Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage SongThis Savage Song
by Victoria Schwab

ISBN-13: 9780062380852
Publication date: July 5, 2016 from Greenwillow Books
Purchased by me

There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

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Gorgeous. That’s the first word that popped into my mind after finishing This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab – well, that and the phrase “sequel now please.” I love Victoria Schwab’s books; I don’t know why it has taken me so long to read this one. I bought it back in 2016 when it was released and then life just happened I suppose. But I am SO glad I didn’t wait any longer.

This Savage Song contains the world building that I like to see. It’s teased out throughout the course of the novel rather than presented in monologues and flashbacks. The story begins, and you find out about the state of things orgnaically, as the characters reflect, talk, think and interact. It’s the kind of world building where there are moments of “I don’t know what’s happening” followed quickly by “ahhh that’s why!” It was perfect.

As for our two main characters, Kate and August? Well done. I really enjoyed their personalities, backstories, and growth. Their interactions together were realistic, and Kate in particular stuck with me. She had so many revelations/truths/changes thrown at her and she rolled with it. She spent the book trying to prove to her father that she was strong – and she was. Just not in the way she thought. And August. Oh August. I just wanted to give him a hug most of the time.

I am very excited to read the sequel after the action packed way that This Savage Song ended, and the cliffhanger it left us with. Victoria Schwab continues to impress me and this book just reminded me why she’s on my auto-buy list. Even if it takes me a few years to read the book 😉

Review: A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

A Boy Called Bat A Boy Called Bat
by Elana K. Arnold

ISBN-13: 9780062445827
Published: March 14, 2017 by Walden Pond Press
Purchased by me from the Scholastic Book Order
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

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A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold is a sweet story about a boy and his skunk. Yup, his skunk. Bat’s mother is a vet, and brings home a baby skunk to look after. Bat is enthralled and sets out to convince his mom that they should keep the skunk instead of send it to a wild-animal shelter.

I loved this little family. Bat is a great narrator; as a person on the autism spectrum he has a unique way of interacting with the world and people around him (especially with his sister, and classmates) that shines through in his narration. Bat uses all of his incredible research ability and love of animals to learn about skunks, reach out to an expert, and convince his mom that a baby skunk can have a future as his pet.

My students and I had thoughtful conversations about wild versus domestic animals, skunks, research, and Bat himself. This was a perfect book to read as a lead in to our animal research projects – the duo who chose skunks was particularly invested in their project! A Boy Called Bat is a fun and interesting read aloud, and has two sequels that continue Bat’s story: Bat and the Waiting Game and Bat and the End of Everything.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Playlist for the Dead big Playlist for the Dead
by Michelle Falkoff
Publication date: January 27, 2015 from HarperTeen

Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Review: Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately the Milk Fortunately, The Milk
by Neil Gaiman

ISBN-13: 9-781408-841792
Publication: September 2013 from HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2013
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

When a father runs out to buy milk for his children’s breakfast cereal, the last thing he expects is to be abducted by aliens. He soon finds himself transported through time and space on an extraordinary adventure where the fate of the universe depends on him, a time-traveling Stegosaurus (in a balloon), and, fortunately, the milk.

This is quite possibly the most exciting adventure ever to be written about milk since Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Milk. Also it has aliens, pirates, dinosaurs, and wumpires in it (but not the handsome, misunderstood kind), not to mention a Volcano God.

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Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman is a hilariously ridiculous story about a dad who steps out to buy milk and takes quite a while about it. When he returns and his children ask where he had been (talking to a neighbour, most likely) their father spins an amazing tale of aliens, dinosaur police, a volcano god, pirates, wumpires, ponies, piranhas, and a hot air balloon.

The story of how the father winds up captured by aliens and then time traveling with Professor Steg, a dinosaur of some intelligence, in a hot air balloon all while avoiding nefarious pirates and wumpires and other nasties by aid of the milk (the milk is always there to save the day it seems) is extremely entertaining. Punctuated by remarks from his children that seem to both question and help further the story they’re being told, and accompanied by amazing illustrations that help you visualize the father’s journey, Fortunately, The Milk is very much a tale of “believe it or not.”

5 heart

At the end, we’re first immediately aware (through the children’s observations) that the story is completely made up. But than the father produces the milk and the last illustration makes you really think twice about whether the father was actually on this amazing journey. Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman is a perfect bedtime or classroom story. Even without the aliens and pirates and everything else, the dinosaurs alone would make this story great. Dinosaurs are always a good choice. This is one book that can definitely be enjoyed by anyone and everyone – I loved it!

ARC received at Book Expo America 2013 from HarperCollins. Thank you!

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars small For Darkness Shows the Stars
by Diana Peterfreund

ISBN-13: 9-780062-006141
Publication: June 2012 from Balzer + Bray
Source: BEA 2012
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth – an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret – one that could change their society…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

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For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund smashed all my expectations to pieces. I obviously underestimated how much I should hope to love this book, because all I could do when I finished it was stare at the last page with that silly little grin you get when you’ve just been immersed in an amazing fictional world and now find yourself back in reality – but you don’t care because your time away was amazing and you know you’ll visit again.

Instead of a straight narrative, the regular chapters in For Darkness Shows the Stars are interspersed with letters back and forth from our two main characters, Elliot and Kai. And they are not in chronological order, either. Rather, the letters jump about in time (four years ago, one year ago, ten years ago, etc.) as they help explain the plot in current time. The letters give the background to Elliot and Kai’s relationship, Elliot’s life and even how this new society works. And speaking of new society, the world Diana Peterfreund has created is one in the future, after Earth and its population have been devastated by what seems to be a disease of some sort, brought on by human genetic tinkering. It’s intriguing in the fact that though we learn about the world as the story progresses, it’s still very incomplete. We only find out as much about it as the characters think or talk about, and I liked that. It was very real.

While it’s mostly Elliot and her relationship with Kai that is the focus of the story, there are numerous secondary characters that are wonderfully fleshed out. Elliot’s father is a real piece of work, very controlling and quite mean. Her sister is better, but still fairly awful. I enjoyed the other members of Cloud Fleet, and Elliot of course. She’s quite a strong character, though she has her doubts and insecurities. She makes the best out of what she has to work with, and honestly cares for the people around her. It is through Elliot that we the reader question how the Luddite society is run. Her letters to Kai highlight her curious nature and the events that unfold really take Elliot through a change of not only ideals, but her very faith.

5 heart

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is such a unique sci-fi in the fact that it doesn’t play out like what you would expect of a traditional science fiction story…no outer space, no cyborgs, no flying cars. Just a very interesting farming estate society with an underground idea and past of genetic modification and the experimenting that caused it to all change. The technology present is interesting and captivating, as is the slow burn reacquaintance romance between Elliot and Kai, the questions Elliot possesses about society and what is right, and whether or not humanity should play with genetics. It’s an intense, amazing read that I highly recommend to anyone.

Hardcover copy obtained at BEA 2012 through author signing.