Posted in Genre Bending, NetGalley, Short Stories, Plays, & Poems

Review: Wicked Wonders

Wicked Wonders
(Cover image via Goodreads)

Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: A mixture of heartbreaking magical melancholy, vintage nostalgia, and forlorn near-futurism.

I saw this in one of io9’s upcoming release posts, and the stories that were highlighted sounded interesting enough for me to add it to my to-read list. When I saw that NetGalley had a copy, I figured I’d give it a shot, even though I’m not really much of a short story person.

I’m very glad I had the opportunity to read this, though. While there were many stories that were just “okay” or that fell flat for me, the ones that I loved, I absolutely LOVED. Klages has a way with the zeitgeist and atmosphere of the 50s and 60s; even though I did not live through those decades, I felt immediately transported back to that time period. It made me appreciate even more the social conventions that the characters in some of these stories break, and it made the magical stories even more amazing. Klages’ brief Story Notes in the back were also highly enjoyable and they gave a more down-to-earth element to the stories.

Looking over my individual story ratings, I was most drawn to the magical realism stories–most of these reminded me, whether slightly or substantially, of Cat Valente’s Fairyland series. Her style is one of my absolute favorites right now, and I loved getting that vibe from another author, who explores the more day-to-day magical realism, rather than the epic questing type.

Here are some brief reviews and reflections on my favorite 5 & 4 stars stories.

5 stars

Singing on a Star: This one was amazing–it had the right amount of mysterious magical realism and honest to goodness creepiness. I got lots of The Shining vibes from this, and the mystery that it leaves open at the end lends itself to many different paths of analysis.

Echoes of Aurora: Beautifully melancholic, yet very sweet. It actually made me a bit guilty for liking autumn as much as I do.

Friday Night at St. Cecilia’s: This was a bit silly, but it was also amazing. It reminded me of Wonderland, but in a slightly more updated sense. Klages also somehow made it possible for Monopoly to seem creepy.

4 stars

The Education of a Witch: I could definitely relate to this one in a way. I love villains as much as I love the heroes of a story, and I’m always disappointed when their backstories aren’t elaborated upon. Klages highlights how the villain’s powers are appealing to a young girl, one who knows that these powers are wrong, but still doesn’t exactly understand that society doesn’t really approve of villain sympathy.

Hey, Presto!: Magic is something very difficult to write convincingly and have it come across as properly magical and creepy, rather than just fancy, pompous showing off. Perhaps it’s because this all took place behind the scenes, but this was incredibly well written, and came across with the aura that I love all my magic stories to have. Plus, a strong, snarky female lead who saves the day.

Caligo Lane: The immediate comparison I drew here was to Mr. Map, the character in the Fairyland novels. The same secluded map-making vibe permeates this story, and the addition of origami and the hopeful-yet-sad ending made it even more captivating. Franny is a captivating character, and I’d love to read more about her in Passing Strange.

Gone to the Library: The ending on this one seemed a bit abrupt, but the weaving of history and lit and math was lovely. The cameo by Grade Hopper was awesome, especially since the math story line revolved around the type of math I like (even if I don’t fully understand)–paradoxical, imaginary, mind-baffling stuff. The additional of mysticism and very strong Secret Garden vibes gave it a mysterious, slightly unsettling undertone.

3 stars:
Amicae Aeternum, Sponda the Suet Girl, & Woodsmoke

2 stars:
Mrs. Zeno’s Paradox, Goodnight Moons, Household Management, & The Scary Ham

I had never read any of Klages’ works before this, but I’m now definitely intrigued to read more of her works; the recent Passing Strange is now high on my to read list.

Again, I’m very glad I read this, and will be rereading a few of my favorite stories again soon–the aesthetic is memorably fantastic.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Posted in Comics & Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, NetGalley

Review: Suit Your Selfie

Suit Your Selfie: A Pearls Before Swine Collection
(Cover image via Goodreads)

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
NetGalley Rating: 3 stars

A decent collection of “Pearls Before Swine” comics. Although this is supposed to be tailored towards middle grade readers, the tone of the comics isn’t really any different than the standard daily strips. I did notice a few that were previously published in the dailies, so I’m not sure if these have all been printed elsewhere before, or if there are some new ones mixed in as well.

It is a fun collection to flip through if you like “Pearls,” but I honestly could not see myself buying a copy of this. I think I like more substantial collections when it comes to these types of comics.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Posted in Kids Lit, NetGalley

Review: A Bedtime Yarn

A Bedtime Yarn
(Cover image via Goodreads)

Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars

So. Sweet.

Frankie is afraid of falling asleep and dreaming, without a ball of yarn in his paws. His mother knits from the ball while he sleeps, dreaming up vivid dreams inspired by the color of the yarn that night. Although he wants to see what his mum is making, she won’t let him see it until he can sleep without the yarn. When Frankie finally feels he’s ready to sleep without the yarn, he wakes up to a big knitted surprise–a huge knitted blanket, encompassing all the colors of yarn Frankie has fallen asleep to!

This is a very sweet story for kids who are afraid of the dark, dreams, or generally insecure. It encourages them be brave and overcome their fear while encouraging an open dialogue between kids and parents about insecurities. While it may seem counter-intuitive to replace one comforting device with another, to me, this showed kids that they could still overcome a fear, while still finding comfort and safety in something, even though they now know the fear is nothing to fear any longer.

The artwork is also gorgeous and cute. I loved the rich jewel tones throughout.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Posted in Comics & Graphic Novels, Kids Lit, NetGalley

Review: Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt  (Narwhal and Jelly)
(Cover image via Goodreads)

Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars

Oh my goodness this is adorable. The color palette is rich yet simplistic, and the characters are very sweet. I was drawn to this series because I love narwhals. And why do I love narwhals? Because of Verne’s 20,000 Leagues. So imagine my delight when Narwhal said his relative’s name was Nautilus the Narwhal… *squee!* I also loved Narwhal’s secret identity, Clark Parker Wayne. *nerdy giggle*

Over all, a very fun story about friendship, having fun, and helping others to achieve their goals. Plus, there’s lots of mustaches and waffles, what could be better?

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Posted in Kids Lit, NetGalley

Review: Argyle Fox

Argyle Fox
(Cover image via Goodreads)

Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars

This is flipping adorable. The illustrations are amazing, and the lesson is one that encourages problem-solving and creativity. Really, you can’t go wrong with an adorable fox kit in an argyle sweater.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Posted in Non-Review Post

Salve!

One of three things I remember from high school Latin.

I’m starting this blog now that I have joined NetGalley, and many publishers seem to require one to have an actual blog, in addition to a Goodreads or Amazon account. So, here it is.

I will cross post reviews here and on Goodreads. All NetGalley reviews will go here, although I will not post all of my non-Galley reviews here, just a select few that are substantial.