The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

Amazon.com: The Near Witch (9781789091144): V. E. Schwab: Books

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

There are no strangers in the town of Near. 

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. 

But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. 

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. 

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. (taken from Amazon)

I’d been planning on reading The Near Witch for the longest time, but it took me ages to actually get to it. I blame the less-than-memorable cover. I’m glad I finally got to the book: it’s a blast.

The tale takes place in a puritanical setting and follows Lexi. She is a teen who chafes at the restrictions put upon her gender and age. Her family lives in a very small town where everyone knows everyone. When a strangers shows up and children start disappearing immediately after, the townspeople decide the stranger is to blame. Lexi decides to learn, beyond a doubt, what’s happening and if the stranger is involved.

This book has a fun campfire story feel to it. It’s just eerie enough to raise the hair on your arms, while never crossing over into being full-fledged horror. Schwab was easily able to craft a compelling tale out of superstition, focusing just as much on the atmosphere as she does on the characters, to great effect.

One of the things I appreciated was that I could relate to both Lexi and her superstitious uncle. He meant well, but he was constrained by his position as town protector, as well as his fear. Lexi was spunky and headstrong. Her character didn’t grow all that much, instead being the constant in the story. However, it allowed other characters to evolve and develop in interesting ways.

This book was a quick read and I recommend this book to readers who are already fans of this author, as well as to anyone who enjoys a good spooky story.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles- ARC Review

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1) by Janella AngelesIn a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available for purchase on June second.

I was interested in this book because a review said that fans of The Night Circus would love it. I must say, I have no idea why the review said that, since the two books are so incredibly different. However, I still found this book to be incredibly enjoyable.

Kallia is a very powerful magician. When the book opens, she works for the enigmatic Jack (also known as The Master) in a club known as Hell House. She lives on his estate, a pampered but lonely existence. Kallia dreams of leaving and travelling to the city of Glorian. When she sees a flyer advertising a competition for magicians she seizes her chance, despite Jack’s warnings against leaving.

Kallia is the only female in the competition, and it is clear from the beginning that she is not wanted. Strange doings start and what began as a competition turns into something far deadlier.

What makes this book stand out are the fantastic characters. On top of Kallia, there’s Canary, a fire eater; Aaros, a thief-turned-magician’s assistant; and Demarco, a judge from the competition who’s hiding something. And, of course, there’s Jack. I didn’t love Kallia because she’s so convinced that everyone is against her. She’s very prickly. However, it made her incredibly interesting. The other characters were all very well-developed. Jack is my favorite. He’s such a mystery. There’s obviously more to him than is revealed in this book, and I can’t wait to see where his story-line goes.

This book ends on a cliff hanger, so if that’s a pet peeve of yours, you might want to wait for the sequel to be released before reading it. I loved it, though. The stakes were raised and there are loose ends waiting to be tied up. If the sequel continues in the vein of this book, it’s going to be a doozy.

This book was a blast. I highly recommend it.

The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan- ARC Review

Amazon.com: The Age of Witches: A Novel (9780316419512): Morgan ...

In Gilded Age New York, a centuries-long clash between two magical families ignites when a young witch must choose between love and loyalty, power and ambition, in this magical novel by Louisa Morgan.
In 1692, Bridget Bishop was hanged as a witch. Two hundred years later, her legacy lives on in the scions of two very different lines: one dedicated to using their powers to heal and help women in need; the other, determined to grasp power for themselves by whatever means necessary.
This clash will play out in the fate of Annis, a young woman in Gilded Age New York who finds herself a pawn in the family struggle for supremacy. She’ll need to claim her own power to save herself-and resist succumbing to the darkness that threatens to overcome them all. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on April seventh, 2020.

Reading this book, I found myself in a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. It was well written, but I just really didn’t care for it. Possibly, it was because the book didn’t seem to match its blurb. When I read the description, I expected a lot more action than there is in the book. I guess I failed to take into account the time in which this book takes place.

Annis comes from a long line of witches, but she is unaware of it. Her stepmother, Frances, is also imbued with powers. She decides to use them selfishly, in an attempt to gain herself notoriety. Here’s the first thing in the book that I wasn’t a huge fan of: the whole “evil plot” consists of making Annis marry someone with station so that Frances can be a part of the upper class. That’s a reason that just isn’t all that interesting to me, personally.

I also didn’t really connect with the characters at all. Annis only cared about her horses and, when she thought about marrying rich, it was with an eye toward the horses she’d own and be able to breed. James, the other part of the duo, was a prude who didn’t think women capable of anything. It made it difficult for me to care about either of them. The slow-building possible-romance just didn’t work for me.

The world was well-realized, however, and the writing was top-notch. Louisa Morgan wrote with an eye to detail that made it incredibly easy to visualize the settings. She told the story using four different points of view, but the switch-off was smooth and easy to follow.

Despite the author’s obvious skill, this book just didn’t butter my biscuit.

Picture Books for Wiggly Kids: Books for Littles #1

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Recently, I was asked to come up with a list of children’s books that are great for little wrigglers. I’m not in any way an expert, and can only go from my experience with my own kids, but I love children’s books and I’m happy to add my two cents.

First and foremost, I would like to say that each child is different. When my oldest was little, storytime had him sitting in my lap, pointing at the pictures and turning the pages. My youngest likes to run back and forth, sometimes even hanging over my shoulder to look at the pictures. And that’s okay. It’s about spending quality time with your child, sharing your love of books. If quality time looks like jumping up and down dancing to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, well, then, you’re getting exercise. If it looks like a quiet cuddle while reading Peter Rabbit, that’s…

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Books That I Think Will Be Future Classics

I saw this post on both Fictionophile’s and Orang-Utan Librarian’s fantastic blogs and I just had to take part. Credit for this fun post goes to Orangutan Librarian.

I like thinking about the books that will be considered ‘classics’ for future generations, and the reasons why. Here are a few that I think will fill that role in the coming years:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up. (taken from Amazon)

Aside from the fact that this is an incredibly moving book (it’s one of my top five favorites of all time), it’s an important book. Written solely through letters, this book covers subjects that are often considered taboo in the YA genre and it does it realistically and with grace. The simplicity of the writing makes it hit home all the more. I definitely see this one being considered a “classic” in the future.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. (taken from Amazon)

Admission: I haven’t read this book. However, it think it fits the criteria: it discusses an important subject, is relevant to the time (sadly), and -from what I’ve heard- it’s well-written.

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The Harry Potter series

Okay, hear me out: I’m not adding this series because it’s immensely popular. I’m adding it because of the changes it inspired in children’s literature, the first being that this series crosses from being kid lit., to being middle grade about halfway through the series. This is the first series that I can think of that was written with the goal of having the audience get older in conjunction with the characters. It also spawned a change in children’s literature: the discussion of difficult subjects without shying away or “dumbing it down” to meet the reader. Plus, there are the numerous books that have been quite obviously inspired by the changes Harry Potter affected in literature.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years. (taken from Amazon)

While it’s never actually confirmed in the book, most people agree that Christopher is on the spectrum. The way the author explored this is astounding. While it changes how Christopher handles things, it in no way shows him as being incapable or “lesser than.” It’s amazing how well-written this book is. It really made me think and I would be very surprised if this isn’t considered a classic in the future.

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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

This seems like one of those books that intimidates a lot of people. I highly recommend giving it a go. I believe that- aside from the themes explored in the book- its odd writing style ( the endnotes! Endless endnotes!) will both fascinate and confuse for many generations to come.

If some of these are already considered classics, then yay and my bad. It’s been longer than I care to admit since I’ve had required reading of “classics.”

What do you think? What would you add?

Parasites by Matthew Samuels

Image result for parasites by matthew samuels
At the end of the universe, the very fabric of reality is beginning to contract, winding up to the Big Crunch. Alone and isolated on the planet Lyra, humans evolved late on a resource-poor world. Doomed to die out as food and minerals dwindle, a scientist makes a chance discovery allowing people and vehicles to travel through ‘thinnings’ – patches of space linking universes.Kael and Alessia are explorers charting where the thinnings go and more importantly, bringing back valuable resources to Lyra, trying desperately to extend the lifespan of their home world. Alessia’s father, Ben, set out two years ago to uncover another species’ reference to a ‘solution’ to the big crunch problem – but never returned. A chance discovery leads Kael and Alessia to a clue, prompting another expedition to see if they can avoid the mistakes of the past and help to unravel the mystery.Kael, Alessia and their gruff bodyguard Basteel retrace Ben’s steps, seeking closure for Alessia, a solution for Lyra and together begin a voyage through wild, weird and wonderful planets. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

When it comes to sci-fi writing, I’m pretty picky. It’s very easy for me to lose interest, or just give up because I get confused by the “sciencey stuff” (don’t mind me, I’m just over here making up new phrases). There was never any danger of that with Parasites, however. It was a unique book and kept me entertained from beginning to end.

I think the biggest strength the author displayed in this book was the world (worlds) building. It was excellent. He managed to somehow make things utterly alien, while keeping it believable and with enough of a grounding in reality that it made sense. I was never bored by overly-complicated scientific mumbo-jumbo: even the explanations were easy to understand, without speaking down to the reader.

All of the characters were enjoyable, although Basteel (the bodyguard/father figure) was by far my favorite. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I can’t stand overly dramatic love stories, and this book didn’t have any. It was fabulous. The relationships were important, but they were never over the top, or melodramatic. The interactions between the characters was based more on friendship and respect, than on the gushy stuff (ha!).

Matthew Samuels wrote with confidence and skill. Parasites is an excellent addition to the science fiction genre, and one I suggest picking up.

 

 

A Noble’s Path by I.L Cruz- Book Blog Tour

Blog Tour Banner (1)

Divided loyalties test Inez Garza. The infamous incident at the Academy of Natural Studies has forced her to work for the King’s Men while continuing to serve the hidden market.Supporting Birthright furthers the cause of Magical Return, but the cost may be the fall of the royal house and losing Zavier forever.And the strongest pull of all is her growing and erratic magic, which demands everything and offers only destruction in return.Inez must decide where her loyalties lie—saving Canto or saving herself. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Bosky Flame Press for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available for purchase on March 25th.

I enjoyed the first book in the series, A Smuggler’s Path, and I think this book was even better. It was a natural progression from the first, and felt as if there had been no pause at all. It’s always nice for a series to feel consistent.

Inez is the main character of this book, as she was in the first. She was tenacious and did her best to overcome her fears. At times she felt very naive to me, but that was well- balanced with some of the other characters, who were a bit more wise to the ways of the world. I’m still a big fan of Rowley.

I must say, I loved that Inez had to do what was basically a fantasy book’s equivalent to community service! It was such a fun way to continue the series. I feel that this series’ strength lies in its world building.

As with the first book, I feel that this will appeal to a large age range. I know my sixth grader would love this, and I enjoyed it as well. This book is a delightful foray into the kind of fantasy I loved when I was younger. It’s a fun book, and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

About the Author

I.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008. Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.

Find her on Twitter @ILCruzWrites
or her blog, Fairytale Feminista at https://fairytalefeminista.wordpress.com
And her website http://www.booksbyilcruz.com

Feathertide by Beth Cartwright

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Marea was born to be different – a girl born covered in the feathers of a bird, and kept hidden in a crumbling house full of secrets. When her new tutor, the Professor, arrives with his books, maps and magical stories, he reveals a world waiting outside the window and her curiosity is woken. Caught in the desire to discover her identity and find out why she has feathers fluttering down her back like golden thistledown, she leaves everything she has ever known and goes in search of the father she has never met.

This hunt leads her to the City of Murmurs, a place of mermaids and mystery, where jars of swirling mist are carried through the streets by the broken-hearted. It is here that she learns about love, identity and how to accept being that little bit different. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Ebery Publishing for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on July thirtieth.

This is a rare book. It’s the kind of quiet beautiful that reminds me why I like to read so very much. I was blown away by how a story with only a few characters could manage to feel so big. I loved every moment of it.

This book is about Marea, a girl born with feathers. She spends much of her young life watching the birds out her window and wondering if she’s more girl or more bird. As she gets older, she decides to leave the safety of her childhood and venture to the City of Murmurs, in search of her father and of answers.

One of the things I loved about this book is that, while ostensibly looking for her father, what Marea is really searching for is herself. At its core, this lovely book is about discovering who we are, embracing our uniqueness, and being courageous enough to share our differences with the world.

Marea herself was a wonderful main character. She was very unsure of herself, but also very believable. She was also extremely easy to relate to. I think all of us have our insecurities. The side characters were also fantastic: there was Sybel, who ultimately became like a mother to Marea; Leo, who offered to help Marea find her father; the Keeper of the Hours (oh my goodness, I loved that idea!); and Elver, who I refuse to spoil by saying anything about.

The City of Murmurs itself is really a character. I love books where the setting comes to life and Beth Cartwright crafted such a creative and beautiful world that I was immediately engrossed.

This is not a book with action scenes. You won’t find daring fights, or dastardly villains. What you will find, however, is an unassuming masterpiece, a book that will stay with you. I know I’ll find myself returning to the City of Murmurs again before too long.

I recommend this book very highly.

Giveaway- The Rome of Fall by Chad Alan Gibbs

The Rome of Fall by [Gibbs, Chad Alan]
              After leaving mysteriously two decades ago, financial ruin and his dying mother have brought Marcus Brinks back to his hometown of Rome, Alabama. Brinks, the former lead singer of ’90s indie-rock band Dear Brutus, takes a job teaching at his old school, where years ago, he and his friend Jackson conspired to get Deacon, the starting quarterback, and resident school jerk, kicked off the football team. Now it’s Jackson, head coach of Rome, who rules the school like Caesar, while Deacon plots his demise. This time Brinks refuses to get involved, opting instead for a quiet life with his high school crush, Becca. But will dreams of domestic bliss go up in flames when repercussions from the past meet the lying, cheating, and blackmail of the present? (taken from Amazon)

I’m so excited to announce my first giveaway on my blog: The Rome of Fall by Chad Alan Gibbs ( find my review here). As I remarked to a fellow blogger, at this point Chad Alan Gibbs could write a book about the color beige, and I’d be excited to read it. The Rome of Fall is an incredibly enjoyable nostalgia-filled book, and is easily one of the best books I’ve read in quite a while.

Chad Alan Gibbs has generously offered five physical copies as prizes! However, if you aren’t one of the lucky winners, you can pick up your own copy on March 17th.

So, now to the rules:
1. U.S. residents only for this particular giveaway
2. Comment below so I can add you to the drawing. Something as simple as “Yo” or “Wazzup!”  works great, but I’d love to hear a memory/song/etc that makes you nostalgic for the 90’s.
3. The contest ends Friday, March 20th. I’ll list winners here, as well as on a separate post, so keep your eyes out.

That’s it. You’re in. While I’ve got you here, I also highly recommend Chad Alan Gibbs’ debut novel, Two Like Me and You.