Posts By: Layla

A Fierce and Subtle Poison: Review

A Fierce and Subtle Poison: Review

I’m not quite sure what to write about Samantha Mabry’s debut, A Fierce and Subtle Poison. It’s an absorbing novel – magical realism isn’t generally my thing, but Mabry’s prose made this novel really work well for me. It is incredibly beautifully written, you all. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. It’s been one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Additionally, I started and finished A Fierce and Subtle Poison in less than 24 hours, so there’s that. So. The book is a retelling (I think) of Hawthorne’s short story, Rappaccini’s Daughter, of which I remember … not a whit. The premise of the novel is something like this: there’s a legend about a cursed house in Old San Juan, where no birds will fly over. In it lives a cursed girl, with green skin and grass for hair. Lucas and his friends have both heard and… Read more »

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The Love That Split the World: Review

The Love That Split the World: Review

I’d been slow to read Emily Henry’s debut novel The Love That Split the World (in part because it’d been advertised as the lovechild of Friday Night Lights and The Time Traveler’s Wife, and … I irrationally dislike that book). The Love That Split the World is chock-full of the sort of themes I very much enjoy in young adult novels: relationships, belonging, figuring out one’s identity and one’s place in different communities. And in The Love That Split the World, those were the aspects I most enjoyed. Give me all your feelings! The trappings of time travel or parallel universes, while interesting, were often confusing to me. And while understanding those things was necessary for plot purposes, it wasn’t necessarily all that important in terms of the story’s emotional impact, which was – at least for me – much more powerful. Still, I feel conflicted about The Love That Split the World. Here’s why. The premise is… Read more »

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Blackhearts: Review

Blackhearts: Review

I was excited to read Nicole Castroman’s debut, Blackhearts, because I love historical fiction! I love historical fiction set in the 18th century! and Blackbeard! And, um, as a North Carolina resident, I went to the NC Maritime Museum this summer and saw artifacts from Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. If you are in or around Beaufort, NC, by the way, you too can do this thing. While I did not totally love Blackhearts, I am not sure that it’s the fault of the book? I went into Blackhearts wanting richly developed historical fiction with a little bit of romance on the side. What made Edward Teach into Blackbeard? Instead, the book is … a lot of romance. It’s primarily about Teach’s relationship with Anne Barrett, who is working, when they are first introduced, as a maid in Teach’s father’s home. Anne is the daughter of a white merchant and a… Read more »

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Truthwitch: Review

Truthwitch: Review

Truthwitch is my first book by Susan Dennard and it won’t be my last. I didn’t get a copy at BEA this year – I think it’s fair to say that it was one of *the* books to get? – and I was bummed that my flight got in too late to even make grabbing Truthwitch a possibility. But lo and behold, Susan Dennard was at NCTE in November and so not only did I get a copy of Truthwitch buuuuut Susan Dennard also signed it! So things worked out for me in the end, and splendidly, because I loved Truthwitch and you should 100% read it. Even if you do not enjoy fantasy novels? You should read it. Because it is pretty great, and I loved it. Here is the number one reason why: there is an epic female friendship at the center of the series and that is basically everything I… Read more »

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Passenger: Review

Passenger: Review

Time travel! Romance! A hunt for hidden artifacts! Alexandra Bracken’s latest book, Passenger, tells the story of teen violinist Etta Spencer, who is pushed through a wormhole on the night of her debut and ends up on an 18th century ship en route to New York. Etta quickly learns she’s been kidnapped by the head of a family of time-travelers who are holding her mother as hostage and who want her to retrieve something her mother stole many (many, many) years ago that could (literally) change the course of human history. Her mother’s hidden it away in time and left a series of clues only Etta can decipher that send her to different periods of human history. Think of it as “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?” but instead of chasing Carmen Sandiego through history, Etta and her partner are chasing down a priceless, dangerous artifact. To find it, they have to locate… Read more »

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Front Lines: Review

Front Lines: Review

What if the draft had been extended to young women in WWII as well as men? That’s the premise of Michael Grant’s new book, Front Lines, and that’s pretty much all I needed to know before making grabby hands at it at NCTE this year. I saw the cover, saw the tagline – “she’s fighting for her country” – and was like, oh yes, I shall be reading you, book. I mean, I will read alternate histories any day of the week and if they’re alternate histories that focus on women’s experiences, then hell yes, I’m there. And as far as that goes, Front Lines did not disappoint! So Front Lines follows three young women – Rio, Frangie, and Rainy – as they enlist in the army and are shipped overseas. They have different motivations: Rio, a white girl from California, wants to do her part (but is also talked into it… Read more »

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Worlds of Ink and Shadow: Review

Worlds of Ink and Shadow: Review

If you ever read and loved Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, you should probably read Lena Coakley’s forthcoming novel, Worlds of Ink and Shadow. I didn’t entirely love Worlds of Ink and Shadow – which posits that the Brontë siblings could all construct fantastical imaginary worlds and enter them at will –  but at what cost? ::cue ominous music:: What I did really love was being reminded of how much I love the Brontës, and the obvious affection that Coakley has for her subjects. I also haven’t read much of their juvenilia – I’m only familiar with it from Juliet Barker’s biography of the Brontës – but now feel renewed interest in their work and curiosity about material that I haven’t read, which is never a bad way to feel. In any case, the premise of the novel is a really interesting one – the Brontës can… Read more »

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