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 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.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight Read-along hosted by Offthetbr

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As pretty much everyone knows by this point, I love the Dragonlance Chronicles. I reread them about once a year, but this year is going to be epic because I’ll be taking part in a Dragons of Autumn Twilight November read-along! It’s being hosted by Jason at Offthetbr, which is an awesome blog. If you want to join in, check out his post here to learn how to sign up, etc. I hope you’ll join the fun!

          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)

Middle-Grade Gems: Interview with a Sixth Grader

About six months ago, I interviewed my oldest about books he was loving at the time. He devours books (not literally; that would be cause for concern) and I love hearing his opinions. I figure the time is ripe for round two. So, here are his current favorites:

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

Why he liked it: “It’s a very good adventure and fantasy book with good characters. There’s a ton of books in the series so it doesn’t end super fast. There’s a lot of awesome action and it’s just a really good series.”

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Why he liked it: “It’s awesome that it’s Egyptian: it’s got a good mythology behind it. It’s got some good comedy, but a lot of good action too.”

Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

Why he liked it: “This book is full of great action, great characters, and a great story! My favorite character was Wyl Lark, a determined pilot with a knack for flying.”

Star Wars: Blackspire Outpost by Dlilah S. Dawson

Why he liked it: “This book is full of action, importance, and great, engaging characters that really drew me in. Ten out of ten.”

Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstong and M.A. Marr

Why he liked it: The book is about Matt, who is a descendant of Thor; Fen, a descendant of Loki; and Laurie, another descendant of Loki. Together, they must stop Ragnarok! My favorite character is probably Fen. He’s not like the other characters. He’s a bit more wild than the others, but he’s also a good brother, and I like that.”

Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger

Why he liked it: “One of my favorite things about this book was how believable the characters are. I haven’t read any other books like this. It’s really nice to see such a unique book. I really liked it.”

The Night Country (Hazel Wood #2) by Melissa Albert- ARC Review

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                                            ****Spoilers for Hazel Wood below!***

                   In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.

With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home… (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on January 7th, 2020.

I wanted to love this book, I really did. Unfortunately, I can only muster a like. The thing that originally drew me to The Hazel Wood was the creepy, dark feel of the fairy tales (I’m still dying to know the story of Twice-Dead Katherine). This book didn’t have that feel for me. The sense of something lurking just outside of view wasn’t there. While there are some messed-up story characters, they were much more straight-forward, which lessened their impact for me.

The plot is interesting, continuing with a new threat to the Hinterland, and the ex-stories who have left the Hinterland behind. Alice is one of the few ex-stories who has managed to eke a normal human life for herself, and many others resent her for that. Also, there’s a small matter of some ritualistic-looking deaths, and no-one knows who is responsible, or who will be next.

If you have read my review of The Hazel Wood (which you can find here), you’ll know that my biggest complaint was that the relationship between Alice and Ellery felt a little one-note. Again, in this book, the relationships fell a little flat. I think that’s just a character development issue that will improve as Melissa Albert continues to write, which I hope she does. Even though I didn’t love this book, Melissa Albert is a creative voice and I look forward to seeing what else she comes up with.

 

The One Kingdom (The Swans’ War #1) by Sean Russell

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In a kingdom long without a king, two great enemy families desire the prize of rule. The machinations of the Renne and the Wills have already sundered a troubled realm. And now, generations on, their intrigues could drown it in blood. (taken from the back of the book)

Written exceedingly well, this series belongs on the shelf next to greats such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and Tad Williams. It’s the sort of story world I happily get lost in, peopled by characters that are flawed, dangerous, brave, loyal, and incredibly real.

There are multiple story-lines in this book that seem very disparate, but eventually become tangled up in interesting ways. A good chunk of this book follows the Hero’s Journey, through the character of Tam. Tam is one of a group of traders, hoping to buy more horses and, ultimately, return home wiser in the ways of the world. It’s a very hobbit-esque origin, without being a rip-off. Unfortunately for Tam and his friends (but fortunate for the reader), the wide world has other plans.

At the same time, Toren Renee is the first of his house to hope for peace. It’s a hope that is threatened on all sides, as those from both the Renee house and the Wills plot to prevent that. Never come between a powerful person and his feud.  On top of the political intrigue, there’s an unwanted marriage in the Wills family, and- underneath it all, an ancient and powerful revenge story that threatens everything.

One of the things I loved about this book is that it doesn’t rely on quick slash ’em up battles. Any action is there to further the story. Because of this, the pacing can seem a bit slow at the beginning. Trust me; the setup is worth it. The prose drew me in, and the way the characters evolved kept me interested. The ending of the first book had me rushing to grab the second.

A good chunk of the book takes place on the river Wynd. Normally books that involve sitting on boats or ships for long periods of time bore me, but such was not the case here. The river itself is an intriguing, and sometimes creepy, character. I love when a setting becomes more than just the backdrop!

If you’re a fan of The Wheel of Time series, like a good fantasy, or just want a well-written book, don’t pass up the chance to grab The One Kingdom.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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Before saying anything about this book, or my thoughts on it, I have to point out the brilliant cover. It’s absolutely perfect! There. I’ve gotten that off my chest. Now to move on to my actual review.

This little book is an eerie delight. It wasn’t at all what I expected, although I really couldn’t say why.  I guess maybe I expected more of a gothic atmosphere. I actually thought the book was more entertaining than creepy.

Mary Katherine lives in the family house with her uncle Julian, and her sister Constance. Everyone else in her family is dead, poisoned during a meal. Because of this, everyone in town understandably views them with suspicion and more than a little fear.

Constance won’t leave the house, and Julian can’t, but a visitor shows up in a see-through attempt to woo Constance and find the fortune everyone thinks is hidden in the house. Things build to a crescendo, which I won’t give away.

Merricat (as Mary Katherine is called) has a hateful, spoiled personality, which makes her a fun narrator. Constance is fearful and Julian is a blast to read. His odd quirks make for fun interactions.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a short one; pick it up if you’ve got a few hours to fill.