Friday, October 28, 2016

This Savage Song review

This Savage Song
Victoria Schwab
Greenwillow Books
June 2016

First line: "The night Kate Harker decided to burn down the school chapel, she wasn't angry or drunk. She was desperate." 

I loved this fresh, inventive urban paranormal fantasy. In Schwab's dystopian future, the world has come under attack from monsters of our own making - Corsai, Malchai and Sunai, each type springing up when humans commit violent acts. They are kind of like fey-folk, kind of like vampires, kind of totally their own thing.

Super-rare, Sunai only burst into existence after mass murders. Corsai are quite vampire-like, and Malchai are simply ravening monsters that roam the countryside, keeping most humans penned into small fortress-like cities.

Kate Harker is the daughter of a famed crime-boss who wants to prove her toughness to her father, more than anything. August Flynn is a Sunai who hates his hunger for human souls and struggles to reconcile his love of music with it's deadly effects. I liked his unconventional family; murderous Leo who gives in to his taste for killers and sweet Ilsa who models astonishing restraint each provide August with a completely different path that he might try to follow. August Flynn seemed like a smarter, more thoughtful Edward Cullen, that's for sure.

There's the very lightest hint of romance, as August goes undercover at Kate's school, but nothing really develops on that front. Which makes perfect sense! With a city under siege and competing human crime syndicates, who has time to think about romance?

Moody and atmospheric, perfect for Halloween, I'll recommend this to any teen readers who enjoy reading magical books about tortured souls. 

Compare to:
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff
Chime - Franny Billingsly
White Cat - Holly Black

Friday, October 21, 2016

Baby 365

We did it! This year I vowed to read a book day to my daughter. We finished up reading our 365th board book this month, but we'll keep on reading! This has been such a neat experience. Of course, we have a lot (really a lot) of books around the house, but this project has allowed me to explore what our library has to offer, and given me the excuse to shop for more.

I also felt really humbled by statistics that show nearly half of children are not read to every day. Reading nearly every day was a challenge! And there were a lot of days that we skipped, and a lot of days where we'd read 4 or 5 books. So technically, we didn't read "every day." If a librarian can't read Every. Single. Day without fail, who can?

It has been really fun reading old favorites with my child, and reading those books which were always my favorites to perform during storytime and see her reaction. She likes making chomping noises for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and patting the fluffy dog in Touch and Feel Farm. I also discovered a lot of new authors, and even found that some of my daughter's favorites were affordable books we picked up at the dollar store. Her all-time favorite has to be Jungle Noises. "What sound does a tiger make? Rawr!"

Friday, October 14, 2016

Inside Out review

Inside Out
by Maria V. Snyder
April 2010

First line: "I'm Trella. I'm a scrub."

In a dystopian future, Trella is a "scrub" responsible for cleaning and maintaining the pipes that service the "uppers" or higher castes. Everyone lives in a building only known as "Inside" - there are rumors of an "Outside" but no one's seen it in their lifetime. As a reader, you know that there are one of two possibilities: either they are underground, or in a spaceship. My money was on spaceship, pretty quickly on. Time is referenced to only in weeks, which gives everything a pleasantly alien feel - the characters refer to themselves as "x" weeks old, and seem to use the phrase "a hundred weeks" the way we'd refer to something as "a year or two." They speak about "one million weeks" the way we might say, "an eternity" and it's a commonly held belief that they'll find the way Outside when the clock reaches one million weeks. Children are raised in creches by their Care Mothers until they graduate to a job assignment. Overcrowding is a real problem on the lower levels, yet the "Pop Cops" still inexplicably test everyone to ensure that no one is making use of birth control. Failure to obey results in being fed to "Chomper" a.k.a. the ship's recycling system.

The story was a slow build-up to what for me was the super-obvious "reveal" of the novel. But I did like the character of Tris. She's petite, and not at all girly. She's a bit aloof from the other scrubs, hence her nickname, "Queen of the Pipes." Cogon, another one of the scrub workers, seems almost like a father figure to her. He arranges for her and her childhood friend Logan to meet with Domotor, a wheelchair-bound prophet looking for the Gateway which he believes will take them Outside. There is the mildest hint of romantic interest, when she meets Riley, one of the uppers who secretly agrees to help her search for plans to Gateway, which they hope will take them Outside. If this book was skewed for just a little older, I'd say we have the beginnings of a Trella/Logan/Riley love triangle, but that situation doesn't appear to rear its ugly head here. I'll recommend this for middle-grade readers and young teens.

Compare to:
The Pledge - Kimberly Derting
Birthmarked - Caragh M. O'Brien
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
Glow - Amy Kathleen Ryan

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Read in September

Last month I read the following:

1. This Savage Song - Victoria Schwab
2. The Angel and the Highlander - Donna Fletcher

picture credit:  Reading on the Rocks, John George Brown, 1877


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