Thursday, July 27, 2017

Children's Review: The List

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

The category of dystopian books is pretty well saturated at this point. We have our classics, our pop-culture phenomenons, and it can be hard to find something original in the mix. To me, The List is a stand-out, a unique spin on dystopian society and a middle grade book that I'll certainly be recommending to readers this year.

The List is set in a dystopian future, one in which climate change led to an event called the Melting, when polar ice caps plunged into the sea, creating floods, havoc, and few survivors. Letta lives in the city of Ark, a haven from the pollution and chaos that rules the outside world, founded and preserved by the city's leader, John Noa. Letta is an apprentice to the city's wordsmith, a man who collects the words of Ark and carefully controls The List. 

The List features 500 words, the only words that citizens of Ark are permitted to speak. Noa claims that language -- flowery, persuasive -- was the catalyst to the downfall of man. In the former world, while climate change raged out of control, politicians used language to calm the people, stopping them from taking action and dooming all mankind to a bleak future. Noa believes that language should be used for basic function only, so citizens are forbade from using words that are not on The List, and those who do so are cast from society.

Letta, being the wordsmith's apprentice, has access to all of the words, not just the ones on The List. She's a devout follower of Noa, but she can't help loving language, real language, as it was used before. One day, Letta's master goes missing, and Letta is promoted to the position of wordsmith. Soon after, a boy stumbles into Letta's shop and on impulse, she hides him. She discovers that the boy is from outside Ark, that he is known as a Desecrator, a threat to her beloved community, but she cares for him anyways. It is then that the fa├žade of Ark begins to unravel, and Letta discovers some deeply disturbing information about Ark and the future of its citizens.

I thought that the world-building in this novel was outstanding, and when I finished I was hoping to discover that it would be a series. I'd happily follow Letta and her friends for another adventure, if that ever became the case. I think, too, that this book brought up a lot of great discussion points that are relevant to the state of our society now. Recommended for fans of The Mapmakers Trilogy and for readers fourth grade and up. 

This title will be released on August 8, 2017.

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5

Title: The List
Author: Patricia Forde
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2017
ISBN: 1492647969
Format: Ebook / Hardcover
Source: Net Galley / Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Review & Giveaway!

This title will be released on September 5, 2017.
Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

I'm starting to get nervous about the ratio of books that I've loved to the number of spots on my Top Ten list. There isn't a lot of room for more great books, but Girls Made of Snow and Glass has definitely earned a spot on that list, and you can expect to hear me talking about this one all year long. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my descent into obsession over the weekend. I read this book in less than twenty-four hours, and I'm not exaggerating when I say my heart was pounding hard for the last thirty pages. If you think that a YA fantasy might not be for you, let me beg you to reconsider. While this won't be winning prizes for masterful prose, Girls Made of Snow and Glass was a story that had me completely captivated.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass has been marketed as a feminist fractured fairytale, and that is such an apt way to capture this fantastic retelling of the Snow White fairytale. This fairytale is untraditional in many ways, but what I loved most was how Melissa Bashardoust took the original elements of the Snow White tale and created this completely new story. 

In this, the story alternates between the perspectives of Mina, the queen, and Lynet, her stepdaughter. Mina's perspective is told from the present, but also includes flashbacks to the time before she became queen. In those flashbacks, Mina is the daughter of a feared magician, who once removed her heart and replaced it with one made of glass. When Mina catches the eye of the king and becomes queen, she hopes desperately to find the one thing that she believes she can't have: genuine love. In the present narrative, Lynet is sixteen when she finds out that she isn't her father's child at all, but was created out of snow and made in the late queen's image.

Lynet's father is obsessed with Lynet -- he hopes for her to not only look like her mother but also to emulate her in all her delicate ways, but Lynet would rather be like Mina, whom she sees as fierce and bold. When the king decides that it's time for Lynet to take the throne, the royal family's fragile dynamic shatters. The relationship between Mina and Lynet -- and the ways in which they contrasted and mirrored each other -- was such a new way to approach the relationship between these two classic characters. Bashardoust was so creative in the way in which she created an entirely new villain and I loved how the setting was a character in itself.

Highly recommended for readers who love fairytales, this has classic elements, but rather than working within the strictly traditional boundaries, Bashardoust brings something entirely new. For fans of Disney movies and kick-ass heroines. All I can say is, I wish this were going to be a series, and it's given me new motivation to seek out more YA fantasy novels this year.

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5
Click here to pre-order a copy of your own on Amazon!


Thank you  to Flatiron Books for generously offering to partner with me in a giveaway for readers of Top Shelf Text!

FIVE lucky winners will be able to read advanced copies of this book before it's released in September!

Giveaway Rules:

Head to my Instagram and click on the same picture as the one in this post.

To earn ONE entry:

Make sure you're following @topshelftext and @flatiron_books.

Like the photo and leave a comment telling me your favorite fairy tale and tag two friends who might be interested.

U.S. applicants only.

To earn ONE BONUS entry:

Repost the photo in your Instagram stories and tag @topshelftext.

Giveaway open through Friday, July 28th.

Good luck!