Saturday, December 09, 2023

REVIEW: The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Knight

The Crowns of Croswald
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

A magical story reminiscent of Harry Potter.

Ivy Lovely is a scaldrony maid living a dull and tedious existence among the slurry fields of Castle Plum. Hidden away as a baby in the most unmagical of places, Ivy believes herself to be an orphan, knowing nothing of her former life. Until the day a large, flying creature unexpectedly shows up to transport her from her life of drudgery to an incredible magical school, and she discovers not only her magical bloodline, but a whole fantasy world she had only dreamed of. Except now that she's no longer hidden behind all that magic-dampening slurry, the spells that had previously kept her hidden have begun to unravel. Will Ivy be able to crush the curse before it crushes her and all she holds dear?

This was an enchanting read, reminiscent of Harry Potter with its magical school, and quite suitable for both young readers and adults alike. However, that's where the story similarities end. The Crowns of Croswald contains it's own unique story quite distinct from Harry or similar books. Ivy is a kickass MC—spunky, inquisitive, and full of adventure. Her escapades captivated me and took me places beyond my imagination. The world building was phenomenal with a richly drawn world and fun, lovable characters. So well written, it's hard to believe this was D.E. Knight's first book. I'm very much looking forward to reading the remaining books in this 4 part series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Stories Untold Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

#TheCrownsOfCroswald #NetGalley @author.denight

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Thursday, December 07, 2023

REVIEW: A Place for Vanishing by Ann Fraistat

A Place for Vanishing
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

An eerie and atmospheric gothic horror, complete with haunted house, séances, and ghosts! What more could a girl ask for?

After her bipolar diagnosis and suicide attempt (potential trigger warning), Libby and her family move into her mother's ancestral home attempting a fresh start. At first glance, the house appears to be hella creepy—decades of decay, an overabundance of creepy crawlies, and freaky stained glass windows depicting various insects and other unsettling scenes. Soon enough, Libby uncovers disturbing news about the house's sinister past including masked séances and strange disappearances, and begins to suspect the the answer to unlocking the truth lies in the strange insect masks attached to several of the windows.

"We all wear masks—to hide our imperfections, to make us stronger and braver. But if Libby keeps hers on for too long, she might just lose herself—and everyone she loves."

As you read, you come to realize just how multi-layered the above quote really is. Like the metaphorical masks worn by people like Libby to hide what's they're feeling inside, but also referring to the disturbing insect masks which not only house a spirit of their own, but also endow the wearer with supernatural abilities attributed to that particular insect.

This book was amazing! Hard to put down and kept me on the edge of my seat. I fell in love with the characters—they were so real and yet so broken. Libby's bipolar disorder was treated with respect and compassion, and it really added a whole other dimension to the story, as opposed to just being there for the sake of diversity. The character and world building was phenomenal as well, the tension slowly simmering throughout until everything really came to a boil at the final séance. I'm very much looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

A Place for Vanishing will be published on January 14, 2024, but you can preorder it at Amazon now.

Many thanks to Random House/Delacorte Press for providing me with a digital advance reader copy for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

#APlaceforVanishing #NetGalley

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Sunday, December 03, 2023

REVIEW: Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake #3) by Victoria Schwab

Bridge of Souls
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

The final book in the Cassidy Blake trilogy is both thrilling and soul-stirring. This time the family has arrived in New Orleans (a favorite locale of mine) and Cassidy has drawn the attention of an Emissary of Death, who wants to balance the scales by taking back what she stole from them (her life). The stakes are high and fraught with danger as Cassidy tries to save not only herself, but those she holds dear. A difficult choice and no right answers.

2 of Swords

I'm going to miss these characters now that I've finished the trilogy. This is only the second series I've read by Schwab, plus one standalone (I remember you Addie!) and every time I'm like, "this is one of the best books I've read!" so kudos to you, Victoria (V.E.) Schwab for always filling my plate, my imagination, and making me fall in love with your characters!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

REVIEW: Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2) by Victoria Schwab

Tunnel of Bones
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Another fun adventure with Cassidy and Jacob. This time they're off to Paris, and now the graveyards are underground—the Catacombs! How creepy!! While there, Cassidy and Jacob accidentally awake a poltergeist, who can easily cross over the Veil to the land of the living. Mischief, Menace, and Mayhem reign as this poltergeist has been unleashed in Paris causing all sorts of destruction. And Cassidy will do everything in her power to send him on to his forever resting place... if she can!

Like the previous book in this series, this was a fun, fast read, lively and entertaining. Cassidy continues to be both a source of amusement and a very likeable, endearing character. Jacob is the perfect counterbalance to her impulsiveness, persuading her to think and plan before jumping in. Together they make a great team! We learn a bit more about Jacob's back story here as well, and as his hold in the real world is gradually getting stronger, I'm left to wonder where this will lead him in Bridge of Souls, which I'm sooo looking forward to reading next!

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Monday, November 27, 2023

REVIEW: City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

A fun, quick young adult read with ghosts!

Cassidy Blake can see ghosts! Not only is her best friend corporeally challenged (his preferred term), but since her near-death experience, she can also freely cross to and from the Veil, the in-between where lingering spirits reside. Considering her parents are ghost-hunting paranormal investigators with a new reality TV show though, that's not really all that unusual. When the family travels to Edinburgh, Scotland for the filming of the first episode, Cassidy and BFF Jacob are faced with a host of ghostly spirits, creepy locations, and the mysterious, menacing Raven in Red. With guidance from her new ghost-hunting friend Lara, along with Jacob's unenthusiastic support, Cassidy must do everything she can to stave off the Raven and avoid being swallowed the the Veil forever.

Cassidy was certainly a lively and fun character, always getting into mischief, as was Jacob. Her hands-on learning with how to deal with ghosts was hilarious! Victoria (V.E.) Schwab is a fantastic writer, and her extraordinary character development and world building really shines here. While this is a middle grade series (thus written under Victoria instead of V.E.), it was just as entertaining and fanciful as her adult (and YA) books, albeit a much faster read.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

REVIEW: The Eleventh Hour by Aminah Fox

The Eleventh Hour
My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Harry Potter meets the Sopranos! Hampshire, a magical borough in upstate New York, home to several noble families, and invisible to mundanes, aka non-magical people. A long-brewing war between the families has reached its pinnacle and courted death and destruction in it's wake. In a last ditch attempt to save her father and restore order, Hermione Mandrake and her half-brother Christian take up their grandfather's time trinket, with a plan to steal away into the past in order to redirect the future. But with enemies still on their tail, can they truly turn back the hands of time?

When I first began reading, I had difficulty staying engaged. The characters, even the MC, felt a bit flat and one dimensional. And I had a hard time keeping all the different families straight, not to mention all the children (and bastards) Alfred Mandrake fathered. Fortunately, the latter was rectified by a family tree of sorts at the back of the book, and I eventually came to realize that it wasn't as important to remember ALL the families, just a few key ones, which began to stick with me after a little while. By about the 30% mark, I was sold and began to enjoy the ride. The story itself was unique and magical, and if you like the thought of magical mafia-like families, waging war with wands and on dragon-back, then you should really enjoy this.

I did feel a few inconsistencies with the MC Hermione however. For example, supposedly she was no good at charms, yet she bested several magicians trying to abduct her, often taking on 2 or 3 at a time, after just a week or so of training. I also never really warmed up to her that much. It was hard to grasp what she was really all about. The only real feel I got from her was her devotion to her father and her family, but she felt a bit shallow beyond that. Fortunately, once they traveled into the past and the action picked up, I forgot about some of those things and became invested in how everything played out.

Thank you to NetGalley and 22nd Light LLC for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

#TheEleventhHour #NetGalley

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

REVIEW: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

The year is 1714 in France, and a desperate 23 year old Addie LaRue makes a deal with the darkness—a dark god, the devil, what have you—and in exchange for her complete freedom, she's also cursed to become utterly forgettable to everyone she meets. Unable to leave any kind of mark or the the world, or make any impression on anything or anyone she meets... she can't even say her own name! For 300 years she lives like this, ghosting through time, witnessing war, famine, and miracles all. Until the day she meets Henry and everything changes!

Wow, this is definitely one of the best books I've read this year! So much so, I didn't want it to end! But then again, it wrapped up so nicely (even if the ending did make me cry) that I wouldn't want to ruin it... but hmmm can you imagine what Addie might become if she were ever able to best Luc? That could be a righteous story right there! Anyhoo, this story was soooo unique, and soooo engaging, I simply couldn't put it down.

I really enjoyed the art descriptions and pictures at the beginning of each section, each related to a "spark" or idea Addie implanted to take root where memory couldn't. The writing was captivating and engaging, and Addie's story ran the gambit from happy to sad to even heartbreaking. I exhausted all of my emotions reading this book and was sad when it ended.

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

REVIEW: Rabbits: From Hares and Jackrabbits to Adorable Pets by Tom Jackson

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

As a bunny mama to 4 adorable rescue house rabbits, I simply HAD TO read this book. Rather than a handbook on keeping house rabbits—I'd recommend The House Rabbit Handbook by Marinell Harriman for that (or direct from Drollery Press here)—this delectable delight is chock full of large, full-color pictures and information on rabbit origins, various breeds, behavior, particularly in the wild, and other fun facts. Yes, even this long-time bunny mama and foster learned a thing or two about rabbit history, as well as the relationship between domesticated rabbits and their wild brethren.

With all the gorgeous pictures contained within, the hardcover edition (once released) would make a fantastic coffee table book, especially for bunny peeps like me. I also really appreciated that the author included pounds in addition to kilograms when talking about weight. As an American, I still have a hard time relating to kilograms, or doing the conversion in my head. :)

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Amber Books for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book for review.

#Rabbits #AmberBooks #NetGalley

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