Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned Books Week 2015

Happy Banned Books Week 2015 everyone! This week in September is set aside by the American Library Association and partners, including independent bookstores. Its purpose is to bring attention to the fact that there are STILL books (and other media) in this country, at this moment, that are banned. Most are for political or religious reasons, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Harry Potter (TKaM supposedly presents offensive racial issues and HP endorses witchcraft. No, I'm not making this up. These are real reasons why these books have been banned in certain United States communities.). Check out your local libraries, independent bookstores, literary foundations and community groups to find out about Banned Books Week events in your area!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Review: "Newt's Emerald" by Garth Nix

With the recent resurgence of Regency romances in YA literature, I've had to be admittedly picky about what I choose to read. Despite their cleverness, intellect and witty repartee, I've never felt particularly drawn to that genre. When you combine it with alternate history, a little bit of magic, mistaken identity and general hilarity though, my interest is definitely piqued. That interest and a history of predominately favorable experiences with his writing led me to pick up "Newt's Emerald," the beginning of a new series by Garth Nix.

Lady Truthful's birthright isn't just her father's extensive property; it's also the great emerald once worn by her dead mother, which is rumored to hold great magical potential. When that emerald is stolen from under her nose, Lady Truthful decides to follow it despite her male relatives' insistence that she stay at home while they undergo various attempts to either regain it or find her a new one. Traveling to London, she finds an unlikely ally in her great aunt and discovers a whole world of subterfuge, magic and conspiracy that draws her in as she searches for her family's emerald.

In order to pursue her line of questioning unmolested, Truthful is forced to take on the persona of a distant relative, a French gentleman bound for the clergy. It is this double life, and the multiple, interwoven cases of mistaken identity that ensue, that make this book such a hilarious, endearing read. As Truthful struggles with both the mystery of her emerald's disappearance and her task of maintaining two distinct identities, her emotions and state of mind are the things that begin to suffer even as she gets closer to the one who may have stolen her emerald. The climax is exciting, imaginative, and endearing all at once and I can't wait for the next installment of this series!

Nix has taken the Napoleonic period and added a thrilling twist of magic to it along with a hefty dash of "The Importance of Being Earnest." It's Regency romance that doesn't take itself too seriously, but recalls the funny little (and not-so-little) foibles in which we all find ourselves embroiled in the pursuit of love, romantic or familial. This is a truly delightful read suitable for a broad range of ages and all genders, especially if you like historical fantasy along the lines of the Temeraire series. "Newt's Emerald" will be released October 13th and can be pre-ordered right now at your favorite local, independent bookstore.