Walter Dean Myers

Life has been busy and I’ll be back soon with more reviews, but I wanted to make a quick post about this today:

Walter Dean Myers Dies at 76; Author’s Gritty Tales Spoke to Youths

 

Walter Dean Myers, whose realistic portrayal of the struggles of youths in the city made him a best-selling children’s book author, and who was an evangelist for literacy and education, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 76…

“He wrote with heart and he spoke to teens in a language they understood,” Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, said in a statement…

“Books transmit values,” he wrote. “They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?”

Myers was an incredibly prolific author and a powerful voice for youth literature and diversity in literature.  He’s an example of the power that books can have. He also helped inspired one of my favorite posts on this blog.  His death is a great loss.

Book Review: The Copper Witch by Jessica Dall

The Copper Witch Review at Quintessentially BookishRelease Date: March 13th 2014
Publisher: 5 Prince Publishing
Series: The Broken Line (#1)
Pages: 257

The Copper Witch

From the book jacket:

Adela Tilden has always been more ambitious than her station in life might allow. A minor nobleman’s daughter on a failing barony, Adela’s prospects seem dire outside of marrying well-off. When Adela catches the eye of the crown prince, Edward, however, well-off doesn’t seem to be a problem. Thrown into a world of politics and intrigue, Adela might have found all the excitement she ever wanted—if she can manage to leave her past behind.

Overall Thoughts:

Though the book jacket description is eye-catching, it really isn’t doing this book justice.  The story is much more involved than it would lead you to believe.  I expected to like the book, but I ended up enjoying it, and Adela, more than I thought I would.  I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

Characters:

Adela starts out as a little bit of a brat, but I soon started really liking her confidence and her unapologetic attitude towards going after what she wants.  What reads as  spoiled childishness at the beginning ends up morphing into a woman doing what she can to protect herself in a world where she doesn’t have many options.  Yes, she is selfish and vain and sometimes hurts other people, but she is also strong, intelligent, and ambitious in a way that female characters (or, really,women in general) are not often allowed to be.

Setting:

I actually had to go back and skim the book again before I could write about the setting; I couldn’t think of any overly distinguishing characteristics. This is not because it is deficient, but instead because it complements the story so well.  It provides the perfect backdrop for Adela and her rise to power.

Writing Style:

The writing isn’t exceptionally poetic – this is a novel driven more by plot than language – but it serves it’s utility. The dialogue is the most impressive bit.  Dialogue is difficult for many writers, but Dall makes it seem effortless.  It walks the line between appropriate to the historical setting and appealing to modern readers while still sounding completely natural.  I’ll admit that my inner voice was slightly British when reading the dialogue.

Extras:

Just a touch of magic…maybe.

Favorite Line:

“Men tend to underestimate a smart woman with an innocent face.”

Read This If You Like:

The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions here are my own.

Find Jessica Dall online: Goodreads // Facebook // Website

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine where bloggers can highlight upcoming books they’re excited to read. My choice for this week is:

 

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall: The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Vaughn Entwistle
Revenant

Arthur Conan Doyle has just killed off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem,” and he immediately becomes one of the most hated men in London. So when he is contacted by a medium “of some renown” and asked to investigate a murder, he jumps at the chance to get out of the city. The only thing is that the murder hasn’t happened yet—the medium, one Hope Thraxton, has foreseen that her death will occur at the third séance of a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research at her manor house in the English countryside. 

Along for the ride is Conan Doyle’s good friend Oscar Wilde, and together they work to narrow down the list of suspects, which includes a mysterious foreign Count, a levitating magician, and an irritable old woman with a “familiar.” Meanwhile, Conan Doyle is enchanted by the plight of the capricious Hope Thraxton, who may or may not have a more complicated back-story than it first appears. As Conan Doyle and Wilde participate in séances and consider the possible motives of the assembled group, the clock ticks ever closer to Hope’s murder, in The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle.

Expected publication: March 25th 2014 by Minotaur Books

Why I’m Waiting

There is something about this set up that just seems completely hilarious to me, but in the best possible way.  Thanks to Sherlock and Elementary, I’ve rediscovered my childhood enjoyment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Combining him in a fan-fictiony situation with Oscar Wilde, mediums, and seances?   How can this not be delightful.

Book Review: Reap & Repent by Lisa Medley

Reap & Repent Review at Quintessentially BookishRelease Date: March 3rd 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Series: The Reapers (#1)
Pages:

Reap & Repent

From the book jacket:

They see death. Can they share a life?

Ruth Scott can read the energy of every person she meets. Then she meets Deacon Walker. She can see his ice-blue eyes, his black hair, and his gorgeous face. But this beautiful stranger has no aura.

Deacon is just as unsettled by Ruth—and, having spent more than two hundred years ushering souls to Purgatory, Deacon is seldom shocked by anything. As he helps Ruth to understand her true nature, she awakens desires that he decided long ago a Reaper can’t afford.

A demon invasion forces Deacon to confront the darkness in his own past even as he fights to save the human souls he’s charged to protect. When he’s taken captive, his first concern is for Ruth. But Ruth just might be able to save herself—and the Reaper she can’t live without—if she can learn to wield her newfound powers.

Overall Thoughts:

This is definitely a fun (and sexy) read.   I found myself immediately sucked in to the story.  It’s entertaining without relying too heavily on paranormal romance tropes.  It works fairly well as a stand-alone book, but is strengthened by its placement in a series due t0o a few characters and situations that weren’t fully realized.   I’m certainly looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series!

Characters:

Deacon is smoldering, as a good romantic hero should be.  However, unlike so many paranormal romances, he isn’t overly broody and macho.  He has the dark past, but he doesn’t dwell on it or use it as an excuse to push Ruth away.  While he’s protective, he isn’t domineering.  Ruth is no wilting flower, herself.  She might be naive in many ways, but she’s capable and as much a hero as Deacon.  It’s refreshing to see this dynamic in a romance.

Setting:

Medley is from the same area that I am and the way she wrote the town of Meridian is so very familiar.  It’s not often you see romances of any kind set in the Midwest.  I definitely enjoyed that.  Her world creation isn’t overly descriptive, I could have used a little more detail in certain sections, but it was sufficient to paint a clear picture of the location.

Writing Style:

Her writing simple and straightforward in construction.  She thankfully doesn’t fall back on euphemisms or overly flowery language.  The words are there to convey the action, rather than as a stylized choice.  It works well with the subject.   There are some issues with foreshadowing that could have been better handled, but in all its a smooth, enjoyable read.

Extras:

The way reapers handle food is hilarious.  I’m definitely jealous!

Favorite Line:

“Most people said they didn’t believe in the supernatural, but if they believed in God, they should at least believe in the possibility of everything else.”

Read This If You Like:

The Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris

Supernatural (TV Series)

The Undead Series by MaryJanice Davidson

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions here are my own.

Find Lisa Medley online: Goodreads // Facebook // Website

Waiting on Wednesday: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine where bloggers can highlight upcoming books they’re excited to read. My choice for this week is:

 

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Boy, Snow, Bird

In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.

A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

Expected publication: March 6th 2014 by Riverhead Hardcover

Why I’m Waiting

As I’ve mentioned before, I love retellings, especially when they twist the story in a unique way.  This retelling of Snow White includes a new setting, narrator, and the reality of race relations in 1950s America.