Wednesday, August 24, 2016

EVERY HEART A DOORWAY: A REVIEW

Every Heart a Doorway
Written by: Seanan McGuire
Hardcover: 173 pages
Publisher: Tor
Language: English
April 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Young Adult/Series

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children

No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.


+++++++++++++

“You're nobody's rainbow. You're nobody's princess. You're nobody's doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”

Whatever happened to the children who fell down the well or the rabbit hole, those who escaped through a wardrobe or walked through a doorway? What happens when they come back to this world? It’s an intriguing thought. As is what would my doorway be if I found it? Where would it take me? What would it be like? Would I ever want to come back? Or are doorways just for children?

Nancy walked through a door once and found a home she did not realize she had. She lived a life of silence and stood as still as a marble statue. But she was loved. She was wanted. She was accepted for who she was. Her liege, The Lord of the Undead, called to her very soul. But then she came back and couldn’t find her door again.

She is not the same young woman her parents thought she was. No one believes where she has been. This world is the one she is supposed to belong to. This loud world full of colors and chaos, loud and bright, and always moving. No one understands that Nancy likes the quiet, the darkness, and the stillness. There, in her real home, she felt like she was in control. There, she felt like she could finally be herself and be loved for it.

Nancy’s parents think that they are helping her overcome the trauma of her recent disappearance and kidnapping by sending her to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Eleanor knows the sadness and loss that Nancy is feeling because she had a door once too. Here, at her home, they are believed. Nancy is not alone. There are other kids like her, one who entered mysterious and magical worlds and came back.

Soon after Nancy arrives students begin dying. Who is killing the students and why? And will Nancy ever find her door again?

Things I liked: “For us, places we went were home. We didn't care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn't have to pretend to be something we weren't. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”

Imagine if you traveled to a world that was nonsensical or magical, one that was dark or virtuous, perhaps twisted or light. It was an amazing place, one where you felt like you belonged. Then one day you were cast out. Maybe you became too old, too unsure, too other, or perhaps your benefactors want to make sure that this world is the one you want forever. You still are not there. The return to this world is gut wrenching, traumatic, and undeniably painful. You have lost something. You will never stop looking. You want so desperately to go back, to feel whole again. It’s hard to live in this world when you know another one is out there. One that you called home. One where you finally felt like you belonged. Not everyone is allowed to go back. For some, their door will never open again. For some, if they are lucky they might find their door again on a quiet night. Holy cow is that a premise. How can that not just hit you in the feels.

Like I said I love the premise. I also love that is quite often little girls or girls in general that are taken. This quote sums it up pretty perfectly, “Because ‘boys will be boys’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Lundy. “They’re too loud, on the whole, to be easily misplaced or overlooked; when they disappear from the home, parents send search parties to dredge them out of swamps and drag them away from frog ponds. It’s not innate. It’s learned. But it protects them from the doors, keeps them safe at home. Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.”

Obviously the whole thing is just heartbreaking because these kids were cast out of a place where they felt acceptance. Now they are forced back into a world that doesn’t understand them, outcasts yet again. Sure I can see the parallels between childhood and adulthood, the loss of innocence and imagination. Which is why I love this concept so so much.

This book tries to tackle a lot of things as well. You have morality, mental health, and the desire to feel accepted for who and what you are. The whodunit feels tacked on and a bit forced. Again, I will get to that in a bit.

I will say that it is the small things that bring the world to life just as Toby’s world relies on the small things (like how magic smells). Through the spattering of color, the creak of a door, the smell of something just beyond reach, or the sound of an empty classroom bring it all to life. This is what makes Seanan’s writing so great for me. I get transported, which is exactly what I want when I read a book.

The characters are also great in this book if not fully realized which is one of the small gripes I have which I will get to later. But you have to love the diversity Seanan was trying to achieve in her characters and her world. Nancy is asexual and Kade is transgender. Where Nancy is reserved and quiet, her roommate Sumi is loud and energetic. Lundy the school’s therapist looks like a child because her world made her age backward in this one. Eleanor’s world was one of nonsense while another student’s was one of rainbows.

Things I didn’t like so much: My biggest gripe is how selfish these kids are. Sure some of them have shitty parents. Some of them have loving parents, parents who thought they had lost their children. Parents who grieved and some who never stopped hoping that they would come back, that they would be returned from wherever and whomever had taken them. There are parents and families who don’t understand, but they want to. They don’t know what their children went through. They weren’t there. They did not experience it. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love their children. They are trying to help in the only ways that they know how. And yet…

Their kids don’t seem to care. Seriously, what about the parents, the families, the friends, the siblings? Are these characters so self-absorbed that they matter not? Selfish. So selfish. Maybe I would feel better if they all came from horrible homes, they were all only children, and no one really was changed by their disappearance and reappearance.

I also felt like the entire story was rushed. It was as if she was trying to write a full length novel but realized she only had 170 pages to do it. I know what Seanan was trying to do or at least I think I do, but I felt like it should be more than just 173 pages. I’m not sure why it was decided that it should only be a novella. I guess I was wanted more. I wanted to understand and learn more about high logic worlds and high wicked ones. I wanted to learn about how each of these characters played a part in those worlds. I wanted to know how those worlds changed them forevermore.

Like I said the concept is amazing, the execution not as much. Such as its not really a crime thriller or mystery. Or at least a believable one. Maybe it was because I never was connected to any of the characters enough to mourn their loss, to feel a sense of worry on who might be next. Plus Eleanor’s solution for what to do when there is a serial killer on campus? It’s not call the cops or do anything resembling any sort of responsibility for her charges. Its suggest that everyone travels around in threes? Sigh.

Finally I felt like the diversity was a bit forced at times. For example, when Kade is introduced as transgender. It felt weird and a little forced. Almost a let me get this out of the way instead of making it feel natural and making Kade more fully developed and realized. It didn’t feel like a natural reveal. And while yes we are a diverse little human world, there was so much inclusion that it felt heavy handed. Sure, maybe it is because most lit out there is so far from diverse that when you feel like you actually have a splice of real life that it just makes things feel off. I don’t know. Again, one of those loved it and hated it things.

This really is such an odd story. Its full of magic, loss, love, and anger. But it is real and beautiful in its own way. This little novella was also very hard to review for me. I love Seanan to little bitty pieces and enjoy her creations. But this novella had some great highs, but some low lows for me. I wanted there to be more. I expected just a little bit more. It’s not a bad book by any means. I just wanted more.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. Despite my gripes, I still enjoyed it and will be keeping it on my shelves.

Part of: Series

Also Recommended: For more Seanan goodness please read her Toby Daye series beginning with Rosemary and Rue. Another young adult book that is has that eerie beautifulness is Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. You might also like Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

RAT QUEENS: SASS & SORCERY - A REVIEW

Rat Queens Vol.1: Sass and Sorcery
Written by: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Illustrated by: Roc Upchurch
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Image
Language: English
April 2014
Genre: Fantasy/Action-Adv/Comic Book/ Series

Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all god's creatures for profit.

It's also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

Collecting Rat Queens #1-5!


+++++++++++++

‘Did you seriously pack candy and drugs for dinner?’

I have been playing tabletop games for a while. My favorite memories are of my friends Daen, Nicole, Sierra, and I playing D&D with Daen’s future husband, Jeremy, in college. We weren’t the Rat Queens, but I think we wanted to be. Flash forward 15 years later and I started hearing about the Rat Queens and how awesome the comics were. I picked up the first two trades right before ECCC this year. I was smitten. I had some serious cosplay goals…still do. And I kind of wanted to hang out with them. I also think our Shadowrun group should become a Dungeon Crawl group. Maybe Pathfinder would be a nice change of pace.

Meet Betty. ‘Tequila, vodka, and two magic mushrooms. They call it the Betty.’ She is the adorable, rogue thief Smidgen. She is also slightly addicted to candy and drugs.

Hannah rocks the pinup vibe and is the elven mage who doesn’t give a frak. She’s a bit of a hot head and can tap into some pretty wicked dark magic.

Dee is the divine healing cleric who doesn’t really believe in a higher power and comes from a family of cultists who worship a giant flying squid.

Finally, you have Violet (she’s my favorite). She is the red haired dwarven warrior who shaved her beard to make a point and is running away from a dwarven legacy.

Together, they form the Rat Queens, an awesome group of lady friends who rid the sewers of rats, go on quests to kill the monsters lurking in the cave outside of town and drink a lot. They also swear, have the occasional hookup and get into a lot of bar fights. As punishment for one too many barroom brawls, the Rat Queens (as well as Peaches, Four Daves, Brother Ponies, and the Obsidian Darkness) are sent away on quests or they will be banned from the city.

They head out to rid the local cave of goblins. Part of it screams ‘Trap’ once they get there and what do you know, it was a trap. Someone has hired a merc assassin to take out the Queens and the other groups. Now the Queens are out for revenge. You better watch out.

Things I liked: I love that there are so many comics featuring bad ass ladies. And so many comics that have just blown me away this year (looking at you Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Captain Marvel, Miss Marvel, Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly, NImona, and so much more.)

The plot is simple, in fact it’s really not that different than most D&D campaigns or fantasy novels. Except the Rat Queens are frakking bad ass. Snarky, smirking foul mouthed badasses. And they are hella funny. In fact, the relationships that they have with one another is the best, but I will get to that later. You start, at where else, the town. There is no real backstory, but I didn’t really need one. It’s like meeting your new companions for a new adventure at the local tavern.

Beyond the main plot you have some decent subplot as well. Betty wants to commit to the girl she likes. Violet’s brother shows up to bring her home. Hannah’s recklessness is beginning to get out of control. And Dee’s family as well as whom they worship may come into play.

It may have the typical sword and sorcery schtick. There is even some great satire on class and race systems, even more about tabletop gaming in general. I love the little homages to fantasy games. You have respawning of monsters, quests never really going according to plan, farming for components, and so much more. The pacing is quick and I was sad when it was over.

Oh how I love the Queens. I love the way they interact with one another, their varied personalities, and just the diversity all around (race, body types, sexuality). The ladies are sexy and badass, but not overly sexualized. I think they would probably be Chaotic good, maybe Chaotic Neutral. Doesn’t matter, they still kick ass. Yay lady friends. I just want to go adventuring with them. And also with Orc Dave and Braga.

I like the artwork here. I can also see how some may compare Rat Queens to Tank Girl D&D. You do have bad ass ladies after all. Not your average comic book heroes. I loved it all and I cannot wait to read the next trade volume. On order as we speak. Whoo hoo!  

Things I didn’t like so much: I got nothing. *Smile*

Buy or Borrow: Buy. I think you’ll love it. I’m off to go paint some minis and create a new Pathfinder character now.

Part of: Series

Also Recommended: For more bad ass ladies try Tank Girl, Captain Marvel, or Bitch Planet. For more fantasy try Princess Ugg or Nimona. Finally, if you are looking for some other lady featured comic try the Lumberjanes, Pretty Deadly, Miss Marvel with Kamala Khan and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

TUESDAY TRAILERS: ASSASSINS CREED

Video game movies don’t usually go so well. I would like to blame it all on Uwe Boll, but I cant. For some reason there are just very few good games movies (which is odd since there are decent movies within games if you would just follow the game plots). But maybe Creed can change that. After all Warcraft was decent. Plus Fassbender as an assassin…I’m in. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day. …Opens December 21, 2016.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

STRAY SOULS: A REVIEW

Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous #1)
Written by: Kate Griffin
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Language: English
October 2012
Genre: Fiction/Urban Fantasy/Series

'Don’t look back. It wants you to look back.’

London’s soul has gone missing. Lost? Kidnapped? Murdered? Nobody knows – but when Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she’s a shaman, she is immediately called upon to use her newfound powers of oneness with the City to rescue it from a slow but inevitable demise.

The problem is, while everyone expects Sharon to have all the answers – from the Midnight Mayor to Sharon’s magically-challenged self-help group – she doesn’t have a clue where to start.

But with London’s soul missing and the Gate open, there are creatures loose that won’t wait for her to catch up before they go hunting.

Stray Souls is the first novel in the Magicals Anonymous series, set in the same fantastical London as the Matthew Swift novels.


+++++++++++++

Sometimes there are books you just love to read for the sake of reading. The prose is sublime and flows through your mind like some lyrical dream. The descriptions put you in this magical world that you never want to leave. The Matthew Swift novels were like that for me. I could read for endless hours the descriptions of London and its various inhabitants. They felt so magical and alive. Obviously I really liked them.

Strangely, it took me a while to pick up Stray Souls which is the first book in the Magical Anonymous series. Though it is set in the same universe as our dear Midnight mayor, it is quite different. Even if Matthew Swift makes an appearance or two.

Sharon Li, failing barista and mantra chanting aficionado, has discovered that she is an urban shaman, something she doesn’t quite understand. Becoming one with the city or walking through walls can be a bit confusing so she sets up a Facebook Group (Weird Shit Keeps Happening and I Don’t Know Why but I Figure I Need Help’ which eventually becomes the local self-group of Magicals Anonymous. It includes other magicals such as misunderstood necromancers, allergy suffering druids, a hypochondriac vampire named Kevin, Sally the socially awkward banshee, Gretel the gourmet food loving troll, and a cleaning lady who isn’t quite sure why she is there at all.

Before Sharon can catch her breath the soul of London, Greydawn the Lady of 4am, has gone missing. With her absence the monsters are coming out of hiding which is not good for anyone. And for some reason everyone expects Sharon to fix things. It will be up to her, a toothpaste addicted goblin mentor, and her new group to save London.

Things I liked: Stray Souls is infinitely lighter than the Matthew Swift novels. Kind of like Guardians of the Galaxy compared to the rest of the MCU. It is kind of Terry Pratchett does Matthew Swift. While it may have taken a little bit to get used to, I liked it. I think the mini chapters work well and some of the chapter titles were hilarious. I will say that it takes a little to get going, but once it does it flowed nicely and at a decent pace.

I love the idea that places and buildings have souls. When the soul of something disappears, the building or place dies. You know the ones I am talking about: the storefront that is something new every time you walk by, the house that keeps going up on the market despite the neighborhood, or the park that just feels empty. I love that.

Sharon is a bit of a self-help hippie and at first I did not like her at all…except for maybe her blue hair. She does yoga, practices deep breathing, is very pro-active, and constantly utters self-help mantras. But she grew on me. At first she was a bit of a pushover, everyone telling her what to do and then she decided that was enough of that. When she finally grows a backbone and starts telling people that they need to give her more than vague clues, it was great. Sharon is not a damsel in distress. She can save herself quite well, thank you.

Beyond Sharon, I love the other members of Magicals Anonymous. This is a group who won’t give up or give in. They are weird. They are quirky. They are socially awkward. But they save the day anyway. I like a group like that. I like the magical misfits. I like misfits in general I suppose. Even Mr. Ruislip gained my sympathy just a wee bit. Poor wendigo.

Things I didn’t like so much: Matthew Swift was a bit annoying. I know he is a bit too powerful to be the main focus of books anymore, but now it feels like he has done a complete 180. He’s vague and kind of an incompetent jerk. Okay there might be bureaucratic tape tying all of his limbs together, but the old Matthew Swift wouldn’t care. He’s just not the Swift I fell in love with and that was disappointing. I understand that this ‘job’ requires some finesse and the Electric Angels are not really the best at that I suppose.

This was an odd change of pace and tone for me, one that I wasn’t quite expecting so it took some getting used to. But in the end I did enjoy it, just not as much as the Matthew Swift series.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you like Kate Griffin and the London she has created.

Part of: Series
Stray Souls: Book One
The Glass God: Book Two

Also Recommended: Please please read the Matthew Swift novels also by Kate Griffin beginning with A Madness of Angels. Also alternative Londons you might like include Tales from the Nightside by Simon R Green, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey.

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

TUESDAY TRAILERS: MISS PEREGRINE'S...

I really enjoyed Ransom Riggs first novel about the peculiar children. While the overall plot looks similar via the trailer, it does look like they made some big changes. I think Burton will do a good job and Eva Green looks fantastic. I will give it a go. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion, and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is…Opens September 30, 2016.

Friday, August 5, 2016

ALIVE: A BOOK REVIEW

Alive (Generation Trilogy Volume 1)
Written by: Scott Sigler
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Language: English
February 2016
Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction/ Trilogy

From New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler comes something utterly new: a gripping sci-fi adventure trilogy in the vein of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. A group of young adults awake in a mysterious enclosed space with no knowledge of who they are or how they got there…and an indomitable young woman must lead them not only to answers but to survival.

A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth


+++++++++++++

“If you run, your enemy will hunt you. Kill your enemy, and you are forever free.”

This year at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle the ladies and I came home with a bunch of books. Alive was one of them. Now, sometimes there are books that don’t quite work for you and yet they linger. You don’t hate them, but you don’t like them either. Alive was like that for me.

Now the less you know about alive the better so as of this point do not read ahead unless you want some minor spoilers. You have been warned. Again, turn back now if you don’t want to know anything about the book. I won’t give it all away but there will be discussions. Still with me. Okay, here we go.

A young woman wakes up in a coffin on what she thinks is her twelfth birthday. She remembers very little and takes the name EM only after seeing the nameplate ‘M. Savage’ on the coffin she broke out of. She is also not alone. Some are dead, some are alive, but none understand what is going on. And their bodies are not that of twelve year olds, but almost grown young adults. Where are they? What are the strange markings on their foreheads for? What happened to them? And where are the adults?

The need for food and water forces them out of the strange temple structure they found themselves in. As they explore their surroundings they find the dusty bones of a forgotten war and wonder where they fit into all of it. It becomes a race for answers and survival.

Things I liked: This was such an odd book and an even odder one to review. On one hand the pacing was quick (I finished it in one sitting), the overall story interesting, and the lead character great. However, the prose was lackluster, the 12 year old mind in a 20 year old body laughable and weird, and well…I just wanted and expected more I suppose. It was all so disjointed I think. Ah, but the good.

Em’s narrative is fairly solid. She is flawed. She makes mistakes. She questions her decisions. She emotes in ways I expect her to. I could feel for Em and sympathize with her and her situation. Like I said, I really like Em, but alas she is really the only character that gets any real character development. Maybe I am only supposed to care about her and not the secondary characters though. Not sure, guess I will have to find out. The other characters are sadly just default cookie cutter types that must be on a checklist somewhere. You have the beautiful geeky girl who is tech savy, the religious zealot, the bully, the gorgeous emo love interest…etc.

I love the Dungeon Crawl aspect as they explore their surroundings never knowing what lies in the dark or waits around the next corner. I like that they wake up in what they think is a temple surrounded by strange glyphs on the walls. And yet there is technology. I like that when Em wakes up we know about as much as she does. Through her first person narrative we discover things as she does. I loved the Lord of the Flies like power struggles, the search for answers in an environment that had me guessing. Even some of the twists were great. You have to admit that it is an intriguing premise. One that I really wanted to like, but was not executed the way I have come to expect from Sigler. Ugh you have such strong points ALIVE, and then some really, really low ones. I know this is Book One of a planned trilogy and I hope that they get better. I want it to get better now that we have this awkward installment out of the way. And yet it was necessary, oh so necessary. Sigh.

Things I didn’t like so much: Ugh, enough with the love triangles in young adult novels. It’s a trope that I am getting tired of. It’s what I left the majority of urban fantasy for young adult. Maybe this is what the majority of readers want to read, but I think it is tired and cheapens the story. You don’t need it in the book. It doesn’t strengthen any of the characters by including it. It makes it even worse when the boys are indescribable beautiful. While I understand it may be confusing having a rush of adult hormones on your 12 year old psyche, but did her insides need to shiver constantly? Did all of the kids need to be full of heaving, bouncing chests and rippling toned muscles? They have been in stasis after all (Does this mean that if I go into stasis I can gain a killer bod, cause take my money right now if this is true) Did she have to choose between the werewolf and the vampire…I mean the emo kid and the less emo kid? Sigh again.

The writing style just killed me. The whole 12 year old voice and narration is irritating, laughable, ridiculous. Are tweens this childish and hormone obsessed? Are they also that naïve and stupid? I don’t remember being this way but maybe I am just too damn old and cannot remember. Even more frustrating is that the voice is not consistent. Sometimes I felt like the voice was younger and then other times that of a more mature 16 year old. It was incredibly jarring and took me out of the book. It made me laugh, and not in good ways. I think it would have been better for them all to think it was their 16th birthday and wake up in bodies that were that of mid-twenties. A small change like that would have made me like it oh so much more. You’d still have the jarring differences, perhaps the lack of teenage baby fat and acne, or a few inches taller than you remembered last looking in the mirror. Yes, this was that big of an annoyance for me.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow.

Part of: Ongoing Series
Alive: Book One
Alight: Book Two
Alone: Book Three (Coming in 2017)

Also Recommended: If you haven’t yet read The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, please do for more dystopian goodness. Red Rising by Pierce Brown is excellent. You might also like The Maze Runner series by James Dashner, and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

SUMMER DAYS & SUMMER NIGHTS: A REVIEW

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Language: English
May 2016
Genre: Young Adult/Anthology

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.


+++++++++++++

For some reason I like themed things. Whether it is my favorite Halloween anthology movie Trick R Treat or a collection of short stories centered around Carniepunk or Ghosts. I am a fan. I like curated lists and boxes of loot goodies that revolve around a theme. I also like Summer though perhaps not in the same ways I did when I was sixteen.

Ah summer romances. I, like many, have had my fair share. Even Mabel from Gravity Falls wanted some of her own. They are also the perfect thing to read when sitting in an air conditioned tea shop or under the umbrella at the beach.

I picked up Stephanie Perkins last anthology which centered around the Winter Holiday season. I liked it. Likely I will bring it out during the holiday season the way I do the Buffy episode ‘Pangs’ at Thanksgiving .

Anthologies are like Movie Soundtracks for me. I get a little bit of everything. I usually like more songs than I dislike, and there always seems to be something for every mood. This anthology was like that for me. Fairly solid.

The Stories:
Head, Scales, Tongue Tale // Leigh Bardugo It’s a summer romance that begins with a lake monster fairy tale and then turns into something more. It was a romance that took more than one summer to bloom and I love that Gracie and Eli would spend their summers trying to prove the existence or non-existence of the monster. Especially since many of that also took place at the local ice cream stand/shop. I can recall many a summer day of my youth spent at the local DQ or Milky Way. It is slightly dark, but incredibly atmospheric. Some of her descriptions are sublime. I thought it was a fun way to begin the anthology because, to be honest, I was sort of expecting a lot of bubblegum romances. Fluffy, not like this. Good way to start.

The End of Love // Nina Lacour Flora just needs to get out of the house for the summer and away from the utter disaster that is her parents’ divorce. Well disaster for Flora, her parents seem to fine about it. Which is why she decides to retake a geometry class she already aced. There she sees her crush Mimi and two other old friends Hope and Travis. The story is a little melodramatic at times and not all of the scenes and dialogue seem natural. Also summer school is not this relaxing. But I still liked it. Some of Flora’s reactions made me feel for her. I got it. Not the best story, but a nice addition to the trilogy.

Last Night at the Cinegore // Libba Bray Oh to work at an old theater that showed horror films. Granted I spent most of my senior year weekends doing Rocky Horror at the local cinema. Since I love horror flicks and the Cinegore sounds like an awesome place to spend summer nights this tale was right up my alley. In this story the Cinegore is closing forever so Kevin has one last shot to ask out Dany. Creepy things begin to happen when they show an infamous and potentially cursed film on the last night. This was ridiculous and silly, and yet fun like most old school schlock is for me.

Sick Pleasures: For A and U // Francesca Lia Block I meets a boy called A and the story reflects her thoughts and feelings about their brief relationship. I liked that not all relationships are rainbows and puppies. There are some that are brief and painful, white hot and addicting. There are some that linger. The writing style was a bit jarring and confusing for me which brought me out of the story a lot. Not my favorite.

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North // Stephanie Perkins I don’t want to give too much away but I recognized our lead couple immediately. Marigold and North first appeared in My True Love Gave To Me and it was one of my favorite stories of the Holiday collection. We meet them again, but things have changed slightly. It was so sweet and adorable. Gave me the feels.

Souvenirs // Tim Federle Matt and Keith are breaking up today. Summer is over after all and they agreed on this when they started their little summer affair. Except what happens when one of them doesn’t want it to end? I liked the Amusement park setting, another summer staple. Great ending and completely sweet and adorable.

Inertia // Veronica Roth Claire gets woken up in the middle of the night to go to the hospital where her ex-best friend is fighting for his life after an accident. Since he is not conscious and expected to survive, Claire is the first to share his memories and get a chance to say goodbye…his last visitation. This was amazing. I loved everything about it. It felt real and personal and damn it, it also made me cry. Actual tears. It made this entire collection worthwhile for me. I loved the memories they had for each other, the pain of grief and depression…Whoa, talk about the feels. This makes up for Allegiant in so many ways. Write more things like this Veronica. Please. Sigh. So good. ‘Don’t go.’

Love is the Last Resort // Jon Skovron At a summer resort the couples begin to form or break apart. This was ridiculous and not in a good way. Each character is a stereotype. I think he was trying for a modern Oscar Wilde like romantic comedy where couples form and hijinks ensue. This was not for me though. It fell flat unfortunately.

Good Luck and Farewell // Brandy Colbert Rashida’s closest friend and cousin, Audrey, is moving away to live with her girlfriend Gillian leaving a big gaping hole in Rashida’s life. When the family throws Audrey a farewell shindig Rashida meets Gillian’s brother Pierre. The sparks fly. A little uneven in places, but nice.

Brand New Attraction // Cassandra Clare Lulu Darke runs the Carnival of Mystery, Magic, and that Which is Better Unseen after her dad mysteriously took off and disappeared. She needs help, but the help she gets is not exactly what she asked for. Ah the summer carnival except City of Bones style. I have not read any of Cassandra Clare’s books before, but I do hope they are a little better in long form. I loved the description of the slightly strange and macabre carnival. It is one I would totally go to. But trying to cram a believable romance in 30 pages did not work. At all. Also why do so many of Clare’s romances have to be all weird and forbidden in nature? I can’t really fully root for two characters who are cousins, but not blood related. It’s weird. Didn’t quite work for me.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong // Jennifer E Emith A romance begins to form between Annie, a camp counselor, and Griffin, a shy and withdrawn young man. There was more to this story than just the cute and sweet romance. Really good and I would read something else by Smith in an instant.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things // Lev Grossman Time stands still for mark and Margaret in the suburbs of Boston. It was cute and a great way to end the anthology. I have not read anything by Grossman, though the Magicians is in my TBR pile. It was a little like a Groundhog Day romance. One that just made me smile.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. Great Beach read.

Part of: Stand Alone Anthology

Also Recommended: Try Stephanie’s other themed anthology My True Love Gave to Me. Other great anthologies include Press Play To Start, Zombies versus Unicorns, CarniePunk, and the Poison Eaters.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

TUESDAY TRAILERS: DOCTOR STRANGE

The film has been getting a lot of flak over Tilda Swinton as the Ancient, but I am a Marvel fangirl so of course I am going to go see this. Though admittedly I am not as well versed in all things Doctor Strange which might be to my advantage as the MCU sometimes brings out the ire in my fangirl. I think Cumberbatch is a decent choice for the role. I am excited to see it. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: “Doctor Strange” follows the story of neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions…Opens November 4, 2016.

UNBEATALE SQUIRREL GIRL V.3: A REVIEW

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 3
Squirrel You Really Got Me Now
Written by: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Language: English
June 2016
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel/Superheroes/Series

New series, New Avenger! With her unique combination of wit, empathy and squirrel powers, computer science student Doreen Green - aka the unbeatable Squirrel Girl - is all that stands between the Earth and total destruction. Well, Doreen plus her friends Tippy-Toe (a squirrel) and Nancy (a regular human with no powers). So, mainly Squirrel Girl. Then what hope does the Earth have if she gets hurled back in time to the 1960s and erased from history? At least Nancy will never forget her friend, but what invincible armored Avenger can she call on to help, through the magic of social media? Decades apart, can they avert doom, or will everything go wrong forever? Howard the Duck hopes not...he has an appointment for a crossover!

COLLECTING: THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL 1-6, HOWARD THE DUCK 6


+++++++++++++

Sometimes you find characters that you just simply adore. You get them. You laugh with them and love every little quirk. Also, if they existed in real life, you are convinced that you would be besties. Ah, if only my fictional friends were less fictional. I am looking at you Willow Rosenberg, Veronica Mars, the Rat Queens, Kamala Khan, Toby Daye, and Jack Harkness.

Now I know a little about Squirrel Girl via other comics and some fantastic cosplay at cons (looking at you most recently Mr John Barrowman). However, I have never read her own series. Until now. Enter Doreen, Nancy, and Tippy Toe….who now need to come hang out with me. We would have a blast that would probably involve crafting, baking, many pop culture references, and possibly a LAN party. Of this I am utterly convinced.

I also think that Ryan North may have a missing part of my brain and understands how I think sometimes…actually a lot of the time.

Now sadly my library did not have Volume 1 and 2 handy, so I started with 3. Usually this is a really bad idea. You find yourself a bit lost, unsure of who anyone is, what the story is about, etc, etc. This was not the case for Squirrel Girl.

I meet the crew. I fall in love with the crew. And then suddenly Doreen gets thrown into the past where fashion looks great on her. What if she is erased from history? What if she never gets to have fun crafty nights with Nancy? What if the boxes not really full of air never get unpacked? Doom cannot win.

Things I liked: What did I not like? I loved the art, the characters, the humor, the footnotes, the stupid songs getting stuck in your head. It was frakking awesome. I love happy comics. Sure I am down with the more doom and action adventure types too, but sometimes it feels good to read something that just makes you happy. You know what I am talking about, the ones that you smile the whole the way through. The kind of comics that make you laugh out loud and when you are done you feel energized and just plain good. That was Squirrel Girl for me.

It was a comic that I read everything. I mean everything. I read the ticker tape footnote things at the bottom of each page. I read the tweets between Doreen and Tony Stark. I even read the questions from fans. And I loved it all. Seriously the trading cards from Deadpool…priceless.

I love Doreen. She is quirky and snarky and full of life…she is perfect for a girl like me. Seriously the amount of energy that woman has. She is crafty, loves to bake, is loyal, has great friends and wants to make new ones. What I really love is that she is unapologetically herself. Not a bad character to look up to. She’s like Kimmy Schmidt except with a squirrel tale and she is unbeatable because nothing seems to get her down (not even being thrown back in time to the 60s). She refuses to give up and tries to make friends wherever she goes. She gives everyone a chance, sometimes even more than one, and to the baddies even.

Ryan and Erica are perfect to bring Squirrel Girl to life. I also love how she is drawn. She’s not the stylized uber sexy female hero. She is adorable, cute, athletic, and just plain awesome while still being her cute sexy self without being a caricature. She is the character I can relate to and the one I want to hang out with. We need more heroes like her and Kamala.

I also dig that the major supporting characters are diverse. Nancy is odd, crafty, loves her cats, and is an awesome best friend who is also black. Tomas is a nerdy Latino and Ken is Asian (both are also superheroes and kind of adorable).

So much love for this.

Things I didn’t like so much: I was not the biggest fan of the Howard the Duck stuff despite my love for Chip going into the Animal House crossover at the end of the collection. Howard is just not my thing. However the crossover worked really well and certainly had its moments (Kraven, Weapon II, the kittie robot, Rocket, Hank, etc). I liked it enough that I may have to give Howard another chance. Yeah, see there wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about this comic.

Buy or Borrow: Buy, but maybe start at Volume 1.

Part of: Ongoing Series

Also Recommended: Try out the Rat Queens, The Lumberjanes, or Ms Marvel with Kamala Khan. All should make you smile.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Monday, August 1, 2016

WATCH/READ/PLAY: AUGUST

Wow is the summer really almost over already. August here we come. Actually I still love this time of year. While it is a little hot I have plenty of things planned including a couple of cons, maybe even a concert or two. Plus the theaters are still air conditioned, there is a new gelato place within walking distance from my place and going to the beach sounds like a great idea. This month also has some great titles for watching, reading, and playing. Are you excited about any of these things? Did I miss something? Let me know.

FILM & TV
Beat Bugs
Channel: NETFLIX
In short: Beat Bugs is an animated series, revolving around the lives and adventures of five charming and funny child-like bugs who live in an overgrown American-style backyard. It also features the Beatles catalog with covers by Sia, The Shins, Regina Spektor, and more which is why I am interested in checking it out. Hopefully they will make a soundtrack. (August 3rd)

Suicide Squad
Genre: Action/Adventure/Comic
Stars:Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto
In short: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency. Please be good. Please be good (August 5th)

2016 Rio Summer Olympics
Channel: NBC and AFFILIATES
In short: It should be interesting, but I am always a fan of gymnastics, diving and swimming. I know Hailey will be watching Fencing. (August 5th)

The Little Prince
Channel: NETFLIX
In short: Most countries have already an an opportunity to see this award-winning, feature-length animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s classic children's book, but its American distributor canceled screenings at the last minute this spring. In stepped Netflix to the rescue, which will provide an exclusive home for the film on its streaming service. This English-language version features the voices of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti, and James Franco. (August 5th)

Pete’s Dragon
Genre: Fantasy/Family
Stars:Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley
In short: The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon. (August 12th)

The Get Down
Channel: NETFLIX
In short: Baz Luhrmann's ambitious new Netflix musical drama series is set in New York during the 1970s and traces the rise of hip-hop, punk, and disco as seen through the eyes of a group of youngsters in the South Bronx. The cast includes Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jaden Smith. Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, and Afrika Bambaataa serve as music consultants (and will be played by actors in the series). Six episodes stream today, with another six to follow at a later date. (August 12th)

Ghost Team
Genre: Comedy
Stars:Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Melonie Diaz
In short: A paranormal-obsessed man mounts his own investigation into the beyond with his depressed best friend, misfit nephew, a cable access medium and an overeager security guard. (August 12th)

Anthropoid
Genre: History/Thriller/War
Stars:Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Brian Caspe
In short: Based on the extraordinary true story of Operation Anthropoid, the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich's third in command after Hitler and Himmler (August 12th)

Hell or High Water
Genre: Crime/Drama
Stars:Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Dale Dickey
In short: A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's farm in West Texas. (August 12th)

Kubo and the Two Strings
Genre: Fantasy/Family/Animation
Stars:Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Art Parkinson
In short: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. (August 19th)

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
Genre: Documentary
In short: Werner Herzog's exploration of the Internet and the connected world. (August 19th)

Mechanic: Resurrection
Genre: Action/Thriller
Stars:Jason Statham, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh
In short: Arthur Bishop thought he had put his murderous past behind him when his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he is forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best, make them look like accidents. (August 26th)

Don’t Breathe
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Stars:Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette, Dniel Zovatto
In short: A group of friends break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they'll get away with the perfect heist. They're wrong. (August 26th)

BOOKS
The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy (August 2nd)
In short: Lana used to know what was real. That was before when her life was small and quiet. Her golden step-brother, Ben, was alive, she could only dream about bonfiring with the populars, their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination. Then came after. After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, and living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray (August 2nd)
In short: After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can't accept that her brother's death was an accident. A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There's a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother's killer claim her life, too?

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw (August 2nd)
In short: Following the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is a new, very personal story to join Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan's fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror. This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett (August 2nd)
In short: When Allison's best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ's weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure. Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they've built has transformed, and the battle they're in the midst of is no longer make-believe. Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group's once-fictional magical powers have also become real - including Allison's newly acquired gifts as a healer. They'll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella (August 2nd)
In short: Based on a remarkable true story, an unforgettable Somali girl risks her life on the migrant journey to Europe to run in the Olympic Games. At eight years of age, Samia lives to run. She shares her dream with her best friend and neighbor, Ali, who appoints himself her "professional coach." Eight-year-old Ali trains her, times her, and pushes her to achieve her goals. For both children, Samia's running is the bright spot in their tumultuous life in Somalia. She is talented, brave, and determined to represent her country in the Olympic Games, just like her hero, the great Somali runner Mo Farah. For the next several years, Samia and Ali train at night in a deserted stadium as war rages and political tensions continue to escalate. Despite the lack of resources, despite the war, and despite all of the restrictions imposed on Somali women, Samia becomes a world-class runner. As a teenager, she is selected to represent her country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She finishes last in her heat at the Games, but the sight of the small, skinny woman in modest clothes running in the dust of athletes like Veronica Campbell-Brown brings the Olympic stadium to its feet. Samia sets her sights on the 2012 Games in London. Conditions in Somalia have worsened, and she must make the arduous migrant journey across Africa and the Mediterranean alone. Just like millions of refugees, Samia risks her life for the hope of a better future. Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid is the unforgettable story of a courageous young woman, and it is also a remarkable window onto a global crisis.

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff (August 9th)
In short: The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author. In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family. Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined. Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves. Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

The Gentleman by Forrest Leo (August 16th)
In short: A funny, fantastically entertaining debut novel, in the spirit of Wodehouse and Monty Python, about a famous poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil--then recruits a band of adventurers to rescue her. When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they're broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him. Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil -- the polite "Gentleman" of the title -- who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party's over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord. Newly in love with Vivian, Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage's spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a "dalliance." Throughout, his cousin's quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana. Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé's beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

Invasive by Chuck Wendig (August 16th)
In short: Michael Crichton meets Elon Musk in this gripping sci-fi tech thriller, set in the eye-opening, paranoid world of the electrifying Zeroes. Hannah Stander is a consultant for the FBI—a futurist who helps the Agency with cases that feature demonstrations of bleeding-edge technology. It’s her job to help them identify unforeseen threats: hackers, AIs, genetic modification, anything that in the wrong hands could harm the homeland. Hannah is in an airport, waiting to board a flight home to see her family, when she receives a call from Agent Hollis Copper. “I’ve got a cabin full of over a thousand dead bodies,” he tells her. Whether those bodies are all human, he doesn’t say. What Hannah finds is a horrifying murder that points to the impossible—someone weaponizing the natural world in a most unnatural way. Discovering who—and why—will take her on a terrifying chase from the Arizona deserts to the secret island laboratory of a billionaire inventor/philanthropist. Hannah knows there are a million ways the world can end, but she just might be facing one she could never have predicted—a new threat both ancient and cutting-edge that could wipe humanity off the earth

Mabel and the Queen of Dreams by Henry L Herz (August 28th)
In short: Little Mabel is an expert at not going to sleep. She knows all the best bedtime-avoiding excuses. "I'm thirsty." "I need to use the bathroom." "Will you tell me a story?" Luckily, Mom's quiver of bedtime tales includes the story of the Fae Queen, who paints children's dreams and can only visit when their eyes are closed. Inspired by Mercutio's soliloquy in Romeo & Juliet, in which he details how the tiny fairy queen influences people's dreams as she passes by in her flying chariot, the soothing story evokes images of an ant in a worn gray coat and a hazelnut-shell chariot with a roof of grasshopper wings. Told in lyrical language that adults will also appreciate, the story helps parents get their kids to sleep. For ages 0-6.

Curioddity: A Novel by Paul Jenkins (August 30th)
In short: Will Morgan is a creature of habit―a low-budget insurance detective who walks to and from work with the flow of one-way traffic, and for whom imagination is a thing of the distant past. When a job opportunity enters the frame in the form of the mysterious Mr. Dinsdale―curator of the ever so slightly less-than-impressive Curioddity Museum―Will reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing box of levity (the opposite of gravity). What he soon learns, however, is that there is another world out there―a world of magic we can only see by learning to un-look at things―and in this world there are people who want to close the Curioddity museum down. With the help of his eccentric new girlfriend Lucy, Will will do everything he can to deliver on his promise to help Mr. Dinsdale keep the Curioddity Museum in business.

Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin (August 30th)
In short: Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel. There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments. Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…

GAMES
ABZU
Platform: PC, Playstation
In short: A stylized underwater swimming simulator that reminds me a lot like Flower or Journey where you peacefully explore your surroundings. Apparently there will be things like upgrading your equipment and the areas you can explore include caverns, coral reefs and flooded ruins. I will be checking it out on PC this month. (August 2nd)

BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES
Platform: PC, Xbox, Playstation
In short: Another episodic point and click game from Telltale this one involving the dark knight. Each situation lets you approach it either as Batman or as Bruce Wayne. I know my friend Kailey is excited and I think I might be too. (August 2nd)

NO MAN’S SKY
Platform: PC, Playstation
In short: No Man’s Sky is a game about exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy. It has been delayed a couple of times, but now it is finally coming to our happy little PC. Excited. (August 9th)

DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED
Platform: PC, Playstation, Xbox
In short: The Square Enix stealth action-adventure continues the story of Adam Jensen and his role in combatting the rise of global terrorism in the aftermath of the events in the previous game, Human Revolution. The Rogue and I saw the trailer and though we have not played the first one, this one looks like it could be fun to play (August 23rd)