Tuesday, October 24, 2017

{Bookish} Style Files: Beasts Made of Night

Who's in the mood for pretty dresses paired with pretty book covers? *raises own hand* As is made blatantly obvious by today's post title, I'm sharing yet another {Bookish} Style Files this month. Today, I'll be featuring Beasts Made of Night, Tochi Onyebuchi's debut fantasy YA novel that gives sin a form in sin-beasts, and centers around a character who happens to be a very skilled sin-eater. Before we get to the dresses I've picked out, here's a little bit about the book and the author!

Beasts Made of Night book cover
Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October 31, 2017

Debut author Tochi Onyebuchi delivers an unforgettable fantasy adventure that powerfully explores the true meaning of justice and guilt. Packed with dark magic and thrilling action, Beasts Made of Night is a gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy perfect for fans of Paolo Bacigalupi and Nnedi Okorafor. In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts—lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. 

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family. 

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a member of the royal family, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves—and his own life.

Tochi Onyebuchi

Tochi Onyebuchi is a Nigerian American writer and a practicing attorney based in New York City. He holds a MFA in screenwriting from Tisch, a Masters degree in global economic law from L'institut d'├ętudes politiques, and a JD from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov's and Ideomancer, among other places. Beasts Made of Night is his debut series. You can follow him @tochitruestory.

Guess what, y'all? It's time to look at pretty dresses! I was immediately drawn in by the pattern on this cover, and so I decided to search out dresses that had a similar blue and white color scheme to them. Which one's your favorite?

Enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi. (ARV: $17.99 each). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on October 23, 2017 and 12:00 AM on November 13, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about November 15, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

October 23 – Pop! Goes the Reader – Creative Content | Artistic Wallpaper
October 24 – Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style File
October 25 – Boricuan Bookworms – Review & Bookish Aesthetics
October 26 – Afire Pages – Review
October 27 – YA Wednesdays – Book Aesthetic
October 30 – One Way or an Author – Review & Art
October 31 – YA Bibliophile – Author Guest Post | Top 5 Favorite Fantastical Worlds
November 1 – Chasing Faerytales – Author Guest Post | Inspiration behind Beasts Made of Night
November 2 – Icey Books – Beasts Made of Night Quote Candy
November 3 – Across the Words – Author Q&A
November 6 – A Page With a View – Author Guest Post | Images that Inspired Beasts Made of Night
November 7 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads – Review
November 8 – Xpresso Reads – Review
November 9 – YA and Wine – Review
November 10 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Q&A

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Macky Reads Hyacinth and the Secrets Beneath

Hyacinth and the Secrets Beneath book cover
If I were to provide a synopsis for this book, this is what I would say: in which a young, whip smart girl discovers the hidden magical underground world of London after a do-it-yourself plumbing attempt on her bathroom sink goes awry.

I want to start by saying that I love so many parts of this book. The lore is so rich, and I absolutely adore when authors are able to take actual history (which I am notoriously bored by) and weave some magical, out of this world layer into and through it. (Fun fact: Jacob Sager Weinstein has author’s notes that open with him saying he “made up much less of the book than [we] might think”.) 

Moreover, I love the dry humor and whimsy of this book. From very interesting British postal workers, to snarky dialogue, to a giant boar named Oaraboaros… who (are you ready for the best part and spoilery bit) communicates via printed cards. Yes, that’s right. Because pigs can’t talk, duh! (I will love that giant porcine gentle-creature ‘til the day I die.)

But even with such a rich world and an equally sparkly writing tone, something just did not work for me personally.  I mean, I’m invested. But to me, the pacing of the middle of the book and the tertiary characters just didn’t quite land on the green. Maybe it’s my aversion to “whimsical urban London characters” like the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins or everyone in Fagin’s gang from Oliver Twist. And since a very large part of this book occurs underneath London with said characters, I believe I sadly tuned out for a lot of it. It also doesn’t help that the big reveal about how our Hyacinth is connected to all of this wasn’t as solid as I would have liked it to be (albeit clearly explained).

So where does this leave me? At this point, I’m on the lookout for book two (should there be one) just to see if the author has reserved the deeper exposition of how our reluctant, but super fun heroine is connected to all the magical secrets of London for the rest of the series. I just gotta know! 

Anyway, if you like strong female leads in middle grade settings, giant, sentient well-mannered boars and gritty but whimsical urban characters don’t throw you off, go grab a copy for yourself and see what the real fuss is about all the underground rivers of London. Hyacinth will lead the way.

Hyacinth and the Secrets Beneath by Jacob Sager Weinstein
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thank you!)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sol Invictus! Macky Reads The Tapestry Series

The Tapestry series is a modern middle-grade epic that throws all caution to the wind the moment you strap in for the ride. It starts when young Max McDaniels barely escapes being attacked by some foul otherworldly creature on the very same day he was approached to join an elite and exclusive school for individuals with mystical gifts.

Read on and you realize that this story takes a turn for the completely unexpected, at least in terms of scale and breadth. No three to four book wind up before absolute mayhem erupts here. No waiting until the fifth or sixth book for some valuable reveals that setup the great finale. No, this series goes straight into overdrive and beyond any comfortable boundaries by the end of book two.

Not that it doesn’t have any of those great plot twists. There are a few and they serve more to enrich the characters and story, while also providing a "wow" moment for the audience. These books however are pure plot and action, with stakes getting higher and higher.

Personally, one thing that does keep it up on the top shelf is that the very beating heart of this story are its characters and their bonds. As I write this, I cannot wait for you all to meet Max, David, Nick, Sarah, Cynthia, Lucia, Connor and so many more. They have joined the Camp Half Blood campers and Hogwarts students of the world, at least as far as I am concerned.

In Max McDaniels, I have found yet another hero I can love as much as I love characters like Lady Knight Alanna of Trebond, Sabriel the Abhorsen, Percy Jackson the Son of Poseidon and Eragon, first of the new Dragon Riders. Max and his found family are, in fact, right up there with the Golden Trio, the Weasley’s, the Lightwoods and Blackthorns.

And did I mention how much I love how this five book epic and beyond has tastefully created a whole closed universe drawing on world myths and legends? It’s so subtle how the implication of how most, if not all the lore in all the world are tied together, with Rowan as the center point.

Let the Hound of Rowan bare its teeth and start things off for you. If you survive until The Red Winter and want more, you can always jet off into Impyrium. Brace yourselves for tales of heroes and monsters and the unkillable human spirit that will survive even the darkest of times. Sol Invictus, friends. We hope to see you all at Rowan.

Series: The Tapestry #1-5 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Dates: September 25, 2007 / September 23, 2008 / November 23, 2010 / October 23, 2012 / November 25, 2014
Source: Paperbacks + Kindle e-book bought
Buy the (first) book: Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Amazon 


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