Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books on their fall 2018 TBR. The following books are in no particular order. 

1. Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness is Marcus's and Phoebe's story even though Elizabeth and Matthew are still a big part of the book. This novel is for all the All Souls trilogy fans out there!

2. The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare is the fourth installment in the Magisterium series and I cannot wait to find out more about Call, Tamara and Aaron. If you like to read middle grade fantasy, books about boarding schools and if you like magic, check out this series.

3. The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare is the last installment of the Magisterium series which came out earlier this month. I am dying to know what happens next and how the series ends.

4. Kingdom of a Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao is the sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. In this fantasy novel, readers will follow the story of Princess Jade unlike its predecessor which follows the story of Xifeng. This novel is the retelling of Snow White with an East Asian twist. I loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and I cannot wait read about Jade's story.

5. Enchantée by Gita Trelease is a historical fantasy taken place in Paris in the late 1700's. Camille Durbonne wields magic and uses dark magic to create another persona of 'Baroness de la Fontaine.' But of course magic has a price.

6. What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera is about two guys names Arthur and Ben who meet at a post office in NYC. The rest is history! They meet, get separated and get reunited again. The universe has something in stored for them. Read this cute contemporary novel the fall!

7. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand is a thrilling standalone horror novel about three girls discovering unique powers that will help them defeat a monster that preys upon young women. I am intrigued about this novel and I am sure it will be a chilling read for October.

8. Wildcard by Marie Lu is the sequel to Warcross. Follow Emika has she decides whether she trusts Zero or Hideo in this sci-fi novel. Join Emika with her fellow Phoenix Riders as they survive the world of threats, twists and turns. Who can you trust?

9. Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood is an anthology showcasing short stories about women and witchcraft. I am a big fan of paranormal stories and this anthology is definitely a nice way to get into the creepy Halloween mood without fully committing to a novel. Sometimes short stories can be quite fulfilling.

10. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab is a dark fantasy middle grade that is perfect for October! It's the first book in the Cassidy Blake series and delves into the world of ghost hunting. Cassidy can see ghosts and her parents are Inspectres, a somewhat inept ghost hunting team. Cassidy even has a best friend named Jacob who also happens to be a ghost.

What books are you look forward to this fall?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Zola's Elephant by Randall de Sève

Title: Zola's Elephant
Author: Randall de Sève
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication date: October 9, 2018
Pages: 40
Source/format: ARC//The Horn Book

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

When Zola moves into the neighborhood, her new next-door neighbor is too shy to go over and introduce herself. Plus, Zola already has a friend to play with—an elephant!

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Zola's Elephant is such a fun and timeless book. The narrator is a kid meeting Zola for the very first time when Zola moves into town. Zola has an elephant friend who loves toast and hide and seek. At first the narrator describes Zola from far away but eventually befriends Zola. Seeing Zola interact with her elephant with other animals is comforting. There's a clubhouse where Zola relaxes, shares secrets and shares stories. The narrator is afraid that they cannot be friends with Zola because Zola has an elephant as a friend already. Randall de Sève shows how children are scared befriending others. It takes courage to step up and meet someone new. However, because Zola is new in town, befriending someone can help ease the anxiety for Zola since she doesn't know anyone in the new town she moved too.

Pamela Zagarenski uses muted colors and creates a lot of textures within the illustrations. The brush strokes creates a nice backdrop for the story. Some pops of color such as yellow and red adds some warmth to the paintings. The scattered stars throughout the picture book adds a sense of whimsy. Throughout the book, the illustrator has the same small rocking horse and yellow bird hidden through multiple pages. Teapots and teacups are also very prominent on most pages. This acts sort of a Where's Waldo finding game which can be fun for kids. Circles and rectangles are popular shapes that decorate the pages. The rectangles create a patchwork look to the houses and moving boxes.

Overall, Zola's Elephant is a visually pleasing and fun multi-purpose book. Children get to explore different feelings when meeting someone new and it also addresses kids' imaginations. This timeless and whimsical book is perfect for those who want to read about friendship and befriending others. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

Title: Keeper of the Bees
Author: Meg Kassel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication date: September 4, 2018
Pages: 304
Source/format: Hardcover//Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Keeper of the Bees is a companion novel to Black Birds of the Gallows. Dresden is cursed harboring bees inside of his body with the sole purpose of following harbingers of death and assisting them in an arrangement by targeting those who are vulnerable and are at the brink of death with a deadly bee sting. However, in Concordia, Missouri he meets Essie Roane, a girl who is not afraid of him and can see the face others can't see. Essie hallucinates and sees delusions for most of her life. When she meets Dresden, she views him like poetry, beautiful in every way as the montage of faces of those who die flicker and change within him. She describes how he smells like honey and she is no afraid of the guy that claims that he wants to kill her.

Meg Kassel has a way of writing which sweeps you off your feet wanting more. Diving into this paranormal romance novel is a treat! The novel is very atmospheric full of detailed descriptions of the surroundings and touching the five senses. Dresden and Essie are not your average couple. They both have unusual traits that are not deemed normal by society. But they both see pass each other's flaws and embrace each other's individuality.

Keeper of the Bees is a loose retelling of Beauty of the Beast. We have Dresden who physically is not appealing but most people do not see his real face; they see a generic face. And then we have Essie who is deemed odd because of her hallucinations. Essie's family is actually has a long history of mental illness. Those in the Wickerton line that are too much to handle are often sent to the Stanton House. Essie's father wants her committed but Essie is trying to avoid the Stanton House at all costs. Her Aunt Bel is doing all she can do avoid committing Essie. However, Dresden finds out some haunting information of how the Wickerton curse started.

Kassel introduces us to another type of species in the novel. A Strawman works in a different arrangement than how a Beekeeper and a Harbinger work together. The Strawman tells Dresden that he is there to make sure Dresden rights a wrong. Dresden has no clue what this means until the end of the book. Unlike in Black Birds of the Gallows, Dresden the Beekeeper and Michael the Harbinger are friends.

The novel alternates between chapters with Dresden's and Essie's POVs. Although there is instalove in this novel, the attraction is more about showcasing the love of a person as a whole and not focusing on typical traits. Those who read Black Birds of the Gallows will notice some familiar faces in Keeper of the Bees. Because of the nature of the novel, there are some instances of death, sexual assault and verbal abuse.

Keeper of the Bees is a dark paranormal romance for readers who are looking for a book beyond the average witch, vampire or werewolf novel. It's a hypnotizing romance where the reader is rooting for Dresden's and Essie's happy ending.