April 30, 2018
Right, on to the good stuff. In this last installment of the trilogy, we pick up where the second book, The Reluctant Queen (reviewed here), left off. The forested land of Aratay is settling into having two queens: the young Queen Daleina, left in power after the violent slaughter of the other potential heirs; and Queen Naelin, a mother of two who possesses more raw power over the land's spirits than just about anyone. But while the two queens of Aratay have been figuring out how to rule in tandem, the ambitious Queen Merecot of Semo, to the north, has been making some plans of her own in order to deal with her country's excess of spirits. When two strange, foreign spirits swoop in and steal Queen Naelin's children, Merecot is the natural suspect…
Observations: Fans of the first two books will find this a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, continuing the complex and believable character development of the first two as well as the action, adventure, and intriguing setting. Naelin and Daleina are both very relatable characters, with flaws and quirks that balance out their strength and power. They have love lives and families, feelings and interests beyond the paths that have been chosen for them, and they struggle to maintain normality and humanity in the face of challenges ranging from the everyday to the wondrously, frighteningly magical.
There was also a twist toward the end of the book that I loved. I could sort of see it coming, but not in the sense that it was predictable—just in the sense that that was the choice *I* would have made if I'd been writing, and it was what I really WANTED to see happen. It felt very RIGHT. As someone currently struggling with some plot dilemmas, I really appreciated seeing the story build toward what felt like a natural, inevitable conclusion.
Conclusion: What more can I say? A strong, exciting, page-turning conclusion to the trilogy, and another wonderfully unique world from an always imaginative author.
This review is based on the advance review copy, which I received courtesy of the author and publisher. Starting on May 15th, you can find THE QUEEN OF SORROW by Sarah Beth Durst at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!
April 27, 2018
What? I haven't done one of these Friday roundups since, like, 2015? Yeah, I know. Mainly it was because I felt like I was rounding things up everyone already knew, but the more I'm on Twitter (which, granted, is not very much) the more I realize that there's a LOT of things announced and discussed, which, with the firehose stream of information pelting us, are missed by quite a few folk, thanks to social media algorithms... so here I am again, talking about what was significant this week to me, if no one else... So, without further ado:
Okay, wait, Taco Bell, what? - Travis side-eyes a questionable read-aloud choice. Who knew, librarians have a panic room. Apparently.
Duologies are the new trilogies, and that is all things wonderful.
Lee Wind has finished serializing QUEER AS A FIVE DOLLAR BILL, which I still cannot believe did not find a traditional publisher out of the gate, but ANYWAY - and now he's doing behind-the-scenes on the research and inspiration for it. If you haven't had a chance to read this book, do.
Meanwhile, some are still not sure quite what sensitivity readers are supposed to do for them... while others love having them, so they feel justified with whatever they do. Hm.
A lot of people didn't understand when the mother of the little boy who modeled the "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" shirt didn't get what the drama was with H&M. However, she's Kenyan, and lives in Sweden. Edi highlights the problematic in BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE, while walking us through the historical ties of anthropomorphism and black people in America. Art is never apolitical, is it?
Randomly: Ladies and gents, origami pasta that folds itself.
The Edge of the Forest, back in the day was one of the kidlit blogosphere's earliest academic-style journal for readers and creators, about readers and books. I'm grateful The Book Smugglers has taken up the gauntlet and fulfilled the idea's promise with their Quarterly Almanac. Last September's piece by Mimi Mondal on the poor apology that Hermione Grainger's sudden blackness is for the ingrained racism that infests the Potter books (something which is still being discussed,, now that "Cursed Child" is on Broadway) is both a boldly unpopular opinion and a brilliant essay, giving readers something to chew on. DO read it if you've not seen it (especially if you're asking yourself, "Wait, what racism!?).
I'm thrilled when children's lit rises above the level of fangirling and gushing (although that definitely has its place) to really engaging deeper with literature, tropes, and representation. I'm sad to say I've not been very timely about reading the Almanac, but after seeing the discussion springboarding from Zetta Elliot's essay, Minstrelsy is the New Black in Volume 3, I'm definitely intrigued. Zetta takes on book packaging as cosmetically "correcting" books by black people into something more "acceptable" - another wildly unpopular take, but again, well-written and thought-provoking. These are the discussions we should be having.
April 23, 2018
WINNER: Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland
Buddha: An Enlightened Life by Kieron Moore; Illustrated by Rajesh Nagulakonda
New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made in China (Rebirth) by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Viktor Bogdanovic
Soupy Leaves Home by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jose Pimienta
Spinning by Tillie Walden
Diesel: Ignition by Tyson Hesse
WINNER: Where's Halmoni? by Julie Kim
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Real Friends by Shannon Hale, ilustrated by LeUyen Pham (check out Tanita's take on it, too!)
Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly, illustrated by Molly Park
The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner
The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
April 16, 2018
Observations: Diesel has an irresistible mix of fantasy and steampunk that is intriguing from the very start—part-animal/part-human characters like Bull, who is a sort of minotaur kid, and the Teppan, who are bird-people, as well as robots and flying cities and airships. The plot is full of continuous action and adventure, and the setting is incredibly cool—at the same time, the characters have problems with family and friends and responsibilities that are relatable. There's also plenty of humor and a super cute robot sidekick who talks in little lines, like Woodstock talking to Snoopy.
|Click to embiggen. Also, check out a chapter preview
at Comics Alliance.
Conclusion: I'm really glad the Cybils brought this one to me as part of this year's YA Graphic Novels finalists—I don't know how well-known it is, but I was intrigued by both the unique twist on steampunk and the fun characters. Book 1 also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I'm hoping to read more.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the publisher for Cybils judging purposes. You can find DIESEL: IGNITION by Tyson Hesse at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!
April 10, 2018
Welcome back to our monthly Second Tuesday writing challenge!
From January - June, every second Tuesday of the month, we're going to post an image here on Wonderland of a Creative Commons licensed Flickr picture to which you can respond - with poetic, prose, or whatever kind of writing - and hopefully, you'll share a link in the comments below, so that we can visit your site, read your work and respond. No genre or style limit - just come and join the fun!
Welcome to April!
April brings with it, famously, showers and May flowers, but also National Poetry Month, as well as the National Welding Month celebration, which, I'm sure, is all the rage wherever it is. Additionally, there's National Pecan Month to celebrate as well. This month's image comes from Flickr user Claus Rebler of Korneuburg, Austria:
I've already got stories simmering, don't you? Just leave your link in the comments below, and we look forward to reveling in your inspiration! Happy writing!
April 09, 2018
And then things start to get REALLY weird. First, her shadow has come to life and started talking. But even more alarming is when she discovers that the school hierarchy consists not only of the usual groups of jerks and wanna-bes, it also includes the Zeroes, who walk around all zombie-like and weird and have to go to a special classroom. What's going on at this crazy school? And just what does Suee's shadow have to do with it all?
Observations: I really enjoyed how relatable this one is; it takes place in a Korean school, but it feels like it could be any elementary school anywhere in terms of the worries and feelings of the students, and in the types of challenges they face. Suee is quirky, but with depth, and a well-developed sense of snark. I really enjoyed the artwork in this one, too—the blend of humor and spookiness was well done, the characters were easy to follow, and the overall style was appealing.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. You can find SUEE AND THE SHADOW by Ginger Ly and Molly Park at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!