Be your own kind of beautiful.
~ Kenneth I. Zheng ~
Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: New York, 1882. A dark forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.
Like her mother’s, Abery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power—-or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on “patients”…and no one knows why.
I hope you all don’t mind, but this is going to be a shorter than usual review. I’m still battling health stuff, but I wanted to share how much I loved The Tombs. First, how gorgeous is that cover? C’mon. Aren’t your hands reaching for it just looking at it? I’m also thrilled to say that the story is just about as wonderful as the cover. It’s a perfect blend of history and fantasy, and Deborah Schaumberg does a fantastic job at bring gritty 1882 New York City to vividly to life. Almost everything works here, from the well-rounded, relatable characters to the marvelous world-building. The only reason why I’m not giving this a perfect 5 Stars is because toward the middle of the book the pace seemed to slow down a bit for a few chapters. Overall though, The Tombs is an absolutely stellar historical fantasy that I unhesitatingly recommend to fans of this genre. There’d better be a sequel in the works because that ending definitely left me wanting more!
Thanks to NetGalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: February 27th, 2018
Synopsis: In the thrilling, nerve-wracking finale of Ezekiel Boone’s “hair-raising” (Parade) Hatching series, the United States goes to war against the queen spiders that threaten to overtake the human race forever.
The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.
The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders., or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to only kill the queens?
For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can—-more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder—-and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?
They’re baaaaak! Yep. After causing all sorts of bloody, gory mayhem in The Hatching, and Skitter, those carnivorous arachnids, now known as “Hell Spiders”, are back for one more go round with the human race! Having enjoyed the previous two books I’ve been looking forward to seeing how Ezekiel Boone was going to wrap things up. Unfortunately, I wound up being a bit disappointed with Zero Day.
The problem I ran into was that there was no spider action until I was 45% into the book. Call me warped, but I wanted more blood, more gore, more spiders bursting out out of people’s bodies, more people getting eaten, more…well you get the picture. Instead, there’s a lot of bouncing back and forth between characters. Now granted, there was a lot of that happening in the other books, but there was also plenty of action which kept the pace moving. I wouldn’t have had a huge issue with this as I like most of the people, except Boone adds even more in this book. It was just too much. I didn’t connect with the newbies, and their stories took away from the trials and tribulations of the ones I cared about. Also missing was some of the sly humor that was part of the other stories.
At about the 85% mark, the final battle against the spiders and their monstrous queens begin. Finally, here was the excitement I’d been desperately looking for and it was just as fun as the previous ones. I found myself rooting for my favorite characters and was happy with the way everything played out and was tied up.
While Zero Day wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be, overall the Hatching trilogy is one I unhesitatingly recommend to horror fans. There’s nothing deep and has no serious underlying message, it’s just fun. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that this gets turned into a Netflix series, because done right, this would be awesome! Ezekiel Boone’s next book, The Mansion, is due out in December and I can’t wait to read it.
It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real.
~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time ~
Rally against gun violence at the old Florida Capital in Tallahassee, Florida on February 21, 2018.
Photo by: Mark Wallheiser/AP
Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.
~ President Barack Obama, via Twitter – February 22, 2018 ~
Demonstrators outside the North Carolina State Capitol building in Raleigh, on February 20, 2018, observing a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre.
Photo by: Jonathan Drake/Reuters
“Lie-in” demonstration near the White House on February 19th, 2018.
Photo by: Zack Gibson/Getty
Students from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland marching in support for gun reform legislation on February 21, 2018.
Photo by: Win McNamee/Getty
Hi Everyone. I just wanted to tell all of you who I’m friends with on Goodreads, that I’ve had to open a new account. It seems as though this past Sunday, my account was mysteriously deleted. After haggling with GR customer support for the last three days, I’ve been told the account cannot be retrieved. So, after four years, I’m starting all over again. I’d love it if you all have time for you to friend me again. You can find me at https://goodreads.com/BookBelle01
One week ago today, one of the worst school shootings took place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas took place in Parkland, Florida. Today, thousands of students from Palm Beach to Washington D.C., are walking out in protest of state and federal governments refusal to discuss the increasing gun violence in this country and the shameful neglect of the mentally ill, and Parkland school survivors are meeting with some Florida legislators after traveling 400 miles yesterday to Tallahassee. To add further context I’d like to share with you the seventeen people whose lives ended all too soon. I realize this is a long post, but these are not just statistics. These innocents had hopes and dreams that will never be realized. Each of their lives touched hundreds of others, which leads me to wonder what if…
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
A student at Stoneman Douglas, Alyssa was a valued member of the Parkland Travel Soccer club and attended Camp Coleman, a Jewish sleepaway camp. Her mother, Lori’s last words to her daughter as she dropped her daughter off at school that morning were “I love you.”
Scott Beigel, 35
A geography teacher, Scott Beigel was killed as he was shepherding students into his classroom as the shooting commenced. One of his students, Kelsey Friend, tearfully told CNN: “Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom. I am alive today because of him.”
Martin Duque Anguiano, 14
Martin who was a member of the junior ROTC, is being mourned by his family, and a Go Fund Me Page has been set up to help with funeral expenses. Miguel Duque had this to say about his younger brother on Facebook: “He was a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet. He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family. Most of all he was my baby brother.
Nicholas Dworet, 17
Nicholas was a senior and captain of the Stoneman Douglas swim team. He would have been a member of the freshman class at the University of Indianapolis this fall. He had been recruited by their swimming team. In his online obituary, Nicholas’ family described him as “a romantic, a dreamer, a mentor to so many…a lover of life, a true friend, best brother ever, a son that brought so much joy to his parents, and so much more.”
Aaron Feis, 37
Assistant football coach, Aaron Feis, was killed as he threw himself in front of students to protect them from the deranged gunman. Football spokeswoman, Denis Lehtio stated: “He died the same way he lived—-he put himself second. He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”
Jaime Guttenberg, 14
Jaime’s father posted this on his Facebook page last Thursday: “My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister. I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family gets through this…Hugs to all and hold your children tight.”
Chris Hixon, 49
Chris Hixon, was the athletic director at the high school. He was also a Naval reservist who served in Iraq in 2007. He was known to give students rides, lunch money, and in some cases, even opened his home to them. His wife Debra said: “He just loved being around kids and giving back to the community.”
Luke Hoyer, 15
Luke’s murder has shocked his family. His cousin, Grant called Luke “an amazing individual. Always happy, always smiling. His smile was contagious, and so was his laugh.” Another relative posted on Facebook that the family is “very close” and is “devastated by this senseless shooting.” “Our Luke was a precious child.”
Cara Loughran, 14
Cara was a dancer at the Drake School of Irish Dance. The studio released this statement: “Cara was a beautiful soul and always had a smile on her face. We are heartbroken as we send our love and support to her family during this horrible time.”
Gina Montalto, 14
Gina was a member of the winter guard on the school’s marching band. Her mother wrote in a Facebook post: “Our beautiful daughter, Gina Rose, was taken from us during the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She was a smart, loving, caring, and strong girl who brightened any room she entered.” And Manuel Miranda, who was an instructor for the band’s team of flag bearers and dancers posted on Facebook: “My heart is broken into pieces. I will forever remember you my sweet angel.”
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Joaquin moved from Venezuela to the U.S. when he was three. He became a naturalized citizen in January 2017. ‘Guac’ had many interests including: the Venezuelan national soccer team, football, basketball, hip-hop, and urban graffiti. His last social media post from December 31, was a message to his girlfriend. “Thank you lord for putting a greater blessing than I could ever imagine into my life this past year. I love you with all my heart.”
Alaina Petty, 14
Alaina was a member of the junior ROTC at her school. She was also a member the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints “Helping Hands” program. She volunteered after Hurricane Irma hit Florida last September. A statement from her family said: “Alaina loved to serve. While we will not have the opportunity to watch her grow up and become the amazing woman we know she would become, we are keeping an eternal perspective.”
Meadow Pollack, 18
Meadow had been accepted to Lynn University in Boca Raton, according to spokeswoman Jamie D’Aria. She added: “Meadow was a lovely young woman, who was full of energy. We were very much looking forward to having her join our community in the fall.” A friend, Gil Lovito, said on Facebook: “Please say a prayer for the family of an amazing girl I got to call my best friend growing up Meadow Pollack…her life was taken way too soon and I have no words to describe how this feels. Rest in Piece my beautiful angel. You are and forever will be loved.”
Helena Ramsay, 17
Helena was planning on starting college next year. A family member, Curtis Page Jr. said in a Facebook post: “Helena was a smart, kind hearted, and thoughtful person. She was deeply loved and loved others even more so. Though she was somewhat reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft warm demeanor brought the best out in all who knew her. She was so brilliant and witty, and I’m still wrestling with the idea that she is actually gone.”
Alex Schachter, 14
Alex played baritone in the school marching band and trombone in the orchestra. A Go Fund Me page has been set up by his family as a scholarship fund. The page’s statement reads: “In an effort to continue his memory, this scholarship is being created to help other students experience the joys of music as well as fund increased security at school. Please help keep Alex’s spirit alive. The money raised will be sent to the Stoneman Douglas Marching Eagles.”
Carmen Schentrup, 16
Carmen was a National Merit Scolar semifinalist. Sadly she never knew as the announcement came the day after the massacre. Carmen is being mourned by her family and the community. Her parents released a statement Sunday describing their daughter as a bookworm who loved Sci-Fi, fantasy, and comedy. She read over a hundred books a year and people frequently thought her older than her age. “She recently joked people had been asking her how she liked college since she was a freshman. She was still a kid at heart. She was silly, playful and huggable. We miss her hugs.”
Peter Wang, 15
Peter was a member of the junior ROTC. According to friends, he was shot while holding open a door to help his fellow classmates get to safety. He, along with Alaina and Martin have all been awarded the Medal of Heroism, the highest honor given in the Junior Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps. Peter, who also dreamed of attending West Point once he graduated, received a posthumous acceptance from the academy…the same day of his funeral.
I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?
~ John Lennon ~
Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.
Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—-art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—-Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fears come true—-the solstice does not go according to plan and she’s left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevna—-the arch rival kingdom ov Valenia—-and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—-some closer to Brienna than she realizes.
With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—-passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?
I must confess that I was originally attracted to The Queen’s Rising because of the gorgeous cover. But the premise also had me excited as well. Although I finished it in three days, I wound up being disappointed.
I liked Brienna but there’s nothing about her that makes her stand out except for the mystery surrounding the identity of her father who has been kept hidden from her. However, that mystery is spoiled by the family tree that’s displayed at the beginning of the book. While it’s handy, it spoils several reveals. She also struggles with her mixed race heritage which adds a little more depth. And she has a dog, Nessie, who I loved. Otherwise, she’s your typical feisty, loyal, courageous, etc. fantasy heroine. I loved the sisterhood that was predominantly displayed between the the girls studying at Magnalia House.
There’s not much in the way of romance, but the developing relationship between Brienna and Master Cartier made me uncomfortable. Given that he’s been one of her professors since she was ten-years-old, even though she’s of age when things turn more romantic, the whole thing just made me squirm. It’s something that continually bothered me and I was unable to let it go.
The world-building is very descriptive and reminded me somewhat of 16th century Scotland. I thought the the author’s writing style to be quite lovely. The pace was a little slow in parts, but it it never devolved into tediousness. Although this is being billed as a trilogy, the ending perfectly wraps everything up so it could actually work as a standalone.
In the end, The Queen’s Rising left me with mixed feelings. I saw flashes of brilliance, but they just never really panned out. That coupled with the off putting relationship between Brienna and Master Cartier, has me thinking I probably won’t be continuing with this trilogy. The book has received many positive reviews though, so if the premise intrigues you, please don’t let me put you off. If you do decide to try it though, DON’T READ THE FAMILY TREE! I would have enjoyed the story a little more if I had waited until the end of the book.
Cameron Kasky is a 17-year-old junior who along with his younger brother, Holden, thankfully survived the school shooting that took place last Wednesday at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This is a commentary he shared with CNN the day after. When I read it—-well—-I was left rather stunned and I’d like to share his words with all of you.
I thought it was going to be a wonderful day. My high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was full of cheerful students—-many of whom were celebrating Valentine’s Day with one another. Even those who didn’t have a Valentine seemed like they could find reasons to smile.
But then, of course, everything changed. Toward the end of the day, I went to pick up my little brother Holden from the special needs classroom. As we exited the school, the fire alarm went off. And as we retreated to the parking lot, per fire drill procedure, we were told to run back inside.
It was very confusing, especially since I was surrounded by special needs students. But the truth is, nobody really knew what was going on. We huddled in a room, listening to terrifying noises we couldn’t identify, and spent an hour plagued by uncontrolled anxiety…waiting for answers. Waiting for somebody to either come in and shoot us or come in and tell us everything was going to be OK.
Eventually, the SWAT team came in and did an excellent job taking care of the students with disabilities. We were then escorted to our evacuation location and, after hours of confusion and terror, my brother and I made it home.
Though we made it home, 17 people didn’t. Those 17 people were murdered on the grounds of a school that has always felt like the safest place to be in a town that’s been called the safest town in Florida.
We can’t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I’m asking—-no, demanding—-we take action now.
Why? Because at the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience—-our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools.
But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we’re going to pressure them to take action. This time we’re going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses.
One of the most frustrating arguments I heard is that it wasn’t the Republican Party that killed those people and it wasn’t the National Rifle Association—-it was the shooter himself. I understand where they are coming from. I do not believe this was a direct attack from the Republicans or their close allies at the NRA.
However, the shooter is not the only one responsible for this tragedy. While the alleged shooter may have had several issues, he also lived in a society where Sen. Marco Rubio refuses to take responsibility for the role gun culture may have played in this tragedy.
And there is no denying that the NRA continues to donate millions of dollars to politicians at every level of government. Then those politicians—-often “family values” conservatives—-rile up their base by making them think that “liberals” are going to take their guns away. Not knowing any better, some of these people stockpile guns in advance of a gun ban that never comes, and the gun manufacturers and the NRA make millions.
But the truth is that politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame. The Republicans, generally speaking, take large donations from the NRA and are therefore beholden to their cruel agenda. And the Democrats lack the organization and the votes to do anything about it.
I’m just a high school student, and I do not pretend to have all the answers. However, even in my position, I can see that there is a desperate need for change—-change that starts by folks showing up to the polls and voting all those individuals who are in the back pockets of the gun lobbyists out of office.
Please do it for me. Do it for my fellow classmates. We can’t vote, but you can, so make it count.
If you’re interested, Emma Gonzalez, a senior who also survived the massacre, made a passionate speech today at a gun control rally attended by thousands, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You can find the transcript here:
Also today, it was business as usual as hundreds of gun enthusiasts gathered at the fairgrounds in Miami (which is within driving distance of Parkland) for a major gun show. Among the guns being sold there, were the always in demand AR-15s.
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