Impostures by Al-Hariri (translated by Michael Cooperson)

Impostures (Library of Arabic Literature Book 65) - Kindle edition ...

Fifty rogue’s tales translated fifty ways

An itinerant con man. A gullible eyewitness narrator. Voices spanning continents and centuries. These elements come together in Impostures, a groundbreaking new translation of a celebrated work of Arabic literature.

 Impostures follows the roguish Abū Zayd al-Sarūjī in his adventures around the medieval Middle East—we encounter him impersonating a preacher, pretending to be blind, and lying to a judge. In every escapade he shows himself to be a brilliant and persuasive wordsmith, composing poetry, palindromes, and riddles on the spot. Award-winning translator Michael Cooperson transforms Arabic wordplay into English wordplay of his own, using fifty different registers of English, from the distinctive literary styles of authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Mark Twain, and Virginia Woolf, to global varieties of English including Cockney rhyming slang, Nigerian English, and Singaporean English.

Featuring picaresque adventures and linguistic acrobatics, Impostures brings the spirit of this masterpiece of Arabic literature into English in a dazzling display of translation. (taken from Amazon)

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

When I read the description of Impostures, I immediately thought of a comedic play and I think that colored my expectations a little. It was far from what I expected, and I feel very lucky to have read this enthralling book.

One of the fascinating things about this book is the number of styles translator Michael Cooperson uses: from Shakespeare to Twain, and everything in between. It was so very cool! I don’t know anything about the original text, aside from what is spoken of in the introduction, so I don’t know how closely Cooperson stuck to the original, but I could tell he put a lot of effort into keeping the spirit of it, so to speak.

It did take me a while to get through this book. It’s what I call a “smart read,” meaning it was difficult for me to focus on it during the noisy parts of my day (I have a toddler tornado). Much of what made this an intriguing read was the brilliant way language was used throughout.

Readers who like the feel of language as much as the dialogue in a story will like this book. There’s something about it that feels very special. I’m struggling to put what I mean into words, but it’s more than just a collection of stories. It’s incredibly unique and I wish I could have read this with other (smarter-than-me) people, just to have the opportunity to discuss its nuances.

This is one of those books that I’m glad I read, but will probably not read again. Some books are like that. I fully enjoyed it,  and recommend it to anyone who likes to stretch their reading muscles and try something different.

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller- Book Review and Thoughts on the Show

Amazon.com: Cursed (9781534425330): Wheeler, Thomas, Miller, Frank ...

Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…

That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade. (taken from Amazon)

Raw and visceral, this book jumps straight into the action and doesn’t let up. This is a new take on the usual Arthurian characters and the changes are creative. Thomas Wheeler strays just enough from the original mythos to create something new, while staying close enough that the characters are still recognizable. Frank Miller adds something different with his illustrations. I should have loved this book. I liked it, but it didn’t end up reaching the “amazing” threshold for me.

The reason it didn’t shoot to the top of my “favorite 2020 books” list happens to be the same reason I’m incredibly excited to see the Netflix show: it’s a very visual book. Each scene was separate and distinct, but they didn’t necessarily flow together into one complete narrative. Instead, they were more like choppy vignettes. This has the potential to make a perfect fantasy show, because the visual scenes will move more naturally into a complete story-line. Plus, the book is chock-full of fight scenes which will be epic, if choreographed well.

The book follows Nimue, although Arthur, Merlin, Morgan, and other Arthurian regulars are also involved. I honestly think Merlin was my favorite character. He usually is, anyway, but what Wheeler did with his character was unique and interesting. I actually got annoyed when the story jumped away from him. Nimue is hardcore in this book, and Morgan is devious, smart, and honestly a wee bit creepy.

Really, the only thing that gave me pause about this book was the choppiness. There were several times where I thought I’d skipped a page by accident because a chapter or paragraph ended so abruptly. It made it difficult to be fully immersed in the story. The bones of the book are brilliant though, and I’m hopeful that the TV show will be fantastic.

This is one of the very rare times where I don’t necessarily recommend reading the book before watching the show. I feel icky writing this, but (gulp!) I think the show has the potential to be better.

 

 

 

 

Eight Bookish Awards for the First Half of 2020

Adobe_Post_20200615_0909090.6887859397336026

I’m pretty sure everyone could use some good right about now. Something to cheer us up, or distract us a teensy bit. Joe at Black Sail Books came up with a fantastic idea: why wait until the end of the year to celebrate some awesome books? Let’s talk about some of our favorite books so far this year! He runs a truly amazing blog, which you can find here. If you’re not already following him, you should drop everything and go do that. I’ll wait.

Let’s hand out some awards, shall we?

1. MVB (The Most Valuable Book Award)
Awarded to the book that has been my favorite so far, one that has stuck with me. The winner is…

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

20200615_092808

Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.
I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:
1. Sobriety costs extra.2. My services are confidential.3. I don’t work for humans.
It’s nothing personal–I’m human myself. But after what happened, to the magic, it’s not the humans who need my help. (taken from Amazon)

Everything about this book is just awesome. The main character, Fetch, is a Sam-Spade type in a fantasy world. You’d think it wouldn’t work, but it does. Brilliantly. This was one of the first books I read in 2020: it started my reading year off with a bang and gave me a wicked book hangover. I’ve waxed enthusiastic about the it here. Read this book. You won’t be sorry.

Honorable Mentions: The Rome of Fall by Chad Alan Gibbs and Feathertide by Beth Cartwright.

2. The Narrative Genius Award
Awarded to the book whose narration was unique and added an extra level to the book. The winner is…

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore

20200615_095825

I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life.

Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band’s fans.

A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band’s lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret. (taken from Amazon)

This book is deliciously bizarre. The narrator adds to the feeling of falling down the rabbit hole, so to speak. Seeing him go from dubious to terrified makes the book that much more memorable. You can read my original post on the book here, if you are so inclined.

Honorable Mentions: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

3. The Comfort Zone Expansion Award
Awarded to the book that helped me step out of my comfort zone and appreciate a new type of story. The winner is…

Thornhill by Pam Smy

20200615_101641

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past. (taken from Amazon)

I don’t often read graphic novels. There’s something about them that my brain just can’t follow. I suspect it has to do with my epilepsy.  I was able to read this book, though. I think maybe the fact that the pictures weren’t colored, combined with the lack of speech bubbles is what worked. At any rate, I loved it! You can read my original review here.

Honorable mentions: Fences by August Wilson and Craigslist Confessional: A Collection of Secrets from Anonymous Strangers by Helena Dea Bala

4. The “They Are Who We Thought They Were” Award: 
Awarded to the book that I tried, knowing it was outside my comfort zone that ended up being what I thought it was.

One? by Jennifer L. Cahill

20200615_111329

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi.
Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual. Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At twenty-eight she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming. Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness. Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future. One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4. (taken from Amazon)
Let me first say: this was not a bad book. I just don’t read lighter fiction. I stepped outside my comfort zone to give this one a go and was reminded that this genre really isn’t my thing. However, if you like lighter, romantic fiction, you’ll enjoy this book.

Honorable mentions: no others considered

5. The New to Me Award
Awarded to the book that introduced me to a new author that I’ve fallen in love with. The winner is…

We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson

20200615_112658

In the midst of a burgeoning war, a warrior, an assassin, and a princess chase their own ambitions no matter the cost in Devin Madson’s propulsive epic fantasy.
War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.
Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.
In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.
In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall.
And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.
As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood. (taken from Amazon)

Wow, Devin Madson can write! I need to read everything she’s ever written, and everything she writes from here on out. I heard this book was great: man, was that an understatement! You can read my original review here.

Honorable Mentions: Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall and Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

7. The MVC (Most Valuable Character) Award: 
Awarded to the character who represented the make-or-break point in a book I liked. The winner is..

The Rome of Fall by Chad Alan Gibbs

20200615_114840

A mixtape of Friday Night Lights, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and early ’90s nostalgia blasting through fifteen-inch speakers.

After Marcus Brinks left mysteriously two decades ago, financial ruin and his dying mother brought him 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 Becca, his high school crush. But will dreams of domestic black go up in flames when the repercussion of the past meet the lying, cheating, and blackmail of the present? (taken from Amazon)

Chad Alan Gibbs created the perfect characters for this book. It could have gone in an overtly smushy (that’s a word, right?) or angst-ridden direction, but instead Gibbs’ characters brought both heart and humor to this book. Silas, in particular, made The Rome of Fall a joy to read. This is easily one of my favorite books this year. Check out my review here .

Honorable Mentions: Rizzel in Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall and Fable in The Unready Queen by William Ritter.

8. The Audio Hero Award:
Awarded to the narrator who brought the audio book to life. The winner is…

You tell me! 
I don’t listen to audio books. I can’t concentrate enough (also, it’s way too noisy most of the time, since I have kids at home). What book do you think wins this award?

____________________________________________________________________________________________

There it is! According to my Goodreads, which I’m trying to be better at updating, I’ve read 70 books this year. These ones have found a place in my heart. I hope you give them a go. What books would you give these awards to?

 

 

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey

 

Everything that lives hates us…
 
Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable landscape. A place where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.
Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He believes the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture too far beyond the walls.
He’s wrong. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Angela Man and Orbit Books for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

It’s taken me quite a while to write this review. I’ve been trying to sort out my thoughts, without much success. Hopefully, I won’t be too jumbled with my review.

Ultimately, The Book of Koli and I just weren’t friends. It’s not a lack of talent on the author’s part: in fact, I highly recommend his other book, The Girl With All the Gifts. Carey wrote a detailed dystopian novel, and has a very clear idea of where he wants to go with it.

I struggled a lot with the language used. There’s a reason for the less-than-exceptional grammar, but it bugged me. I kept mentally correcting the dialogue, which was quite distracting. Oddly enough, this sort of language is used in the brilliant show Firefly and I can handle that just fine. I wonder if listening to this book would have distracted me less.
The main character, Koli, was a bit annoying from time to time. My main issue was that, in following his point of view, the reader missed out on some awesome things that were only briefly touched on. The book moved slowly, picking up steam way past the halfway point. That isn’t necessarily a negative thing, just be aware that this isn’t a non-stop action book.
My main takeaway from this book is this: the author is skilled, but this story simply isn’t my bag.
Have you read this? What did you think?

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper - Kindle edition by Gilman, Charlotte Perkins ...

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is told as a series of journal entries written by a woman who has gone to a country manor to recover from what is assumed at this time to be postpartum depression.  Her loving husband, John, follows the recommendation of doctors of the day (he is also a doctor), and sequesters the woman so that she might rest and recover. She is not supposed to exercise or write,  instead letting repose heal her. The woman (whose name is never learned) is not allowed to leave her room, which has yellow wallpaper. As time progresses, the woman becomes convinced that the wallpaper moves and there is someone in the wallpaper trying to get out.

I really can’t accurately describe the creepy feel of this story. While it is ultimately a tale of the deterioration of the woman’s mental state (due to the absolutely absurd treatment of mental illness in the late 1800’s, when this was written), there is an eerie vibe to it. The writing is astounding. I was immediately drawn in. I can see why this story is considered a classic.

When I began the book, I thought it was odd that the color of the wallpaper was such a big deal. However, I soon found that it makes perfect sense. The metaphors found throughout are amazing, conveying the hopelessness the woman felt regarding her situation.

It isn’t a happy-go-lucky story, but it is a compelling one. And the ending! Holy terror, Batman! Gilman’s writing is excellent. I highly recommend reading this story.

Westside Saints by W.M Akers- ARC Review

Westside Saints - W.M. Akers - Hardcover

Return to a twisted version of Jazz Age New York in this follow up to the critically acclaimed fantasy Westside, as relentless sleuth Gilda Carr’s pursuit of tiny mysteries drags her into a case that will rewrite everything she knows about her past.

Six months ago, the ruined Westside of Manhattan erupted into civil war, and private detective Gilda Carr nearly died to save her city. In 1922, winter has hit hard, and the desolate Lower West is frozen solid. Like the other lost souls who wander these overgrown streets, Gilda is weary, cold, and desperate for hope. She finds a mystery instead.

Hired by a family of eccentric street preachers to recover a lost saint’s finger, Gilda is tempted by their promise of “electric resurrection,” when the Westside’s countless dead will return to life. To a detective this cynical, faith is a weakness, and she is fighting the urge to believe in miracles when her long dead mother, Mary Fall, walks through the parlor door.

Stricken with amnesia, Mary remembers nothing of her daughter or her death, but that doesn’t stop her from being as infuriatingly pushy as Gilda herself. As her mother threatens to drive her insane, Gilda keeps their relationship a secret so that they can work together to investigate what brought Mary back to life. The search will force Gilda to reckon with the nature of death, family, and the uncomfortable fact that her mother was not just a saint, but a human being. (taken from Amazon)

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

I read this book without having read the first one in the series. I was able to follow the story-line without any problems, but I’m sure I would have appreciated it more if I’d read the first book.

I put off writing this review for way too long because I wasn’t sure how to put all my thoughts into words. I’m still having that issue, but I think this review is just going to be a weird one. That works, because the book is best described as “weird.” I like a little weird, so that is in no way an insult.

This book was a bit of a downer for me, to be honest. I found myself picturing the entire thing in varying shades of gray (even the things that were specifically described by color). I went into the book expecting light and funny, which wasn’t quite what I got. Gilda, the detective, was an intriguing character. I think I missed some character development in the first book, because she didn’t seem to grow all that much in this one. Her cynicism definitely got on my nerves from time to time.

There was some quippy dialogue which I appreciated. I love a good quip. Or a bad quip. Pretty much any quip. It wasn’t quite enough to pull me out of the oppressive atmosphere of the book, but it did garner an appreciative nod from me.

There were some bits that felt a little choppy to me. It’s a very strong possibility that it was intentionally written that way, and I just didn’t get it. Sometimes an author and the reader just don’t jive. It’s abundantly clear that this author is very talented, I just couldn’t connect.

I think I can chalk this book up to “wrong book for right now, right book for another time.” I’ll probably reread this at some point in the future, when a little bit of a hopeless vibe isn’t going to mess with my happy.

Would I recommend this book? I honestly don’t know.

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso- ARC Review

The Obsidian Tower (Rooks and Ruin, #1) by Melissa Caruso

One woman will either save an entire continent or completely destroy it in a captivating epic fantasy bursting with intrigue and ambition, questioned loyalties, and broken magic.
“Guard the tower, ward the stone. Find your answers writ in bone. Keep your trust through wits or war–nothing must unseal the door.”
Deep within Gloamingard Castle lies a black tower. Sealed by magic, it guards a dangerous secret that has been contained for thousands of years.
As Warden, Ryxander knows the warning passed down through generations: nothing must unreal the Door. But one impetuous decision will leave her with blood on her hands–and unleash a threat that could doom the world to fall to darkness. (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 June second.

This book was a mixed bag for me. There were things I liked, and other things that just didn’t work. You can’t please everyone all the time, you know? I’ll talk about the good, the not-so-good, and the annoying.

First of all, I liked most of the characters. The main character, Ryxander, confused me with her odd choices (if there’s something actively dangerous going on, maybe save the half-hearted attempts at diplomacy for later?), but the supporting characters were great. I really enjoyed Foxglove and Ardith. They were both so unique in their own ways. Ardith, in particular, was a blast to read. They had a devil-may-care attitude that just might have covered something far deeper. It was an intriguing thought.
The magic system in the book was fascinating. I liked that Ryxander had an incredibly strong power, but it was considered “broken” because it was so dangerous and impossible to control. Seeing how that power affected her negatively, as well as anyone else unfortunate enough to be caught in its path, was really cool.
The idea of a dangerous secret lurking deep within a castle was an interesting one, and the actuality of the secret was really cool. It was not at all what I expected. Where things went from there, though…
I felt like I spent the majority of this book waiting for something to happen, with no payoff. There were so many times where I thought, “Ah! This is it! It was all setup and now I get to see why!,” only to find more exposition, and more reiteration of the same political situation. There’s a possibility that it will all pay off in the second book, but I don’t know if I want to take that chance.
I also could not get a handle on Ryxander. She seemed to be very smart, but only in one aspect. Most of her choices left me scratching my head (metaphorically, of course). I didn’t understand why she prioritized things that were less of an immediate problem, as opposed to serious dangers.

One last thing that rankled at me: the use of the word “chimera” for creatures that were truly anything but. Now, this is a problem with me, not with the book. A chimera as I’ve always read it is a two-headed monster (one is a goat head, the other a lion head) with a snake’s head as the tail. While the chimeras in this book were incredibly creative, I wish they’d been called by any other name. Again, this is just an issue with my weird fantasy hang-ups and in no way affects the quality of the writing.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.

The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron

The Ranger of Marzanna (The Goddess War (1)): Skovron, Jon ...

When their father is murdered by imperial soldiers, two siblings set out on opposite paths–one will destroy the Empire forever and the other will save it–in this thrilling new epic fantasy.
Sonya is training to be a Ranger of Marzanna, an ancient sect of warriors who have protected the land for generations. But the old ways are dying, and the rangers have all been forced into hiding or killed off by the invading Empire.
When her father is murdered by imperial soldiers, she decides to finally take action. Using her skills as a ranger she will travel across the bitter cold tundra and gain the allegiance of the only other force strong enough to take down the invaders.
But nothing about her quest will be easy. Because not everyone is on her side. Her brother, Sebastian, is the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever seen. And he’s fighting for the empire. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Angela Man and Orbit books for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

Before getting into my thoughts on the book itself, I have to mention the gorgeous cover. Before even reading the blurb, I was interested in this book, based on the amazing artwork. The blurb made me want to read it all the more.

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. The idea was a great one: two siblings who find themselves on opposite sides of a war, told from their points of view. The Slavic influences were intriguing, and I really enjoyed the wintry feel of the world in general. As far as fantasy settings go, I dug this one.

The main characters are Sonya and her brother Sebastian. Sonya is the last surviving member of the Rangers of Marzanna, an elite warrior group. She has special gifts that are given to the rangers, which made her a pretty hardcore fighter. She was rather underdeveloped as a character, though, and I struggled reading about her. There was so much potential to her, but it wasn’t fully realized. Yet. She may become more three dimensional in the following installment.

As for her brother, Sebastian…have you seen The Force Awakens? There’s a scene where Kylo Ren throws a temper tantrum and the stormtroopers that were heading his way just turn and walk away. Reading about Sebastian felt like watching Kylo Ren’s tantrum. He really needed someone to put him on timeout. The two of them together…oy vey.

However, the other characters were fantastic. They made up for the less than stellar main characters, and each brought their own brand of extra something to the book. My favorite was Jorge, an apothecary who ends up involved through a strange set of circumstances.

While I didn’t love the book, I liked it enough to be curious about the next book. Sometimes a series improves as it goes on and the author gets their groove. I’m hoping that will be the case for this book.

Storytellers on Tour Blog Tour: Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair

duckett-and-dyer-dicks-for-hire_nair_banner-blogs
I’m going to pull a fast one: I’ve already read (and loved) Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire, so I’m going to review the second book in this series, Duckett and Dyer: The One-Hundred Percent Solution. Thank you to Storytellers on Tour for the opportunity to join in and rave about these books.

There might be some slight spoilers for Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire in this review. Honestly, the books are so deliciously bizarre that you wouldn’t believe me if I gave you a play-by-play, although I’ll refrain. If you haven’t read the first book, you can find my review here).

Duckett and Dyer: The One-Hundred Percent Solution picks up pretty much right after the events of book one. After hopping through multiple universes, each one weirder than the last, life has returned to semi-normalcy for both Michael Duckett and Stephanie Dyer. Stephanie is attempting to ruin her detective business (totally on-brand for her), and Michael is working a soul-sucking job. There are a few changes, though: Michael has vowed to be a better friend to Stephanie. Stephanie, after a heart-to-heart with a future self, has made it her mission to protect Michael from any possible harm.

Unfortunately, Stephanie’s mission to destroy her own detective agency comes at a very bad time: Michael gets fired from his job. Fortunately, the detective duo finds themselves with something new to detect. They only get weird cases, and this one proves to be no exception.

The main characters are delightful. Michael has turned eye-rolling and long-suffering sighs into a fine art, and Stephanie is a walking Murphy’s Law. Of course there are many other fine characters, including an Illuminatist and an octopus-wearing cult member. It all makes sense in a zany sort of way.

The problem with this book is that it’s too freaking funny. I was forced to ignore any and all responsibilities to laugh my way through. It’s a real problem, I tell you. Also, I guffawed too loudly, almost spit my coffee across the room, and subjected my poor husband to snippets of the book without giving any context. Basically, this book turned me into an obnoxious jerk. I loved it.

Read this series.

Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire - Kindle edition by Nair, G.M. ...

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat lurks in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most — her father, Ezra Bishop.
May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.
Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.

With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all. But the monster they truly need to slay may never been the Beast…(taken from Amazon)
This is the sequel to The Devouring Gray, which means there might be some unintentional spoilers for that book in this review. If you haven’t read The Devouring Gray, you can find my review here.

After somehow managing to survive the events in The Devouring Gray, the four children of the founding families have splintered into separate factions. Too many betrayals have left them wondering who- if anyone- they can trust. But then May realizes that something is seriously, life- threateningly wrong with the Gray, and suddenly the teens are given a choice: die alone or work together to hopefully survive.
Take the Upside Down from Stranger Things, plunk it square in the middle of Riverdale, and you’ve got the setting for this book. I don’t know which part was more intriguing: the beast in the Gray, or the absolutely messed-up nepotism and privilege given to the descendants of the founding families. Just when you think all the skeletons in the closets have been found, something else jumps out.
I really enjoyed the tangles of storyline. There was a bit of a mystery surrounding the origin of the corruption escaping the Gray, which I really enjoyed. Watching as the teens picked apart the secrets surrounding their families to discover truths that had been thoroughly buried was fascinating.
The previous book focused a lot on Violet and Justin. While they were still a big part of this book, May and Isaac took center stage this time. I liked that the author took time to develop all of the characters, giving each one a specific and unique hurdle. Violet was the window into the town in the last book, so to speak. She was the impetus that brought the weird favoritism to light. May was the one tasked with ending things in this book. Once you read why, it makes perfect sense.
I loved the way the beast from the Gray was described, but it was the freaky trees that had human hair growing out of them that got my gag reflex working overtime. Odd fact about me: any hair not attached to my head grosses me out. Needless to say, those trees are definitely on my “nastiest creations found in literature” list. Blech! I can’t deny that the author’s descriptions were very effective.
This duology is a blast to read and I’ll be on the lookout for more by this author.