Guild of Tokens by Jon Auerbach

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All Jen Jacobs has achieved in life is loneliness. So when she stumbles across a real-life game of epic quests on the streets of New York, she jumps at the chance for some excitement and gold tokens. Little does she know that the items she strives to collect hold a darker purpose…

After a particularly harrowing quest pairs her up with Beatrice Taylor, a no-nonsense and ambitious mentor, Jen hopes she’s on the path to becoming a big-time player. But as she dives deeper into the game’s hidden agenda, she realizes Beatrice has her sights set on the Guild, the centuries-old organization that runs the Questing game. And the quests Jen loves are about to put both of them in grave danger.

Will Jen survive the game before powerful forces cut her real life short? (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It’s available to purchase now.

If you enjoy RPG’s, read this book. If you’ve ever spent hours on end trying to defeat the end boss in a video game, read this book. If you enjoy scavenger hunts, adventure, mystery, and excellent writing, read this book.

I had so much fun with this one! Poor Jen just wanted a bit of escapism, but ended up wondering what was going to do her in first: the Guild or her mentor. At the beginning of the book I thought that it would be a blast to go Questing, but I changed my mind right around the time that, as the movies say, “sh– got real.”

Things escalated the further into the book I got. I was on the edge of my seat for the last half of the book. There are some short stories involving my favorite character that I am planning on checking out as well. Just like Jen, I’ve found myself drawn into the game.

The characters were interesting, the plot fascinating, and the way it all came together was fantastic.

Trust me on this one: you need to grab this book and join the Quest.

How to Become a Hipster Reader (books to read before they’re on TV)


Admission: whenever possible, I read a book before I watch the show or movie it’s based on. It doesn’t always happen nowadays, what with homeschooling, toddler chasing, and taking college classes, but I do my level best.

In order to join the Book Hipster Collective, read the book first (unless you’re capable of growing a man bun. Then…go for it, I guess). Here are some book suggestions for a jumping off point.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: If you haven’t seen the wonderfully done show, you need to get on that. If you haven’t read the book: what on earth, in heaven, or in hell, are you waiting for?

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According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .(taken from Amazon)

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice: According to imdb, a Vampire Chronicles series is in the works. If or when this will actually come to fruition, I really can’t say. However, it’s absolutely worth reading the first few books in the Vampire Chronicles anyway, since they’re bloody (pun intended) brilliant.

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Follows the three-century life of Lestat, from his boyhood in eighteenth-century France to 1992 Miami where the immortal vampire finds himself alone, yearning to regain his soul and to once again experience the joys and anguish of being human. (taken from Amazon)

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (the last few were continued by Brandon Sanderson) : You’ve got some time before the series releases (sometime in 2021), which is great because this is quite the undertaking. However, if you’re a fantasy fan at all, these books need to be on your “to read asap” pile.

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The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs—a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts— five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light. (taken from Amazon)

The Stand by Stephen King: With a new star studded mini-series in the works, make sure to read the book before watching. I think I’ve read this book before but, since I’m not entirely positive, I think I need to read it again before watching the show.

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A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity. (taken from Amazon)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: The first book in an epic fantasy series (only the first two books in the chronicles are out right now), the show actually doesn’t follow the novel, instead focusing on the world. I’m hesitant to watch the show because of that, but The Name of the Wind is excellent. The first paragraph of the book alone is incredible.

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My name is Kvothe.
 
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
 
You may have heard of me.
 
So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.  (taken from Amazon)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie: Agatha Christie is the preeminent voice in mystery literature. If you haven’t read this book, you definitely need to. The fact that a movie adaptation will be released next year, well…it gives you a bit of a deadline.

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Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries, Death on the Nile.

The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.

Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems. (taken from Amazon)

Are you excited for any of these adaptations? What am I missing? Are you a book hipster like me, or does it depend on the book?

 

Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

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A mother hanged for murder.
A daughter left to pick up the pieces of their crumbling estate.
Can she clear her family’s name if it means facing her own dark past?

Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent―Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end. (taken from Amazon)

Not quite a mystery, not quite a historical fiction, this book was a combination of a few different genres. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Taken as a mystery, I wouldn’t have liked this book. When I read a mystery, I like going back and realizing the clues were there all along to reveal the “who dunnit.” The reveal in this book was a little too convoluted for that to be the case and there weren’t clues for the reader to follow. So…not a mystery. Maybe a historical fiction?

While the historical aspect was there, it really didn’t play too much of a role other than pointing out that the gentlemen visiting Valentine were pushing the bounds of propriety. So, I guess it wasn’t really a historical fiction. Gothic thriller with a hint of romance?

That’s probably the closest I can come to putting the book in a neat little box and it doesn’t really fit there either. Luckily, books don’t need to be categorized like that. Suffice it to say, it’s not the kind of book I normally read.

Valentine was an… interesting character. She went back and forth between wanting to solve the mystery of whether her mother was innocent of the murder that had cast such a shadow over Valentine’s life, to wondering if the boy she had a crush on felt the same way. I’ve never been able to switch gears like that, so I couldn’t connect with her at all, but I can’t deny that she was definitely a fully developed character.

I actually didn’t like the other characters much at all. Sam was a jerk, plain and simple. He was supposed to be a sweet childhood friend, but he was possessive and cruel. Rowan could have been very interesting, but fell a teensy bit flat. However, the story managed to draw me in anyway. Sometimes a book does that. I can’t put my finger on why I found it enjoyable since by all rights I’d normally dislike a book like this, but I did end up liking it. Go figure.

Would I suggest this book? Yes..maybe. I honestly have no idea. Ask me again in a month or two.

Being Sherlock: A Sherlockian’s Stroll Through the Best Sherlock Holmes Story by Ashley D. Polasek- ARC Review

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Being Sherlock shares the best collection of Sherlock Holmes stories fans have never had, until now. Shared by Sherlockian Ashley D. Polasek, she nimbly sets the stage for each story and shares interesting Sherlockian tidbits about the incredible evolution of this iconic character. Famous former and current Sherlocks include: William Gillette, Basil Rathbone, Christopher Lee, John Cleese, Robert Downey Jr., Sir Ian McKellen, and Benedict Cumberbatch among others. Featuring lesser-known photography and behind the scene shots, this book is for every Sherlock Holmes fan bookshelf. Unlike other Sherlockian guides, this book attempts to answer why the Sherlock narrative is so popular and decree the best and worst representations. (taken from Amazon)

                            I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on October first.

For those who don’t have the dubious pleasure of knowing me personally, let me say: I love Sherlock Holmes. I have read the Complete Sherlock Holmes multiple times. I’ve  enjoyed many different works in the Holmes pastiche, including (but not limited to) Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Anna Waterhouse, the Charlotte Holmes books by Brittany Cavallaro, and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

This book is a superb addition to the list of Sherlockian books. It added a new angle to the lore and many iterations of Conan Doyle’s famous detective that have sprung from his original works.

I loved the addition of the photos and the author’s viewpoints, as well as her reasoning behind what she included in the book. She points out aspects of Conan Doyle’s writing that I’ve taken for granted up until now. It’s given me an even greater appreciation of the genius of his writing.

My only suggestion would be to read the full original works before picking up this book, simply because it will cause you to appreciate this introspective stroll through Sherlock even more. If you love Holmes, this book is for you.

The Coffee Book Tag


I saw this tag on Stephen Writes. He has a fantastic blog. Check it out!

I have what is probably an unhealthy love of coffee. So, of course I just had to take part in this book tag. Excuse me while I make a cup of coffee first…

Black coffee: A series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans: A Court of Thorns and Roses. Sorry everyone, but this series is not for me. I struggled to finish the first book, and didn’t bother to read the rest. If you’re in love with this series, more power to you, but as for me…nope.

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Peppermint mocha: A book that gets more popular during winter or a festive time of year: Is it just me, or does everyone reread the Harry Potter series during the fall? It’s a great series, so I recommend giving it a go if you’ve resisted thus far.

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Hot Chocolate: Your favorite children’s book: I can’t pick just one! I have so many. I’ve always loved fairy tales and Arthurian legends, though, so I’m choosing The Kitchen Knight for this particular post.

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Double shot of espresso: A book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish: The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was impossible to put down. It was the best book I read last year and I highly suggest you read it. Do it now!

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Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere: I’ve been seeing The Ten Thousand Door of January everywhere, and for good reason. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Don’t let this book pass you by. It’s effortlessly captivating.

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The hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an idie author a shout-out: Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair is the funniest book I’ve read in a very long time. Read this book, but empty your bladder first so you don’t pee yourself while laughing too hard.

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Oops! I accidentally ordered decaf: Name a book that you expected more from: I loathed The Hunting Party. I’ve been kicking myself for wasting my time and actually finishing it. I hated the “motive” (or lack thereof) for the crime so much that I ended up taking a break from the thriller/mystery genre for a few months afterward. Ugh.

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The perfect blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet, but ultimately satisfying: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not what you’d call a comfortable book, but it’s an important book. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. It’s difficult and touching, powerful in its honesty.

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Chai Tea: Name a book or series that makes you dream of far off places: Reading The Night Circus is like entering the best kind of dream. It’s exquisite.

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Earl Grey: Name your favorite classic: This is another question that doesn’t have just one answer. For this post, I’ll go with Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas. It’s a continuation of The Three Musketeers. If you haven’t read it, give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

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I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you’re a coffee lover, pour yourself a mug and do your own. I’m curious to see other answers.

 

The Devil’s Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen

 

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Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir. The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy. 

Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training Philip in the ways of evil. Philip is terrible at being bad, but when he falls in love with the she-devil Satina and experiences the powerful forces of love and jealousy, the task becomes much easier. 

Philip finds both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld—but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne? (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for giving me this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. It’s available to purchase now.

Um…where do I start? First of all, I really enjoyed it. It felt like a mashup between The Magisterium series and The Screwtape Letters, but for a younger audience. On Amazon it’s listed as being intended for ages 12-18. I can tell you, though, that it would scare the snot out of my sixth grader. Of course, each reader is different.

Due to an unfortunate mistake, an incredibly sweet boy named Phillip finds himself named successor to the Devil’s job. Lucifer is dying, and needs someone who can continue the job, so to speak. Thanks to the mix-up, Phillip is going to have to become a prince of darkness, literally. It’s going to be a more difficult job than the Devil originally thought.

Parts of this book were a lot of fun. The author took the usual hellish things (horns, pits of fire, etc) and made them his own. My favorite character was just a minor one, but I loved him. The gatekeeper to hell was so much fun to read! He was actually pretty polite, for a hellish guardian. He even offered Phillip a drink. It was revolting, but the thought was there.

There were mysteries to solve, and small lessons hidden here and there along the way. I did have a slight quibble with the amount of progress (or regression?) that Phillip made so quickly. Considering what a sweet boy he was, it seemed unlikely that he would go so bad so fast.

It was well-worded, and mentioned some pretty big concepts without assuming that younger readers wouldn’t understand. I really hate when books talk down to younger audiences, so I’m glad that this author understands that kids are a lot more intuitive than they’re often given credit for.

I liked the ending for the most part. I’m not entirely sure how there’s room for a sequel because it wrapped up so nicely, but I enjoyed the book enough that I’m curious to find out.

 

 

Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake (Spoiler Free)

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It’s incredibly difficult for me to do a quality review of a final book in a series without spoilers, but I’ll do my absolute best. Here we go!

It was amazing. I could honestly stop writing after that sentence, but I don’t have a mic to drop and I’m a bit wordy anyway. For those of you who haven’t read any of Kendare Blake’s books, I suggest you remedy that horrible problem immediately. Quit your job, stop paying bills, don’t bother making dinner. Just immerse yourself in Kendare Blake’s fantastic writing and let everything else take a back seat. Okay, maybe don’t go that far, but seriously put her on the list of authors that need to be read.

I was originally introduced to Kendare Blake’s writing by a book called Anna Dressed in Blood. How cool is that title? It was creeptastic, and drew me to check out the Three Dark Crowns books. I’ve already written about the others in the series ( you can find that post here), so I won’t go into the plot of the books again in this post. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed in the culmination of all that came before.

The book did not end the way I originally wanted it to, but it ended the way it should, which is even better. I love how different each character is. There are no superfluous red shirts, written in simply to kick the bucket. Each death (and there is definitely death and violence in this book) meant something. Each political move, each twist in the story, was obviously thought out long before it was written.

Raves can be so difficult for me to write, because it’s less than helpful to just write “happy screams” on a blog post. I loved every moment of this series. I can’t wait to see what Kendare Blake comes up with next. She has secured her spot as one of my favorite authors.

Have you read this series? What did you think?

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden- ARC Review

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1830s Victorian London. She is also a well-respected author of “silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and aboutthe upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories—the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Mr. King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats, intelligent detectives solving grisly murders, and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.
 
Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Mr. King started taking all of his readers. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of  authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the social…

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Sky of Embers: The Fall of the Greek Gods by Nicholas Sharp

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Alone with no memories of his past, James finds himself befriended by a hunter and his wolf companion. The Black Order has taken James in and made him part of a team of hunters. James, Chase, and Ulf fight off enemies in epic battles of will, mystical powers, and enchanted ancient weaponry to keep humankind safe from supernatural beings who would destroy it. Along the way, James discovers a dark secret about himself as his memories return. (taken from Amazon)

                     This book was provided by the author, in exchange for my honest opinion. It’s available for purchase now.

First of all, I was excited to read a book with a unique twist on Greek mythology. For some reason, most mythology I’ve read this year has been Nordic so it was enjoyable to switch it up. Let me tell you, this is the most creative take on a mythos that I’ve read in a very long time.

Sometimes I find it difficult reading a main character who has no memories because I have a hard time finding that “window” into the world that a main character normally provides. However, it worked really well in this book. Because James didn’t remember much at all, the reader came by details of the world and story line naturally, without the dreaded “info dump”.

It was action-packed and a lot of fun. I don’t want to give away any of James’ secrets, but I didn’t expect many of them. This is an entertaining, unique read, and highly enjoyable.

Have you read this book? What did you think?