March Book Madness! Days 26-31 My favorite new reads from this month

After the Ball by Ramon Casas

Confession time. These past two weeks I’ve been helping my family move cross country from New York to New Mexico. Needless to say, writing daily posts became almost impossible. Mostly because I was SUPER exhausted.

So to make up for these last few days of inactivity, today is a special dedication to my favorite books form this crazy month of reading! Though I won’t be doing daily posts on books in April, I will do Book Tags and reviews every once in awhile.

Let’s get started!

Victoria Schwab‘s The Near Witch

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Goodreads Overview

The Near Witch is definitely not Schwab’s best book, but it was a fascinating read nonetheless. Even if some of the character and world building felt a little hollow, Schwab’s writing was still beautiful and wonderful to fall into. I especially enjoyed reading this book while walking outside.

Julia Nobel‘s The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane 4/5

Emmy’s dad disappeared years ago, and with her mother too busy to parent, she’s shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England. But right before she leaves, a mysterious box arrives full of medallions and a note reading: These belonged to your father.

Just as she’s settling into life at Wellsworth, Emmy begins to find the strange symbols from the medallions etched into the walls and stumbles upon the school’s super-secret society, The Order of Black Hollow Lane. As Emmy and her friends delve deeper into the mysteries of The Order, she can’t help but wonder—did this secret society have something to do with her dad’s disappearance?

Goodreads Overview

I don’t think this story is a never before seen phenomenon. The story of a girl looking for a lost parent and encountering a mystery at her new school has been done before. However, that doesn’t mean this book is not enjoyable. Nobel is a fantastic writer. I practically ate this book up because her story and characters were so well written. I look forward to the next book!

E.D. Baker‘s The Wide-Awake Princess 5/5

In this new stand-alone fairy tale, Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie-blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic-can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake.

But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn’t possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father’s guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.

Goodreads Overview

The Wide-Awake Princess is such a fun story! Of all the books I’ve read this month, Baker’s quirky fairytale made me the happiest. I enjoyed following Princess Annie on her quest to save her sister and put up with stupid princes. I liked this book’s message of living authentically and not relying on magic to determine one’s worth. I also really like Liam. Thank goodness he was one of the few young men without fairy dust-induced good looks and fickle interests and opinions. 

Marie Lu‘s The Kingdom of Back 5/5

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish: to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in eighteenth-century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

As Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

Goodreads Overview

I have a special affinity for stories centered on music or art. Nannerl’s world is one I can identify with, not just because I am a woman. I understood her hesitation and fear for her future, her passion for music, and her desire to be remembered. What makes this story especially special is its fantastical elements, rooted in old Germanic Fairy Tales. I have a particularly strong German soul so this beautiful story about music, belonging, and individuality sang to me.

Piers Torday‘sThe Last Wild 5/5

In a world where animals no longer exist, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes sometimes feels like he hardly exists either. Locked away in a home for troubled children, he’s told there’s something wrong with him. So when he meets a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach, Kester thinks he’s finally gone crazy.

But the animals have something to say. And they need him. The pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived. A wise stag needs Kester’s help, and together they must embark on a great journey, joined along the way by an overenthusiastic wolf cub, a military-trained cockroach, a mouse with a ritual for everything, and a stubborn girl named Polly. The animals saved Kester Jaynes. But can Kester save the animals?

Goodreads Overview

I think I connected so well to this story because of the protagonist Kester and the book’s message on honoring animals and the earth. Kester was endearing because his conflict felt real. Kester’s quest to save the wild intertwined with his journey to find his voice again, whether it was in his mind or verbally.

Usually, I feel overburdened by environmental messages in books and movies. However, in The Last Wild, I became invested in Kester and the animals’ quest. The world Kester lived in felt less like a world created by man’s bad choices and more like a world abandoned by man because of fear. 

Thank you for reading! See you on my next month long quest!

March Book Madness! Day 25, Do you love books more than people?

Feel free to donate! Anything is appreciated.

March Book Madness! Day 1, Clive Barker’s Abarat (2002) 5/5

Original Cover for Abarat

Book Details

Young Adult Fantasy

Candy lives in Chickentown USA: the most boring place in the world, her heart bursting for some clue as to what her future may hold. She is soon to find out: swept out of our world by a giant wave, she finds herself in another place entirely…

The Abarat: a vast archipelago where every island is a different hour of the day, from the sunlit wonders of Three in the Afternoon, where dragons roam, to the dark terrors of the island of Midnight, ruled by Christopher Carrion.

Candy has a place in this extraordinary world: she has been brought here to help save the Abarat from the dark forces that are stirring at its heart. Forces older than time itself, and more evil than anything Candy has ever encountered.

Goodreads Overview

Colorful, Adventurous, and Soundly Poetic

Since I was fourteen, I have reread Clive Barker’s Abarat countless times. Though I am not a fan of Barker’s horror books like ImajicaThe Damnation Game, or Books of Blood, I thoroughly appreciate his creativity and artistry in Abarat and its two sequels. Almost every book page in Abarat has Barker’s handpainted artworks. Even as a young teenager, I knew this book was extraordinary. 

Clive Barker is a unique artist and author. I secretly have a German soul, so his darker children’s stories appeal to me. This style fits the quirky, dark atmosphere of his books as well as its other-worldly magical tone. Though it is not a horror novel, Abarat does have its fair share of creepy characters and moments. 

The Narrative

This story blossoms like a fantastic dream. The atmosphere and world Barker builds are beautiful. Having broken this story down countless times, I’ve come to really appreciate how Barker used contrasts in his artwork, prose, and characterizations. These polarized themes appear often throughout the story. Much like Romantic authors and artists of a bygone time, Barker portrays the fight between good and evil like a well-balanced dance.

The Characters

The characters are just as colorful and dynamic as Barker’s artwork. Since, this story takes place in such a rich world, it is fitting to have characters who match its extraordinary atmosphere. I’ve always admired the story’s heroine Candy for her curiosity, bravery, and kindness. Her character growth comes mostly as she opens herself to new people and learns to value herself. She carries a lot of emotional scars because of her abusive father, but it is not the defining aspect of her character.

Carrion is a captivating villain with diverse motivations and character development. Finding Candy was never about stopping her from thwarting his plans for Absolute Midnight but about filling the deep ache he feels after being spurned in love.

There are so many other amazing characters spread throughout this book and the sequels like Malingo, the villainess Mater Motley, and The Woman Fantomaya. Honestly, if I talked about all of them I would ruin the reading experience.

Who is this book for?

Clive Barker fans would definitely appreciate this book for the artwork alone. Others I can think of would be fans of books like Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (2008), Victoria Schwab’s Cassidy Blake series, or Holly Black’s Doll Bones (2013). If you love colorful, unique artwork, creepy stories, or traditional good versus evil stories this book is for you!

Favorite Quotes

Three is the number of those who do holy work;

Two is the number of those who do lover’s work;

One is the number of those who do perfect evil

Or perfect good.”

― Clive Barker, Abarat

Perhaps a wiser eye than hers would be able to read tomorrow in tonight’s stars, but where was the fun in that? It was better not to know. Better to be alive in the Here and the Now–in this bright, laughing moment–and let the Hours to come take care of themselves.”

― Clive Barker, Abarat

March Book Madness! Day 2, Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (2015) 2/5

March Madness: Review A Book A Day

Fairy Book, Illustration Ольга Калиниченко (Olga Kalinichenko)-

I’ve been excited about this post for several weeks! For February, I wanted to focus on my yoga practice and the lessons I learned from exercising throughout the month. March will be all about books!

Usually, I talk a lot about animation, silent movies, and TV Shows. This is fitting because I love studying film. But before I loved researching cinematography, I fell in love with reading. I actually read more books than I watch movies and TV shows. ( I also own over 600 books. For now.)

However, as many who have looked through my blog might have noticed, I don’t write book reviews very often. Such a travesty! But it is also understandable for several reasons.

  1. Book reviews take a lot of time. It is a lot easier to sit down and look over parts in a film rather than a book.
  2. By the time I am ready to write a book review, I’ve moved on and lose interest. I have an ever deflecting attention span.
  3. I get overwhelmed by all the books I read. (Sometimes I read up to five different books at a time. I blame college.)
  4. I don’t think its necessary to write about books I hated or thought were okay. Books I consider great are few and far between.

Despite all these things going against me, I’ve resolved to write about a book a day this month! All the amazing book bloggers I follow inspired me to extend my writing repertoire. Maybe this will be the month I change my tune!

Thank you for reading! Look forward to a month of book reviews! If you have any book recommendations, feel free to send them to me in the comments.