Monday, February 26, 2024

Music Monday (274): SZA, Chapel Hart, Loretta Lynn


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Last week, SZA released a new song called Saturn. I love it already, and I'm very excited for the upcoming deluxe version of SOS, Lana.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Welcome To Fist City by Chapel Hart and Fist City by Loretta Lynn. Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bumps in the Night by Amalie Howard

Title: Bumps in the Night
Series: n/a
Author: Amalie Howard
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Middle Grade
Publisher/Publication Date: Delacorte Press; February 20, 2024

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble

Synopsis from Goodreads...
The middle grade horror debut from USA Today bestselling author Amalie Howard in which a girl stays with her grandmother in Trinidad for the summer and discovers that she comes from a long line of witches.

Thirteen-year-old Darika Lovelace is in big trouble. The kind of trouble that means she’s being sent off to her grandmother in the Caribbean. She should be grateful, but instead she’s angry. Angry at her dad and step-mom for sending her away for an entire summer. Angry at her mom who went away and never came back. But the island is definitely not what she remembers! The minute she steps off the plane, strange things start happening, including being stalked by a baby iguana. When she meets a ragtag group of children on her Granny’s estate, she knows they are not what they seem, but after they promise to take her to her long-lost mom, she leaps at the chance. Thrust into an incredible adventure involving strange monsters, a supernatural silk cotton tree, and a mysterious maze, soon the truth about her unique magical roots comes to light. She’s the island’s only hope, but unless she learns to believe in magic, all will be lost.
Amalie Howard’s Bumps in the Night is a new middle grade fantasy adventure set in the Caribbean. There’s folklore, mystery, and endearing characters that, along the way, learn valuable lessons about teamwork, the environment, and importantly about themselves.

There felt like two discernable parts to the story.

In the beginning, we’re introduced to Darika Lovelace, who has landed herself in hot water and is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer, in Trinidad. She doesn’t want to like where she is; not the people, food, or places—because she doesn’t want to enjoy herself. For the first hundred pages or so, some of the story can come across slightly repetitive with how much she denies what she sees. However, I understood what Howard was trying to do with her character, because Darika had internalized a lot of false concepts about herself—often feeling lonely, abandoned, and as if she isn’t really being heard. Even though she was surrounded by people who still cared and loved her, it was the absence of her mother—the mystery surrounding it, and the evasiveness of the adults in her life—that negatively affected her in a very significant way. This, arguably, had an effect on the way she dealt with the others as well as the obstacles thrown her way—particularly in situations she was woefully unprepared to deal with. It was a good scenario to begin with, though.

In the second half, all the groundwork—the clues, the strange and magical instances—starts to pay off, and the fantasy adventure arrives in full force. This is one of the areas where Bumps in the Night excels (for me at least), and I flew through the rest of the story. Mazes are obstacle-laden fun, especially when they’re done well. This one was a good one.

So in Bumps in the Night there were big concepts with higher, world ending, consequences. But the journey the main character, Darika, had to undertake was never far from sight either. There was a good balance between the two, and the overall story is as fun as it was meaningful. I highly recommend Bumps in the Night.
About the author....
AMALIE HOWARD is a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author. Always Be My Duchess was one of Cosmopolitan’s 30 Best Romance Books of 2022 and The Beast of Beswick was one of Oprah Daily’s 24 Best Historical Romance Novels to Read. She is also the author of several award-winning young adult novels. Her recent YA release Queen Bee was called “A true diamond of the first water” by ALA Booklist. Her books have been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly, and Seventeen Magazine. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading, being the president of her one-woman Harley Davidson motorcycle club, or power-napping. She lives in Colorado with her family.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Delacorte Press) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Music Monday (273): Beyoncé, Tracy Chapman


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I'm very excited for Beyoncé's Renaissance Act II! There are two singles right now, and my pick this week is 16 Carriages. Give it a listen!

Andrea: Hi all! I have been listening to Tracy Chapman's song, Fast Car, on repeat, since seeing her performance on the Grammys with Luke Combs (To see the Youtube video, click HERE).  Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, February 16, 2024

About The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

In January, I posted a Thought Corner about my reread of The Raven Boys. If you read it (HERE), you’ll know I was in desperate need of a refresher before attempting to continue with the series. It had been around a full decade since I last picked it up, and details get lost overtime. That was true for my recollection of the VERY fine print about the overall story of The Raven Boys. So, I reread it. And when I was considering what my 2024 blogging goal would be, one of the series I kept in mind was The Raven Cycle.

“There are three kinds of secrets.”—page 1.

The prologue begins with a page long monologue about three kinds of secrets and what Ronan Lynch has to do with them. In a way, it does some heavy lifting by informing the reader about the exact kind of story The Dream Thieves is going to be.

Where The Raven Boys was about exploring (the hunt for Glendower and the places it took the characters), new friendships, and laying the groundwork for the series. The Dream Thieves felt (and often read) like a book about consequences, risks, and implications.

The book is hectic, but I mean that in the best way possible. The consequences—Adam’s sacrifice, Blue’s prophecy, Ronan’s penchant for trouble, Gansey’s quest, and Noah’s reliance on the ley lines—were catching up to the main cast. It tossed a proverbial monkey-wrench into the fray, which tested the limits of both the platonic and romantic relationships. And that was coupled with the introduction of The Gray Man (a literal hitman) and Kavinsky (an endless source of potential trouble), which only added to the strain. Something had to give. And give it did.

And where The Raven Boys felt more like Blue’s story of how she got involved with the hunt and the titular Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves felt like it was for Ronan. The other characters were present and had their own growth to go through. There was a broader exploration on the meaning of Ronan’s secrets: a deep dive into his character, his family, and the circumstances and aftermath of his father’s death and the terms of his will. Since dreams and dreaming were a large aspect of the story, the focus on these things, on his character, was only fitting. I liked the way it was handled. It was portrayed as a serious, and more often dangerous, manner that never crossed the line into being hyperbolic—the consequences were too steep for that.

I enjoyed The Dream Thieves as much as The Raven Boys. Up next, I look forward to tackling Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

Happy reading!
About the book...
If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take? Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.One Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.Ronan is one of the raven boys - a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface - changing everything in its wake.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden

Title: The Warm Hands of Ghosts
Series: n/a
Author: Katherine Arden
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Historical Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; February 13, 2024

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble

Synopsis from Goodreads...
During the Great War, a combat nurse searches for her brother, believed dead in the trenches despite eerie signs that suggest otherwise, in this hauntingly beautiful historical novel with a speculative twist from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale

January 1918. Laura Iven was a revered field nurse until she was wounded and discharged from the medical corps, leaving behind a brother still fighting in Flanders. Now home in Halifax, Canada, she receives word of Freddie’s death in combat, along with his personal effects—but something doesn’t make sense. Determined to uncover the truth, Laura returns to Belgium as a volunteer at a private hospital. Soon after arriving, she hears whispers about haunted trenches, and a strange hotelier whose wine gives soldiers the gift of oblivion. Could Freddie have escaped the battlefield, only to fall prey to something—or someone—else? November 1917. Freddie Iven awakens after an explosion to find himself trapped in an overturned pillbox with a wounded enemy soldier, a German by the name of Hans Winter. Against all odds, the two men form an alliance and succeed in clawing their way out. Unable to bear the thought of returning to the killing fields, especially on opposite sides, they take refuge with a mysterious man who seems to have the power to make the hellscape of the trenches disappear. As shells rain down on Flanders, and ghosts move among those yet living, Laura’s and Freddie’s deepest traumas are reawakened. Now they must decide whether their world is worth salvaging—or better left behind entirely.

Katherine Arden—the author of the Small Spaces quartet and The Winternight Trilogy—has returned to adult fantasy with her latest novel, The Warm Hands of Ghost. Set during World War 1, the story is a superb, devastating, and meticulously plotted historical novel with a dark (and thrilling) fantasy twist.

The Warm Hands of Ghosts is split between the perspectives of two siblings: Laura Iven, a combat nurse honorably discharged, and Freddie, a soldier who, early in the story, is assumed dead.

This book is a challenging read. Anything set during a war typically is, particularly in World War 1 and 2 as well as any of the conflicts that are part of real world history. But Arden doesn’t use it simply as set dressing. The author draws the conflict closer with stark imagery, detailed writing that immerses the reader, and by making it intrinsically personal to the characters.

Laura’s position as a combat nurse put her up close and personal with the wounded, the fighting, and the horror. She was cynical but also caring, skilled at nursing, and desperate for information about her only remaining family. Freddie’s experience is just as harrowing, and that was especially true of his time in the overturned pillbox and the events afterwards—it forever changes him. Even the secondary characters—for example Mrs. Shaw—are touched by the conflict, although they process their grief in different ways (and it spurs different actions). And that’s what makes each member of the cast standout.

The speculative aspects were excellent. They’re in a like vein to The Winter of the Witch, fitting seamlessly with the setting and themes. It was a period of change, and that too had to adapt to the times. And the result was an eerie, terrifying, and clever antagonist.

The Warm Hands of Ghosts is part ghost story and part story of survival. It’s also about family, loss, change, and hope; a tale that was intense and dark, and an incredibly emotional read. And I loved every second of it.
About the author....
Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent her junior year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrolment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to serving as a personal tour guide. After a year on the island, she moved to Briançon, France, and spent nine months teaching. She then returned to Maui, stayed for nearly a year, then left again to wander. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know. She is the author of The Bear and the Nightingale.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Del Rey) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...