Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tiny Knives and Cute Little Tails…Hail, NIGHTSHADE CITY!

It’s Bookanistas Thursday again. But, first, I’d like to congratulate fellow Bookanista Lisa Roecker on the birth of her new baby!!


lady_congratulations If it weren’t 2 AM, I’d probably have come up with a way better congratulations picture, one that showed a crowd of a million cheering and stomping their feet while singing, Halleluiah, and perhaps playing the world’s biggest drum.* Childbirth is far harder than this picture suggests—I assure you. This is what you do when someone leaves you the last piece of cheesecake. So, ignore this lame picture and go to the next one.

its a boy g3040_423x600

Yay! Congratulations Lisa and family!!!

Check out Laura’s announcement HERE, where you can see a picture of the new little guy. He’s so freaking adorable.

And while you’re at it, check out what some of the other Bookanistas are up to today.


Kirsten Hubbard gives props to Between Shades of Gray 

Shannon Messenger brings us Cover Love and a Teaser for Desires of the Dead 

Elana Johnson is a fan of HER AND ME AND YOU 

Lisa and Laura Roecker love XVI 

Christine Fonseca is enthralled by GIRL, STOLEN 

Shelli Johannes-Wells gives us a Paranormal Preview

Myra McEntire shares some Trailer Love 

Michelle Hodkin gives props LIKE MANDARIN

Jamie Harrington is awed by ACROSS THE UNIVERSE


Now, on to my review.

I could kick myself for not getting this review out last week to go along with my giveaway. Because it was such a fabulous read, and I wanted to get everyone all psyched about this book just before its release, and I went and ruined everything by being a poor planner stupidhead. Excuse me while I go verbally flog myself.


NIGHTSHADE CITY by Hilary Wagner

Nightshade City

Goodreads Description:

Deep beneath a modern metropolis lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of remarkable rats of superior intellect. Following the Bloody Coup, the once peaceful democracy has become a dictatorship, ruled by decadent High Minister Killdeer and his vicious henchman Billycan, a former lab rat with a fondness for butchery. Three young orphan rats--brothers Vincent and Victor and a clever female named Clover--join forces with Billycan's archenemy, Juniper, and his maverick band of rebel rats as they plot to overthrow their oppressors and create a new city--Nightshade City. This impossible-to-put-down fantasy explores timeless themes of freedom, forgiveness, the bonds of family, and the power of love.

The coolest thing about this book was that while you never forget that the characters are rats, you actually sort of do. See, I have never liked rats. Something about the tail, I think. And maybe the plague. But while I was reading NIGHTSHADE CITY, I found myself wanting to hold one in my hand and pet its cute little tail, and maybe ask it over for dinner so I could give him a tiny plate with a tiny wedge of cheese and maybe a tiny tankard filled with a tiny amount of ale. It would be great fun to have an intelligent conversation with a rat that had a tiny little knife tucked into his tiny little belt.

See, this is how incredible Wagner’s rats are. They feel so real to me, so human. Just…smaller…and ratty. But I don’t lump them all together in my mind. Each of the rats has very distinct personalities and markings so that you quickly come to understand who each of the characters are without having to have them named—this in itself makes them seem more human and relatable. And so, too, does the story itself humanize the rats, as the story deals with some very common, but significant human themes and topics: good versus evil, love, friendship, family, honor, revenge, greed, suffering, and freedom.

And what a remarkable story, too. Fast paced and compelling. I was so caught up in it, flying through the pages, needing to know what was happening next. This is what I mean when I say that you sort of forget they’re just rats—because you think of them in sympathetic terms. You want the hero to triumph and the villain to get what’s coming to him. And when you read about some misfortune that has befallen one of them (such as a human rat trap), you feel so awful—and kind of guilty by association. You can’t help but invest your emotions in it, to root for the poor, downtrodden rats being sorely abused by the oppressive regime ruling their city. Your heart might even go out to the lowly earth worm, which is so mistreated.

All around, it’s just a  great tale filled with tense moments, touching scenes, and some heart-thumping action. And did I mention there were some gruesome events in this? Totally creeptastic and awesome—just  a few scenes where you sort of go, ewwww, but you lean in and read just a hair faster anyway (kind of like when Peter Pettigrew slices his own hand in HP?), but it’s not scary, just whoa. And that ending? Duuuuuuude! Wagner is so tricksy. Trust me, the kids will love this, but I think if you like a heartwarming, heroic tale, you’ll enjoy it as well.

NIGHTSHADE CITY is now available.


*This drum is at Purdue University. Just sayin'. Find a million people, and we’ll make it happen. I’m game.**

**Don’t listen to me. It’s now 3 AM. I say insane things at 3 AM. I don’t actually expect you to find a million people in order to congratulate Lisa. Don’t worry.


  1. Heeh, I am allergic to rats (and I am scared of them too), but I bet that book could make me like them!
    The writing must be superb if it actually makes you forget you are reading about rats, so thanks for this review!!

    And congrats on the birth of Lisa's son! XD

  2. You and Hillary might be the only two people on earth who could get me to read an MG novel. Just sayin'. :)

  3. I'm with Simon. MG doesn't typically draw me in, but this book keeps coming up as so darn good that I need to get a copy asap. Thanks, Carol!

    Marissa :)

  4. I have heard so many good things about this book. I'm going to have to pick it up this weekend. Thanks for the great review!

  5. Anyone who enjoyed Redwall as a child will love this book. If you haven't read Redwall, Nightshade City is the perfect catalyst.

    Hilary is an amazing author and this is a smashing start to what is sure to become a well-respected series.

    Great review, C!

  6. Congratulations to Laura!! Yay!! And what a cutie!! Awwwwwww!

    This book has been so on my to buy and read list for x-mas since forever!! I can't wait!! Thanks for a fab review!! Take care

  7. I meant Lisa!!! congratulations to Lisa!! Oh dear! I'm so so so sorry! *blush and dying of SHAME!!"

  8. I'm excited for Hilary! She's gotten great reviews!

  9. Yeah, Hiary did a wonderful job with this book.

    I don't read a lot of middle grade anymore (my Kid is in high school now), but in response to those above:
    there are some MG books that should just be labeled as All Ages, because they transcend an age category.
    Charlotte's Web, for example...and who doesn't remember (and love) Mrs. Frisby?
    I love books that make animals 'real'...Watership Down nearly killed me.

    I think Nightshade City is a book for all ages and (both) genders. I LOVED it.

  10. Ooops...I should proof-read my comments! HiLary! (Sorry Hilary)

  11. LOVED it! You're review rocks, as usual!

  12. I used to have pet rats when I was younger. They're actually great pets! However, the wild kind totally gross me out. Sounds like a great book, though! And don't worry about sounding crazy at 3 am, after my last comment on your blog (also in the middle of the night) no one could sound crazier than I do! ;0

  13. I loved this book so much! CONGRATS to Hillary...not to mention to our youngest Bookanista!

  14. I wouldn't ever ever find sympathy for a worm but I think I can do rats. Anyway, your review, as usual sold me on the book. Now if only I had time to read it. Oh and I don't know Lisa (or have a drum) but congratulations to her for her baby!

  15. Sounds rat-tastic. that was lame, but yet another book to stack on my TBR pile that is already threatening to take over my bedroom. And I thought the laundry piling up on the bed was a problem. Pfft!

  16. This one is close to the top of my TBR pile. I can't wait to read it! :-)

  17. Whenever babies are born it's always such a happy day. Massive congrats to Lisa and her family.

    Thanks for the book review, Carol. I have so many books on my list now it's becoming a daunting task but I'm sure I'll soldier on.


  18. Wow, super huge congrats to Lisa and Aunt Laura! I'm so happy for them!!!!

    Carolina, thanks you so much for having me on your beautiful blog and for your fantastic review of Nightshade City! I'm so glad you liked it! Reviews = Scary!!!! This has started off to be a great month for me and with reviews like yours it can only get that much better!

    Thanks again, you are the best!!!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  19. Nightshade City was SO much fun to read!! I have my own review scheduled to post in the next couple weeks, but yours is gonna be hard to follow!!

  20. Everybody's raving about this book! I see it everywhere these days. I'll have to get my hands on a copy soon.

    As for Lisa's baby, it's already got a huge online following ^.^

  21. Yay--I loved this book--for all the same reasons (and yet, once again, you put it better than me) :) YAY FOR MIDDLE GRADE!!!!!

  22. Congratulations, Laura! You're so cool, Carolina!


    ~Elizabeth :)

  23. You are too much Carol. THANK YOU!!! XOXO

  24. Awww, congrats to Lisa on the new baby boy.

    And awesome review! Can't wait to read Hilary's book.

  25. lol, it's ok!
    Livejournal is different than blogspot. We have backdated entries which means that we can have posts remaining always on the top so our real everyday entries start lower down! lol

    I think you need to have an open-id to reply! I'm not sure, But that's ok! :)

  26. I loved this book. And I never imagined caring about rats.

  27. I always liked rats. They're so cute. And their tails are so warm and fuzzy. :)

  28. I totally agree with you about the rats. They are so REAL! Loved this book!

  29. Seems like theres a whole MAUS thing going on with this book! The premise is just precious! Thanks for another kick ass critique, Carol!

  30. Congratulations to your friend!

    I have always been tempted to read a YA book featuring rodents after the movie Secret of Nim. I even have a few on my shelf. This one looks good.

  31. Great review, as always. I love your insane 3 AM ramblings! :)

  32. Congratulations to Lisa! She'll be able to get back to blogging in ohhhh a few years. (wink)

    Nightshade City is wonderful! I'm almost finished with it! I can so see it as a movie...

  33. It's been crazy around here lately, so I haven't been to a bookstore in ages. I really have to go - I want this one for my classroom!

  34. Perfect ... a novel both my younger brother and I can enjoy :)

  35. Carol, you have been awarded the Cherry on Top Award on my blog! I see that you have no awards on your walls, which probably means that you don't redistribute them - but that's totally fine.

    I'm rewarding you regardless because you deserve it ^.^

  36. Congrats! You won an award at my blog!
    So come check it out at the cafe of answers!

  37. The Secret Of Nihm was one of my all time favorites when I was growing up. This has hooked me right away.

    Added to my list...

  38. What a cute review, Carolina! It makes me want to scurry over to the closest bookstore and buy the book. Thanks!

  39. Wow. This sounds so familiar, but obviously if it just came out I wouldn't have ever read it. Either it was the feature of another blog post recently or my psychic self is acting up. LOL. (Think I'm leaning towards the blogosphere....)


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