Just One More Chapter

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. 

-Vera Nazarian

 

I'm just trying to light up the world as much as I can one SciFi/paranormal/fantasy/space opera/time travel book at a time. 

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Umami...

The Muse of Nightmares - Laini Taylor


Warning: Fangirl rant about to commence in 3...2...1...

 

 

Laini Taylor is undeniably one of my top 3 favorite authors so please excuse my inelegant, rhapsodic fanaticism. I want to climb a mountain, a skyscraper, or maybe just a really tall tree, and scream out into the ether just how magically delicious this book, series, and author are!!! There needs to be a new rating system just for the likes of Laini Taylor because it is honestly unfair to constrain (and rate) her beautiful mind to just 5 stars. Her words are elegant and transformative. I wish I had the words to express just how transcendental, evocative and savory they are. Umami for your literary taste buds???...I told you I didn't have the right words but if I did, they would illustrate and epitomise how celestial her writing is and by me bombarding you with accurate yet insufficient adjectives, only showcases my inability to communicate just how resplendent this author's mind truly is.

 

 

You'll want to devour this read. Climb through the depths of its pages, transform into one of its characters and become one with their world(s). The gamut of Feels she will coax, tease, command from you will amaze you. It will demand and exact a mental tithe from you. Truth be told I liked Strange the Dreamer well enough but this second installment far surpasses it. If I find some more zealously impassioned adjectives to try and label her with I will edit this review but I doubt that will happen. Just go and read it damnit!!

 

~Enjoy

Don't dangle your participle- a great idea with cool illustrations but maybe a bit too advanced for its target demographic

Don't Dangle Your Participle - Vanita Oelschlager

This is a cute, grammatically intense, instructional children's book that teaches (very clearly) what a participle is, how it should be used and what changes in the meaning of the sentence when it is misplaced. The illustrations are the star of this show. They pair seamlessly with the text, showing how incorrect usage can lead to unintended, though highly comical, results.

 

The beginning is a bit clinical/technical, possibly making it difficult for a young one to absorb, so much so that I believe it would present a challenge even for my precocious 8 year old. My daughter would most likely be on the younger end of the targetted demographic but what she might lack in understanding I hope she will make up with appreciation for the silliness. Cute pictures aside, the lesson could very well go over her head and that would be a shame but who knows...let's see.

 

**************************************

After sitting down and finally reading this through with my self-proclaimed "Book Warrior", my initial prediction was pretty spot on. She found the beginning to be too long BUT after we got through the principal idea on the first pages, she started to become more invested. SO onward to the good bits we went. The silly illustrations convey succinctly what improper placement of the participle actually means. By the end my kiddo did grasp the concept, though just how well? We'll have to see. I must admit that she was happy to finally reach the last page because "the pictures were great but there were TOO many examples and I was kind of bored by the end".

 

Overall it was a really cool idea, in my opinion. It was a well thought out informative grammar lesson that I myself enjoyed but my young reader, who the pictures and silliness suggest it is intended for, was (to put it nicely) not overly impressed. It helped me identify what I possibly do wrong at times but my daughter...she'd rather go back to reading chapter books with some action. I asked her what her overall feeling for the book was and I was rewarded with a big sigh and an even bigger "MEH".


It was a tough decision as to how to rate this book since the verdict was split. I really enjoyed it and my daughter, well...did not BUT her appreciation, ability to grasp the concept and the amount of fun she had while reading it were all taken into consideration with regards to the rating.


Those are my two cents, I hope they help.


*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

Nothing Happens in This Book by Judy Ann Sadler

Nothing Happens In This Book is a fun predictive picturebook that has readers hunt for clues, trying to guess what will happen next. Each page has the main character finding missing objects, all necessary props for the final surprise, which invites the reader to become fully immersed in the mysterious progression of the plot. This is a cute book for the young (preschool age) reader who will likely enjoy seeing this story through to the surprise ending... BUT is it a brilliant, insta-favorite? Doubtful. Therein lies the problem. It has the feel of being quickly thrown together with very little substance, definitely not something my Little would ask for or read repeatedly.

 

 

*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsaing

I read this with my little one and she liked it even more than I expected her to and a lot more than I did. I will rate this based on her experience because I am undoubtedly not the target demographic.

 

There is a lot going on on the pages of this book but the pictures are definitely the highlight. The graphics are vivid, whimsical, sweet and fun. The text, on the other hand, is rhythmic and cute. It questions persistent gender specific labels and offers up some really unique alternatives. My daughter's favorite alternative was, "Maybe it was boys are made of balloons and mutts? And fresh chicken butts"...oh, how Littles love all talk of hineys.

 

Overall, I would reccomend this to those in the 2-5 year old range. The message is a good one. The graphics are silly and engaging and my daughter really enjoyed the package as a whole BUT I wish it had a stronger ending. The end just stops, no true feeling of things being wrapped up nicely...oh well, opportunity missed though I still I would reccomend this one. It's sweet and the message is worth sharing.

 

*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

Oddling Prince

The Oddling Prince - Nancy Springer

Are you in the market for an Arthurian type tale that pulls you along in a riptide of ye old prose...fae folktales with little to no gritty substance..High fantasy without true danger in quest or trial... fae princes with daddy issues caught in the midst of an insta-bromance that might be boarderline, "I want to wear your skin and be you", unhealthy?? (I now realize that this is catering to a VERY specific niche market) Then this book is for you!

 

Fair warning: That bromance was weird!! I asked myself repeatedly "where is this going" and "how did this happen so fast"?!? It was definitely uncomfortable until the love interest was introduced and then I sighed with relief that things didn't end up THERE. Marissa was a cute character to throw into the mix but her relationship with Aric was lacking... oh well, opportunity missed.

 

The book was going pretty well until all heck broke loose on their "quest" to find Albaric a true home and Aric a wife. After the skirmish it seemed to drone on and on. What I had considered endearing before quickly became tiresome. I know that that is probably not a popular view (and maybe a touch fickle) BUT I gave it a fair chance. I even purchased this on Audible, after the written format began to chafe, with the hope of changing the tone up enough to bring back some appeal BUT alas, it was not meant to be. If you like all the parameters mentioned above then this could very well be your thang.. it wasn't mine.

Fawkes- where magic and treason mix nicely

Fawkes - Nadine Brandes

This is a rather nicely written reimagining of Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Treason and plot. Within you will find: a magical system based on colors, "perversions" of said magic, a doomed rebellion, a stone plague, sword fights, disguises, betrayal and greed all with a smattering of ye old honour and a boat load of British spelling with "U"s added in for good measure. Other such period appropriate British niceties include: Tower of London activities like tar and nails to the face (a popular twist on the family friendly punishment of Tar and Feathering), threats of hangings, drawn and quartering and all around 17th century crimes against humanity fun.


I'll attempt to give a spoiler free review, therefore some particulars will have to be skirted. I will concede that it is a smidgen preachy on the monotheistic front, one Color to rule them all type thing...BUT...with that being said I'd like to follow up with a ringing endorsement as to how exciting and addicting this novel is... slight preachiness and all.

It features a first person narrative by Guy Fawkes' quasi-historically accurate son named Thomas. Thomas is 16 years old but more than that he is noble, brave, gallant and determined to get to the core of all matters so that he can understand and do what's Right. He (begrudgingly) sets off on a life altering journey to find his father, the infamous Guy Fawkes, seeking to force his father to give him a family crafted Color commanding mask which he believes will help cure his dormant Stone Plague, save the persecuted Keepers and allow himself to become the Man he believes himself capable of being.


:::GASP:::
(end of run on rant)


The other characters are interesting though not very diverse. I happened to enjoy the supporting cast save two. There was Emma. I LOVED her and all of her nuances! I especially loved all that she represented, stood for, and even how beautifully she supported Thomas - aiding him in his transformation to become the best possible version of himself. She was bold, implacable, talented, unshakable in her Faith and other enviable traits. Now Dee on the other hand... that's all I will say on that matter... spoilers and such.


Fair warning for those Cupid haters out there, there is a romantic relationship within BUT it is SO tame it does not overshadow or muddle the action. It is cute and mellow and most of all sweet.


Overall the writing was delicious, how else could I have devoured it so quickly? (har har har) The character development was palpable, rich and robust. Mrs. Brandes makes it all seem simple/seamless. I am not an avid reader of Historical Fiction BUT I luxuriated in this one, a compliment for sure! If you like period pieces, gritty London of old, plots and schemings and betrayal (oh my) AND most of all... the glittery tiara on top... a UNIQUE (almost historically accurate) magical journey without a cliffhanger ending, then I suggest you pick this one up and give it a go!

~Enjoy!

 

Circe- please welcome the new, and some will say improved, Homer

Circe - Madeline Miller

This book was equal parts brilliant and addictive. I initially started this for a book club meeting that, I will admit, I begrudgingly missed BUT I dutifully and happily finished the read and boy was I glad I did.

 

It is, as the title suggests, based on Circe, a minor Titan. It chronicles her journey of growth, her realization of Self and what it means to be a good "person" and live a full/fruitful/productive life. In supporting roles are all of the people -humans/gods/demi gods- (most of whom we met in Mythology class circa 6th grade) that helped or hindered her reach her epiphanies along the way. It was fun seeing the Greek mythological stories I had read as a youth from another, more relatable, perspective.

 

Many times I was one with Circe's emotions. I felt slighted and worthless when she was dealing with the other gods. I felt all the motherly stressors like paranoia/sleeplessness/devotion/murderous rage towards anyone who wishes to harm them & desperation to foresee and prevent anything that might hurt, maime or kill them... all of this coupled with the myriad of other feelings a first time mother experiences (often all at once). These were her reactions to being a new Mother with Telegonus and man oh man do I remember running through THAT gamut of feels. I felt victorious every time she triumphed. I felt scorned and dejected every time she fell for someone or gave too much of herself only to have it thrown back in her face or go unappreciated... AND... don't even get me started on that rape scene.

 

All of this empathy and commiseration on my part can only mean 1 thing... literary genius featuring beautiful writing coupled with amazingly rich character development and THAT was worth every second of my detour from my regularly scheduled hike through Mt TBR.

If you like Greek mythology and can see past a cast of character names that are harder to pronounce than the popular Polish folk song: Szła dzieweczka do laseczka, then this is for you!! Don't miss out on this excellent character driven gem that gives Homer a run for his money.

~Enjoy

Bruja Born- an exciting, nicely paced, supernatural gem

Bruja Born - Zoraida Córdova

Fair warning: I did not read, or even know about, the first book in the series when I ventured into this world. I don't know where my brain was with that fail BUT not having read book 1 didn't detract from my enjoyment of this one so please take that into consideration when reading my thoughts on the matter.

 

I listened to this via Audible and I have to admit that I think the narrator added just the right touch... some je ne sais quoi. She painted a much more vivid mental picture than the cinema in my brain could have and being a die hard ereader junkie, admitting that was something akin to passing a kidney stone BUT I digress.

 

This witchy story was spellbinding (hehehe)! I love love LOVED the familial dynamics, especially between the sisters!! Their unshakable bond was both heartwarming and inspirational. I even liked Lula's relationship and banter with Lady de la Muerta. This exciting tale had zombie like creatures, witches, vampires, magical being hunters and more all cohabiting and coalescing around a place very near and dear to my heart. The book mostly takes place in Brooklyn NY, only minutes from where I was born and raised. Hearing the places that I have explored at length, named as the backdrop to the story created such an instant bond that I felt at once attached and wholeheartedly dialled in...I felt like I was home again. I love when Lula kept calling sirens "Brooklyn's lullaby"... like most cities, it happens to be SO true!! My daughter was lulled to sleep hearing sirens, dogs barking, bickering lovers and car doors slamming at all hours of the night and still she slept. I can't really comment on how this added or compared to book 1 but I will say that if the first is anywhere near as good as this one, I'm headed over to Audible straight away to catch up. All in all the writing was great. The world building was excellent and the characters...well the characters were captivating, endearing and made you want to root for them as well as be one of them. In my opinion it is a great read/listen.

 

~Enjoy!

Two Dark Reigns by Kendra Blake

Oh my word, this book is every bit as good as the first two and that's saying a lot. There were a few places where the story seemed to drag a bit but overall it was a great read and that ending... momma Mia that ending. After several days of sitting.. and stewing..and contimplating..I am still on the fence about my true feelings with respect to that ending. What I will say is that it was an extremely emotive and visceral thing to behold!!

 

Kendra Blake has an uncanny ability to suck you into all manner of goings on with simple yet compelling imagery. The world building is beautifully done and the chatacters... these characters are rich, robust and relatable. Mrs. Blake crafts her characters with such expertise you can easily find yourself sympathizing with the most dastardly, reprehensible, morally bankrupt people. She knows how to write all kinds of touching, complex, compelling relationships. She can make jealousy bloom in your heart while reading about a rather sweet love story between two sociopaths or have you crying over the loss of an estranged relationship, be it between 2 humans or between a human and a furry friend and THAT is just the beginning of why I say she is bloody brilliant.

 

I happen to be really fond of this series...this world...this author... and if you liked the first 2 books at all then I'm positive you'll relish this one as well, slow bits and all!

 

~Enjoy

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

*** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

 

This character driven standalone is pure YA Fantasy magic!! The writing is excellent. It is told in 6 varying POVs, each exceedingly unique and magnificent in their own rights. The characters are crisp, witty and incredibly beautiful in their diversity. Yes there is a motely crew of character tropes including a plus sized, anxiety stricken, female ace genius, a bisexual rogue and a m/m relationship so sweet it will surely tug at those heartstrings. I love how the topic of sexuality is broached so casually, not being the energy that fuels the plot, it is simply a noted fact and then the plot moves on. There are twists and turns aplenty that will not only amaze and keep you guessing into the wee hours BUT they might even break your heart... who's that sniffling? Not me!!

 

Overall, I highly recommend this extremely satisfying read!!

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07BFTZFKV/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1536765685&sr=8-1

Phases of the Moon by Josef Bastian

**** I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ****

 

I love to give glowing reviews to books I have invested time and, more importantly, pieces of myself. I would especially love to gush and rave about each and every book I am gifted BUT that's not realistic. I dread giving less than stellar reviews when an author has graciously asked for my criticism of their hard work BUT while I am reticent to speak ill of the fruits of their labor and love, I also have to be honest so here we go.

 

The most obvious aspect of this book is its slightly sophomoric, repetitive and succinct writing style. It has an interesting premise but it feels forced to fit, crammed tightly into a middle grade mold when it could have easily been a much more robust YA fantasy. The character interactions were stilted, awkward and flat to boot. All of the characters suffered from an overabundance of genre cliches and an underdeveloped, nondiverse cast. This is especially noticeable with the female characters. It was extremely offputting because my young reader happens to be a strong, willful impressionable young lady and I prefer that she sees her gender (and by extension herself) depicted in capable, dynamic, fully developed, positive, diverse characterizations. Is that a lot to ask? I think not but sadly this 2d depiction of females is a common tropy trend that alienates and disregards the girls that, like most readers, are looking for something of themselves in everything they read. Am I being rough? Yes! After reading the synopsis I went into this fully prepared to fall in love and unfortunately I fell into dissapointment.


Now granted, I am most likely not the targeted demographic here BUT not only have I read MANY a gripping MG & younger end of YA books, I am always on the hunt to find interesting (yet age appropriate) novels to share with my precocious child. Sadly this isn't going to be one of them. 

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07G4FZJRH/ref=tmm_kin_title_sr?ie=UTF8&qid=1536523718&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Black Bird of the Gallows - Meg Kassel

Black Bird of the Gallows has a unique premise with an interesting spin on old myths.

Within you will find a (not so) diverse cast of angsty teens dealing with high school drama and, of course, there's brooding aplenty. But that's to be expected with a YA PNR...

 

It has a quick pace but it in no way feels rushed... if you will, it has a steady rhythm (teehee) all its own that easily led me by the hand, bleary eyed, into the wee hours. The characters feel genuine and more importantly, I felt for & with them. There are heepings of cheesy banter and a quasi-insta love as well.

 

However, the catastrophic events were a tad too tame for what I expected/craved and the plot as a whole has just a pinch of Creepy instead of a generous helping of "where's my nightlight?" Scary. The writing is succinct causing varying degrees of rapt attention (mostly dependent on my ability to stomach and navigate (trooper style) through all of the MANY PNR tropes. The world building is decent though the magical aspect is, at times, flat. Key elements are not only underutilized and poorly explained (never reaching their fullest potential) but characters that are introduced and anticipated (the Strawmen) aren't even given more than a cursory role featuring a 1 sentence speaking line that is heard(?!?) by exactly 1 person... then POOF... into the Ether with them/him/??

 

For a good portion of the book (until about the 70% mark) I found myself screaming at my ereader (a fruitless yet common occurrence in my household) for Reece to just leave town thereby saving both himself and our strong, "I'm no damsel in distress, I'll save myself thank you very much" heroine. All would be right, albeit heartwrenching, with the soon-to-be Harbinger/Beekeeper free town. I chatted animatedly with my ereader all the way until I reached the plot twist at the end and at that point all was forgiven. The ending is both cute and neatly wrapped up with a spiffy glittery bow and a sparkly, cliffhanger free, ribbon to boot.

 

It is more than likely that I am no longer the targeted demographic for YA PNR... BUT if those are your genres dejour then this one's a keeper.

The Psychology of Time Travel

*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***


I feel obliged to start off this review with an admission. Anyone who has read my background or even some of my reviews will know straight away that I am a HUGE sucker for Time Travel stories, I just love them!! This one was unique and did not disappoint. The Psychology of Time Travel is many things but it is glaring a mixed bag of genres that will resonate with many demographics. These include: Mystery, Science Fiction, Feminist Fiction, LGBT friendly, and of course Timey Wimey bits. Warning: This book might not be for you if you are using it as a sleep aid or to zone out. There are some potential sticky spots like the chapters jumping around eras/dates and POVs which can get a bit muddled with who is connected to whom and when major events take place BUT in the end it is pretty easy to suss out if you're paying attention.

 

This book is most decidedly pro female with almost no male characters in sight. The women depicted are not only interesting but absolutely brilliant! The plot is rife with hot topics like various mental health issues and hope to deal with them in extremely high stress situations, Love relationships of all forms, Death, Time Travel and its unlimited possibilities/ messy bag of entanglements. How are paradoxes avoided? How are Time Traveler crimes overseen, investigated and persecuted? How are various relationships navigated when two people are from two different era? Etc...

 

The world development was unique and extremely interesting. The relationships were written quite well and felt genuine, so much so I shed a non allergy related tear near the end at Grace's gift to Ruby... the last reveal was sweet as well. The antagonist was robotic yet dastardly and vile and the Protagonist? Well, there were a few but all the different voices joined together nicely which is a tricky thing to pull off with so many differing POVs. I will say that there was A LOT crammed into this Who-Done-It which, being overly complex may or may not have worked to its advantage. Personally, I enjoyed it.

Foundryside

Foundryside - Robert Jackson Bennett

***I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

 

Oh my word, Robert Jackson Bennett has done it again! With this new endeavour, Foundryside, he graciously allowed us a glimpse of the genius behind the curtain inside his highly unconventional brain. This novel has unbelievably intricate World development, an imaginatively complex magic system and beautifully written characters. It is a high octane, extremely well developed Adult Fantasy that gives us bizarre creations such as people who can Code objects to believe/behave in any manner they so choose.... there are materials that are "scrived" to believe they are bigger, stronger, lighter, faster or just "other" than their true nature. Then there are characters that can alter said devices to make them act however they so choose by questioning and redefining their core directives. There are also weird and wonderful, synapse stretching contraptions aplenty.

The first quarter of the book was captivating. I really felt like I couldn't look away. The middle of the book unfortunately felt a bit sluggish. It mostly seemed bogged down with bland/flat character interactions.

 

What it had in spades were moral and social injustices abound. Morality and the very nature of Reality were questioned repeatedly and the results were unique and captivating. Other common motifs included: What does it take to do what's right even if it is in direct opposition with our "true" nature? What about in the face of incredible injustice? What does it mean to have Power and what does it do to the person who wields it? Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of our predecessors? What happens when the Powerless are suddenly given some power? Will it corrupt? Will it finally be used to benefit the downtrodden? What does it mean to be free? Can you feel free even if you are hardwired for mindless servitude?... and more...

 

 

The ending left me with nearly as many questions as it answered. Over all this was an interesting, gripping and extremely unique read. It is definitely worth the time!!

Sweet Dreams, Supergirl

~~~3.5 Stars~~~

 

****I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

 

This one is a split decision in my household. The story managed to resonate with my 8 year old, superhero loving, daughter even though it didn't work for me. She especially loved the pages that had split illustrations depicting both Supergirl and the Super sleepy girl. I personally felt like the story was too sparse and didn't necessarily correlate the Superhero's actions with that of the girl going to bed. My favorite part was the checklist at the end reminding the book's owners to snuggle, read, be brave etc..

 

There is an incredible burgeoning market for young superhero and comic book lovers, especially female ones, that I truly feel like this story could have been Awesome! Granted, I am not the targeted demographic BUT as the mother of a young hero loving daughter (and the one who purchases her reading materials) I am a bit sad that this didn't hit the mark for me. Is it cute? Yes. Is it steeped in Superheroes and their diverse awesomeness? Not really. It does convey the sentiment that whether you are a superhero or a super kiddo, everyone needs to find time to wind down and recharge. Was this a homerun? Nope, but it did get decent feedback from my Little One and in the end she's the one that will hopefully be coming back to read this over and over again.

A Reaper At The Gates... SQUEE!!!

A Reaper at the Gates - Sabaa Tahir

How do I convey the beautifully succinct writing by the venerable Mrs. Sabaa Tahir without gushing incoherently?!? I'll try my best... here goes...

 

If you haven't already started this series I HIGHLY recommend you do so immediately. It is an affirmation of Hope and ceaseless Possibility in the face of dire, desperate circumstances... a theme that is extremely poignant due to the chaotic/ uncertain times we currently live in. From the very start we are dropped off right into the chaos where A Torch Against the Night left off. The pacing was perfect. There were twists and betrayals and bloodshed... Oh My!!

 

The characters were rich and nuanced. They felt like old friends/nemesis you have grown to love and love to hate. They were crafted magnificently. True to the dichotomy of real life personas, each one was depicted as varying shades of grey. I loathe characters that are drawn either purely White or starkly Black... BRING ON THE GRADIENTS BABY!!! Mrs. Tahir manages to make you feel empathy and compassion for the antagonists (after seeing what lead them down the path toward hatred and wickedness). I felt conflicted (as I'm sure you will see) as to who was the "victim" and who the evildoers...for all had claim to both... and really, isn't that the mark of a well written, truly visceral hero/villain?? The multiple POVs worked. They played off of the next person's arc so skillfully that I was saddened each time a chapter came to an end. Elias's role, on the other hand, felt like fodder... or the sticky icky pie filler that could have easily been left out (if not for his usefulness in the last quarter of the book). It felt like he was used as a means to move things along in places that needed a quick plot progression That was a little sad since he was, and should continue to be, an integral player...imho.

 

This installment was multifaceted. It boasted nefarious jinn, mischiviously violent ghosts, seers/Augurs, a smattering of warlocks, a tiny dallop of romance, twisty reveals and LOADS of bloody vengeance. What else can you possibly want in a book?? It's a gritty book in a heart wrenching series and I love every single word of it!! I will continue to shout its praise from the mountaintops.... mountaintops I say and I truly, deeply, infatically believe you will too. Go ahead, prove me wrong, I'd love to read all about it.

 

~Enjoy