Friday 18 September 2015


Described as The Night Circus meets Romeo and Juliet this stunning young adult novel is about two teens who fall in love despite the almost impossible odds against them.

Title: The Weight Of Feathers
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: YA, Fantasy,Romance, Contemporary, 
Publisher: Thomas Dunne, St. Martins Griffin
Release Date: 15th September 2015 (13th October 2015 UK)

BLURB from Goodreads
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. 

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Amazon UK

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine's cratelit, Camera Obscura's Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review.  The Weight of Feathers is her first novel.


St. Martin’s Griffin Links


The feathers were Lace’s first warning. They showed up between suitcases, in the trunk of her father’s station wagon, on the handles of came-with-the-car first-aid kits so old the gauze had yellowed. They snagged on antennas, turning the local stations to static.
Lace’s mother found a feather in with the family’s costumes the day they crossed into Almendro, a town named for almond fields that once filled the air with the scent of sugary blossoms and bitter wood. But over the last few decades an adhesive plant had bought out the farms that could not survive the droughts, and the acres of almonds dwindled to a couple of orchards on the edge of town.
The wisp of that black feather caught on a cluster of sequins. Lace knew from the set to her mother’s eyes that she’d throw the whole mermaid tail in a bucket and burn it, elastane and all.
Lace grabbed the tail and held on. If her mother burned it, it would take Lace and her great-aunt at least a week to remake it. Tía Lora’s hands were growing stiff, and Lace’s were new and slow.
Her mother tried to pull the tail from her grip, but Lace balled the fabric in her hands.
“Let go,” her mother warned.
“It’s one feather.” Lace dug in her fingers. “It’s not them.” Lace knew the danger of touching a Corbeau. Her abuela said she’d be better off petting a rattlesnake. But these feathers were not the Corbeaus’ skin. They didn’t hold the same poison as a Corbeau’s body.
“It’s cursed,” her mother said. One hard tug, and she won. She threw the costume tail into a bucket and lit it. The metal pail grew hot as a stove. The fumes off the melting sequins stung Lace’s throat.
“Did you have to burn the whole thing?” she asked.
“Better safe, mija,” her mother said, wetting down the undergrowth with day-old aguas frescas so the brush wouldn’t catch.
They could have cleaned the tail, blessed it, stripped away the feather’s touch. Burning it only gave the Corbeaus more power. Those feathers already had such weight. The fire in the pail was an admission that, against them, Lace’s family had no guard.
Before Lace was born, the Palomas and the Corbeaus had just been competing acts, two of the only shows left that bothered with the Central Valley’s smallest towns. Back then it was just business, not hate. Even now Lace’s family sometimes ended up in the same town with a band of traveling singers or acrobats, and there were no fights, no blood. Only the wordless agreement that each of them were there to survive, and no grudges after. Every fall when the show season ended, Lace’s aunts swapped hot-plate recipes with a trio of trapeze artists. Her father traded homeschooling lesson plans with a troupe of Georgian folk dancers.
The Corbeaus never traded anything with anyone. They shared nothing, took nothing. They kept to themselves, only straying from the cheapest motel in town to give one of Lace’s cousins a black eye, or leave a dead fish at the riverbank. Lace and Martha found the last one, its eye shining like a wet marble.
Before Lace was born, these were bloodless threats, ways the Corbeaus tried to rattle her family before their shows. Now every Paloma knew there was nothing the Corbeaus wouldn’t do.
Lace’s mother watched the elastane threads curl inside a shell of flame. “They’re coming,” she said.
“Did you think they wouldn’t?” Lace asked. Her mother smiled. “I can hope, can’t I?”
She could hope all she wanted. The Corbeaus wouldn’t give up the crowds that came with Almendro’s annual festival. So many tourists, all so eager to fill their scrapbooks. That meant two weeks in Almendro. Two weeks when the younger Paloma men hardened their fists, and their mothers prayed they didn’t come home with broken ribs.
Lace’s grandmother set the schedule each year, and no one spoke up against Abuela. If they ever did, she’d pack their bags for them. Lace had watched Abuela cram her cousin Licha’s things into a suitcase, clearing her perfumes and lipsticks off the motel dresser with one sweep of her arm. When Lace visited her in Visalia and they went swimming, Licha’s two-piece showed that her escamas, the birthmarks that branded her a Paloma, had disappeared.
Lace’s mother taught her that those birthmarks kept them safe from the Corbeaus’ feathers. That family was el Diablo on earth, with dark wings strapped to their bodies, French on their tongues, a sprinkling of gypsy blood. When Lace slept, they went with her, living in nightmares made of a thousand wings.
Another black feather swirled on a downdraft. Lace watched it spin and fall. It settled in her hair, its slight weight like a moth’s feet.
Her mother snatched it off Lace’s head. “¡Madre mía!” she cried, and threw it into the flames.
Lace’s cousins said the Corbeaus grew black feathers right out of their heads, like hair. She never believed it. It was another rumor that strengthened the Corbeaus’ place in their nightmares. But the truth, that wind pulled feathers off the wings they wore as costumes, wasn’t a strong enough warning to keep Paloma children from the woods.
La magia negra,” her mother said. She always called those feathers black magic.
The fire dimmed to embers. Lace’s mother gave the pail a hard kick. It tumbled down the bank and into the river, the hot metal hissing and sinking.
“Let them drown,” her mother said, and the last of the rim vanished.

THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore.  
Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Griffin.

Title: The Weight Of Feathers
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: YA, Fantasy,Romance, Contemporary, 
Publisher: Thomas Dunne, St. Martins Griffin
Release Date: 15th September 2015 (13th October 2015 UK)

BLURB from Goodreads
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. 

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.


This book was actually brought to my attention again by Michelle from St Martins Griffin, though I had read about it a while ago around the time of the Buzz Book Sampler and it caught my attention then. I had also just finished reading Menagerie by Rachel Vincent which is also has a circus/performer setting. Having heard a lot about a book, I tend to wonder if I will enjoy it or not. It's like all the hype around a movie, you wonder if the book/movie will live up to the high expectations that have been built up for it. So I suppose what I am saying is I hope this one is as good as I am hoping it will be!

I was sent a invitation to read this book and then a pre-approved widget download this book from Netgalley by St Martins Griffin in exchange for my honest review. 
The cover is a soft rose shade, and has an endorsement from Jessica Spotswood at the top of it. Jessica is the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicle's, so yes though I haven't read her books I have heard of her. I do have to admit that these sorts of endorsements actually on the cover are one of my pet hates. But I guess some people will use that endorsement to decide whether to purchase the book to read or not. The cover features branches which are extremely important to one of the lead families in the book, the Corbeau's, and as I am describing the cover before actually finishing the whole book (which I prefer to do so that my enjoyment of the book doesn't influence my thoughts on the cover, as I prefer my opinion to be on my first thoughts and opinion of the cover.) I'd say the couple hugging at on the uppermost branches on the front cover are probably Cluck Corbeau, and Lace Paloma. There are also black feathers tipped with a crimson red colour floating all over the book cover too. So would this cover make me pick up this book in a book store? Yes this cover would attract my attention and I would pick it up as I'd want to learn more about the couple, why they are on a tree branch and I'd want to know the relevance of the feathers.
The book has two families at the centre of it's plot, both families are performers, who I guess if this book was set over here in the UK would perform in a Circus environment. Each family thinks the other is in the possession of dark magic.
The Paloma's are performers / who are "mermaids" and use the natural lakes that are available in each town they visit. All the Paloma females have a birthmark or escalas, which are like fish scale markings. These birthmarks are in a different place on each female and are regarded as precious and secret, not to be put on show. The females dress up in beautiful personalised tales that have beads, and shells and sequins. they also have shells and jewels in their long beautiful hair too. You have to be very glamorous and work hard to keep in shape to be a mermaid. The Paloma family is ruled by Abuela, who is the main character Lace's grandmother. No one argues with Abuelo, you do as she wants and says or you are made to leave. 
The Corbeau family originate from France, they were formerly a tight rope walking act, but soon began using nature as part of the act and now use the tree's that are in every town they visit and are likened to birds. The head of this family is Cluck's mother Nicole Corbeau.
The two families have followed the same route and performed in the same towns for years so you would think they would get along, perhaps there would be rivarly of who could draw the largest audiences and so but no the families lterally hate each other due to an incident that happened years ago. Each family blames the other for anything that goes wrong in their lives or performances. As "circus", "travellers" the families are very superstitious, when the Paloma's see a feather, they snatch it up, cast it to the ground, and burn it to ash. Neither family talks to the other and avoid each other at all costs. To the Paloma's the worst thing you can do is touch a Corbeau, as they can then curse you. To the Corbeau the Paloma women are sirens who lure men to the river and then drown them.
This book tell's the reader what happen's in Alemendro when a Paloma girl called Lace and a Corbeau boy called Cluck meet without knowing who the other on is. There's a nearby factory/plant in Alemendro and when there is an incident, dangerous particles are released into the air, turning the rain treacherous. When this rain comes into contact with anyone wearing cotton, it literally melts the cotton to their skin, almost as if the rain is acid. Whilst out looking for his cousin Eugenie, Cluck finds a girl curled up under a tree, her cotton dress melting into her skin. Cluck rescues her and takes her to the hospital. When Lace is released from hospital and she returns to the Paloma camp at the side of the lake, her grandmother basically exiles her from her family due to the burn on her face. She hasn't even seen the dark feather burn that Lace has on her arm. To Abuelo, Lace is no longer of use. Lace has damaged skin, now has short collar length hair, so can no longer perform as a beautiful mermaid.
The friendship that develops between Cluck and Lace, when to begin with theu do not know whose family they belong too is sweet and innocent. Cluck obviously feels protective of Lace. Their friendship ends up mirroring a fledgling relationship that of two of the elder family members, though that one ended up being crushed by both Paloma's and Corbeau's alike. Can theirs ever be any different? Will they even want a relationship when their true identities are revealed to each other?
A lot happens in this book, there's the "incident" that occurred years ago when the lake swallowed the trees changing the landscape and claiming two lives. There's the superstition that is thriving within each family about the other too. There's the "accident" at the plant that causes the rain that burns. As well was the other smaller twists and turns of the plot that are happening within each respective family. This book has so much going on to read about, and discover.
To say I loved this book is an understatement! I found it captivating, interesting, and basically hated putting it down! I purposely tried to read it slower, limiting myself to only reading it at night savouring it!
The characters are so realistic, and not just the main ones of Lace and Cluck. I loved that although Cluck's life is not the best, he doesn't wallow in sadness, he is comedic at times. When Lace asks how he injured his hand he comes up with all kinds of weird and wonderful tales of how he did it, not wanting to reveal the awful way it really happened. I liked how Cluck wear's Pepere Alain's old fashioned clothes, even though his older brother Dax and some of his cousins ridicule him for it. It is Cluck wearing old fashioned clothes and his unique black feathers with the crimson streak within them, that makes Cluck both a target and an outcast at the same time.
To be honest when you think about both Cluck and Lace do have a similar existence within their families, near the bottom of the family, making costumes in Clucks case and making costumes and doing make up for Lace. It's Lace's makeup artistry that allows her to find a job when her own family have kicked her out, too scared to go against the ordered exile coming from Abuelo.
Two of the other character's I adored in this book was Aunt Lora Paloma,and Pepere Alain Corbeau. Aunt Lora is only a Paloma by marriage, and has no children of hr own, though she is a well loved member of the family and as proud of the Paloma name as the rest of the family who were born into it. Aunt Lora works on making the costumes, a job that Lace also does. Aunt Lora teaches Lace the intricate stitches needed to attach sequins, beads and shells to the mermaid tails. Pepere Alain Corbeau should be the head of his family but it his daughter Nicole who rules the family and takes care of the business. Pepere Alain makes the framework for the wings, and attaches the peacock feathers that have been collected to them. Pepere Alain teachers Cluck how to make the wings too. 
I enjoyed that there was lots happening in the book, there were the inner plots being told within the separate families, the plot surrounding the factory plant in Alemendro, the "incident" of the lake swallowing the trees as well as the feud between the families too. So many facets of one brilliant book. I'd say the pace is steady but fairly fast it certainly keeps you interested and questioning what is going to happen next as you are reading. I also loved that there is a quote in both French and English at the beginning of each chapter, for example at the beginning of Chapter One English is "One swallow does not make a summer", Chapter Three "A bird in the hand is worth a hundred flying" and the final example I'll share is Chapter Eleven "To play with a flame is a dangerous game". . .  they do fit the respective chapters. Check out the image quote below too.

The genre classifications that are listed for this book on Goodreads are YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Retellings, Contemporary, and Magic. This book is aimed at the YA reader but I think it is a book that could be read and enjoyed be adults too. there is a fantasy & paranormal element in the book which I will not go into as it would be a spoiler. I guess the specific characteristics of the individual families could fall under fantasy/paranormal too. The Palaoma's and their glittering escalas, and the Corbeau with their feathers that grow from their skin. I guess the re-telling part is because you could draw similarities in the story with that of Romeo & Juliet concerning two characters from each performing family. the contemporary genre fits the day to day events in Alemendro and the factory plant that employs the majority of the town. I think I would also add mythology to the genre list because of some of the superstitions that exist within each of the travelling performing families too. I also wish to add realism to the genre list. The realism is how prejudiced the Paloma's and the Corbeau's are against each other. there is also the fact that people treat Lace differently after she is scarred by her clothes melting to her skin by the rain. So I've probably rattled and rattled on long enough about this book, you need, yes need to read this book. I would put this on my greatest ever reads list along with the likes of Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan
So did I enjoy the book? I was fascinated with it, so yes. Would I recommend the book? Yes, I have already recommended to my relatives and will be shouting out about it to fellow bloggers once I complete this review. Would I want to read another book in this series? Mmm thats difficult as I loved how this book ended and it could be left as a standalone book. then again I really became attached to these characters, so if there was a novella perhaps set a few years later to catch up with all the characters, I would unquestionably want to read it. Would I want to read other titles by Anna-Marie McLemore? I would have to say it is beyond doubt that I would take a closer look at anything written by this author. I love her writing style.

Mesmerising, heartfelt, poignant, heavenly . . . .the first four words that come to mind upon finishing this brilliant book. I also think of the words "sentimental" "traditional" and "thought-provoking". I loved it from the first word to the last! I highly recommend reading this book, in fact I'd have to say it is a must read!


“McLemore’s prose is ethereal and beguiling… The enchanting setup and the forbidden romance that blooms between these two outcasts will quickly draw readers in, along with the steady unspooling of the families’ history and mutual suspicions in this promising first novel.” —Publishers Weekly

“Readers beguiled by the languorous language—a striking mix of French and Spanish phrases, wry colloquialism, lush imagery, and elevated syntax—will find themselves falling under its spell. The third-person narration alternates between Lace and Cluck, doling out twists and building to a satisfying, romantic conclusion.” —Kirkus Reviews

In this tale of magical realism, the magic is so deftly woven into the fabric of the story… Told with skillful poetic nuances, this Romeo-and-Juliet story of forbidden love will entice fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle who wished for a little more romance.” —School Library Journal

Anna-Marie McLemore's debut novel is a very imaginative modern-day romance akin to Romeo and Juliet and is infused with the whimsy of magical realism.” —RT Book Reviews

An air of mysterious fantasy enshrouds the whole book, pulling the reader through it as if in a spell. McLemore is a writer to watch.”—The Guardian

You've never read a love story quite like this one. Anna-Marie McLemore has created in entirely imaginative world and rich characters that will pull you in as if she's spinning magic herself.” Bustle

With prose as magical as its characters, The Weight of Feathers is an exciting debut.” —Paste Magazine

McLemore’s debut novel has ties to Romeo and Juliet, David Almond’s mythical Skellig, and the real-life performances of Cirque du Soleil.” —Booklist

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