Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Far From The Tree by Robin Benway Review

Title: Far From The Tree
Author: Robin Benway
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Robin Benway came into my life when I received a copy of Also Known As, the first book in her contemporary romantic spy series, as an advanced readers copy. I found Far From The Tree as I usually find books in my library stack, a recommendation. I finally got to it after I finished reading All Rights Reserved Saturday night. I was immediately drawn into the world of Grace, Maya, and Joaquin, and their journey to find each other, themselves, and the many meanings of family. Far From The Tree is a tender, heartbreaking and utterly compassionate novel, and I loved every moment of it, even as it gutted me entirely. One of the best books of 2017, hands down, and the National Book Award Finalist is well-deserved! I can’t wait to see what else Benway has in store!

Grace, Maya, and Joaquin are three different people from varying backgrounds; they are also all adopted. When Grace gets pregnant by accident, she makes the difficult decision to put her baby up for adoption. Bereft and untethered after giving birth, she reaches out to try and find the blood family she never knew, starting with her mother. She, Maya, a hard-as-nails, dark-humored lesbian, and Joaquin, the boy whose quiet nature hides scars of every kind, all meet and gradually begin to connect. They forge a strong bond, even though they’ve only known each other for a short time, and eventually begin the search for the one person they’ve all been searching for: their birth mother.

I really, really loved this loved this book; it’s easily one of my favorite books of 2017. Normally, my tastes run more toward fantasy novels, but I’ve been loving contemporary for a long time. So when Far From The Tree caught my eye with its pretty cover and the glowing reviews I’d read previously, I was really excited. The prose was beautiful and magnetic, and I was immediately drawn into the world of these three young people. I loved the plot, especially when it came to discussing the topic of adoption, and Benway uses compassion, tenderness, and empathy when she talks about it. But even more than those things, I loved the main characters, all of them with distinct personalities, flaws, and struggles. Grace, the young mother who is struggling with giving her baby away, Maya, whose family is falling apart at the seams and being torn apart by dark secrets, and Joaquin, the boy so used to abandonment he’s afraid to get close to anyone. This book; it made me laugh, cry, scream, and cheer, and it’s one of my favorites of the year—I will never forget this loving book that showed me that family and love can come in all kinds of different forms! The bottom line: A beautifully written, tender and funny book full of humor, heart, and compassion, I loved Far From The Tree! Next on deck: Given to the Earth by Mindy McGinnis!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis Review

Title: All Rights Reserved
Author: Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Series: Word$, book one
Star Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

All Rights Reserved was the book club pick for January at one of the libraries I go to, and when I was informed of the concept, I was really excited. A dystopian world where you have to pay for your every word after the age of fifteen? What an idea! Because I was reading A Skinful of Shadows that week, I hadn’t finished it before the day of book club, and I just finished it Saturday night. And to be honest, I still don’t know exactly how I feel. I wanted to love it, but a lot of the aspects of this book just fell really flat for me; to say that I’m disappointed is a huge understatement. If you’re looking for a good dystopian novel, I’d look elsewhere, because All Rights Reserved needs a lot of work. I don’t even know if I’m going to read the sequel.

Speth Jime lives in a rigid world where every word and action is controlled; think 1984’s Big Brother, but on steroids. In her world, the government copyrights everything, to the point where progress is stagnant and no idea is new. Debt also accumulates at a rapid, breakneck pace to collar the poor, even before they leave the womb. When Jime’s best friend, Beecher, commits suicide right in front of her to escape his family’s insurmountable debt, she decides to defy the corrupt, tyrannical government and go silent. In doing so, she ignites the spark that sets fire to something that’s never happened before; a revolution. When young people around her take up her cause and begin to fight for freedom, Speth realizes that she must decide whether to speak, or risk everything she knows and loves in order to fight a system rigged against people like her…

Like I said above, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the concept of it; it seemed almost like this generation’s 1984, upon reflection. I really feel like that the book didn’t live up to my expectations; truthfully, I didn’t really care about any of the characters until the second half of the book. Even then, I didn’t really feel anything; I didn’t really have a reaction to anything that happened in the book, save one big event. The prose also needed a lot of editing; there was a lot of run-on sentences and misspellings, as well several instances of wrong word usage; this really, really bothered me. The pacing was kind of stilted and it didn’t really catch my interest. If I don’t care about the characters in a book, I don’t care about the book. The concept was unusual, but the execution of it was really clunky. Plus it felt like there was a lot of filler before the action actually started. I didn’t completely hate it, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite. It just read like a typical dystopian novel, and there wasn’t anything spectacular about it. I had really high hopes for this one, and it was just… meh. I wish I’d cared more about it. I don’t even want to read the sequel. So, moving on! The bottom line: A bold, revolutionary concept executed poorly, All Rights Reserved just left me cold; I wish I’d cared more about it, but it was just bad. Next on deck: Far From The Tree by Robin Benway!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge Review

Title: A Skinful of Shadows
Author: Frances Hardinge
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror/Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Frances Hardinge won my heart last year when I read her US debut, The Lie Tree, and then later on, A Face Like Glass, with the gorgeous prose and twisty, daring plots, as well as well-thought out, exciting worldbuilding. So, when I heard that she had a new book coming out in October 2017, I was so excited that I reserved at my local library immediately. It took a while to get to me, and it sat in my library stack for a while. I had one last renewal on it, so I pushed it to the top of the stack and got started with it as soon as I finished the book I’d been reading. I was immediately captivated by the book; the writing was beautiful, I was immediately intrigued by the time period it was set in, and the fierce, secretly powerful Makepeace, a simple Puritan girl thrown into a dangerous game of political intrigue, war, deadly secrets, and ghosts! I loved every moment of it, and it’s currently my favorite of Hardinge’s work that I’ve read.

Makepeace is a bear-hearted girl whose hardened mother has trained her to fight back against newly dead spirits who long to inhabit the empty spaces in her body. When the worst kind of tragedy strikes and shatters her tiny world, she is captured by her late father’s family, to be used for their own ends. Deep inside the ancient castle of Grizehayes, she finds an older brother, as well as dark, deadly secrets as old as the estate itself. But when her father’s family begins to set cold, dead eyes on her, Makepeace must reach deep inside herself for the strength she never knew she had, and trust even her deadliest enemies…

I really, really enjoyed this book; it was worth waiting for. Rife with political intrigue, lush prose, gorgeous details, and memorable characters, A Skinful of Shadows was quite the genre-bender. It somehow straddled the lines between historical fiction, gothic fiction, horror, and fantasy, and I loved every moment of it. I was drawn into Makepeace’s world at once, captivated by her journey and her character development. She transforms from a frightened, timid little girl who becomes a pawn in multiple political games to a powerful young woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right, even if it means risking her life in the process. She is a character that will live on in my heart forever. The pacing was breakneck and the book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go. I also really liked the way the book was formatted, divided by the different personas that Makepeace used to get to the bottom of the mystery and save the only living kin that she has. I also loved the ghosts themselves that take up residence in her body; they each had different and lively personalities, and I loved the way that they all united to help Makepeace in her quest for freedom and self-reliance. I also really enjoyed the historical period that the book was set in, one I’ve been fascinated with since I’ve started studying Queen Mary of Scots: The English Civil War. And that ending—I loved the resolution of it all! A Skinful of Shadows is my favorite of Frances Hardinge’s books, and she’s become one of my favorite authors recently. What a dark and achingly lovely tale of horror and war! The bottom line: A beautifully written tale of gothic horror set in one of England’s most tempestuous times in history, I loved A Skinful of Shadows—one of my favorite books by Frances Hardinge! Next on deck: All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Three Sides of a Heart by Natalie C. Parker Review

Title: Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles
Editor: Natalie C. Parker
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Anthology
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Ah, love triangles: One of the most polarizing tropes in all of young adult literature. I myself haven’t been shy in saying that I pretty much hate it. But when one of my favorite authors, Sabaa Tahir, announced its release date on her Facebook page, my curiosity was piqued, and I reserved it at my local library. When it finally came, I had to admit that I was excited as well as curious, eager to see different spins on an all-too familiar trope. Sixteen young adult authors offer their take on the love triangle. Some are traditional and contemporary, others take a fantasy route, and still others take it in even more exciting directions. For time’s sake, I won’t review every single story, but give an overall rating for the book and select a few standouts to tell you about. I can’t wait to dive into more work of these promising, talented authors! Okay, without further ado, here we go.

Dread South by Justina Ireland: 5 out of 5 Stars. Zombies in the Civil War South with two young women at the center! Sold and sold! I loved this story. The writing was gorgeous, I loved the premise (There’s going to be a full book in April, yay!), and I adored the way the two girls, one a fierce and vicious zombie slayer, or Attendant, and the other a sheltered rich girl, fell in love in the midst of a zombie horde taking over the town they both live in. Justina Ireland has become one of my new favorite authors, and I cannot wait for the full book!

La Revancha del Tango by Renee Ahdieh: 5 out of 5 Stars. Lush, gorgeous, and sexy, Ahdieh pens a heart-pounding tale of a young woman dancing the tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I loved every minute of it; the wry narration, the aching sexual tension, and the surprising, exciting ending; I was on the edge of my seat and ready to pull my hair out the entire time. It didn’t go the way that I expected it would, and I was so surprised; my jaw was on the floor. It makes me happy and excited that The Wrath and the Dawn is sitting on my bookshelf currently.

Cas, An, and Dra by Natalie C. Parker: 5 out of 5 Stars. I really, really enjoyed this one! It was lovely and weird and surprising. Cas and An have always been together, and Cas doesn’t know what her life would be like without An, her lover and her best friend. She is haunted by the choices that her great aunt made, and so she dreads having to make a choice. Things are complicated even further by the appearance of Dra, a mysterious person whom Cas is irresistibly drawn to, even knowing that the only way they’ve met is through a choice she’s never made. I loved the way that every choice was explored, and the way that the ending wasn’t concrete and was really open-ended.

The Historian, The Garrison, and The Cantankerous Catwoman by Lamar Giles: 5 out of 5 Stars. Okay, first of all, superheroes. One of my favorite things ever! The writing was wonderful, and I loved the way that the book went back and forth from the past and present, providing context. The love triangle in this was so painful. I loved the way that Niya and Cat’s personalities clashed, all the way up to the ending. This story was like an electric combination of Supernatural and Justice League, and the ending was so shocking; I did not see it coming, and I loved it! It went into the completely opposite direction of what I was expecting. One of my favorite stories in the whole book!
A Hundred Thousand Threads by Alaya Dawn Johnson: 5 out of 5 Stars. Oh, my goodness, I love, love, love this one! First of all, it was set in a mysterious, futuristic version of Mexico, and second of all, the twist! The twist! Aurora and the Colibri are two totally different women. One has ascended, rather roughly, into high society, and the other is a vicious, murderous vigilante outlaw who takes justice as she sees sit on the corrupt government. In the middle of these two women is Jaime, the son of one of the government officials that the Colibri is fighting against. I loved the way that the story was told in letters, and in first person between Jaime and Aurora. And the ending! My jaw was on the floor, and I loved it so much!

Before She Was Bloody by Tessa Gratton: 4 out of 5 Stars. I liked this story, but it was kind of hard to understand. The main character, Safiya the Bloody, is the Moon Eater’s Mistress. As such, she cannot be with anyone else, regardless of how she feels. She belongs to the ruler and him alone. Never mind that she has burning feelings for her heart and soul twin, or the new visiting soldier come to call at the palace. When a foul plot is discovered to try and poison her, she becomes vicious and bloodthirsty, going so far as to kill the man’s family to make a point. It was kind of confusing, and I wish that there was a whole book to explain the politics and social standing of all the characters in the book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Unus, Duo, Tres by Bethany Hagen: 5 out of 5 Stars. My heart! Oh, my heart! And what’s a book about love triangles without one of the ultimate in the trope: Vampires! I really adored this story. Enoch and Casimir are vampires; Enoch bit Cas one night after realizing he didn’t want to return to his family. Immortal and desperately in love and lust with each other, they need no one else. But their dynamic changes drastically when they are caught biting each other in the school’s library by a young woman, a new student, named Esther. Both boys are irresistibly drawn to her, and when Enoch realizes that Esther is ill and on death’s door, he does the unthinkable for the two people he loves most and makes the irreversible sacrifice. I loved this story, it was so painful and beautiful and the ending made me cry!

This book was lovely, a fun, sexy grab bag of stories about love triangles, and I have to say, after this, that I have to admit that I don’t really hate the trope anymore; it’s just something that is, especially in the young adult genre. But what a collection that I’ll never forget! The bottom line: A gorgeous collection of stories about the dreaded love triangle, I loved Three Sides of a Heart! Next on deck: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera Review

Title: They Both Die at the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

The book club buddy that recommended Stalking Jack the Ripper to me begged me to read this. It was already in my library stack, and she specifically asked that I read one of her recommendations, since she’d already checked out several titles I’d sent her way. I pushed it up to the top of the stack, drawn to the moody, beautiful, blue and purple cover. It was a gorgeous, beautiful, and painful story of dying and truly living, not taking your time for granted, and it gutted me totally. It ripped apart my heart and soul and sewed it back together again, and I will never forget it. Hands down, one of the best books of 2017, and Adam Silvera has become one of my new favorite authors! Heart-wrenching, tender, and hopeful, They Both Die at the End is a lovely reminder to live—not just survive—while you still have the time to do so.

The novel is set in a not-so-distant future, where virtual reality is the norm and an organization called DeathCast has been formed to tell people of their last twenty-four hours—literally. And Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio have gotten that dreaded last call. They meet through an app called Last Friend, and, forced to take a chance on each other during their last hours, they form a deep bond—a bond that lasts all the way until the end. Told from multiple points of view throughout the same day, Silvera reminds us—gently, and not so much, later on—to not take our time on this earth for granted, and to fully live while we still can. It’s one of those beautifully awful tearjerkers that worms into your heart, breaks into your soul, and dominates your thoughts. I finished it yesterday and I’m still reeling; I had to take most of the day to process my feelings. But Adam Silvera has cemented a permanent place in my heart, and I can’t wait to check out more of his work when I get a chance.

Honestly, even before this was recommended to me, I was drawn to the beautiful cover, even knowing what would happen at the end. Then my buddy’s plea to read it just clinched it for me. I went into it not knowing what to expect, but I really enjoyed it, even with all of the emotional pain. It was beautifully written, greatly paced between the boys and the other characters who are affected by the ‘miraculous’ DeathCast. I really liked the way it went between Mateo, Rufus, and all of the other characters; it settled into a rhythm that was really nice once the book got going. I loved all of the characters, too, every single one of them, and the prose was gorgeous and tender and seemed to squeeze every last bit of my heart. And when the ending finally came—and I tried to put it off for as long as I could—I felt gutted, cleaned out, at least emotionally. I cried for a good day and a half, and it’s still lingering with me, even now as I write these words. But Adam Silvera has become one of my new favorite authors, and I will be checking out more of his work as soon as I possibly can. One of the best books of 2017, even while it destroyed me in the best kind of way! The bottom line: A gorgeous, beautiful and tender reminder to live to the fullest while you still can, They Both Die at the End is one of the best books of 2017, and one that I will never forget! Next on deck: Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles by Natalie C. Parker!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian Fiction
Series: Red Queen, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ll be honest: I’ve been very curious about Red Queen since it came out three years ago. I read the first five chapters through an email from the publisher and hadn’t been able to get it out of my head. So when I saw it on a shelf of one of the libraries I go to, I didn’t even let myself think about it; I just grabbed it and hoped for the best. I pushed it to the top of my library stack, nervous and excited all at once, due to the mixed reviews. And I can see why Red Queen got all kinds of mixed reviews, but for my part, I really enjoyed it! There were definitely some issues: a love triangle, various dystopian tropes that seemed to take from several popular, other young adult series. But whatever its flaws, I really, really liked Red Queen, and I’m excited to dig into this series! It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to voraciously binge a series, and so I’m going to use his opportunity to jump right in! Victoria Aveyard has created a dangerous, frightening world rife with political intrigue, romance, power struggles, and dark secrets that could mean the most damning punishment of all: death.

Mare Barrow is a lowly Red, hailing from the slum known as The Stilts. The divide between Reds and Silvers, whose powers are godlike and rule is absolute, is so wide as to be insurmountable, and at sixteen, almost to her seventeenth birthday, she is expecting nothing but conscription into the war. The fact that her best friend, Kilorn, ends up being drafted only adds to her stress. Desperate for help, she turns to a rebel organization called The Red Guard to try and flee the country. Instead, somehow, she ends up in one of the country’s biggest Silver strongholds, and she discovers that she has a terrifying, out of place power: She can harness the power of lightning through her fingertips, something unheard of in a Red. Suddenly, Mare is dubbed a lost Silver princess, brought into the fold of the royal family and its court. Torn between two brothers, her own heart, and the rebellion she so fiercely believes in, Mare must decide where her loyalties lie, or else risk the ultimate punishment…

I know, I know, I can hear all of the naysayers saying that Red Queen ripped off some popular dystopian elements that made other series successful. But nonetheless, I really enjoyed it! Despite some flaws, a love triangle, so many names that it was hard to keep up with on the political level, and some confusing worldbuilding, I really liked this book: It flowed nicely, the prose was dark, tense, and snappy, I was constantly flipping pages to see what was going to happen next, and I loved Mare! Honestly, she was what saved the book for me, despite the rest of the issues. I was cheering, cringing, and crying over her, her family, and the all-too-sticky predicament that she finds herself in. I was glued to the pages, especially when things really started rolling. I didn’t much like the whole love triangle thing, though I suppose that it served its purpose. And that ending! Oh my gosh, I’m still mentally screaming over it! Someone get me Glass Sword, stat, or I’m gonna lose it! A beautifully written, dark and thoughtful series opener, I really enjoyed Red Queen! The bottom line: Despite some anxiety over mixed reviews, I really liked Red Queen—it’s like a cross between The Hunger Games, Divergent, and X-Men, and I am so here for it! Next on deck: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco Review

Title: Stalking Jack The Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror
Series: Stalking Jack The Ripper, book one
Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

A book club buddy of mine recommended this book to me; at that point, she was almost finished with it and was curious about what I’d think. (You know who you are!) So, when I got home that night, I ordered it from the library. I pushed it to the top of the stack when I had the time, and I was really excited to get into it. Stalking Jack The Ripper was an oddly enticing, strangely contradictory whodunit that incorporates history, forensic science, and characters that I grew to love, almost against my will. True, it used some tropes that kind of annoyed me, and I have a lot of mixed feelings, but it wasn’t a bad book, regardless. I’m happy I read it and I’m curious about what comes next for Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell.

Audrey Rose is not like other girls of her age and station; she much prefers slicing cadavers open and helping her uncle conduct experiments in his grisly lab over tea parties and husband chasing. She longs to be a forensic scientist in the day and age that is, for the most part, dominated by men. When apprenticing to her eccentric, strange uncle leads her into the path of one of history’s most dangerous serial killers, she is forced to team up with one of her uncle’s colleagues, the infuriating, handsome, and mysterious Thomas Cresswell. The deeper that the pair digs into the secrets of the murderer, the more frightening and confusing things become, particularly for Audrey. When she realizes that the blackest evil may be lurking closer to home, she will be risking everything she knows and loves for justice.

As I said before, I have really mixed feelings about this book; there were some elements of the story that I really enjoyed, and others that really fell short or needed some editing. I’ll start with the things I liked: First of all, I’m an absolute sucker for historical fiction; it was what spurred my love of history and learning, seeing the past through a character’s eyes. As an ardent lover of true crime, also, I really enjoyed the way that the author took a brave stab at Jack The Ripper, an old case that was only recently closed. I liked the way the story was told in first person, with Audrey’s wry, passionate narrative moving the story along. The twists and turns of the novel had me guessing constantly, so much so that I didn’t know the identity of the suspect, even at the end! I didn’t like Thomas at first, but his chemistry with Audrey really won me over, when I got over his arrogance and condescension. Maybe it was that way with men in that day and age, but it still annoyed me through the beginning. The feminism was also confusing, at times, Audrey was contradictory and wasn’t making sense. Maniscalco also used tropes, that to me, personally, were kind of tired and overused, especially in recent young adult fare. Nonetheless, even with all of its flaws, this series opener was solid, and I can’t wait to see more of Audrey and Thomas’s adventures—this time in Romania, chasing—you guessed it—the infamous Lord Dracula! The bottom line: Though I have a lot of mixed feelings about Stalking Jack The Ripper, it was a solid, well-researched series opener, and I can’t wait to see what’s next! Next on deck: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire Review

Title: Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker
Author: Gregory Maguire
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Gregory Maguire won my heart back in college when I began his Wicked Years series; I caught sight of its green tinted pages and it was over after that. I have all but one book of the series sitting on my bookshelf to this day, and I’ve never seen The Wizard of Oz the same way again. So, when I heard that he was writing a new book in October, this one revolving around The Nutcracker and his mysterious maker, Drosselmeier, I was so excited. One of my first field trips with my school as a child was to the ballet, and ever since then, I’ve been utterly enchanted by the tale of The Nutcracker and Klara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the wintry land that they all inhabit, for however brief a time. Gregory Maguire spins a familiar tale with new, charming flair, complete with gorgeous writing, charming characters, elements of Greek mythology and Grimm’s fairy tales, as well as strong historical components. If Wicked weren’t my favorite Gregory Maguire book, Hiddensee would have high chances of taking its place. What an enchanting, thought-provoking novel!

Once there was a boy in a cottage in the woods, whose parents were an old woman and an old man. Then one day, they gave him to the forest itself, perhaps hoping that he will die inside of it. But his life changes forever when two beings, a beautiful wise woman, and a cantankerous, angry dwarf that may or may not be able to conceal himself in a knife, imploring him to find a new place for them to rest. After a near-fatal encounter in the forest, the boy flees, traveling through the various cities in Bavaria. He drifts across the country, becoming a guardian for a well to do family, then he begins to travel across the continent, using toymaking to occupy his restless hands. He finally comes to a halt when he meets his best friend’s family, and comes to be known as the mysterious, almost cloistered old toymaker who lovingly watches over little Klara and gives her The Nutcracker he is so famous for crafting. Beautifully written, lovingly wrought, and finely executed, Hiddensee pairs two origin tales, painting a darker, more mythical creation story for a character I thought I knew: The Nutcracker and Drosselmeier!

I really, really liked this book! I was really excited for a new spin on one of my favorite stories that inspired one of my favorite ballets, and no one does fairy tale or classic retellings like Gregory Maguire. The prose was lovely, almost hypnotic, and I was absolutely spellbound; I also really loved the way that Maguire took elements from both fairy tales and history itself to tell the story of the boy who would go on to become the old, grizzled Drosselmeier; to be honest, before this book came out, it never even occurred to me to wonder where the toymaker came from, or how he came to be with Klara and her family. The pacing of the book took a little while to get going, but I was enchanted once it really started picking up. I loved following Dirk’s journey, and I loved the way that Greek mythology elements were peppered throughout the narrative. It all combined to create an intoxicating, beautiful origin story, and I loved the way that The Nutcracker itself helped steer the narrative. The characters were really relatable though there were a few that I didn’t really care for. I loved the ending, though honestly it made me cry! The language and the stuttered pacing made it difficult to keep up with sometimes, hence the four star rating. Nonetheless, this new offering from a literary darling was exciting, finely wrought, tender, and thoughtful—I really enjoyed the food for thought that it gave me! The bottom line: Twinning origin stories for The Nutcracker and the man whom lovingly crafts him, Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker was a beautiful, gorgeous and thoughtful fairy tale retelling that had me laughing, crying, and thinking deeply—I loved it! Another wonderful entry in Gregory Maguire’s repertoire! Next on deck: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco!