Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason Black | Book Review

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Title: Devil and the Bluebird
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Publisher:  Amulet Books
Publication Date: May 17th, 2016
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places. In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.

What I thought

Devil and the Bluebird had me intrigued and ready at the mention of magical realism and then furthered my interest with how beautiful its presentation is. Honestly, it's one of the prettiest books I've seen in a while. All of the beautifulness aside, I really enjoyed Devil and the Bluebird. It wasn't Bone Gap spectacular, but it was still pretty good.

The book follows Blue Riley as she makes a deal with the devil* to find her sister Cass. This sends her in a magical adventure across the country. See, thing is I could appreciate the need to find her sister, that is what drives Blue, but soon enough it becomes about finding who she is. I'm always down for young girls going on a soul searching journey to find themselves.

*do not make deals with the devil, young ones. However, if you are of a certain age, go for it. Why not? Something cool might happen and if not, well at least you will be too worried about that to worry about today's political reality.

Along the way she finds a colorful cast of characters that are dealing with their own set of problems and whatnot. It is during the moments in which Blue encounters others that some of the magical realism aspects of the story shine brightest. It's also kind of creepy at times. Always appreciate a bit of creepiness in my magical realism, mind you. However, I wish there had been more of the magical aspects of it. In magical realism, unlike baroque, more is better.

That being said, I enjoyed what we did get and I enjoyed Blue's journey. It was certainly an intriguing and original book. It's not worming its way into my favorite magical realism books, but it was good. I enjoyed the journey and Blue's struggles to save herself and her sister. 

Gift Giving 101: The Right Answer is Always Books | Top Ten Tuesday

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hello, friends and casual readers who stumbled upon this blog by mere coincidence, but will now stay because we've got the goodies (aka books).  Today we are going to talk about gift giving. Christmas is coming up on us all very fast and with it comes the stress of what to get the booklover in your life. Books? Well, duh. But, Laura, you say, they've read practically everything! What am I supposed to get them? I'm going to tell you and you are going to listen. Let's go.

1. Gift cards

This is not a book, I know. I hear you, I do. However, a gift card saves you the hassle of having to figure out what your book lover has or hasn't read. God knows I love getting that Barnes & Noble's gift card from my godmother every Christmas. She knows what's up. So, be generous my kind gift givers and pay it forward with a gift card if you're unsure on what to get them. You can't go wrong here, believe me. 

2. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

I mean, dude bro, alternate history is pretty much what I wish my reality was now. By that I mean I wish I lived in a world where Trump wasn't President-elect. So, this book is perfect to illustrate the dangers of history going wrong (pretty much all of 2016). However, it has the advantage of being fictional and compelling. The characters are all A+ and the concept is also very stellar. If your book lover has already read it you can always gift them the sequel Blood by Blood. I haven't read it so can't attest to how good it is.

3. A Rick Riordan Book

If you ask me, you can't go wrong with Rick Riordan. His books are funny and entretaing and they are based on mythology from around the world. He also has chapter titles, and let me tell you they are life. What more can you ask of a book? If you are still not sold, there's epic adventures and some romance sprinkled in there too. Don't forget the chapter titles.

4. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This book is bae. People don't talk about it enough, so chances are your book lover doesn't own it yet or perhaps they haven't read it yet. In which case you need to scream at them to correct this fact. Tell them I told you so and I am a trust authority in all things book related. They, too, can thank me later. All kidding aside, this book is perfect for the magical realism lover in your life.

5. The Time in Between by Maria Dueñas

This is an Adult book (also support translators woohoo, or read it in Spanish if you can) but it's an excellent Adult book. It's about a woman living through WWI and WWII. It's easy to get through, despite it's heftiness. Just an excellent book all around. 

6. Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix

I feel that because this series came out a while ago (21 years to be precise) it has sort of faded in the minds of everyone. I mean, I was barely a baby when the series come out so the fact that I know about the series at all is quite remarkable. They are great fantasy, and they have kick ass characters and plots. They have magic and a species of zombies. It sounds weird, but it's awesome. Recently they went through a cover change in an effort to revive them (ha) and they are a beautiful addition to any shelf.

7. Anything by Melina Marchetta

 I feel like Melina Marchetta is oftentimes overlooked. Her Lumatere Chronicles is a work of art, a fantasy series to devour and pour all your love into. Her contemporary novels are just as fabulous and talk about love (of all kinds), fitting in, family, and living in a world that might not be the kindest. They are great. I'm convinced she can do all. Your book lover would be lucky to have you introduce him/her to the wonder that is Melina Marchetta. In all honesty, they would owe you forever for this.

8. Graceling Trilogy by Kristin Cashore

I love the series more than I can possible say. It has representation, it has excellent villians, characters, and just world building in general. It also has adorable romances that are so slow burn they should be called baño maria because before you know it bam, your heart has melted and you ship people so much. Also, the protagonists are ladies. Awesome, complicated and infinitely complex ladies that have good and valuable relationships with other women. I mean, what more can you ask for?

9. Like Water from Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

This book was the biggest surprise of my year. I went in expecting not to like it at all, and walked out loving it. It's magical realism and it's Mexican. In my book, those two things make it awesome enough. However, if you need more to convince you well... there's cooking and you so get hungry and craving some of that mole and enchiladas and cake. It's just wow, the food. It's the story of a family and it has romance in it. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss read it in her fancy school. It's the book about a woman having sex with a man in a horse. Yes, it's an Adult book. Great Adult book. It's funny and kind of ridiculous, but it has a huge heart.

10. All of the above

You can win Christmas and give the book lover in your life all of the above. I mean, as a book lover myself I know that quality matters, but quantity is also something we appreciate. If you really want to win Christmas, listen to me and buy all of the above. I'm kidding. Sort of. Not really.

I hope this guide was useful to you in some way. *cough* number 10 is the way to go *cough*

Let me know what you get the book lovers in your life!

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab | Review

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: July 5th, 2016
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

There’s no such thing as safe.
Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.
August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.
Their city is divided.
Their city is crumbling.
Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.
But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

What I thought

  I've been facing a sort of reading slump this year. I've grown to accept this fact. However, every once in a while a book comes and it captivates me and it momentarily pulls me out of that reading slump. This Savage Song was that book.

I love Victoria Schwab's writing. I genuinely do. She writes beautifully, yes, but the strength in her books are not the words themselves, or the plot, but the characters that populate them. This Savage Song was no exception to her wonderful character development.

The story follows August Flynn, a monster, and Kate Harker, who wishes she could be more of one. The characters are the story, they shape the world they live in and bring with them a perspective unique to their life experiences. They feel like real, breathing people. Their POVs are as distinct from each other as any two people's living the same day might be in real life. Not only that, but their development and growth was incredible. I am rooting for them.

Now, another thing I also enjoy about Schwab's books is the world building, all of the books I've read by her have unique worlds. However, they don't seem like they're so far fetched or impossible. Her world building for this book was also excellent, if anything I wish we understood a little bit more about how monsters (particularly Sunai) are created and just more about the monsters in general. However, I understand that because this fact remains a mystery in their world, it has to remain a mystery to the reader as well.

I loved This Savage Song, it was one of those rare books that pulled me out of my year long reading slump and made me want to know more. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel Our Dark Duet.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week 1

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

This November I decided to embark in the absolutely insane task of writing 50,000 words in a month. Yes, a month. I am not alone, though. Oh no, sir, thousands around the world (I just wrote word instead of world, this is evidence that I cannot think of anything but words) decide to embark on this insanity every year.

What are you writing?, you ask. I am trying to write a fantasy-ish (there's no dragons or anything like that yet) tale of two friends from opposing kingdoms. One is kidnapped the other is enlisted to spy. It's great fun all around.

Since you clearly care so much about this little endeavor of mine (and my sanity) I decided to update you on the first six days of the insanity.

Day 1

On day 1, I did not write at home and as such it was a wildly productive day. I have noticed the key to productivity is to leave my house and yet, I refuse to do just that.

Day 1 total word count: 2,679

Day 2

On day 2 of NaNo I was holding up quite alright. I had a huge gap in between classes and this proved to be quite productive writing wise. Now, don't ask about my reading because that has suffered this year any way you see it. 

Words written: 2,001
Total word count: 4,680

Day 3

Day 3 wasn't that conductive to writing. I did not have class until 6pm and was left to procrastinate (which I did, of course I did). I also went out to be social and have food with my friends, which while fun didn't exactly afford me much time to write. 

Words written: 1,667
Total word count: 6,357

Day 4

Day 4 of NaNo brought with it a busy day. I decided to volunteer as an interpreter at this training thing the school had going on and it was rockin', but it was also supremely long. Four hours of good writing time were spent outside of my home. So, writing did happen, it just wasn't much (or very good for that matter).

Words written: 468
Total word count: 6,825

Day 5

Day 5 was Saturday, and while it was productive writing wise, it was also very productive in the ways of procrastination. It felt like I wrote much of nothing because of all the drama episodes I watched (I have issues with my self-control, okay?). 

Words written: 2,038
Total word count:  8,863

Day 6

Day 6 of NaNo was okay, although my motivation was nowhere to be found. The fact that I wrote at all is a testament of how many people I've told I would be doing NaNo this month, and if I were to fall behind I would have to explain to them all why I failed. Doing this every year gives me bragging rights, year round.

Words written: 1,222
Total word count: 10,085

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Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Lelia Sales | Review

Thursday, November 3, 2016
Title:  Tonight the Streets Are Ours
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straux and Giroux
Publication Date: September 15th, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Recklessly loyal. That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Caring for her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone—including her needy best friend and her absent mom—taking her loyalty for granted. Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her. Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him. During one crazy night out in New York City filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

What I thought

I won't lie and say I wasn't expecting a cutesy contemporary with some cutesy scenes to make me squeal. I was, because, well... the cover does have two people holding hands. However, what I got was something drastically different than what I was expecting. Not that this is a bad thing, it just was't what I bargained for.

The book follows Arden Huntley, recklessly loyal and quite frustrating. I like selfish people, I am one of these people. As such, understanding Arden was a bit hard for me throughout most of the story. I mean, her boyfriend seemed like a decent dude but I would have none of this shit (or so I would like to think, seeing how I've never been involved in a romantic relationship with decent or indecent guys), or her relationship with Lindsey. Which is why I loved the blow out by the end there. Seeing Arden standing up for herself and growing so much in one night was what gave this book the extra point five. 

The writing itself was kind of hard for me to get into. I'm used to first POV contemporaries, and why it wasn't anything bad the voice was kind of hard for me to get into at first. It also made me feel a bit detached from the story and the characters themselves. Once I got used to it, though, I was fine.

My favorite thing about this book, however, was the slight commentary on how we sometimes idolize people and how when that idolization comes crashing down you might just find a completely different person. So, never just blindly follow anyone, kids. Also, it had kind of a Manic Pixie Boy (is there such a thing? If not, there should definitely be, or is it just Cute Guy Suddenly Not Being So Cute?) going on, which I appreciated. Let the roles be reversed for once.

All in all, it was a good read, but it's not supremely most fabulously outstanding and incredible. I think that was one too many adjectives, but we'll go with it.