Tag Archives: 5 stars

It’s a wrap?

Charley has been exiled from the earthly plain for eternity, but somehow is back after a mere 100 years. Reyes is waiting for her and sexy times commence.

A hell dimension has opened up in their home city. There is something infecting people and driving them mad. And there are a couple more storylines causing Charley to multitask to get everything done she wants to get done before the possible end of the world as we know it.

So, is it a wrap? Kinda. It seems like this wraps up Charley’s and Reyes’s story. Lots of things come to logical conclusions. Some things are still a surprise. There’s lots of sarcasm and sexiness that we’ve come to expect from them. And the fate of at least two characters is up in the air. Which leads us to the question so often asked: Will Beep’s story be told? According to Darynda Jones’s blog, that is a yes. When is not pinpointed, but it will be told. We have that to look forward to.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars for being a pretty satisfying conclusion to the series. There were a few parts that seemed a little rushed or contrived, but overall it is good and satisfying. All the things we’ve grown to love about the series are present. I would recommend the series to fans of urban fantasy with a little paranormal and a little romance and sex going on. This is not a standalone novel and should not be read as one.

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones was released January 15th, 2019 from St. Martin’s Press.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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To See the World

Girl_in_towerVasya is back in this follow up to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. The Girl in the Tower is the second book in the Winternight trilogy.

The first part of the book is mostly about Sasha and Olga. They are Vasya’s siblings. At the close of part one, Sasha and Vasya have just met up for the first time in years.

The second part of the book is told mostly about Vasya and what is happening in her life after the close of The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya feels that her life is in danger if she stayed in the small village she was raised in. She goes to Morozko, the frost demon, and asks for help. She wants some of the dowry he promised to her so that she can go out and find her place in the world. Adventures ensue.

The third part of the book is mostly about Vasya and Sasha and their cousin Dimitri. There is also a little about Olga. Vasya must keep up the charade that she is a boy. Not only does her life depend on it, but her sister’s and brother’s lives are deeply affected by this as well. There are more adventures and conflict. I don’t want to give away spoilers.

Vasya continues to have her bond to the supernatural throughout the book. She can see the spirits of the bathhouse and the hearth as well as others. This puts her at both an advantage and disadvantage. They can be helpful at times, but she can’t tell anyone that they are there or else she will be marked as crazy and perhaps a witch as well. Only her young niece can also see them and has been warned by her mother, Olga, not to mention this to other people.

The story is well written. This is a crucial time period for the spirits as many of them are disappearing or losing power as the Christian God gains followers. Medieval Russia is an interesting backdrop for the story. The pace of the story is good as well. There are ups and downs throughout, but by about 50% on my Kindle, the story is becoming very dangerous for Vasya and her siblings. The tension continues to mount for the rest of the book until the ending.

My favorite characters in the book are Vasya, her horse Solovey, and Morozko the frost demon. It was hard sometimes watching Vasya’s missteps. But they were necessary for character building and plot advancement.

Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s well written. The character of Vasya grows and develops as the book progresses. The adventures are interesting. And the book is well-paced. I can’t recommend this series enough. And, I can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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Under the Emerald Big Top

Emerald_CircusThe Emerald Circus is a collection of short stories by Jane Yolen. All of them are previously published with the exception of The Bird, a tale based on Edgar Allan Poe. All of the stories in the collection are either based on another tale or a riff on a famous person. Three of the stories are based on Alice in Wonderland. Examples of inspiration for some of the other stories include: Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, and Merlin.

All of the stories are well-written. The book includes an introduction by Holly Black. And at the end of the book, there are notes on each short story as well as a poem relating to each. I found even these endnotes enjoyable to read.

I enjoyed all of the stories, but I had a few favorites. Among those are: Sister Emily’s Lightship, Andersen’s Witch, Blown Away, and Evian Steel. All of them had excellent prose. And I felt the characterization of Emily Dickinson to be right on target in Sister Emily’s Lightship even though it is a fantastical tale.

I gave this collection 5 stars out of 5 stars for the quality of the writing. While each was a riff based on another tale or a historical person, I can say I’ve never read anything quite like them. And I love retellings and have read quite a lot of them.

This book is perfect for those who enjoy Jane Yolen’s writing as well as those who enjoy retellings.

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen was published November 14, 2017 from Tachyon.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions herein are my own and freely given.

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Tam Lin Revisited

RosesandRot“What would you sacrifice for everything you ever dreamed of?”(From the synopsis)

Imogen and Marin were raised by a highly dysfunctional, abusive mother. And yet they’ve managed to mostly grow beyond that experience. They have both been accepted to a prestigious program at a place called Melete where they will work with a mentor to improve their crafts. Imogen is a writer. Marin is a dancer.

As with most fairy tales, there is more than meets the eye here. And there will be some big decisions to be made. Imogen is finally getting to live out a fairy tale with some similarities to Tam Lin. But, “Perhaps the only happily ever after is to survive to tell the story.”(location 2492 on my Kindle)

This book is wonderfully well written. It stayed with me long after I had closed it. And in fact, it was one of the few books I wanted to re-read right away. The cover has a very positive blurb from Neil Gaiman saying how good the book is.

I could see the elements of Tam Lin. Using two sisters instead of a couple was a great idea. The two sisters in fairy tales is a theme used throughout the book. I liked that the book referred to other older fairy tales where the Good Folk were often not so good and the solution of the story wasn’t always exactly a happily ever after.

The pace of the book is sometimes dreamy like fairy and sometimes faster. It makes sense and livens up the story.

Overall I felt this book was excellent. I give it 5 stars out of 5. I started to give it 4, but realized how much it had stuck with me in the days following my finishing the story, and the desire to re-read it right away made me give it the last boost up to 5. This is a book I will revisit. I also look forward to seeing more from this writer in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

 

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Is that you or your doppelganger? A review of Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden

deadringersWhat if you were walking down the street and saw someone you were close to, but they said they didn’t know you? Or maybe you even saw yourself? They say everyone has a twin somewhere in the world. Is this just a case of seeing your twin or is it something more evil?

It’s too much of a coincidence to ignore when you see two people that look like friends of yours, but aren’t who they seem to be. Mix into the plot a sinister object and a haunted house with a malign presence and you have Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden. Golden manages to take an idea that’s been done before, the doppelgangers, and make it new.

The characters are well realized. They all have a history and personality. You want to root for them. The plot has twists and turns that make it even more appealing.  It’s a fast paced, well-told tale. I read it in one day. And I have to admit to being glad that I read most of it during daylight hours, especially the parts with the Raggedy Man, yet another twist in the story.

This is a five-star horror book. Snowblind was good. Dead Ringers is even better.

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Fantasy? Magical Realism? A review of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

bookofspeculation

How long can you hold your breath? Simon Watson can hold his breath for up to 10 minutes according to The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. He gets this ability from his mother who taught him how to do it. His mother worked as a “mermaid” in a traveling carnival. He shares this ability with his sister Enola, a tarot card reader who is in a traveling carnival.

One summer, Simon gets an old book in the mail. It appears to be the log book of a traveling show. From reading the book, Simon concludes that it is entirely possible that the family has been cursed. He is worried about his sister Enola in particular and how the curse could affect her. The women in his family seem to drown on July 24th which is only weeks away. This is in spite of their having “mermaid” capabilities. The women in his family also appear to have an uncanny ability to read tarot cards. What can Simon do to prevent Enola from following in the footsteps of their mother into the ocean on the 24th?

The book alternates between the present and the past. Simon, a reference librarian, and his sister Enola are the subjects of the present day parts. The past is mostly about Amos and Evangeline and the show that they travel with. I found both stories to be interesting. One wasn’t really any less important than the other.

Do you call it fantasy because it has parts in it that seem unreal? Things that have to do with the curse and passing it down to generations of the family. Or is it magical realism because it is generally fiction with one magical element involved? In my opinion, I consider it magical realism. It reminds me in some ways of what Alice Hoffman writes. Everything is pretty much normal except for this one area where you are invited to suspend your disbelief.

The characters are well developed. Simon especially is well developed as the real main character. The others are developed to a slightly lesser extent, but still come across for the most part as real people. Each has their own wants, needs, and growth.

The pace reminded me a little bit of swimming towards shore. It gradually increased speed as the book got closer to the end.

The writing itself was well done. I had no problem as a former library technician identifying with Simon and his career. In fact, there may have been times I over-identified and it affected my moods. While reading when I took breaks, it took me a few minutes to come back to my surroundings and what was going on. It was smoothly written and engrossing.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars because of the quality of the writing, the character development, and the pace.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

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Quickie Review: The World of PostSecret by Frank Warren

worldofPostSecret“What evil lurks in the hearts of men… Only the Shadow knows.” Well, maybe not only the shadow. Maybe PostSecret knows a thing or two about what lurks in the hearts of men and women.

The World of PostSecret by Frank Warren is pretty much about what the title suggests. There are vignettes about symposiums, secrets, the perfect secret, and even the mail carrier who brought so many of secrets to Frank’s house. There are also many examples of postcards and other things that people have sent in to share their secrets.

Some of the secrets are very touching. I found myself getting teared up more than once. Some of the secrets are informative, especially in the way that they inform us we are not alone in the things we keep secret. It was also touching to read the segment on the PostSecret application and the reactions of some people to secrets that they saw posted there.

If you enjoy the PostSecret website or any of the other PostSecret books, then you will like this book as well. It’s worth a read. It’s nonfiction and biographical in nature.

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