Review: Carry On

exclusive-heres-the-cover-of-rainbow-rowells-new--2-17017-1481733234-2_dblbigTitle: Carry On

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBTQUIA, Romance

Number of pages: 522

Time it took me to read:  5 Days

Book Trailer

Synopsis: Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Novel Review:

This was an exciting read that kept me on my toes throughout the entire story. Once I thought I knew some of the secrets the story would take an unexpected turn. I loved every minute of this read and this is definitely a story I would return to for years to come.

The story of this books builds off of the fictional world Rainbow Rowell created in FanGirl. While this book can be a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading FanGirl first to build your love for these characters. This read was fast-paced from the get-go and I am not sure if it is because I was already in love with Simon and Baz and needed more of there world or because of the great world Rainbow has created.

The love story… Oh, the love story clenched at my heartstrings every time I opened the book. Having read FanGirl, it was clear where the book was headed and I loved everything about it. Rainbow makes the reader work for this one though. There are several love interests for Simon that leaves the reader doubting themselves. Carry On proved that everyone deserves love and that you should stop before judging some as unloveable.

There was just enough magic in the story to quench my fantasy thirst and using the power of words as spells is genius. I have seen many reviews state that this is a Harry Potter rip off. This is NOT TRUE. Yes, there is the whole chosen child, loss of parents, and learning about magic after living in the mundane world thing. However, Rainbow does her own take on this. Look, there have been orphans in stories since forever (Cinderella, Peter Pan, Mowgli, etc.) and Rainbow brings in a new style and gives us the story from several points of view.

I promise once you get over your HP hangup this story is really worth reading. 

Rainbow Rowell is an amazing writer, with the ability to capture the essence of authentic characters in her writing. I highly recommend this book to anyone. Even if you not into romance or contemporary fiction, give this read a try!

My rating:

5

Find out more about the book and Rainbow Rowell here

Follow Rainbow Rowell on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Short Story Saturday: “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street”

51oXob+cRmLTitle: “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street”

Author: Kevin Hearne

Genre: Short Story, Fantasy, Fiction

Number of pages: 34 pages

Time it took me to read:  1 Day

Synopsis:

The ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan gets more than greasy corn dogs and flat soda when he visits a carnival in Kansas to which his apprentice, Granuaile, drags him. He runs across a barker with a strange power over the crowd: attractive women leave their men and disappear into an unmarked tent, never to be seen again, and the men wander away, forgetting that they ever had girlfriends or wives. When Granuaile falls under the barker’s influence and enters the tent, Atticus isn’t about to forget it and move on. He and his Irish wolfhound, Oberon, pursue her and discover the horrifying secret to the carnival’s success.

Short Story Review:

I am going to start with two short tidbits of information:

First, while this short story is sold separately it is part of a larger anthology, CarniePunk, that comes highly recommended. I will be linking reviews to the anthology with the VisualEditor_-_Icon_-_Tag-big.svg tag #CarniePunk. Keep an eye out for future reviews.

Second, I was struggling to get the last of my summer school students through their needed credits so I used this short story in the place of a longer novel. So this is a twofer review. I am going to put in my own review and then report how my high schoolers responded to the book.

My Review

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Group dinner  Kevin & Tacos!!

I have been reading Kevin Hearne’s since 2012. His first series is called The Iron Druid Chronicles and this short story is part of that series.  I have attempted to write reviews for this series but I love them so much that I am not sure how I would handle my audience rejection of them. I think I have evolved as a reader and blogger at this point in my life and I am ready to share.

 

Let’s start with the main character, Atticus O’Sullivan, who is the last living druid.  Atticus along with his apprentice Granuaile MacTiernan and his loyal Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, are visiting Granuaile’s hometown to check in on her mother who thinks she is dead. They come across some pretty shady things happening at the freaks tent and proceed to try and defeat some demons, imps, and ghouls and hopefully save some human life at the same time.

I may be a little biased here because I love everything Kevin writes. This short was no exception. The characters come to life and his storytelling captivates his readers from the get-go. I am not including a review of the audio recording because I am a devoted Luke Daniel’s fan and in my view, no one can be the voice of Atticus or Oberon but Luke Daniels. Since this short was part of an anthology of various authors I assume this is why they went with a different voice actor. Thus, my review would not be a fair one. I do have to say that my students did like his reading though.

Students Review

My students loved this read! I did have to do a bit of explaining about druids, magic, and some already established norms of series. One area they got a little hung up on was the idea of elementals as begins of the earth, but that didn’t last long with the humor of Kevin’s writing and their love of Oberon.  There were laughs and lots of after class discussion as we stopped ready in the middle because class had ended.

hghghHere are some drawings and words from the kids:

“I liked the part where he says dogs make everything better…”  – Angela M.

“The demons are really clever when they try to disguise themselves in human skin”  – Esteban P.

“I like the fight scene and how the author writes because there is a lot of action and keeps me really interested. I normally jmkjhdon’t like to read. ” – Cesar Y

 

“I like how Granuaile stands up for herself and can kick butt. She is a strong woman who can kick butt. ”  -Celeste L

varv“Oberon is my favorite character! His love of sausage, poodles, & hunting made me laugh so much.”   – Daniel V

“I love the words ‘clueless crunchy guy’ to describe Atticus. What does that even mean?”  – Chris A

 

Overall, “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” was a success and I would definitely teach it again. The engagement level of my students proves its worth in the classroom. Thanks, Kevin!

 

My rating:

5

Find out more about the book and Kevin Hearne

Kevin is Hilarious on social media so I highly recommend you follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Like my review and want to begin reading some of Kevin Hearne’s work? I suggest you start with one of these below:

 

Iron#1

Book 1 – IDC

 

giant

Book 1 – new series

 

 

 

KTFB-cover-art-final

Coming Soon

Short Story Saturday: Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century

maxresdefault.jpgTitle: Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century  (Links to short story collection and the music)

Author: Joy Harjo

Genre: Short Story, Music, Poetry

Number of pages: 2 pages

Time it took me to read:  1 Day

Short Story Review:

When I first looked up this short story I was looking for diverse short stories from cultures that I was unfamiliar with. I found this short in a collection of Native American literature and was quite confused when all I could find in my research was the music video on Youtube. Joy Harjo is an author and accomplished musician. So I was pleased that I could also hear this short story with music.

This short is told through the narrator’s encounter with a taxi driver from Nigeria in New York. The taxi driver tells the story of his friend who is killed in a senseless murder one day and touches on the themes of loss, compassion, and forgiveness. What touched me the most with this read was how Harjo was able to connect each person’s longing for the home they left behind. I was brought to tears with the fact that one of them would never see their beloved homeland again. This is quite a feat considering the read is one 2 pages.

Overall, this was a touching piece brought to life by the music of the author and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a short piece that touches the heart.

My rating:

4

Find out more about the short story and Joy Harjo here

Follow Joy Harjo on Facebook and YouTube

Author Bio (from Reckonings):

Joy Harjo (Muscogee)
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Joy Harjo is a well-known poet, musician, writer, and performer. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. She has published several books, including She Had Some Horses, In Mad Love and War, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, A Map to the Next World, and How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems, from W. W. Norton. Her first children’s book, The Good Luck Cat, was published by Harcourt. She has also coedited an anthology of Native women’s writing, Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Native Women’s Writing of North America, and a book of poetic prose with photographs by Stephen Strom, Secrets from the Center of the World. She has received several awards for her writing, including the 2002 Beyond Margins Award from PEN, 2001 American Indian Festival of Words Author Award from the Tulsa City County Library, the 2000 Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers Award, 1997 New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. She is a member of the National Council on the Arts.

In addition to her writing, Harjo performs nationally and internationally as a tenor
saxophonist, both solo and with a band, Poetic Justice, for which she writes music. Her
first CD, Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century, was released by Silverwave Records in 1997. In 1998, the CD was honored by the First Americans in the Arts with the award for Outstanding Musical Achievement. In addition, she was awarded the 2003 –2004 Writer of the Year (Poetry) and the 2003–2004 Storyteller of the Year award by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. That same year, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. In 2005, she was presented the Writer of the Year Award (Film Script) by Native Writers’ Circle of the
Americas. Currently, she is teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles. When
she is not teaching and traveling, she lives in Honolulu.

Reckonings Synopsis

The fifteen Native women writers in Reckonings document transgenerational trauma, yet they also celebrate survival. Their stories are vital testaments of our times. Unlike most anthologies that present a single story from many writers, this volume offers a sampling of two to three stories by a select number of both famous and lesser known Native women writers in what is now the United States. Here you will find much-loved stories, many made easily accessible for the first time, and vibrant new stories by well-known contemporary Native American writers as well as fresh emergent voices. These stories share an understanding of Native women’s lives in their various modes of loss and struggle, resistance and acceptance, and rage and compassion, ultimately highlighting the individual and collective will to endure against all odds.