Magonia Review

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Title: Magoina

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley

Publisher: HarperCollins

Flap Copy:

“Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?”

What to say about this book? I love the cover. The story was neat. BUT…I kind of felt like it was really preachy, if that makes any sense. The message of environmentalism felt very heavy handed and at times, I grew weary of it.

That being said, it is an interesting story. I like the idea of revisiting naval exploration, but through the sky and a race of people who live there. That is a very fresh idea. Based on the book, I suspect there will be a sequel, which I hope explores more of Magoina.

Was it my favorite book of the year? No, surprisingly not.

Don’t get me wrong, Headley’s writing style is gorgeous, like Kristin Cashore’s style. But I was not a fan of the preachiness I felt from the book. Honestly, that kind of knocked it down a few pegs for me.

Would I have acquired this? Yes, I would have, if only to move away from the heavy message of environmentalism. I liked most everything else about it.

Cruel Beauty Review

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Title: Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)

Flap Copy:

“Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom’s mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart.”

I can see why people had problems with this book. It wasn’t the best I have ever read. The major redeeming factor though was the chemistry between Nyx and the Gentle Lord. I loved the give and take of their relationship. I would say read it I only for that aspect.

It is not the best Beauty and the Beast retelling I have seen, but there were a lot of elements from various mythologies wrapped together: Cupid and Pysche for starters. These elements worked for me, but I think that I would have preferred a straightforward retelling. Again not the best, but not the worst.

Would I have acquired this? Not sure. It was interesting enough and the author is not planning this series to follow the same characters, but I have also seen better retellings that I definitely would have acquired. I think ultimately I might have acquired it, but not for a ton of money.

Geek Girl Review

download (18)Title: Geek Girl 

Author: Holly Smale

Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)

Flap Copy:

“Harriett Manners is a Geek.

As if the Oxford English Dictionary on her nightstand isn’t enough of a clue, there are also the weird looks she gets at school, and the way no one appreciates her extensive trivia knowledge.. So when her friend Nat drags her along to a fashion show and Harriet is accidentally discovered by a modeling agent, she leaps at the chance to reinvent herself.

Harriet isn’t sure she’ll ever learn to navigate the terrifying world of high fashion—at least not without falling off a runway and embarrassing herself in front of her gorgeous new costar, Nick. But read or not, she’s about to learn whether she has what it takes to transform from geek to chic.”

OMG. I love this book. It was so funny! If you read and loved The Princess Diaries, you will absolutely love this book.  Harriett has some pretty spectacularly awkward moments in the book, like hyperventilating into her hands and then trying to pass it off as just smelling her hands.

But Harriett is not the only funny character.  My favorite, by far, is her father. At first, the quips between her father and he stepmother made me think they might be getting a divorce (my brain works weird) but that chemistry was just too cute! The other characters were just as amazing.

My only complaint was the bully, Alexa. I just felt like that was more middle school than high school style bullying, but considering the characters are fifteen, I went with it.

I would definitely have acquired it. I am not sure how well it will do in the US (it was up for several awards after its UK publishing) but this is the type of book I would be glad to spend a year with and make sure everyone reads it.

A Wicked Thing Review

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Warning ***Minor Spoilers***

Title:  A Wicked Thing

Author: Rhiannon Thomas

Publisher: HarperTeen (HaperCollins)

Flap Copy:

“One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.”

I am not at all sure how I feel about this book. Part of me hates it, and part of me feels in was nice enough. The author has this amazing hook: what happens after Sleeping Beauty wakes up? But I spent the first part of the book bored, and the second part just annoyed that Aurora hadn’t clued into the fact that she was rightful ruler.

In the first half, she has just been kissed and woken up. Aurora is not sure how to deal with her disorientation with having been asleep for 100 years. This aspect of the story was good. I wish Thomas had actually done better world building here to showcase the difference.

As the king reveals his true colors, I wanted to scream at Aurora: “You are the rightful ruler! That is why they need you!” I just…I can’t even deal with characters that are this clueless.

Nothing gets resolved at the end of the book; yep, you guessed it, a series.

It was a nice enough book. Not something I would recommend anyone pay for, but if you need something to read in between the bestsellers, I might say try it.

Would I have acquired this? Well here is the rub: on the idea, yes. But on this story? Nope. This story was not what I would have wanted and the amount of work and edits that I would want would transform it into something completely different than the author probably wanted.

Print vs eBook

As a book lover and publishing person, I adore a beautiful book. I’m not just talking about the quality of writing or the story; I am talking about the total package.

When I see a beautiful book.

I love how a matte cover can deepen and enhance the colors on a book cover.  (If you have the book The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist, you should go get it. Touch the cover to feel the smooth silkiness of the matte finish, and look at how it deepened the dark colors.)

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I love how the endpapers on the covers can be beautiful selected to complement the book. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Perason blew my mind, in part because of the end papers, which I just flipped by initially for the story.

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A little hard to see, but beautiful.

Even deckled edging (when a book’s pages look like the printer didn’t do a good job cutting) can enhance the aesthetic of a book. Side Note: I am not a fan of deckled edging and often had heated debates with my classmates about whether to deckle or not. I just love a beautifully designed book.

But…then there are eBooks. I got my first e-reader in 2006: a Sony Reader. I upgraded in 2011 to a Kindle. I have been a fan of eBooks from the very beginning. They have allowed self-published authors to distribute their books to a wider audience, and I love that. I do not want to take my beautifully designed book to the gym to sweat all over it, but I will happily take my Kindle. Same goes for the subway and all the grit. Reading at lunch? Going to go with my Kindle then, too. But all the design elements of the print book are lost in the eBook.

So what is the purpose of this post?

Book bundling. Want it. Need it.

Have been saying it for years now, and I have witnesses to my long drawn out soap box moments.

Comics have been doing it for years. Same goes for movies, where you buy the DVD and get a digital copy.  HarperCollins has even started testing it out on select books.

I know some editors are adamantly against it. An Editorial Director at my publishers told me she is in the business of selling a product and she will not devalue it by giving you two for one because it doesn’t make business sense. I can see her point.

However, as a consumer of books, I demand book bundling. There are just some books that you want in multiple forms so you can read in bed, and then get up and go to the gym with the eBook and continue where you were.