I’ve been meaning to read these books- or anything by the fantastically funny Holly Black- for a while, but what finally made me do so was a free e-galley of Red Glove that expired on the publication date. Great, but I needed to read the first book first! So when I got a free audio book download from Audible, I immediately knew what I’d pick. Listening to rather than reading a book was a new experience for me, one that I was hesitant about yet enjoyed. My full thoughts about audio books in general are here, but more specifically I loved the audio book of White Cat. The first person male narrator made it seem as if he was telling me personally his story, his secrets. I’m not sure if I would get the same cozy feeling if the narration has been more distant. As a text itself, White Cat tells the story of mob families with the added twist that many can do magic- work different types of curses. Not really my type of story, but it was thoroughly engaging. The main character, Cassel, was intriguing, the mystery well plotted and the occasional quirky comments and humor made me laugh out loud. The sequel, Red Glove continued the drama and I look forward to seeing how the last book in the trilogy, Black Heart, wraps everything up. I’m definitely rooting for Cassel!
The Emerald Atlas (ARC 4/12) by John Stephens
One of best (okay, maybe one of the only good) parts about interviewing at several different publishing houses before landing my perfect job? Free books, like this galley. The Emerald Atlas is an enjoyable middle-grade fantasy that starts a trilogy, clearly (sometimes too obviously) following the tradition of Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, The Lord of the Rings, even The Mysterious Benedict Society. The three main characters- children Kate, Michael and Emma- are relatable and fun, especially little Emma who I hope to see more of in the next two books. Many of the fantastical creatures are well imagined. Overall, this was a fun, although not wholly original, beginning to a new fantasy series.
Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Believe it or not, I hadn’t read this book yet. I had heard wonderful things about this modern-day fantasy classic and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to read it. Katsa is ‘gifted’ with a Grace to kill, and is manipulated by her king-uncle to use it to punish his disloyal subjects. But when Katsa meets Po, who seems to have a fighting Grace, she begins to question her role at the king’s pawn. Adventures, daring rescues and enlightening moments ensue. My favorite part (naturally) was the development of Katsa and Po’s relationship. There was a moment about one third of the way through the book where I thought ‘okay, now they’re going to get together’…but they don’t (right then)! Kristen Cashore takes her time and authentically builds up their feelings for one another and the decisions they must make in order to be together. This is a recommended read, especially for readers (like me!) who love Tamora Pierce’s Alana series. I look forward to reading the prequel/companion novel, Fire.
What’s That, Mittens? by Lola M. Schaefer, pictures by Susan Kathleen Hartung
One of the many delightful I Can Read books staring the adorable kitten, Mittens, that we publish at HC. I read and studied this one in preparation for writing the jacket copy for an upcoming adventure, Mittens at School.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
I loved the movie, Stardust, which came out a few years ago. Only last month did I discover that it was a book first- and a book by NEIL GAIMAN at that! When I explained all that to my friend, she quickly put a copy of the book in my hand. The movie stays pretty close to the book, although some scenes are completely omitted while others (especially the ending!) are changed. This blurb isn’t about adaptation theory, though (see my thoughts here), it’s about the book itself. And it is fantastic! A great fantasy tale with English gentlemen, a fallen star, a lost and enchanted princess, conniving princes, and a desperate witch. Humor and poignant moments alike enhance this modern fairy tale.
You by Charles Benoit
I've been meaning to read this novel forever, and finally got around to it. Told in the second person, it's really unique. It’s also very boy book. And not a hot boy or a boy that has lots of female friends like most novels that have a male protagonist, but somehow the ‘Hoodie’ narrator is really relatable and interesting. Overall, You is a great fast read that makes you think about the consequences of all your decisions or inactions. The cover is really creative, too.
I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while especially because of all the buzz associated with the recently released movie, but just hadn’t gotten around to it because it’s about aliens and that’s not really my thing. But I volunteered at an event at HarperCollins where we taught ninth graders about the publication process with a focus on I Am Number Four. So I had to read it. And I was pleasantly surprised. While this book has aliens and an invasion in it, it wasn’t the super ‘scientific’ sci-fi that I was expecting. It’s an action-packed romance and a quick, enjoyable read. I look forward to the sequel, The Power of Six, which publishes in August.