Leo’s Monster by Marcus Pfister- ARC Review

Thank you to Negalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on May 5th, 2020.

This little story is about two mice. There’s a country mouse named Zoe and, and her little buddy, Leo. Leo comes to visit Zoe, but discovers a terrifying monster. As he describes it to Zoe, she starts to suspect that the monster is, in fact, bovine in nature.

I thought the illustrations were cute, and the story was entertaining. My toddler, though had another opinion. He hated it. About three pages in, he looked at me and said, “It’s just a cow,” and the disdain with which he said it was actually a wee bit funny. I’m not sure what to make of his reaction. He gravitates toward history books anyway (seriously. This four year old has all the presidents memorized and can recognize them by face). Take his opinion with that in mind.

I guess that makes this review a mixed one. I liked the book, and think it would be great for toddlers. My toddler- the target demographic- seems to disagree. Take from that what you will.

Limbo by Thiago d’Evecque

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The Limbo is where all souls — human or otherwise — go to after dying. Some don’t realize where they are. Death is a hard habit to get used to. Gods and mythological figures also dwell in the plane, borne from humanity’s beliefs.

A forsaken spirit is awakened and ordered to dispatch 12 souls back to Earth to prevent the apocalypse. Many don’t take kindly to the return. Accompanied by an imprisoned mad god, the spirit must compel them.

Each of the 12 unlocks a piece of the forsaken spirit’s true identity. Memories unfold and past wounds bleed again.

The journey will reveal buried truths about gods, angels, humanity, and the forsaken spirit itself. (taken from Goodreads)

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

This book is so stinking creative! I saw “mad god” in the description, and was immediately interested. One thing I loved about this was the way the book reads like a puzzle. That sense of questioning transferred over from the main character to me, and I couldn’t stop thinking through what I thought the possibilities might be. I was surprised by the way things culminated as well, which is always cool.

At times, the book felt a bit too descriptive but the descriptions themselves were amazing. The author had such a fully realized view of every last detail, from the way things looked, to how they were formed. Just read this:

There was no space or time. I strode without leaving the place, while, in fact, everything around me arranged itself to look like I was moving. The setting gradually changed. Small pieces climbed up to my feet and descended from where the sky should be. As in a puzzle, these pieces fit together and shaped the surroundings. The ground floated in blocks until they glued together in a perfect picture, an impeccable union.

Oddly enough, another thing I really enjoyed was reading the notes afterward to see what myths and religions the author pulled from and took liberties with. It’s obviously a passion project, and reads well because of it.

It’s a quick read, and one that I suggest to those who like new takes on old myths, legends, and archtypes.

The End of the Year Book Tag

The end of the year is rapidly approaching. I’m not sure why 2019 decided to move at a gallop, but it seems that it did. I’ve seen this book tag on several blogs and I’m not sure where it originated. The credit for this great tag goes to Ariel Bissett. Without further ado, here are my answers to some questions that no one has asked:

Are There Any Books You’ve Started This Year That You Need To Finish?

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan: I started this long before its release date, which is April 7th, 2020. I obviously have plenty of time to read and review it before the release date, so I’m not stressing it.

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Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone…or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet―those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless. (taken from Amazon)

Do You Have An Autumnal Book To Transfer Into The New Year?

Indeed, I do. I always reread the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman in the fall. I’m enjoying it even more than usual this year, since I’m participating in Offthetbr’s readalong.

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Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.

No one expected them to be heroes.

Least of all, them. (taken from Amazon)
Is There A New Release You’re Still Waiting For?

Oddly enough, not really. My most anticipated new release just came out, so now I’m just enjoying discovering new books and rereading favorites.

What Are Three Books You Want To Read Before The End Of The Year?

The Audacity by Laura Loup: I’m starting this one soon, and I’m really excited to see where it goes.

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May’s humdrum life gets flung into hyperdrive when she’s abducted, but not all aliens are out to probe her. She’s inadvertently rescued by Xan who’s been orbiting Earth in a day-glo orange rocket ship, watching re-runs of “I Love Lucy”.

Seizing the opportunity for a better life, May learns how to race the Audacity and pilots her way into interstellar infamy. Finally, she has a job she likes and a friend to share her winnings with–until the Goddess of Chaos screws the whole thing up, and Xan’s unmentionable past makes a booty call. (taken from Amazon)
The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington: I love a good fantasy, and I think this book will deliver.

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As destiny calls, a journey begins.
It has been twenty years since the godlike Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them — the Gifted — are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.
As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he and his friends Wirr and Asha set into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. (taken from Amazon)

The Jackal of Nar by John Marco: My husband recommended this book, and he has excellent taste in fantasy books.

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His enemies call Prince Richius “the Jackal,” but he is merely a reluctant warrior for the Emperor in the fight for the strife-ridden borderland of Lucel-Lor. And though the empire’s war machines are deadly, when the leader of a fanatical sect sweeps the battlefield with potent magic, Richius’s forces are routed. He returns home defeated—but the Emperor will not accept the loss. Soon Richius is given one last chance to pit the empire’s science against the enemy’s devastating magic, and this time he fights for more than a ruler’s mad whim. This time Richius has his own obsessive quest—and where he hesitated to go for an emperor’s greed, for love he will plunge headlong into the grasp of the deadliest enemy he has ever encountered. . . .(taken from Amazon)

Is There A Book You Think Could Shock You And Become Your Favorite Book Of The Year?

I’m a big fan of surprise masterpieces, so I go into each book I read with an open mind and hope that it will be one I enjoy. It has been a year full of amazing books, and I know that I’ve only begun to discover all the incredible voices out there.

Have You Already Started Making Reading Plans For 2020?

I can’t even plan an outfit! I do have some ARCs that will be released in 2020, so my goal right now is to have them all read and reviewed before their release date. Other than that, my plan is to maybe remember to put eyeliner on both eyes if I’m going to put makeup on before leaving the house.

If you want to participate, feel free! This is a fun one.

Fowl Language: Winging It by Brian Gordon- ARC Review

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

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The world’s finest parenting cartoon featuring ducks presents a comprehensive view of the early parenting years in all of their maddening cuteness and sanity-depriving chaos. In addition to dozens of previously unpublished cartoons, Fowl Language: Winging It is organized into 12 thematic chapters—including “Babies: Oh Dear God, What Have We Done?”; “Siblings: Best Frenemies Forever”; and “Sleep: Everybody Needs It, Nobody’s Gettin’ It”—each of which begins with a hilarious, illustrated 500-word essay. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available to purchase on October twenty second.

Who knew that it would be possible for me to relate so much to a duck? I struggle with reading graphic novels, but I love a good web comic. Back in the day, I used to read Penny Arcade, and comics along those lines. Then, one fated night, long after…

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Divided States of America (the Galaxy series #3) by Aithal- ARC Review

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The year is 2032. After traveling to a galaxy far far away, the three astronauts are back on Earth, but in the future. What they see shocks them. When they left Earth in 2015, America was united, but they come to a divided country.

 
The only way to stop this from ever happening is for them to travel back to the year 2015. And the only person who can take them back is the alien who flew back with them. They have already witnessed the powers he possesses. They know that no human on Earth can do what he can.  
 
Will he do it? (taken from Amazon)

                           Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on January 4th, 2020.

In the interest of full disclosure: I have not read the first two books in this series. However, I was easily able to follow the story.

As the title of suggests, politics are a very big part of this book. I expected a political sci-fi. What surprised me a bit was how much more politically-focused it is. In many ways, the science fiction takes a backseat. I honestly would be interested in reading a straight-out political novel by Aithal as that seems to be where his passion lays.

However, the science fiction is solid, and the story moves along well. The politics could get a little heavy-handed and if you lean toward the right, you might not appreciate this book as much. I think what took this book from a “love” to a “like” for me is simply that the state of American politics is a stressful subject for me. Trying to raise kids in a political environment that is so often charged with hatred can be a scary thing, and it sometimes dims my enjoyment of politically-minded books. That being said, this is a creative book, and a worthy addition to dystopian sci-fi.

I am Scary by Elise Gravel- ARC Review

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In this sweet little book, a monster tries to scare a young child. But the child insists the monster is not scary but actually quite huggable. (taken from Amazon)

                                  Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on March 17, 202

This book is so adorable! I requested it because I had a feeling my toddler would enjoy it. I read it aloud and he loved it.

The illustrations are charming in their simplicity. Told with very little dialogue, this book is about a monster who tries- and fails- to scare a child. He roars, growls, and shows off his horns and teeth. To the monster’s discomfiture, the child thinks he’s cute. What’s a monster to do?

What I liked best about this book was the ability to prompt my toddler to talk about the pictures and make conclusions based on what was happening. Because there isn’t much dialogue, my “little” made the monster sounds, talked about how cute the monster was, and had a lovely time. The book would probably be even more riveting to a slightly younger child, but my toddler still really liked it.

This would make a great baby shower gift. I recommend it for all little book lovers- in-training.

The Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency and the Case of the Missing Ghost by D.L. Dugger- ARC Review

The Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency: And the case of the missing ghost by [Dugger, D.L.]
When a ghost disappears from a local house he was haunting, his sister in the OtherWorld spirit realm hires the Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency to find him. Eager to locate the missing ghost, the youthful sleuths, Abby, Toby and Billy, and their grumpy Medium Arthur Monsento jump right into the investigation. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on November 11th.

What first drew me to this book was the old-school kids’ detective agency idea. I loved that sort of story when I was young, and this seemed a fresh take on an old favorite. There was a Scooby-Doo vibe, except that the ghosties happen to be actual ghosts.

This is the third installment in the Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency series, but it was easy to understand what was happening, thanks to explanations given throughout the book. The explanations didn’t necessarily fit into the storyline nicely; rather, they just sort of popped up. However, it was good to have them. I don’t think they are long enough to bore repeat readers, which is also a plus.

The premise of this particular mystery is the search for a missing ghost. He’s no longer haunting the house he normally appears at, and his recently deceased sister is concerned about him. I laughed pretty hard at that idea.

The detective agency consists of three kids (Abby, Billy, and Toby), and a cranky old medium. They follow clues of an unusual kind to attempt to find the missing ghost. I don’t want to give too many details away, since half the fun of a mystery is following the twists and turns.

This book is a lot of fun. It’s a new take on the usual trope and I quite enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read, this is a good one to check out. I’ll know I’ll be going back and reading the first two in this series.

Master of Sorrows by Justin T. Call- ARC Review

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You have heard the story before – of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.

But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?

What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?

Among the Academy’s warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.

Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfil.

Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . . (taken from Amazon)

                        Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available in stores on February 25th, 2020.

I can sum up this book in one word: incredible. I am in awe of Justin T. Call’s writing. I opened the book and was immediately drawn into the story. I got major Name of the Wind vibes, which is high praise indeed.

Where should I start? Well, first off, the storytelling is masterful. There wasn’t a single misstep through the whole book. This book follows Annev as he learns who he is, both in a magical sense, and a moral one. Much like Name of the Wind, the book takes its time setting the tone for all that follows. And what follows is fantasy at its finest.

The solid foundation is what took this book a step above many other fantasies I’ve read. Each little tidbit mentioned fits like a puzzle piece, making a full picture. The trials at the beginning of the book were so interesting to read. I loved seeing Annev make decisions regarding his treatment of others. Would he betray them to get ahead? I’ll leave it to you, Reader, to find out.

I loved Sodar. He tried so hard to raise and protect Annev. He made mistakes and chose to be reticent when openness might have served him better, but that’s part of what made him so fascinating. He’s such a realistic character. Although, really, all the characters were utterly believable.

The world building was excellent, the characters fantastic, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes as it continues in the sequel. Basically-wow.

Grab this book the second you’re able to.

Why I Reread Books

I’ll admit it: I reread books. A lot. Chances are, if I really like a book, I’ll read it more than once. If I love it, I’ll read it more than twice. There are a couple reasons for this. The first is simple: I have a horrible memory. Because I have epilepsy, both my medications and seizures I’ve had have caused me to have lapses in memory. Add in depression and bipolar, as well as being the mom of a toddler, and my memory doesn’t stand a chance.

The main reason that I reread, though, is because a good book is like a friend. Over time, friendships change. I grow. Maybe a book won’t stand the test of time. There are others, though, that still stick with me. They’ve become more than just words on a page. They’re memories and comfort.

Often, when I reread, I pick up on things that I didn’t notice or appreciate the first time through. When I read a book the first time, I pay attention to the story as a whole. Tiny nuances, or subtle foreshadowing might escape me. However, reading through again, I’ll pick up on those things. It brings a new level of appreciation, both for the book and the author.

Sometimes after finishing a book that was harsh, or where I felt the narrative got away from the author a bit, I’ll reread an old favorite. I like the comfort of knowing that I’m “safe” in the author’s ability to weave the tale. I can relax, already knowing that I like the ending.

I tend to reread more in the fall and early winter. I’m not sure why that is. It could be that the warm fuzzies from the different family celebrations carry over to my reading preferences. This is the time of year when I most find myself reaching for old favorites. Books like The Hobbit, Harry Potter (of course), the Dragonlance Chronicles, and the Amelia Peabody books are greeted like the old friends they are.

I talk a lot on my blog about the magic of books, how a good book transcends the written words, and takes on a life all its own. I guess that’s the real reason I reread so much: why experience the magic of an amazing book only once?

What about you? Do you reread books? What are some of your favorites to pull out?

The Death of Mungo Blackwell by Lauren H. Brandenburg- ARC Review

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‘We all need to know what’s missing in our lives. At a funeral someone stands and describes everything a person has accomplished in their life. But what if they missed something? What if there was one thing they never got to do? And what if they had a chance to go back and do it?’ The Blackwells are a family with an extraordinary history and astounding traditions, which include attending their own funerals before they die! Their ways are questionable and their stories about deceased relatives are as bold as their red hair, but it is their eclectic wares that keep tourists coming back to their market in the town of Coraloo. Charlie Price, whose world has come crumbling down after a lapse in judgement leaves him unemployed, finds himself flung into the chaotic world of the Blackwells when he relocates to Coraloo with his socialite wife, Velveteen, and shy son, Gideon. Here Charlie attempts to make a living as a ‘picker’, reselling under-priced items he picks up at the market. Some of the Blackwells welcome him with open arms, but others resent pickers and want him thrown out of the market. Charlie soon finds this new way of life under threat and his quest for simplicity seems to be crumbling. Perhaps it’s time for Charlie to have a funeral of his own! This charming story of hope will warm your heart and make your imagination soar. (taken from Netgalley)

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

Peculiar, but highly entertaining, this is one that I’d file under “cozy books”.” After an incident involving a food truck leaves Charlie Price jobless, he moves to small Coraloo with his wife and son. They find themselves thrown in the middle of a feud between two old families: the Tofts and the Blackwells.

What originally drew me to the book was the part of the description that mentions the Blackwells attending their own funerals before they die. It sounded like a fun, quirky read. However, the funeral isn’t actually the focal point, or the thing that stuck with me. This book is full of small-town eccentricities and charm to spare. It’s not a trite book, though; it found a sweet, quiet way of talking about stress, adjusting to new and scary circumstances, and “blooming where you’re planted.”

Equally funny and touching, this book managed to warm my cold little heart. I highly recommend it.