Book Review: The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger (Dark Tower I)
By Stephen King

My Edition:
Paperback, 330 pages
2016, Pocket Books
ISBN: 9781501161803

Roland is chasing the man in black across an endless desert. The man has answers and Roland will do whatever it takes to get them so he can get to The Tower and save his world.

You guys, sorry, but I really can’t describe this book without like…giving away every detail in the story. This book is WEIRD. I’m going to assume most of you have at least heard of the series, if not already read it, but if not, the internet could probably give you a much better description.

I picked this book up because I saw the movie trailer (-yelling- Idriiiiisssssss!) and thought, “Hey, I need to read the series so I can properly hate the movie!” I already have opinions on what I think my opinion of the movie will be, but that’s not really relevant to this post, I suppose.

Let’s see if any of my notes on this story can be formed into a review and not spoil anything for those of you who still haven’t read this series (are you out there?) because I knew literally nothing going into it and I’m sure that’s best.

My favorite part of the whole book was how atmospheric it is. The desert Roland is trudging across, the small pockets of society he encounters, his flashbacks to his childhood – I felt like I was at every location. However, I was thoroughly confused when trying to build the rules of Roland’s childhood world (not the desert) in my head, because I felt the need to figure out whether it was its own point in time or perhaps some sort of dystopian future or even an alternate version of our own world. Once I told myself to let go of this habit and take things page for page, I was less lost, though still pretty puzzled.

The characters were less endearing. Roland is a weird mix of emotionally detached and fond of reminiscing about his childhood. He’s also apparently the only sexy guy left in the desert because the few females he encounters totally want to bone him. He also has a quirky language that only makes itself apparent occasionally. He mentions High Speech and Low Speech and sometimes sounds ye-olde-y and then also uses words like ‘ka’ which I haven’t quite figured out the meaning of (fate perhaps?). also he says ‘yar’ sometimes instead of ‘yes’ and all I could think of was Michael from Hot Fuzz (anyone?!) The man in black was intriguing but we don’t get a lot of information about him, so I’m hoping future books shed more light on the subject.

I’m in the middle of the road when it comes to my overall feelings on the book. I thought I would be more impressed or whatever and less confused.

If you’re interested in a high fantasy style quest, set in a semi-medieval desert (where people wear jeans and corduroys and sing Beatles songs) with a gun-slinging protagonist who is incredibly single-minded and near magically gifted at shooting the shit out of everything, then you may enjoy at least the first book in this series. I’m partway through the second book as I write this and I’m not sure what my overall opinion will be, but if you’re interested in the Dark Tower series, it’s probably worth checking out.

Bonus review:

As it turns out, my friend Melissa and I happened to read this at the same time without planning it. So she’s given her thoughts on the book as well!

“This book reminded me of The Stand, lots of walking. I enjoyed the flashbacks and backstory building, but am still left with a lot of questions and theories. I look forward to seeing how everything comes together in future books. It’s definitely a ‘Stephen King’ book because of the nature of some of the more graphic and sexual scenes; they aren’t usually my style so I could do without those parts. 3.5 stars because of all the questions I have.”

Book Review: Sophie Someone

Sophie Someone
By Hayley Long

My Edition:
Hardcover, 258 pages
2017, Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763689957

Fourteen-year-old Sophie Nieuwenleven has lived in Belgium for almost as long as she can remember, though she knows her family left England. As the past begins to catch up with them, Sophie starts piecing together details from her past until her family’s terrible secret is revealed and it changes everything she thinks she knows about herself. So Sophie tells her story, but in the only way she feels comfortable – in her own language.

I wasn’t expecting the writing to be so stylized, so right off the bat I was confused. Sure, the back of the book mentions Sophie telling her story in the only way she knows how, but I wasn’t paying attention to the back of the book, was I? (No. No I wasn’t.)

So we have a sort of…modified English where certain words are swapped out for completely different (yet for the most part, essentially similar and mostly coherent) words, creating what appears to be gibberish at first. Examples include “hashtag” for hand, “quibble” for question, “Mambo and Donny” for Mom and Dad, “pigeon” for person, and “supernova” for suitcase. My first thought was that I was just reading a bunch of nonsense and it was frustrating.

However, as I made my way through the book, Sophie’s words, while still silly sounding, started to make a weird sort of sense to me. It’s clear that Long put a lot of thought into her…er…translations. There were still some words that threw me and I did spend the whole book mentally translating each replacement word I encountered. Had I been able to let go of that, I might have had an easier time reading, but I just HAD to know what the words really meant. At times this probably took me away from the story, but that’s just how my mind works.

This is a great story if you can get past the language and Sophie was funny and endearing. This is among the more original contemporary middle-grade novels I’ve encountered and if you’re looking for something different, I highly suggest this.

Also, the cover art is beautiful, see pictures below!

I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Hayley is super adorable and has a cute little site.

Book Review: The Bedlam Stacks

The Bedlam Stacks
By Natasha Pulley

My Edition:
ARC Paperback, 324 pages
2017, Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781620409671 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: August 2017

Merrick Tremayne is an ex-smuggler trapped with his stodgy brother in their old family home as it literally falls apart around them. His brother is ready to ship Merrick off to a small town and force him into being a pastor when Merrick’s old friend and army buddy, Clem shows up. Clem proposes Merrick join him and his wife on a risky quinine-stealing expedition. Merrick’s old leg wound has handicapped him some, but his knowledge of plants is indispensable. Merrick soon finds the expedition is anything but routine as they camp amongst locals who won’t cross a salt line in the woods for fear of what lurks in the woods beyond and living statues.

I loooooved Pulley’s first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, so I practically jumped for joy when Bloomsbury asked me if I’d like a copy of The Bedlam Stacks to review.

Here’s another book that I find myself struggling to describe (“Like basically every book you read?” you think to yourself) and it’s because until about the last fifth of the book, I had no clue what the hell was going on. This is the good kind of clueless though. Not the kind that frustrates you because you don’t have enough information or the writing doesn’t make sense. This book has a very surreal vibe and it took me a while to get used to the atmosphere. Because of that, I was like ??!? but still very interested while reading.

I did fail at the mental imagery though. Bedlam, the mystical little clifftop town Merrick finds himself in, is built on some sort of salt cliffs that have turned to glass? And there’s a forest (that I totally pictured as a rainforest but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong because it was like always cold and sometimes snowing) with these trees that are so light and airy that they can float and also they explode in a fire? And there are moving statues that are much more than they seem (no question marks here because I actually understood that part). And also there’s a sort of glowing pollen everywhere that can be used in lamps and also leaves light trails when you walk? If any of this sounds even remotely interesting to you, you’ll probably like this book.

Yes, I’m aware that my weird questions don’t make a review. Anyway, that’s some of what goes on in this book and I really wasn’t picturing much in the way of a setting. However, I was absorbed in the characters, especially Merrick and Raphael, his guide through Bedlam and to the quinine trees. I’ve already learned that Pulley is a master at crafting characters, especially male ones. Bedlam is yet another book that is heavily character-driven and normally that’s not what I prefer to read, but I will eat up anything this woman writes. There’s even a little cameo from one of the characters from Watchmaker that I think strengthens their backstory and serves as a nice reminder of Pulley’s other novel for those of us who friggen love it.

I loved the weird, mystical feel of the book and Merrick’s sense of humor and sadness. I loved his conversations with Raphael. I loved the final chapters when things got intense and the magic was more prevalent. The ending was totally unsatisfactory and realistic and I don’t think it could have ended any other way but damnit, I wanted it to!

If you like heavy character development, male relationships, the mid-1800s, surreal magic and the feeling of desperately wanting two people to just be together forever, then I highly suggest both Watchmaker and Bedlam. I can’t say I loved Bedlam as much as I loved Watchmaker (it’s not far behind though!), but once more these characters slowly curled their way around my heart and then at the end of the book squeezed the hell out of it. I will absolutely be buying the hardcover once it releases because this book is bound to be as beautiful as Watchmaker if the design of this ARC is anything to go by. I’m fully ready for whatever she writes next and NEED IT ASAP.

I received this book for free from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Natasha tweets!

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia

The Bridge to Terabithia
By Katherine Paterson

My Edition:
Paperback (40th Anniversary), 179 pages
1977, Harper
ISBN: 9780064401845

Jess Aarons works hard on his family farm – with his father working long hours and his four sisters nearly useless, Jess is constantly harangued by his mother. To distract himself, he’s been practicing running and hopes to be the fastest runner in 5th grade. When Leslie Burke, the new girl in town, easily beats him in a race, he finds he’s not nearly as fast as he thought, but more importantly, he finds the beginning of a strong friendship.

UGH THIS BOOK.

Disclaimer: I’ve never seen the movie, but I was aware of the most significant plot point going in to this book. I still think the book is incredibly emotional and powerful, so even if you’ve seen the movie or you know the plot, I think you should read this book.

Also, from what I can tell from movie trailers (I’ve no desire to watch the movie), there’s a big fantasy element in there that really isn’t found in the book. Yes, Jess and Leslie create a magical world named Terabithia and they go there to hang out, but this isn’t a fantasy novel. If you’re looking for middle-grade fantasy, Terabithia is not the place to find it.

It is, however, the place to find FEELS.

Jess is the sort of kid that you feel for, even before his blossoming friendship with Leslie. He can’t seem to catch a break, but he doesn’t let himself get too down about it. He has a semi-secret passion for drawing – his father would see it as weak and his classmates at school would tease him, but he continues to draw and imagine what he would draw despite all that. Leslie has pluck and she’s incredibly intelligent and does a little gender-bending given that the book is set in the 1970s.

There are not a lot of pages in this book, so I feel a little constrained in regards to what I say because really you should just read this book (AND FEEL THE FEELS) for yourself, if you haven’t yet. I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner, honestly. This is easily one of my top middle-grade books and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a contemporary tale of friendship and loss. Also, my cover is gorgeous.

Paterson’s website

Book Review: Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half
By Allie Brosh

My Edition:
Paperback, 369 pages
2013, Touchstone
ISBN: 9781451666175

Do you like funny stories about dogs, goose attacks, lies about how much someone enjoys hot sauce, identity, depression, getting lost in the woods and more dogs? Then you will probably like this book. Allie Brosh, from the blog Hyperbole and a Half, gives readers cleverly worded and charmingly illustrated anecdotes from both her childhood and adult life.

This was recommended to me by a friend when I asked her for a humor suggestion for my genre switch-up challenge. When I added this blog to my list I hadn’t ever read Brosh’s blog (and it doesn’t appear to be active anymore? And as funny as her work is, I’d prefer to read it in a book than stare at a computer screen for hours) though I had heard of it and seen her self-portrait before. Boy am I glad I picked up this book.

First off, it’s full color (most of the pages even have a solid background color!) and printed on nice glossy stock, so it’s also very heavy and could be used a weapon if necessary. I love the simplicity and MS Paint vibes of Brosh’s work and I know from browsing her (extensive!) FAQ page on her blog that she spends a lot of time on these drawings, calling it a “very precise crudeness” so if you think her work looks like shit, it’s on purpose!

More important than how this book looks, is how funny it is. Brosh tells incredible stories ranging from the strange things she did as a child (like lying about how much she liked hot sauce and eating her grandfather’s birthday cake – the entire thing), to her two hilarious (and terribly behaved) dogs, to how she deals with depression and self-identity. Most of these stories had me laughing out loud and even the way she speaks about depression, while meaningful and relatable, is also lighthearted to some degree.

I thought about quoting this book, but then I wanted to quote all of it, and then I realized that the pictures really do help emphasize her stories and I can’t quote those, so really, if you like to laugh, you should buy this book. It desperately makes me wish I was funny and that I’d done more strange things as a child so I could tell amusing stories and illustrate them. Basically, I need Brosh to write at least five more books, or publish her whole blog in book format or something because her work is awesome and I need more of it right now.

Check out her blog!

Book Review: Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind
By Margaret Mitchell

My Edition:
Paperback, 984 pages
2014, Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 978447264538

I can’t even blurb this book – but I assume most of you know the general plot. If not, Google will give you a better synopsis than I will because I’m too overwhelmed.

I seriously have no idea where to even begin with this review. This book gave me so many feels and had so many surprising events that it was a total emotional rollercoaster. I have watched the film, but it was back when I was in grade school so all I recall is Gable’s “don’t give a damn” line and Scarlett’s curtain dress. What I really remember is the hilarious Carol Burnett Went With The Wind’ sketch. I do plan to watch the movie sometime soon though.

After two months of reading (not daily though) and owning three different editions, I feel like I need another two months to process my thoughts. GWTW has to be the most epic book I’ve ever read or at least tied with the ASOIAF series, and not only was it physically heavy, but emotionally heavy as well. Woof!

Short and sweet: I absolutely loved it. 5/5 stars. There were a few bits that bored me, like the details of the battles (in this, I’m like Scarlett) and some of the family history. But Scarlett and Rhett are fabulously flawed characters and I wanted to kick the shit out of both of them and also desperately hoped they both got everything they ever wanted. The subject matter of the book is not always easy to read and it’s undeniably racist – but I like to think that Mitchell was not so much intentionally being racist as she was portraying some ideas that might have been felt by many southerners during the Civil War. It’s a tricky subject though and of course, I don’t pretend to know her motives, nor do I want to get into a debate about them. Regardless, the book is packed full of emotion and passion and, excluding the way the slaves were portrayed and treated, I think it’s fabulously written. I’m glad some of the lovely ladies I follow on Instagram did a read-along so I was finally motivated to read this.

Do I even want to try to write a long version? Going in, I had no idea what was in store for me in terms of plot or character development. I’m hesitant to discuss too much of the plot, lest I give anything away for those of you who, like Past Millie, still haven’t read this book.

In lieu of anything coherent, I’ll leave you with some of the notes I made on my phone that don’t contain major plot points:

Family heritage infodump – boring, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn
The BBQ, first big event – hark, a Rhett!
This book is racist
Good chemistry w/Rhett at confederate ball – Scarlett is a brat who made her own bed, yet I’m also rooting for her
Forget baby Wade exists until he interrupts scenes – kid is pathetic though not his fault
Ugh so racist
Scarlett is ruthless and cunning, yet ignorant and childish. She’s strong and fabulous and a total bitch
Her relationship with Rhett is fabulously annoying
She realizes that a woman can be strong and smart and do a man’s work – she’d been doing it unknowingly because she had to, but of course society doesn’t like that, her success seems to equal male failure and so those around her despise her. She’s supposed to quietly starve and wait for a man to save her
The stupid way they try to hide pregnancy, like, jfc, really?
She finally feels remorse…wait, nope
Will she and Rhett ever be together? Yeeep
Why did he marry her? Does he truly love her? He’s verbally/mentally abusive or just the biggest douchebag ever?
I just want Scarlett to learn a damn lesson!
This book is brutal
Scarlett is a bitch and cold hearted and money hungry, yet determined and hard working and a fighter, reputation be damned. Rhett is a cad and a prick and emotionally abusive but smart and proud that Scarlett is her own woman. They could have been happy if they’d let each other or stopped to understand each other even a little. I wanted them to get what’s coming to them, but hated it when it happened
They’re charming and infuriating and omg wtf was that ending?
This is not a love story! Lies!
Want to toss of cliff in the best way

If you’ve read GWTW, let’s chat!

Here are some bonus pictures of my editions – I have a crumbling old paperback (1970 Pocket Books) and a nice vintage copy (1955 Macmillan) that I started reading, but it was too musty and delicate for me to keep using. Therefore I had to buy a new Macmillan copy with Vivien Leigh’s gorgeous mug.

Book Review: A Pocket Full of Murder

A Pocket Full of Murder
By R.J. Anderson

My Edition:
Paperback, 368 pages
2016, Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781481437721

Isaveth’s father has just been arrested for a murder she knows he didn’t commit. Determined to seek justice and prove her father’s innocence, she teams up with a wise street urchin and begins unraveling a plot that winds its way through the divide in social classes in her magical city of Tarrenton. The rich have all the magic they could want, while poor folk like Isaveth and her family can barely afford spells for heat and light. The unrest of the common citizens is at its boiling point and the murder pinned on her father will only make matters worse unless she can prove he didn’t do it.

-stares open-mouthed into the distance for a moment- Oh! I finally understand the title! Ahem, anyway.

I purchased this book at the same time as A Sliver of Starlight and if you’ve seen my Judging Post, you’ll know I was lured in by wonderful cover art. But I was also intrigued by the plot and A Pocket Full of Murder didn’t disappoint!

Here’s a middle-grade mystery adventure that deals with religious persecution, the struggle of the lower class, the use (and abuse) of welfare (known as “relief” in the book) and standing up for justice, no matter the cost. Looking back, there are some potentially heavy themes in this book, but they were folded neatly into the story of a young girl who aspires to uphold justice like her favorite champion in the talkie series and save her father.

Isaveth is lower class and she and her family struggle to make ends meet since the death of her mother and her father losing his job. On top of that, they are Moshites and because of their religious beliefs, they are often discriminated against. Anderson managed to write about Isaveth’s plights without feeling preachy or heavy handed and Isaveth is a determined, bright heroine.

The world Anderson created blends steam power (yes!) with magic to create a world similar to our own, yet also very Victorian feeling. I especially loved the baking element of magic. Different spells and potions are crafted before they can be used. The upper-class use a different type of magic because they have different materials available to them, like metals. Isaveth, unable to afford materials like that, follows her mother’s cookbook and through her “spell baking” she creates tablets and potions at home out of ingredients like flour and sunlight.

I’m very fond of the character names Anderson uses as well. I don’t know about you, but I’m very picky when it comes to character names. Especially in the fantasy genre, it can be hard to create an original or uncommon name without making the reader mentally choke on too many vowels or consonants (ie: Cealeanae from Throne of Glass). Isaveth, Mimmi, Annagail, Lilet, Eryx, Quiz – I liked them all!

If you’re looking for a magical mystery with a Victorian feel, I highly recommend this. I’ll be purchasing the sequel as soon as it’s in paperback – gotta make sure my editions match!

Check out Anderson’s website for more about her other books.

Book Review: Armstrong & Charlie

pic from NetGalley

Armstrong & Charlie
By Steven B. Frank

My Edition,
ARC e-book, 304 pages
2017, HMH Books
ISBN: 9780544826083 (Hardcover)

Charlie is dreading sixth grade because when he completes it, he’ll be older than his brother Andy who passed away recently. To make matters worse, right before school starts, Charlie finds that most of his friends have switched to different schools. Armstrong has found out he’ll be attending a new school as well, courtesy of the new Opportunity Busing Program – he’ll be joining Charlie’s formerly all-white school and both boys will have a tough time adjusting.

Armstrong & Charlie is one of those books that I greatly enjoyed and just can’t find the words in me for a good review. I hate when this happens because we all know I can rant for days about terrible books, yet there are times when I read something I would gladly recommend and I choke up! Ugh! -_-

This book is set in the 1970s in California, which is a big change of scenery for me, especially for middle-grade. Armstrong and a handful of other students were selected to be bussed to Charlie’s school, Wonderland. This is a new experience for both boys and on the first day of school, perhaps because tensions are high and perhaps because the students are afraid of being misunderstood, Charlie and Armstrong get off on the wrong foot. This starts a feud between the two of them that carries itself throughout the school year, slowly morphing into a solid friendship.

I wanted to slap both boys just as much as I wanted to see them get the upper hand over the other. Charlie and Armstrong are both clever and stubborn and Armstrong’s wit had me laughing several times.

Towards the end I wanted to cry, but Sweetbeeps was in the room and while he wouldn’t have minded my waterworks, he would have been confused as to why I was sitting in front of my laptop sniveling and then I would have had to explain like, the whole book, and he wouldn’t have had time for that, so I just bottled it up.

I know this review is basically rubbish very vague as far as giving you any information on what I liked, but I warned you! I just want to shout in your face that I love this book. I found it poignant and funny and I think that this is a book that perfectly captures that awkward time in sixth grade where you’re not quite a little kid anymore, but also not a teenager yet. The running theme throughout the book is “different, yet the same” which is something we all could think about more often when it comes to our social interactions with others. This is an excellent contemporary (wait, is it still contemporary if it’s set over 40 years ago?!) read if you’re looking for strong social themes in your middle-grade or a story line that is a little deeper and more meaningful. Again, sorry this review is so awkward! But I really enjoyed the hell outta this book!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Steven has a great looking website and he talks a little there (and in the note in the back of his book) about how he experienced the start of the Opportunity Busing program at his middle school and the friends he made because of that change.

Book Review: Piratica II & III

Piratica II: Return to Parrot Island
(Being: The Return of a Most Intrepid Heroine to Sea and Secrets)
By Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Hardcover, 320 pages
2006, Dutton Children’s Books
ISBN: 0525477691

Art and Felix return to the sea with their old crew, this time as privateers in the government’s employ, to fight against Franco-Spainia in support of a revolution for the people. Not only does she have some new crew members, but she also has orders, and struggles to bend to the will of her employers and stay true to her code: never kill.

Sequels are always hard to talk about, but I’m going to do my best to avoid a lot of plot points.

I was excited for more Art and Felix…and Ebad and Honest…and Dirk and Whuskery (they are the bro-est of bros and possibly romantically involved, or at least easy to imagine that way, which is wonderful) and of course Plunqwette and Muck. The new crew members were too numerous and oddly-named for me to really absorb any of them, so at times it was hard to picture what was going on when new faces were involved. There’s also another female pirate, Mr. (Belladora) Bell, who adds a little tension between newly married Art and Phoenix. Goldie Girl is back as a low-key villain as well, and we meet a new face, Mary Hell.

The drama in this book mainly revolves around Art and Felix realizing they have different visions for their lives together and Art’s desperation to return to sea upsets Felix, especially because she’s involved herself in a war where casualties are inevitable. The couple also seems to have a lot of moments where they don’t understand each other, or really even stop and try to, and I think this added some realism to their relationship. Despite spending the first book together, they didn’t get to know all that much about each other and it makes sense that they might now question if they really are a good match.

Art is less of a wunderkind this time around – she’s unsure of herself and her judgments and she finds herself making mistakes. She thought she could avoid the war and somehow get back to the crew’s old adventures, but instead, finds herself in situations where she might have to break her rule about never taking a life or sinking another ship. Again, I think this gives Art more depth.

We get more perspectives in this book too, aside from just Art. Of course, there’s Felix again, but we get a look at what’s going on with the English naval officers, Parliament (which is actually called the House of Talking or something similar, lol) and even Muck!

I also want to add that the English naval ship names had me laughing. Here are some standout examples (playing on the idea that something happened when the captains, or whoever, were christening their ships, interrupting true names): Lily Achoo, Is That A Wasp, Ow Blast, I Knew I Shouldn’t Have Had That Last Sausage. Is That A Wasp gets me laughing the most because I can picture myself going to name a ship and then suddenly noticing a nearby bug. The end battle was a bit hard to follow because so many ships were involved and I really only cared about Art’s.

This is a solid sequel and if you enjoyed the first book, I recommend you keep reading.

~

Piratica III: The Family Sea
(Being The Gallant Take of a Fearless Heroine and a Fatal Secret)
By Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Paperback, 396 pages
2007, Hodder Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780340930854

After assisting England in the war, Art and Felix have returned home to raise their daughter, Africa. But Art yearns for the sea and when the couple finds their assets suddenly seized by the government, Art takes the opportunity to rejoin her crew, or some of them anyway, once again. This time she’s hired to guide the brother of an old crew member to the famed Parrot Island in search of further treasures.

Alright, I’ll admit I know next to nothing about the publishing world, but I’m mad that Dutton didn’t publish this in hardcover with the art that matches the first two! Nothing is worse than not being able own a matching series because some books simply don’t exist in that design! Argh! My solution is to also buy the Hodder paperbacks of the first two books so that I at least have one matching set. Not that I need an excuse to buy more Tanith books, or multiple copies of her books!

Right, on to the actual review. This book was bittersweet. It’s the end of a trilogy (and sadly with Tanith’s passing, no hope of it ever being revived -sob-) and it did not at all turn out how I expected.

There’s drama once more between Art and Felix regarding her obsession with the sea and her aversion to their daughter. To me, it seemed that Art was suffering from post-partum (I could be wrong), though there wasn’t a lot of depth brought into this aspect, perhaps because the novel is geared towards middle-grade/teens.

Man, it’s hard not to give away the plot. Let’s see…we get some new characters again, namely Moira, Queen of Scotland. I didn’t really care for her – she just didn’t leave an impression on me. And also for other reasons that are plot related that I won’t talk about.

It also seems that each book delves more into the viewpoints of characters aside from Art and I think we spent just as much time looking through the eyes of others than we did of Art, if not more. In this book, I’m not sure it worked as well though. I wasn’t excited by what other characters were experiencing through and I just wanted more Art.

The ending – ugh. Art is very changed from who she was at the start of the first book and it’s sad but in a good way. I was kind of left thinking “What? That’s it?!” and yet I enjoyed the slightly tortured feeling. Gaahd, I wish we could get more from this series, with a slightly older Art, like mid to late twenties. :[

This book was less atmospheric than its predecessors though, and that might be due to the constant location changes.  I hate to say, but the finale was middle of the road for me. This is still an awesome, fun and witty series that I would recommend in a heartbeat, and I think the conclusion is worth reading, it’s just not as gripping.

Book Review: Piratica

Piratica
(Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl’s Adventure Upon the High Seas)
By My Queen Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Hardcover, 288 pages
2003, Dutton Children’s Books
ISBN: 0525473246

Art has been banished to the Angels Academy for the last six years of her life, learning deportment and other ladylike qualities that bore her to death. A fall down the stairs and a knock to the head suddenly causes her to remember her childhood, which was spent at her mother’s side on a pirate ship. Art quickly escapes the academy, finds her mother’s old crew and revives their spirits by basically forcing them back into a life of piracy as she lives in the spirit of her legendary mother, Piratica.

-screams- TANITH! Er, ok, so, I’ve read a ton of middle-grade this month and, sadly, none of it has impressed me. It was time for a change and I knew just what would do the trick – Tanith Lee! I’ve been sitting on this Piratica series for FAR too long and I don’t know why. I love how atmospheric her Claidi series is and my semi-recent re-read of The Unicorn Trilogy made me recall the special place her middle-grade/teen (I feel like all these series fall somewhere in between) books have in my crusty little heart.

From the first page, I was giddy at the thought of diving into another of Tanith’s worlds and Art’s didn’t disappoint. Tanith has created a semi-Victorian (Regency? I don’t know time periods, sorry!) world in the year of Seventeen-Twelvety (how awesome is that?!) which somewhat resembles the actual year of 1802. This world primarily differs from our own in how the countries are laid out and there’s a handy map in the front that I actually referenced for once. But because this is Tanith and I am a flappy-handed fangirl for everything she’s written (ugh except Greyglass  -tosses if off a cliff-) I felt there was something subtle about her world that differed from an actual historic period. I can’t explain this further and likely I am crazy.

Art is fantastic. She’s bold and witty and smart and super talented at being a pirate, despite not having been one for the past six years. She could potentially suffer from special snowflake syndrome, but she doesn’t because she has to work to win over her crew and she doesn’t have the shining, sapphire eyes and porcelain doll-like features of your usual heroine. And oh, the sun doesn’t shine out of her ass. Anyway! She’s a great lead, but her crew is small enough that most of them actually (I think I’m saying this word too much in this review, but I’m too lazy to change it) feel different and developed, where they could easily have fallen to the wayside (portside?)

There’s a lot to the plot that I can’t talk about or I’ll spoil the fun, but from the moment Art rediscovers her crew and takes on her new life as a pirate, I had this underlying sense of something more. I knew something else was up and it was a nice feeling, knowing that the plot had another element that wasn’t being revealed, even though the plot was acting like everything had been revealed.

Look, I have a hard time analyzing Tanith’s work because I am super biased. But I can say, if you’re looking for a witty, semi-middle-grade-semi-teen pirate adventure with swashbuckling, a fantastically charming ragtag group of pirates, talented parrot and dog companions, a strong female lead and totally hawt boi, but no love triangles and no breaths being held unbeknownst to the holder, then Piratica may be just what you’re looking for! I can’t wait to read the other two books (even though the third was never published in hardcover and therefore doesn’t match the first two.)

Sadly, Tanith doesn’t really have a website, but her Wikipedia page does a decent job of at least listing out all her work.