Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world.
Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place―and realizing that family is yours. (taken from Amazon)
The House in the Cerulean Sea is the sweetest, coziest, most delightful book I’ve ever read that also includes the antichrist. Okay, let me try again. That first sentence paints a rather odd picture. This book is wonderful. It’s comfort in written form. It’s a reminder that happy endings (or maybe happy beginnings) exist, often found in the most unexpected of places, if only we’re brave enough to look.
Linus Baker has worked for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (or DICOMY) for years and years. He does his job by the letter and is very good at it. He gives his all for it. Then he goes home and is quietly lonely, with only a cantankerous cat for company. When the bigwigs at DICOMY send him to a little island to evaluate a home for magical youth, he expects more of the same. Do his job. Do it by the letter. Go home. However, things don’t go as planned, with absolutely fantastic results.
Linus is blown away by the children he meets. They’re unlike any other and they are their own little family. Among them is a six year old antichrist (who also likes to sing and dance to old records), a large boy with a small amount of self-confidence, and a…something, whose only goal in life is so delightfully simple and sweet that I fell in love with him immediately. Caring for the children is Arthur Parnassus. Kind and quiet, his protective love for the kids endeared me to him right away.
Of course, I have to mention Linus Baker. He feels he does his job well and that’s enough. He doesn’t see the effect he has on those he meets and he doesn’t realize his worth. He quietly helps everyone and is the sort of person this world needs more of. He listens without just waiting for his chance to speak. He always manages to say the one thing a person needs to hear, and he does it without realizing how much he’s changed that person’s outlook. He is wonderful. I so badly wanted him to discover his place in life, and find contentment. Following him through the book was a joy.
And the writing! Oh, how I loved it! It painted a picture not only of the setting, but of the emotions of the characters. Linus’ story started in shades of gray and slowly shifted to a beautiful cerulean blue. The little details scattered throughout elevated this book to piece of art, and there is a poem within that will stay with me for a very, very long time. It was incredibly moving.
I really could have just said that The House in the Cerulean Sea is pretty much perfect. My ramblings really haven’t done it justice. My copy is now sitting on my “favorite books of all time” shelf, where it rightfully belongs. So…who should read this book? Simply put: everyone.
Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.
Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.
It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings … including his first love. (taken from Amazon)
Thank you to the author and to The Write Reads for allowing me to join this blog tour. It is available for purchase now.
White Trash Warlock is a book that is much bigger than the sum of its parts. Ostensibly about a sort-of warlock on a mission to save his sister-in-law from demonic possession, this book uses that platform to tackle themes of acceptance, grief, anger, and family dynamics.
Adam has stirrings of magic in him. He can see and interact with the spirit world, a talent that got him left in a psych ward as a kid. Now an adult, Adam is happily estranged from his mom and brother Bobby (who committed him to the psych ward years ago), eking out a living and trying to find his missing dad. So, getting a call from Bobby is unusual. Doubly so, when Bobby is asking for help with his wife, who seems to be possessed. Adam decides to drive to Denver, figure out what’s going on with his sister-in-law, and hopefully fix it. Then, he’ll go back to his own life, as far away from his brother as he can get. Unfortunately, things are far less simple than Adam expected.
First, I’ll start with the world building. Denver itself is…Denver, a city like any other. However, layer spirit towers, Reapers, and giant evil thingies over it like tracing paper, and you get the Denver of the book. Think “Upside Down” from Stranger Things, and you have the general idea. It was an intriguing concept, and one that worked quite well, taking the everyday and making it just a little…off. I loved seeing the different worlds cross over, like when a car stolen in the real world is used in the spirit world.
Great plot? Check. Interesting world? Check. Fantastic, complicated characters? Triple check. The characters are what elevated this book from good to amazing for me. There was Bobby, with his perfect little house, his perfect little car, and his perfect little life being upended. He wanted to retreat into the familiar and completely ordinary, but was unable to. He was so lost, and blamed Adam for feeling out of place. That he asked for Adam’s help despite their history and Bobby’s dislike of anything he didn’t understand opened the door to some meaningful interactions between the two. The mom didn’t really figure in all that much, but her additions were interesting. There were a few other characters, two of which I’m not going to name, so as not to spoil anything. I liked them both, especially as ways to further the development in other characters.
Then there’s Adam. I loved Adam so much! He was a mix of emotions and reflex-reactions. He so badly wanted to be seen, yet was afraid for anyone to know the real him. His mix of anger over the past, and the strong desire to avoid dealing with that past felt incredibly authentic. Little details mentioned throughout the book really resonated with me. At one point, Adam gets incredibly annoyed at someone for referring to a mental institution as a “loony bin”, which I was nodding at: I’ve spent time in a mental hospital, and it bothers me when people say things like that too. He was competent and willing to sacrifice everything for a sister-in-law he really didn’t know. I cheered for him from minute one, and wanted him to see his own worth.
The story ratcheted up from a bit of mystery (who was responsible for the possession and why?) to a full-out battle involving manticores, Reapers, and a dragon. I do wish the ending had taken a little longer, just because I was enjoying the book so much. White Trash Warlock was a supernatural show-down combined with complicated real-life problems. I loved it and can’t wait to see what happens next.
Feelings of depression, loss, and defeat hit us when we least expect it. But, in this world, if someone walked down the wrong alleyway, they disappeared without a trace. Martha Railer struggled to cope with her loss, whilst her private world was invaded by the struggles of others. Meanwhile, a mysterious rider arrived in the town yet, despite his apparent confidence, was forced to battle new challenges brought about by his own loss. (taken from Goodreads)
Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This is available now on Amazon Kindle and Kobo.
Blind Isolation is the second book in the Dead Chronicles of Martha Railer, the first being The DarkStalkers. As with the first book, I really can’t compare it to anything else. Part of the reasoning for that is that there is no dialogue at all. This could be a little jarring at times, but it was also an incredibly bold choice.
I do feel that it worked better in Blind Isolation than it did in Dark Stalkers, although it could just be that I was expecting it and was less surprised. I also thought that it allowed the author to explore grief in a more introspective way. I do wish that there was a little more revelation regarding the mysterious addition, however.
While not a long book, Blind Isolation requires more of a commitment than shorter novels generally do, simply because of the nature of the story. It is an interesting and creatively told story.
I am ridiculously excited about this book! Aside from the subject matter being interesting, I have a new perspective: my child. He’s a little guy, too young to even ride a bike without training wheels, but he has big dreams. He likes mostly nonfiction books about historical figures, people who he sees as world changers. Kids on the March sounds perfect for him. He says he wants to change the world when he grows up: how cool will it be for him to see examples of kids who didn’t wait until they had a drivers’ license or were old enough to vote? Kids everywhere need to see that they can affect change, that they can SHAKE THE WORLD. They’ve done it before. They’re doing it now. And I am so jazzed to read about it.
I’ll have a review coming up before too long. This book will be available on March 23rd.
In case you’re not yet sick of hearing me rave about it, let me just say: I love Dragonlance! The Dragonlance Chronicles- comprised of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning– were my gateway to adult fantasy. I remember opening Dragons of Autumn Twilight for the first time (longer ago than I care to admit) and knowing from page one that what I held in my hands was special. I was immediately drawn into a world of magic, of misfits coming together to accomplish something bigger than themselves, and of dragons. Oh, the dragons! I devoured the Chronicles. Then, I read every other Dragonlance book that had been published at that point.
I still find myself returning to the world of Krynn at least once a year, opening those almost-memorized pages of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Rereading that trilogy is like seeing an old friend, one who’s stuck with you through thick and thin.
This year’s reread is doubly special: I got to participate in a buddy read! Myself, another Dragonlance veteran, and two new Dragonlance readers all got together and dove right into Dragons of Autumn Twilight. It was wonderful getting new perspectives on the characters (Fizan is a favorite! People are divided on Raistlin), and chatting about all things Dragonlance.
My thoughts remain pretty much the same (I’m boring like that): Laurana grows in leaps and bounds between books and is still one of my favorites for that reason (plus, she does some pretty hardcore things at later parts). Raistlin is still flat-out awesome, and I credit him for my love of complicated, morally ambiguous characters. Also, I want to travel to the Inn of the Last Home for some of Otik’s Spiced Potatoes. However, here’s the fun part: what those who read with me thought!
“Dragons of Autumn Twilight is the first book in a trilogy set in the land of Krynn. It is pure fantasy escapism. A light and easy read. I would recommend this book to fans of epic fantasy who like comical characters and unlikely situations. There are dragons too and strong friendship between the band of unlikely friends embarking on a journey to find out what’s happening ‘up north’ – rumours of war. The land of Krynn is being overrun by hoards of ‘draconians’ in thrall to the dragon overlord Verminaard and Pyro, the dragon he rides. The main characters are all very different and fully realized, such that you know how each of them will react in each situation they are faced with. The world building is descriptive and well done. I will definitely read the other books in this trilogy.”
“The day was hot as I stood waiting for the taxi. How would I feel reading a book that I had loved over twenty five years ago? Would I still feel the same? Would that spark still be there? Would I feel the same as I flipped through the pages? Would I still be able to devour the book as I had once done, many years ago.
“It’ll be fine” Jodie from W&SBookclub said, smiling warmly. “I read it all the time, I still love it!”
Sue from Sue’s Musings looked at the copy that she held in her hands, “It’s got dragons in. And there’s a snarky wizard! What’s not to love?”
Carrie, who had recently joined the buddy read from her website in Canada, icanhasbooks, glanced nervously at the sky “Do you think it’s going to snow? Those clouds look menacing to me! I can tell you that they are snow clouds. Look that one is even shaped like a snowflake!”
I turned swiftly to them all, trying to keep my attention focussed on the slowly moving traffic. “It’s not that, it’s just I can’t remember a thing about it. I know that it is good and I really enjoyed it. It’s just that….” I shrugged my shoulders.
“Well, you know!” Carrie rolled her eyes “ I don’t know what you’re worried about. It’s only a book! I mean it’s not like you have the same problems as me. I mean look at them clouds! I’m going to be snowed in soon. Half an hour and this place will be covered, covered I tell you!” She held up the new book that she had just bought at the local bookshop. “Well, at least you’ll keep me entertained for a while!”
Shortly afterwards, after discussing hair and laughing when we all had all joked about what the characters would look like as Goths in the Twitter message room, I settled down with my customary cup of tea and flicked open the first page. It wasn’t long before I was gripped by the story of the book. Laughing at the antics that Tasselhoff Burrfoot got up to, accidentally pinching everything that wasn’t nailed down. I loved the fact that it moved from one adventure to another, barely stopping for Tanis’s party to get something to eat. I mean this book had all sorts going for it, Dragons, Elves, Unicorns, ghosts all sorts. It was great, everytime I read it, I couldn’t wait to get back to twitter and tell everyone about it. If we had any questions, Jodie could come up with an answer just like that. Sue and Carrie told me all sorts of stuff. Sue even showed us a video on youtube about goths getting dressed. And Carrie was an old goth too. Jodie showed us some pictures of her new hair. Everyone complimented her on how great she looked. Soon, I was getting to the end of the book. I reflected on what I had read. I needn’t have worried about revisiting the book, it was a fantastic read. I think, looking back on it, it’s a bit of an ensemble piece with each of the characters getting their time in the spotlight. My favorites were the sulky, snarky wizard, Raistlin. But then there was Fizban, the mad old wizard who can never remember the fireball spell and does not get along with trees. So, we all got together after finishing. Everyone giving their thoughts about their own favourite parts of the book and decided. We can’t wait to read the next part of the trilogy!”
“Welcome to the world of Krynn…. It has been 5 years since our characters have last seen one an other, vowing to meet again at the Inn of the Last Home in Solace. All having their own stories and secrets to keep, some seem different, changed. Little did they know that after all this time they would be adventuring together, finding new friendships and enemy’s along they way. Stars are missing, and dragons, children’s tales are coming to life. Things that haven’t been seen since before the cataclysm. A magic staff and corrupted clerics. Has the Queen of Darkness returned? So if you are dork like myself you will instantly love Dragons of Autumn Twilight. If you like doing quests, if you like grumpy dwarves, a kender who will make you giggle, but do watch your purse around them. Cheesy songs that are beautiful regardless. You will enjoy this. If you love elves, magic, adventure, mystery, monsters, dragons, friendship and found family, you will enjoy this. D&D, RPG’s you will enjoy this. Dragonlance in my mind, was world that I new I had to visit to someday, it always screamed to me as being a staple in not only the genre of fantasy but in the overall nerd/dork/geekdoms. This book has been sitting on my shelf for many a year. And sometime during 2020 I kept on placing on each monthly tbr to only have it collecting more dust, (and no there were no draconian killed on top of it) Then thanks to Twitter and my scrolling I somehow ended in a buddy read with some great folk… I look forward to my next adventure. To learn more secrets, to see if my thoughts on certain characters are right. Also to see what else Flint complains about.”
We will be continuing our buddy read with Dragons of Winter Night, book two in the Dragonlance Chronicles. And it is the perfect time to be reading these books because it was announced today that Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are returning to the world of Krynn with a new triliogy! To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. If you haven’t yet experienced the world of Dragonlance, now is the time. Happy reading!
Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome dragon, Dragonia.How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure. But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more halpess than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children.
Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight. See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager.
Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story- for which she just so happened to have a front row seat. Welcome to Erithea. I hope you brought a change of undergarments-things are going to get messy.
I’m so grateful to Storytellers on Tour for the opportunity to be able to read and review this book! This is available for purchase now.
Witty and snarktastic, The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True is a highly entertaining journey through the lighter side of fantasy. Before I get into the nitty or the gritty, I have to just point out how cool it is to have a bard in a main role. Now (rolls up sleeves): let’s move on to the main event, shall we?
The story gets a kick in the pants when the people (I’ll leave the argument of villagers vs. citizens firmly between the pages) of Skendrick hire a group of heroes to divest them of their dragon problem. Heloise the Bard (…”if not the most well-known bard in Erithea (yet), arguably the most talented, and unarguably the cleverest”) gets a front row seat to what will surely be the stuff of legend. Let’s just say, it’s the stuff of…something.
Instead of glorious heroes, we get a motley collection of “what the crud is this?” characters, the sort that are lovable but just so bad at life. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be the oversized, cranky ,talking rat. I was also a huge fan of Heloise herself, of course. I loved the random blathering tangents that she would go on.
While the humor felt a little forced from time to time, there were enough laugh-out-loud moments to place this book in the “hilarious” category. The not-so-subtle knocking of common fantasy tropes were a lot of fun to read, and the characters cracked me up. The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True will be perfect for anyone who needs a good laugh, and isn’t that pretty much everyone?
Thank you to Wyldblood Press for the opportunity to read and review the first issue of Wyldblood Magazine. You can find WyldbloodMagazinehere.
This is a great offering from some truly talented authors. I got sucked into the very first story, and looked up a moment later to realize that I had finished the entire magazine and time had flown by without my noticing.
No one story was like another. Each piece was completely unique and stunningly creative. While I enjoyed all of them, there were two that really stood out to me. The first was Thawing by JL George. This is about the Ice Princess, a frozen statue that stands in the center of a village square. Legend has it that-well, I don’t want to spoil it. I’ll just drop a hint about dragons (oh, how I love stories that contain dragons!), and say that Thawing has a perfect mix of legend and the everyday. I would love to see this expanded to a full novel, I enjoyed it so much.
The other story that really stuck with me was Souls of Smoke and Ash by Sydney Paige Guerrero. Have you ever heard someone being referred to as a “soul sucking —-“? Well, this particular entry happens to actually be about a soul sucker. It’s amazing to see an author lay out the scene, personality, and atmosphere that completely so quickly. The tale was told with confidence and ended in a way that I didn’t expect.
Not only are there some fantastic stories, Wyldblood Magazine also features interviews, book reviews, and some very skillful art. All of it added to the magazine, none of it was just filler. I’ve added a few books from the review section to my already overly large “to be read” list.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the layout. Sometimes, magazines are ordered in a way that makes transitions between pieces seem clunky, or gives a feeling of things being incomplete. Not so with Wyldblood. Each piece moved seamlessly into the next, despite every story being unlike the one before it. It’s hard to believe that this is the first issue of the magazine: it feels effortlessly well done. I am incredibly impressed, and I highly, highly suggest Wyldblood Magazine for all readers of fantasy or science fiction.
On a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire’s enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name ‘The Sword of Kaigen.’
Born into Kusanagi’s legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family’s fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen’s alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.
Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.
When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores? (taken from Amazon)
This was a book that I was a little scared to read. It was so hyped up that I thought it couldn’t possibly be as good as everyone claimed. I was so wrong. The Sword of Kaigen is riveting.
The story is brilliant, with a militaristic flare that I always find intriguing. This is an Asian-inspired fantasy, and I was sucked into the history and lore that dripped from the pages. The breadth of world-building is truly astonishing, with an amount of detail that’s above and beyond what I usually see in a fantasy book.
There were some differences in pace: the action built to a crescendo earlier on, and sort of slowed down after that. While an unusual choice, it worked wonderfully for this book since the characters are so incredibly interesting.
I thought Mamoru’s character developed amazingly throughout the book. Seeing him grow and evolve was truly a joy. Misaki, however, was absolutely incredible. I loved her so, so much! She lives as almost a background character in her own life, quiet and obedient. But…wow! I loved the strength of character and the hidden depths that Misaki has. From now on, whenever I think of a unique, strong, and well developed character, she will be the first to come to mind.
The storyline itself is genius, although I feel I should warn the readers that there are harsher parts to the book. TheSword of Kaigen is incredible. If you’re looking for an engrossing read with truly unforgettable characters, this one is for you.
From behind the counter, Shaun Bythell catalogs the customers who roam his shop in Wigtown, Scotland. There’s the Expert (divided into subspecies from the Bore to the Helpful Person), the Young Family (ranging from the Exhausted to the Aspirational), Occultists (from Conspiracy Theorist to Craft Woman).
Then there’s the Loiterer (including the Erotica Browser and the Self-Published Author), the Bearded Pensioner (including the Lyrca Clad), and the The Not-So-Silent Traveller (the Whistler, Sniffer, Hummer, Farter, and Tutter). Two bonus sections include Staff and, finally, Perfect Customer―all add up to one of the funniest book about books you’ll ever find. (taken from Amazon)
With a title like this, I just had to read Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops. This is a nonfiction written by someone whose profession affords him the excellent opportunity to people watch. As a bookseller, author Bythell has experienced all kinds of customers, and has sorted them into categories, easily explained and commented on.
This book was funny and snarky, although it segued into meanness every now and again. Categories such as “Genus: Peritas (Expert)” are sorted into sub-categories and described in hilarious detail. I have to apologetically admit to fitting neatly into the “Young Family” category: I truly do try to keep the fingerprints off of glass, though.
I found myself chuckling at some of the things the author notes. His ability to both poke fun at, and show appreciation for, all kinds of people was incredibly entertaining. I did feel that Bythell took things too far from time to time, particularly when discussing self-published authors. I’m sure his comments were made without malicious intent, but I did get a little annoyed on these authors’ behalf. Right when I was at my most ticked off, he mentioned a delightful encounter with a self-published author, smoothing my ruffled feathers a bit.
I didn’t love the book the way I was hoping, but I did find it to be a very diverting read. It’s a one-and-done sort of book, but those also have their place. Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops would be a great palette cleanser in-between books that require an emotional investment.
The Reluctant Queen is available now. It is the sequel to The Queen of Blood, so there will be some slight spoilers for book one which I’ll try to keep as minimal as possible. You can find my review for Queen of Blood here.
The Reluctant Queen is an engrossing addition to the Queens of Renthia trilogy. The story continues in a way that I did not expect, but which makes perfect sense. Daleina has some disturbing news: she’s dying. As queen, she alone has the power to command the spirits that inhabit the land, to keep them from destroying everyone in Renthia. Without a queen, the lives of each human are forfeit. Daleina sends her champions (think King Arthur’s knights) to hopefully find and train an heir-because time is running out.
Here’s where things get complicated: Ven, the champion that trained Daleina, does find a candidate- one who is more powerful than anyone he’s ever seen. Naelin, who hides this power, is a mother focused on raising two healthy, happy children. She has no interest in traipsing off to be trained to use her power, and she definitely doesn’t want to become a queen. However, she might not have a choice: other candidates are mysteriously dying and things aren’t necessarily what they seem.
Being a mom myself, I loved Naelin. She knew where her priorities were and she made no bones about it. I felt horrible for her when she realized that the only way to protect her kids was to learn to protect everyone. Naelin’s kids were her whole world, and it was gut-wrenching when they were in danger as a direct result of her power.
This book moved a little more slowly during the first half, but it was never boring. The character development was fantastic. I loved getting to know more about Champion Ven, who grew in leaps and bounds between book one and the end of book two. There was an entirely new facet of his character revealed that added an extra layer of humanity to the plotline.
Sometimes in fantasy books, child characters are either incredibly annoying, or incredibly one dimensional. Neither of those things happened here. The children were fully developed characters, and they definitely contributed to the story.
The second half of the book ramped up until it became a breath-taking confrontation. I honestly didn’t know how things would end up and I loved every nail-biting moment. Once again, author Sarah Beth Durst showed incredible creativity in both her spirits and how they interacted and fought. Add in political intrigue, an epic battle, and some major backstabbing, and it’s safe to say that The Reluctant Queen has become one of my new favorite fantasies. This is a fantastic series for both fantasy veterans, and those who are just dipping their toes into this wonderful genre. I highly recommend it.