Unmissable Weekly: July 23, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before 02 via

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the Bank of England has unveiled a new banknote featuring the beloved author.

The Telegraph notes that Austen “will be the only woman – apart from the Queen – to be featured on an English bank note, following the withdrawal of the old £5 notes, which featured Elizabeth Fry, in May.” (The five-pound note now features Winston Churchill.)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single Austenite in possession of a good fortune must also be in want of an Austen tenner.

*********

X-Men: Apocalypse actress Lana Condor has signed on to star in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before alongside John Corbett. The film, based on the novel by Jenny Han, is being directed by Susan Johnson and was written by Sofia Alvarez. Production on the film, which is also being produced by Awesomeness and Overbrook Entertainment, has begun in Vancouver.

Ladies and gentlemen, Lana Condor is your Lara Jean!

*********

“It’s been a real joy to move into writing for young readers, especially as my royalties from this project go to Room to Read, a nonprofit working in literacy and girls’ education across communities in Asia and Africa. The Lotterys series has raised more than $100,000 so far.”

Emma Donoghue is my Hero of the Week!

*********

A campaign to promote Northern Ireland to Game of Thrones fans isn’t settling for guided tours and tacky souvenirs. Tourism Ireland has debuted its latest Game of Thrones tribute: a giant woven tapestry that highlights every episode in the series in meticulous detail. And with every new episode, the tapestry will grow… reaching 250 feet in length by the end of the show.

Wow. I mean. WOW.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Unmissable Weekly: July 16, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

A WRINKLE IN TIME via

Chaos Walking, starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, is set to hit theaters March 1, 2019.

Doug Liman is directing the post-apocalyptic thriller, an adaptation of the best-selling YA novel by Patrick Ness, for Lionsgate.

The film adaptation of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking gets a release date!

*********

HBO has optioned sci-fi fantasy novel Who Fears Death to develop as a series, with George R.R. Martin attached to executive produce, according to the book’s author Nnedi Okorafo.

It appears HBO is gearing up for its next huge fantasy series. Congratulations Nnedi Okorafo! This sounds really interesting and timely.

*********

“Have a wander through the sci-fi and fantasy section of your local bookstore: How many of these books’ authors are female? Yet these are where the big movie ideas come from.” Well, actually, quite a lot of the authors are female (and many of them already have sold the film/TV rights to their books). Fiction from J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Diana Gabaldon (Outlander) has inspired some of the most popular film and television of recent years, but there are countless others who fly slightly more under the radar just waiting for their stories to become the next big thing. Here are 27 female authors who rule sci-fi and fantasy right now.

Shocker.

*********

Two key elements convinced DuVernay that Wrinkle, with its script by Oscar winner Jennifer Lee (Frozen), was worth investigating when Disney proposed the idea. “The first image [I had in my head] was to place a brown girl in that role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I’d never seen a girl of color in,” she explains. “All of those scenes struck my fancy, and then it was also something that [Disney VP of production] Tendo Nagenda said to me, which I’ll never forget. One of the things that really made me want to read it was when he said, ‘Ava, imagine what you would do with the worlds.’ Worlds! ‘Planets no one’s ever seen or heard of,’ he said. There aren’t any other black women who have been invited to imagine what other planets in the universe might look and feel like. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with.”

EW shared an exclusive first look at Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time! The film is set to hit theaters March 9, 2018.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Unmissable Weekly: July 9, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

The Lightning Thief 01via

Percy Jackson has fought all manners of monsters, but his latest adventure sees him adapted for the stage in The Lightning Thief, a musical based on (and named for) the first book in author Rick Riordan’s best-selling series. Now EW has your exclusive first listen to the full cast album, which will be going on sale July 7.

“The gods are real. Like the Greek gods. Like the ones you learned about but weren’t paying attention to. Well, they don’t pay attention to you, either, especially if you’re their kid.” This is transporting me back to 2013, that September I got OBSESSED with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series!

*********

As publishers, we connect your story with readers everywhere.

We want books to reflect everyone in our society, and to publish the stories which aren’t often told.

That’s why through WriteNow we want to find, mentor and publish new writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves. This includes writers from BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) or LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) communities, writers who have a disability, or come from a socio-economically marginalised background.

Get published. Write NOW. (Props to Penguin Random House UK for this programme!)

*********

An unpublished picture book by Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, has been found hidden deep in his archives, five years after his death – somewhat like a little boy lost in the jungle after being sent to his room with no supper.

The new book will be published in autumn 2018, a posthumous release for an author regarded as one of the most influential picture-book creators of the last 50 years.

And Maurice Sendak joins the ranks of children’s authors with a book discovered posthumously in a drawer.

*********

The final two seasons of Game of Thrones are set to be shorter than previous installments of the series—down from the usual 10 episodes to 7 for the seventh season, and 6 for the eighth. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll necessarily be getting any less of the show. We already know that three of Season 7’s episodes run longer than an hour, and at this weekend’s Con of Thrones, sound designer Paula Fairfield told the crowd that the Powers That Be might make all six episodes of Season 8 feature-length.

It seems we are getting a full season’s worth of Game of Thrones for both seasons 7 and 8, after all.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

REVIEW: Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Title: Serafina and the Twisted Staff
Author: Robert Beatty
Format: ARC, 370 pages
Publication: July 12th 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher (thank you Sharon Keefauver and Disney Hyperion!)
Genre: Fiction—Fantasy, Gothic, Historical, Mystery
Other classifications: Middle Grade

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

Serafina’s defeat of the Man in the Black Cloak has brought her out of the shadows and into the daylight realm of her home, Biltmore Estate. Every night she visits her mother in the forest, eager to learn the ways of the catamount. But Serafina finds herself caught between her two worlds: she’s too wild for Biltmore’s beautifully dressed ladies and formal customs, and too human to fully join her kin.

Late one night, Serafina encounters a strange and terrifying figure in the forest, and is attacked by the vicious wolfhounds that seem to be under his control. Even worse, she’s convinced that the stranger was not alone, that he has sent his accomplice into Biltmore in disguise.

Someone is wreaking havoc at the estate. A mysterious series of attacks test Serafina’s role as Biltmore’s protector, culminating in a tragedy that tears Serafina’s best friend and only ally, Braeden Vanderbilt, from her side. Heartbroken, she flees.

Deep in the forest, Serafina comes face-to-face with the evil infecting Biltmore—and discovers its reach is far greater than she’d ever imagined. All the humans and creatures of the Blue Ridge Mountains are in terrible danger. For Serafina to defeat this new evil before it engulfs her beloved home, she must search deep inside herself and embrace the destiny that has always awaited her.

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

NOTE: This review contains spoilers for Serafina and the Black Cloak.

Compellingly readable and exceedingly satisfying, Serafina and the Twisted Staff is a delightful sequel to its predecessor.

The novel picks up three weeks after the events in The Black Cloak. Serafina’s existence is now known to the folks of Biltmore Estate. Her pa is teaching her table etiquette and her momma the ways of the catamount. But the arrival of a mysterious evil force threatens Serafina’s newly found peace in her home. A near-fatal encounter in the forest. A series of puzzling attacks in Biltmore. Two strangers. One returning character. She can’t join her momma and half-siblings because she’s too human to survive in the wilds and she can’t possibly stay in the estate after a tragic accident that separates her from her only ally and friend, Braeden Vanderbilt. But she’s Serafina, Chief Rat Catcher of Biltmore Estate and Guardian of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and she’s ready to fight for her home and the humans and creatures in it. There’s quite a lot to unpack from Serafina and the Twisted Staff. For one, there’s a distinct growth in characters, themes and storytelling as the author further examines friendship, family, self-discovery, bravery and what these all mean to twelve-year-old Serafina. For another, it’s a 370 pages of running and plotting and fighting for and against animals.

“The wolves of the pack stuck together. They fought together. That’s what a family was. That’s what it meant to be kin. You didn’t give up on that.”

I command Beatty for managing to write a fast-paced, action-packed narrative while at the same time have his heroine’s different relationships with other characters be a central and overt part of the book. The mother and daughter bond is fleshed out more in the little airtime they get together. Serafina’s friendship with Braeden flourishes but also hits a roadblock. The author introduces a cast of new characters, three of whom Serafina befriends. There’s Lady Rowena Fox-Pemberton, visiting and staying in the estate indefinitely, and Essie Walker, a servant to the Vanderbilts. The former is obviously a foil to Serafina, with her snooty English conduct, and the latter is a nice, uncomplicated friendship that balances things out. And I like how the novel presents the reader with various faces of girl power through them: Serafina is fierce, loyal and will fight tooth and claw for those she loves; Lady Rowena is cunning, subverting conventional expectations time and again; and Essie is the quiet, modest kind. The third new friendship is with a feral boy, whom Serafina meets the night she is attacked by the strange bearded man and his wolfhounds in the forest, and whom I only wish we got to see more of.

“She wanted to belong. She wanted to belong more than anything.”

Another overarching themes in Serafina and the Twisted Staff are identity and sense of belongingness. Serafina’s constant struggle to bridge the gap between her two worlds and find who she is and who she can become is something readers will surely identify with, irrespective of age and gender. Although, it sometimes felt dangerously leaning towards YA territory in certain scenes (then again, I have an uncorrected copy). And you don’t need to know your history to appreciate Biltmore Estate and its lavish rooms. The author does incredibly well in setting up the scenery with expansive brush strokes, grounding it in historical accuracy but also taking artistic license here and there. Just as capable he is in pulling off the turn of events leading up to the reveal. I was utterly fooled.

“As she tried to envision her future, she realized there were many paths, many different ways to go, and part of growing up, part of living, was choosing which paths to follow.”

Immensely entertaining and positively imaginative, Serafina and the Twisted Staff is a win for middle grade fiction.

4.0 out of 5

Author

Robert Beatty 01

Robert Beatty lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives he was one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the CTO and chairman of Narrative magazine.

Twitter | Website

Have you read this one? Have I convinced you to check it out? Are you into MG? What are some of your recent MG reads? Or your favorite ones? Throw ’em recommendations to me!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Signature 02

Unmissable Weekly: July 2, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

Harry Potter 04via

Universal Pictures has won an auction for screen rights to The Cruel Prince, the new fantasy novel by The Spiderwick Chronicles author Holly Black. Michael De Luca will produce through his Michael De Luca Productions banner. The novel, which will be published in January by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, is the kick off to a fantasy novel series the author is calling Folk of the Air.

And this doesn’t even come out until January next year! Congratulations, Holly Black! You had me at Pan’s Labyrinth.

*********

A group of Planned Parenthood volunteers donning red cloaks and white bonnets gathered to protest Tuesday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The crowd was channeling “The Handmaid’s Tale” in opposition to the Senate’s proposed healthcare bill.

“It’s a healthcare bill with no health care.”

*********

The critically acclaimed and Falkner Award-winning novel explores the American Dream as experienced by Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant who came to the United States in the hope of providing a better life for his wife Neni and their six-year-old son. In 2007, Jende gets hired as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, while Neni gets a temporary job working for Clark’s wife Cindy at their summer home in the Hamptons. However, as the financial world deals with Lehman Brother’s collapse, both Jongas do everything in their power to keep Jende’s job, even at the cost of their own marriage.

Imbolo Mbue’s debut Behold the Dreamers is the new Oprah Book Club pick.

*********

Twenty years after Harry first ventured into the world with the initial publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we’re still wondering what the phenomenon has really meant for kids books and the publishing world at large, and where we would be without it. “Harry Potter” sparked a furor that seemed totally unprecedented in the world of children’s literature. The books themselves, though ― not much about them was totally unprecedented.

An extensive look on what J. K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series did for middle grade and young adult fiction.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Monthly Bookish Awesomeness: June 2017

In which I recap what went down in the last four weeks here and outside the blog.

Y’all, Bookworms Unite! is returning for its third year in July 16th! Woohoo! One of our lovely hosts, Inah @ The Bibliophile Confessions, shared the deets, with a handy Beginner’s Guide infographic for those of you who are going for the first time. (Because, clearly, I have to say the most virginy thing.)

June had been both slow and fleeting. I turned one month in my new job—working with adorable, brilliant kids is so rewarding! I feel more settled in the blog.  I’ve reconnected with the publishing, no longer unaware of new releases and forthcoming titles. I saw Wonder Woman. And I spent a ridiculous amount of time on Froy’s Instagram one lazy morning.

Books I Read

The Serpent King 01Serafina and the Black Cloak 01Duplicity

Other Stuff I Posted

Book Birthdays

Here Lies Daniel Tate 01   Bad Romance 01   Our Dark Duet 01   The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue 01

Happy book birthday to Here Lies Daniel Tate (Simon & Schuster), Bad Romance (Henry Colt & Co. BFYR), Our Dark Duet (Greenwillow Books), You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir (Little, Brown and Company), and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Katherine Tegen Books), which all found a place in the shelves this month!

Book Radar

Serafina and the Splintered Heart 01   The Art of Starving 01   Because You Love to Hate Me 01

New month. New books. Serafina and the Splintered Heart (4th, Disney Hyperion), The Art of Starving (11th, HarperTeen) (!!!), and Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy (11th, Bloomsbury USA Children’s) will all be out in the wild in July!

Gold Star

Pride 01
via

Rainbow everything! This month’s Gold Star goes to all things Pride.

Epic Reads’ 72 must-read YA books featuring gay protagonists 15 creatives on the meaning of pride (“for me ‘Pride’ embodies our defiance of those who seek to shame us”)  25 recent works that have shaped the L.G.B.T.Q. literary genre over the last two decades Caleb Roehrig on writing yourself • 10 swoonworthy YA quotesOn maybe deleting Grindr and joining a book clubFinding queer POC books

Around the Interwebs

What books did you acquire this month? Are there specific titles you’re most looking forward to in July? What was your last read? Any recent discovered gem(s) in the music or film department? Also, WILL I SEE YOU IN JULY 16TH? Grab your favorite cup and let’s talk!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

REVIEW: Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Serafina and the Black Cloak 01

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Publication: June 14th 2016 by Disney Hyperion (first published July 14th 2015)
Source: Publisher (thank you Sharon Keefauver and Disney Hyperion!)
Genre: Fiction—Fantasy, Gothic, Historical, Mystery
Other classifications: Middle Grade

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity . . . before all of the children vanish one by one.

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

In Serafina and the Black Cloak, Beatty blends together eerie imagery, an intriguing premise, and a spunky heroine.

Set in 1899 Asheville, North Carolina, the book centers on Serafina, Chief Rat Catcher (C.R.C.) of the Vanderbilts’ estate. Her pa worked on the construction of the great house and they have lived illicitly in its basement for as long as she can remember. She naps during the day and hunts at night—and that is not the only thing unusual about her—all the while avoiding any contact with the people upstairs. Then, one night, she witnesses a frightening man as his cloak appears to consume a girl. Suddenly, children in Biltmore Estate are vanishing and Serafina races to unveil the Man in the Black Cloak before it’s too late; she is the only one who has seen him in action, after all. But first, she needs to risk exposure and team up with the landowners’ orphan nephew, Braeden Vanderbilt. As the reader follows the two uncover the mystery of the disappearances and the man responsible for them, he also follows Serafina in her self-discovery.

“She didn’t want to go another step, but friends had to help friends. She didn’t know much about life, but she did know that, knew that for sure, and she wasn’t going to run away like a scared-out-of-her-wits squirrel just when somebody needed her most.”

It is not uncommon for middle grade novels to operate in good versus evil, in which the former always prevails. The first books of the Harry Potter series easily come to mind. But every now and then, we get stories like Serafina and the Black Cloak, where the line isn’t as clear-cut, where there is a vague sense of uncertainty even as the heroine thwarts the villain. This along with Serafina’s inner journey and coupled with strong messages on family, friendship, and bravery make for a satisfying, emotionally resonant read. It is also atmospheric with its descriptive prose and Gothic setting. The author utilizes the opulent backdrop of Biltmore Estate and its surrounding landscape very well.

“She was beginning to see how difficult it was to determine who was good and who was bad, who she could trust and who she had to watch out for. Every person was a hero in his own mind, fighting for what he thought was right, or just fighting to survive another day, but no one thought they were evil.”

I’m glad this generation of young readers has Serafina to look up to. She’s fierce and loyal as well as a stockpile of curiosity and conflicting temperaments. She longs to be a part of the world of the lavishly dressed masters and guests of Biltmore, though she knows she is too strange-looking to them. She is drawn to the forest, though she is aware of the dangers lurking in the trees. And it’s this inner struggle to belong, while at the same time searching for one’s identity, while trying to make sense of the world around you that is sure to connect with readers of all ages. And her friendship with Braeden—another loner like our MC—is just heartwarming.

“Our character isn’t defined by the battles we win or lose, but by the battles we dare to fight.”

Notwithstanding a bit of rough patches here and there, Serafina and the Black Cloak is a fast-paced, suspenseful debut. Definitely recommended for its target market (8 – 12 years old) but also for everyone who’s into this type of stories.

3.5 out of 5

Author

Robert Beatty 01
Robert Beatty lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives he was one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the CTO and chairman of Narrative magazine.

Twitter | Website

Have you read this one? Are you into MG? What are some of your favorite MG titles? Or, you know, your recent 5-star read? Come on, let’s talk!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Signature 02