Wink Poppy Midnight Review & Giveaway!

Spoiler alert: Wink Poppy Midnight is one of my top reads for 2017! So I have decided that I want to share more than just my thoughts on this beautiful story full of mystery and magical realism. I am going to ship a copy to one lucky winner. See the details following my review below 🙂

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The Book

Wink Poppy Midnight
By April Genevieve Tucholke
Publisher: Dial Books
ISBN13: 9780803740488
Pages: 247
Genre: Magical Realism/YA Mystery

Synopsis:

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.


thoughts

Wink Poppy Midnight was a huge and unexpected win for myself this year. Within a matter of mere pages, this odd and compelling story found its way into my heart and made a lasting impression. Teeming magical realism and elegance that is shrouded in mystery, I easily surrendered to an experience incomparable to any I have encountered in recent reads.

Warranting the reader’s own personal exploration as it promises to provide a very unique and individualized experience, I find myself struggling to sum up Wink Poppy Midnight in one small review. Told through 3 alternating perspectives, Tucholke weaves a tale that borders the insane, yet invites the reader further in with a mystifying sense of comfort.  Each chapter serves a slice of one character’s part in what quickly becomes a  fantastic story of youth, love and revenge.

“Revenge. Justice. Love. They are the three stories that all other stories are made up of. It’s the trifecta.” 

Character development unfolds in a slow and steady process that contributes to the obscurity and mystery of the story. I feel that discovery is key to success here, so I will not be divulging too many details or opinions in terms of Midnight, Wink or Poppy or their story. They are young and full of intrigue but not without faults. I found it easy to appreciate the author’s manipulation of their growth to aid her story.

The world that is established relies on Tucholke’s descriptive and atmospheric writing. She turns the very normal into something enigmatic. Set within a small town and its traditional country side, the reader is drawn into a reverie that feels reminiscent of a summertime daydream.

“Leaf once told me that there was absolutely no difference between the Orphans’ fairy tales and the nose on my face, because both were only as real as I thought they were.” 

The writing is simple yet strangely intoxicating. An air of whimsy veiled in the unknown draws the reader in, creating an almost otherworldly experience. The author’s ability to center a mystery around a love triangle and have it feel like anything but is a testament to Wink Poppy Midnight’s worth.

Fans of Bone Gap and Vassa in the Night will most likely devour this one.The end result is fully engaging, calling upon the reader’s senses and offering something surreal and new. I would highly recommend this to fans of the unconventional and magical realism.

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Learn more about the author at apriltucholke.com.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Book Depository


giveaway

I will be shipping one copy of Wink Poppy Midnight to one lucky winner! This one is open internationally if Book Depository delivers to you. If the selected winner is located within the US, shipping will be through Amazon. Enter via the link below and have fun!

Please remember:

  • Must be 18 yr of age to enter.
  • This giveaway is not affiliated with the author, publisher or shipper.
  • The winner will be announced on social media and the blog.
  • You must be a follower of the blog to be selected (I will verify this).
  • The drawing will be held on 9/24/17.

Win A Copy of Wink Poppy Midnight

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Buy Me A Tea

Red-Blooded American Male

red-bloodedthe-book
Red-Blooded American Male: Photographs
By Robert Trachtenberg
Publisher: Amphoto Books
ISBN13: 9781607749660
Hardcover, 224 pages

Goodreads Synopsis:

Emmy award-winning photographer Robert Trachtenberg presents today’s playfully “macho” coffee-table collection of 100 modern (and cheeky) portraits of men including Channing Tatum, Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, and more.

James Van der Beek in a state of undress; Mark Wahlberg arm-wrestling his son; Channing Tatum bromancing with friends in the park. These are the portraits of today’s tongue-in-cheek masculinity, as conceived by Emmy Award-winning director and photographer Robert Trachtenberg. Red-Blooded American Male presents 100 of his most imaginative, striking, and unconventionally sexy portraits of both celebrities and regular guys going about their thoroughly modern lives. No longer do men have to be serious businessmen or hunky firefighters to be deemed attractive–they can also ride tricycles and get pedicures. Revealing a surprising (and often self-deprecating) side to Mel Brooks, Seth Rogan, Jimmy Fallon, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Hamm, Conan O’Brien, and more, this gorgeous coffee-table book features an introduction about male images and stereotypes plus pithy captions about each photo’s shoot, giving readers a peek behind the curtain of a famed portrait photographer’s creative process.


my-thought

How do you review a “coffee-table” book? I have no clue. In my entire life, I have owned only 2, well now 3. The others being Star Wars: Blue Prints and The Stephen King Illustrated Companion. Highly recommend both if you are fans!

When I first saw Red-Blooded American Male, I knew it had to be mine. I was probably completely sold on Will Arnett in fish nets, but who can blame me? Everything about this collection screamed to be owned and placed ever so carefully on the center of my living room table for all of the world (or the one to two people who actually visit me) to enjoy.

Robert Trachtenberg’s name was not something unfamiliar to me, but I cannot honestly claim to be an expert in his work. I know he is a photographer, writer, director and producer. And he is very damn good at what he does. Now he has decided to do it with 100 men  in one fabulous, big shiny book 😉 Mommy likey! But I received even more than my little “ginger” heart could have ever hoped for. 

Sneak Peek:

I am pretty much refraining with all of my might at this point because this book has some amazingly creative photos and spoiling them would be a complete shame. So I have just opted to highlight a few of the tamer photos of some that I happen to adore.

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Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of Red-Blooded American Male would be the introduction. Full of humor and successfully engaging, Trachtenberg has chosen to open by having Jess Cagle (editorial director of Entertainment Weekly & People) present him through interview. It works too well. I was also immediately laughing as the very first question addressed the number of Canadian males featured in this book with a very contradictory title. You may have guessed this from the cover 😉 His responses are an appropriate opening to what is a satisfying and fun experience.20161222_150722-01_wm

We are presented with collection that is as entertaining as it is enlightening. Each image addresses the male image in a new light. Exposing the truth behind masculinity and expectations. Stereotypes are approached head on and we are given a refreshing and more individualized look into the male life that is shown in a more self appreciating and enjoyable angle. Proving there is so much more to being appealing and attractive than the perfect physique and original standards imposed by society. This is a must own for all.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
(If I knew how to make these stars bigger, I would)


About The Author

ROBERT TRACHTENBERG’s photographs have appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, People, and Vanity Fair, among other publications. Advertising clients include NBC, CBS, ABC, Netflix, Amazon, and HBO. Trachtenberg has written, produced, and directed several documentaries on such legendary entertainers as Gene Kelly, Cary Grant, and Bing Crosby. He is the winner of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Direction for his film Mel Brooks: Make a Noise. Trachtenberg is also the author of the book When I Knew (Harper Collins). He lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit www.roberttrachtenberg.com and Instagram @roberttrachtenberg.

Purchase Red-Blooded American Male
Amazon.com
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Vassa in the Night Review

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vassa
Vassa in the Night
By Sarah Porter
Published by Tor Teen
ISBN13: 9780765380548
Pages: 296
Genre: Fairytale/Retelling

Book Blurb:

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…


my-thought

I am coming in strong by stating this is probably the book of 2016 for me. Despite the countless negative reviews and less than ideal feedback that originally had me anticipating great disappointment, Vassa in the Night has persevered with shining colors. Uncanny and full or otherworldly, eccentric symbolism, it is easy to accept that this will not sit properly with all. For myself, it was a reading experience that cannot be compared to any previous retelling and has provided a new level of expectation to the genre. This is exactly the sort of storytelling that I live for. From beginning to end, I wanted more, and it continued to give. Describing what I received will be challenging. The complexity that makes this story so gratifying is not easy to articulate without divulging spoilers.

Plot

Before attempting to read and understand this story, I cannot stress just how valuable I feel it is to familiarize yourself with the original tale of  Vasilisa the Beautiful and Baba Yaga by Alexander Afanasyev. This is a retelling based on Slavic folklore, and it is different from what one might expect from fairy tales. Useful information for those looking for a quick breakdown of the original fairy tale can actually be found here on Wikipedia. I am not normally a fan of recommending wiki, but this information is pretty solid and there are several illustrations worth looking over. You may also be interested in reading Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave by Marianna Mayer

♦

This retelling takes the folklore that originally took place within a hut in a forest and transports it to current day Brooklyn. Only this is not the Brooklyn you may think you know. It is littered with areas of magic. However, magic is not something that the denizens actually welcome, exactly.

“See, to whatever degree we have magic around here, it is strictly the kind that’s a pain in the ass.”
-Sarah Porter, Vassa in the Night

We soon learn that many, including are heroine, go to great lengths to avoid contact with anything pertaining to magic. One particular area that is avoided at all costs, would be the local convenient store BY’s. However, in a fit of anger and hurt, Vassa finds herself venturing out one night to this very store to pick up lights bulbs (significant symbolism). This is where the story unfolds, and she soon uncovers the many fantastical and deadly secrets of the shop owner Babs, realizing she may never leave alive.

It is truly difficult to discuss or dissect the plot in great length without the risk of ruinging the reader’s first encounter. I will mention that there is some super heavy symbolism occurring. The over all reading experience may become somewhat frustrating or confusing to those who are not familiar with the folklore. You will need to be prepared and ready to slowly digest this book at times. While it was thoroughly entertaining, it was not the light read the blurb originally had me believe. There was a lot happening. This one was what I call a “tabber”. I marked various sections and had to let certain events sink in over time.

Characters

The characters completed Vassa in the Night for me. Their eccentric manners and incredibility provided a real air of magic and life to this fantastical and peculiar story. Nothing and everything about them made sense. There was such an alluring mystery promoted with each individual, that they continued to draw me forward. I had to know them, I needed to.

“You don’t have to be human to be a person. I mean you don’t have to be human to be somebody. I don’t know you that well, but you seem like way more of a somebody than lots of humans I know! Really.”
― Sarah Porter, Vassa in the Night

Vassa, our protagonist, is full of wit and charm with her style and flare. She proves to be resilient and compassionate, while also maintaining a bit of fear and fluent sarcasm that played well into the environment and craziness. She reacted very appropriately to inappropriate situations. I loved her! Is she completely credible? Maybe not to the full extent, but nothing in the story is. That is what makes it so attractive.

Erg is Vassa’s one true companion. She happens to be a wooden doll that has been given life and left with Vassa as her mother’s last gift before passing. She is a bit of jerk, but not without her own endearing qualities. She also happens to be a clepto. Her contribution to the story is not to be undervalued, as she seems to be the perfect sidekick. She and Vassa belong together like freis and ketchup. But make no mistakes, she will anger you at times.

We are also presented with Babs, the shop owner. She is deformed, cruel and ruthless. She is a terrific villain that I was able to appreciate on several fronts. She is an enigma and cleverly adds to the flare of Vassa, as they work against one another so greatly.

Perhaps one of the most mystifying characters would be the store’s night security, a motorcyclist dressed in black. He is ever-present and of great significance, as you will discover most things within this tale are. Nothing and no one are to be taken for granted.

World Building

The majority of our tale resides within BY’s, an odd convenient store that happens to be perched upon two dancing chicken legs, and also happens to be the only chain open at night (the story takes place throughout the extent of several nights that happen to be much longer than an average, normal night).  If you have taken the suggested moment to do your homework, you have established the connection between the store name and Baba Yaga. BY’s is run by none other than “Babs”. It also happens to be enclosed by a gate containing the severed heads of shoplifters. Intrigued or repulsed? It’s okay, I understand either reaction. I was personally intrigued, as I live for the weird. But there is a bit gore that occurs. While I did not find it to be heavily disturbing, consider yourself warned.

“The light projecting from BY’s waves like a flag across the parking lot, sometimes catching one of those skewered heads and making it shine: dead women and men becoming moons in my personal night.”
-Sarah Porter, Vassa in the Night

The majority of world building within Vassa in the Night is attributed to the strong elements of fantasy and magic and unconventional characters. The author has managed to create an atmosphere that is completely distinct offering an encounter unlike anything I can easily compare it to. It is rich, complex and at times confusing.

Writing

Sarah Porter’s writing is somewhat bizarre. She has taken a very individualized approach to story telling that can only be loved or hated. While I found it to be fluid, the symbolism is rich and almost poetic at times. So it is easy to see how it might feel flowery to some. I personally found myself completely submersed within this different and welcomed style. The pace was not always as steady as I would have liked, but my interest never waned.

Conclusion

I really wanted to delve into this so much more, it is impossible without revealing too much, and the revelations are part of what make this tale so fantastic. Vassa in the Night is a truly rewarding and individualized experience that not all will be able to find appreciation for. It is a very distinct twist on a fairy tale that many are not going to recognize. I think that taking the time to make that familiarization will greatly affect the over all impact. While there is something truly magical happening within the pages of this beautiful retelling, it required a slower pace to digest and fully grasp. The symbolism is heavy and it can easily become confusing at times. The end result was a complex tale that will surely delight and enthrall some while leaving others confused or frustrated. For myself, it continues to resonates so strongly with me that I am sad it has ended.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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at

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