Friday, June 15, 2018

BookTube | What We Read S01E02


It's been a little while since I've shared any of our BookTube videos with you, but I decided it was high time I start doing it again! Ever since my channel shifted to become our channel (Macky & I, that is), it's been so much fun making videos to talk about books. Here's the very first episode of the second "season" of What We Read, where Macky and I basically talk about all about whatever we've been reading recently. What have you been reading lately?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Macky's Middle Grade Round-up: Chilling with Wiley, Donut and Bob

Snared: Escape to the Above
Meet Wiley, the genius trapsmith behind the deadly traps that pepper the pathways of Carrion Tomb. He’s young, he’s super smart and though he believes he isn’t the best little hobgoblet specimen around, he is absolutely sure he has what it takes to keep all the machines and deadly creatures of Carrion Tomb in tiptop shape to get rid of any who dare seek the treasure at the heart of the tomb... until one small team of adventurers change his world forever.

Snared has all the fantasy hallmarks: multiple magical races, evil kings, a hint of destiny and a land in need of freeing. I’ll admit there are a lot of elements here that have been seen before. But what makes this story shine is the sincerity of the bonds these characters end up forging.

It isn’t much of a spoiler, but my particular favorite character happens to be Wiley’s adoptive hobgoblet sister, who may not be the brightest bulb in the box but is one of the best knife throwers around.  Every party has that one character that serves as the heart of the tea, and Roveeka comes pretty close to being that in spades. And honestly, it's a great day for magical diversity and representation, because rarely do creatures of this kind serve as the emotional support the main character needs. I love her. She made me cry by just being her lovely hobgobletty self. (Side note: She has two knives who never let her down and calls them "Mum" and "Pops". Also, she named her knives as such because they were always there for her. *tears*)

It was a fun, quick ride and I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants some light middle grade fantasy that ends pretty well. The climax and resolution are pretty simple, though they land on a solid close. If there’s any reason at all for me to want book two (and there are a few), it would simply be because I have grown fond of these characters and want to see what else they get into.

Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein | Publisher: Imprint | Publication Date: June 5, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thank you!)

A Stitch in Time
A Stitch in Time is grade A middle grade contemporary stuff. I was hoping for some magical realism, but instead got nostalgia and poignancy in mass quantities. At the center of this story is a little girl who does not want to leave her simple village life, her friends and her budding interest in taxidermy (took me by surprise, but I took it in stride), just so she can be a properly educated young lady in 1920s Boston. 

Refusing to be called Dorothy and going by Donut instead, she spends the whole book doing what she can to cope with the fact that her guardian/aunt will be taking her away soon. Things escalate the way avalanches do up until the final moment where her fate is decided. 

I could see this as a slice of life manga/anime because there are so many elements to the story that are picturesque and beautifully played out in their simplicity. It’s not too heavy a read, but it’s certainly not lighthearted fare. The whole time, you can’t help but feel for Donut (and it’s a lot of feelings depending on the type of reader you are).

Personally, the ending was not satisfying to me (because I like lovely endings. But objectively speaking, I love how the book ended where it did. The ending made me feel like this was a snapshot of Donut’s life. It was just like stumbling on an old photo album; those albums tell the story of a brief time period and leave the rest of the events to the viewer’s imagination. Still, I would have loved to have found out what happened next to Donut. I mean, what other little girl loves geography and taxidermy and adventures? These things make her a character that certainly grows on you.

A Stitch in Time by Daphne Kalmar | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | Publication Date: June 19, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

This early middle grade book is a gem. Bob centers around a little girl named Livy, who flies back to Australia after five years and finds Bob still hiding in her closet as she instructed him to the last time she was there. She has no recollection of him and their friendship and it’s now up to Bob to help her piece the mystery together. 

That it's told from both Livy and Bob’s first person POVs sort of eliminates any kind of notion that Livy is imagining all of this. The grown up in me was certainly getting that feel from the way Livy’s POV is written. But Bob just comes alive with his lists and opinions and reveries that kids certainly will connect to, and that will evoke different things in any grownups who will be reading. 

I was all smiles, tears and feels at the end because it’s just so well written. There’s a lot of acclaim for these writers and they certainly deserve it, what with how beautifully done this book is. Taken from Livy’s side only, it’s the story of a girl who finds parts of herself that she’d left behind. Taken from Bob’s side and you get to have that and a pretty decent amount of magic. Yes, magic. Because Bob is so much more than they all thought he was. And when we do find out who and what he is… well, speaking for myself, my world was all the better for it. That said, I don’t know if Bob is a story for everyone. But I would certainly not be shy about asking people (and kids) to give this book a shot.

Bob by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | Publication Date: May 1, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!) 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Abbreviations #57 | North to You, Always Never Yours + Snow & Rose

I’m partial to a well-told second chance romance, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with North To You. It’s the story of two former sweethearts: Camille Marino, who is juggling her food truck career and being her younger sister’s guardian, and Drew Bautista, who is back in San Francisco to work on repairing his relationship with his dad before his deployment. It’s a chance encounter that marks the start of their rekindled relationship, but eventually, they’ll both have to make a choice about what their futures hold - as individuals and as a couple. Honestly, I’m a fan of any romance that leaves me heart happy by the end of it. Even though I could predict a few of the plot twists and even though I would have liked a little more build-up to their romance, I thought North To You was wonderful! The foodie bits were delicious (and made me so hungry), the San Francisco descriptions made me want to visit (I haven’t been since I was little) and the Filipino references (actual mentions or implied cultural nuances) were so spot on. It’s a charming little romance (which earns bonus points with me for the Filipino hero, because Y E S) and I really enjoyed it! I’m very much looking forward to picking up the other titles in the series (especially because I’m excited about who the main characters are in those stories too).

North to You by Tif Marcelo | Series: Journey to the Heart #1 | Publisher: Pocket Star | Publication Date: June 5, 2017 | Source: Purchased the Kindle book

Megan has always been the girl ‘before’, the ones her exes date before they find their ‘true love’. It’s never particularly bothered Megan, as she’s focused on her own future… even if it means tackling the role of Juliet in her high school’s production. As she tries to juggle rehearsals, new friendships, a potential new romance and complicated family dynamics, Megan soon finds herself questioning everything she ever thought she knew - including the possibility that she deserves to be the leading lady in her own story. Honestly, the entire reason I ended up reading Always Never Yours was because it mentioned Romeo & Juliet in the plot and I’m a sucker for Shakespeare in the books I read. While it wasn’t necessarily a new favorite, I thought it was enjoyable enough! It was cute, it had way more Shakespeare references than I expected it to, it wasn’t solely focused on romance, it had fun theater moments that made me nostalgic and I really adored the main love interest Owen Okita a ton. If you’re in the market for an adorable YA contemporary and a potential beach read, this one is definitely an option to consider!

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka | Publisher: Speak | Publication Date: May 22, 2018 | Source: e-galley received via NetGalley (Thank you!)

While I have read a number of versions of Snow White and Rose Red, that was some time ago and I didn’t quite remember all of the details of the fairytale when I picked up Snow & Rose. All I knew going into this middle grade read was that it had a delightfully illustrated cover, was inspired by the fairytale and that Kristin had enjoyed it. Basically, this tale was about two sisters who are poised to break the enchantments of the woods they live in (though they don’t know it) and have a series of magical, whimsical encounters with a variety of creatures. I’m happy to report that, as I read it, I started to recall the elements of the original and could appreciate how the author incorporated them into a story of her own. Additionally, the illustrations interspersed all throughout were so lovely and definitely lent itself to the fairytale feel of the novel. While it felt just the tiniest bit clunkier than I would’ve liked, I still ended up enjoying it overall!

Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: October 10, 2017 | Source: Hardcover borrowed from the library


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