Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci

Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Series: Tin Star #2
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.

After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star CafĂ© on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it's discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula's worst enemy.

My Review:

First off, I would love to say thank you to Raincoast Books for allowing me to take part in this blog tour, this is such an amazing story and I am glad to be able to help spread the word about it.

When I read Tin Star last year, I did not expect what I got out of the story, it was such an amazing story with a character that will touch your heart and she prevails through so much. Stone in the Sky is the continuation of Tula's story. Tula is even more set on revenge for Brother Blue after her escape the second time around. I am really happy that Cecil has continued this story, because there is so much more to Tula and after the strength she gained in the first book, she still has a lot of issues to deal with in this book.

When Brother Blue comes back to Yertina Feray, events change quickly and Tula has to run until she can fight back and take Brother Blue down for good. The first thing Tula has to do is deal with some of the things that she did to survive in the last book. There are many friends that she is grieving, and others she hopes will find their way back to her (though some have a different opinion of her because of the way she forced them out). In many ways, Tula is still trying to do everything for herself, though as she continues on her journey she meets many new people as well as seeing some old faces, and she tries to recruit them and have them understand that they have been lied to for years.

Cecil gets in some action in this story, as things come to a head even more, Tula is absolutely devoted to saving her new home, Yertina Feray. What is amazing is that even though Tula is determined to bring down Brother Blue she also has such a big heart that she becomes determined to help the others she comes in contact with and keep them from harm. I absolutely love Tula and the strength she shows as she grows throughout the series. Even though Tula seems to be strong she still shows that she is scared of things and she doesn't always know how to get out of a situation.

Tula has a lot of amazing friends that help her through and I love how the secondary characters really affect how Tula grows. This series is a truly gripping story that will keep readers on the edge as they watch the fight between Tula and Brother Blue unfold. Castellucci has created an intriguing world with a lot of political issues, and the fact that it takes place in space and there is so much travel really draws readers in. I highly recommend these books, Castellucci's writing will put a spell on any reader and she draws you right into the story to the point where you never want to leave this world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: September 23, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

An enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany—a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible.

Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt, feud-plagued Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.”

Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary—and to some, blasphemous—method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the “darkest art.”

As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. As outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, who saved him from poverty after his mother died; and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery.

Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history . . . and irrevocably transform them.

My Review:

Being a fan of the written word, a book like this is one that needs to be a part of my library. It's great to read a book that is about such a momentous time in history for literature. This book takes place over quite a few years as the birth of printing comes to pass in Germany. This is definitely a long book that I feel readers really need to invest their time to get through because a lot happens, and there is a lot of detail to the history. Christie really knows how to go into intense detail and really bring history to life with this story.

Peter Schoeffer is forced into taking an appprenticeship with Gutenberg as he is on the verge of a new discovery, the printing press. The entire story is told from Peter's perspective as he learns this new art and is taken away from being a scribe, and yet he is moving forward with the times. Peter learns more about Gutenberg and begins to gain a lot of respect for him, he sees the dedication Gutenberg has towards this project and how much he will give up to see it come to fruition.

This book has a little bit of everything to it, there is love but there is also war amongst the group that are trying to make history. The catholic church threatens Gutenberg's work and tries their hardest to stop the venture of making copies of the Holy Bible. Peter is torn between two people, each with a different vision for him, there is his newest mentor, Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to do his own thing and Fust, the one who helped raise him after his mother passed away. These two father figures pull Peter in two directions, not sure of where he should take his life.

I love the fight Peter puts up, at first he doesn't want to be a part of this historic movement, but when he begins to see how great the project is, he wants to devote his life to making this come to. I did have some difficulties getting through at times because to me it felt a bit dry at times. Christie goes into great detail about the time period and really makes readers feel as if they are there, and yet I felt like Christie took a great amount of the story to describe the printing press.

What made this book for me is how the story of this book is still relevant and will always be relevant. There are always going to be people who don't want to grow along with the times and this book takes that into consideration. You can see how people are going to fight against change and the difficulties that arise because of these fights. Honestly, as much as I had difficulties, I believe this is a perfect book for anyone who is a fan of reading, this is history, and you honestly get to feel that you are a part of this history.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 7, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a nightmare accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to recognizing her own sisters to imagining colors. One of seven children, Emma used to be the invisible kid, but now it seems everyone is watching her. And just as she's about to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide. Fifteen and blind, Emma has to untangle what happened and why - in order to see for herself what makes life worth living.

Unflinching in its portrayal of Emma's darkest days, yet full of hope and humor, Rachel DeWoskin's brilliant Blind is one of those rare books that utterly absorbs the listener into the life and experience
of another.

My Review:

The synopsis of this story had me a little interested, but sadly I don't think that this book lived up to my expectations. I really thought this book was going to be a lot about learning how to change your life after being blinded and the hardships that come along with it. And yes, this story definitely did add in those elements, but there was a lot more to Emma's story that I felt took away from what I was expecting.

This story takes place a year after Emma has an accident that leaves her completely blind, and she is now acclimating herself back into a normal school. It has been a year since she has seen many of these people and she has to get used to being at her old school and being around these people that she doesn't know anymore. Something happens at the very beginning of the book that makes Emma take a look at her life and she sees that things could possibly be worse. This story has a lot of hope to it, Emma really tries to bring people together so that they can talk through things with one another. I love the idea of bringing a group of friends together to talk through problems, she wants everyone to be in a place of no judgement where they can feel free to say what they want.

What I didn't like was how long it took to get to Emma's story, you don't really find out what exactly happens to her until a little later on. I was thinking that this was going to be more of a story of her right after the accident but it is later on, and she is still dealing with her problems but we only really see her most difficult times in flashbacks, I think I just wanted more of Emma's struggles (yes she still has a lot of struggles trying to acclimate herself to regular society). Emma was very focused on her self and it really came out, her actions made her seem very immature. In the beginning readers see Emma focused on what her crush will think of her and things like that, I wanted to see a bit more of her struggles (those come a little later on).

Honestly, there was a lot of good things about this book, it is very realistic and brings the readers into the experience of another person, listening to their voice, but I think this just didn't get everything in that would make this book as good as it could have been. I am glad I stuck with the story and kept reading because DeWoskin does get into more important things, it just takes some time.
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