Posts By: Rashika

Friday, February 24, 2017

Destined to Become a Classic: The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

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Destined to Become a Classic: The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron
The Castle in the Mist
Amy Ephron
Genre: Magic, Middle-Grade
Publication date: February 7th, 2017
by Philomel Books

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Tess and Max travel behind the walls of a magical castle where wishes really do come true—if the hawthorn trees don’t get you first.

Tess and Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer and long for some excitement. So when Tess, out for a walk alone, happens upon an ornately carved gate and an old brass key, she decides to see what’s inside. To her amazement, she discovers the grounds of a castle filled with swans, bullfrogs, a hedge maze, an old-fashioned carnival, and a boy, William, just her age. William invites Tess back, and she can’t wait to return, this time with her brother.

But strange things happen at William’s castle. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s warning: Beware the hawthorn trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.

In the end it’s up to Tess to save her family and her friends from being trapped forever in the world beyond the hawthorns—but will one wish be enough?
-A copy was provided by Philomel Books for review-

The Castle in the Mist is destined to become a classic. No question about it. It draws a lot of classic children’s literature tropes but somehow managed to create an entirely different narrative about families and the magic of nature. My literary analysis senses are tingling and I must stop myself from word-vomiting a bunch of off-topic stuff but seriously, THIS IS A BOOK I COULD write a 10 page paper about and have a lot of fun doing.

My biggest problem with the book doesn’t lie in the actual writing but in the fact that so many books like The Castle in the Mist exist yet all of them seem to feature only white children? Do not white children not deserve to be featured in gothic-y stories that are magical, mystical and all around fabulous? Are only the stories that feature not-white children destined to become classics (totally using my own words against myself but I am a contradictory person.) While reading this wonderfully written book, my brain kept coming back to the fact that while this book was wonderful and transformative, the book was really white?

I don’t know. I generally have a lot of feels about diversity and books and while there are so many wonderful middle grade novels that are already out and are coming out that are #ownvoices, I also just want to see more widespread diversity in middle grade books.

Having said all of that, The Castle in the Mist is still and incredibly well written book and so atmospheric. I love the gothicy-ness and the ways in which it plays with time. I love the relationships between the characters and I love that even though it is drawing on all these classic works, The Castle in the Mist stays true to (some of) its intended audience. It is a book well-worth reading but I wish that it was more inclusive.

 

Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Posted by on 02/22/2017 • 2 Comments

My feelings about this novel as about as complex as they get. Optimists Die First does some really great things but also needs a whole lot of work. Keep in mind that this is all based on an ARC version of the book as opposed to the finished copy and ARCs and finished copies can be worlds apart.

For starters, this book is about as cute as it sounds and looks. It is short and sweet and all about friendships and journeys. As one character in the book says, Optimists Die First is a ‘twisted version of the breakfast club.’

There is a complex portrayal of MH without any real labels and that was great. Petula has to go to mandatory art therapy and kind of really hates it. She doesn’t like any…

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Posted by on 02/20/2017 • 10 Comments

Today we are partnering with the lovely people over at Little, Brown to bring you a fabulous giveaway for FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake. It has a cover that is hella gorgeous and a blurb that got me glued. I am so excited to dive into this book and hope you guys are too! 🙂

About the Book

About the Author

Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a degree in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, and reporter for a local business magazine before finally landing on her current job as a library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids, and a Siberian Husky mix that definitely shows frostblood tendencies.

Offical…

A Fun Mystery: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

A Fun Mystery: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Posted by on 02/17/2017 • 5 Comments

This book has an unfortunate cover given that its insides are so different. To Catch a Killer as pitched as being great for fans of Veronica Mars yet this cover screams cheesy mystery. Luckily, To Catch a Killer is a well-written mystery that is fun to follow along and hella engaging. It is one of those books you are going to stay up reading saying just ONE MORE CHAPTER (spoiler alert, its never one more chapter, its usually the entire fucking book.)

Sometimes I’ll read mysteries and wonder how the MCs have the resources and ability to solve the big case just based on educated guesses but To Catch A Killer throws in forensics into the mix and everything is GREAT. EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE. I totally guessed the murderer a couple pages in but…

The Infinite Variants of YA: Interview with Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez)

The Infinite Variants of YA: Interview with Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez)

Posted by on 02/16/2017 • 1 Comment

Hello and welcome to our first official post of THE INFINITE VARIANTS OF YA series! Today we have the absolutely lovely Lilliam Rivera on the blog answering a series of Would You Rather questions (which if you know me, I tend to ask really stupid qs sometimes so she was an absolute champ for putting up with me.)

SO, lets give it up for Lilliam Rivera!!!

A Game of Would You Rather with Lilliam Rivera!

Would you rather have a ginormous family or be an only child?

As much as I used to complain about growing up in a big, loud Puerto Rican family (three brothers, one older sister), I wouldn’t have it any other way. I loved it. You can always find someone to talk to and there are…

The Holiday Novel I Didn’t Know I Needed: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

The Holiday Novel I Didn’t Know I Needed: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Posted by on 02/15/2017 • 2 Comments

I have no idea how to start this review because I just want to throw We Are Okay in everyone’s faces and get them to read it. What drew me to the book was Nina LaCour and the pretty cover. While I haven’t read anything solely written by her, I had read You Know Me Well by her last year which she co-authored with David Levithan and fell in love with her writing.

LaCour’s writing just makes me wish I was buried under a ton of blankets with a book and a nice, warm cup of hot cocoa. We Are Okay is everything I didn’t even know I wanted from a holiday-themed book. It is complex, cozy and gut wrenching. It uses the tropes from common holiday novels but…

10 Non-Het Romance Books to Read on Valentine’s Day (or any other day of the year)

10 Non-Het Romance Books to Read on Valentine’s Day (or any other day of the year)

Posted by on 02/14/2017 • 9 Comments

Tired of all the het romances in the spotlight come Valentine’s day? Here is a list of 10 non-het romances to read instead + a bonus movie to watch! This list is by no means cumulative but the books have strong romance elements and HEAs (unless I seriously screwed up while researching.)

1. Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Interracial romance, QPOC, #ownvoices.

2. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

A fantasy world where society isn’t homophobic. #ownvoices.

3. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Interracial romance, QPOC, #ownvoices.

4. Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

oreos.

5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Latinx main characters. #ownvoices.

6. Ash by Malinda Lo

Cinderella…

Q&A With S. Jae Jones

Q&A With S. Jae Jones

Posted by on 02/13/2017 • 2 Comments

Hello and welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Today we have a Q&A with the author and hopefully they’ll make you feel even more excited about reading the book!

Please give a round of applause for S. Jae-Jones!

Q&A With S. Jae-Jones

What was your favorite part about writing this book? What was your favorite scene to write?

I loved that I was able to draw on so many things that inspired or influenced me aesthetically as I wrote this book. I love goth stories, Death and the Maiden tropes, Jacques Cocteau movies, Phantom of the Opera, glitter, David Bowie, Mozart, and all of that made it into my book in some form or another. I don’t have a favorite scene,…