Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Ghost and Mrs. Hobbs by Cynthia DeFelice

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“It’s so weird, Al. It’s like you attract ghosts. Like you’re some kind of – ghost magnet.

“That’s one way to put it, I guess,” said Allie, not sure if the idea made her feel proud or uncomfortable.

This is the second book in the ghost mysteries series. I reviewed the first one here. It follows eleven year old Allie who can see ghosts. She’s supposed to interview an elder for a school project, and a new ghost is guiding her into helping him. Allie wants to help, but finds things quickly spiraling out of her control.

I had a little bit of frustration with this book, I must admit. The answer seems so obvious to me from the very beginning that I wonder how can you not think things through a little more carefully. But it is a children’s mystery book, and I still end up enjoying it a lot. Maybe that’s a point in the book’s favor. I knew what would happen yet I still really liked it.

This one is a lot more darker than the first one. Allie has to learn not to take everything at face value. Placing trust in someone can end up to be very dangerous. It’s a good lesson to have, and makes the series going forward a little bit more complicated. I hope, at least.

I gave this one a four star rating. I think it is a ton better than the first one. It’s an easy, addictive read. I finished it in one day. Before I wasn’t sure if I would continue the series. I picked this one up on a whim when I saw it on the library shelf. But I know for sure that I will be picking up the third one.

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My Theories and Hopes for The Ship of the Dead

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The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan is the third and final book in the Magnus Chase series. It comes out in six days, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Isis still hasn’t read the first one like I’ve been begging her to do for months, so I decided to make a post similar to her Ari and Dante post talking about hopes and theories for what will be in this next book. 

Disclaimer: I’ve only read the first three books in the original Percy Jackson series, and the first two of the Magnus Chase series. I have no idea what happens in the rest of the series, so if something ties into that I don’t know about it.

Also, there is obviously going to be spoilers below.

  • Alex and Magnus romance. In a perfect world, this would be extended to a five book series so that this romance could continue to be a slow burn. However, I think I saw Riordan say on twitter it is definitely three books, and I need Magnus and Alex to acknowledge the feelings they have in some meaningful way.
  • Blitzen and Hearthstone confirmation. I’m not usually so set on the romance side of books, but they are obviously together. I need them to confirm it very obviously in the text to be happy. Maybe with hand holding? An I love you? I don’t ask for much.
  • A conversation between Riptide and Jack. I want Annabeth and Percy to be shocked. It can last for two lines, honestly, it just needs to happen.
  • I know everyone is freaking out over Percy being in this book. I saw Riordan put on Twitter that it won’t be a big part. Honestly, I think he’ll be in it for one chapter, maybe three at the most. I see them talking, and Percy sending Magnus to talk to someone else as a way to help. Or giving him something, like the ship of the dead, that will help, and that’s it.
  • Speaking of the ship of the dead, does that mean that Hotel Valhalla is gonna be on this ship? Is T.J., Halfborn, and Mallory going to play a bigger part in this book? I hope so because I love the time they are present.
  • But if they are all going to be out that means that Ragnarok will happen? It seems likely, yet I hope not. I don’t see how it can happen and be all wrapped up in one book. Not in a satisfying way at least.
  • Sigyn, Loki’s wife. I think she will end up playing a big role in taking down Loki. I’m not sure if she’ll team up with Magnus or do something completely on her own, but I think she will be important.
  • I don’t think Andirson or Greta, Hearthstone’s brother and mother are dead. Or, at least, their deaths are more than what we’ve been told. I’m not sure what part this will play in the overall plot, or if it’ll be a part of the cursed ring keeping them from their journey.
  • Frey, Magnus’s dad. I think we will see him in person in this book. 
  • Sam will be in great danger with Loki, but she will overpower him.

There’s probably a very big plot point that I’m forgetting to even mention, but oh well. I realize these aren’t very creative, or even thought out in a big way but honestly I’m bad at that. I  just know I’m excited for this book, and wanted to list out a couple of things I think are important for this last book.

 

The Diviners by Libba Bray

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The Diviners by Libba Bray is a young adult, historical fantasy novel. Set in 1926 New York, exiled Evie O’Neill now living with her Uncle Will and his young ward Jericho. Evie has a power that lets her see into the past. She wavers between keeping it a secret and showing it off. But when her Uncle is called into help with a series mysterious involving the occult, she has to decide whether to help using her gift or not.

This novel have many POV changes throughout. The more you read on, the more the story splits and shifts. However, Evie is still obviously the focus character throughout the book. But I’ll give a small run down of some other characters. There’s Memphis, a black man from Harlem that used to have the gift of healing. There’s Sam, a suave pickpocket with his own agenda. There’s Theta, an upcoming star with a mysterious dark past. There’s Henry, a gay man who pretends to be Theta’s brother. I think he’ll have a much larger role in the next book. There’s many, many others that sometimes, honestly, annoyed me. However, now that I finished I can’t deny that it did work out for the story.

I really enjoyed the setting in this. Bray obviously did a lot of research into the time period, and it made the characters pop off the page. The slang was great to read, and made the banter between the characters nicer.

I did find the story slow sometimes. Bray has the tendency for to off on these long pages of description that I found rather boring. It slowed everything down, and I often found myself skimming over them.

Some warnings I think that are needed for this story are domestic violence, implied rape, and animal death. This is first book in a four book series. I think the third one is coming out this year. I ended up giving this four stars.

The End of the Year Book Tag

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This book tag was created by Ariel over on Youtube. It sounded fun, so we decided to do it!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Nicole: All of them? Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, and Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh is just two of them.
Isis: I need to finish the book I’m currently reading: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee. It’s a good book, but it’s pretty long for my usual taste. I’m hoping I finish it soon. Other than that, I’d just like to finish all the books I’m currently reading on GR. There’s just too many to list.
Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?
Nicole: The Diviners by Libba Bray. It has magic and deals with the occult which always makes me think of fall for some reason.
Isis: I’ve been reading Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood every fall for the past few years. It’s set in October, and it’s sort of a monster book with an eerie vibe. I even have a soundtrack for it. That’s my go-to fall book. I’m not sure if I’ll read it again this year, but I might.
Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?
Nicole: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan comes out October 3rd. I can’t wait.
Isis: I’m looking forward to Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. It comes out October 10. Although I fear I may be too old to enjoy a John Green novel, the teenager in me is still super excited to get back into his stories. I have high hopes.
What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?
Nicole: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Follow Her Home by Steph Cha, and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.
Isis: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan, History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?
Nicole: I expect to love The Fifth Season and The Ship of the Dead.
Isis: I think The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee definitely has its potential to become a new favorite. I’m about 150 pages into it and I’m already in love with the writing style. I love the dynamic between the three main characters and I’m looking forward to more. I’m hoping it stays consistently good.
Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?
Nicole: I did but I don’t think it’ll happen. I never stick to anything.
Isis: No. I don’t like to think that far ahead. I don’t even know what I’m going to read after I finish my current reads.

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

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Ada had told Corinne that together they could do it, because that’s what she was supposed to say. That was always the way of things between them. Ada made the promises, and Corinne found a way to keep them. But this time Ada wasn’t so sure. 

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria is a standalone young adult fantasy novel that takes place in 1919 Boston. Told in duel perspective by Ada, who is Portuguese and Swahili, and Corinne, who is a privileged heiress. They are both hemopaths, people of afflicted blood that can create illusions through art. The problem with that is that is that is looked down upon and practically illegal. Ada and Corinne work at this pub called Iron Cast which is a safe haven for people like them. But the pub is having problems because of hemopaths practically being illegal, and with prohibition being of the verge of happening.  

With that short summary, I feel like I’m doing this book a disservice. It’s so much more than that, but it’s so complicated to explain. There is friendship, romance, betrayal, and mystery. It’s so much yet I can only give a lackluster summary about the pub so I don’t give away spoilers.

The main thing I can see people disliking about this book, that even I disliked a little bit as I was reading it, was the pacing of the novel. It starts off with a bang. Ada had just been caught during a con gone wrong, and Corrine has to bail her out. It’s fast paced and exciting until they make it to safety. Then the story slows to almost a complete stop. The book builds up the world, the magic, the characters, and all their relationships. And then slowly, slowly the action starts happening again until the ending where it’s nonstop fast paced action again. During the slow bits, I got a little annoyed, but after the book ended I came to appreciate them. It really helped build up the world and characters so everything seemed very fleshed out and real.

Now, I must warn you the rest of this review will be a complete gush fest because I completely fell in love with this book. Let me start with the representation. Like I mentioned before, Ada is biracial. She’s in a relationship with a black man who came from the south.  They aren’t only stated to be black, but they talk about it. It has consequences from the other white people in the novel. It’s not glossed over. They talk about how bad the south is. Corinne is white, but her privilege is mentioned. Not just because she is rich, but because she is white. It’s acknowledged that she can not understand all of Ada’s struggles despite the fact they are both hemopaths. There is also a male/male romance. It’s with two side characters, and mostly hinted at, but it is definitely there and acknowledged. I haven’t read much historical fiction, but usually it is completely white and straight so the diversity in this novel really caught me by surprise.

I’ve seen mention in other reviews that the romance in this book isn’t much. I don’t understand that because I thought there was plenty. That might be because I am not usually a big romance reader, but I thought the romance from this book was balanced perfectly with all the other elements of the book. Ada and Corinne each have a romantic storyline that doesn’t takeaway from their friendship or the action of the story at all. Ada’s relationship in particular is nice because they began their romance before the book started. So it’s a nice change from the usual romance seen in books. They have different struggles, mainly on whether to fully commit to each other. Corinne’s romance is more of the usual type, but I surprised myself by really liking it.

Don’t get me wrong though. The romance is not the focus of this book at all. The main thing is friendship, mainly between Ada and Corinne. They love each other so much. It was refreshing. They are both strong, complex women, and their banter was always fun to read.

It should come to no surprise that I gave this book five stars. I was so disappointed to learn it was a standalone when I finished it. It’s even more disappointing to know this was Soria’s only book. I think this book doesn’t get as much love as it deserves, and everybody should go out and give it a chance. 

 

Serpentine by Cindy Pon

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There was no use fighting fate, fighting the lot you were given in life. But she refused to be ignorant and helpless, halfling demon or no.

Serpentine by Cindy Pon is a young adult fantasy novel inspired by Chinese mythology. It follows sixteen year old Skybright who is the handmaid of Zhen Ni, the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. Skybright deals with becoming a serpent half demon, changing relationships, her mysterious past, and the breach of Hell.

There is a female/female relationship in this story. Not the main pairing, but it’s given significant page time. I feel I must put a warning that if you want a fluffy happy romance, it isn’t in this book. Homosexuality isn’t accepted, and when the romance is found out it is met rather violently. 

While this book has really long chapters which I usually hate in books, the pace of the novel is so fast that I honestly didn’t notice much. The writing was easy to read, and the world was rich and lovely to sink into. I loved the characters and the complex relationships they had with each other. Skybright was a lovely main character to read. Practical, loyal, and smart. I think she’s a new favorite character.

I truly loved my time with this book which was a pleasant surprise. I wanted to check out this novel out for a while now ever since I saw Cindy Pon speak at a festival a couple years ago. However I hesitated because while I love fantasy and magic, a half serpent demon seemed a little out there for me. So I put it off for a long time, but it really wasn’t hard to grasp at all.

I gave this novel five stars. It’s the first in a duology, and I will definitely be picking up the last one.

The Reading Quest Final Update

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Nicole:

In the last update, I was unsure of which book I would continue. I ended up reading, finishing, and loving Serpentine by Cindy Pon. It was 274 pages, and a complete five star read for me.

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Out of the five books and 1,964 pages I had in my TBR, I finished three books and 1,083 pages. While not living up to my hopes, I finished books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. Plus, all the books I read I enjoyed. So I will have to consider this a success on my part.

Isis:

I was under the impression that the read-a-thon was over a week ago, but apparently it wasn’t. I did read, but it was not one of the books on my list. However, I’m still counting it. I read The Last Cigarette on Earth by Benjamin Alire Saenz. It was 130 pages long. I wrote a review on it. 

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I also read 10 pages in After the Quake by Haruki Murakami. I’m really not feeling this book of short stories anymore. I loved the first story, but I couldn’t even finish the second one. Maybe I’m not in the mood for this book right now.

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So, in total, I read 471 pages and two books during the read-a-thon out of the five books and 1,200 pages from my TBR. I blame it on my recent obsession with Friends. It happens every time I decide to rewatch it. But come on, it’s the best show!