Bookcation 2015 #13: The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marden

24 Aug

Hey, Squinks.  Where has the summer gone?  Today marks the beginning of the last week of summer school, and I must congratulate you all on the MOUNTAIN of novels, graphic novels, and short stories that you’ve managed to read during July and August.  Well done, you!

 

Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden 

I’ve gotten some requests for spooky suggestions, so here’s one for you: Emma Trevayne’s The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden.  It’s recently pubbed (this past July), and if the title doesn’t do you in, check out the following blurb from Simon and Schuster:

 

What if you found your own grave—and it wasn’t empty?  Discover the dark delights of faeries and fortune-tellers in this gently spooky book from the author of Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, sure to appeal to fans of Coraline.

Grave robbing is a messy business.

A bad business.  And for Thomas Marsden, on what was previously an unremarkable spring night in London, it becomes a very spooky business.  For lying in an unmarked grave and half covered with dirt is a boy the spitting image of Thomas himself.  This is only the first clue that something very strange is happening.  Others follow, but it is a fortune-teller’s frightened screams that lead Thomas into a strange world of spiritualists, death, and faery folk.  Faery folk with whom Thomas’s life is bizarrely linked.  Faery folk who need his help.

Desperate to unearth the truth about himself and where he comes from, Thomas is about to discover magic, ritual, and the uncanny truth that sometimes the things that make a boy ordinary are what make him extraordinary.

 

Are you DYING to read it yet?  (Hahahaha … I slay myself.)  The title intrigued me first.  I love funky titles.  Then, when I saw the cover art, it really made me wonder what I would if I were in Thomas’ position.  Oh yeah, and I’m very curious about the accident that brings about Thomas’ afterlife.

I’ve put an order in for this book, so expect it in our library in September.  If you’ve managed to read it already, let me know!  Spread the love.

Bookcation 2015 #12: The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB

21 Aug

I know that, technically, summer vacation will be done by the time Adam Shaughnessy’s the Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB comes out in September.  But I’m just so excited for this book to pub, so I want to share it with you …

 

FIB 

Here’s the official blurb from Algonquin:

“What is the Unbelievable FIB?”

That’s the question eleven-year-old Prudence Potts discovers on a baffling card no one else in Middleton—except ABE, a new kid with a knack for solving riddles—seems to see.  Then a mysterious man asks for ABE and Pru’s help to investigate mythical beings infiltrating the town, and that’s just one of the things Pru finds hard to believe.

Soon Pru and ABE discover another world beneath the surface of their quiet town, where Viking gods lurk just out of sight.  They must race to secure the Eye of Odin, source of all knowledge—and the key to stopping a war that could destroy both human and immortal realms.

 

You know how much I love mythology, and there just isn’t enough out there about the warm and fuzzy Norse gods and goddesses.  My Summer Squinks and I had a great time learning about Odin, Thor, Loki, Ratatosk, and the rest of the gang, and we were even lucky enough to have this guide from FIB to help us keep Muninn and Huginn straight.

Want to know more about the story? Check out the cast of characters here.

FIB pubs September 8 (like so many other great MG titles!).  Keep an eye out for it on our bookshelves.  I’ll let you know once we get it in!

The Paris Winter (Imogen Robertson)

18 Aug

What little creativity I had when I was in elementary school led to my determination to somehow improve this sad shortcoming.  However, while I have good penmanship and can plan events pretty well, I still have not developed any measurable drawing or painting talent.  Your fellow Squinks throughout the years have gotten bellyaches from all the laughter induced by my drawing attempts on the whiteboard.  Why do I tell you this?  It’s just a roundabout way of explaining to you why I admire artists, especially portraitists, so much.

 

Paris Winter 

Imogen Robertson’s protagonist, Maude, is a struggling artist voluntarily “lost” in the City of Lights.  She’s left the small-town charms and constraints of her little English village to study at the Académie, one of the few places where women could study alone and without condescension during the time period known as la Belle Époque.  I really empathized with Maude throughout much of the story on two accounts: First, I love studying, so I know what courage it takes for her to give up a relatively comfortable life back home to chase her art-related dreams across the Channel.  The trouble is … she is skint and desperately dreading the imminent cold Paris winter.  This is the second reason that made me feel for Maude.  Not many people have all the money they could ever need, but to not even know where your next meal is coming from must be a truly frightening and helpless experience.

I love historical fiction, and, in general, history.  The beginning of this novel was a little slowly paced for me, but once Maude finds employment with the Morels, I found myself drawn into Robertson’s world of rich characters, and I couldn’t read fast enough.  The women in the Paris Winter, in particular, I found very appealing as a reader – though I don’t think I’d be quite as nice to Sylvie as Maude is.  Regardless of their moral behaviour or social appearance, I found great pleasure in seeing the story lines of each woman unfold.  It’s not surprising that I was rooting for Maude.  She is, after all, the protagonist.  But she is hardly without fault.  I found her seeming lack of gumption galling at times, and on some pages, I really wanted to scream, “Stop being so gullible!”  But she is kind and honourable, and I admired her for that.  Yvette was a blast to walk through the novel with.  She is fiery and fabulously French, typifying the je ne sais quoi expression.  I ached for and with Tanya, whose life only seems remarkable to one not living it.  But she is decent and loyal, and I cannot find fault with that.

I didn’t fall in love with this book as much as I thought I would, but there is so much strength in Robertson’s writing that I cannot NOT recommend it all the same.  Fans of historical fiction and strong female characters will particularly enjoy it, and I’m sure anyone who’s as in love with Paris as I am will find much of the narrative a delight for the senses.  Robertson’s writing is eloquent and enchanting – a piece of art in itself.  She writes as Maude would draw a portrait: a sketch here, an outline there, and before you know it, a vibrant burst of colours sits before you.  I look forward to exploring what other stories Robertson has to offer.

Did you read the Paris Winter?  What did you think?

 

4 Squinkles 

Imogen Robertson’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for sending me a copy of the Paris Winter in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Bookcation 2015 #11: The Blackthorn Key

14 Aug

Squinks, Squinks, Squinks!  I can’t wait to share my thoughts on Kevin Sands’ first novel, the Blackthorn Key … but I have to exercise what little patience I have because SOME of you haven’t finished reading it yet.  And although my reviews are always spoiler free, I don’t want to inadvertently tell you that the ending is GREAT.

 

Blackthorn Key  

For those of you “lucky” enough to be spending your summer away from school – though you’re actually rather UNLUCKY for not spending seven weeks talking about myths and legends and stories and books – you really need to pick up the Blackthorn Key when it pubs in September.  In fact, that should be Assignment #1 for the new school year.

Anyhoo, I’ll be back in a little bit to share my thoughts about this rockin’ novel, and some of my Squinks will also be sharing theirs.  We’re about to start on a book-related project, so hopefully, you’ll be treated to some really cool entries from my Summer-School Squinks.  ‘Til then … go pre-order the Blackthorn Key.  You might as well since you’re going to end up wanting to buy it anyway.

Bookcation 2015 #10: Misty Inn: Welcome Home

13 Aug

I’m a huge fan of the Magic School Bus series (both the books and the show), so I’m super excited about Misty Inn: Welcome Home written by Kristin Earhart (author of some of the books in the Magic School Bus series) and illustrated by Serena Geddes.

 

Misty Inn - Welcome Home

 

Here’s the official blurb from Simon and Schuster:

Ten-year-old Willa Dunlap and her eight-year-old brother, Ben, are new to Chincoteague Island, but it’s a homecoming for their mother, who grew up there. Willa and Ben’s parents are busy planning the opening of their bed and breakfast, which gives the kids free rein to explore the island. But with so many new people and places to get used to, will Chincoteague ever feel like home?

If you’re in the mood for a sweet story of homecoming, siblings, and making a house a home, this might be a great story for you to try. And if you’ve read it, let me know if you think the other Squinks might like it, too.

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