A Conjuring of Light

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab is the final installment in the Shades of Magic trilogy. Darkness is on the rise and hope is dwindling. The Dark King had invaded Red London, taking control of it’s citizens and slowly sucking up all of it’s magic. Now it is up to Kell, Lila, Holland and the rest of their allies to find a way to stop and unstoppable evil.

In the conclusion to this magical roller-coaster, powers will be tested and loyalties will be questioned. Will Kell and Lila find the power to keep the evil at bay? Will a kingdom fall? Will darkness rise?

So I’ve been following this series from the beginning in audio. It’s been an interesting one to listen to. I really like the voice actors; they did a great job, especially the male actor who gave just a little something different to each character. For a book with a lot of world building and magic, the audiobook was still an easy listen.

A lot happens in this book. We don’t get the background and world building we get in the first one. We don’t get the epic tournament of magic we get in book two. In this one we get a quest, a quest to overcome evil and save the day. But like with any quest, the costs are still high. This was probably my least favorite book of the three but it wasn’t a bad read.

I’m still amazed at the world building in this series as a whole. Even in this final book, Schwab is still forming her world and introducing more and more interesting elements. I really loved the boat market and wish we got to see more of it. There were also characters built up in this one, the King, the Queen who became really dynamic and forces to be reckoned with.

There were a few side stories and pieces that felt like they were added just to be added but it didn’t hinder the story much, just drew it out a bit. And I was surprised to see that this ended up being one of those books that actually wrapped up each plot line. There was a little epilogue-ish tie up for each of the characters, which certain readers will appreciate.

Overall, this was a satisfying series. As a whole I’d probably give the series 4 stars. This book specifically gets 3.5 from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Advertisements

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill is an adult fiction book with a historical flair. This story follows two orphans who live and grow up in Montreal during the Great Depression. Unemployment, sex, drugs and crime are rampant on the cold gray streets of Montreal. The world is harsh and it’s consequences harsher.

Born into this world is Rose and Pierrot, orphans who were abandoned at birth and grow up together at a Christian orphanage. Rose and Pierrot share a unique soul; they are full of life and love nothing more than to laugh and make believe. As children they perform for the wealthy and form an unbreakable bond.

Rose and Pierrot are separated at 15 and their paths take very different courses. This is the story of their struggles, successes and the strange paths they take to find one another again. This is a story of a love that knows no bounds. This is a story of their journey and about what happens to love when life gets in the way.

I picked up this one originally because of this blurb in the synopsis:

With echoes of The Night Circus, a spellbinding story about two gifted orphans in love with each other since they can remember whose childhood talents allow them to rewrite their future. 

Let me start off my saying that this book is not The Night Circus, no way no how. The only “echo” is maybe the fact that Rose and Pierrot have to find each other under strange circumstances and that they put on a unique show near the end. That’s it. So if this review does nothing else, hopefully it will make you read through the synopsis a little more thoroughly before picking it up.

That being said, this book was not for me. There was too much sexual depravity and moral wickedness and I love dark morally corrupt books but this went a little too far for me. And it was just weird because our main characters are so light and full of life, that the sex and general degradation of humanity seemed sort of surreal. But seriously if you aren’t into explicit sexual content this book isn’t for you because two pages in we get a 15 year old impregnate an 11 year old girl by playing doctor and telling her he needed to “take her temperature” with his penis. Yea…

The only thing I liked about this book was the show Rose and Pierrot put on. It was silly and magical and yet it was a commentary on the depression and the human experience during the depression. I also enjoyed the way Rose and Pierrot communicated with each other and how Pierrot’s song evolves throughout the story.

I’m sure many people could read a lot into this book and come out with intelligent morals or use it for a literary analysis paper but as a general, pleasure read? It wouldn’t be my go-to. Overall, this just wasn’t one I enjoyed. For that reason it only gets two stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Five Little Kernels

I’ve been working on two flannel boards this week. One super easy and one a bit more complicated. This is the easy one and boy was it easy!

Anyone can do this one. You just need white and gold felt. I even used some gold crayon to make my popcorn look like it had butter on it.

This one is for a camping themed storytime I have coming up. I got the idea from Storytime Katie.

Five Little Kernels

Five little kernels sizzling in the pot

All of a sudden, one went POP!

(Repeat until all your kernels are popped)

A fun, easy, quick flannel board!

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

LapSit Storytime – 3/13/17

It’s time for another LapSit Storytime! This time I picked one of my favorite stories and a bunch of our most popular rhymes.

Here’s a list of what we did:

  • Rhyme – Welcome, Welcome Everyone
    • This is to the tune of twinkle, twinkle little star and it is my way to welcome my crew to storytime.

Welcome, welcome everyone

Now you’re here, we’ll have some fun!

First we’ll clap our hands just so,

Then we’ll bend and touch our toes.

Welcome, welcome everyone

Now you’re here, we’ll have some fun!

  • ASL – Hello Friends
    • I like to use sign language in my story time. We go over the signs for: Hello, Friends, Time and Say. Thanks to Jbrary for this one!
  • Movement Exercise – Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
    • I like to get warmed up with this classic.
  • Song w/ Movements – Tap Your Toes and Follow Me by Susan Salidor.
    • We follow along with the lyrics and do the movements.
  • Movement Exercise – Here is a Beehive
    • I have a glove with bees on each finger and I hold up a paper beehive.

Here is a beehive, where are all the bees?

Hiding away where nobody sees.

Watch and you’ll see them come out the hive.

One, two, three, four, five.

Bzzzzz…all fly away!

  • Story – Overboard! By Sarah Weeks 51v4sf5ayrl-_sx443_bo1204203200_
    • This one asks for grownup participation. Everytime I say “overboard” the grownups dip the kiddies forward. Always gets lots of giggles and this is a great one for practicing the sounds different words make.
  • Bounce – This is the Way the Lady Rides
    • This is one of my most popular bounces. We get faster and faster with each verse.

This is the way the lady rides

Lady ride, lady rides.

This the way on her way to town. 

Repeat with Gentleman, Doctor and Cowboy.

  • Movement Rhyme – The Itsy Bitsy Spider
    • Everyone knows this one!
  • Bounce – Going Up and Down in an Elevator
    • Obviously we like our bounces. Baby goes up and down as you do the rhyme.

Going up and down in an elevator

Up and down in an elevator

Up and down in an elevator

First floor, second floor, third floor, down!

  • Story – Peek-a-Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti 51zcbrmtg2bl-_sy498_bo1204203200_
    • I actually have a ton of copies of this one, so I passed them out so each grownup had a copy to flip the flaps with the kids while I read.
  • Song w/ Shakers – Chugga Lugga Choo Choo
    • I like to switch between a song with shakers and a song with scarves. This week we went with the shakers.
  • Movement Rhyme – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    • We pick a nice slow rhyme so slow down with.
  • ASL – Goodbye Friends
    • We learn to say goodbye in ASL and use the same signs and song as our hello.
  • Song – Goodbye, So long, Farewell My Friends by Music Together
    • Just a slow, goodbye song I always put on as I open the doors to say goodbye.

How’d it go? When I rang my storytime bell, I had literally two toddlers walk in. But thankfully after a few more minutes we ended up with a small but diverse group of 10 kids and 11 adults. Passing out Peek-a-Moo went great and the adults surprisingly read along with me. Everything seemed to go well and we all had a good time!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Dark Dreams and Dead Things

Dark Dreams and Dead Things by Martina McAtee is the second book the the Dead Things series. We pick up right where we left off in book one: the pack is adjusting to surprising revelations and everyone is trying to pick up the pieces after a night of deceit, betrayal and broken promises.

Ember, Kai and Tristin have learned that they are the foretold reapers of a prophecy meant to take down the Grove, but their powers are underdeveloped and erratic and each have their own problems to worry about. On top of this new problems plague the pack: cannibal cheerleaders, missing pack members and legendary hunters determined to wiping out the trio and any who stand with them.

As threats mount and danger escalates can the pack stay together and fight this coming storm or will they buckle under the pressure and fracture beyond repair?

Oh boy guys, a lot happens in this sequel. Like a lot, a lot. I really needed to write this review right after reading it but I finished it on a 15 hour trip home and had three other reviews to write, so bare with me if this is a little all over the place.

This is a book for readers who love details and little intricacies hidden between the lines. This plot is complex in a good way and is a building block for subsequent novels. That being said this book felt long. I have mixed feelings about this because each individual chapter was entertaining and the plot as a whole was great, but it felt… long. I honestly don’t know how to explain it because I finished this book in two sittings while traveling and yet I felt like I was reading it for a really long time.

One thing this book succeeds in carrying over from the first book is it’s excellent use of colloquialisms and likable characters and character pairings.  The language in this book is just so present; so in tune with modern speech. This makes a book about supernatural beings relateable.

Honestly, there are no characters in this series that I don’t like. I want to know more about all of them. Which makes me excited for the prequel coming out soon. I still can’t get enough of Kai and Rhys; I have a serious thing for male couples. These chapters are a bit of an escape after the tension of others. Oh and at one point there is a legit cat fight that is fabulous!

Overall, this was a good read. It was interesting and the plot propels the story forward. It’ll be interesting to see where the story goes. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood is an adult fiction book unlike any other. This is a complex, emotionally driven story, told by multiple point of views. Wavy, 8, is the daughter of a meth dealer with a bipolar, addict mother. Her home life is volatile and Wavy must take care of herself and her younger brother.

Because of her upbringing, Wavy is distant and frankly an odd little girl. She is obsessed with the stars, hardly speaks and refuses to allow anyone to touch her. One night Wavy witnesses one of her father’s men wreck his motorcycle and her life changes forever. Kellen is a big tattooed, ex-con, who everyone thinks is slow but who really is kind, caring and surprisingly insightful.

Kellen and Wavy develop an immediate connection that is deep and unbreakable. Kellen is the caretaker Wavy never had and Wavy makes Kellen want to be a better man. What starts out as a completely platonic relationship evolves over time into something more. This is a love story both shocking and compelling and one that makes you reevaluate what it means to love.

I read All the Ugly and Wonderful Things practically straight through on a 15-hour journey to the southern UK and it wrecked me. It was ugly and wonderful and it turned my world upside down. This one is definitely going to be a controversial read.

As much as I wanted to be disgusted and appalled by Wavy and Kellen’s relationship, it was hard to condemn it. It felt wrong and uncomfortable but it also felt inevitable. Wavy and Kellen’s relationship isn’t manipulative; Kellen doesn’t force himself on Wavy, in fact he does everything he can to stop it without walking away from her. Wavy is actually the instigator, the one who wants more and at 13, she all but emotionally blackmails Kellen to get it.

Kellen is not your Lolita Humbert. He isn’t driven by a sexual desire for Wavy, if anything he is driven by loneliness and a big heart. Kellen wants to protect Wavy, to provide for her and overtime it becomes more. Wavy also, doesn’t feel like a child. She is anything but helpless and innocent. It’s hard to explain but Wavy feels like this ageless symbol of an upbringing gone horribly wrong; someone who finds a measure of happiness in the dark and refuses to let it go.

The reader here, isn’t told how to feel about what goes on between Wavy and Kellen. Instead the reader is encouraged to evaluate their own emotions and make their own judgments. This story isn’t about right or wrong, it is about the hundreds of shades of grey between right and wrong and how different our lives can be based upon the choices we make and those that are made for us.

Ultimately, this book is about love in all its many forms and definitions. This is a book that is supposed to make you uncomfortable. Whether you thought it was about child abuse or two souls making the best of unfortunate circumstances–it got you thinking. This was a compelling read that will stick with me for a long time and for that reason it gets 5 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza is a YA space odyssey with court intrigue, assassination attempts and highspeed space chases. The only surviving heir to the to the Kalusian dynasty, Rhee, has been training her whole life to rule… and to take down the man who murdered her family. On the eve of her coronation, Rhee will finally take her revenge–that is, if she isn’t killed first.

After escaping an assassination attempt, Rhee must go into hiding where she finds a group of rebels who reveal information about her past and her country that could change everything.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who, despite prejudices about his heritage, has become the star of a DroneVision reality show. But all the fame in the world won’t save Aly when he is blamed for Princess Rhee’s presumed murder. Now Aly too is on the run, attempting to prove his innocence and stay alive.

Aly and Rhee’s paths cross amidst a brewing inter-planetary war. Can Aly and Rhee uncover the truth and reveal a plot ten years in the making?

Space odyssey’s or even hardcore scifi isn’t normally my go to genre. I tend to stick with fantasy or magical realism. But Empress of a Thousand Skies wasn’t a bad read. First off, that cover. This was such a pretty book, I would have picked it up just for that. I loved the eclipse and how it ties into the woman’s hair superimposed on the moon.

I really liked Aly’s storyline. He has that wrong time, wrong place kind of guy and he was genuinely a likable character. Aly is also a dynamic character; he has to deal with prejudices and fame, but he also has a tortured past and relateable hobbies and reactions to the world around him. Where as Rhee, is somewhat one-dimensional at the moment. I didn’t find her very interesting and almost a little wishy-washy.

The story as a whole though, did some very interesting things. This book can definitely speak to privacy and the lack of it in a modern age. People have cubes inserted into their heads and they are always “online.” Their memories are recorded, they have access to tons of information and supposedly no one can access these cubes… or can they? Aly and Rhee must go offline to escape notice and in doing so they both lose and gain so much. Makes you think about today’s world of technology and where we are heading.

We also see a volatile political climate that could very well mirror our own. Likable leaders with personal agenda’s, media campaigns with ulterior motives, protests and more. It is interesting to see what parallels could be traced back to today and it would be neat to see if Belleza intended these parallels.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book. At first I didn’t have feelings about the book one way or the other but as I sat down to review it, I found I had more to say then I thought. This is one where you will want to read vs. listen but as an audiobook it wasn’t bad. 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-