Genre: Fantasy

Can’t Wait Wednesday | Locklands (The Founders Trilogy #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Posted September 8, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 0 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | Locklands (The Founders Trilogy #3) by Robert Jackson BennettLocklands by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: The Founders Trilogy #3
Published by Del Rey Books on June 21st 2022
Pages: 496
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: American Elsewhere, Foundryside

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.

About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is the author of American Elsewhere, The Troupe, The Company Man, Mr. Shivers, as well as The Divine Cities trilogy and The Founders Trilogy. The second installment of The Founders Trilogy, SHOREFALL, will be in stores April of 2020.

His work has received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Phillip K. Dick Citation of Excellence, and he has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Locus Awards.

He lives in Austin with his family.

Eeeeee! I’m still in the middle of the second one (I’m pacing myself) so I haven’t actually read the summary just in case of spoilers. So excited to see how Bennett’s wraps this trilogy up though!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Early Review | The Ex Hex (Ex Hex #1) by Erin Sterling

Posted September 2, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Book Reviews, Early Review / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review | The Ex Hex (Ex Hex #1) by Erin SterlingThe Ex Hex by Erin Sterling, Rachel Hawkins
Series: Ex Hex #1
Published by Avon on September 28, 2021
Pages: 320
Genres: Fantasy, Witches
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound

four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

“Never mix vodka and witchcraft.”

Valuable advice, but advice that Vivi fails to heed. Nine years ago, after falling hard for Rhys Penhallow only to find out too late of his betrothal, Vivi shouts frivolous curses into the night not realizing there was actual magic behind them. When Rhys returns to town for the first time since that fateful night his luck is exceptionally bad and he has no idea why until he finds out the truth behind his misfortune. Vivi, feeling most apologetic for her role in this debacle, decides to set aside past grievances to find out how to reverse the curse especially when they discover the curse is going to destroy the very town itself. It doesn’t help matters when she realizes Rhys Penhallow is just as distracting as he was when she fell in love with him nine years ago.

The Hex Hall series and the spin-off novel School Spirits are some of my favorite YA books so discovering that Erin Sterling (a.k.a. Rachel Hawkins) was writing a witchy adult novel had me thrilledI found this story to be extremely delightful overall (and well worth the read) but there were some aspects that I wish had been better. There’s plastic skulls that come to life, a talking cat that won’t stop asking for treats, and even a ghost that haunts a library. The magical bits were absolutely, well, magical, but considering this has been pitched as “Hocus Pocus but they fuck” (hahaha…) I wanted, and rather anticipated, this book to be straight imbued with magic. The romance was far from lacking in chemistry but I expected more tension between the two since Vivi had been pining over Rhys for the entire nine years but they acted almost as if their issues never happened.

I adored the family aspects of this though (it felt very much like Practical Magic) and the light humor was on point. Apparently this is the first in an anticipated series and I am here for it. Bottom Line: this was an incredibly cute, delightfully whimsical, and overall perfect read for the Halloween season (or when you need a little magic with your romance.)

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Ex Hex: A Novel (Ex Hex #1) by Erin Sterling

Posted May 5, 2021 by Bonnie in Uncategorized, Waiting on Wednesday / 2 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Ex Hex: A Novel (Ex Hex #1) by Erin SterlingThe Ex Hex: A Novel by Erin Sterling, Rachel Hawkins
Series: Ex Hex #1
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on October 5, 2021
Pages: 320
Genres: Romance, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
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Also by this author: The Ex Hex, Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

About Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins is the author of Rebel Belle and theNew York Times bestselling series Hex Hall. Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel taught high school English for three years before becoming a full-time writer.

Eeeee! New *secret* Rachel Hawkins!!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Top Ten Tuesday | Ten Mini (Review) Reads + A Ton of DNFs

Posted May 4, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Top Ten Tuesday, Uncategorized / 5 Comments

Of This River by Noah Davis | Published August 1st 2020 by Wheelbarrow Books
four-stars

Of This River is an impressive debut collection of poetry with a distinct Appalachian theme. Noah Davis is one to watch.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens | Published December 1st 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
four-stars

An adorable story of missed chances that is full of convenient coincidences but will still manage to melt even the hardest of hearts.

Highway Blue by Ailsa McFarlane | Expected publication: May 18th 2021 by Hogarth Press
two-stars

This book lacked a pulse. The plot seemed to meander despite the intriguing blurb, the characters were one-dimensional, and the ending only gave the guise of a resolution.

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella | Published October 27th 2020 by Dial Press
dnf

I think I quit this book faster than the main character’s date did after she started talking about butternut squash soup having a soul on their first date.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) by David Levithan | Published February 2nd 2021 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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While I’m clearly not the targeted reader for this novel, I love the occasional Middle Grade and I’m always up for anything by Levithan. This story felt like an ode to The Chronicles of Narnia but one that never really went anywhere and I just wanted more from this fun concept of a story.

Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson | Published April 6th 2021 by Henry Holt and Co.
dnf

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened remains one of my favorite books of all time, however, Broken was a massive disappointment. I’m not sure if Lawson’s sense of humor changed (or mine) but I found her antics to be far more preposterous than entertaining.

Astrid Sees All by Natalie Standiford | Published April 6th 2021 by Atria Books
dnf

This was recommended for fans of Fleabag and this couldn’t be further off base. I personally loved Fleabag because of the realness and how darkly comedic it is and honestly, this book didn’t possess a single funny bone in its pages. It was dreary and pretentious and none of the characters left any semblance of an impression on me.

The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories by Kevin Brockmeier | Published March 9th 2021 by Pantheon Books
dnf

I’ve developed a taste for short stories only recently, but flash fiction is something different entirely. There simply wasn’t enough substance in any of these snippets to keep me invested.

 

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy | Published August 4th 2020 by Flatiron Books
two-stars

Migrations is definitely your standard literary fare full of fanciful descriptions and an oftentimes hard-to-follow storyline that likes to bounce between the present day and flashbacks. I don’t think I was in the right mood to try this one (or if I honestly even possess a mood that is “right” for reading literary fiction.)

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper | Published November 10th 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
two-stars

I got major I’ll Be Gone in the Dark vibes from this true crime tale, but I’m not sure I mean that as a compliment. There’s an exceptional amount of information regarding the investigation within these pages, however, once I discovered that this case was actually solved in 2018 it made me wonder why the story seemed to have been written as if this wasn’t knowledge the author possessed. I’m unclear when the author started writing this story, but I felt like at the very least an addendum could have been added prior to publication.

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

Posted January 6, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 5 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher BuehlmanThe Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman
Published by Tor Books on May 25, 2021
Pages: 416
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
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A traveller walks down a forest road alone.

A thief waits by the roadside.

But today, Kinch has chosen the wrong mark. Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and patron of the goddess of death. She is searching for her missing queen, whom no one has seen since her city fell to giants.After Kinch's attempt to rob Galva goes horribly wrong, his fate becomes locked to hers. Thief and knight must traverse lands where goblins hunger for kynd flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and the gods only laugh when you ask them for help.

Yet far worse are the dangers that lie in wait at their journey's end...

THE BLACKTONGUE THIEF is the story of an indebted thief (now student loans even follow us in to fantasy worlds), a witch-in-training, and a knight - with a giant war raven - forced to journey together through a world scarred by a brutal, decades-long war with goblins. It's delightfully dark, balancing the grit of fantasy adventure with vibrant and beautiful notes.

About Christopher Buehlman

Christopher Buehlman is a writer and performer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is the winner of the 2007 Bridport Prize in Poetry and a finalist for the 2008 Forward Prize for best poem (UK). He spent his twenties and thirties touring renaissance festivals with his very popular show Christophe the Insultor, Verbal Mercenary. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in French Language from Florida State University, where he minored in History. He enjoys theater, independent films, chess, archery, running, cooking with lots of garlic, and thick, inky, bone-dry red wines with sediment at the bottom.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless Sea

Posted December 26, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 8 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on March 24, 2020
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon

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Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.
James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.
Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…
From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.
From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own.

DNF @ 23%

I’ve read a ton of Christina Lauren books and my ratings have gone steadily down with each new release, however, this is my first official DNF. I just couldn’t do it. This one rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning with how similar the plot was to Chip and Joanna Gaines and their home improvement show, Fixer Upper. In The Honey-Don’t List, they’re Rusty and Melissa, with their home improvement show and their perfect life… except it’s all a lie. I don’t know, for me, it felt like they were just taking something good and wholesome and ruining it. But I kept reading. Until I got to this quote which is referencing Rusty’s extra-marital affairs:

“I know her well enough to get that she doesn’t like my intrusion, but we’re all in this awkwardness together, and there’s no one to blame but Rusty. And to be fair, probably Melly, too.”

Oh, I’m sorry, what was that? We’re blaming Melissa for being the reason Rusty cheated on her?

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaFollow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford
Published by Scribner on January 21, 2020
Pages: 208
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal—one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.
Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.
Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairytale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.

DNF @ 29%

This is one of those books that’s going to be amazing for a certain kind of reader. I am not that certain kind of reader. This was magical realism with a dash of weirdness but the more you keep reading you realize that the lid must’ve come off and the whole bottle of weirdness ended up in there. The utter strangeness of this reminded me a lot of The Library at Mount Char, so if you were a fan of that, definitely pick this one up. (That one also didn’t work for me. lol) Here’s a quick summary of the weirdness: this girl and her father were both “born from the dirt” or something, her father transforms into a beast at night and eats the local wildlife, they take out the yucky stuff from people that causes them pain/sickness, etc. The writing is lyrical and the only reason I got to 29% but the story is extremely weird. Take this scene for instance:

“First time I tried to lie down with a boy, I didn’t know what I was doing. I lay down and he lay down over me and I held on tight. He went to put it in and there was nowhere for it to go and he got scared and bit me. […] By the time I took Samson inside, I’d grown myself an opening that I’d a dozen names for.”

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Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Allan Corduner, Fiona Hardingham, Jorjeana Marie
on November 5, 2019
Length: 18 hrs and 37 mins
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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dnf

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

DNF @ 30 minutes into the audio

I knew quickly that this one wasn’t going to work out for me. I know I didn’t really give it a chance, but I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on and there didn’t even seem to be a freaking plot. It was full of extremely beautiful writing that was always describing something in explicit detail and never actually amounting to much. Maybe this would be better in print but I’m not sure I’ll be giving it that opportunity. Truth is, I DNF’d The Night Circus in print AND in audio (I tried it in both ways just to make sure it wasn’t a format problem) and I’m just not sure Morgenstern is the author for me.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Shorefall: A Novel (Founders #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Posted May 8, 2019 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 7 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Shorefall: A Novel (Founders #2) by Robert Jackson BennettShorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: Founders #2
Published by Del Rey Books on January 21, 2020
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: American Elsewhere, Foundryside

The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it's not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won't tolerate competition, and they're willing to do anything to crush Foundryside.

But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that's not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees - especially Sancia.

Now Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself - before the hierophant burns Tevanne to the ground.

About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is the author of American Elsewhere, The Troupe, The Company Man, Mr. Shivers, as well as The Divine Cities trilogy and The Founders Trilogy. The second installment of The Founders Trilogy, SHOREFALL, will be in stores April of 2020.

His work has received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Phillip K. Dick Citation of Excellence, and he has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Locus Awards.

He lives in Austin with his family.

Founders Series

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Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett

I honestly can’t remember a time when I was more excited about a book. Foundryside was absolutely spectacular and I am so eager to get my hands on the next installment! January is SO far away.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the Watchman

Posted February 28, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 5 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanCourting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Series: Courting Darkness Duology #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 5, 2019
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart

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Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

DNF @ 10%

Courting Darkness returns the focus to Sybella (originally from Dark Triumph) and her new mission in life. I adored the original trilogy and while it has been said that it’s not necessary to read them to appreciate the new duology, I found a definite lack of world-building and establishment of character in this installment. Whether or not it’s necessary, I would highly recommend reading them for the background knowledge alone since it does not appear to be given in Courting Darkness. And while it must be said that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this story (despite my obvious DNF) I realized shortly into this that while I was originally excited for more stories set in this world, I felt that the original trio’s stories had been told and nothing more was needed.

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Cassandra by Sharma Shields
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on February 12, 2019
Pages: 304
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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The Cassandra follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.

Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.

Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra's story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.

DNF @ 21%

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed to speak prophecies that no one would ever believe. Sharma Shields’ Cassandra is a woman who also possesses the ability to prophesize and when she goes to work for the research facility that created the atomic bomb during WWII, her protestations fall on deaf ears when she tries to warn everyone of what’s to come. The plot of this one sounded fascinating and I was anxiously awaiting my opportunity to read it but unfortunately, I found Cassandra’s character to be insufferable and the rest of the characters were completely depthless. Whether or not they were developed further on in the story is a moot point since I obviously did not finish this story, however, character development is not a better late than never sort of thing and should have been done in the very beginning. The bit of story I did read left a lot to be desired plot-wise as well. Cassandra’s story lacked fluidity and felt rather like she was simply checking off boxes on a list of what she knows she does in life. Considering she’s got the gift of prophecy it’s thoroughly possible that this could have been the reason, except, Cassandra never felt like an active participant in her own life and seemed much more likely that it was the author checking off boxes instead. It was at about the point I hit this quote that I decided this just wasn’t for me:

“I admired his stridency. I wanted to bake it, to eat it like a large meat loaf so that it would enter my bloodstream and become my own.”

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Courting Darkness, The Cassandra, The Wolf and the WatchmanThe Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2019
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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In this breathtakingly bold, intricately constructed novel set in 18th century Stockholm, a dying man searches among the city’s teeming streets, dark corners, and intriguing inhabitants to unmask a ruthless murderer—perfect for fans of Perfume and The Alienist.

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

DNF @ 20%

The Wolf and the Watchmen is a story set in 1793 involving the brutal murder of a man and the duo on the hunt for the perpetrator. This is quite a violent and graphic story but it paints a vivid portrait of 18th century Sweden. Did anyone watch the show Taboo with Tom Hardy? It reminded me a lot of that except Taboo has a facet of the supernatural and this story did not. While I don’t normally need supernatural additives in my historical fiction for them to suceed, it did make me realize that I felt like there was something missing to this story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This story is admittedly very well-written and I can see why it was awarded best debut novel by The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers, unfortunately, the bleakness of the story was absolute and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish.

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Book Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

Posted November 17, 2018 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2018, YA / 4 Comments

Book Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The Original Screenplay by J.K. RowlingFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
Illustrator: MinaLima
Series: Fantastic Beasts The Original Screenplay #2
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on November 16, 2018
Pages: 304
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Also by this author: The Cuckoo's Calling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

two-stars

J.K. Rowling’s five-film Fantastic Beasts adventure series continues with the original screenplay for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured in New York with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists Newt, his former Hogwarts student, who agrees to help once again, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

This second original screenplay from J.K. Rowling, illustrated with stunning line art from MinaLima, expands on earlier events that helped shape the wizarding world, with some surprising nods to the Harry Potter stories that will delight fans of both the books and films.


What the fuck even was that.

I haven’t watched the movie yet so this is solely a review of the book, but wow, I’m certainly not rushing to the theatres anytime soon.

The story is seriously a big hot mess though and while I loved the first installment, the follow-up really threw everything I liked about it into a blender. The characters changed in ludicrous fashion, the motivations behind the characters themselves were murky at best, and there was little to no plot development. This feels like the middle book of a trilogy but apparently, we have three more books to “look forward to.”

The biggest issue I had was the very clear attempt to merge these “prequel” stories with the original Harry Potter series. I felt if the writers simply focused on telling these stories and letting them stand on their own merits they might not have felt the need to remind us every so often that hey! This is set in the Harry Potter world! It just felt messy. The biggest flaw was McGonagall’s cameo. She was in her 70s in the original stories, which began in 1997, yet in The Crimes of Grindewald she’s a Hogwarts professor in a story set in the mid-20s. I can imagine the cameos are far more exciting in film, but the timeline super doesn’t match, at least in accordance with what Rowling has stated previously about her characters. Seriously, so unnecessary.

There are also additions to the story that simply don’t end up making a whole lot of sense. Like that bit about Nagini having been an actual human at one point in her life? It’s revealed that she’s a Maledictus, able to transform into a snake but due to a blood curse passed down in her family, she’ll transform into a snake one day and never be able to transform back. Sure, it was interesting tidbits and expands on Nagini’s story, and sure, maybe this all becomes more vital later on in this series, but the small bit we’re given seemed pretty inconsequential.

But the icing on the cake was the “twist” at the end. Serious spoiler, beware. View Spoiler »

The original stories are already so fascinatingly complex and these attempts to expand on what has already been drilled into our brains from many a re-reads just comes across as lazy and is really destroying the magic of Harry Potter for me.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Ragged Alice by Gareth L. Powell

Posted October 24, 2018 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Ragged Alice by Gareth L. PowellRagged Alice by Gareth L. Powell
Published by Tor.com on April 23, 2019
Pages: 208
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
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In Gareth L. Powell's Ragged Alice a detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people's souls.




Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. As soon as she was old enough, she ran away to London and joined the police. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at first to be a simple hit-and-run, but which soon escalates into something far deadlier and unexpectedly personal—something that will take all of her peculiar talents to solve.

About Gareth L. Powell

Gareth L. Powell is an award-winning author from the UK. His alternate history thriller, Ack-Ack Macaque won the 2013 BSFA Award for Best Novel, spawned two sequels, and was shortlisted in the Best Translated Novel category for the 2016 Seiun Awards in Japan. His short fiction has appeared in a host of magazines and anthologies, including Interzone, Solaris Rising 3, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and his story ‘Ride The Blue Horse’ made the shortlist for the 2015 BSFA Award.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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