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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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

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee

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

 

 

This book is a PSA wrapped up in a wordy bow with glitter on top. It showcases a little girl named India Wimple who is anxious and afraid to make her dream happen. She has a very strong support network of family and friends. This cheering section boosts her confidence so that she not only believes in herself more but she learns to overcome her anxiety of doing something she's awesome at, spelling, in front of an crowd. Once she wrangles her fears she signs up for the spelling bee and the rest is history.

 

 

This book is not afraid to tackle difficult topics like dealing with both chronic/life threatening illness and financial strife. LOVE that!! (Not the financial strife bit but bringing into the light topics that some would rather brush under the rug).

 

 

I won't give away too much, especially since the unconditional love and support are what truly makes this book shine, but I will say that the overall take home messages are sweet and poignant and something I will definitely pass along to my little girl when we read this one together. Not only will she broaden her vocabulary with new snazzy words, she will also be exposed to the beautiful messages that show her the power of supportive kindness and that anything is possible if you believe in yourself!

 

Great read with great illustrations!!

A Study In Shifters

A Study In Shifters (The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, #1) - Majanka Verstraete

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


This book sounded so intriguing that when NetGalley got back to me and actually said yes to my request to review it I dove in straight away... rocketing it to the tippy top of my TBR pile. You can read the official synopsis to get the gist of the plot so I will spare you the filler and not regurgitate it here. What I will say is that this story was billed as a Paranormal Who Done It featuring a kick butt heroine that is not only a descendent of the one and only master of the Sleuth game, Sherlock Holmes, but a fierce Royal blooded shifter to boot.

 

YES PLEASE!! Gimme Gimme!

 

Now, after having finished the book, I won't classify it as a total letdown but it was most decidedly a mixed bag. The pacing was perfect. There were no lagging, skim inducing parts. On the other hand the world building, character development and overall writing were merely okay. There was SO much repetition, especially about her "Sherlock mode", "mind palace" and incessant inner shifter pictionary style commentary, that it felt like a crime against humanity, a felony whereby you were constantly and viciously being mentally accosted...

 

(((GASP)))

 

End run on sentence here.

squirrelly digression aside and back to the regularly scheduled review...

 

The budding relationships were a tease. They could have been SO much more. They felt like they were just starting to getting immersive, good and entangled, tantalizingly enmeshed, when the connection either disintergrated or was severed and left dangling. The carrot was yanked away so violently that the literary Horse (being we the reader) was left unsatisfied and wanting.

 

However, I was probably not the targeted audience since I found the writing to be a touch sophomoric for my taste. This coupled with the repetition problem and lack of character relationship cohesion made it feel like it was geared towards a much younger YA reader. So if you are a 12-14 year old paranormal, mystery, tame romance enthusiast, this one is definitely for you!

Royal Bastards - Andrew Shvarts

This was an ambling read with a campy feel but didn't have much depth to it. The world building was decent. The characters were okay. There were a few incongruity issues and more than a few improbable outcomes to overwhelming situations and even a flat, unrealistic, jealous tantrum that seemed more awkward than passionate. Speaking of awkward, there was an uncomfortable "I am a step above disinterested if you are even breathing --> I will change who I am and what I believe in because my life now revolves around you" relationship- insert weird love scene in the middle of that mess.

 

All in all this read was... Meh.

The Magician's Secret by Zachary Hyman

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

 

 

When we first begin the story we are told that the Magician's Secret is the wonderous and unknown factor of Magic. Even though magic plays a role in grandpa's life (he was a magician), what Charlie really treasures most is his time with grandpa in the attic telling tales about grandpa's life and adventures with the items inside the Magic Story Chest. Stories of grandpa in a dogfight with the Red Baron...Rat-A-Tat-Tat...stories of how grandpa outwitted a T-Rex... Zing! Zing! Zing!...and more. It tells how sadly, most grownups have lost their ability to imagine great big daydreams of possibilities. To this grandpa tells Charlie that they don't have faith in make-believe anymore and that using your imagination can do amazing things like turning a dream into something real. Grandpa teaches Charlie that magic is not only all around us, it's in us too and there's tremendous power in Belief. This book not only has beautiful pictures but a beautiful message to boot. I think we all could stand to remind ourselves to stop and take some time out of our very important/serious/responsible day and just think incredible thoughts and dream miraculous dreams. The power of imagination and belief are not only crucial to the development and wellbeing of our kids but we as adults could stand to be reminded every now and again as well. The Magician's Secret does just that. It is written very well and flows nicely. Sure to be treasured by your little believer.

Furyborn - Claire Legrand

I read a few chapters of this months ago and just KNEW I had to have it. Sooooo into my preorder list it went. When it arrived in my kindle at 12:04 a.m. I was giddy. Lately, the preorders that are finally coming in have been AWESOME!!... more on the others to come BUT back to Furyborn....

 

This one sucked me in from the very start and held my attention throughout. That alone is a minor miracle at times. The pacing was spot on- It wasn't too fast as to feel rushed and disjointed and it definitely was not too slow- leaving you counting pages, hoping that it would just end already and put you out of your misery. The world building and character development were superb and even though the big reveal wasn't such a big surprise, it unravelled tantalizingly and was delivered expertly. I was helplessly enamored with how well the 2 dueling MC's POVs played tug-of-war with my emotional wellbeing. What were the MCs like you ask? Good question! Both Rielle and Elianna were absolute bad asses...I LOVE a story that features strong women and this one has a few. Navi was another amazing female who had no magic but made up for it with her bravery, determination and compassion. Then there were the "men"folk... in this book the males were either AWESOME...ahem, I'm looking at you Simon, Audrik and even little Remy.... or downright, unequivocally, nauseatingly Repugnant.... yes you (although not limited to) Corien, sit in the corner and think of all the Wrongness that is you, your crawlers, and your dirty deeds.

 

 

All of the wrongness set aside, the chapters switched effortlessly back and forth in just the right (cliffy) places, that had me fiending unhealthily for more... my curiosity was toyed with and grew exponentially at every turn... demanding I read on, rapt.

 

 

"The empirium lies within every living thing, and every living thing is of the empirium. Its power connects not only flesh to bone, root to earth, stars to sky, but also road to road, city to city. Moment to moment."

 

 

...the Empirium ensnared me and I can't get enough. Honestly, I NEED book #2 asap!

 

 

All in all, Furyborn passed Go and went directly onto my Favorites list. I HIGHLY recommend this one!

~Enjoy

loooooooove this! Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish - Akemi Dawn Bowman

I just this moment finished this book and I can't say enough how much love, hope and healing I am feeling because it exists. I want to sit down properly and write out what's what here but I had to immediately shout to whomever is out there reading/listening... this book is AMAZING!! Every word was perfection and the chapters look like a toddler got ahold of a highlighter and went to town, that's how much quotable awesomeness there is within. Ok, first sleep then (hopefully) coherent gushing in the morning.

 

UPDATE:


"I draw a girl with arms that reach up to the clouds, but all the clouds avoid her because she’s made of night and not day."


Oh man I am starstruck with this book... Starstruck and ensnared. This book is emotionally brutal and beautiful, and gripping in the most poignant of ways. Even though I'm not the exact targeted audience... I'm not biracial, I never dealt with the agony of divorce, my anxiety is off the chart but outwardly, socially, I look like a regular, "normal" mess. I still consumed, nay... DEVOURED this beautiful gem... I LOVED every second... I was Kiko... I KNEW..I felt... I winced.. I cried... I was learning to navigate crippling social anxiety... dealing with a toxic mother/daughter/family dynamic and searching for a way to rely on myself to exist and coexist in a scary, chaotic world.

 

 

"I know not every family is the same. We all have different personalities and names. Different colors in a box of crayons. Different shades in a box of graphites. And maybe love looks different to different people, the same way beauty looks different. But the kind of love I need isn’t the kind I have. I guess I’m still trying to find a way to be okay with that."

 

 

"I don’t want to need anyone. I want to stand on my own two feet. I want control of my own life and my own emotions. I don’t want to be a branch in someone else’s life anymore—I want to be the tree on my own."

 

The writing was so smooth and effortless I kind of want this review to be a compilation of quotes...let the writing speak for itself....BUT I'm a slightly narcissist book reviewer so I have to put my 2 cents in. Anyway... I found myself breazing through... happily unaware of my page progression. The characters were rich and lovable and loathsome and brilliant all at the same time. Kiko' s anxiety was so tangible and relateable that my own panic rose, chest constricted and pulse galloped every time she ran into triggers.

 

"I live my life in the small space between “uncomfortable” and “awkward.”

 

I can relate!

 

One of my favorite characters was the most amazing Art/Life mentor, Hiroshi. He was like an introspective Zen master who knew all the right things to say and expressed them in all the right ways.... visually, verbally, charismatically , intrinsically.


"Don’t live to please the starfish, especially when their happiness is at the expense of yours. That is not love. That is narcissism. There’s an entire ocean out there, Kiko—swim in it.”


And then there was Jaime. Oh sweet Jaime, how I adore thee! He may have seemed a little bit too perfect but in a world of abuse, anxiety and uncertainty I'll take Perfect every time, greedily. This guy was so swoon worthy that I am still thinking of his unconditional, slightly unbelievable, loyalty and love for the girl who comes off as utterly broken and hopeless yet happens to be the strongest most self aware, resilient character in the book. She is an amazing work in progress and Jaime is aware enough to recognize her awesomeness.

 

There was just too much incredible, and loads of amazing with all sorts of feeeeeeels!!!

I can't recommend this book highly enough!! THOUGH there are a few trigger warnings:

*pediphilic overtures
*attempted suicide
*anxiety triggers abound
*parental neglect/verbal/mental abuse


There are also amazing triggers like:
*coming to terms with what cannot be changed
*learning to rely on oneself instead of using people as crutches to deal with Life
*learning to love thyself and find beauty in the mirror...

It showed that Beauty comes in all flavors and it can be found in random, unconventional places.


"Artwork isn’t finished just because you’ve colored up to every corner on the page. Artwork is finished when you get to the end of your sentence."


I know this was slightly long but I can not convey enough that this book is BRILLIANT!! Read it, you'll thank me later!!

engn- Steampunk with no steam

Engn - Simon Kewin

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

 

 

This should have been a no brainer/ Insta win for me BUT it was a laborious read and an even more torturous test of my endurance. I LOVE Steampunk!! I said it... I know many are sick of it or never really warmed up to the (now abundant) trend but I really do love it...I especially love it when it is written well...and here it was...MEH! This was a tropic coming of age tale whereby the youth try to find their place in a world ruled by a corrupt system that seeks to conform everyone to their specific, moldable, ideology. The twists were not so hard to suss out and the plot moved at a snails pace. For me it did not resonate BUT if your into conspiracy theories revolving around some evil societal overlords and their machinations then this might be your type of read.

Ruthless Magic

***I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.***


With that being said I must start off with a declaration...WOW! Not only was this ruthless but it was brutal and painful to experience. It has been likened to a literary baby procured from the loins of The Hunger games + The Magicians and let me tell you...it is an extremely apt comparison.


"Maybe we’d grown up at opposite ends of the city, on opposite sides of that invisible divide between old magic and new, but in that moment we were feeling the exact same horror, and he would go every bit as far as I would to overcome it."

 

I gathered that the trials were to be difficult and dangerous but torturous to read was not what I was expecting when I first ventured down the magic rabbit hole. The characters were diverse, true, and a few were fleshed out nicely but the 2 characters whose POVs we were privy to were my favorite. Rocio was not only brave and talented but she was strong willed, humane and fierce as well. Seeing what was to become of her (and Finn) kept me reading well after I lost interest in the torture fest. The big twist was an interesting wrench thrown into la machina and it even has some future potential but I can not foresee which direction this will go...that's sort of how this entire book went. We went from horrific situation to even more gruesome/ morally bankrupt scenario...on and on until the very end (which was slightly on the underwhelming side). The beginning sucked me in and had such potential but when the barbarism kicked into high gear, I lost my stomach and will to see it through to the end. I somehow perservered and made it through to the end but just barely...I must admit to a teenie bit of skimming in the home stretch....it wasn't much but that's always a bad sign.


All in all it was well written, the world building was excellent, there was a twist with regards to the magic system (possibly intriguing in the future...we'll see) and the main characters were nicely done. The crazy Battle Royale wasn't my thing but it could be yours. You should definitely give this a try if you're into that sort of thing... it was intense!

rough review ahead...proceed with caution

Shadowshaper - Daniel José Older

Let's start off with the good. This had a very unique premise. A unique premise usually leads to a high rating in-and-of itself BUT unfortunately, the execution was subpar at best. I have come to terms with the fact that I will be the villain here and speak ill of the dead. I'm harsh mainly due to an overabundance of slang as well as one dimensional, highly trope-y, boring characters... a crime most foul in my eyes. Now, I must preface this by letting you know that I was born and raised in Brooklyn N.Y. I have been to each and every place the book names and while I was living there I encountered every slang you could imagine (except for southern country slang) and by far, this was the most egregious, overused, off-putting abuse of the English language that I have seen in a while. It was so bad, I lost interest almost immediately. I kept going by sheer will power alone, plagued with desperation to make it to the end. I pushed on...through dry, broken, painful dialogue mostly because so many of my GR friends loved this one. In fact, I was about 70% in and found my will to go on depleted. I had to psych myself up repeatedly with false bravado just to make it, limping along bruised and battered mentally... unemotional and reluctant until the very end and you know what?!? It turned out to be... MEH. I am normally on the same page (more or less) with my GR friends and their literary assessments... I say this with the utmost respect BUT here I am, SO underwhelmed that I question if we even read the same book. Harsh? Yes and deservedly so. Not only was the writing barely passable but the characters were completely flat... and the MC?? She was so boring that I didn't care one whit whether the antagonist killed her off or even if she did the merciful thing and commit Harikari. Again, harsh? You bet! When I don't care for ANY of the characters and the writing is hard to digest, I am brutal. I am utterly amazed that I made it all the way through to the last page. My honest opinion is to skip this one because right now I am wishing for a time machine- not to right the wrongs of History but to recapture my lost time wasted on this endeavour and apply it to some other precious more deserving.

 

~end vicious rant

It's not a you thing, its probably a me thing...

City of Stairs - Robert Jackson Bennett


"Time renders all people and all things silent. And gods, it seems, are no exception."

 

Wellllll, I hate to be the odd duckling here BUT I just didn't love this as much as everyone else did. Now that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it. I just didn't fall hopelessly, googly- heart eyed in love with it. The premise was unique, the pacing was great, the writing was well done, the characters were interesting and the ending was nice and tidy...BUT... I just didn't care much. It was most likely a case of it's-not-you-it's-me so I won't be too harsh with the rating BUT again, I wish I cared more what happens next. There were also a lot of great quotes, too many in fact to add here.

 

"The world is a coward, he thinks. It does not change before your face; it waits until your back is turned, and pounces.…"

 

All in all this was a satisfying read and the ending was buffed to a shine and wrapped up nicely with a spiffy bow and a thank you card.

 

"Humans are strange, Shara Komayd. They value punishment because they think it means their actions are important—that they are important. You don’t get punished for doing something unimportant, after all."

 

~Enjoy

mixed emotions on another read

Warcross - Marie Lu

Virtual reality, fierce hackers, futuristic tech, spies, subterfuge, taboo love and a pretty cool female MC? Heck yeah! I was SUPER excited to get my hands on this one and here's what I have to say on the matter:

 

Fact... the World building was everything!! It was surreal and substantial, gritty and ingenius. The neurolink Virtual World and tournament world were beautifully tactile and incredibly imaginative ...in this respect Warcross was phenomenal!!

 

NOW...The Charater Development??

 

The character depth on the otherhand...well that was pathetically anemic, deficient, paltry. I was so disappointed that I almost started skimming....skimming?!? Well, I did say almost (and meant it) BUT I persevered and you know what I found?? Even with the predictable plot twists and the severely lacking character development, I found a decent book. Was it everything I was expecting when I first dove in? NO! Decent might sound harsh or hyper-critical BUT all in all it turned out to be fast paced, stunningly imaginative and quite entertaining. This just wasn't the grand slam I thought it was going to be...thought you should know.

~Enjoy!

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Okay...well... this Space Opera retelling of Jane Eyre left me with a heavy bag of mixed emotions. It was a space faring, hot mess of forced romantic entanglements featuring an ever so tepid insta-love that was both lumbering and implausible.

 

 

“Stella, why did you leave?” a brusque voice demanded.
“I had to put Jessa to bed.”
“Oh,” he said as if the thought never occurred to him. “Well, then, come back if you’re done. I want you here.”
“I’m quite tired.”
“Nonsense,” he insisted. “The night is young. I’ll see you in five minutes."

 

 

Let's suspend the original works foundation and judge Brightly Burning on its own, it's only fair. First our MC Stella is in lust with her emotionally robotic, unbelievably asexual seeming best friend. Then she shuttles off a dying hunk of space trash in an attempt to start anew where she immediately runs into a bloody mess of a man-child and predictably falls into instamatic, mutually reluctant, obsession with him. Their 4 month courtship was not only cold and stilted but it was also downright toxic at times. This was especially true when he insisted that she sit and watch as he flirted with someone who not only despised Stella but was a twaddling (later redeemed) prat to boot. It was hard to suspend my misgivings and allow things to naturally/realistically progress. There was less steamy, romantic percolation and more festering type awkwardness.

 

It certainly was a quick read though. Its smooth writing, and quick pacing made it feel like a dizzying romp that left me feeling...conflicted? It felt like a moment of dodgy, unfettered pleasure that proceeded to intrude on my regularly scheduled brain activities. AKA Brain Herpes. Yes I said it... Brightly Burning gave me a brain ITD.... Intercranially Transmitted Disease!! Am I exaggerating? Maybe. Was it worth it? Good question. As I said, it was a mixed bag of hmmmm and ewwww and huh(?!?) that will stick with the reader even after they have moved on to the next new shiny precious.

 

~Enjoy!

Blackfish City: A Novel - Sam J. Miller

"America has fallen and I don’t feel so good myself."


This was a percolator. It was a slow (cold pressed) drip that led us hand in sweaty/nanobonded hand to small epiphanies and twisty turns while ultimately delivering us on the doorstep of a hopeful, mostly resolved ending THAT was exponentially more satisfying than what I had originally envisioned.

 

:::GASP:::
:::DEEP BREATH:::

 

I apologize for the unabashed run on sentence. I will now bring you back to our regularly scheduled, more grammatically pleasing rant.

 

The beginning unfortunately didn't demand my attention nor did it command it to consume the plot with devout obedience. What did happen was: a tame reading tempo firmly anchored in place by a stubborn reluctance to quit based entirely on fellow GoodReads reviews. Although I will admit that when the pieces started to fall into place, my tenacity was richly rewarded with a dynamically fantastical, multifaceted, intricately woven yarn. It was a tale that tackled various ideals such as the tenacious pursuit of the Truth, the journey to find the meaning of Family, and ultimately what it feels like to be part of a loving, cohesive unit. All of this took place in a severely damaged universe featuring an anemic world populated by characters that were realistically flawed and undeniably Human.

 

“Fine line between good business and a fucking war crime,”


"Qaanaaq was not a blank slate. People brought their ghosts with them. Soil and stories and stones from homelands swallowed up by the sea. Ancestral grudges. Incongruent superstitions."


The world development was intense and the plot as a whole was expertly crafted. Even though it took some patience to get into a rapturous flow, the ending was quite satisfying. It assuaged my fears that this preorder was hardly worth the price of admission...BUT, good fun was had by all AND that leads to my 100%, Grade-A, wholehearted recommendation.

 

Enjoy!


End rant

Charlie the Caterpiller

NetGalley was kind enough to gift my daughter and I with a copy of this book. I read this with my 7 year old daughter and after finishing, it was agreed that we were probably not the targeted demographic. There are important messages like loving who you are on the inside rather than getting hung up on the outside stuff and the friendships were meaningful and sweet. BUT the rhyme had no rhythm which came off as clunky and distracting. If there was some grammatical and tempo minded tinkering, coupled with the large pictures and cutesy message, this could be a very poignant and cherished preschool gem.

Simone: even more monstrous

NetGalley was kind enough to gift my daughter and I with a copy of this gem.

 

Who is the real monster here? Well it's all relative isn't it? In this lovely comic book Simone is the Monster in monster world. Each page is easy to read and a story in and of itself. Also, did I mention that the main character is a girl? As the mother of a precocious young lady, it pleases me immeasurably when girls are represented in books, especially when they are featured in roles with more substance than that of a sidekick.

 

The format is perfect for entry level chapter book readers or those preparing to level up to graphic novels. The pages pop with vibrant color, witty dialogue, short sentences, monsters that are not too scary and there is even topic resolution on each page. My 7 year old daughter and I devoured this book, repeatedly.