-filled 2017. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line on Instagram or Twitter, and stay tuned for some more fun stuff coming up this year!

-l.

The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen

We’ve talked about book that are too pretty to pass up on this blog before. We’ve all but come out and said it: Linnea judges books by their covers.

There’s all that logical stuff about how the cover is the first thing you see, et cetera, et cetera. Covers are important, and Linnea picks books based on them sometimes.

The thing about ANNIE is that it was was…not what it appeared.

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The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen

  • Author: Katherine Howe
  • Publisher: Putnam
  • Year: 2015
  • Genre vibe: Urban ghost story, his-fic
  • At a glance: Wes is in summer school, in NYC, filming a documentary. Annie is…Annie is. And that’s kind of a big deal.

This book has some of my favorite things in it. Ghosts, boys with personality tics, urban location, beautiful cover. Cool story. Kissing. The list goes on.

But it also has some of my least favorite things in it. His-fic, exclamation points, ALL CAPS YELLING. The lack of a consistent urban setting. Confusion as to who’s head I’m in.

Annie has it all.

Annie is a ghost story that never uses the word ghost. Which is, in and of itself, a fantastic concept. Annie is also a ghost story that uses basically every ghost line, but without the satisfaction of the eerie that’s-a-spirit-we’re-looking-at feeling. Annie is a ghost story–but it’s not a horror novel, not in the least.

I read a lot of ghost stories, basically any I can get my hands on that aren’t an immediate turn of. I will read ghost stories until the day I die and someone can write mine. I love them. I love ghosts.

Which means that, even though Wes is a bit like my favorite character type, Annie was hands down, the best character in this book. And I think that, maybe, she should have been the only one. Lots of story elements got lost inside of Wes’ head, things that I think could have been seriously cool if we saw them with Annie’s eyes. And I understand why Wes was necessary. But towards the end–he bored me.

And then the last chapter happened, and I begrudgingly admitted that I really enjoyed this book and what it was trying to say between all the exclamation points and the avoidance of the word Ghost.

I can’t say I’ll be reading Annie again. But I’m not sad to see it on my shelf.

So overall:

  • Rating: 3/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Mostly, his-fic fans, or die-hard ghost lovers like me
  • Lasting impression: Annie Van Sinderen, sitting on a bench in central park, smiling.

 

 

 

Book Review: Jackaby

So my beautiful friend Mariesa over at 2 AM sent me this book for Christmas. What can I say? I was overjoyed. BOOKS.

I’m going to note before we start that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really loved it. There were just things that I didn’t like and I happen to actually be able to form words about them for once. So don’t go getting the wrong impression when it comes to questions and comments.

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Jackaby

 

  • Author: William Ritter
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
  • Year: 2014
  • Shelved in: Teen Fiction
  • Genre vibe: Historical fiction, alternate reality, paranormal
  • At a glance: Hmm…Jackaby is Not Sherlock, but he is, and he can see ghouls and fae folk and the other world for what it really is. Miss Rook becomes his assistant by accident. Something is killing people, and Jackaby is certain it’s not a person. Adventure ensues.

The Good Stuff

 Atmosphere! I’m not usually a huge fan of anything historical that doesn’t have to do with the 20’s, the Revolutionary period, or that has a major this-isn’t-historical-fiction-I-promise vibe, but I liked this. I think I actually ended up liking it because it felt so historical, when everything else was not. Which leads me to my favorite part:

The magic.

The magic. Basically, from the vibe I got, if it’s a magical/supernatural creature of any kind, it exists, and Jackaby can see it. A lot of times systems like this can feel kind of cluttered with an over abundance of Magical Beings from too many different places. But not this time. The main focus was on a small enough amount, and there were just enough hints about others that I got a feel for the scope of it without being overwhelmed. And that was just really cool.

Also, my favorite thing ever exists in this book. My favorite thing ever is benevolent ghosts. There is one. Her name is Jenny. She’s my favorite character and I love her to death. (ha. ha ha. ha.)

Another thing I liked was the simplicity of it. It was, basically, an eccentric detective story. Which I…don’t really like. At least, not with the nostalgic feeling a lot of people do. But it was such a prominent aspect of the story, and it was done really well, and I enjoyed it well enough.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

Question: It’s a series. Why?

No, no, I get it, I do, but…I’m not sure if I’ll continue reading or not. It was a lovely ending, promising adventures to come, and I might prefer to leave it that way. I like knowing that the adventures happened without having to…go on them, sometimes.

My comments mainly have to do with the writing. I think I skipped just about every single description in the entire book, because there were just so many of them for so long every time Miss Rook saw something of note. It was distracting and those always kind of hurt my brain because I see them and think “Oh, no, I have to force myself to picture something now. For more than a paragraph, too. Oh my.”

Not generally a great thing to think while you’re supposed to be asking questions that keep you reading.

Other than it was just a little less than exciting. Which is probably my “I really like poetic surreal prose” preference talking, but still. It wasn’t anything to praise. I like being able to praise writing style.

(Though I will say the dialogue was spot on, if a little too reminiscent of Doctor Who for me)

As for concerns…Miss Rook, I don’t even remember your name. I don’t remember where you came from, or your backstory. I remember your unnecessary and quite near-sighted comments about girls being just as good as boys, and I remember some of your more clever quips…and how you never, ever got emotional over anything Mr. Jackaby said to you except for when you both thought you were dying.

I don’t. I don’t remember her name. She was the picture of a character who tried too hard. Her feminist existence made me cringe a lot, and though I know we needed someone else’s eyes to see Jackaby through, I wish they weren’t hers. She was flat as the page she was written on and I think she’s probably the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much at face value as I could have without her.

I really didn’t like her. But at least, I think, it’s that I felt some emotion for her rather than not caring about her at all. If I have to ask a character “who are you?” then I have a really hard time reading. But if it’s “what are you doing here?” things are a little more bearable.

And, in the end, I felt for Jackaby. I really did.

So.

Overall

  • Rating: 3/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Fans of a good old eccentric detective story, fans of a really neat magic system
  • Lasting impression: And oh how sad his eyes must look sometimes. How much he must have to hide.