Friday, October 21, 2016

Fantastic Beasts Five Film Deal, Bookseller Wisdom, The Violets of March by Sarah Jio, The Black Key by Amy Ewing, Glee, the Beginning by Sophia Lowell and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

As a big fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, I'm thrilled that there are more to come, at least in movies. After viewing the trailer for Fantastic Beasts, I can hardly wait for next month so I can drive to the Chalet movie theater in Enumclaw and dive back into the magical world created by the brilliant JK Rowling!

Movies: Fantastic Beasts to Be Five-Film Franchise

Last week, J.K. Rowling confirmed "that the magic will continue for
several more years," Indiewire reported. During a special fan event in
London featuring the author, director David Yates, producer David Heyman
and the cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Rowling said, "I'm pretty sure that there are going to be five movies,
now that I've been able to properly plot them out. We always knew that
there would be more than one."

Yates, who directed the first two Fantastic Beasts films and the last
four Harry Potter movies, said that the upcoming picture "will include a
cameo by a young Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grendelwald. He also
revealed that the sequel will not take place in New York, but rather in
another global capital city," Indiewire wrote.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in theaters
November 18, with the sequel set for November 16, 2018.
'11 Things Booksellers Would Like You To Know'

This is an awesome list, and one that I have read versions of before.

Sharing "11 things booksellers would like you to know
with Bustle readers, Maddy Foley of Volumes Bookcafe in Chicago offered "a PSA from your local peddler of the written word. Was that an annoying phrase? I'm sure it
was. Moving on.... Sure, it can get draining. Last week I had someone
very condescendingly ask if I'd ever heard of Dostoevsky (yes, duh), I
field plenty of comments from people shocked that a millennial knows how
to read, and re-shelving children's books post-storytime is a true
nightmare. But there is no other job like bookselling. Here's why we
love it (and, TBH, why we don't)."

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio is one of the most annoying kinds of book I find in the world of literature, genre fiction that isn't labeled as genre fiction for sales reasons. Violets of March is a straight-up romance novel packaged like general fiction or historical/literary fiction. I don't see why publishers and authors are so shy of being labeled genre authors, as especially with the romance genre, they've got the majority of readers firmly in the palms of their hands. Statistics from bookstores around the country will back me up on this. A majority of readers are women, and of those women, most of them read and buy romance fiction. While I am not a fan of bodice rippers or the like, I've read some romance fiction that I've enjoyed over the years, particularly by authors who have a firm grasp of good storytelling principles and fine prose without using the genre as an excuse to write porn or soft porn. That said, I wasn't really in the mood to read a romance novel when I picked up this book, because I was mislead by the cover blurbs about it being a novel about generations of family secrets on Bainbridge Island, Washington, the state where I currently reside. Emily the protagonist is described as being so gorgeous it hurts, and yet she's never able to be without a man in her life, not that she has to worry, with two guys chasing her around and trying to get into her pants within moments of her return to Bainbridge Island from NYC after her painful divorce. The cliches of romance continue to pile up from there, with everyone being ultra handsome or ultra beautiful, and yet Emily's impulsive grandmother throws away her happiness with the "only man she will ever love" by being a jealous, immature drama queen. I found the women's lack of independence exhausting, and their determination to keep secrets that would behoove no one, equally trying. Here's the blurb:
A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.
In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.
Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.
A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.
Sure, Jio's prose is decent, and her plot, though measured and easily plumbed (there's not much depth to plumb, really) doesn't drag. However, the characters are stereotypes and it's easy to figure out what actually happened to Emily's grandmother Esther by the time you're midway through the book. I'd give this novel a C+, and only recommend it to those who want to read an overwrought romance. 

The Black Key by Amy Ewing is the final book in the Lone City trilogy that began with The Jewel, and its sequel the White Rose. I was too anxious to find out what happened to wait through the 75 holds on this book at the library, so I begged my husband for a copy, which he bought, I think, just to keep me from imploding with impatience. Fortunately, The Black Key was worth the wait, and worth the price of buying a copy. Violet and Ash each take hold of their destinies in this book, and the revolution is on! Here's the blurb:
The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Lone City trilogy, which began with The Jewel, a book BCCB said "will have fans of Oliver's Delirium, Cass's The Selection, and DeStefano's Wither breathless."
For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived in service of the royalty of the Jewel. But now, the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power.
While Violet knows she is at the center of this rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it—for her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return not only to save Hazel, but the future of the Lone City.
Violet takes control of her powers in book two, and in this book she's helping other surrogates take control of their powers so that they can help stage the revolution against the wealthy and evil royalty. As readers we've come to understand that the powers of the girls are encoded into them as descendants of the original natives of the Island, who were enslaved by people who drove ships in from elsewhere and set themselves up as the ruling class/royalty.  I had hoped that all the main characters would survive, but unfortunately, (SPOILERS) Lucien, the wonderful lady in waiting who started working on the revolution years before, is beheaded, which only fuels the fires of revolution further. I was saddened that a number of the surrogates died, but at least Violet and her sister Hazel made it out alive. Everything is tied up nicely at the end, so I'd give this book an A, and recommend it to anyone who likes well written and inventive YA dystopian novels.

Glee, the Beginning by Sophia Lowell, was a book I found at the Dollar Store and was thrilled to read, due to my adoration of that wonderful, musical show that I still miss watching on my TV every week. It's a prequel to the show, so it has new material in it that delivers a solid story. Here's the blurb:
Calling all Gleeks! Get more of your favorite characters in this official Glee prequel!All great performances deserve a warm-up! Enroll early at McKinley High--before New Directions was even a glimmer in Mr. Schuester's eye. When did Rachel first decide Finn was more than just a jock? When did Puck and Quinn start their secret romance? And how did the fledgling Glee Club function without a fearless leader? Hint: It wasn't exactly a perfect melody. Break out the gold stars and refill the slushies: It's time to find out what happened to all your favorite characters before the show-mance began.
This is one of those books that is something of a palate-cleanser, when you've read a big, complicated novel and just need something light to occupy your brain for awhile. That said, it was surprisingly well written, and the characters were perfectly outlined for the first episode of the TV show. Obviously this book was written before the untimely death of Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson, the handsome and kindly quarterback of fabled McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. This makes the seeds of his romance with Rachel Berry and his involvement in the Glee Club all the more bittersweet. Though I didn't pay much for it, this book was worth more than most of the hardbacks I've paid full price for of late. I'd give it an A, and recommend it to all the heavy-hearted Gleeks out there who miss Cory and the show itself, and who, like me, were singing in choir and doing drama and being harassed as an outcast in their high school. 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo is the final book in the Six of Crows duology. Though I'd been looking forward to the sequel to Six of Crows, especially after reading Bardugo's Grisha books, I was surprised that Crooked Kingdom starts out very slowly, almost arthritically, so that those of us who were looking for answers to the questions from the first book can get frustrated by wading through the first few chapters. Fortunately, things pick up after the first 100 pages, and from then on, it's the usual intricate and wild ride as the Barrel gang gets their groove on and gets justice for the good guys while decimating the bad guys. Here's the blurb:  
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world. 
Kirkus Reviews: This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative. 
Spoiler alert, I was so sad that Matthias died and left Nina grieving, yet somehow, it seemed fitting that one of them must fall in this all out battle for the grungy part of town. Kaz obviously loved Inej, and though I expected the two of them to finally hook up, I was surprised by their ending, and gratified that Inej wants Kaz to help her rid their world of slavery, sexual and otherwise. Other than the slow beginning, my one quibble with this book was the open-ended vow of Pekka Rollins to make a comeback and get the underworld back from Kaz and company. I wanted to see a definitive end to him and his creepy flashy cruelty. At any rate, this tome deserves an A, and I'd recommend it to anyone who has read Six of Crows and all of the previous Grisha books.

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