Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is the first book in a new West African inspired fantasy series.

Zélie Adebola was only a little girl when magic was taken from Orïsha. She was only a small child when her mother was taken away in chains and murdered for her maji blood. But she was old enough to remember the way the world was and what was lost.

Zélie and her people are treated like “maggots;” they are taxed just for breathing and when they can’t pay their taxes they are thrown in the stocks. More than ten years later Zélie and her family are still living with the consequences of “the raid” and under the thumb of a ruthless ruler.

When chance–or fate–leads Zélie on a journey to restore magic, will she be strong enough to be the hope her people need? With her brother and rouge princess in tow, Zélie must trust in the gods and in her own abilities to save the maji from persecution and death.

Children of Blood and Bone is really unlike any other. I’ve been really interested in fantasy books that take place in different settings lately. Recently, I’ve read ones that take place in Russia, the Middle East, Japan and now West Africa. I just love the diverse settings and the different feel these settings give to the genre.

The world building here was well done, although I felt that some history was lacking. Lots of allusions to the past but not many “facts.” One of the things I like to know, when entering a new world, is hints to how that world came to be. Maybe we will get more of a backstory in book two.

The plot is action packed and racially charged. The pace feels quick to go along with the plot and the violence, persecution and more can relate to today’s society–which if you listen to the author’s notes, was the intent.

My only hesitation with this book was the romance. The story started out so great and then there was this all consuming romance that I was really scared would take over a stellar plot. Fortunately, it did take a back-burner but for some reason this is a series where I want the romance to be in the margins.

The narrator of this audiobook was great. I think she really helped to create this world of Orïsha in a way that just reading might not have done. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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The Rules of Magic

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman is a prequel to her best selling novel Practical Magic.

For the Owens family, magic is in their blood and love is a curse–neither escapable. It’s the end of the fifties in New York City and three siblings are about to learn the reason for their mother’s strange rules: “No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love.”

Franny, Jet and Vincent are each unique in their own way–Franny has a way with birds and fiery red hair; Jet is beautiful and kind and can read peoples thoughts; and Vincent everybody’s favorite and has a penchant for mischief. When Franny turns 17, the siblings travel to Massachusetts to spend the summer with their mysterious Aunt Isabel and their lives are never the same.

As the Owens siblings grow up they will learn what it means to have magic, how to fight fear and what it means to live and love.

I really enjoyed this one. It was definitely more character driven then plot driven in my opinion–though, I feel many would argue this point. It was really interesting seeing how the aunts from Practical Magic came to be the people they are. You don’t really think about their history too much before this book.

As much as I like Fanny’s and Jet’s storylines, I think Vincent’s really drove the story a lot of the time. I know Franny was supposed to be like the glue to the family but Vincent was just such an interesting character and you really see how he changes and how his future affects his present. It’s been so long since I’ve read Practical Magic, that I can’t remember if he pops up at all, but I really hope there are hints of him that I am forgetting.

This was an enjoyable read. It get’s 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Ever The Brave

Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill is the second book in A Clash of Kingdoms.

After saving King Aodren, Britta finds that her channeler powers have connected them, forging a bond between the two that keeps pulling them together. All Britta wants to do is live out her life in her father’s cottage with the man she’s loved since she was a girl. But now that life is threatened and Britta is now the one being hunted.

Evildoers want Britta, so they can control her powers and make her do unspeakable things. Britta must learn to harness her power and control them before she loses herself and the ones she loves.

Can Britta save herself and help the rest of her fellow channlers? And what repercussions will this bond to the king mean for her?

I will admit, I was not the biggest fan of the first book in this series. Ever The Hunted didn’t wow me and neither did this one. In my opinion this series suffers from the old show/tell problem. I felt like I was being told how to feel rather than being able to feel it for myself. The emotions of our characters were either really high or really low, there was never this middle ground where many of our most interesting feelings lie.

I said in my review of the first book that it felt like the romance was forced and made it feel like the story took second place. I feel exactly the same way with our love triangle in Ever the Brave. The plight of the kingdom and the Channeler’s didn’t really matter as much as who Britta would choose to love. And what information we got about this world wasn’t nearly fleshed out enough.

That being said, I love the titles of these books. They are just fun to say. And I think many will find this an entertain read. It just had too much in some respects and too little in others. Will I read the next one, yes. Am I looking forward to it, not really.

This one gets 2 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Beneath the Sugar Sky

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire is the third book in the Wayward Children series.

We’re back at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children with some new and some familiar faces. As always, Eleanor takes in children who have found their doorways and somehow have lost them again. In this book a nonsense girl named, Rini, from a candy world, falls from the sky looking for her mother.

When Sumi found her doorway, it was predicted that she would do great things and that she would have a daughter. But Sumi died years before finding her way back to her candy coated world… but a nonsense world doesn’t always follow linear rules and now her daughter Rini is here to bring Sumi home.

Can Rini and a band of misfit wayward children do the impossible and bring Sumi back to life? And what troubles… what worlds will they find along the way?

I can’t tell you enough how much I adore this series of little books. Beneath the Sugar Sky gives the reader another look at the “worlds” children fall into–the doorways they stumble through. McGuire creates these sometimes zany, sometimes creepy, sometimes fantastically nutty worlds that I just love peaking into.

One of my favorite things about this series is that each book can easily stand up by its own. Yes, you get a bit of background about the school for wayward children in the first book and some of the characters from the first book appear in the subsequent ones, but I still think anyone could read any of these and be transported.

In each book, McGuire gives you a little more insight into these doorways and other worlds–you learn a little more about how they work. You get a whole new level of information in this book that makes these worlds a little more complex and interesting. But, for readers who aren’t interested in the how and why, you aren’t overwhelmed by details. This series can literally be for everyone.

Have I convinced you yet? Do yourself a favor and pick up this series. Another Wayward book that gets five stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Girl In The Tower

The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy.

After surviving a night of nightmares and putting her town back to rights the best she could, Vasya finds herself once again at the Frost Demon’s door. Vasya has been labeled a witch by her village, she doesn’t know what to do or where to go–she knows only that she wants to see the world and be more than the wife and mother she was expected to become.

When chance finds her in Moscow, masquerading as a boy, Vasya must learn to blend in or risk revealing herself. Now Vasya must guard her identity and navigate a society of rules, politics and drink or risk losing the freedom she has gained as a man. All the while, dark forces are at work and Vasya is at risk of losing a game she didn’t even know she was playing.

Will Vasya ever be able to face the reality of who or what she is? Will she ever understand this powerful connection she has with the Frost Demon and the world of the demovi? And what will she be willing to sacrifice to protect those she loves?

The first book in this series was so complete that I was actually very surprised to find that there was going to be a second book, let alone third. I absolutely adored the first book. The mixture of myth and folklore, Russian culture and scenery were just extremely well done. Now in The Girl In The Tower we get a little less magic and myth and a little more society and the political culture of the time. And I think it was because of this that I wasn’t as enamored with the book.

This book does, however, achieve second book status in my opinion. In a trilogy, you usual get introductions and backstory in the first book, build up and intrigue in the second, and action and resolution in the third. Vasya and the demovi world were laid out for us and we met our core characters in the first book; in this one we learn more about why this secret world is fading and we learn that there is much more at work behind the scenes.

The Girl In The Tower addresses a lot of themes as well. We get gender roles and inequality, political turmoil, family roles and reversals and more. There is also just a feeling a magic and fairy tale-esq qualities in this book that gives it a very authentic feel.

Overall, this was a book that I enjoyed and I can’t wait to get more Vasya and Morozko in the final book. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Before The Devil Breaks You

Before The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray is the third book in The Diviners series.

It’s 1927 in New York City and the jazz age is in full swing. After facing sharp-tooth ghouls and a terrible sleeping sickness, the diviners are ready for the truth. Evie, Memphis, Ling, Sam, Isaiah, Theta and Henry and their non-diviner friends Jericho and Mable are more determined then ever to discover the truth behind their powers and the evil forces threatening their city.

As the diviners uncover clues and come into their powers, they find out that terrible forces are at work. A mysterious entity–The King of Crows–has power over the dead and is working to cause a breach between the world of the dead and the living. Together the diviners must work to reveal secrets that could endanger them all.

Will the diviners be able to uncover the truth before it is too late?

This wasn’t my favorite of the diviner series so far. I don’t know why, but I have a problem with series that get longer and longer with each book. Yes, I understand that the plots get more complicated as the story progresses but sometimes the also get more convoluted. We aren’t quite there yet with this series but I sort of feel like we might be heading in that direction. There were some plot lines that almost feel thrown in and some scenes that I just didn’t feel we needed.

I will say, I love the era the author has chosen to write in. The Jazz Age mixed with the supernatural is just wonderfully done. I love all the lingo and our characters have some really wonderful expressions and characteristics that wouldn’t work well in another time period. This book makes me want to go around using the lingo and of course get crazy looks from everyone!

On top of crafting an atmosphere that perfectly represents the 1920’s, Bray also doesn’t shy away from the political climate of the age. She addresses themes like racism, prohibition, eugenics, gender equality and more. Our cast of characters each face these themes in their own way.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and I will be interested to see how Bray wraps everything up. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

All The Crooked Saints

All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater is a new young adult fictional standalone novel.

The Soria family deals in miracles. People from all over find themselves drawn to the Soria’s because everyone wants a miracle right? But not everyone realizes what it takes to get one.

This generation of Soria’s revolve around three cousins: Beatriz, Daniel and Joaquin. Beatriz is eccentric and brilliant but emotionally stunted; Daniel is the Saint of Bicho Raro who performs most of the miracles; and Joaquin leads a double life as a pirated radio personality–Diablo Diablo. Along with Peter, an outsider who just wants to work, these three cousins will change the way the Soria’s do things forever.

What happens when saint’s need their own miracles? Will they be able to face the darkness and save their way of life? And what will they learn about themselves along the way?

Maggie Stiefvater is just such a diverse writer. She can do different types of narratives and her stories are just so unique. I really enjoyed All The Crooked Saints. First off, that title–stellar! Second, it was just a really interesting story with some really great takeaways.

The narrative was really interesting here. It actually reminded me of Anna-Marie McLemore’s style in a way, where a lot of the narrative is commentary and observatory. The language was also magical and whimsical. This was probably my favorite part of the novel. The dessert itself is often personified and this only adds to the magical feel of the story.

The characters were done in such a way, where you were given just enough information to build the character in your mind rather than being told entirely who they were. I don’t know if that makes sense but it worked.

For some reason I am finding it really hard to write this review but I thought All The Crooked Saints was a great read and I would definitely recommend it to others. This one gets 4 high stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-