Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken. Again.

Goodreads

I was pretty excited when I heard this book was coming out and that we would be returning to the Moors – the setting we had been first introduced to in Down Among Sticks and BonesWhile I have immensely enjoyed all of the books in the Wayward Children series, I felt like the Moors was the one world that was still shrouded in the most mystery. Getting to go back and discover a little more of it was an absolute treat.

The tables have turned and Jack is no longer trying to save her sister, Jill. The complicated and strained relationship they already share is further explored in this book in a way that will make you question who you’re supposed to be rooting for. In addition to Jack, some familiar faces from Miss West’s school make a reappearance. Christopher, Sumi, Cora, and Kade once again jump into the role of playing the fearless heroes, even though it’s not their own worlds they are trying to save.

As always, McGuire does a spectacular job at immersing the reader in a world that is both beautiful and terrible. The concept of death is fleeting. Love knows no boundaries. And there is nothing that a little bit of lightening can’t fix. By the end, you’ll wonder if everything you thought you knew about “monsters” has been wrong.

 

 

Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Favorite Books of 2019

Hello, friends! I hope you’re all surviving this holiday season. I know I’ve been on the quiet side lately, in terms of blogging, but I hope to get back in the swing of it next year. I guess I just haven’t had much to talk about lately. This time of year usually stresses me out quite a bit, so I tend to be a little more reserved. I don’t even have any new book reviews to share at the moment, as I’ve been rereading a few of the Harry Potter books in preparation for my upcoming trip to Wizarding World. (Omg, I can’t wait!)

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Since we’re about to start a new year, how about a little recap of my favorite books from 2019? As of right now, I’ve read 53 books out of my Goodreads  goal of 47 books. I’m hoping to finish up Half Blood Prince over the next couple of days and bring that number up to 54.

I read some fun books this year, but not too many of them blew me away. (Was I just being picky or did I just miss out on some good ones? I’m not sure.) In no particular order, here were a few at the top of the list:

 

What were your top books in 2019? Anything great that I missed out on and need to check out next year?

 

Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

Book Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

More of a clash of Faerie and the mortal world in this book

After devouring the first two Folk of the Air books last year, I was dying to get my hands on the third and final installment. While I enjoyed reading this one, I have to admit that it did not suck me in the way the first two did.

The plot of The Queen of Nothing started off solid, but everything moved along too quickly and the pacing felt off. I suppose that this was due to the shorter length of this book. I did like the fact that the story intertwined the faerie world with the mortal world more than the first two books. I also liked that Jude’s sister, Vivian, became a more prominent character this time around. Sadly, despite being Jude’s twin, I always find Taryn a bit lackluster. Vivian is far more interesting and engaging than Taryn. (Sorry, Taryn.)

It was fun to experience Jude’s character development from book one to book three. I was surprised at how much less dark her personality was this time around, especially considering the events that happened at the end of book two. I felt like the author did a great job at weaving both Jude and Cardan’s personalities together into a very convincing, albeit bizarre, relationship.

The familiar plot twists and character betrayals that we’ve all come to know and love from Black’s books were present in The Queen of Nothing. I just wished there had been a little more meat the the story and a little more time to devote to some of the other characters.

Fantasy · Fiction · Short Stories · Writing

Parade of Lies

“The faeries are coming, the faeries are coming! Mommy, look! The faeries are coming.”

“I know, sweetheart.” Clarice Mayberry smiled sweetly at her daughter before taking a hearty swig from the flask hidden within the depths of her coat. Of course she knew about the faeries. It wasn’t like it had been Jenny’s idea to get up at the ass crack of dawn and take a train all the way to midtown just to see a couple of rubes wearing polyester wings. It had been her idea; she had only planted it in Jenny’s mind and used the poor girl as her excuse for getting up so early.

They’d only been waiting a quarter of an hour, but their fingers and noses had already turned red from the cold. Whoever thought it a good plan to host a parade in the middle of February was clearly a sadist or someone who just hated children. Or, rather, the parents of those children who’d been forced to escort them out to the streets of New York at eight a.m. on a Saturday.

“Mommy, can the faeries see us?” Jenny’s big blue eyes were rounder than usual, threatening to pop from her tiny porcelain face. She could hardly contain her excitement during the train ride. Her six year old mind could barely wrap itself around the fact that the characters from her favorite show were about to collide with her own reality. Clarice didn’t have the heart to tell her that the faeries about to parade down 43rd street weren’t even real.

“Of course they can see us, dear. Why shouldn’t they be able to?” she asked, but by the time the words came out, the girl had fixated her attention elsewhere. After another sip of “mommy juice” and a glance at her watch, Clarice finally relinquished her dignity and plopped down on the curb among the other chattering children.

People were beginning to pack in tightly on the sidewalks. Police and security guards paced back and forth along the street, keeping a close eye on the growing crowd, although none seemed particularly concerned that the group before them was the dangerous type. Clarice sniggered at the thought. Teens wearing brightly colored tutus and matching wigs tossed handfuls of free candy towards the spectators. Finally, at a quarter after nine, a man dressed in head-to-toe in blue came prancing up and down the street with a megaphone, announcing that the show was about to begin.

Clarice stood and took a tight hold of her daughter’s hand. Jenny bounced up and down on the heels of her feet with that crazed look in her eye that only a child intoxicated with copious amounts of sugar could possess. The ground beneath them pulsed with life as music blared from every direction. The children shrieked at the sudden appearance of hundreds of performers in leotards and cheaply made wings. They bounded down the street, waving impossibly long streamers, throwing confetti, and doing back flips over one another. Clarice’s stomach roiled at the sight of it all – at the “faeries” and the obnoxious theatrics. She still couldn’t fathom why the Cirque du Fae was so popular. Even as a television show, it was ghastly. She wished she could find the moron who created it and wrap her pretty little fingers around their neck. Yet, despite her disdain for the popular program, she showed up year after year to observe the annual parade celebrating all things faerie.

A woman with wings painted to look like a monarch butterfly’s came right up to Jenny and handed her a plastic flower from the basket slung over her arm. “Look, Mommy! I got a flower,” she waved the cheap decoration wildly in front of her mother’s face.

But Clarice was hardly paying her any mind. “That’s great, honey,” she muttered, keeping her eyes fixed on the throng around them. She craned her neck to scan the faces behind her, her brow knit in deep concentration. It was impossible to see properly, however, with candy and confetti constantly pelting her in the head. She squeezed herself closer to the barrier blocking the crowd and stared into the faces of every performer that passed, but they were all far too young.

“They have to be here,” she muttered. Forty-five minutes had passed already, meaning she was nearly out of time. “Come on, come on.” Her foot tapped nervously without her realizing. To anyone else, she simply looked like she was moving in time with the music.

“Ladies and gentleman. Children and faeries of all ages.” The echoing voice boomed from the loudspeaker from every direction. Clarice could hardly imagine just how much the tenants of the surrounding buildings must be enjoying the festivities at such an early hour. “Prepare yourselves for the grand finale!”

Within seconds a pink haze was creeping its way towards them, temporarily blocking view of the street and causing everyone’s eyes to water. “Oooh, it’s like the cotton candy clouds on the show!” Jenny declared. Clarice gripped the girl’s hand tighter to prevent her from wandering off and trying to taste the smoke to determine if it did, in fact, taste like cotton candy. Fortunately, the fog faded almost as quickly as it appeared, revealing the parade’s main attraction.

Jenny was rendered speechless as a giant castle rolled towards them, towering several stories high. The bottom portion of the float was designed to look like fluffy white clouds to give the illusion that the castle was flying among them. From each of the windows a faerie or other mythical creature popped its head out and waved. A clear platform jutted out over the crowd from halfway up the castle where a dozen dancers and acrobats performed tricks at once. Even Clarice, who had been doing her best to avoid the entire spectacle paused in her search to gaze up at the nerve wracking display. A female performer, the star of the show, came out and sent the children into a wild frenzy. With a graceful bow she opened her arms wide and revealed the papery wings that attached from her shoulders to her wrist. She looked more like a bat than a faerie, Clarice thought, just as the young woman dove head first from the platform and did a flip in the air.

Suddenly, an ear-piercing scream cut through the air, drowning out the music and laughter surrounding them. Clarice’s head whipped up towards one of the balconies overlooking the parade, where a man and a woman were engaged in a performance of their own. No, not a woman, Clarice observed. A faerie. Not a faerie like the imposters in the parade, but a real faerie. At first glance, she hardly recognized the female up on the balcony. Her appearance had changed a great deal since they’d last seen each other – her hair, once long and lush, had been cut to her chin and had thinned considerably. Everything about her was haggard and covered in filth. Even the large flesh-colored wings that protruded from her back looked like they had seen better days. Clarice’s hand covered her mouth as she watched the dark haired man struggle to restrain the faerie and pull her back through the window from which she came. Even from street level, she could see the fierce blue of the pendant around the man’s neck, bright and mocking her.

The next scream came from Clarice’s own mouth as she let go of Jenny’s hand and pushed her way through the thick crowd, through the candy, glitter, and bullshit. “NOOOOO!” she screeched as the female on the balcony finally freed herself of the man and took a flying leap off the balcony and towards the shocked crowd and the sidewalk below.

“Not again,” Clarice cried. Once again, she was too late.

Books · Fantasy · Favorites

The Ultimate Fall Read

Today we’re going to talk about a very special Fall book recommendation. It is the ultimate book recommendation, in my opinion, and I’m sure that my long time readers will not be surprised in the slightest. You’ve heard me talk about it plenty of times before, so I apologize if you’re tired of hearing about it, but I just can’t help myself. Every year, when the weather starts to cool off and the leaves change my brain takes me to Hogwarts.

That’s right, we’re talking about the Harry Potter series again. 😛

This year, my love of this beloved series feels even more appropriate to share, not only because it’s Fall, but because of some exciting news that I have…

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I’M GOING TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER. *squeeeeeeee* After ten years of waiting, I finally got tickets to go see the magical settings of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in Orlando. It won’t be for a few more months, but in the mean time I plan on re-reading some of the books in preparation.

And what better time to read the series than Fall?! I’m not calling this a “spooky” book recommendation because that would be inaccurate. (To check out some of my spooky book recommendations, check out these pots: pt. 1 and pt. 2) Every time I read the series though I can’t help but think about Fall, due to how many great scenes there are in the book that take place during the season: the back to school fervor, Fall visits to Hogsmeade, and Halloween feasts in the Great Hall. Plus, with appearances by trolls, ghosts, and werewolves it just feels very appropriate for this time of year. Make sure you have a giant mug of butterbeer and some pumpkin pasties on hand when you read this one!

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Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Book Review: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

‘Death has to happen. That’s what bein’ alive is all about. You’re alive, and then you’re dead. It can’t just stop happening.’

But it can. And it has. So what happens after death is now less of a philosophical question than a question of actual reality. On the Disc, as here, they need Death. If Death doesn’t come for you, then what are you supposed to do in the meantime? You can’t have the undead wandering about like lost souls. There’s no telling what might happen, particularly when they discover that life really is only for the living…

Goodreads

As humans, we are often taught to avoid and fear death. In Terry Pratchett’s world, you kinda want Death to be your best friend. Death is just one character in The Reaper Man, but he is the catalyst for the events that take place throughout the book. As his name suggests, he is the literal bringer of death and, afterlife be damned, he wants to start living. 

When Death decides to retire from his career the entire world gets thrown out of balance. People and wizards, like old Windle Poon, can’t even die properly anymore. It’s up to Windle, his new undead friends, and a group of bumbling wizards (of the living variety) to put a stop to all the madness.

I enjoyed all the characters in this story, but Death was by far my favorite. He was insightful and by far the most wise, despite having a childlike innocence at times. His relationships with Miss Flitworth, Binky, and the Death of Rats were surprisingly touching. Pratchett’s achievement at personifying death in such a way that makes you both laugh and really think about the importance of life was sheer brilliance.

 

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

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My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period…

Goodreads

I wasn’t expecting a lot from this book, to be honest. I was never a huge fan of the show growing up (although I probably was a little too young to appreciate it) and I never read the comics. I’m not even sure what possessed me to pick this one, but I’m glad I did, because it was a fun read.

Nina is an unlikely candidate for the role that is thrust upon her, especially when her sister Artemis has been preparing her entire life. She grapples with her own feelings towards her newfound role and the life she has come to know. Given the upbringing and neglectful mother she had, you can’t really fault her for being so bitter and confused. I liked the shift in the two sisters’ relationship. It’s definitely not a cliche, “we’re such a happy family” one, but a rather messy one. I appreciated this a great deal, as family relationships are not usually all they’re cracked up to be. Some of the secondary characters, like Leo and Doug, were great, but a lot of the others fell flat for me. Even Artemis, felt a bit too predictable and it grated on my nerves at times.

I wasn’t super familiar with all the lore and background of the Buffy series prior to reading this, but the author does a good job of giving you enough detail without it being overwhelming. I’m tempted to dive into some of the comics now, just to see how what I’ve been missing out on.