New Books

I’d for­got­ten the joy of walk­ing into a book­store and com­ing home with a hand­ful of lovely freshly printed books.

I’ve been good for a few months now and haven’t been buy­ing much, and when I have, it’s been on the Kin­dle. Great for that ‘must read now’ frenzy we all get every now and then (right?… its not just me), but it really doesn’t com­pare to the real deal.

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They’re so pretty…

 

Illustration Corner: Emma Yarlett

emma-yarlett

I caught up with fel­low Fal­mouth grad­u­ate and ris­ing pic­ture book artist, Emma Yarlett, about her gor­geous new pic­ture book Sid­ney Stella and the Moon.

What’s it like hav­ing your own pic­ture book out there and so soon after graduating?

Such a whirl­wind! I had always dreamed and hoped, but never expected that dream to become a real­ity so soon! For me it feels as though it has been quite a long process, as I began work­ing on the begin­ning stages of this project way back in 2010, but it’s incred­i­ble to see how far the book has come espe­cially since Tem­plar took me on board!

Sid­ney, Stella and the Moon is your first pic­ture book — can you tell us a bit about the whole process from start to fin­ish? (Sorry — I know this is a pretty BIG question!)

This is a super big ques­tion! Hmmm… where to start. I guess like Julie Andrews says “I will start at the very begin­ning!!” I hope you are sit­ting very com­fort­ably, might be worth get­ting a cup of tea and a bis­cuit! Con­tinue read­ing

Snapshot Review: VIII by H.M Castor

VIIIThis is a great book to pick up if you’re fan of the infa­mous Tudor king, no mat­ter what your age. VIII tells the story of Henry from a young prince through to his death and Cas­tor really suc­ceeds in bring­ing the prince to life, giv­ing emo­tion and moti­va­tion to her care­fully crafted char­ac­ter, while stay­ing true to history.

There’s a lot to cover in just one book and inevitably some areas of Henry’s life are glossed over slightly, par­tic­u­larly some of his mar­riages. How­ever, this is a period of his­tory that has already been explored a lot — what’s fresh about VIII is that much of the book is based on Henry’s child­hood and ear­lier years instead. It’s very much about the boy (and later, the man), him­self, rather than the women in his life.

There is a hint of the para­nor­mal in VIII but it works well, Cas­tor is ambigu­ous enough to leave it up to the reader to decide whether Henry really was haunted, whether his upbring­ing and reli­gious beliefs led to his visions or whether he was a frag­ile young man, slowly going crazy.

An engag­ing story that I’d highly rec­om­mend for any­one with a love of history.

Snapshot Review: Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

words+in+the+dustWords in the Dust is one of those quiet, no fuss books that tend to get lost amongst the pop­u­lar, well-marketed titles. If I saw this book on the shelf I would, in all hon­estly, be put off by the old fash­ioned cover and prob­a­bly carry on by. But this is a heart­felt, intel­li­gent book and I sim­ply can­not praise it highly enough.

Words in the Dust, writ­ten by for­mer sol­dier Trent Reedy, tells the story of Zulaikha, a young girl liv­ing in worn-torn Afghanistan. The Tal­iban may be defeated, but Zulaikha is bul­lied daily and shunned because of her cleft lip. Until the day the American’s arrive and offer her a surgery that will trans­form her life.

Words in the Dust is a rich novel that flows so beau­ti­fully, giv­ing an insight­ful glimpse into a very dif­fer­ent cul­ture and way of life. It was heart­en­ing to see Zulaikha grow in con­fi­dence through­out the book and ulti­mately choose her own future. One of the aspects I loved most (and found par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful), was how pro-women’s rights the book was, all the while main­tain­ing a respect­ful under­stand­ing of a cul­ture where girls and women do face a lot of lim­i­ta­tions. To that end, the authors note at the end is also well worth a read. An excel­lent book for younger and older readers.

*Many thanks to Frances Lin­coln Books for send­ing this for review*

June YA Releases

There are two books in June YA releases that I’m really excited about: Eliz­a­beth Wein’s new novel, Rose Under Fire, a com­pan­ion to the AMAZING Code Name Ver­ity and the final book in the Spir­it­walker tril­ogy, Cold Steel. On top of that, there’s lots of new authors I can’t wait to try as well. Enjoy!

Con­tinue read­ing

Snapshot Review: Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

Arca­dia Awak­ens, with its unusual plot and rich set­ting, promised to be a bit more cre­ative than a lot of the para­nor­mal YA cir­cu­lat­ing at the moment. In the end, how­ever, it didn’t quite work for me.

I found the writ­ing quite clunky. Whether it’s Meyer’s style of writ­ing or a con­se­quence of the trans­la­tion I don’t know, (Arca­dia Awak­ens was orig­i­nally writ­ten in Ger­man), but sen­tences didn’t flow as well as they could have and the dia­logue felt stilted and awk­ward. I also didn’t feel the char­ac­ters reacted con­vinc­ingly to the often bizarre things that were going on around them. And while I love Greek mythol­ogy, the whole snake/cat romance just didn’t work for me here. A shame, as I could have really got­ten into a Romeo and Juliet type romance with a mafia set­ting and some shapeshifters thrown in.

*Many thanks to Tem­plar for pro­vid­ing a copy for review*

Snapshot Reviews: Swim the Fly by Don Calame

Swim the Fly is a lot of fun and a refresh­ing change of pace in the YA mar­ket.  While this is most def­i­nitely a ‘boy’s book’, its one that girls and adults can also appre­ci­ate and enjoy. Matt, Coop and Sean’s sum­mer goal is to finally see a girl naked, but Matt is also deter­mined to impress a girl called Kelly. Nat­u­rally, the only way to do this is by vol­un­teer­ing to swim the 100-yard but­ter­fly. Need­less to say, noth­ing goes accord­ing to plan and ridicu­lous hilar­ity ensues.

If you’re not a fan of toi­let humor, this prob­a­bly isn’t the book for you. For the most part I was torn between hor­ror and hys­ter­ics. By all accounts, Calame appears to have pretty much nailed the inner work­ings of the ado­les­cent boy — per­haps a lit­tle too well (there’s only so much time in a teenage boy’s head I can take). Yes, some parts were a lit­tle over the top, but Swim the Fly, while as gross and cringe-worthy at times as you might imag­ine, has some sur­pris­ingly heart-warming moments as well.

*Many thanks to Tem­plar for pro­vid­ing a copy for review *

Book Review: Fins are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs

I didn’t love the first book in this series, For­give My Fins, but since I was kindly sent Fins are For­ever for review and I remem­bered quite lik­ing Quince, I thought, what the heck?

On Lily Sanderson’s eigh­teenth birth­day she’ll become just a girl—still a mer­girl, true, but sign­ing the renun­ci­a­tion will ink Princess Waterlily of Tha­lassinia out of exis­tence. That leaves plain old Lily liv­ing on land, dat­ing the boy she loves, and try­ing to mas­ter this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost con­tent to give up her place in the royal suc­ces­sion of Tha­lassinia. But just when she thinks she has every­thing fig­ured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a cer­tain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get her­self exiled from Tha­lassinia and stuck in ter­raped form, when every­one knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she bat­ting her eye­lashes at Lily’s for­mer crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the rag­ing surf comes when a mer­boy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for some­thing that clouds her view of the hori­zon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loy­alty to the king­dom in the sea, and Lily toss­ing on the waves in the mid­dle. Will she find a way to rec­on­cile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?

I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that I’m just not a mer­maid kind of girl (unless its Splash. I loved that movie, which is prob­a­bly proof that I would have quite liked this book when I was a kid, despite how I feel about it now). These days how­ever, I find Tera Lynn Child’s nar­ra­tive too young and sim­plis­tic for my read­ing tastes, a re-occurring issue for me with her books.

I had a very hard time believ­ing the pro­tag­o­nist was an 18-year-old girl and found a lot of it too cutesy and girly. Lily still calls her father ‘daddy’ (a pet peeve of mine) and appears to be pretty much uni­ver­sally adored by every­one, despite the fact that I found her bossy. I much pre­ferred Doe, a char­ac­ter with a bit of bite to her. My main prob­lem was really the trou­ble I had car­ing much about the choice Lily had to make, the whole dri­ving point of the story. Quince is still cute (though he doesn’t fea­ture enough in this book), but Lily has only been with him for two weeks. It just doesn’t seem like he should really be a decid­ing fac­tor when it comes to her entire future.

Tera Lynn Childs has an easy way of writ­ing, as well as the whole princesses, true love and ‘hap­pily ever after’ thing going on, which is per­fect for some read­ers.  The Fins tril­ogy is a light­weight, enjoy­able, girly read with a sweet romance and I would rec­om­mend it if that’s what you’re look­ing for. While this install­ment feels lack­ing a bit in the plot depart­ment, Childs’ does set up a poten­tially inter­est­ing sto­ry­line for the third book. I may even be com­pelled to see how it all wraps up.

*Many thanks to Tem­plar for send­ing this book for review*

Book Breakup: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

Ails­bet loves noth­ing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impa­tient with the arti­fice and cer­e­mony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inher­its the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trou­ble is that nei­ther princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the king­doms can be united, which princess will end up rul­ing the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strate­gic mar­riage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

For some rea­son, I got my authors mixed up when I requested this on Net­Gal­ley. I vaguely thought this was a new novel by Eva Ibbot­son. After think­ing Ms Ibbotson’s writ­ing wasn’t any­where near as inter­est­ing as I remem­bered, I realised my mistake.

It turns out The Rose Throne is by the same author of Tris and Izzie, a book I thought was pretty poor and said so two years ago.  Had I known, I wouldn’t have requested this one for review, but I did, so I felt obliged to give it a go. How­ever nowa­days I’m much less inclined to con­tinue read­ing a book I’m not inter­ested in and at 19% I’m mov­ing on from this one.

I don’t think it’s really fair to give a full review of The Rose Throne hav­ing read so lit­tle, but I will say that I do think this is a bet­ter book than Tris and Izzie. The two main char­ac­ters are bland, and don’t seem to really react to any­thing, but on the up side, they don’t inspire feel­ings of com­plete dis­gust in the short time I spent with them.

That being said, I don’t see any signs of this being a great book either. The writ­ing is just too emo­tion­less for me, some­thing I recall both­er­ing me in Ms Harrison’s pre­vi­ous work.  Unfor­tu­nately, it’s a bit like read­ing one long monot­one.  There appears to be two types of magic taweyr and neweyr, in Harrison’s world. The author kind of dumps the reader in the mid­dle of all this with­out cohe­sively explain­ing it, but from what I can gather, neweyr is a female power, con­nected to new life, growth and nur­tur­ing, while taweyr, the magic of death and war, is a male power. The exis­tence of taweyr in a woman, or neweyr in a man is deemed unnat­ural and those with the wrong weyr are despised, hunted down and killed. Not being at all con­fi­dent this author could explore this uncom­fort­ably sex­ist mag­i­cal sys­tem in a sat­is­fac­tory way and being com­pletely bored by the prose, I swiftly decided The Rose Throne, sadly, wasn’t for me.

As with Tris and Izzie, I really do love the cover though.

Many thanks to Egmont USA and Net­Gal­ley for mak­ing this ebook available.

*Please keep in mind that this review is based on an Advanced Review Copy from Net­Gal­ley and there­fore some of the nar­ra­tive and dia­logue may change before publication.*