i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Let’s Pretend we Never Met [a book review of sorts]

[Yeegads!! I started this post on June 13…Like, almost two months ago! I didn’t realize I hadn’t finished it. Totally a cheat post for Blogust. HAHAH!]

Let’s Pretend We Never Met
by Melissa Walker

If it were up to Mattie Markham, there would be a law that said your family wasn’t allowed to move in the middle of the school year. After all, sixth grade is hard enough without wondering if you’ll be able to make new friends or worrying that the kids in Pennsylvania won’t like your North Carolina accent.

But when Mattie meets her next-door neighbor and classmate, she begins to think maybe she was silly to fear being the “new girl.” Agnes is like no one Mattie has ever met—she’s curious, hilarious, smart, and makes up the best games. If winter break is anything to go by, the rest of the school year should be a breeze.

Only it isn’t, because when vacation ends and school starts, Mattie realizes something: At school Agnes is known as the weird girl who no one likes. All Mattie wants is to fit in (okay, and maybe be a little popular too), but is that worth ending her friendship with Agnes? (goodreads.com)

First things first:

  1. I work at a bookstore. We sell this book.
  2. I know the author. We met because of my (now defunct) book blog.
  3. I am unable to be passionate or excited about anything that I do not actually love. No poker face.

Second things second:

  1. In the mid-80s I read a book titled Thirteen by Candice F. Ransom. That book had me in tears almost from the second chapter. I still own that book. It’s about being a kid and friendships changing as you start to get older (10 – 13 years) and how sometimes your best friend from childhood might suddenly have different interests from you as you grow up. That story has stuck with me all these years. I had to find a copy of the book because I lost mine as I got older. It’s one of those stories that clicks with you on such a personal level that you keep it in your heart forever.
  2. I have loved Melissa Walker’s novels since the first one I ever read – Violet on the Runway back in 2008. Melissa was the first author I met through my blog. She left a comment on my review and I felt like I’d won the lottery. Imagine! An AUTHOR who noticed something *I* wrote. It was amazing. Turns out she’s a wonderful person with whom I enjoyed chatting and whatnot over the years. I have bought every novel she’s ever written. I love her writing. So. Much. It’s almost as though she is able to write exactly what I feel, and think, and get that all on the page. She writes people, teens especially, so well. So realistically. (Realistic?) I have met her. I am not super close BFFs with her, but we talk on social media. I think she’s an amazing woman. But this has nothing to do with how much I love her novels. There are some I love more than others, but ultimately she just happens to be an author who writes stories that I fall in love with. Much like Sarah Addison Allen in adult fiction – and I have never exchanged any sort of anything with that author.
  3. THIS: 

 

[and now, almost two months later…]

I loved this book. Seriously, I did. By page 174 I was in tears. There is so much emotion in this story. Emotion that I know I felt when I was 12. Emotion you will be familiar with. Melissa Walker has an uncanny way of putting on the page what you think in your head. In the two months since I read the book, I have hand-sold almost all of the copies we got in the store. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction, so I am more than happy to grab a copy of this book and tell young readers about it when they are looking for something without magic, or fantastic beasts, or fantasy. Thing is, like with Ginny Moon, I get goosebumps when I talk about Let’s Pretend We Never Met. I have said to a couple of young customers that MW can write out what you will find yourself thinking/feeling that you never express out loud. So far that seems to have interested them. I hope they felt I told the truth!

It’s hard being a pre-teen, (or a child, or a teen. You get it.) It’s scary, and difficult when you have to change something drastic at that age – going to a new school, leaving your friends behind. Worrying that because you aren’t there, with your friends, at all times, they will forget you. That you’re left out of everything. That you’re no longer a friend they hold dear. No more BFFs. That’s not a feeling or worry just held for pre-teens. It happens all the time. And Melissa Walker captures that feeling, that anxiety and sadness, so well.

The struggle of wanting to be friends with someone you think is amazing, but also not wanting to be friends with someone everyone else doesn’t like, so you don’t seem like a loser, or un-cool. That struggle, too, is so well portrayed in this story.

Every book I have read by this author has managed to put words to feelings I have had throughout my life. Growing up, being grown-up. She gets it. She gets what it feels like to grow up and manages to write amazing characters who bring real life to life in their stories. That sounds weird, but it’s the only way I can think to express it.

I loved this book. I have read a bunch of other stuff between this novel and now, and nothing else has captured me the way this story has. I now have my second favourite book of the year, after Ginny Moon. Wonder what book will round off the top three?

The Other Alice [a book review of sorts]

Yoshi and The Other AliceThe Other Alice
by Michelle Harrison

What happens when a tale with real magic, that was supposed to be finished, never was? This is a story about one of those stories . . .

Midge loves riddles, his cat, Twitch, and ? most of all ? stories. Especially because he’s grown up being read to by his sister Alice, a brilliant writer.

When Alice goes missing and a talking cat turns up in her bedroom, Midge searches Alice’s stories for a clue. Soon he discovers that her secret book, The Museum of Unfinished Stories, is much more than just a story. In fact, he finds two of its characters wandering around town.

But every tale has its villains ? and with them leaping off the page, Midge, Gypsy and Piper must use all their wits and cunning to work out how the story ends and find Alice. If they fail, a more sinister finale threatens them all . . . (goodreads.com)

Oh, internet. How can I express how much love I have for this novel? I have all of the feelings but I cannot find the words. So let me first tell you a bit about why I read this book – I read the book because it was written by Michelle Harrison, an author whose books have filled me with such joy and wonder that I need to read EVERY! STORY! SHE! EVER! WRITES! I kid you not.

Her first book was about faeries. If you know me, you know how I feel about faeries. The title even had the word “treasure” in it, and I looooooooove treasure. And the title also had the number 13 in it, and that’s like, my favourite number. And the story captured me fully. As did the next novel, and the next. I was sad when I ran out of Michelle Harrison books to read. I was reading them faster that she was writing them! (Work on that, MH.) Then I found out that a new story was being written, and this story had the name “Alice” in the title, and I looooooove the name Alice because: Alice in Wonderland. So of course I was mega-excited.

And THEN Michelle asked on the facebooks to help name something in her novel. There was a narrowboat in the book that a character lived on and she was trying to name it. I commented with a few brilliant ideas (note this was at the same time the internet named a research ship Boaty McBoatface, so you can get an idea of my brilliance!). I also added one real idea: Elsewhere. Because that word is just everything to me.

Elsewhere.

Best word/concept/feeling EVER.

And I won the comment poll, or whatever you want to call it. So my name is actually IN this book in the acknowledgements at the end and I am so excited to see my name in print. It’s almost like I wrote the entire novel MYSELF. (Right!?)

So, this new novel (that I totes helped write) is about a girl who vanishes and leaves a story unfinished, and about her brother who is trying to find her and help finish the story. Because scary things are happening, and magical things, and all of the things, and it’s just such a fantastically written story about stories that I never wanted it to end. I wish I had this book in my life when I was 10 years old. I seriously do. It has every element within it that I love dearly. The whimsy and magicalness of it all made me so giddy I was bouncing while reading it at times. I am 40 years old, internet, and I was so giddy about the whimsy in this book that I could not contain my happiness while reading.

I even love the concept of having a Museum of Unfinished Stories. Doesn’t that just sound delicious and delightful? The idea of it just swells around me with possibility!

I pre-ordered a copy of this book myself, but I also received a signed copy from the author because, as I mentioned, I did help write the darned thing. I will be gifting the non-signed copy this month to someone I hope enjoys it as much as I did. Here’s hoping. It was tough to find a hard copy of the book outside of the UK. It seems to be available only as an eBook on Canadian retailer sites, though I got my BOOK from the Book Depository UK shop (which I think was because I am in Canada. If you are in the US I don’t think it lets you order from the UK site?)

otheralicecollage

I haven’t blogged much at all this year, nor have I read very much (I’m up to 16 books though!), but I wanted to write about The Other Alice because it was a book that my soul needed so badly this summer. It was a perfect weekend escape for me when I needed to find solace in a more imaginative, whimsical space than what real life throws at us. I am now, sadly, out of Michelle Harrison books to read once more. I guess I’ll send her a note to help with the writing of her next novel, since I am obviously a much needed part of her process. 😉

If you love magical middle grade books, with very well developed characters, then I highly recommend you read everything you can get your hands on by Michelle Harrison. Her novels are worth everything.

Middle Grade Madness: The Magic Thief series

Stolen (Magic Thief, #1)
by Sarah Prineas

Hullo! I’m actually going to blog about some books. Can you believe it? In fact, I’ll be blogging about a few series I think. I have been on a huge Middle Grade reading roll thanks to my newly awesome library and I have discovered a few series that I can’t believe I waited this long to check out.

The first amazing series I discovered–and devoured!–is The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas. The first book, Stolen, introduces us to Conn, a young boy who lives in the gutters in Twilight. He is a pickpocket and a thief. He has quick hands and is somewhere between the age of 12 and 14 (he doesn’t know). He semi-successfully picks the pocket of Nevery, a Wizard. From there a relationship is formed, although slightly one-sided. Conn is certain that Nevery took him home to be his apprentice, whereas Nevery  was under the impression he was taking Conn on as a servant. Conn does NOT make a good servant.

The books are narrated by Conn, though broken up by journal entries by Nevery, Rowan (the Dutchess’ daughter), and letters between Conn and Nevery. These little interludes are artistically done, so it feels like you’re reading handwritten pages. They break up the narration nicely and add to the story. Conn eventually becomes the apprentice he hopes to be and searches for his own  Locus Magicalicus (magical stone) so that he might be a real wizard. Odd things tend to happen around Conn, and he seems to have a connection with the city’s magic that no one else has.

The narration is humourous and Conn is such a likable character. He’s not very talkative, and I love the way his responses to what people say to him are actually more to himself, inside his head. He isn’t a typical protagonist in that he’s not surprised that he has magic, or whining that he has to undertake tasks or quests. He is very matter-of-fact about what is presented to him and it’s refreshing in some ways to read a book like this. He is so certain that he’s Nevery’s apprentice that it ends up being so. As though Conn knows what should happen, and what will happen (not in a telepathic way) and it just takes others a little longer to see the logic of Conn’s original thought.

Lost (Magic Thief, #2)

 Conn is convinced that the magic in their city is alive, yet the other Wizards (including Nevery for a time) don’t believe him. Conn can hear the magic speak to him when he creates explosions. Only explosions are illegal in Wellmet and to be caught would mean being exiled from the city. Of course Conn isn’t one to follow rules he feels are illogical, so he continues to do his own thing. And although I thought I would find this bratty, I was never once annoyed by something Conn did. He wasn’t the sort of main character who makes stupid decisions. All of his decisions, you learn quickly, are actually logical and he’s never out to harm anyone or cause trouble. Not intentionally. Conn just has a way of looking at things that make sense to him. If something seems out of tune, he can figure out how to tune it back up. The problem is everyone else doesn’t see his path and therefore think he’s up to no good. Eventually Nevery, along with Rowan, and Nevery’s bodyguard/cook/housekeeper Bennet, clue in to Conn’s intelligence and they try to help him in his own way.

In the second book, Lost, Conn is exiled but takes this opportunity to travel to another city, the city of Desh, because that seems to be where the magic is telling him to go. The magic keeps Conn out of Wellmet, exile or not. Until Conn can figure out what the Magic wants from him in Desh, he’s going there on his own. He does spend some time in the company of Rowan and her diplomatic envoy, but mostly, he’s up to his own devices and almost gets himself killed a few times.

This poor boy ends up in so many dungeon/prison cells. Oy.

Found (Magic Thief, #3)

The third book in this series validated my own guess about what the magic was back in the middle of book one. I was quite pleased with myself about this you know. Heh. Again, this series surprised me with how the “unoriginal” plot ended up being original. I was certain that Conn was going to have some sort of magical connection with all dragons and that he and Pip would be fast, fast friends. In fact I thought a dragon was going to be Conn’s new (and second) Locus Magicalicus. I was slightly wrong. He’s no dragon whisperer, but he still approaches dragons like he does everything else. Logically – to him. He thinks something should be a certain way and he just acts as though it already is, even if it isn’t.

I don’t know if I am explaining this correctly, but it’s the only way I can think of to verbalize it.

All three books have those fun letter/journal snippets breaking up the narrative and I just adore them. I love Nevery to pieces. He’s so grumpy and gruff, but he’s got this soft heart that he tries to hide. The manner in which is journal entries are written always made me giggle and just made me love the character more. I think it helped that he reminded me of someone I used to work with. 😉

There is so much adventure, magic, humour, and fun within these pages. I am shocked that I didn’t look into this series sooner. I think I was just sceptical that it would seem too Harry Potter-ish (it’s NOTHING like HP), or too unoriginal, but it’s not. Unlike the Septimus Heap series (which is a little too Harry Potter-ish, and silly for my tastes), this book held me captive. I only borrowed the first two books of the three the library had. Just in case I didn’t like them, or someone needed the third book. (Don’t ask. I feel greedy if I take out an entire series at once.) but I read those two books in less than 24 hours and I headed right back to the library to pick up the third book. I am thrilled to find out that the fourth book – Home – is due out in about a month’s time. I think I want to buy this entire series for my niece. Or, you know, myself.

I tried writing about these books without giving too much away, but since I seem to be one of the last people to actually read them, you might not be spoiled by anything. But if you haven’t read them, and you’re a Middle Grade and Fantasy fan? Go out and get yourselves some copies now. They are amazing. Enchanting. Magical. Super fun and entertaining!

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
by Claire Legrand

At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. An atmospheric, heartfelt, and delightfully spooky novel for fans of CoralineSplendors and Glooms, andThe Mysterious Benedict Society.

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster ;lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out different. Or they don’t come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria; even if it means getting a little messy. (goodreads.com)

To be honest, I wasn’t really going to write about this one because I don’t think I liked it much. With the way things are for me right now, I don’t feel like blogging about each and every book I read anymore. Also, I just don’t have the time to do that. And I’m not reading nearly as much as I normally do. But I was looking for something “creative” to do today that wasn’t just sitting here and surfing the internet. I’m trying to slowly back away from social media and it’s been working somewhat. Mostly due to the fact that my husband and I just watched about 2.5 seasons of Buffy in about 4 days. And I might have to go back to work next week. So, you know, time will be less.

Anyhow, things I did like about this particular middle grade mystery were: the writing, the story telling and the extreme creepiness of the plot. Bugs. Yuck. Puppets. Yuck.bThings I didn’t like about this book: Victoria. I disliked her almost instantly and she didn’t grow on me at all. I find it very difficult to read a story when I have zero connection with the protagonist. But I was determined to read this story all the way through because I had been wanting to read it for ages. And I bought it. So I was going to read the blasted thing.

I also didn’t really like how creepy it was. But that’s more of a me thing. Then again, I don’t think I’d give this book to my niece to read because it’s dark and gloomy and there’s creepy death. It’s an odd sort of middle grade book. It’s one of those “smart” type books as I call them. It’s not simple in its writing or plot and it is very well written. There’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. I believe that’s mostly due to my dislike of Victoria. I don’t actually feel that she was trying to find Lawrence because she was his friend, I feel like she was trying to find him because it was wrong for her to not have him around anymore to boss around and pick on. I didn’t feel as though this friendship was real – or healthy.

But you know something, the entire story felt exactly the shade of brown as on the cover. It’s a dark story, but it’s a cardboard, dirt sort of dark. Like everything was beige, brown and black in the story. The clothes. The people. The houses. The atmosphere. I didn’t sense any colours other than those. All dull, dirty colours and that makes me anxious.

I think this is a pretty good “spooky story” to read in October and around Halloween if you have kids who can handle these sorts of things. But there’s no whimsy in the spooky. It’s not quite the same as Harry Potter creepy/spooky. It’s not quite the same as other middle grade books that also have death. This one was different and I can’t put my finger on why I am feeling this way. The only thing I can think of is that I didn’t like the characters so I wasn’t as “in” the story as I normally am so I was more focused on what was happening around them than TO them and how they should be reacting?

I do like stories about houses that are alive though. Creepy or not. I like houses that change in books. I don’t want one of my own, but I like when other, fictional people have them. 🙂

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends (Ever After High, #1)
by Shannon Hale

At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens…whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s destiny is to follow in her mother’s wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven’s style. She’s starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn’t sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.

First I saw the dolls in a store flyer. It was love at first sight. Then I saw the book in the store and I promptly told my husband he was buying this for me for Christmas. Then I discovered the website and the theme song and the webisodes so it’s pretty safe to say I have become slightly obsessed with this series.

I knew that this book was going to be for kids even before I watched the animation. But I also knew I was going to love it to pieces and I wasn’t wrong.

The book is pretty. The pages are pretty. It’s full of puns and life lessons and Morals of the Story and just so much fun, fairy tale goodness. I keep thinking it’s Disney, but it’s Mattel. It’s my Jem and the Holograms obsession for this decade. I don’t care about Monster High, but I was instantly drawn to fairy tale legends. What can I say?  I like fairy tales.

There is mystery and deception and friendship and broken friendships. There’s hope and whimsy and humour and gossip.

I loved everything about this book. It is an exceptionally light and fun read but it’s just what I needed after Christmas and the months I have been having. It was FUN. I laughed out loud. I rolled my eyes. I smiled A  LOT while reading this book. It’s fun.

And the theme song isn’t so bad either. It has a good message.

They told you everything was waiting for you,
They told you everything was set in stone,
But now you’re feeling like a different ending,
Sometimes you gotta find it on your own.

It’s an open book,
A road in reverse,
A brand new hook,
Forget that curse!
It’s a Rebel cause,
With a Royal heart,
Rewrite, ignite, restart!

Cause it’s your life,
It’s your time,
Go forward or rewind!

And it’s a pretty freakin’ catchy bubblegum pop song. Even my husband dances to it with me. Heh.

Shush now. Let me have my whimsy. =P