If you've seen my recent blog tour post for Penguin Teen, you know that I've been catching up on spooky books for the Halloween season! Here are some perennial favorites in honor of the holiday.
I can't stop thinking about The Silvered Serpents. It's pretty much my only news--I finished reading on Sunday night and immediately dissolved into a puddle of tears and heart. Y'all need to keep this book on your mind! Next September is not that far away, and I promise it's worth the wait. I am so lucky to have received an early copy, although I think waiting for the final installment might actually destroy me. This is your first of MANY reminders to pick up The Gilded Wolves and get lost in 1789 Paris with Séverin's crew.
In other news, I'm partly through Ninth House and I love it! I think this is the only horror novel that I will actually tolerate, because I do not do jump scares, but I do like twisted, humorous, psychological thrills. I'm reading a bit every day, and it's a balm for my soul. I probably should be reading the books I have out from the library, but New Haven calls to me! I need it! Regardless, I expect to be done mid-November. I'm taking the time to savor Bardugo's prose and world, which I think is warranted for this novel. It's so different from her YA books, and I love that. What are you reading?
It's....... SPOOKY SEASON! I'm back today with a Blog Tour post for Penguin Teen's Wicked Reads campaign, sharing the stories that go bump in the night. My book is The Haunted by Danielle Vega, and a massive thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me a copy! Below the summary, I'm sharing costume designs for the main characters! I hope you pick up this spooky ghost story in celebration of Halloween.
Hi all, I'm so excited to share this post with you for the Beyond the Black Door Blog Tour! I've got an exciting feature, along with a summary of the book and information about a fun giveaway. Follow along on the tour to see reviews and other content from FFBC bloggers!
The Book and its Author
Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn't listen ...
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people's souls while they sleep.
But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland's imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai's own soul, but the entire kingdom...
AdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, vests, tattoos, and every shade of teal in existence, but especially the darker ones. She is the coauthor of SHADOW RUN and SHADOW CALL (Delacorte/Penguin Random House) and author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR (Imprint/Macmillan).
10 Historical Figures with Fascinating Soul Houses
Sappho – As one of the earliest known lady poets, and most famous of lesbians, I just want to get to know her better.
Siddhārtha Gautama – I have some questions about enlightenment.
Plato – Would everything be in perfect form inside or would it be a junk show?
Cleopatra VII Philopator – I mean, her soul house just has to be cool.
Leonardo DaVinci – I want his soul house to be a flying machine and I’ll be disappointed if it’s not.
Ching Shih – I have to get pirates in here somehow, and who better than the infamous pirate queen who commanded tens of thousands? Four words: PIRATE SHIP SOUL HOUSE.
Edgar Allan Poe – I’m practically obligated to say this, as a writer of dark stuff. Maybe it would be like a house of horror.
Oscar Wilde – Because I love him, and his soul would somehow be witty and charming and sad and fabulous and gay all at the same time.
Salvador Dali – I feel like this is self-explanatory … as in, I want to see some melting clocks on the walls.
Katherine Johnson – Because holy crap, this woman’s mind. Her soul must be a stunner as well.
Thank you to Mascot Books for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
While Loukas is playing his flute at the seawall one day, he befriends a mysterious talking, dancing snake that rewards him with fortune and favor. Some years later, tempted by freed and pride, Loukas loses all his riches and his family. He must now set off on a treacherous journey through a frightening forest filled with suspense and strange creatures to find Destiny; her son Ilion, the Sun; and her daughter Luna, the Moon. These celestial guardians will surely allow him to reverse his misfortune, restore his honor, and win back all that he loves and treasures, won’t they?
A reimagined Greek Folktale, Loukas and the Game of Chance is illuminated with dramatic and evocative pen and ink drawings that provide an ideal backdrop for the dark intrigue that fills this haunting story of human struggle, courage, and resilience.
Loukas and the Game of Chance totally surprised me! To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting a picture book, but I ended up enjoying myself and had a good reading experience nevertheless. I know some of you are probably skeptical on reading picture books past a certain age, but I think they’re a breath of fresh air in between books with heavier content matter.
This lively, informative book with wonderful illustrations is great for any reader seeking a fun Greek folktale. I was a bit thrown off by the illustrations—some pages were illustrated, others weren’t, and the book ends up being around 70 pages regardless—but they are still beautiful. Full of beautiful imagery of life on the Aegean Sea, I could easily imagine Loukas’ journey and the beautiful landscapes he encounters.
Loukas himself is a sympathetic character: he understands the importance of kindness and humility, as taught by his parents, but he falls victim to his pride, loses everything, and must work to regain his family. Following his failure, he puts in the effort to plead his case in front of Destiny and her children, celestial beings who decide the fates of humans. There were times when Loukas thought about turning around and wallowing in shame, but he persevered on his quest, demonstrating the importance of determination and sacrifice for the people you love.
The plot is full of adventure and mysterious beings, some of whom may not have the best intentions... but ultimately it is up to Loukas whether or not he is able to rejoin his family. There’s a great message in the story about the dangers of greed and pride, and how it is important to live life with dignity and, as the kids would say, not “let the haters get you down.”
Overall, Loukas and the Game of Chance is a light folktale that’s worth a read. 4/5 stars.
Hey y'all! I feel like it's been the longest time since I've published something here. Four days really does pass like an eternity, doesn't it? Anyways, I thought that since this feature is about getting to know me a bit more as a person, I'd share that today's my birthday! That's right, you guessed it, I'm a Libra. I'm sure you're not surprised. I'm so happy to be celebrating with friends and family, but I know that all day, I'm looking forward to coming home and reading Ninth House! It's pretty much all I think about these days. I'm so grateful that I got to meet Leigh at her Boston tour stop. She is so kind and funny--I loved her book talk with Kelly Link! Regardless, I love the setting and magical atmosphere of Ninth House, and can't wait to escape back to New Haven!
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
Aaaahhh!! Incoherent screaming! I've loved Ruta Sepetys's books forever (see my recent #bookstagram post on Salt to the Sea), and I'm so thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Fountains of Silence! I have my review here today, as well as a cool moodboard for the novel.
The Book and its Author
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography--and fate--introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War--as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history's darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence--inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.
Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a "crossover" novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide. Her novels Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity. She has presented to NATO, to the European Parliament, in the United States Capitol, and at embassies worldwide. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @RutaSepetys and Instagram @RutaSepetysAuthor.
Thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review!
The Fountains of Silence is a beautiful knockout of a novel. Ruta Sepetys has done it again. I am constantly amazed by her characters and worlds, and this novel is no exception. I knew almost nothing about Franco’s Spain going in, but by the end I felt that I had learned so much about a part of history rarely spoken of (at least in American culture). This novel portrays powerfully the traumas that Spaniards went through under Franco’s fascist regime, and also the contrast between locals in Madrid and the American tourists who traveled there unaware of the horrors perpetuated by the government.
This novel instantly sucked me in. I didn’t intend to finish it in one sitting, but Sepetys’ writing is so magnetic that I couldn’t stop reading. Most of the book is character building: I spent so much time getting to know Ana, Daniel, Rafa, Julia, and Puri that they felt incredibly real to me. The Fountains of Silence is long, but every page is worth the read. There’s also a small mystery subplot that heightens toward the end and ties all of the characters together while revealing another impactful side of Spanish history. For fear of spoilers, since I KNOW you’re going to read The Fountains of Silence, I won’t say more.
Daniel and Ana were the main characters in my opinion, and I loved their chemistry and dynamic. Daniel is the son of an American oil tycoon, and Ana works as a maid at the Hotel Castellana Hilton, where Daniel stays in Madrid. Her parents were Spanish Republicans, and they were tortured and killed because of their political views. Therefore, Ana and her siblings must work hard to be seen as loyal to Franco to avoid being linked to their parents’ ideas. Daniel knows little of life for Spaniards, but I appreciated how respectful he was of Ana and how he was willing to learn more about Spain and try to make change through his photography instead of just brushing off the struggles of the Spanish people. Daniel and Ana’s relationship was one of my favorite parts of the novel.
I also enjoyed reading about Daniel’s photography. When I was reading his POV, I was struck by the ways in which he observed the world differently: framing shots in his mind, thinking about composition, separating moments into frames, and creating a story with a picture. This allowed him to explore the unseen in Spain and look deeper into the country’s hidden truths than his society peers. These shadowy elements of life in Spain during Franco’s regime were always in the background (and sometimes frighteningly in the foreground) of the novel, and there were moments when I literally stopped breathing while reading. Sepetys portrays the fear and tension in the country masterfully, and the care that she put into her research is evident.
Sure enough, part of writing a historical fiction novel is placing the events within a larger historical context, which Sepetys did well. She included sections of letters and news excerpts from the time period relating to Franco and Spain. She also included a bibliography in the back, which I appreciate. I know I will be reading some of those works to gain a better understanding of the time period she portrayed.
The Fountains of Silence is a gripping novel, full of empathy and the power of human connection. I give it 5/5 stars, and insist that everybody pick up a copy.
Hi all! This week is such a big week for blog tours! This is the second out of three, and I'm so excited to share this post with you! The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy is a new fantasy novel that you'll want to add to your TBRs straightaway. Follow along with the tour here, and don't forget to enter an exciting giveaway down below!
The Book and its Author
In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal's" memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
Lauren lives in the Chicago area, where she's spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren's own journey with her mother, is her first novel.
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Thank you to Blink YA and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Memory Thief is a new, expansive fantasy that follows Etta, a memory thief, as she learns about her family and grapples with guilt while attempting to remove the tyrannical ruler of her city from power. I quite liked that The Memory Thief is standalone fantasy. I think the story wrapped up well in the pages allotted, if a bit neatly. However, I would say that this novel’s strength here is also its greatest weakness. I always felt one step removed from the tale, and I was never fully immersed. I was always cognizant of the fact that I was reading a book.
Starting with the world building, which is intricate, if a bit clumsy: I was intrigued by the relationship between memory and wealth that Mansy built. Memories are used as currency, with people trading them through touch (as Gifted) or sight, (for Shifters). In this way, robbers can prey on those without the ability to transfer memories, creating an inequitable society. The Shadows, the organization that Etta has a fraught relationship with, aim to help those who can’t help themselves, providing protection to orphans and Gifted who don’t wish to join the army. There was a lot of information thrown into the first couple of chapters, but I quickly understood the general rules of the magic, and the different kingdoms. From the beginning, the reader is dropped into Etta’s world, and the action never stops.
Etta was an interesting character: throughout the novel, she dealt with the guilt she felt after her best friends died and her mother fell into a coma. She was very protective of her mother, and the novel is about her journey to saving her and preserving her memories of her childhood. Etta’s mother is in an asylum controlled by Madame (the villain), and Etta must save her or else Madame could have her killed. Etta’s feelings grief and shame change over the course of the book, and she goes on an emotional journey as she encounters old friends on her quest.
She also falls in love, which actually became a small quibble of mine. Reid and Etta started off extremely distrustful of each other, and then quickly grew to love each other, which I found sort of ludicrous. I’m never a huge fan of insta-love, and especially here when the circumstances of their meeting do not lead to a realistic relationship in my opinion.
Most of my issues with The Memory Thief stem from the length of the novel. For an introduction to a new fantasy world, the book is incredibly short: only 320 pages. This length made world building feel rushed at times, and did not allow for sufficient development of the characters and relationships. Especially towards the end, character development was sacrificed for plot. There was a massive twist that was just… not explained well, and it began to seem as though the characters were just being put through scenes to get to the planned ending, no matter whether or not it was believable. This hurt my understanding of the characters and world, and while I love standalone fantasy, I think The Memory Thief could have been taken in a different direction to form a more satisfying first book in a series.
Overall, I rate The Memory Thief 3/5 stars. Its problems impeded my enjoyment towards the end, but before that it made a delightful read. I’d recommend ordering a copy from your local library!
Hi all! I've had a late start today, so two quick pieces of news to share: First, today I'm teaching a blogging class at my local library! I'm super excited to share my passion with the attendees, and I hope some elements of the lesson can be incorporated into a new post series for you all. In the class, I talk about domains, themes, graphic design, writing, and publicity. Blogging has helped me practice planning and communication, and running one can be fun and informative, so I want to help people put their own words into the world!
Tomorrow is a super exiting day on the reading side of things, because I'm going to see Leigh Bardugo on her Ninth House tour! I'm loving the concept of the novel and I can't wait to meet her and get my copy. I've actually met Leigh before, at the Boston Teen Author Festival, but it will be exciting to hear her discuss Ninth House specifically. Stay tuned for more updates!
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.