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Month in review

Reviews
Beast & Crown by Joel Ross
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki
Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
CatStronauts: Space Station Situation by Drew Brockington
Demon, Volume 4 by Jason Shiga
Feathertop by Robert D. San Souci
14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop
From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle
The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
Hear the Wolves by Victoria Scott
Lights, Camera, Middle School! by Jennifer L. Holm
The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds
The Losers Club by Andrew Clements
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green
Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes by Booki Vivat
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Paper Girls Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Red Leech by Andrew Lane
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Ripped From the Pages by Kate Carlisle
The Scarebird by Sid Fleischman and Peter Sís
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 25 by Rosamund Kidman Cox

Miscellaneous
2017 books read and reviewed
Back Half round-up: Favorite books read and reviewed from July-December 2017 Canadian Books reviewed in 2017
Diverse Books Reviewed in 2017
First Book of the Year Graphic Novels Reviewed in 2017
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 04)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 11)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 18)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 25)
Mysteries reviewed in 2017
Road Narrative Summary
November 2017 sources
November 2017 summary

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish


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Beast & Crown: 12/11/17

Beast & Crown by Joel Ross

Beast & Crown by Joel Ross is a new fantasy about a quest to save a brother enslaved by a textile factory. Ross, who lives in Santa Barbara, again draws from a familiar landscape, crafting a fantasy kingdom. To anyone who has lived in California or is familiar with the central coast, there is a recognizable mix of influences: Spanish, American, Chinese, Japanese but populated also with ogres, goblins, trolls and the like. If Ankh-Morpork is a multi-decade fantasy London, this is fantasy Moorpark.

This ensemble cast includes, Sally, a maid who has been saving up to rescue her brother; Ji, a boot boy who is good at sneaking around because he has to have access throughout the house to collect everyone's boots; and Roz, the governess who is well educated and liberally minded.

Like Pratchett did in his later books with the trolls — beginning really with Snuff, Ross does his most interesting social commentary in the disconnect between the story of how the Summer Queen saved the kingdom by smiting the monsters and the rich, nuanced cultural reality of these non-human species. Ross isn't recapitulating Pratchett — just using well known fantasy populations to explore a number of different issues.

Looking at the cover and taking into account the set up I've given, it may seem like I'm talking about a completely different book. I'm not. The scene on the cover is in the book — and it's a marvelous one. To explain it, though, would to spoil some of the best surprises.

The conclusion, The Ice Witch comes out on August 21, 2018.

Five stars

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