all ages · Fantasy · fiction

Bob by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

One of my 2018 challenges was to not purchase any books until I had read my already owned whole shelf of books. I did really well in January and February and then fell off the wagon….hard. I wrote down my newly purchased books for some of March but then I just couldn’t even keep track. Now I am not even trying. Recently, I went into Barnes and Noble to wander around (the lie all book lovers tell themselves upon entering a book store). I stumbled across an a few must-purchase books and I could not resist the sweet premise of Bob by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass.

BobFive years ago Olivia (Livy to her friends) visited her Gran in Australia. Now that she is back she can’t help but feel that she is forgetting something. Something really, really important. Maybe it is the little green man dressed in a handmade chicken suit hiding in her closet. His name is Bob and he has been waiting for her all this time. She promised to help him and now its time to keep that promise.

This sweet little book left me sighing with pure happiness. Olivia and Bob’s friendship is pure and wrapped in the protective bubble of childhood that seems to disintegrate slightly during adolescents. The mystery of what Bob is and why Livvy struggles to remember him only adds to their bond.

This adorable book is well written and sweet. For adults, this is a one hour read. I can imagine this book would be a one week to ten day read aloud. Either way, it really make me think about memories, friendships, and how childhood adventures can sculpt our future lives.


Tell me, please!

Was there a childhood moment that defines magic to you?


Fantasy · fiction · YA

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince has been everywhere. I love Holly Black and I was thrilled that she had a new book. But, I made a New Year’s Resolution that I wouldn’t buy any new books. Sigh. I resigned myself to waiting until after the backlog of books was taken care of and then I would zoom out and purchase it right away.
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Then, I received an OwlCrate Subscription for Christmas. And in one of my delightful boxes…The Cruel Prince! I put it aside to read after my test and it was well worth the wait. Plus, just look at the gorgeous OwlCrate exclusive cover. So pretty.

I have loved Holly Black since The Spiderwick Chronicles and I will pick up anything with her name on it. She has a way with magical stories that never fails to engage and surprise me. Her tone varies depending on her target audience but her writing is always tight and masterful. There have been books of hers I have adored and there are others than I appreciated but did not fall in love with completely.

The Cruel Prince is difficult to discuss without spoilers and, truthfully, it has been so hyped that at this point I will be surprised if anyone doesn’t know the basic plot line. Still, for readers venturing outside of their preferred genre into YA – here goes.

It is safe to say that the main character, Jude Duarte, and her twin sister Taryn are human. Their older sister Vivi is half human, half fae and the three of them are taken from their human home and spirited away to live with the Fae by Vivi’s Fae Father. There Jude and Taryn are raised among the Fae with access to the Court but their humanity always sets them apart. They are humans under the protection of the same powerful man that stole them from their home. They are commoners being educated amounts royalty. They live in fear of their present safety and neither girl has any guarantee of a future at all.

Admittedly, for at least the first half of the book I was unengaged. Wait, that is not right. Rather, I felt removed from the action. I felt apart from the story and off-kilter. Approximately half way through the book the threads started to weave together and I realized that my off-kilter matched Jude’s inner turmoil. And when Jude found her purpose I was with her stride for stride.

In the end, I loved The Cruel Prince because it was so much more than a dark Fairy Tale.


Tell me, please!

If you read the book, which character was your favorite?


 

Fantasy · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · series · YA

Frighteningly Good Reads #15

I know, I know. I’m falling further and further behind! But, you know whose fault it is? (Mine, really, because I apparently lack literary self control.) But some blame needs to be laid at Maggie Stiefvater’s door for writing an engaging and epic series.

ravenboysIt all started on October 15th when I started reading The Raven Boys. I was completely engaged from the tag line onward.

 

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve. Either you’re his true love…or you killed him.”

 

 

Hello. More please.

The Raven Boys features a female lead, Blue Sargent, whose mother is clairvoyant and their home is filled with women who trade in predictions. Blue does not have the sight but she has the ability to intensify the gift in others. On St. Mark’s Eve she accompanies her mother every year as the soon-to-be-dead walk past. She has never seen them until this year, when a boy emerges and speaks to her. The boy wearing the uniform of the prestigious and affluent Aglionby school known to many as The Raven Boys. This experience is further complicated by Blue’s life-long knowledge that she will cause her true love to die.

Now, all of this seems like a lot to cover in one book which is why I should have suspected that this was actually a series. Also, a careful look at the cover would have tipped me off since it says, “Book 1 of the Raven Cycle.” I’m sorry! I was excited.

Occasionally, when this happens I am livid. Picture me tearing through the last 20 pages of the book muttering, “How on Earth are they going to wrap this up?!?” only to find a cliffhanger ending and the need to buy the next book. I am not even a little miffed that this is a series. I needed to spend more time with these characters on their creepy adventures.

So, for FGR #15 I give you The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. This creepy story presents the reader with multiple points of view as Blue and the Raven Boys try to solve one piece of an enormous mystery while avoiding becoming romantically entangled. The fourth and final book Now, please excuse me, the next two books in the series have arrived and I have hot cider to drink.


Tell me, please!

When you find out a book is actually a series are you thrilled or annoyed?


 

Fantasy · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · Middle Grade · Mystery

Frighteningly Good Read #14

I know, I know. I’m running behind. There have been some big changes to my life outside this blog that have created a little hiccup in my schedule. But, I have all day today to get caught up!

So, lets start with the FGR for Saturday, October 14th. I have been reading some terrifying books during the day. At night, I just can’t do it. I have enough trouble with insomnia. So, I have been lulling myself to sleep with delightful children’s books that lean toward spooky or other wordly. This one is just too cute!

supernaturalsleuthingThe Supernatural Sleuthing ServiceThe Lost Legacy by Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe is the story of Stephen and his father moving to New York City to live in an unusual hotel, The New Harmonia. This hotel has a resident dragon and his hoard living in the basement. Bigfoot, creatures of the night and the fae are all frequent guests. And, my favorite side character, Elevator, torments riders with his big personality while he carries them up and down.

As is typical of books for grades 3-8, Stephen is dealing with moving to a new city, mysterious and magical artifacts and the self-discovery and social learning that is unique to children his age. This, as I have reiterated again and again, is what makes children’s literature so special. These characters don’t know who they are yet and they have to figure that out, deal with social norms and solve a big mystery. I will never stop reading them and recommending them because I think adults are constantly readjusting our self-knowledge. Except, we aren’t supposed to talk about it.

Stephen makes new friends and foes and together the story is simply adorable. With the characters including those of the night category I felt safe declaring it today’s (well, the 14th’s) FGR!


Tell me, please!?

Can you read truly scary stories right before bedtime?


 

Fantasy · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · historical fiction · SeriousSeriesLove

Frighteningly Good Reads #10

For today, my Frighteningly Good Read recommendation is The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Beginning with A Discovery of Witches, adventuring through Shadow of Night and culminating in Book of Life, the adventures of Diana the Witch and her Vampire soul mate Matthew were thrilling and fascinating. And, since it is soon to be a BBC television series (*squeal!*) it is right at the front of my mind this Halloween season.

Much like Diana Galbadon’s sweeping historical fiction series Outlander, Deborah Harkness utilizes fascinating historical details to bring the story depth. This is not a surprise, really, since Ms. Harkness is a historian herself. I quite enjoy that she describes herself as, “A history profession who tumbled down the rabbit-hole and wrote the Internationally best selling All Souls Trilogy.

If you follow my blog then you know that, for me, it is often the supporting characters that take a book from enjoyable to obsess-able. And All Souls Trilogy has a cast of supporting characters that I adored. A tremendous time is spend on Diana and Matthew and their budding (forbidden!) romance. But, I loved the Demons in the books, the third category of non-humans who were incredibly and diversely talented. They reminded me of all the wonderfully productive adults I knew who were told to “slow down” as children.

I appreciated that there were several LGBTQA+ characters in the book including Diana’s adoring aunts. I also revealed in the rich addition of history and scenic details. To be in a library like the ones Diana visits is a dream of mine. Visiting them through this book is as close as I am going to get this year.

Several reviewers have called this Twilight for grownups. There may be some truth to this but I would add that it is a smarter, stronger and more grownup story. And I liked Twilight! I will say that there is a scene that involves all three magical species together practicing Yoga. I enjoyed the scene but it appears to be the Jar-Jar Binks of this book. If you can accept that Witches, Demons and Vampires might get together in a human-free environment and downward facing dog then the rest of the series will be magical.

matthew goode

So, the FGR for today is really this delightful trilogy. I don’t know when the BBC plans to give us the television version but it is going to be difficult to top these books! Well, Matthew Goode as Vampire Matthew might help.

 

 

 

 


Tell me, please!

How much would you love doing yoga with a bunch of supernatural beings?


 

Fantasy · series

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I read The False Prince when it first came out in 2012. Then, I somehow missed The Runaway King when it was published. Every since then, I keep seeing the trilogy and feeling badly that I didn’t finish it. Just the other day I was wandering through my local book store and saw the trilogy and I decided I had to finish it.

Sometimes, reading a series back-to-back is a bit painful isn’t it? You get to the end of the adventure in one book and when you start the next book it feels… slow. This is probably due to the five minute break between story culmination and starting again when, really, you were supposed to wait a year or more deep in anticipation for that next adventure. I did have a bit of series fatigue at the beginning of the second and third book (I had to re-read the first one!) but that is my fault not the authors.

And the fatigue wasn’t due to the the author packing the first three chapters with backstory. She did an excellent job of weaving that information into the continuing story. Rather, it is that the end of each book was so fast and filled with action that it was like driving on the highway for three hours and then trying to go 35 mph again. It’s not slow it’s regular speed.

The Ascendance Trilogy is also difficult to review as a three-book package without spoilers. Spoilers are the devils work. I will say that this trilogy must be read in order and I don’t recommend reading the jacket description of the second and third book until you have finished The False Prince.

Why, you may ask? Well, Jennifer Nielsen puts a decent number of surprises and twists into each book. There were definitely times when I felt like I could guess what was going to happen next only to be genuinely surprised. Additionally, there were moments when I really didn’t like a character in each book only to have them do something unexpected and win me over again.

Here is a book commercial for The False Prince that says it all (which is, as you will note, not much). And, um, is this voice over done by Taylor Lautner or am I imagining things?


Check out the Video Here


Truthfully, I didn’t expect to like the second and third book very much. The False Prince was excellent but the other two received mixed reviews from other bloggers and on Goodreads. If I didn’t feel the guilt of a good Catholic with a job unfinished I might not have picked the series up again. I am so glad that I did!

The Ascendance Trilogy was thoroughly enjoyable. It was a fast paced read with great characters and lots of surprises. And, for myself, it means that every time I see The False Prince I don’t cringe internally because I didn’t finish the Trilogy!


Tell me, please!

Have you ever started a series, loved it, but just forgot / neglected to finish it?

Did you ever get back around to finishing it?

Fantasy · fiction

Throwback Thursday June 13, 2017

throwbackthursday

Throwback Thursday was started by Renee at ItsBookTalk.com to showcase books that were published over a year ago and have been languishing on your to be read shelf. I actually found her throwback because she did a lovely feature of Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl for today’s post. We all know I am obsessed with Kinsella!

MY PICK: Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway.

AngelmakerThis book was first published in 2012 and I read it that year and again in 2015. This is the book I recommend to my friends with the caveat: give it timeAngelmaker is a delightfully weird book full of beautiful prose about Joe Spork. Joe is a clockwork repairman, just as his grandfather was. What he isn’t – and refuses to be – is like his father Matthew. Matthew was the head of organized crime named his son his successor. But, Joe has been avoiding this life and hiding from his criminal legacy in the quiet tidiness of clocks.

One day, he is asked to repair a mechanical book and sets into motion a terrible device that changes the course of his life. As he races to stop the machine he inadvertantly brought to life he must rely on friends, old and new, for help.

This book. Savor it. This is not a beach read, this is a world you visit slowly because you only get to live in it for a bit. It is full of wonderful characters and secrets. But, it does take time. I am reminded of a rollercoaster with books like this. It takes time to get in, safely strapped, and then there is that boring click, click, click while you climb the hill. But, just when you think you are going to get stuck this book, like a rollercoaster, takes you roaring through an adventure.

Fantasy · fiction

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

The Girl Wthegirlwhocouldflyho Could Fly is an absolutely charming book. It made me cheer and clap, smile with tears in my eyes and shush my family so I could please finish in peace.  This delightful book intended for children through 6th grade. Clearly, Scholastic is stating the age appropriateness of this book’s themes and not capping the readership at age 11. Victoria Forester’s first novel marches along classic story lines of good and evil, right and wrong, how to make friends and when to trust people. Add a dose of accepting people as they are and voila – you have this book. Those are lessons we just keep encountering regardless of our chronological age and as such the child in all of us will love this book.

Piper McCloud is born late to her Mother and Father and blessed with an innate sense of right and wrong that is truly enviable. She is also gifted with the ability to float which she cultivates into the ability to fly. Her parents seem to understand that the world will not accept her differences and so they try to keep her safe and secluded on their farm.  This doesn’t work – it never does – and after a while she is taken to a special school to be with kids like her.

I must admit, the special school bit almost kept me from reading this book. I am a little tired of the Hogwarts aspect of so many books that I have started turning my nose up when the jacket mentions such a place. Trust me – the institute they take Piper is no Hogwarts.

This book was published in 2008 but a second in the series The Boy Who Knew Everything  was published in late 2016. The only thing more important to me right now than getting my hands on a copy of the second book is talking to someone (anyone?!) about this book.

So, has anyone read it? Will you please? Or, have you ever had a book you needed to talk about and so you were begging people to hurry up and read it?

Fantasy · fiction · series

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

RedQueenVictoria Aveyard‘s Red Queen is the manifestation of my childhood query, “Why wouldn’t the X-Men rule the world?” In her terrific debut novel the premise is almost that simple – people with silver blood are born with inherent and supernatural gifts. Those born with red bl

 

 

ood have no gifts and as such are destined to a life serving the Silvers. The main character, Mare Barrows, is a Red who steals to support her family while she counts down the moments until her mandatory conscription into the army. A twist of fate exposes that she has supernatural abilities. But, she is a Red, how is this possible?!

Beyond the premise, the pace of the book is fast but not fervent and the characters are well formed and given good motivations for their actions. Still, I saw so many mixed or negative reviews on this book that it sat on my shelf for (embarrassingly) at least two years. I am so glad I cracked into it because I really enjoyed the story. There were one or two times that I wanted a wrinkle ironed out or a scene slowed down a bit but the book was fun a
nd interesting. I am already looking forward to see how the storyline progresses in subsequent books (my thanks to Ali at the terrific I Wuv Books for letting me know this is not a trilogy and a fourth book is set to come out in 2018).

Mare is a great character. I relished her dedication to her family and friends. However, she is also a seventeen-year old who does not always make the right choices and occasionally trusts the wrong person. I enjoyed that she was strong and spirited but, like so many of us in our teenage years, was not omnipotent or perfect. A naturally flawed heroine makes for a fantastic story – especially in the fantasy realm. Here is to hoping that she grows in wisdom in subsequent books without loosing that fierce spirit!

Fantasy · fiction

The Gilded Chain by Dave Duncan

Lately,   I have been reading voraciously and I have stumbled across some very good books but nothing noteworthy enough to recommend. However, I was tidying up my bookshelves I came across this gem and realized I had not yet spread the word about my love for Dave Duncan and, most especially, The Gilded Chain.

gilded-chain I am not sure where I was first introduced to this book or how I found it but The Gilded Chain is one of my all time favorite stories. It sits nestled next to The Princess Bride on my shelf for a reason. This book is actually one of a family (not series, not really) of books about The King’s Blades. All of them are incredibly well crafted, fast paced and pure fun to read but The Gilded Chain remains my favorite mostly because the main character, Durendal, is my idea of an ideal hero.

This book introduces the reader to the world of Chival where the King is protected by his Blades.  These men are raised from a young age at Ironhall to be the best swordsmen, strategists and all around protection for the person they are promised to protect. Their skills are then enhanced by magic that also binds them to their assigned ward. Many blades are assigned to the King but occasionally, the King will gift a Blade to someone.  Poor Durendal is gifted away and his very long and fascinating adventure begins.

Now, I must give two warnings about this book.  First, the story has a longer set up and so it can take a while to get to the real action.  Second, once you are into the action you will never want to leave Chival. Thankfully, Duncan has written many more books about the Blades with the newest, One Velvet Glove, coming out eventually (which is absolutely not fast enough.)

The Gilded Chain is like a great British murder mystery. It is so tightly written and so intensely interesting to me that every time I read it I find a detail I missed the last time. All of the King’s Blades books are wonderful – I will probably do a Serious Series Love on them after the new book comes out – but I could not wait to recommend this one.