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I often tell kids at the library that it's OK to start with a second book in a series if the first book is unavailable. (I don't like to see them go home empty-handed!) Most authors do a fine job of catching the reader up on prior events. However, because of the rich details of the world Lisa Graff has created, A Clatter of Jars is best read after A Tangle of Knots.
Welcome to another edition of In Tandem, the read-and-review blog series where both A.F. and I give on-the-spot commentary as we read and blog a book together. (You can feel free to guess which of us is the yellow owl and which of us is purple... Read the rest of this post
Just in time for track season! Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is the No. 1 ranked Athlete Girl Book at Goodreads. This uplifting story for mid-grade to adults is a great gift idea for the young athlete in your life. … Continue reading →
Another Western with a youthful protagonist, Laura Anne Gilman's novel is the first in a sweeping new series. I read it -- passed it along to Tech Boy who also read it and said, "Wow, it just... worked." What's harder to say is... why. And we aren't... Read the rest of this post
Welcome to our Mary Poppins chat–the final classics discussion for the year! At the end of the post, you’ll find info on how to tally up your reviews if you participated in 2015, as well as what we think we’ll be doing going forward. Wendy: I’ve literally seen the movie Mary Poppins over a hundred times. (What can I say, as a child, when I loved things, I loved them intensely.) I can’t remember how far into those viewings that I decided to read the books, but I was surprised to find how much I loved them–just as a much, but in a very different way. Layla: While I’ve definitely seen this movie several times, I don’t think I’ve ever read this book! So thanks for finally bringing this one to the front of my queue, Wendy. It was really different from what I was expecting, I’ve got to say –... Read more »
I seem to have an affinity for those books which are magical and strange and not entirely definable. Sitting down to the write this review, it occurs to me how difficult it is to describe this book. I can tell you what it’s about, but to describe the experience of reading it almost makes me feel like I’ve had a spell cast on me myself. There is a palpable sense of unreality throughout as Aidan journeys to unravel the mysteries of himself and his family. Aidan can’t remember entire swaths of his life and he doesn’t even realize it. He drifts along as in a fog, feeling barely there at all. Until the day an old friend comes back into his life and lost memories begin to shake themselves loose from their bindings. But who bound Aidan’s memories, and why? You have to tell your story true, and not everyone... Read more »
Today I am thrilled that we are sharing the cover for Wandering Wild. I always get excited for cover reveals, but this one feels particularly special. Wandering Wild was originally supposed to be published by Egmont in October of 2015, but after the U.S division of Egmont closed last year, Wandering Wild lost it’s first home. Thankfully it’s found a new home with Sky Pony Press, and it will be coming out May 3, 2016.
And here is Jessica’s GORGEOUS cover!!
Raised by Wanderers, sixteen-year-old Tal travels the roads of the southern wild in her Chevy by day and camps in her tent trailer at night. Hustling, conning, and grifting her way into just enough cash to save her fifteen-year-old brother, Wen, from bare-knuckle fighting was once enough to keep her dreams of traveling the whole world at bay. Everything changes when the Wanderers set up camp in a little town called Cedar Falls.
There, Spencer Sway, a boy Tal tried to hustle at a game of billiards, keeps popping up into her life—and worst of all—into her scams. Buttoned-up, starched-and-ironed Spencer talks of places where Tal’s truck can’t take her. His promises of traveling across oceans are almost enough to shatter her love of the Wanderer life.
When a boy shows up at camp, ready to make good on a nearly-forgotten arranged marriage to Tal, Tal and Wen make a pact: No matter the cost, they will use their limitless skills of grift to earn the bride price and buy back her future—even if Spencer Sway gets used along the way.
Doesn’t that sound amazing? I had an opportunity to read an early version of Wandering Wild, and I can promise it’s just as good as it sounds.
And because Jessica is such a lovely person, she’s also written up an extremely helpful post for us today:
Labeling Magical Realism in the Current Market by Jessica Taylor
Whenever I speak to a writing group, I always finish up with some light Q&A. As the author of Wandering Wild, a magical realism story, I’m often asked if I can give a definition of magical realism. I usually give my favorite definition: A story that is not decidedly supernatural but can possibly encompass the supernatural.
Once, as I was moving on the next question, I overheard an audience member stage whisper to his friend, “She’s wrong.” I wasn’t offended because, if I was honest, my definition was oversimplified. The next time a man approached me at a conference with this question, I decided to delve into my English major definition, starting with the Latin American origins and the fact that we call magical realism a “genre” in the children’s literature world while it’s truly a literary mode. An author friend standing nearby said she could see the man’s eyes glazing over. Recently I’ve realized that magical realism isn’t something I can sum up in a few words because, in the current market, many stories are considered magical realism that don’t fit the classic mold.
Many agents ask for magical realism submissions, but agents also complain that writers often call their stories magical realism when they aren’t. Correctly identifying your genre in your query letter is important because it shows agents you’re professional and you’ve done your research. If you’re trying to figure out if your story can be classified as magical realism, my favorite definition is a good place to start. If you’re in a position to query agents with a complete manuscript, it’s important to dig a little deeper. Here’s a test to help you do that.
If you’re unsure if you’ve written a magical realism story, the key is examining your story’s otherworldly elements. Ask yourself this question: What is the explanation for the otherworldly events in your manuscript?
If the reason is werewolves, vampires, fairies, or an ancient curse, your manuscript is likely paranormal.
If it’s a type of science that hasn’t been discovered (time travel or cloning), you might have a science fiction story on your hands or a story with science fiction elements.
If you’ve built a fictional world where otherworldly things are possible, your story could be fantasy.
If your character’s mental illness is the reason—and everything is truly in your character’s head, you’ve probably written a psychological thriller.
If you can’t or don’t explain the otherworldly elements, your story is possibly magical realism.
If there isn’t necessarily anything otherworldly in your story, but you leave it ambiguous as to whether or not something magical occurred, your genre might be magical realism.
If you’re interested in adding a few magical realism reads to your to-be-read list, here are some excellent titles that are arguably (and some not-so-arguably) classified as magical realism:
Everybody Sees the Ants, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Seeing Cinderella by Jenny Lindquist
Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Now it’s time for our giveaway! Jessica’s publisher has generously donated an ARC of Wandering Wild and if you’d like to win it, all you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below.
Welcome to another session of Turning Pages! Synopsis: This book was my Valentine's gift to myself. upon a time in Hans Christian Andersonland, an evil troll creates a mirror which reflects things as they are not. Facing beauty, it regardless shows... Read the rest of this post
Children's Book Week was just last week, and thanks to First Second we're still celebrating--throughout April and May, MacTeenBooks has organized a massive multi-blog tour featuring Five Questions with a wide range of amazing cartoonists for kids... Read the rest of this post
Reader, after you finished Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assasains series and powered through Julie Berry's The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place and frothed through the lighter Finishing School novels by Gail Carringer and plowed through... Read the rest of this post
Honestly? I did not see this one coming.Some of us in the kidlitosphere who have grown up in a faith have frequently bemoaned the scarcity of accurately, positively and creatively depicted faith in children's fiction. (Please note I said "faith" and... Read the rest of this post
Alice Hoffman is the author of many books for adults, a few of which have been made into movies, and a handful of books for young readers. Her newest book, Nightbird, brings magical realism, a genre mastered by Gabriel García Márquez, to middle grade readers in a way that is compelling and appropriate. Magical realism, which presents magical or unreal elements in an otherwise mundane setting
Bone Gap is a small town where everyone knows each other on a first name basis. It's also a small enough town where your personal life can become community property. No one knows this better than Sean and Finn. Living alone without any parents to help (and everyone knows how that happened), Sean works full time and looks after his younger brother who is still in high school. Dreams were given up as well as the cameraderie brothers had. Finn knows this only too well, but can do nothing about it. He misses his older brother even though they're in the same room and when Roza left, the gap became larger in the brothers' relationship.
Roza came to Bone Gap quite unexpectedly. Born and raised in Poland, she left her home country for the opportunity to be in America, but what she saw and experienced were darker and bleaker than she imagined. Sean found Roza and gave her time to find herself again. While others were struck by her beauty, Sean gazed at her beyond the beauty and began to fall in love with the woman. No one had ever done that before. In turn, Roza helps Sean and Finn find the bindings that loosened between them and she also became part of the family...until the day she disappeared. Finn saw it happen, but there are gaps to what he saw. He couldn't tell you what the man who took her looked like and wouldn't even be able to recognize him in a line-up because Finn is unable to recognize faces.
Petey likes to live in the solitary gaps she finds. People talk about her, know her story, but do they really? She's the pretty girl with an ugly face and the honeybees she helps tend with her mother allows her to take cover from what everyone says about her...until one night when Finn arrives at her house on a dark horse. They go on the most magical ride, falling into the gaps between the world they live in and the other world that exists between. The more Petey and Finn spend time together, the more their gaps are filled with much-needed love and acceptance.
The man took Roza because she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. He told her he would never hurt her until she came to love him. He offers her the finest things in beautiful places, but whatever the facade may be, it is still a prison. He also knows Finn is searching for Roza and is working to create a gap large enough where Roza will never be found. Little does he know how resourceful, strong and patient his beautiful prize can be.
Told in alternating stories between Finn (for the most part) and Roza, the reader is immersed into a beautiful story of reality and fantasy. Roza's world is fantastical and horrible at the same time while Finn lives in the real world that is becoming more beautiful every day. Ruby's writing flows with emotion and beauty, taking the reader beyond the pages to the heart of the book - one about the importance of relationships. It's been awhile since I last cried while reading a book, and this one I couldn't help myself. It wasn't out of sadness, but out of the beauty and deep strong characters Laura Ruby crafts in this novel. Magical realism at it's best in this book. Highly recommended.
After I sighed enviously through Susan White's Ten Thousand Truths and longed to live on a magical farm like that (despite the fact that there's nothing magical about having to dig and drudge and deal with small, mad chickens who don't want you to... Read the rest of this post
Summary: I don't know why I put off reading this one for so long. I really love A.S. King's writing, and every time I read one of her books I'm pretty much blown away. This one's no exception. Trying to summarize it is only going to make it sound... Read the rest of this post
This book is one off-the-beaten-track for me. It's definitely a MG chapter book, and skews quite a bit younger than the books we usually review here -- but I'm reviewing it anyway, because I'm excited that I'll have the opportunity to meet the... Read the rest of this post
I have a tiny addiction to Joseph Bruchac's KILLER OF ENEMIES books, as you'll note from my original review, the review of the ROSE EAGLE novella, and the fact that I do cover reveals for the KILLERS series - which I don't often even notice are... Read the rest of this post
Full disclosure: I consider the author a friend of mine, though we've never yet managed to meet in person. (Darn it.) I read this book out of affection, but am raving about it, because I found it to be flat out astounding.One of the weird things... Read the rest of this post
Some people decide to read more books written by women and underrepresented writers. Others decide to try and read fewer YA novels featuring rail thin girls wearing big, foofy dresses on the cover... but, yeah. YA. Foofy dresses. It's a Thing. Less... Read the rest of this post
To begin with, this isn't a YA novel. It's a crossover adult novel, recommended for older YA readers due to some violence and disturbing interactions and attitudes. Lila Bowen is a pseudonym for Delilah Dawson, a familiar YA author. If you like... Read the rest of this post
Triss has woken up, not really knowing what happened before.She vaguely remembers who she is, where she’s from, or who her family is.Triss is also afraid.She sees the dolls she’s always loved since childhood, watching her as she moves around the room, calling to her.Is it her mind playing tricks on her or is it really happening?All she knows is she’s ravenously hungry…
When the Crescents arrive home after their fatal holiday, they also begin to notice changes in their beloved daughter.She’s eating everything set before her as well as everything in the pantry.She begins to snoop on her parents’ conversation instead of being the docile and obedient daughter she once was.The only thing that hasn’t changed is her little sister’s utter contempt and hatred for her.
Triss begins to notice changes in herself she desperately tries to hide.Leaves fall from her hair and dirt ends up in her bed and nightgown.She’s eaten some of the dolls in the room and has even gone outside to devour the rotten apples no longer clinging to the trees.These slow changes come to fruition when she realizes exactly who she is…and she’s not Triss.
Pen, her little sister, has been in contact with the Architect, a dark man who is handsomely disguised, driving a beautifully menacing black Daimler.He’s the one who had the power to bring Triss to life and trade her for the real Triss.He also isn’t finished with the havoc he wants to reap on Piers Crescent and him family for the binding agreement Piers made with him.Something dark and personal…Triss realizes she needs to help not only stop to the Architect and the Besiders from hurting the real Triss, but also from hurting her as well.
Set in the backdrop of England after World War I, the reader will get completely lost is the magical realism Hardinge writes.You’ll meet characters like Violet, a girl who loves jazz and rides a motorcycle but always is running from the winter she brings to Mr. Grace, a tailor who wields his scissors with talent along with the beautiful tea cakes he sets before his guests to the family dynamics of the Crescents, who don’t like change in a world on the tip of tremendous transformation.Hardinge takes everything from a magical period in history and blends it with the magic in the book portrayed from the sympathetic Triss to the ruthlessness of the Architect to the strange creatures called the Besiders who live within the bridges and buildings of the city.EXCELLENT read and highly recommended for JH/HS.
The Game of Love and Death is perilous indeed. This is one where I shouldn’t reveal too much of how the book unfolds as it is best left to the reader to discover all of the mysteries and intricacies on their own. At its core this novel is a reflection on love, and loving, and life. On what it means to love, and what it means to love in the face of overwhelming obstacles. “Someday, everyone you love will die. Everything you love will crumble to ruin. This is the price of life. This is the price of love. It is the only ending for every true story.” This is the story of Flora Saudade and Henry Bishop. Two people who are kept apart by the standards of their time, but also by the very forces of Love and Death themselves. It is a heart achingly beautiful story and one... Read more »
It's a truth acknowledged universally &tc. that I am not the artsy person in this blog duo. A.F. - she draws, she's Cybil'd, she has the degree, etc. - so she has the relationships with the graphic novel companies the graphics are her schtick. I...... Read the rest of this post
When I reviewed The Last Present by Wendy Mass, I wrote the following:
The Last Present is the final book in the Willow Falls (or "birthday") series, realistic fiction with just the right amount of magic, courtesy of Angelina, the mysterious old woman with the duck-shaped birthmark. Angelina is seemingly the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls, the town where nothing happens by coincidence and everything happens for a reason. Readers of the series will delight in revisiting their favorite characters - Leo, Amanda, Tara, Rory, David and all rest, as their stories intertwine and the story of Angelina is finally revealed. ... I'm sad to see it come to an end. It's been great fun!
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was sorry to see the Willow Falls series come to an end. In the forward to Graceful (Scholastic, 2015), Wendy Mass writes that her readers let her know "IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS" that they were not ready for the series to end. Graceful (due out tomorrow) is a gift to her readers.
I think fans of the series will be happy with Graceful, in which Grace fills in (somewhat unwittingly) for the mysterious Angelina as the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls. This is a series about friendship and family and the cosmic connectedness of all things. It can best be described as magical realism, and it is a series that should be read sequentially. Mass does her best to catch the reader up with previous occurrences, but the series is so intricately plotted that it is difficult to skip a book or read them out of order.
Willow Falls has been a great place to visit, but I think Ms. Mass is ready to move on now. All of our questions have been answered and all loose ends are tied. It's been fun! Enjoy!