Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fantasy Round Up

Beck, Miya T. Through a Clouded Mirror
May 28, 2024 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided Netgalley

Yuki Snow moves to Santa Dolores, leaving behind her best friend Julio. Yuki's father passed away, but was a professor who taught philosophy classes based on Alice in Wonderland and put together a poetry event for the local schools. Yuki's mother, Hana, has remarried a kind man named Doug, who gets Yuki a "magic mirror" with a tiger on it from a local store. She is so enthralled with it that she visits the shop to buy one for Julio, and meets the owner, Momo Fujita, who tells her the story of Sei Shōnagon, famous poet and author of The Pillow Book. Since Yuki is also fond of making lists, she is intrigued, and interviews Ms. Fujita for a school project, spending some time in the shop. When Yuki has a falling out with Julio, she has to deal with a mean teacher, Ms. Ghosh, and she finds out that her mother is pregnant at 41, Yuki escapes into the magical world of the mirror, where she meets Sei Shōnagon and finds out that even though she is from the Land of A Merry Cat, she is in the running to become the next priestess of poetry.
This was an interesting twist on Japanese folklore and would be a good choice for readers who enjoy portal fantasies like Bedard's The Egyptian Mirror, Giles's The Last Mirror on the Left, or Abu-Jaber's Silverworld.

Brosgol, Vera. Plain Jane and the Mermaid.
May 7, 2024 by First Second
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Interesting mash up of a lot of oceanic folklore; selkies, evil mermaids, shipwrecks, and more. There's also several strong social messages, made even more pronounced by the Victorian setting. I can see readers who enjoyed Ostow's The Girl From the Sea liking this one. Pick this one up if you like Brosgol's style in Be Prepared

From the Publisher:
Jane is incredibly plain. Everyone says so: her parents, the villagers, and her horrible cousin who kicks her out of her own house. Determined to get some semblance of independence, Jane prepares to propose to the princely Peter, who might just say yes to get away from his father. It’s a good plan!

Or it would’ve been, if he wasn’t kidnapped by a mermaid.

With her last shot at happiness lost in the deep blue sea, Jane must venture to the underwater world to rescue her maybe-fiancé. But the depths of the ocean hold beautiful mysteries and dangerous creatures. What good can a plain Jane do? 

Weinberger, Justin. Dead in the Water (Zombie Season #2)
May 7, 2024 by Scholastic Press
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

After their adventures in Zombie Season, Ollie Wachs and his sister Kirby are staying with their parents in a college dorm, so feel a little more secture. When he hears from Regina, who needs his help, he convinces his aunt to take him and his friends back to Redwood. There, he meets up with Regina and finds that she wants him to help her hide a zombie, Nix, for a couple of days! The kids have uncovered more evil doings by HumaniTeam and are trying to get proof against them lined up. In Alaska, the zombies have arrived, and they're not just any zombies: they are giant zombies that have been made stronger, and the kids fear that the new and improved weapon, the Cloudbuster, will not destroy the zombies, but empower them. Anton, whose cousin Alek was killed in a zombie attack, manages to work his way to California and meets up with the group. Jeule is in New York, but when zombies attack a beach there, she also makes her way to Redwood. Regina's mom takes control of Project Cloudburst, and Nix becomes a pawn in the struggle between HumaniTeam and other forces. There is sure to be a third book in the series, as Nix needs to be rescued before he is once again subjected to intrusive testing. 

This is a great zombie adventure, but I was not feeling zombies when I read it. There is some sort of video game attached to this online, so has that 39 Clues element. It also has a paper over board cover. 

Cooper, Abby. True Colors
May 7, 2024 by Astra Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Mackenzie has long dealt with the fact that she radiates colors that mirror her emotions, and when she was made fun of for that, her parents moved the family to Serenity, where everyone has to be nice to one another all the time and consistently happy. Since it's clear with Mackenzie is not in a good mood, she starts to struggle in Serenity as well, especially when other people in the town of 1,000 start to also have mood colored auras. When Stella Scott arrrives in the town with her two children, Rayna and Benny, tensions start to mount in the idyllic community. This is a great choice for fans of Haydu's Eventown,  Redman's Quintessence, or Collins' The Town with No Mirrors. I think Serenity sounds like a great place. The problem with all of these dystopias seems to be that the children are forced to live in them by their parents, and they are not young enough to appreciate how nice it would be if everyone just kept their thoughts to themselves and were polite. This is on trend with the current philosophy that it is "okay to not be okay". I found Mackenzie's descriptions of the colors of the auras (and there were a lot of them) a little confusing. 

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