“Winger”, a funny (and at times heartbreaking) novel from a 14-year-old guy’s POV and “Strands of Bronze and Gold” – a retelling of Bluebeard. Don’t miss either one!

I’ve not finished either book, but I’m so enthralled by both of these novels that I didn’t want to wait to share. Although they’re nothing alike, they’re both making me lose sleep because I want to keep reading, and so I don’t adhere to my self-imposed bedtime well at all.

Winger by Andrew Smith; pub date May 14, 2013; ISBN 9781442444928.

Cover image of "Winger" by Andrew Smith

Cover image of “Winger” by Andrew Smith

I was laughing out loud from the first page, even though that first page is about 14-year-old high school junior Ryan Dean West (Ryan Dean is his first name: no there’s no hyphen, and yes, there’s two capital letters, and no, he doesn’t really want to talk about his middle name) who is upside-down and in the midst of getting a swirly in the dorm bathrooms of Opportunity Hall. But, as Ryan Dean, aka “Winger” (his rugby nickname), points out, at least it was the beginning of the semester so the toilet water was lemony fresh, with a touch of warm swimming pool, and the porcelain bowl still white as snow.  Accompanied by sketches throughout, Andrew Smith is, so far, simply wonderful at finding that storytelling balance that is at once both funny and heartbreaking.

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson; pub date March 12, 2013; ISBN 9780307975980.

Cover image of Strands of Bronze and Gold

Cover image of “Strands of Bronze and Gold”

I’m a sucker for fairytales of any variety (one of my all-time favorite books is fairytales-within-a-fairytale: Catherynne Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden). Now, stick a fairytale into the Mississippi to give it a southern gothic flair (another fav genre of mine), and I’m thoroughly captivated.

An alternate re-telling of Bluebeard, I don’t think I can top the synopsis from  SLJ this past February: “Jane Nickerson adroitly weaves the threads of the ‘Bluebeard’ story into Strands of Bronze and Gold to create a spellbinding tapestry of mystery, romance, and suspense…A grippingly gothic tale, with a lavishly described and lushly atmospheric setting and likable heroine.” I’m finding it very difficult to believe it’s a debut novel because the writing is so polished.

I’m only a few chapters in, but I really can’t wait to see how it ends. I mean, we all know how it should end, but will this version be like the Brothers’ Grimm story, with the brothers saving the heroine (her brother in this book is kind of a jerk)? Will she need to use her pluck to save herself? Or will Bluebeard not die at all, and instead Sophie will be like Belle and transform the beast into a kinder, gentler being?

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