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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green

5.12.2022

BLOG TOUR - WE ARE THE SONG BY CATHERINE BAKEWELL - MIDDLE GRADE FICTION [REVIEW + GIVEAWAY]


I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour for the debut of author 
Catherine Bakewell, We Are the Song.  Check out my review below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information



Title: We Are the Song
Authors(s): Catherine Bakewell
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook; 304 pgs
Publisher: Holiday House
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - Audible - B&N - BAM! - iBooks - Kobo - TBD 
Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.


Tour Schedule

Week One
5/2/2022 - YABooksCentral - Excerpt
5/2/2022 - Rajiv's Reviews - Review/IG Post
5/3/2022 - fictionologyst - Review/IG Post
5/3/2022 - The Girl Who Reads - Review/IG Post
5/4/2022 - A Court of Coffee and Books - Review/IG Post
5/4/2022 - boozybook blog - Review/IG Post
5/5/2022 - Excuse Me, I’m Reading - Review
5/5/2022 - TakeALookAtMyBookshelf - Review
5/6/2022 - A Bookish Dream - Review/IG Post
5/6/2022 - Celia's Reads - Review/IG Post

Week Two
5/9/2022 - @the.page.sage - TikTok Review/IG Post
5/9/2022 - The Momma Spot - Review/IG Post
5/10/2022 - Lifestyle of Me - Review
5/10/2022 - onemused - Review
5/11/2022 - More Books Please blog - Review/IG Post
5/11/2022 - Log Cabin Library - Review
5/12/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post
5/12/2022 - Momfluenster - Review/IG Post
5/13/2022 - @enjoyingbooksagain - Review
5/13/2022 - The Bookwyrm's Den - Review


The Summary

A lush and beautiful fantasy set in a world where music is magic and the fate of many thrones lies with one girl...

Twelve-year-old Elissa has been raised in seclusion as a devotee of the Mother Goddess. She is a special child, a blessed child, a child who can sing miracles into being. Her voice can heal wounds, halt landslides, cure hunger--and even end wars.

But there are those who would use her gift for darker things. And when Elissa finds herself the farthest from home she's ever been--along with her vain and jealous music tutor, Lucio--she will have to develop the judgment to decide who wants to use her song to heal... and who wants to use her song to hurt.

Reviews

"Elissa’s desire to follow her divinely inspired abilities and overcome the barriers to her musical ambitions echo women’s historical experiences in classical music. . . . And constellations of race, sexuality, and gender expression lend richness to an already unique world."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"This fast-paced fantasy is full of action and intrigue, taking place in a war-torn world that still holds much beauty and magic. Readers will come to love Elissa, who struggles with doubts as she faces heartbreak, tragedy, and loneliness and tries to fight for what is right. An excellent addition to middle-grade fantasy collections."—Booklist

"Fantasy fans will queue up for this delightful novel with its strong female characters and carefully drawn fantasy world. . . . Fast packed action will keep readers totally engaged. This captivating novel promises a good future for this first-time author."—School Library Connection

"An exploration of devotion and finding one’s voice."—Kirkus Reviews

My Review

We Are the Song by Catherine Bakewell felt, in many ways, not like a middle grade book at all.  It was beautifully written, with such lyrical prose, it tackled big concepts, and had such an interesting magic system in place.  It has the ability to be a "high-low" book, meaning it has high level concepts presented in a lower level reading capacity, making it digestible for a multitude of reading levels.  But the best trait it had was heart.  I have found that heart is the true center of so many middle grade books I have read, and We Are the Song does not lack a heart.

Elissa, the main character, has been set out on a journey, along with her Composer, Lucio, to share her gift with the larger world, as a global war is breaking out over who will rule her home country of Cadenza, the two opponents being neighboring countries, Basso and Acuto.  The reader starts the journey with Elissa and Lucio in Basso, where Elissa must face some hard decisions and make her own choices that will change not only her fate, but the fate of the war.

Coming into the book, I was intrigued by the use of song as a form of magic.  And specifically that this ability is only granted to certain individuals,  the "Voices of the Goddess".  Elissa is the youngest Voice to exist, becoming the 12th Voice currently alive. Within the magical system, each "Voice" is assigned a "Composer", who writes the songs (both music and lyrics) for the voices to sing.  Each song created gets weaker the more often it is sung, at one point unable to work altogether.  So the Composers are constantly creating new songs, or tweaking on older ones to continue the magic.  As a lover of music, and a believer in the power of song, this portion of the story sucked me right in.

Elissa starts out as a naive, sheltered young girl, but there is a lot of character growth.  Elissa was an absolute sweetheart, and I think many kids who read this book will click with her immediately.  While she goes through some pretty traumatic events, she always has a sense of hope within, guiding her forward.  There were some other important side characters, like her Composer Lucio for instance, but none of them received as much development as Elissa.  This makes sense in the context of a middle-grade book with a younger character surrounded by older characters, but it also made the story not feel as full.

The introduction to the world, magic, and mythos was great.  I really believe in this world that Bakewell has created.  It was much more religious then I had expected previously.  The skeleton upon which the system was developed feels, especially for someone who was raised Roman Catholic, to be largely based on Christianity.  But I don't know if that will be very apparent to kids who read it, and it is also done in a way that still feels organic to the overall plot.  Also, Bakewell never presents this aspect in a way that makes the reader feel "lectured".  There isn't preaching, there isn't judgement on different lifestyles, and Caé, the goddess in this world, is very real.  So for readers sensitive to religious ideology, this book may not be enjoyable, but I believe it is crafted in a way that works really well within the context of the world and story.

The only thing that really detracted from the story was the pacing.  I felt like this could have been a duology, as the first 3/4ths of the book was build up establishing the world and setting Elissa on this journey, but then the last 1/4th was rushed with everything coming to a conclusion, and the events not being given an opportunity to breathe fully.  As I was reading I kept thinking, "Oh this is a series", so I was a little surprised when it ended up being a stand-alone.  I think that did disservice to the story that Bakewell was crafting, and I would've really enjoyed more of the story overall, so readers got to experience more of the final act.

We Are the Song by Catherine Bakewell was a solid fantasy debut.  I really enjoyed the book, and if she ever wants to dip back into the world of Cadenza, I think there are a multitude of opportunities for more (it could be alá Tamora Pierce; that would be exciting).  We Are the Song is beautifully written, contains good life advice, and has a interesting magic system.  I think readers of all ages will really enjoy picking this one up.
 

Final Rating




About the Author



About Catherine Bakewell:
Catherine Bakewell is a writer, artist, and opera enthusiast. She has lived in Spain and in France, where she romped through gardens, ate pastries, and worked on her novels. We Are the Song is her debut.




Giveaway
1 winner will receive a finished copy of WE ARE THE SONG, US Only.

CLICK THE GRAPHIC


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