Monday, April 18, 2016

Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola

Baba Yaga's Assistant 
by Marika McCoola
illustrated by Emily Carroll
132 pages
Candlewick Press
August 2015
Book Jacket Summary
Must have skills in hauling, obeying orders, cooking, and cleaning. Magical talent a bonus. Must be good with heights. Enter Baba Yaga's house to apply.

Most children think twice before braving a haunted wood filled with terrifying beasties to match wits with a witch, but not Masha. Her beloved grandma taught her many things: that stories are useful, that magic is fickle, and that nothing is too difficult or too dirty to clean. The fearsome witch of folklore needs an assistant, and Masha needs an adventure. She may be clever enough to enter Baba Yaga's house on chicken legs, but within its walls, deceit is the rule. To earn her place, Masha must pass a series of tests, outfox a territorial bear, and make dinner for her host. No easy task, with children on the menu!  

My Thoughts
Baba Yaga is such an interesting fairy tale character. She lives in a house with chicken legs, eats naughty children, and has many strange pets. I have read a few stories that featured her and I like the challenges she give her characters. This graphic novel puts a twist on the story because Masha already knows the stories and is more prepared when meeting Baba Yaga. In fact, she searches Baba Yaga out to become her assistant because she feels unwelcome at home. She is placed through some of the same tests her gandmother went through many years ago but with a twist.

The element of family is a strong theme through the story with the strong bond between Masha and her grandmother but a broke one between Masha and her father. It is her father's remarriage and seemingly disregard for her that pushes her out of the house and looking for Baba Yaga. It is dealt with in a good manner and I did not feel like it was very rushed. I wish there was a little more time spent with Masha and her father but is does have a satisfying conclusion.

This graphic novel is illustrated is blues and purples. I love the cover with Baba Yaga grinning manically. I enjoyed this one and I wonder why I left it on my shelf for so long! This is a great addition to the graphic novel shelf either in your home or gracing the library shelves. 

Book Pairings
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch 
Foiled by Jane Yolen


Friday, April 15, 2016

Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth

by Jordan Elizabeth
285 pages
Curiosity Quills Press  
January 2016

Book Jacket Summary
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother's neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.

Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags' swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.

Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.
My Thoughts
I have always loved a good Steampunk novel and Cogling is a good edition to the genre. Edna is a hard working maid that needs her income to help her family survive. When her brother is changed out for a Cogling she risks everything to go and find him. Ike is a thief who has a vendetta against the hags and is willing to help Edna get her brother back. I really like these two characters and their chemistry. Edna is not sure of Ike at first but trusts that he wants to prove that the hags are swapping out children. It is a simple story that follows all the basic plot points of a fantasy novel but I thought it was a fun read. The reader can read between the lines and figure out Ike's secrets early on but it is interesting to feel Edna's reaction to them. There is also the spoiled girl that Edna works for who is dragged into the story. I do like that she retains her snobbish ways throughout the story but also grows as a character. 
This is a by the numbers fantasy with lots of Steampunk elements thrown in for good measure. I did enjoy the story and tweens should get a kick out of it. Buy the Kindle version when it goes on sale.

Book Pairings
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare  
Airborn (Matt Cruse, #1) by Kenneth Oppel
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1) by Gail Carriger


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top 7 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

Top 7 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads 
I know it is supposed to be top 10 but I could only come up with 7! I haven't been reading enough great books apparently.

Furiously Happy
by Jenny Lawson

The Uninvited 
by Cat Winters 
The Only Child
by Guojing
Little Robot 
by Ben Hatke 


Roller Gilr
by Victoria Jamieson

 Viva Frida
by Yuyi Morales

 Finding Serendipity 
by Angela Banks


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Uninvited by Cat Winters

The Uninvited 
by Cat Winters 
343 pages
Published by William Morrow  
August 2015

Book Jacket Summary
Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.

But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

My Thoughts
Cat Winters is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She is showing the world how a historical novel should be written, especially one with such emotional undertones. Although this is listed with YA book it is one meant for adults but it is one that has cross-over appeal for teens who loved In the Shadow of Blackbirds. This book also deals with the ramifications of the Spanish flu epidemic and World War I on a woman and the people around her. However, this books delves more into the hate and bigotry that German Americans faced in small towns. They are killed and it is called patriotic. This is what kicks off the book. 
Ivy leaves her home after recovering from the flu when she finds out that her father and brother have killed a German in town. Her leaving causes her to meet Daniel, the brother of the man her family killed. The guilt she feels makes her want to help him and quickly falls in love with him. This is where the more adult elements kick in. I do think that teens will still like Ivy. Her nativity is well executed with the time period and her homebound ways. She just wants to cut herself off from the pain and emotions that the outside world can cause, also she feels that her staying at home protects the people inside.  
There is much use of poetry in the book, especially Emily Dickinson. It parallels the book perfectly and echos Ivy's own secluded life prior to the flu. I think that Cat Winters does a great job of including it within the book without it seeming out of place as it does in other books I have read. 
I would highly recommend this book and Cat Winters' earlier books. I know I am going out to buy her newest!  

Book Pairings 
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winter
The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten On My Spring TBR
What's on your TBR for this Spring?
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Boys Don't Knit (In Public) by T. S. Easton
 Draw the Line by Laurent Linn
The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure
Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure
by Ryan North  

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

The Geek Feminist Revolution essays by Kameron Hurley


Monday, March 14, 2016

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land by Gail Carson Levine

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land
by Gail Carson Levine  
Disney Press
June 2010

Book Jacket Summary
Gwendolyn Carlisle loves fairies, perhaps too much. On her birthday, she receives the precious "kiss" necklace which has been passed down from mother to daughter ever since Peter Pan gave it to Wendy Darling. That night, Gwendolyn has the first of her visions-tantalizing, lifelike visions, almost as if she were actually in Fairy Haven. She sees animaltalent fairy Beck give a pie to wise Mother Dove and hears the voices of water-talent Rani and even Tinker Bell herself.

More than anything, Gwendolyn wishes she could be there. When she is just about to lose hope, Peter Pan comes at last and blows fairy dust on her. The instant they reach Never Land, she sets out to find fairies. But the fairies are not eager to meet her.

Then the evil Kyto, a dragon the fairies once helped to capture, escapes. He intends to destroy Never Land, starting with Fairy Haven. The fairies have but one choice: they must stop Kyto. As they set out on their desperate quest-a quest that could be their very last-the fairies must decide if Gwendolyn can help or hinder. . . .

Infused with magic and feeling, and bursting with excitement, this thrilling tale is the third in the celebrated series of illustrated novels from Newbery Honor winning author Gail Carson Levine and renowned illustrator David Christiana.

My Thoughts
Gwendolyn is an ancestor of Wendy but is not as enamored with Peter as her family. Instead she loves fairies and the "kiss" (the acorn button from the original story) shows them to her in her dreams. During her first trip to Never Land, Gwendolyn gets to meet Mother Dove and the fairies. However there is danger coming as Kyto, the evil dragon, escapes his confinement. Will Gwen's love of fairies put them in even more danger? 

Gwen is young and has typical bouts of anger with herself and with the elements around her. I do like that she is more spirited than Wendy and her mother. She sees the faults in Peter plainly but is still willing to go on an adventure with him. She also is not one to clean and be "mother" to the lost boys. She is a modern girl who is expected to be a Victorian one in Peter's eyes. They only touch on this a little but I thought it was well done!

This is the third and final installment of Gail Carson Levine's series. From this point out the fairy books are based on the movies. I would point out that the previous books have been very traumatic, even for me, but this one is tamer in depictions of violence and just general bad things happening to fairies.

Book Pairings
The Fairy's Mistake (The Princess Tales, #1) by Gail Carson Levine  
OMG: The Glitter Trap by Barbara Brauner & James Iver Mattson


Friday, March 11, 2016

Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up by Grace Helbig

Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up 
by Grace Helbig 
4 hours and 33 minutes
Simon & Schuster Audio 
October 2014

Book Jacket Summary
"One of the sharpest, funniest voices on YouTube" (Forbes), comedian Grace Helbig offers an irreverent and illustrated guide to life for anyone faced with the challenge of growing up.

Face it—being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life…but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that’s perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult.

Infused with her trademark saucy, sweet, and funny voice, Grace’s Guide is a tongue-in-cheek handbook for millennials, encompassing everything a young or new (or regular or old) adult needs to know, from surviving a breakup to recovering from a hangover. Beautifully illustrated and full-color, Grace’s Guide features interactive elements and exclusive stories from Grace’s own misadventures—like losing her virginity solely because her date took her to a Macaroni Grill—and many other hilarious lessons she learned the hard way.

Amusing and unexpectedly educational, this refreshing and colorful guide proves that becoming an adult doesn’t necessarily mean you have to grow up.

My Thoughts
YouTuber Grace, It's Grace, put out a book about how to at least pretend to be an adult. I haven't seen her YouTube vids but I and a struggling adult pretending to know what I am doing on a daily bases.

 Maybe I can learn something, right?

Well... Not much learning going on but it was a humorous account of her life and the many things she learned. We are just not similar in personality. Different kinds of introverts and dealing with different kinds of stress. I did laugh quite a few times and I would recommend it to those who like funny stories.I did skip the recipe section because I am a vegetarian and one recipe included spam. Ick. That part was not for me. She also like to use the word butt a lot and talks about loose bowls. Kinda gross but I get where she is coming from. It's still a bit nasty when she talks about diarrhea all the time.

It's a good guidebook but I'm a bit old for it- even though I straddle the Millennial line. Maybe I should be the one giving advise rather than reading it. 

Book Pairings
Grace and Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It by Grace Helbig
Don't Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething's 
(Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood 
by Alida Nugent 
 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She's 30 
by Pamela Redmond Satran

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