Author: Robert Beatty
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Escape into the story of a brave and unusual girl brimming with the ancient powers of the forest. From Robert Beatty, the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling Serafina books, comes a thrilling new series filled with the history, mystery, and magic of the Great Smoky Mountains. Kirkus Reviews described WILLA OF THE WOOD as “A moving, atmospheric journey of hope.”
Move without a sound. Steal without a trace.
Willa, a young night-spirit, is her clan’s best thief. She creeps into the cabins of the day-folk under cover of darkness and takes what they won’t miss. It’s dangerous work–the day-folk kill whatever they don’t understand–but Willa will do anything to win the approval of the padaran, the charismatic leader of the Faeran people.
When Willa’s curiosity leaves her hurt and stranded in the day-folk world, she calls upon the old powers of her beloved grandmother, and the unbreakable bonds of her forest allies, to escape. Only then does she begin to discover the shocking truth: that not all of her day-folk enemies are the same, and that the foundations of her own Faeran society are crumbling. What do you do when you realize that the society you were born and raised in is rife with evil? Do you raise your voice? Do you stand up against it?
As forces of unfathomable destruction encroach on her forest home, Willa must decide who she truly is, facing deadly force with warmest compassion, sinister corruption with trusted alliance, and finding a home for her longing heart.
I have been a huge fan of Robert Beatty since the day I read Serafina for the first time. He is a master storyteller and has a knack for capturing the beauty and atmosphere of whatever locale he writes about. You can feel his passion for nature, and history, and culture in every word he puts to page. Willa of the Wood is just another example of his amazing talent. The cover, all on its own, is amazing! I couldn’t wait to open the book and start reading, simply because of the beautiful cover! And then once I did start reading, I realized just how appropriate the cover was for the story!
Willa is a cute little Faeran who tries so hard to serve her clan and to take all the education and warnings from her mamaw and padaran seriously. She shows a maturity that makes you think she’s a flawless hunter/gatherer, so it was a little surprising watching her struggle. And her love for her home, her people, and her friends was so sweet. I will admit that the one reason I gave this book 4 stars is because it gets tree-huggery in that really dogmatic, extreme kinda way. Thankfully, Willa comes back from extremity as she grows and learns and she begins to understand necessity. I’m never one to want to stop necessary progress to save a couple trees, but I do also acknowledge that widespread destruction is harmful and wrong.
This book was incredibly emotional for me. By the time I got to the end, I realized that I was tearing up! My heart just got so warm and full; it was wonderful to get to know Willa and the Faeran and all the members of the forest and then to become invested in the story and taking the resolution so personally. I just love this book so much and this is another one that I would suggest giving to any preteen to read. Mr. Beatty is on a roll and I can’t wait to see where he takes Willa and Serafina! A great, great book!!!
Here is Kim with Robert Beatty at his book signing for Willa of the Wood!:
**It’s Time for a GIVEAWAY!!**
Many thanks to Mr. Beatty’s publicist, Scott Fowler for donating a generous Willa of the Wood prize pack for us to giveaway. This is a great prize someone is sure to love!
Included in the giveaway is:
A signed copy of the Willa of the Wood
**This giveaway is run through Rafflecopter and will run from today and end on Tuesday, 8/21 at midnight Eastern.
Due to shipping costs this giveaway will be US ONLY. Once the winner is selected, they will be contacted and their address will only be used for this giveaway. Good Luck!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author: M.A. Bennett
Published: August 10, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.
But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…
I’m not sure what is going on with my summer reading! I don’t go searching out controversial fiction . . . in fact, I try to avoid it! But no, summer 2018, Kim unknowingly picks all the political fiction! How many times have I said that I don’t want politics, no matter how subtle, in my fiction. I just want to escape and immerse myself into another world and leave the problems of reality behind! If I wanted to be guilt tripped about my race or economic status, then I’d just turn on CNN!
S.T.A.G.S. started out great. I really liked it and I was whippin’ thru it fast! Sure, I rolled my eyes at some of the “woke” undertones, but I liked Greer, the protagonist, and was enjoying the story, so I kept going. Hey, authors are allowed to have opinions too! But then, I made the mistake of looking at the Acknowledgements, and it was all downhill from there. Someone who has to point out that she’s half Venetian, went to Oxford and the University of Venice, and got married on the Grand Canal, and then starts going after others for having privilege?? The hypocrisy makes all that condemnation, however subtle, ring very hollow. The sad thing is that I was really enjoying the story! I would have even finished it with mild annoyance with the pandering “diversity” talk . . . but the hypocrisy! It ruined it!
And I know, this review is based on my own opinions and political affiliation and my low threshold of annoyance. Someone else can read this book and think it’s awesome . . . I envy that person. But alas, I am not that mature nor patient. Hence, I must stay true to myself and I’ve given it 3 stars. May my next book be filled with innocent whimsy and light-heartedness!
P.S. She specialized in using Shakespeare’s plays as a historical source . . . My heart just died, and not in a good way!
Author: Frances Hardinge
Published: May 10, 2012
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3.5 stars
In Caverna, lies are an art — and everyone’s an artist…
In the underground city of Caverna the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare. They create wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned. Only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear — at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell’s emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed…
I have had this book on my shelf for a while. I bought it on BookOutlet for a great price and the synopsis sounded really good! But, y’all know I’m a pretty ADD reader and I got distracted so I only just now picked it up and read it. And I wish I could say that I loved it . . . and I did strongly like the last half, but that’s about it. It was just really slow in the beginning.
Thankfully, the mystery of Neverfell’s identity was firmly established from the beginning and it was that that kept me reading. What I thought would fascinate me most, a group of people who have no facial expressions and must be taught expressions only by facesmiths, actually got really old, really fast. For some reason, it just didn’t capture my imagination like I thought it was going to.
Once Neverfell got involved in the politics and elite of Caverna, things started to finally get interesting. I liked how little mysteries kept creeping in to try to distract from the main story and throw you off. I found the Grand Steward to be the most fascinating character of all! Because he has lived so long, he has trained his body to sleep only one half at a time . . . as in his left side is awake while his right side sleeps. And both sides have different personalities!! I will admit that he saved the story for me. Once the Grand Steward entered, I was good to finish the book. Had it been half the length it was, I think I would have liked it a lot better. Overall, I would say that this book is worth reading once, but I’ll probably never come back to it. It’s also safe for younger teens, at least the detail-oriented ones! I can’t say that I would recommend this to all teens, but you could definitely do a lot worse!