Hello everyone! Today I will be participating in the blog tour for Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks! Besides a review from me, this post will also feature an interview with the author and a giveaway for three copies of this book, so stay tuned!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Swine Hill was full of the dead. Their ghosts were thickest near the abandoned downtown, where so many of the town’s hopes had died generation by generation. They lingered in the places that mattered to them, and people avoided those streets, locked those doors, stopped going into those rooms . . . They could hurt you. Worse, they could change you.
Jane is haunted. Since she was a child, she has carried a ghost girl that feeds on the secrets and fears of everyone around her, whispering to Jane what they are thinking and feeling, even when she doesn’t want to know. Henry, Jane’s brother, is ridden by a genius ghost that forces him to build strange and dangerous machines. Their mother is possessed by a lonely spirit that burns anyone she touches. In Swine Hill, a place of defeat and depletion, there are more dead than living.
When new arrivals begin scoring precious jobs at the last factory in town, both the living and the dead are furious. This insult on the end of a long economic decline sparks a conflagration. Buffeted by rage on all sides, Jane must find a way to save her haunted family and escape the town before it kills them.
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY
Praise for BREAK THE BODIES, HAUNT THE BONES:
“A tour-de-force of the imagination. Hicks has created a world that is beautifully and brutally surreal and yet, at the same time, BREAK THE BODIES, HAUNT THE BONES stands as a hyper-realistic psychological portrait of the death of the American factory town. My own identity as an American was disturbed and changed by this novel; some dormant understanding was shaken awake. This is a stunning and profound debut.” ―Julianna Baggott, bestselling author of New York Times Notable Book Pure
“Hicks’ debut novel is a thoughtful tour of the rotted and haunted heart of America. Highly recommended.” ―Jeremiah Tolbert, Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author
“I can’t stop thinking about this book. It’s a haunting story that burrows under your skin like an insect laying eggs that hatch within you in the middle of the night. Hicks’ mesmerizing imagery kept me turning the pages and asking myself ‘How is this book happening? What sort of literary witchcraft am I witnessing?’” ―Maurice Broaddus, author of Buffalo Soldier and The Usual Suspects
“BREAK THE BODIES, HAUNT THE BONES is a breathless wonder of a debut novel… Hicks is a magician with words and has written a spellbinding, haunting and necessary book.” ―Anne Valente, author of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
“Hicks has crafted a haunting story with multi-generational appeal, where the very real horror of poverty meets supernatural horror, and social issues like xenophobia, racism and economic anxiety are addressed organically through allegory and gripping storytelling.” ―Chris L. Terry, author of Black Card and Zero Fade
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Micah Dean Hicks is the author of the novel Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones. He is also the author of Electricity and Other Dreams, a collection of dark fairy tales and bizarre fables. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Hicks grew up in rural southwest Arkansas and now lives in Orlando. He teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCOT LERNER 2018
Truly unlike anything I have ever read before, Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones is rhythmic in its prose and packed with sophistication, a book that utterly demands to be read. From the first page to the last, readers will be unable to put down this book both because of the mesmerizing story and the unspoken truths that it contains.
One of the main parts of the book that promoted its overall theme was its setting. Taking place in the town of Swine Hill, readers will immediately be greeted by a setting that matches its story almost perfectly; rusting iron, miserable faces, and crumbling infrastructure. It is a town of abandoned buildings, few jobs, and a suffering population, something which is more common than people might believe. Through Jane and Henry’s stories, Hicks uses this setting to the best of his ability to prove just how disastrous a town like this could be to its population, along with just how far some people will go to ignore a problem. I also found the town to act as a sort of character of its own at times too. It suffers along with them, rotting from the inside out with their ghosts, but also learns to survive and move on with the cast of characters. Readers would find the portrayal of the town to be fascinating as it depicts just how much a setting could affect society, and how society could affect its setting.
Another aspect of the book that I adored were the characters and the themes behind them. Each living with their own ghost, I found the concept of this overbearing presence to be fascinating as it was almost like an extension of a character’s “self”, like the daemons in Philip Pullman’s books. Both like them and not, the ghosts acted as a support for the characters…but also as a source of pain. For example, to some Jane’s ghost might seem like a gift as it “reads” the thoughts of those around Jane and tells them to her. In reality, Jane is both friends with the ghost but not, glad to hear the extra commentary but also fearful of the pain that it could bring her. Her brother, Henry, is like this too with his ghost that makes him build strange but horrifying machines. To go through the process of building something is one thing, but when the power and evil behind the contraptions are revealed, only suffering ensues. Through these ghosts and their connections to the characters, Hicks explores deep issues such as relationships and what it means to be someone. He also explores social issues such as racism and sexism in a way that comments on how a setting could impact and rip at a certain person. This leads to the characters changing deeply through the story as their situations change as well, and though this might seem like an obvious thing to say about a book, readers will appreciate the insight that Hicks gives on how a place/society could impact who a person becomes.
If you are a fan of horror or thriller novels in YA, this is certainly the book for you. Jammed-packed with meaning and beautiful prose, Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones is a book that is truly one of a kind. Not too graphic and without the jump-scare tactics of other horror books, Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones will leave you questioning in the best way possible. I recommend this book for people ages 14 and up because of mild violence.
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:
1. Where did you go to find inspiration whenever you were in need of some?
I get most inspired by spending time with other good stories. Fiction, movies, narrative games, even looking at visual art can get me excited about writing again. Whenever I feel burnt out creatively, it usually means I haven’t been reading enough.
Most of my ideas are a response to something else. I read something amazing and think, “I want to do something that feels like this” or “I want to make someone feel this way.” Of course, then I have to find a way to capture that feeling while still creating something original, making it my own.
For this genre-crossing novel that blends so many SciFi concepts, I drew a lot of inspiration from FLCL, American Horror Story, and Jason Chan’s illustration. My literary inspiration is more in the sentences, the bombastic metaphors and similes, and there I have too many influences to know where to start, but there’s a lot of southern gothic DNA in this book.
2. If one of Swine Hill’s ghosts were following you, what type of ghost would they be and what do you think they would make you do?
The ghosts usually latch onto some flaw or insecurity, so my ghost would probably be drawn to loneliness. For most of my life, I’ve had trouble making connections with people. I often feel isolated, even when I’m around others.
If I was haunted by something, I think it would be a smothering cloud wrapped around me, heavy enough to feel it on my back and in my lungs, not letting me see or hear or touch anyone else.
Thankfully, I don’t live in Swine Hill!
3. How much of BREAK THE BODIES, HAUNT THE BONES, was inspired by America’s Rust Belt? And what kind of economic and psychological research did you have to do to set the tone of the book?
I think of Swine Hill as somewhere that could exist in any part of America, so placing it in the Rust Belt makes a lot of sense.
I’m from rural southwest Arkansas and I’ve lived all over the south, so those were the regions I drew on most when writing this book. Growing up, there was this pervasive sense of economic decline. I constantly heard rumors of businesses closing and people worried about employment. When I was in high school, I drove an hour away to work nights at a restaurant. Many of my family members do oil field or offshore work, spending a week or two with their families and then several weeks out of state because there just aren’t good options closer to home.
So that feeling of decline, the crumbling texture of little towns that grow smaller by the year, fears about loss of jobs, and resentment towards immigrants all came together to shape how I wrote about Swine Hill.
4. If you were to give one piece of advice to Jane at the beginning of the book, what would it be?
You can’t save everyone.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY TO WIN ONE OF THREE COPIES OF BREAK THE BODIES, HAUNT THE BONES:
Check out the other stops on the tour:
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I love getting to post things like this to help promote author's books. Reviewing is the best way to help an author, and I am glad that I am able to do that through posts like this!
Until next time,
Hello! For my first post of 2019 I will be posting a review of The Cold is in Her Bones, a YA retelling of the myth of Medusa. I hope you enjoy!
Release date: January 22nd, 2019
Hardcover Page Count: 288
My rating: 4/5 stars
Disclaimer: I received this ARC as part of Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program. That said, everything featured in this review is based upon my honest opinion and not influenced at all in anyway. Enjoy!
Her whole life, Milla has lived in constant fear of demons who are very much real. Confined to her family’s farm and only ever seeing her parents and brother, Milla is surprised when a girl name Iris arrives on her doorstep. At first, Milla believes that this is her chance to live a new life. But when Iris shares the secret that the village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and that the demon has now come for Iris, her chances are ripped away. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla must rescue her and break the curse forever. But Milla now has a secret of her own: she is changing, and may soon become a demon too.
Uniquely written and bursting with beautiful prose, The Cold is In Her Bones is unlike most young adult books that I have read. Right from the beginning of the book, the author’s unique writing style is apparent. This is seen most clearly in the atmosphere that the author has established throughout the book. Dark and brooding, it astonishes me that an author could write in a way that so obviously carries a book’s mood. In most young adult books, a dark atmosphere can only be seen at pivotal moments. But in The Cold is In Her Bones, the author tries her best to keep it constant, making sure that her tone isn’t annoying or overdone, but careful and well thought out.
One of the things that contributed the most to this is the mythology behind the book. Quickly established within the first sixteen pages, it begins with the tale of a plucky girl who doesn’t seem to live by anyone’s rules but her own. But as things go when demons are involved, her world is practically shattered in a way that ruins her, establishing the Medusa retelling that the author continues with throughout the book. Readers will find this little prologue to be the perfect type of foreshadowing as it establishes the ways of the village people and their values right off the bat without seeming forced. But what it also does is introduce the book’s sense of evil while giving another side to it. From one perspective, the demons are evil, and from another they are wonderous. This is a theme that the author continues with throughout Milla’s story, something which I enjoyed because most books are written in black and white while this one is written is a multitude of colors.
Another thing that I enjoyed about this book were the characters. Far from the characters that YA fantasy books typically feature, the characters in The Cold is In Her Bones seem much more realistic both in their behavior and characteristics. The clearest example of this are the knots that both Milla and the girl in the prologue have in their hair. Most female characters don’t have knots in their hair and if they do it isn’t as big of a deal as it in in The Cold is In Her Bones. And though this might just seem like a simple quirk that the author wanted to include, readers will come to realize the symbolism behind the knots, and the value the community has in smooth hair. And yet Milla doesn’t mind them. Continuously throughout the book we get to explore more of the tomboyish Milla and her unique ways. What is so special about this is that the author utilizes parts of her characters that might have been forgotten or ignored in another book, and packs them with hidden symbolism and meaning. I thought that this made her book that much distinct because readers rarely see storytelling like that in YA.
But the author doesn’t only limit her abilities to the main character. Side characters are one-of-a-kind like this too. One example is Milla’s brother Niklas. Both caring and devious at the same time, Niklas perfectly captures what it means to be a brother. The author was able to communicates all the true and utterly accurate mannerisms of a brother. From changing from teasing to supportive in a matter of minutes to being a friend unlike any other, I was taken aback by how the author wrote his character. I also thought it was interesting how the author captured what it means to be a sister through Milla’s character. In her family she is both loved but held at second rank to her brother. She both loves him and hates him. In many YA books this isn’t the case, as characters usually make up their mind about someone and stick with their original judgment throughout the book. But it is clear that Arsdale didn’t want The Cold is In Her Bones to be just another YA book.
If you’re looking to read a fresh take on a classic myth while desiring to discover a new side of young adult, The Cold is In Her Bones is the book for you. Though it is quite unlike what must people might think of when thinking about a Medusa retelling, readers will not be disappointed. Filled with lush storytelling, nuanced characters and deep meaning, The Cold is In Her Bones is a book that demands to be read.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! I loved this book so much and was so happy that I was able to read it. I would like to say a special thank you to Emma who runs the Miss Print blog! Emma is such an amazing blogger and bookstagramer and you definitely have to check her out if you haven't already. Both librarian and reviewer, Emma always seems to know what books are best so if you are looking for some quality reviews (besides mine of course :) ) you should check her blog out! If you are a blogger with little to no access to arcs, check out her arc adoption program too! Not only does she help the blogging community with this, but she helps authors by generating more reviews for them (which is the best thing you can do for an author).
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I will be doing another like, try, why post but instead of sci-fi/fantasy books, I will be going over two contemporary thrillers!
About the Book:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
About the Book:
Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.
Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A's and solid friends, he's only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind.
But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make Theo question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.
You can find my full review of the book here.
Why Do These Books Go Together?
Besides both being dark mysterious thrillers set around water, I believe that what both of these books have in common is history. In both books, the main characters live relatively normal lives, that is until something from their past comes back to haunt them. And though I know this could be common in YA and books in general, what makes these two books so similar is the fact that both of their histories have to do with family, either true family or the family that a group of friends could create. And of course, both of their histories are quite different then your typical family history and are more sinister then most could ever imagine.
Another thing that these books both have are accidents. Either triggering the secret's reveal or being a part of it, the accidents that these books both contain are those that aren't taken lightly by the characters, and instead reshape the worlds that they live in. Readers would enjoy this because accidents are usually just a little bump in the road of a story, while in these two books accidents are what kick start the character's journey's.
If you are looking for a good read filled with unexpected twists, secrets, and histories that would shock you, these two books are perfect for you!
Enter the Giveaway!
But wait, if you would like to win a signed copy of Dive Smack, courtesy of the author herself, enter my giveaway!
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I love doing these like-try posts so much because of how they bring more attention to books that might not have been known about otherwise, while helping people find their new favorites. Let me know what you think and what books you would like me to post about next.
Until next time!
Hey everyone, today I am doing a post unlike others that I've done in the past, a like, try, why! I hope you enjoy!
So, let's get into each of these books to see exactly why they are perfect for each other.
About the Book:
Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.
Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?
Why I Recommend it with the Other Books:
Strangely enough, this is one of the first insta-buy books I've ever purchased. Solely because of the first few lines of the synopsis, I was roped in from the start. I recommend this book with the others because The Fever King was also an insta-buy book for me, and Half Bad also contains similar elements with it's magic/relations that the main character doesn't want, dark moody air, innocent boys that MUST BE PROTECTED, gays (though that comes in more in the 2nd and 3rd books), and dark elements. I cannot recommend this book enough.
About the Book:
Donovan was shot by a cop. For jaywalking, supposedly. Actually, for arguing with a cop while black. Four of the nine shots were lethal--or would have been, if their target had been anybody else. The Foundation picked him up, brought him back, and trained him further. "Lethal" turns out to be a relative term when magic is involved.
When Marci was fifteen, she levitated a paperweight and threw it at a guy she didn't like. The Foundation scooped her up for training too.
"Hippie chick" Susan got well into her Foundation training before they told her about the magic, but she's as powerful as Donovan and Marci now.
They can teleport themselves thousands of miles, conjure shields that will stop bullets, and read information from the remnants of spells cast by others days before.
They all work for the secretive Foundation...for minimum wage.
Which is okay, because the Foundation are the good guys. Aren't they?
Why I Recommend it with the Other Books:
Though I haven't read it yet, I picked up Good Guys right away because of it's seemingly dark take on the super hero genre. It also seemed very similar to The Fever King because of its organization that trains magical people for their own use. Both of these books have characters in the organization that train and learn the organization's ways. Both organizations also have hidden agendas and ulterior motives. Definitely check this one out!
About the Book:
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
Why I Recommend it with the Other Books:
Combining the themes of bisexual magic boys with traumatic pasts, with a secretive magical agency lead by ulterior motives, The Fever King is practically the love child of these two books. I mean, it does contain a whole lot more political intrigue and explores themes such as the immigrant experience a lot deeper. Still, fans of the previous two books will be obsessed with this book, just as fans of The Fever King would be in love with them. Similar to the other two books, The Fever King's protagonist never expected to come into power, but flourishes with it regardless through deadly situations and world-altering secrets. If you want to see me gushing even more about this book, check out my full review!
I hope you enjoyed this post! I had so much fun experimenting with new type of post, especially because I love these books so much (and two of them are even among my all-time favorites!). Let me know if you know any of these books and if you'd like to see more of these posts in the future!
Until next time!
Hello everyone! Today I will be reviewing Kayla Olson's newest book, This Splintered Silence! I have been so excited for this book to come out and I am so happy that it is finally out in the world for everyone to read and enjoy. I hope you enjoy my review!
Release date: November 13, 2018
Hardcover Page Count: 368
My rating: 4/5 stars
Lindley Hamilton is the captain of the space station Lusca, a job she’s always wanted but never knew she would get so soon. Now, because of the deadly virus that killed all of the station’s adults including her mother, Lindley must run the ship as their struggle to survive intensifies. Still, Lindley believes that the worst has past, and while they still must figure out a way to not run out of food and communicate with Earth, morale remains high. That is until a member of the surviving second generation dies from what looks like the same virus, the very virus the second generation thought they were immune from. Struggling to survive, Lindley must find a way to save the station before it’s too late, especially when clues point to one of their own being the killer.
Spooky, suspenseful, and powered by an amazing female main character, This Splintered Silence is not a book to miss. From page one I was sucked into Lindley’s story. The author blends past and present beautifully together, making everything seem like it was happening in real time. I loved how she continued this throughout the book, mentioning past memories of Lindley’s mother, a character we never meet but feels just as well constructed as any other character. This masterful storytelling is also present through the setting of the book, the space station Lusca, and the struggles it faces. Olson builds a well-thought out world around this little station, and makes sure that there are no gaps for plot holes. Everything that she mentions is carefully described and accurate to what people in that position might be dealing with. Often when books are set in space like this one, everything seems beautiful and technologically perfect. But for Lindley and her crew that is not the case, and I feel like this little dash of realism in this sci-fi novel makes it so readers can relate and immerse themselves in the story much better then they might have otherwise.
Throughout the whole book the characters struggle with real problems to deal with this realistic space-station. Working through these problems are Olson’s cast of characters, each more realistic then the last. At the top of the list is Olson’s main character, Lindley Hamilton. It was hard not to love Lindley from the start. A scientist in her own right, Lindley is the recently-promoted captain of their station, the role her mother used to occupy until a few weeks ago. This is a fact that Lindley doesn’t let readers forget as the story progresses. She does this through subtle things, mentioning her mother’s secret stash of chocolate, to stories about the sky she used to tell Lindley. I love how she didn’t do this in a way that was annoying or repetitive. Instead, she does it in a way full of grace and sadness, in a way that make’s Lindley’s grief feel real. Often when books deal with grief, they do it in a way that forces the idea of it down the reader’s throat, but in This Splintered Silence that is not the case.
The only reason why I only gave this book four stars is because the ending was not quite what I thought it would be, but this book was still an excellent read, and it's the journey that counts right?
If you love realistic-seeming sci-fi where disease and deadly secrets lurk behind every corner, you will not be let down with This Splintered Silence. This sci-fi thriller is perfect for people looking for a good spooky read. Ages 13+
I hope that you enjoyed this review! I loved this book so much and was absolutely obsessed with the idea of it as soon as I first read its synopsis. I hope you consider checking this book out!
Until next time,
Hello everyone! Today, to my upmost pleasure, I will be posting my review of Victoria Lee's The Fever King! The Fever King is by far the debut novel that I have looked forward to the most because of the lush world filled with dark corners that I couldn't wait to explore, and that was just from the description. A book truly unlike any other, the The Fever King is a book that I can't stop recommending to people, and I hope that after this post, you won't be able to stop either.
About the Book:
Release date: March 1st 2019
Hardcover page count: 412 pages
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia. The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
About the Author:
Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whisky.
Victoria writes early in the morning, then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work.
She is represented by Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.
Where to buy the book:
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. All the thoughts below are my own. Quotes featured are also from an unfinished copy of the book and are subject to change*
In Carolina, a country part of the what was once the United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up alone in a hospital bed. Sent there after deadly viral magic swept through his neighborhood, he’s now alone, his family killed. Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Now a technopath thanks to deadly magic, his ability to control technology attracts the Minister of Defense. Inviting Noam to train with the magical elite, he’s asked to help serve his country by training to become one of their elite magical soldiers. But as the son of undocumented immigrants in a country whose Prime Minister promotes nothing but oppression of immigrants, the last thing Noam wants to do is help the government and wipe away the years he’s spent fighting for the refugees. So he embraces the opportunity as a way to finally make change, accepting the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic and secretly planning to use it against the government. But when he meets the minister’s ward and all his dangerous beauty, Noam becomes less certain if what he’s doing is right. Stuck between his longing for change and wishes for love, Noam must decide if trust is a thing he can give out liberally, or if the more he lends his heart out, the faster his world might come crashing down around him.
This book was what I’ve been waiting for for so. Damn. Long. Ever since the day I saw one of the author’s beautiful aesthetics on her twitter (which you should definitely check out) I knew that I had to read this book. Why, you may ask, were you hooked on this book from the start? For most books, this might be a relatively hard question to answer. But for The Fever King, I never once questioned my seemingly undying love for its concept, characters, plot, setting, and just about everything else. So, let’s go over a few of these.
“Power’s a nasty thing, and none of us are immune.”
The first aspect that I was completely in love with was one that I feel isn’t discussed that frequently: dark characters. I’ve read many synopsizes and descriptions of books, and I feel like a common theme in many of them is saying that the book contains ‘dark’ characters or themes. As the person that I am, this attracts me to the point where I would do anything to get my hands on the book. The problem occurs when I get the book and finally get to read it. The book that claimed so frequently to be filled with darkness and pain, isn’t, leading me to feel let disappointed. When it came to The Fever King, I was excited because yes, it’s described by having dark characters, but the author also backed this up with amazing aesthetics and excerpts of things such as the first chapter (subscribe to her newsletter for more of this). And when I finally got to read the actual book… well it’s safe to say that excited couldn’t even get close to describing how I felt. Like, WOW. From page one, an almost painful sense of sorrow can be felt through the pages of Noam’s story as he goes through trauma unlike anything else I’ve read before. And even when something ‘light’ occurs, the sense that something can still go wrong is prevalent. This is caused by a few different elements, one of which being articles that the author includes at the ends of some chapters. The true definition of dark and particularly clinical, these articles chronical one of the character’s trauma while helping to promote the overall feel of the book by creating its dark history. Horrid descriptions of terrifying experiments and twisted recorded conversations are featured through these, making the reading wonder just how destructive and horrifying this world is.
“I take back what I said about silence.”
These articles would mean nothing without the setting. In a post-war Carolina, the world is in shambles. Yes, there are some ‘good’ parts to some of the cities, but most of the people live in disease-ridden ruin and struggle to survive because of the poor treatment they receive. So who exactly are these people who are treated so horribly? They’re citizens from the country lining Carolina’s border—Atlantia. Fleeing their home country to purse a better, safer life in Carolina, they’re often treated like disease ridden rats, given little if any rights, treated horribly, and left to die by the hundreds from the viral magic. Being Atlantian is a big part of Noam’s identity. Fighting for Atlantian rights for as long as he’s been alive, all he wants to do is to continue in his parent’s footsteps and help them. I loved how Lee included this aspect into her book and wove it in so beautifully. The way she discusses a topic so current to our world is breathtaking. Readers will appreciate how she didn’t just mention it once and let it be, but fully ingrained this theme throughout the book, showcase the horrid and disgusting lengths that some leaders might go to prove a point or please the wealthy. The way that she discussed fascism in a young adult book was truly unique, and how she dealt with it even more so.
“‘That’s super Atlantian territory now, right? I heard it’s pretty overcrowded, with all the refugees.’
‘Yeah. I guess it’s…’—what the hell was he even saying?—‘super Atlantian.’”
This theme was seen prominently in Noam and how he dealt with things. As I mentioned before, Noam was practically raised in fear of the Carolinian government and all that they might do to his people. But he was also proactive in his fight against them, doing all he could possibly do to help. When he was originally taken to train, he almost decided not to go but changed his mind when he discovered the power that his new role could grant him. And though he learns not to be so fearful of the pain the government could inflict on him simply because he was Atlantain, his pain and motivation doesn’t lessen. If anything, it gets stronger. The character of Noam is one that would appeal to many in this sense because the sheer motivation and anger that pushes him to act. I loved how he embodied all those that are marginalized and pushed down. The way he moves in such fervor to get to his goal, the way he can be blinded by his ambition at times but still fights for what he believes in, is breath-taking. One other aspect that is so refreshing about his character is that though he actively fights, he still feels the pain of being an Atlanitan. In the quote above, he takes part in a conversation with others from the training center where they say things about his people that, while are not necessarily horrible, are degrading and uncomfortable. Readers would appreciate this as Lee shows the various sides of the immigrant, or minority, experience. How these people speak so plainly about another’s people, thinking of them as a nuance and not as a struggling minority group, and can’t comprehend how horrible their words are, is sadly something that happens every day.
“A moment passed, then Dara abruptly turned his face away. His spine was too straight, head bowed like he was waiting for the blade to fall.”
The fight for immigrant rights wasn’t the only aspect of the book that helped make it the masterpiece that it is. Trauma, a thing that Lee showcased beautifully, was heavily present. And though it was written more obviously for some and more hidden in others, it was such a strong aspect of the book that it would not be complete without it. Now this is the part of my review where I WISH everyone already read it because DAMN I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT THIS. But, I will contain myself and hopefully still successfully explain the absolutely magnificent job Lee did with including this in the book. In the world we live in, there are a few main types of reaction to trauma, including the person who does something about it, the person who allows it to ruin them, and the person who allows it to engrain with their being and take over their world. Each of these people are present in this book. Written in a way that felt oh so real, these characters in no way behaved like Lee just read an article about trauma and decided to write it into her book. Instead, Lee gives them each their own variations and made sure that not a single aspect about them was left loose and sloppy. From subtle things that readers might not notice right away, to aspects of a personality that both the reader and characters won’t realize are destructive until too late, Lee uses this aspect to once again give a new dimension to her characters. This blends in with how she describes the immigrant experience. Many people don’t think much beyond immigrants besides the fact that they are there. Fewer think about helping them. It’s an even smaller group that thinks about what they might be going through once they are ‘safe’ or a full citizen. This is the group of people that Lee seeks to expand. And while this is not necessarily true for all of her characters that experiencing trauma, it’s still an important part them. Lee includes these themes to help educate the youth, something that can’t be said for many books in the same genre. By exposing readers to new aspects of life, she helps turn a simple book into something that means much more.
Lehrer lifted a brow. ‘Do they leave that part out of the history books? He said, and Noam laughed, surprising himself.”
Another aspect that was much needed in the YA world was all the representation it had, in particular the Jewish and LGBTQ rep. I’ll preface this that while LGBTQ+ used to only be popular in contemporary, they are slowly starting to make their way into fantasy. And the same could be said for books with Jewish themes/characters, only much less so in fantasy. And though I like to specifically seek out books that have these themes, it’s quite rare for me to satisfy both my love of fantasy and my yearning for a Jewish/LGBTQ rep book at the same time. Because of this, I believe that it is safe to say that I have actually never read a book that not only showcased LGBTQ characters in a speculative fiction book, but Jewish characters as well. Too say that I was excited would be undershooting how I felt about this. In fact, as soon as I heard that The Fever King was a book that featured both magic, gays, and Jews, I knew that I would have to read it right away. I could not stress this enough but, wow, did the author not only write these aspects in a way that will make readers swoon, but also made them feel heard. As a Jew myself, I couldn’t help but freak out whenever something Jewish-y was mentioned. And as someone who loves LGBTQ representation in books, I couldn’t stop fangirling when an um…certain pair… did basically anything together. And the fact that Jewish references were featured so prominently through this, blew me away. This was particularly meaningful because these two groups are so rarely seen together, so the fact that Lee was able to combine them in a way that didn’t feel forced but meant to be, was absolutely amazing.
“He wasn’t eating a proper dinner, just picking the red pieces from a bag of sour candies. He’s accumulated quite the pile next to his lukewarm potatoes.”
This review would not be complete without mentioning the beautifully crafted side characters. Each with their own characteristics and personalities, I loved how Lee didn’t just write them for the sake of writing them, but wrote them to be a part of the story. I know this sound kind of silly because of course they were written to be a part of the story. But what most readers might not realize is that often times when an author mentions themes like immigration and trauma, or have certain types of representation including, they reserve them for either just the main character(s) or just the side characters. Lee, on the other hand, did not want to stick with that. Readers will appreciate how she took some themes from the main cast and carried it over to the rest of the characters. By doing this, she proves that those themes shouldn’t just be used as a way to make a particular character seem ‘special’, but expand it to show how similar different people could be. Readers will be able to fall in love with her side cast of characters just as easily as with Noam and Dara, slowly, but then all at once.
I would also like to really quickly address the magic system that is featured in this story. Truly unlike anything else I’ve ever read, I was completely obsessed with it from the moment I read about how the viral magic was something people feared, not sought. With most magic books that I’ve read, having magic is something that is wanted and held on a high pedestal. But in The Fever King, it was something to run from. From the very beginning we learn that Noam is the only survivor of the viral magic that swept through his whole neighborhood. And that’s what happens when you have such a low survival rate, only one out of thousands may make it out alive. Readers will find this captivating as it means that for one person to have powers, hundreds of people have to die. I thought that this added yet another dimension to the darkness of the book, but also increased the urgency of which Noam must save his people. Never have I thought that a book’s magic system would serve as almost an antagonist, which was something I enjoyed greatly in this book.
Wow, well that was definitely something. This review meant so much for me to write because I cherished this book so much. Filled to the brim with so many emotions, it’s clear that Lee poured her being into making this book as beautiful and perfect as it could be. From the representation showcased, to the characters that demand to be adored, to the plot that is guarantees to make readers scream because WHY????, Lee wrote precisely the type of novel for me. Utterly perfect in every sense of the word The Fever King is not a book to be missed. If you found yourself interested in any of the themes I mentioned, don’t hesitate to check this book out on Goodreads and maybe even preorder. Inspired by true pain and built in a magical world unlike any other, The Fever King will shock you with the horrors it showcases, but make you fall in love all the same.
Enter the Giveaway:
I hope that you enjoyed this post! This book is definitely the best book I've read in a while and I know I am going to struggle finding my next obsession because AH who could obsess over anything else when you have The Fever King? I hope that you consider checking out Victoria Lee and her beautiful gem of a debut, The Fever King.
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I will be reviewing What If it's Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli! I am so excited for this book because Adam Silvera is one of my all time favorites and insta-read authors, so of course I freaked out when I found out he was co-authoring a book with Becky Albertalli! Have you read anything by them before? If so, let me know in the comments, and what you thought about it!
Release date: October 9th 2018
Hardcover page count: 448 pages
My rating: 5/5 stars
What If It’s Us is the story of two boys’ summer in New York City. For Arthur, who’s only in the city for the summer, anything could happen between his law-firm internship and love for Broadway. But Ben disagrees with the fact that anything could happen, as he’s stuck in summer-school with his ex-boyfriend. But when the two of them meet-cute at a post office as Ben tries to ship off a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things, both of their worlds seem to change in a way they never thought possible. That is, until they get separated. Then reunited. Then go through a multitude of do-over dates. As the summer begins to come to a close, Arthur and Ben must try to figure out just the right amount of love they are able to give to each other before it is too late. Or is it already too late?
There were so many amazing parts to this book. For starters, the characters. Both boys were unique in a way I have rarely seen characters be. Arthur was a ADHD aspiring Yale student whose sky-high grades and fancy internship make him seem like a serious and strict student. But really he was a nerdy and talkative boy who was never afraid to speak his mind about injustices and raves about Hamilton and his other favorite Broadway shows on the daily. Ben was a handsome and well put together boy who could’ve easily been one of the popular kids. But inside he was a boy who struggled at school, who wrestled with how to represent his heritage everyday, and secretly spent hours alone in his room working on his book and playing the Sims. The author also created some of the best side characters I have ever read too. Dylan, for example, was the coffee-loving and always-joking friend of Ben’s who constantly had a new girlfriend. Only he also suffered from life-threatening panic attacks. I was in love with how realistic these characters were, and how they each felt like people I see daily, from girls obsessed to social media followings, to secretly grieving boys.
These characters and their traits of course went greatly with the overall feel of the book. They were constantly joking, but were serious, went on cutesy dates, but had deep conversations about identity and worry. It is no surprise that they went along beautifully with the city of New York. Through the bustling streets and constantly moving crowds, I always felt like I was with them as the story progressed, almost like I was a friend of theirs. This is what I think made the plot feel especially special. In no sense did it feel like the plot was happening to them as twists and turns just fell casually into their laps. It felt like they were real people finding their way through the awkward days of a beginning of a relationship, with nothing too dramatic happening to make them feel fake, and nothing too boring to make the plot feel like it was not progressing.
Of course this review would not be complete without mentioning the beautiful writing of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. Like watching a swoony sitcom, their writing was some of the more immersive prose I’ve read in ages. Written in the voices of their main characters, two teen boys, but still filled with beautiful and relatable sentences, it often felt like we were getting to look out of Arthur and Ben’s eyes in real time. In a world where contemporary books can often come of flat, this was amazing.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! As a fan of both of these authors, I was so excited for this book, and justifiably so. If you love cute LGBT contemporary romances that tell stories way deeper than the romance of two boys, that are bound to make you swoon over the smallest of gestures, this is definitely the book for you. Filled with modern-day references and current issues, What If It’s Us is not a book to be missed. Great for ages 13+
I hope that you enjoyed that review! I loved this book so much as it is so different from the romance books that we have seen over the years because of it's LGBT representation. If you have not checked this book out already, you definitely should as soon as possible!
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I am taking part in the Map of Days blog tour! I am so excited to be a part of this tour because I have grown up reading the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children books, and the fact that there is a fourth book that I get to help promote is amazing! So without delaying anymore, here is my post!
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Hardcover Page Count: 496
Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery--a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob's grandfather, Abe.
Clues to Abe's double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited--truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine's time loop.
Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom--a world with few ymbrynes, or rules--that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine's peculiar children. Their story is again fully illustrated by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure--full color.
Ransom Riggs is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children novels. Riggs was born on a farm in Maryland and grew up in southern Florida. He studied literature at Kenyon College and film at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi, and their family.
Picking up where Library of Souls left off, A Map of Days continues Jacob’s tale with the Peculiars. Now back in Florida with the rest of his friends, Jacob thinks that the hardest thing he’ll have to do is teach them how to be normal. But with the discovery of Jacob’s grandfather’s subterranean bunker, clues to his double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, revealing long hidden secrets. As Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he’s inherited him and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom.
This book was an amazing return to the world of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children. For starters, the writing was even more beautiful then I remembered. Often times when an author of a book I liked as a child comes out with a new book in the same universe, the writing comes off as a tad childish and meant for readers the same age I was when I originally read them. But not once during this book did I think that. As soon as I read page one, I knew that this would not be like other books, and that it will stand out beautifully.
The characters followed this theme as well. When I began the book, I expected them to be the same old characters I loved from the original trilogy that maintain the spirt of the time I originally read them, but they were not. It wasn’t that they were different in anyway, but like they had somehow matured since Library of Souls without it being overdone. I love these qualities because it shows that the author can both keep with the times and captivate his original audience, but also keep newer readers on the edge of their seats.
The plot was yet another thing that kept with this theme. As a reader of the original trilogy, I was always looking forward to the day when Jacob’s parents get to meet Miss Peregrine and the rest of the Peculiar children. And though we did ~almost~ get it, it wasn’t until Map of Days that it finally happened for time. This of course is not a spoiler as it happens in the first two chapters, but I do think it is a defining moment. I think this because for so long, readers have been waiting for certain things, like this, to happen. And now, Riggs is embracing that and fueling his fans in a beautiful way, a way that is also full of promise for the rest of this series.
A Map of Days is the first book in the continuation of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children. Appealing to both fans young and old, it would be hard to be disappointed in this thrill ride as it proves that even childhood favorites can continue to grow.
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I am so happy that I was able to be a part of this tour and that I was able to promote a book from a series that I loved so dearly in my childhood. Thank you so much to Penguin Teen for including me! If you are interested in this book, don't hesitate to check it out along with the rest of the series.
Until next time,
Hello everyone, today I am please to say that I will be taking part in the Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis blog tour, featuring a guest post from the author herself! I am so excited to be part of this tour as I love helping authors promote this book, plus this book is described as a dark fantasy where the hero turns into a villain which I absolutely love. If you love this just as much as I do, check out the guest post and the book, I promise you won't regret it!
A young alchemist turns to dark magic when a deadly plague sweeps through her homeland in this epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis.
Seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy with only one goal in mind: master the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island's wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn't quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen.
Until she meets Greggori "Grey" Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that's for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the north, and it's making its way toward the cities. With her family's life--and the lives of all of Lunar Island's citizens--on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.
Grey and Nedra grow close, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy's most dangerous corners--and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.
Give the Dark My Love Releases on September 25th, 2018
Get Give the Dark My Love:
Beth Revis is the author of the New York Times bestselling Across the Universe series, the twisty contemporary novel A World Without You, and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars: Rebel Rising. Beth lives in rural North Carolina in a house full of boys--her husband, son, and two massive dogs--and she forces them all to watch reruns of Firefly and Doctor Who. Visit her at bethrevis.com and follow her @bethrevis.
Tell us about the research you did for the book because of how scientific the premise is, and how you incorporated it into your fantasy world
The world of Give the Dark my Love is one where alchemy has replaced science. This isn't that far-fetched, historically--during the Middle Ages, alchemy worked hand-in-hand with science. The only difference is, in the world of my story, alchemy actually works.
Although, truth be told, alchemy worked in the medieval era, too. It's a precursor to chemistry, and some discoveries that happened along the way were legitimate chemical discoveries. Although we tend to think of the big "failures" of alchemy--the quest for the philosopher's stone (which could provide immortality) or the attempts to turn lead into gold--alchemists during the Middle Ages were actually doing science. They refined methods of distilling, they explored and observed chemical reactions, and they applied the scientific method to their work. In 1669, Hennig Brand was attempting to create the philosopher's stone when he discovered phosphorus. (Look up the ingredients he used...I mean, they were at least golden in color...)
In the world of Give the Dark my Love, I used vessels instead of chemicals to create alchemy. "Crucibles" are, by definition, a container that can melt metals or other substances. The crucibles in Nedra and Grey's world are used to conduct power.
Early on, I decided to play with the idea of certain metals being linked to certain powers. I chose to focus on three: copper, gold, and silver.
Copper crucibles are used for transactions--put something in, get something else out. You can hide something in a copper crucible and it will only be revealed when you pay the price to retrieve it.
Silver crucibles are for transformation. You can--at least temporarily--transform one object into another by putting it into a silver crucible. The change isn't permanent, particularly if you're transforming one thing into something very different.
Golden crucibles are used to transfer. Specifically, medicinal alchemists use a golden crucible to transfer pain from a person into a lesser creature, such as a rat.
There is a fourth crucible, although it is forbidden throughout the lands. This crucible is made of iron. Iron is an amazing metal. It exists in the land--those of you whose soil is reddish-brown or red clay walk across iron-rich ground. It exists in your blood, giving it red color. Legend has it that some battlefields of ancient wars are found by geologists thanks to the high concentration of iron from the bloody fighting.
A crucible made of iron is for transcendence.
A crucible made of iron raises the dead.
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I am so happy that I was able to be a part of this tour. Thank you so much to Penguin Teen for including me! If you are interested in this book, don't hesitate to check it out!
Until next time,
Hello, today I will be reviewing The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten
White! This is actually the first book that I have read from her, and it is fair to say that I loved it. The relationship I had with this book was actually kind of weird because I went in expecting one thing, and got something else entirely, but still loved it regardless. Let me know how you feel about this book in the comments once you read my review, and if you think it is different from what you thought it would be like!
Hardcover release: September 25, 2018
Hardcover page count: 304
My rating: 5/5 stars
Ever since she was young, Elizabeth has been in the care of the Frankenstein family. Sold by a woman who beat and starved her, Elizabeth knows she will be returned to her horrid existence if she fails at her task: becoming the friend of the solitary and strange Victor Frankenstein. And she succeeds, soon becoming his closest friend and is forever glued by his side. But as the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on her ability to manage Victor’s temper and satisfy his every whim, no matter the price.
This book was not at all what I was expecting but was still very interesting. Diving into it, the reader expects to be taken through the life of Elizabeth as she grows up but, they are actually brought in when Elizabeth is older and in the middle of looking for Victor. But this does not mean that you never get to see their relationship as it grows. The author shows glimpses of the past several times throughout the book, allowing the reader to watch their growing relationship while growing uneasy as they see the disturbing actions of Victor as a young boy. Including these bits of the past also worked great in building Elizabeth’s character. Though it might be revealing too much to say exactly what happened in these flashbacks, I loved how much insight they gave into Elizabeth. The reader is able to see exactly what motivations she has and why she makes the decisions she does.
Another amazing part of this part was the setting. Set in an 19th century Europe, the author took us through many of the places characters go to in Frankenstein. Through the murky slums of Ingolstadt to the vast mansion Geneva and the harsh winters of Northern Russia, the reader in instantly immersed in the scenery flowing from the author’s pen. Reading the book, I felt shivers down my spine as the characters as they went through each of the locations. These places were also true to the original book which I thought was pretty cool.
Lastly, the main part of the book that I enjoyed the most was the tone. Dark and mysterious throughout the book, it rang true to the original insanity that was such a big part of the classic. Elizabeth, for example, constantly ignores the evils of Victor in order to stay with him and live a peaceful life. Even when he cuts open animals to examine them, she doesn’t say a thing so he can remain happy. I enjoyed parts of the book that discuss this because it almost felt like a psychological analysis of the character of Elizabeth. As I said, this was only one example of it, but as we see Elizabeth do crazy things at great lengths just to please Victor, we are able to see more of her psyche then we were able to in Frankenstein. Originally, Shelly wrote her as more of a side character in love with Victor. But in this book, we are able to dive further into what makes her, her. There was even a mention later on about how Victor kept a diary where he wrote his own version of the events that happened between him and Elizabeth. Readers who have read the original will be happy about this because it connects the two works in a whole new way.
If you love dark, psychological thrillers, this book is for you. For those who have never read Frankenstein, no worries because you need no prior knowledge in order to read this. Much like how the Penelopiad was too the Odyssey, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is to Frankenstein. It brings to light the woman’s part of the story that is often given less attention too in great works like this. I would recommend this book for readers 13/14 and up because of numerous mentions of maiming and violence throughout the book.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! I loved this book so much despite how I originally did not. I also loved how this is a retelling of a story that is not really retold, and how it was from Elizabeth's perspective instead of Victor's.
Are there any books that you would like me to review? If so, let me know in the comments below!
Until next time!
Original Review Posted on: http://teenreaderscouncil.blogspot.com/2018/09/review-dark-descent-of-elizabeth.html
Welcome to the Book Enigma! I review different genres of books from young adult fiction to sci-fi. Enjoy!
Aspiring author who, along with reading YA and with other genres, also fosters kittens, and play the piano and cello!
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”