Book Review: A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

Book Review: A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

A History of Glitter and Blood

by Hannah Moskowitz

History of Glitter and Blood

Expected Publication Date: August 5, 2015
Length: 280 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
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Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

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This book was odd. Weird. Peculiar. Any other synonym you can think of, insert it here. I finished A History of Glitter and Blood a few days ago, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be quite through processing my feelings on it. There were several elements I liked, but the story as a whole was bizarre. I thought I liked weird books, but I’m not 100% I really liked this one. I’m also not sure I understood part of it, which trust me, nothing makes you feel weirder than having an English degree and feeling like you’re missing something in a YA book. That stuff about YA being complex isn’t just a throwaway line, folks.

A History of Glitter and Blood is about fairies, gnomes, tightropers, war, and a romance. At the beginning of the book, the city of Ferrum(clever) is in the middle of the war with these three races. The war is part of the story, certainly, but it’s not really about the war. The about and the whys are revealed at the end, piece by piece through the book. It’s an extremely meta book, as A History of Glitter and Blood is written as if the book itself is being written by one of the characters, a self-confessed unreliable narrator. There are footnotes and illustrations, asides and direct addresses to the other characters in the book. I absolutely love this kind of narrative technique, and it’s one thing that kept me reading despite the confusion I had in the beginning. That does mean, though, that the story gets difficult to follow at times because everything is slapdash. On purpose, sure, but that never really negated my frustration at how confused I was so frequently.

A History of Glitter and Blood focuses on Beckan and her companions. Beckan is one of the last surviving fairies left in the city, and life is rough. While it’s manageable, it’s only through a combination of less-than-reputable means that Beckan and her friends are able to survive. The circumstances often find them prostituting to the gnomes, a species that has rather less than desirable relationships with fairies. . . considering gnomes often eat fairies, so everything is always tainted by this danger. Beckan may be the main character, but she’s not the narrator of the story, so it’s hard to tell what part of any of the characters is “real” or made up in the story world. It’s really cleverly done, but I think it’s most likely one of those things that would be difficult to really “get” unless you dive in and see for yourself. It’s not in any way an easy book to describe.

A History of Glitter and Blood is not quite like anything else I’ve ever read. . . which is great! Mostly. But that doesn’t mean it was free of problems. I was so, SO intrigued by the world, which kept me reading, but the characters were. . . slippery, for lack of a better term. Up until the halfway point, I kept getting most of the secondary characters confused with each other. A name would appear and I would think “oh, right, is he the gnome client? Wait, no, no, he’s the tightroper. Or her friend? Both? I can’t remember). That was probably my main issue. I could deal with the confusion from the world and the storytelling because I knew it was intentional, but I had a MUCH harder time jiving with not being able to tell some of the characters apart.

Yet no matter what, this book was extremely compelling. I do think I prefer Hannah Moskowitz’s contemporary YA to her speculative(I also thought Teeth was a little too weird & out there for me. . . though between the two of them, I think I prefer A History of Glitter and Blood), but her writing is bold and daring and obviously talented. The narrative devices are used effectively and an unreliable narrator done well almost always adds a little extra OOMPH to a book for me.

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 I think I mostly liked this one? I’d probably read it again for the strangeness factor alone, and it is the kind of book that feels richly layered. 3/5 cupcakes.

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3 Stars

The Sunday Wrap-Up{91}

The Sunday Wrap-Up{91}

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My Week

My week of house-sitting for my sister didn’t end until Thursday, so I spent most of the week over there once again. Pros–fast internet, aka time to binge-watch on Netflix. Cons-Apparently I’m allergic to something in my sister’s house? My head was so stuffy the entire time! I’ve been home since Thursday morning and today is the first day I really felt it start to alleviate.

Other than that, not a ton happened this week. I will mention that even though my sister only lives like 15 minutes from my house, coming back home and getting back to my normal routine is more of an adjustment than I thought it would be! Maybe it’s because generally I try to be really productive and while at my sister’s house I just binge-watched Netflix mainly? I think I’m back in the swing of things now, though.

On Book Blog Bake

On Monday I reviewed Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
Wednesday I reviewed More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera. 

booksread

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

booksboughtreceived

None!

 Question of the Week:

I was actually suppose to come home Wednesday, but my sister’s planes had issues and they ended up getting back much later than anticipated, which makes me wonder–any plane horror(or just annoyance!) stories? I had an interesting trip trying to get from Dallas to Kansas City during an ice storm at the tail end of 2013 for a work trip. That was an experience I would mind never repeating ever again.

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Book Review: More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

Book Review: More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy than Not

by Adam Silvera

More Happy than Not

Original Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Soho Teen

Obtained Via: Bought
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 The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

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Oh, this book broke my heart, made me laugh, and made me hope. I understand the strong praise More Happy than Not is getting in the YA community, and it’s well deserved. The story takes place in a world that’s almost-this-one-but-not-quite. It’s not 100% contemporary, because there’s an element of medical technology that hasn’t been invented yet(the Leteo procedure), but for all intents and purposes I think it’s the genre that fits it the best, if only because everything this book touches on feels so current and REAL.

So the MC, Aaron, has grown up in a not-so-well-off area in the Bronx, and at the beginning of the book Aaron’s father has recently committed suicide and Aaron has attempted to take his own life as well. He’s slowly trying to move past that, but of course there’s setbacks along the way, though also hope in the form of his girlfriend and a new guy who starts hanging around who quickly becomes Aaron’s best friend. . . and then something Aaron wishes was more than just friends. Sometimes, contemporary novels can feel like they have thin plots and their success rests solely with the characters. Well, the characters in More Happy than Not are excellent, but the plot has a surprising amount of twist and turns as well.

There are just so many things that More Happy than Not does well, it’s almost hard to know where to begin. I could talk about how I love the portrayal and exploration of Aaron’s sexuality(I do), or how there’s time devoted to exploring the intersection of sexuality and race(also wonderful), but one thing that stuck with me so, so much in More Happy than Not was the description of poverty. I don’t know why, but something about it just hit me hard. I think so often we only see one depiction of poverty, but the depiction in More Happy than Not felt more current. For example, the family shared a one bedroom apartment, but they did have an old computer they shared. I think that just made something feel so real to me, because when I worked at a non-profit, I saw households like that all the time. Computers aren’t really new, anymore, and while someone in poverty might not have the latest and greatest, they’re not necessarily going to be cut off from the outside world. One of the first computers my family ever got, we got for free because my mom’s company was throwing it out(it still worked). The subtle inclusion of technology, the way Aaron would often go to the comic book store but could rarely buy anything, the community aspects, I just really appreciated it all.

I will admit that I was not immediately endeared to Aaron, but as the book went along, I got to care about this character more and more. I read so many books, most YA. There are few times I read a book and think it’s truly unique, but that’s how I felt about More Happy than Not. There’s really not another book I can even think of to compare it to. I liked that it always surprised me, that the narrative never went the easy way I was half-hoping for(because I wanted the character to get a break), and that there wasn’t a moment when Aaron’s life was affecting the story.

I’ve seen people on twitter talk about people saying a book tried to tackle “too many” issues, particularly in areas of diversity, and how that can be a misguided principle, because people like that exist. I don’t think I’ve ever truly saw a book that tried to tackle too many issues, BUT I do think I’ve read books where there are multiple aspects going on where they weren’t integrated together well. That is definitely not the case in More Happy than Not at all. It’s written so seamlessly that even though the Leteo procedure doesn’t exist in our world, you can almost imagine these characters are real, with all their messy dynamics between Aaron, the girl he loves(but not in the way he wants to), and the boy who can’t figure out what he wants to discover in his life.

More Happy than Not is an impressive debut. I don’t think it quite reached favorite status for me, which is why I haven’t given it 5 stars. . . but I think upon re-read it’s highly possible that it could. It’s the book you read and instantly realize will reward a re-read. I will not be at all surprise to see this one on the end of the year “best-of” lists.

 

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While More Happy than Not did not quite reach 5 stars for me upon first read, I do think it’s a virtually flawless book in that I have no complaints or criticisms. As dark as this book gets, it still carries a current of hope, and I think it’s a very important book. 4/5 cupcakes. 

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4 Stars

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

Original Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Length: 438 pages
Publisher: Del Rey

Obtained Via: Bought
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Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

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I swear this book is enchanted, because I had the STRANGEST reading experience with it. When I was reading it, especially at the beginning, I LOVED it and wanted to sink my teeth into the words. Then, whenever I put it down, it was like getting a stubborn animal to move just to get me to pick it back up. No matter what I told myself, I did NOT want to return to this book, and I couldn’t figure out why. As the book went on, that almost flipped-flopped. I read the second half in a day and a half, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the beginning–for reasons I’ll expand on.

So, Uprooted is a standalone fantasy novel that has a very classic fairy-tale feel and atmosphere. There’s an odd wizard called the dragon who takes a girl from Agnieszka’s village every ten years, and nobody knows *quite* what he does with them, which of course is suspicious. When Agnieszka is picked over her beautiful & smart friend, she learns the dragon is not as malicious as they all feared, and bonus: she’s a witch. The dragon begins training her in magic & they have to fight the wood, which is this sentient evil forest basically. There’s a royal family and a quest and sadly, no actual dragons.

I did enjoy Uprooted over all, but I’m not IN LOVE with it like so many readers seem to be. I’m beginning to think this sub genre of “fantasy novels with creepy forest/woods” are not for me, because I had issues with this same aspect in Crimson Bound as well. While I think the creepy wood aspect of Uprooted was handled much better, it still didn’t really creep me out that much. I just don’t think there’s anything an author can do to make me scared of magical woods or forest. That being said, while it didn’t quite hold my attention, I do think Novik did a good job of showing how scared the characters were of the wood and how that fear had permeated Agnieszka’s entire life.

I found myself much more invested in the first half of this book than in the second, mostly because the dragon was a more prominent figure in the first half. Around the halfway mark, Agnieszka leaves the tower for plot reasons, and that’s where my enthusiasm waned a bit. Now, I have rarely said this in my life, but I kept reading Uprooted for the romance. It’s not typically what I read for at all, but it was my favorite part of Uprooted. I loved the grumpy dragon and clumsy & still learning Agnieszka and how they interacted. Their interactions were character gold and I was rooting for the romance SO HARD. I do feel I need to point out that the dragon is over a hundred years old because in the Uprooted world, witches and wizards live longer than others, though he still looks young. And Agnieszka is a young woman. I’ve hated this type of age difference in other books before, but I was so into their dynamic in this book that I totally did not care. Perhaps that makes me a reading hypocrite, but I’m A OK with that.

Another bonus for this book was the strong friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia. It didn’t hit me in an emotional place, like I had hoped, but I enjoyed the aspect of their friendship and how much of the plot of the book was based around that. Novik wrote all the relationships in this book well, and it’s one of the things that kept me reading and invested.

Yet. . . I dunno, at times this book was a bit of a chore to read. Would I recommend it? Yes, but it’s not a new favorite for me like I was hoping it would be. This book has been getting a lot of hype in the online book world, so maybe my expectations were too high, but I can’t help to feel a bit let down by it, especially since it lacked the emotional impact I crave my books to have.

 

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Honestly, I’m pretty sure this is the the first time I’ve ever said this in a final impression, but: NOT ENOUGH ROMANCE. That being said, I think this is an excellently written book and I did enjoy it for the most part, though I was kinda iffy on the whole creepy woods thing. My initial rating is to give this one a 3.5 rounded up, so 4/5 cupcakes.

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4 Stars

The Sunday Wrap-Up{90}

The Sunday Wrap-Up{90}

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My Week

My week, much like last week, has been quite a bit different from my norm. My sister is on vacation with her husband for their anniversary, so I am house-sitting for her and have been since Wednesday. Though, “house-sitting” doesn’t quite cover the scope of my actual watching duties, because my sister has tons of animals. I jokingly call it “farm-sitting”. It’s not *really* a farm, but there are chickens and horses(though I’m not taking care of the horses–my sister’s in-laws are doing that), so it seems close enough.I believe the total is 4 dogs(2 inside, 2 out), 3 cats(two at the barn, one inside), and 4 chickens. I’ve also been baby-sitting my niece on some days, while on other days she’s at her grandparents. But I’ve been here with just the animals this weekend! It’s so weird, because I lived by myself in a one-bedroom apartment for a year, but now that I’ve been living with my family since February I’ve gotten used to *not* being alone again.

On Book Blog Bake

Tuesday I shared my top ten latest books that came into my possession.
Wednesday I reviewed The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. The You’ve Got Mail comparison is apt!
Thursday I talked about book covers with skulls on them. 

booksread
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

 Question of the Week:

My sister’s internet is way faster than mine at home, so I’ve been taking advantage of that to listen to some podcast, which leads me to my question this week–do you listen to podcast? Any you would recommend? I, like almost everyone else in the country enjoyed Serial, and I also love Welcome to Night Vale. Right now I’m listening to Lore.

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