22.2.18

Review: Glass Town by Steven Savile


Synopsis/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
There's always been magic in our world We just needed to know where to look for it

In 1924, two brothers both loved Eleanor Raines, a promising young actress from the East End of London. She disappeared during the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s debut, Number 13, which itself is now lost. It was the crime of the age, capturing the imagination of the city: the beautiful actress never seen again, and the gangster who disappeared the same day.

Generations have passed. Everyone involved is long dead. But even now their dark, twisted secret threatens to tear the city apart.

Joshua Raines is about to enter a world of macabre beauty, of glittering celluloid and the silver screen, of illusion and deception, of impossibly old gangsters and the fiendish creatures they command, and most frighteningly of all, of genuine magic.

He is about to enter Glass Town.

The generations-old obsession with Eleanor Raines’s unsolved case is about to become his obsession, handed down father-to-son through his bloodline like some unwanted inheritance. But first he needs to bury his grandfather and absorb the implications of the confession in his hand, a letter from one of the brothers, Isaiah, claiming to have seen the missing actress. The woman in the red dress hadn’t aged a day, no matter that it was 1994 and she’d been gone seventy years.

Long buried secrets cannot stay secrets forever. Hidden places cannot stay hidden forever.

The magic that destroyed one of the most brutal families in London’s dark history is finally failing, and Joshua Raines is about to discover that everything he dared dream of, everything he has ever feared, is waiting for him in Glass Town.
Review:

When Steven Savile's Glass Town appeared on my doorstep it was my first time hearing about it; however, as soon as I read the synopsis, I decided it may be the book for me and dove right in. 

The Result? Glass Town has left me feeling incredibly torn. On one side I enjoyed it. I found the premise unique, the mystery multilayered and suspenseful, and the characters complex. On the other side, however, it was too odd for my liking. Some parts left me flabbergasted and even churned my stomach. 
Eleanor Raines.
That was her name.
My obsession.
The object of my desire. I was going to say affection, but there was nothing remotely affectionate about it. Desire is a much better word. Less wholesome. Desire speaks of dark places, of yearning, sweat. - pg. 1 
Glass Town is built upon obsession as well as desire. 

Obsession can be a dangerous thing - it can cause you to lose your grip on reality as well as your friends and family. There's something about it, however. Something you just can't resist. That's what Isaiah and his brother Seth discovered over 90 years ago in their respective quests for Eleanor Raines's love and attention. With obsession there's a winner as well as a loser, and Isaiah unfortunately lost; however, he never gave up and passed that obsession - that compulsion - to find Eleanor to generation after generation. 

It amazed me how much Steven Saville could build upon two men's desires. He brought along mystery, the supernatural, and magic with it. The later of the three truly managed to fascinate me. I've also been curious about magic and the illusions a magician creates. The illusion in Glass Town is more complex than you'd ever imagine, and it shocked me how deep it ran. Additionally, throughout Glass Town I had so many questions: Where had they hidden Eleanor? How does one get into Glass Town? What was Seth's end game? Would Josh survive? These questions kept me hooked, turning page after page in search of answers. At sometimes I couldn't believe that so many events could be based on one person - someone who "existed" over 100 years ago. Was she really worth it? However, I guess, that's the crazy thing about obsession - it doesn't depend on worth but desire. 

Glass Town never settles on one POV. Over the course of the book a variety of POVs are introduced -  Seth, Josh, Damiola, Julie, Taff, and Gideon. While each character comes from different backgrounds each are connected through obsession. For Seth, the man who started it all, his obsession with Eleanor may just break him. Seth is the ultimate villain. He's frightening as well as chilling and he always plays dirty. Josh, the great-grandson of Isaiah, is obsessed with solving the case, no matter at what cost. Josh's obsession was almost as large as Seth's, which I found surprising at time given the short timeline. I will say, however, that no character was incredibly well developed, nor did I ever truly forge a connection with any of them. 

Overall, Glass Town is a book I liked but didn't love. Some parts just didn't appeal to me; however, there was something about it that kept me reading. I suggest this to fans of magic and illusion. 

3 stars!! 


Glass Town is now available!

Source: Hardcover provided by publisher for review


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21.2.18

Blog Tour: I Stop Somewhere by TE Carter (Review & Giveaway!!)



I Stop Somewhere
by T.E. Carter
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Add to Goodreads!
Amazon | BN | Book Depository | Kobo | IndieBound | iBooks 

Synopsis:
Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn't need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn't the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter's stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it also reminds us what it is to be human.
Review: 
This isn't a story of great romance or true love. It's simply a story of being lonely and how comforting it is to be called beautiful. - Loc 661, eARC 
I Stop Somewhere isn't an easy read. 

It's not light nor fluffy. 
It won't make you laugh and swoon.

It's heartbreaking.
It's gut-punching
It will make you question everything you know about growing up as well as the morals and ideals that are installed in us since birth. 
It will make you remember the days you felt like Ellie Frias growing up - sad, lonely, equal parts hopeful and hopeless
It will make you cry
It will make you want to scream
But it will inspire you - inspire you to be better, to fight for those like Ellie, to believe in a girl's act of courage

I Stop Somewhere is an unforgettable, poignant debut, and I can't possibly give it the justice it deserves. However, I'll try my best.
It takes a lot of things to make a girl, but breaking her? It only takes a few pretty words and a crooked smile. - Loc 358, eARC 
I Stop Somewhere introduces Ellie Frias. Ellie has always felt unremarkable as well as plain. She's never been the one to have a surplus of friends, and she can't remember a time when a boy paid attention to her. So when a boy appears that calls her beautiful and makes her feel special, Ellie drops everything. She sneaks out, she lies to her dad, she lets the parts of her that made her Ellie fade away.

From the first page, I was enamored with Ellie's narrative. It was raw as well as emotional. I wanted to give Ellie a hug. I wanted to protect her and shield her from boys with throwaway promises and girls out for blood. When the story first begins, Ellie is quiet and lonely. She's sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I could understand that. I could even relate. I think everyone's been at that place growing up, the one where they feel that they'll never start living, that they'll never have the fulfilling life the books and movies promise. As the book progresses, Ellie becomes changed, and not always for the better. It broke my heart to see Ellie's downfall occur, and while I knew it wasn't going to have a happy ending, I held out hope that something would turn around, that something would "save" Ellie. TE Carter also does something interesting here - she includes future Ellie's voice. Future Ellie is wise and I valued her reflections on that monumental year; however, a part of me wondered throughout where future Ellie was. It was mysterious as well as a tad ominous.
People don't debate what defines murder. Politicians don't argue the body's ability to fight off being killed. There's no talk of a "murder culture." No one says that you asked for murder. What you wear doesn't excuse being killed. - Loc 1419, 1428, eARC 
I Stop Somewhere tackles a lot of hard topics - rape culture, self-esteem, the ups and downs of growing up, and even a trial involving sexual assault. TE does an amazing job of fleshing everything out. Never once did I feel like the story was lacking, that it needed more details. What I appreciated the most, however, was how TE addressed rape culture. There's an pivotal scene in the book where Ellie compares rape culture to murder. Her thoughts are accurate - so accurate in fact it hurt. No one blames the victim when it comes to murder; however, when it comes to rape, everyone jumps on the blame train. It's disgusting, and I hope that books like TE Carter's will inspire people to think about this more deeply, for asking for more when it comes to the safety of their daughters, their friends, their nieces, etc.

In all, I Stop Somewhere is beautifully written addition to YA contemporary. I can't suggest it highly enough - it's a book that NEEDS to be read as well as discussed. Make sure you have a box of tissues on hand when starting it, though, because it will make you cry, no ifs about it.
When you ask what makes a girl, they tell you it's sugar and spice and everything nice, but it's not. It's regret and wishing and summer kisses and falling in love and being hurt and heartbreak and fear and fishing with your father and wearing the wrong clothes and getting drunk because you feel so bad you want to die. It's hoping and the memory of sunlight and how you can't stop lightbulbs from burning out. It's all the big things and the little things in between. - Loc 3601, eARC  

About the Author:
TE Carter was born in New England and has lived in New England for pretty much her entire life. Throughout her career, she’s done a lot of things, although her passion has always been writing. When she’s not writing, she can generally be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge watching baking competitions. She continues to live in New England with her husband and their two cats.

Giveaway:


Prize: 1 hardcover copy of I STOP SOMEWHERE by T.E. Carter (US Only)
Starts: 2/19
Ends: 3/9


Tour Schedule:

February 19th

Pink Polka Dot Books- Welcome Post

February 20th

JustAddAWord- Review & Favorite Quotes
FANNA- Review

February 21st

Storybook Slayers- Review & Favorite Quotes

February 22nd

A Thousand Words A Million Books- Review & Favorite Quotes

February 23rd

Vicky Who Reads- Review/Creative Post
We Live and Breathe Books- Review & Favorite Quotes

20.2.18

Review: The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg


The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg
Release Date: February 20, 2018 
Publisher: HarperTeen   
Genre: YA, Historical, Fantasy 
SourceARC was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.

Deborah Schaumberg’s gripping debut takes readers on a breathless trip across a teeming turn-of-the-century New York and asks the question: Where can you hide in a city that wants you buried?

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 listening to 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, Avery’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.
Review:

Deborah Schaumberg's The Tombs first landed on my radar because of its stunning cover. Then I read the synopsis and a decision was made: I needed it and pronto! As it turns out, The Tombs is a magical and rich debut. It's hard not to become completely enthralled by Avery's journey as well as rooting for her every step of the way. 

There's many things Deborah does well here; however, one of the best is the descriptions. It was so incredibly easy to be transported to New York City, 1882. I could picture Avery's world perfectly - the factory, her apartment, the tombs, etc. The tombs actually offered one of my favorite settings: a greenhouse where Avery discovers more answers to her problems! The greenhouse was so cool. I wish it was real so I could go and visit it. 

Additionally, Deborah did a fantastic job of fleshing out the story lines. I'll admit this isn't the most fast paced book ever. Deborah takes her time building up the world as well as Avery's past and current struggles; however, I was never once bothered by the speed. I eagerly ate up the descriptions, and I loved getting to know Avery better. More importantly, when things did speed up, I felt prepared. I knew what was going on - and had some very big questions!-and I couldn't wait to see Avery kick butt! 

Avery, the main character here, was likable and easy to root for. When the book first begins, Avery has grown use to blending into the background. It's easier for both her father and her that way; however, while Avery may be quiet, she's no pushover by any means. She's strong and powerful, more so than she even thinks. The scenes were she helped her fellow factory workers pulled at my heartstrings. Avery would risk anything for their safety, and that made her even more lovable in my opinion. Additionally, over the course of the book Avery's experiences a coming-of-age. She wants to get to the bottom of her mother's illness, Avery wants to know if she's like her. This brings about many struggles: between Avery and her father, between Avery and her best friend/trusted companion, and even between Avery and herself. It was interesting to see her face this struggle - should she leave it all alone or challenge everything - and I was very happy with the end result. 

Now for the one thing that dropped The Tombs down a star: the romance. There's two potential love interests - Avery's best friend & the boy Avery shared a kiss with years ago. Normally, love triangles don't bother me, but I just didn't like it here. I thought Avery's best friend was the better choice; however, she constantly felt drawn to this boy she knew almost nothing about (cue insta-love). It just didn't work for me - I wanted more for Avery, I wanted more for her best friend.

Regardless, The Tombs is a wonderful debut, perfect for YA readers who love their historical fiction with a touch of fantasy and magic. I can't wait to see where Deborah goes next. I'm personally hoping for a sequel! 

4 stars!! 
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