Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Last week I was telling Boyfriend about Neverwhere because he’s never read it before. When telling him about it I realized that I was a little fuzzy on the details, probably because it’s been so long since I read it. I’m really glad I decided to re-read this one, because it was even better than I remembered.

The world beneath London is just as you’d expect an underground city to be: dark, dirty, and crawling with unsavory beings, both human and non-human. But, London Below is more than just that, it’s a city full of life, trade, and the unique sorts of people that don’t quite fit in up in “normal” London. I absolutely love the world that Gaiman has created. In some ways, it’s my ideal type of fantasy setting, not because it’s an entirely new world or one laden with magic, but because it’s more like an alternate version of our world. One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Neil’s is because of the way he takes the modern world and stretches it just enough that it becomes fantastical, but is never too over the top. Realistic people, situations, and feelings remain present in his stories, making them easy to read and relate to.

There are some fantastic characters in this story. Richard Mayhew, the protagonist, is just an average guy who was just at the wrong place, wrong time. His life is turned upside down as he gets dragged to the streets below London, while his entire life above suddenly gets erased. Among his companions are the Lady Door (a girl trying to understand her parents’ death and avenge her family), the marquis de Carabas (who is as over the top as his name suggests), Anasthaesia (a rat-speaking girl), and Hunter (the best bodyguard in the underground). They cross paths with the likes of angels, friars, and earls, all while trying to steer clear of the two hit-men who have their eyes on Door.

This was actually one of the first fantasy books I had ever given a chance. (Can you believe that there was a time when I didn’t read fantasy!?) After re-reading this I realize why I got sucked in and captured by the genre.

Supposedly, Neil has a sequel to Neverwhere in the works. I don’t know much about it, but I sure hope we don’t have to wait too long for it to come out.

 

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Adult · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Non-Fiction · Young Adult

Top Ten Tues: Best Books I’ve Read in 2018

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday again! (TTT is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’d like to participate, a list of the weekly themes can be found here.) This week’s topic is “Best Books I’ve Read in 2018.” Sounds like an easy one, right? WRONG. I’ve read so many good books in the past six months that I don’t even know where to begin.

I actually did a post on my favorites of 2018 (so far) about a month ago, but I’ve read several other great books since then, so here’s the updated list:

The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

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Robots vs. Fairies (Anthology)

The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Reviews: The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (for each book)

The Wayward Children books by Seanan McGuire are a series of novellas about the children of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Each of the children at the school have stumbled upon, fallen through, or sucked into a doorway to another world. Worlds of nonsense, logic, the dead, and everywhere in between.

Every Heart a Doorway focuses on Nancy, a newcomer to the Home for Wayward Children. Like the others who live there, Nancy is having a hard time coping with life back in the real world and wants nothing more than to find the doorway back home to the Halls of the Dead. At her new school Nancy meets Kade (from the land of the Goblin King), Sumi (from the land of Confection), and twins Jack and Jill (from the dark Moors). Tragedy strikes shortly after Nancy’s arrival and it’s up to her and her new friends to get to the bottom of things.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the story of Jaqueline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). Brought up  by parents who wanted them to be a certain way (Jack a lady and Jill a tomboy), neither of them are particularly close. When they stumble on the door to the Moors, however, everything changes. Both go their separate ways, one to become a mad scientist’s apprentice, the other the plaything of a vampire. In the Moors they are finally allowed to figure out who they are.

Beneath the Sugar Sky brings us back to the school, where Sumi’s daughter Rini falls from the sky. She’s disappearing and her home, the land of Confection (all Nonsense and sugar), is in danger. There’s just one problem: Sumi has been dead for years. Rini enlists the help of some of the other students to help save her mother. The unlikely group, including a boy who can resurrect skeletons and an ex mermaid, travel to the Halls of the Dead and Confection to try and save Rini before she disappears for good.

To put it plain and simple: This series is freaking fantastic. The different worlds that the author has created are full of vivid and beautiful imagery. Each character and the worlds they came from are unique and full of rich backstory. The way they’re all brought together into the present, trying to figure out how to cope with their loss and lean on each other, is rather touching. I hope to learn of some of the other worlds in future books, because they’re all so fascinating that I just can’t get enough.

The reason I didn’t write separate reviews for each of these books was because I was too busy devouring them in quick succession to even stop and take the time.

The next book, In an Absent Dream, will be out in January of 2019! I can’t wait.

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Recently Added to the TBR Pile

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Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

via Goodreads

I’ve been wanting to read this one since hearing Zoraida speak on the panel I attended at BookCon. She talked about the recently released sequel Bruja Born and the history behind it. I was somewhat intrigued by her talk of brujas (witches), superstition, and keeping true to the folklore than inspired her story.

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The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost…

via Goodreads

To be honest, I’d never even heard of this book until everyone started posting reviews of the sequel, Ravencry, recently. Both books sound fantastic (and a bit dark) and I look forward to reading them.

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Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

via Goodreads

This doesn’t sound like one of my usual reads, but it sounds like it could have some potential. I’m hoping J is really a Dalek or The Master in disguise. 😉

Adult · Books · Fantasy

First Impression Friday: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

This is the second book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. I cheated a little bit though and read the third book before starting this one. Truthfully, I don’t think it really mattered. Given that I already read the first book, I was clued in enough that there wasn’t any confusion about what was happening.

I already expect to enjoy this one, given how much I enjoyed the other two. Jack and Jill were really interesting characters in the first book. I am excited to learn more about their backstory and the weird things that happened to them in the Moors.

I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I can predict with certainty that the world the girls travel to is going to be very different than some of the other worlds mentioned in the first book. Less Nonsense, more logic, and definitely some dark stuff.

 

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Read By the End of the Year

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is “Books I Want to Read By the End of the Year.” Since this one is pretty straight forward and doesn’t need much further explanation, let’s jump right in.

  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
  • Down Among the Sticks and Stones by Seanan McGuire  (Note to self: Post review of Every Heart a Doorway)
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

What books are on your list? 

 

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Adult · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Goodreads

I’m not going to lie, but I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. It’s hard not to enjoy it though if you’re a lover of fantasy and mythology. It has druids, Celtic gods and goddesses, werewolves, vampires, and witches. Oh my!

Atticus is a badass main character. I mean, for starters, he runs a bookshop. Second, he’s covered in tattoos, so he’s instantly okay in my book. Third of all, HE HAS AN ANCIENT SWORD. Fourth, He’s a Druid. He’s definitely not your average Joe…because, you know, his name is Atticus.

I really liked the fact that the book took ancient stories and characters and threw them into a modern setting. It made for a fun and very different type of urban fantasy.

This book was full of surprises. Not only was it full of action and a mix of characters from (Celtic and non-Celtic) mythology, but it was funny, as well. I loved the interactions between Atticus and his dog Oberon (who can talk to Atticus). Their relationship reminded me of my relationship with my own doggy. Oberon was one of my favorite characters, providing levity and doggy wisdom at all the perfect moments.

There are currently nine books in the series. I’ve already purchased the second one to see if it continues holding my interest. I’ll keep you posted!