More Than This

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Hey readers! Today it’s all about Cover Love. I picked More Than This by Patrick Ness.

Ness is the author of A Monster Calls, which I loved, and the Chaos Walking series, which I haven’t read. As far as this book goes, the description is quite sparse:

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies. Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

From multi-award-winning Patrick Ness comes one of the most provocative and moving novels of our time.

I’ve been told it’s best not to know too much before reading this one, so I guess the cover is the only other clue we’re going to get.

First, I really like the minimalist approach. Black and white, very ordered and straight, with this bright yellow room beyond the doorway. It tells me that our main character is on the threshold of something new and bright, something MORE, like the title says. I would definitely pick this book up, just based on the cover.

What do you think? Is it something that would catch your eye?

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May Reading Wrap Up

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Hello readers! May is over so I thought I would do a wrap up of my reading month. It looks like it was a pretty good month, so let me get started.

Let me start with the bad, and work up to the good!

Books I DNF’d

The Christie Curse (Book Collector #1) by Victoria Abbott – I remembered why I don’t like modern cozy mysteries.

The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel (Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency #2) by David Casarett – just lost interest. It made me hungry though!

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis – flipped through a few pages, got the general idea.

Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia – didn’t realize it was a YA paranormal, didn’t fit for me.

The Invisible Hand (The Cost of Freedom #3) by Chris Northern – I loved the previous books in this series. What happened?

Not a bad amount, although it felt like there were more. There were a few books I read a few pages of and then decided I wasn’t in the mood to finish, so I decided to try later, but I’m not going to list them.


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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Audiobooks

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce #9) by Alan Bradley. Fun, but not his best. 2.75 stars

Captain’s Fury (Codex Alera #4)  by Jim Butcher. Still like the characters, but the writing is started to bug me. 3.5 stars

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Dense, highly technical writing made relevant with personal stories. Mind blowing stuff. 5 stars

I’m kind of surprised the number is so low. What was I listening to? Did I just forget to track it? I don’t know.


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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Books I read

Red Sister and Gray Sister (Books of the Ancestor 1 & 2) by Mark Lawrence. Freaking awesome! 5 stars each.

The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay #2) by Chris Wooding. Lots of fun and I *loved* the ending. 4.5 stars

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi Zoboi. Not a bad story in here. 4 stars

Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards. Reviewed here.

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home. Promising series debut set in Scotland. 4 stars

Murder in Little Shendon by A H Henderson. Also a mystery debut, set in mid-20th century England. 4 stars

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Totally original teen dystopia by Australia writer. 5 stars

Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Conteur. Why chemistry matters! 5 stars

A Bone of Contention: The Third Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Matthew Gregory. Medieval mystery set in Oxford. 4 stars.


Longest book read: The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee, 592 pages

On my TBR the longest: Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Conteur, since Feb 2012

Most disappointing: The Invisible Hand by Chris Northern. Went from a military fantasy fighting necromancers in book 1 to economic theory in book 3. Yawn.

Epic Awesome: Red Sister and Gray Sister by Mark Lawrence. You need to read these!

Coziest comfort read: Resorting to Murder. Perfect for a day sick in bed.


Like I said, a really good month! This month I’m hoping to stick to more of my own books, and not borrow from the library. I have so many physical book around here I would like to read. But I don’t make a specific TBR for each month. How was your reading in May? Let me know in the comments or post a link to your list. Happy reading!

10 Authors New to Me

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl that I sometimes join in. This week’s prompt didn’t inspire me though, so I came up with something totally different. Enjoy!

10 Authors I Tried This Year

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Ibi Zoboi. She is known for writing contemporary YA fiction, middle grade, and short stories. I read her book Pride,  a retelling of the Jane Austen classic featuring an Afro-Latina main character. I also have Black Enough from the library which I hope to get to soon.

Camron Wright. Wright is a local Utah writer who writes inspirational stories based on real life. Both The Rent Collector and The Orphan Keeper were book club picks. His books are great for promoting a good discussion.

Django Wexler. Wow, where has this guy been?! Amazing fantasy writer, versatile and complex stories. I tore through his first two books in The Shadow Campaign series. Fun to follow on Twitter as well.

Becky Wallace. Goodreads has been recommending her to me for years now, and I finally caved. Her YA fantasy duology  The Keeper’s Chronicles was solid and original.

Jason Reynolds. I know, he’s huge! But I only knew about his books told in verse and I am NOT a fan. Then I found out about his YA contemporary The Boy in the Black Suit and I was sold. Loved the MC, loved the writing.

L L McKinney. An Alice in Wonderland retelling with Black Girl Magic? Yes, please! I raced through A Blade So Black only to find out that book 2 doesn’t come out until this fall!

Mark Lawrence. Another fantasy writer that everyone seems to know about but me. I’m deep into The Book of the Ancestor series about assassin nuns, but I am not planning on reading his other series. Too dark for me.

W R Gingell. I don’t know why I love this urban fantasy series so much. It’s got a vampire, for Pete’s sake! But I am so anxious to read the next book in The City Between. I love that it’s set in Australia too.

Guy Fraser-Sampson. He is known for a mystery series that combines modern police methods with a Golden Age sleuth feel. If you love classic detective stories, you should check him out, and they’re on Kindle Unlimited.

Rachel A. Collett. I found her Blood Descent series on Kindle Unlimited, and it was another hit. YA fantasy with a nice love story. Unfortunately, only book 1 has been released, but it was very promising!


So those are 10 authors I have discovered this year. Who are you reading? Let me know in the comments!

The Onyx Crown: A Review

 I received this book for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My thoughts remain my own.
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The Onyx Crown, book 1 by Alan Hurst

Synopsis:

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

My thoughts:

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know that I love fantasy series. Unfortunately, writers of fantasy can get stuck in a rut of relying on the same tired tropes, the medieval-with-a-bit-of-magic settings, and the same stock characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when it’s done well or when something fresh is added to the mix. But if done poorly, it can be a snoozefest.

InAlan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!
Website: https://www.alanhurstjr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanHurstJr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlanHurstJr
@AlanHurstJr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajhurstjr/ this book, which is the first in a planned trilogy, first time author Alan Hurst shakes things up with an African setting and a fresh plot. The story focuses on 3 teens, Jorann, Gesi, and Sania. Fifteen years  ago their lands were united under one king, but when the royal family was killed, the lands fractured and the warlords took over. However, the heir escaped. Now a prophecy foretell his return along with 3 guardians.

The story sounds really promising. Plus I love this setting. It’s great to see some more diversity in publishing. It did take me a while to sort out the characters. Of the kids, I found the boys the most interesting. Jorann has been living as a slave for several years. He doesn’t really remember a family. Gesi has grown up with a foster father, attached to the local prince’s household. They were good foils for each other. Gesi definitely has some magical combat skills, but he was too arrogant. Jorann has been beaten down so much. We get to see him learning new skills with unrealistic speed, but he seems more down to earth than Gesi.

While I liked the kids, the adults this book all strike me as pretty horrible people. I couldn’t tell who to trust or what their motives were. No doubt this will become clearer in the next book, but be prepared for betrayal and violence. The body count is pretty high. I did find the plot confusing, especially at first, and the ending of the book was rather abrupt. But if you are looking for something fresh in fantasy, this series might be just what you need.


About the author:

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst – who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias – is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin.
Website: https://www.alanhurstjr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanHurstJr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlanHurstJr
@AlanHurstJr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajhurstjr/


This review was courtesy of R & R book tours.

r & r

Can’t Wait Wednesday

Can't Wait Wednesday
Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This is my first time with this meme, and I thought I would give it a try. I have lots of books on my TBR, but I’m going to highlight one that I’ve got a request in for at the the library. Who knows, maybe it will help me get it sooner!

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The book is Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman, book 2 in the Arc of a Scythe the series.

Book description:

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline? 

This one came out last year and the wait for a library copy is still pretty long. I may just break down and buy it. It’s a great cover too, isn’t it! I love the faces in there.


About the author:

Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine, where he made his mark on the UCI swim team, and wrote a successful humor column. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movie script.

In the years since, Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. As a full-time writer, he claims to be his own hardest task-master, always at work creating new stories to tell. His books have received many awards from organizations such as the International Reading Association, and the American Library Association, as well as garnering a myriad of state and local awards across the country.

Wherever Neal goes, he quickly earns a reputation as a storyteller and dynamic speaker. Much of his fiction is traceable back to stories he tells to large audiences of children and teenagers — such as his novel The Eyes of Kid Midas. As a speaker, Neal is in constant demand at schools and conferences. Degrees in both psychology and drama give Neal a unique approach to writing. Neal’s novels always deal with topics that appeal to adults as well as teens, weaving true-to-life characters into sensitive and riveting issues, and binding it all together with a unique and entertaining sense of humor.


I have read several of Shusterman’s books. My favorite – if you can call such a disturbing book a favorite – was Unwind, but Challenger Deep was also really good. What about you? What’s at the top of your TBR?

Book Quote 4/28

Matt realized—how had he missed it before?—that Major Beltrán didn’t like him. The ingratiating smile meant nothing. The mocking eyes said, Three months ago you were a filthy clone, and in my opinion you still are. Never mind. I’ll make do until I can find something better.

That alone made Matt determined not to cooperate. “I am the Lord of Opium,” he said quietly. He heard Celia gasp behind him. “I will deal directly with Esperanza. The servants can find you an apartment, Major Beltrán, if they have not done so already, and when I open the border, you can fly home.” Matt was trembling and desperately trying not to show it. He wasn’t used to giving orders to adults.

Major Beltrán swallowed, and his eyes became cold and distant. “We’ll see,” he said, and left the room.

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

New Paranormal Obsession

Paranormal is not my preferred genre, but sometimes I enjoy a good urban fantasy. Somehow I heard about a series that I wanted to check out. The City Between is a series set in modern Tasmania by W. R. Gingell. Check out the synopsis for book one, Between Jobs.

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When you get up in the morning, the last thing you expect is to see a murdered guy hanging outside your window. Things like that tend to draw the attention of the local police, and when you’re squatting in your parents’ old house until you can afford to buy it, another thing you can’t afford is the attention of the cops. 

Oh yeah. Hi. My name is Pet. 

It’s not my real name, but it’s the only one you’re getting. Things like names are important these days. 

And it’s not so much that I’m Pet. 

I’m a pet. 

A human pet: I belong to the two Behindkind fae and the pouty vampire who just moved into my house. It’s not weird, I promise—well, it’s weird, yeah. But it’s not weird weird, you know?

After both her parents are murdered, Pet is staying under the radar, still living in her family’s old apartment and going to her crappy job at a local cafe. One day she wakes up and finds a dead body outside her window. After calling the police, she starts noticing 3 strange guys who keep crossing her path — and none of them look especially human.

Soon Pet and the “men” make an arrangement. Pet will cook and clean, and they will let her stay in the house. Together maybe they can figure out what’s really going on in her sleepy town.

There is so much that I love about these books! First, I love Pet. She is like a goofy mutt sometimes, jumping before she looks, fierce in protecting her friends, happy and maybe too trusting. I’ve read the first three in the series, and she has really shown some character growth, but there Pet still holds a lot of mysteries she’s keeping quiet about.

Which brings me to the second thing I love – the pacing. I love that the author has taken the time to plot these books out, revealing just enough to keep  her readers from getting too frustrated, but not enough to give them any sense of exactly what’s going to happen next. In book 3, Between Floors, we learn a lot more about Athelas, Zero and JimYeoung, but Pet herself really remains the big mystery to be solved.

What I don’t love is that these series is still not finished! The author keeps the suspense between each book, but it’s not like a terrible cliffhanger. Still, they are addictive. I’m dying to see what happens next, but it looks like I’ll just have to wait. Each of the books seems to take about 6 months to be released, so it doesn’t look like I’ll have to wait forever for answers.

If you’re looking for a fun YA or NA urban fantasy series, and especially if you want some diversity along with those werewolves – I mean lycanthropes – give this one a try. The series is free with Kindle Unlimited.

2 YA Retellings

I’m actually getting a little burned out on Napoleon right now, so I switched things up by finishing 2 YA retellings of classic books. The first was A Blade So Black by L L McKinney, and the second was Pride by Ibi Zoboi.

I’ve heard some negative things about A Blade So Black, some of it focused on the author, some of it on the writing style. But I love Alice in Wonderland, especially when it is a really new look at such a well used tale. Alice is a Black teenager who has recently lost her dad when she meets Hatta battling a Nightmare on our world. She is unusually gifted and he recruits her help. But the line separating our world from Wonderland is unstable and Alice has to fight to keep the world safe while dealing with school and an overprotective mom.

I really liked this one, with so much Lewis Carroll-goodness in here, but at the same time I wanted to shake Alice for trying to keep too many secrets. I liked the style and the characters. I didn’t realize this had a planned sequel until almost at the end, and now I have to wait until September for book 2.

My second read wasn’t as good. Pride by Ibi Zoboi was a retelling of Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen. Zuri Benitez lives in Brooklyn with her four sisters and her parents all crowded into a small apartment. Her neighborhood is a mix of the old and familiar and the new gentrification. When a new family moved into the newly renovated building across the street, Zuri already had some doubts. But when she meets the Darcy brothers, it gets even worse.

I loved the setting and the altered family dynamic. I even loved the vibrant poetry Zuri writes. I think what I struggled with us that keeping the characters the same age as in the original (the sisters, anyway)  forced some other elements into the book that I didn’t like as much. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more of I were younger.

There you have it! I’m recommending both books, but the are definitely for readers who enjoy YA.

The Light Between Worlds: A Review

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Synopsis:

Six years ago, sisters Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell were swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom called the Woodlands, where they lived for years. But ever since they returned to their lives in post-WWII England, they have struggled to adjust.

Ev desperately wants to return to the Woodlands, and Philippa just wants to move on. When Ev goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Walking the line between where fantasy and reality meet, this lyrical and magical novel is, above all else, an exploration of loss and healing, and what it means to find where you belong.

Review:

I had such high hopes for this book! I think they were a little too high as I found the book to be disappointing overall.

There was a lot to enjoy about this book. I found the writing to be solid, even beautiful at times. The settings, those of the school, the museum and the Woodlands, were all done well. I really liked some of the secondary characters, especially Ev’s friend Tom. I really liked him. I also enjoyed the narration. They had two voices, one for Evelyn and one for Philippa. Both did a nice job.

However I just couldn’t connect with either character. Evelyn quickly became tiresome, with her absolute refusal to engage with her life, while expecting everyone around her to take care of her. Ev is deeply depressed after leaving the Woodlands. All she can think about is wanting to return “home.” I understand, and believe me, I sympathize. But for all that she spent so many years in the other world, she has got to me one of the most self-absorbed people I’ve read about in a long time. She never once thinks about her family and what they must have gone through when she was gone and what they must be feeling when she gets back. It was, I admit, pretty on par for a kid her age, but she keeps saying that she’s not a kid anymore. Sorry, honey, but I disagree.

Philippa is just as irritating. Her sister goes missing, and all she can do is find reasons to fight with her parents and get a new boyfriend. She has to know, deep down, what happened to her sister. But she’s so busy doing, um, stuff, that she can’t track her down for months. Meanwhile, she’s also too busy to think about her parents and her brother. Jamie was the character I felt sorriest for. He has also been through the wars – literally – and gets completely forgotten when they get back to this world.

Verdict:

I know that this book is really supposed to be about what happened after the children came back from Narnia. I don’t know, however, if Narnia fans are likely to love this book or hate it. I wanted to DNF several times, but for some reason I finished it and I don’t think it was worth it.

 

Double Book Signing!

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I had a great time last week at a double book launch! Charlie N. Holmberg is the author of the Paper Magician series and other books, including The Fifth Doll, which I did a giveaway of last year. Tricia Levenseller is the author of the duology Daughter of a Pirate King and Daughter of a Siren Queen. Both are local authors here in Utah and I was really excited to go and find out about their new books.

Charlie’s new book is called Smoke & Summons and it’s the start of a brand new series. I got the Netgalley copy of it but I’m ashamed to say I haven’t started it yet. But it sounds really good. Here’s the description:


A captivating world of monsters and magic from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series.

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…


Tricia’s new book is called Warrior of the Wild. I got it at the book launch and finished it in about 2 hours! I think I liked her pirate series better, but this one was really original. Less romance in this one and more nasty monsters. Here’s the book description:

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying. 


I will be back with a complete review of that one and maybe a little more about the book launch. It was a lot of fun, and I even won a free book in a trivia contest.

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It sounded really good, but then when I got home I read the reviews and now I’m not so sure I’ll enjoy it. I think I’ll give it a try and if it doesn’t work for me, maybe I’ll do another giveaway!