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review 2017-01-04 14:09
The Darkest Part of the Forest
The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black

This was great fun! I loved the way Black plays with some of the more common tropes in YA.

To begin with, this is a standalone. That almost never happens in YA anymore and I appreciate that it's a whole story even though I do love the world building. Then it's also about faeries. I'm not one for faeries most of the time, but something had made me put this book on my wish list at the library and it was the first audiobook I had come to on the day I downloaded it to my app. I just figured past-me had decided it was going to be interesting and went with it. The audiobook is narrated by Lauren Fortgang.
The story predominantly surrounds Hazel and Ben and their decisions, but these characters don't exactly follow gender role while not residing completely on the opposing sides of the spectrum when it comes to their genders either. To be more specific, Hazel isn't girly, but she's still feminine and Ben is neither macho nor effeminate. Ben is also gay, which makes his standing in the middle of what is expected for a male character all the better for me. While I do understand that there are effeminate gay men, I feel like fiction would have you believe that it is the only way to be gay sometimes. Maybe it's just tv and movies, though since First Kisses and Other Misfortunes by Kimberly Karalius had the same dynamic with the gay characters being not strictly effeminate.
 Having Ben as a gay character, also allows Black to another fun thing. She combines some of the brother-sister struggles with some struggles that are typically reserved for sisters, like having a crush on or having romantic associations with the same boy. I don't know how true to life that is, but they tend to lean more on confused boys who aren't sure if they are also gay and those who aren't ready to be out right at the beginning. Ben is sure of himself, others are not, and this creates confusion and tension for our siblings as sometimes both have feelings for the boy. I hope that wasn't confusing but I don't want to give away any big reveals either.
I truly enjoyed reading a book about a brother and sister who actually like each other too. They aren't besties and definitely have their own separate personalities and preferences in life but they look out for each other. They care about each other. And they mess it up sometimes too but never getting so angsty and dramatic that it seems more like someone's ridiculous version of what teenagers are like. Families are complicated and this book does a great job with a brother-sister dynamic. There is some teenage drama but it's not all angst and ridiculousness like some books may want people to believe all teens are like. They're capable of assessing dangerous situations and making some adult decisions and dealing with consequences. They do have reason and accountability and are not completely ruled by hormones, just partially, sometimes.  They are gaining experience to deal with situations better but aren't complete idiots in the mean time.
There are other great things in the book, but I feel like those would spoil it. Suffice it to say that while many typically YA behaviors/tropes are present, I didn't feel like they were rooted in the same places that I've grown tired of them, like villain motivations. Everything is just similar enough to be familiar but then changed ever so slightly that I wasn't sure until it happened. The book's sole claim to diversity is the LGBT characters. I felt like it dealt well with the LGBT aspect of those characters, but I am completely aware that I could be wrong due to the fact that I am not LGBT nor do I know many people who are. If you disagree, share it and I can amend. I'd hate for misinformation to set people up for disappointment. Until then, great book! I loved what she did to all the characters and taking them outside my expectations!
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review 2015-02-17 17:32
The Darkest Part of the Forest
The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black

This really should be its own post, if post length were an indication of how much I love a book. After not quite loving The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (I know. I’m sorry.), I am happy to say that The Darkest Part of the Forest hit all the right notes for me. Siblings trying to save each other? Scary fairies? Fairy tale tropes being played with lovingly? Awesome characters? Yes to all of these things! I also appreciated that there’s diversity on several different fronts. But mostly I just loved Hazel and Jack and Ben and the horned prince. Lovely, lovely book.

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/recent-reading-black-bradshaw-echols-samatar
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review 2014-11-06 18:41
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales - Kelly Link,Gavin J. Grant

I was mostly excited about this one because of Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Wings in the Morning” (I wondered if it would work for people who have not been avidly following Turn of the Story, but I saw at least one review that said it did). And it was so satisfying and I grinned. This was overall a strong short story collection–not all of the stories worked equally well, but there were some really great ones (I liked Nalo Hopkinson’s and M.T. Anderson’s especially).

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/october-2014-round-up
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review 2014-10-21 11:25
Zauberlehrling wider Willen
Magisterium: Der Weg ins Labyrinth - Anne Brauner,Cassandra Clare,Holly Black

HINWEIS: Ich habe das Buch auf englisch gelesen, zum Zeitpunkt dieser Rezension war es auf deutsch noch nicht erschienen.

Die Grundidee kommt einem bekannt vor: ein kleiner Junge wird an einer magischen Schule angenommen, findet Freunde und Feinde und gerät mitten in einen epischen Konflikt zwischen den guten Magiern und den Anhängern eines Mannes, der sich "Feind des Todes" nennt.

Man sollte das Buch aber nicht vorschnell als Harry-Potter-Klon verschreien - das Einzigartige liegt hier im Detail, angefangen bei Callum Hunt, der eben *nicht* der Auserwählte ist und auch kein strahlender Held. Die beiden Autorinnen spielen mit den Erwartungen des Lesers und stellen sie immer wieder augenzwinkernd auf den Kopf.

Im Mittelpunkt der Geschichte steht natürlich Callum, dem sein Vater eine tiefsitzende Angst vor Magie eingetrichtert hat, der aber schnell (und widerwillig) feststellt, dass er Magie trotzdem unheimlich *cool* findet. Er bringt sich immer wieder in Schwierigkeiten, weil er einfach nicht die Klappe halten kann, und da ist es gut, dass er schnell zwei loyale Freunde findet: Aaron, der scheinbar einfach alles kann und deswegen viel eher in die Rolle des Helden passt, und Tamara, deren Familie Großes von ihr erwartet und sie dabei gar nicht wirklich als eigenständige Person sieht. Zusammen sind die drei ein ähnlich sympathisches Trio wie Harry, Hermione und Ron - und dabei doch ganz anders.

Das Buch bietet viel Zauber und Magie und jede Menge Spannung, bleibt dabei aber immer kindgerecht. Das Buch wird für Kinder im Alter zwischen 10 und 12 empfohlen, und meiner Meinung nach kann man es junge Leser auch wirklich bedenkenlos lesen lassen. Allerdings fand ich das Buch auch als erwachsene Leseratte sehr unterhaltsam!

Den Autorinnen ist es gut gelungen, die Kapitel zwar abwechselnd zu schreiben, ihren Schreibstil aber nahtlos ineinander übergehen zu lassen. Sie erzählen beide voller Wortwitz und voll liebevoller Details, die das Buch zu einem richtigen Lesevergnügen machen. Seit Harry Potter hat mich kaum ein Kinder-Fantasybuch so begeistert! Ich freue mich schon richtig auf Band 2, der aber leider erst im September 2015 erscheinen soll...

Die wunderbare Geschichte eines widerwilligen jungen Magiers, die bezaubernd, spannend und witzig unterhält, und die ich sowohl Kindern als auch Erwachsenen empfehlen würde. Besonders Fans von Harry Potter sollten mal reinlesen, denn das Buch bietet meiner Meinung nach eine ähnliche Atmosphäre und einen vergleichbaren Schreibstil, ist dabei aber kein Abklatsch sondern etwas ganz Eigenes.

Source: mikkaliest.blogspot.de/2014/10/magisterium-der-weg-ins-labyrinth-von.html
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url 2014-09-30 21:48
The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
The Iron Trial - Cassandra Clare,Holly Black

The Iron Trial, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, is a book that I found myself somewhat surprised and delighted by. On the surface, it looks quite a bit like the standard Young Hero Learns Magic and Finds Friendship and Enemies story. But it’s doing some interesting things with that story, in ways I wasn’t expecting.


The story starts off with one of those differences. Unlike most young heroes, Callum Hunt knows about magic and the existence of the mage’s school, the Magisterium. And he doesn’t want to go. His father has taught him that magic is dangerous, that the mages are cruel, using their students for experiments and not caring about their safety. But Callum has to go to the Iron Trials anyway, so he goes intending to make sure he doesn’t get in.


That doesn’t work so well, and he ends up chosen by Master Rufus, along with two other students, Aaron and Tamara. They quickly form a threesome, the first friends that Callum has ever had. I found this friendship to be really the heart of the book–the way the three interacted, sometimes warmly and sometimes slightly at odds, was nice. And I appreciated the way they stood up for each other in various ways.


I also appreciated that Black and Clare have clearly made an effort to include diverse characters. Callum himself is disabled–his leg was shattered as a baby and he is permanently affected by this. There are students from several other minorities, including Tamara. I can’t speak to the accuracy or respectfulness of any of these portrayals, but it is refreshing to see a fantasy world that doesn’t default to white able-bodied kids. In fact, even Aaron who is sometimes set up as the stereotypical Hero, is also shown to be much more complicated than that.


Then there are some severely spoilery things that I can’t talk about, but which set up some intriguing questions about identity and family. I really want to know how these will be resolved, but we’ve got four more books to find out.


I did find that the story was oddly paced in a few places, especially towards the beginning. Oddly, given that I often like shorter books, I wished that a little more time had been spent on the details of magic and learning magic, to giving the texture of the world. And there were a few points where I really wished that the characters would just talk to each other–plots centering on characters keeping secrets when that doesn’t entirely make sense are not my favorite. On the other hand, I do think the characters were written in a way that attempted to help the reader understand why they might keep those secrets. And in thinking about young readers, I suspect this might not be as much of an issue as it is for me.


All in all, this is a book which is doing some fresh, interesting things that I appreciated a lot. I will definitely be reading the next one.


Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, Scholastic; middle grade fantasy
Holly Black is one of my favorite authors
All of my Holly Black reviews
All of my Cassandra Clare reviews

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/the-iron-trial-by-holly-black-and-cassandra-clare
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