Must Read Mondays: September 4th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Soulless by Gail Carriger

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Soulless cover; links to goodreads

When I read it: August 2013

Genres: fantasy; steampunk; paranormal; romance

Recommended for: If you haven’t read much in the steampunk genre, but you want to check it out, I recommend giving this series a shot. I would also recommend it for people who like PNR, especially if you feel like they’re all blurring together because the stories, characters, etc. are so similar.

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


I’ve only read the first two books in the Parasol Protectorate series (I think), but I really liked both of them. I read Soulless in about a day and a half (not super impressive, but it usually takes me a few days to read a book) and immediately bought the second one so I could keep reading. I’m not sure what kept me from continuing on with book 3, but it wasn’t because I’d lost interest in the series.

My experience with steampunk is limited, but I loved this as my intro to the genre and I recommend it a lot.


Have you read it? What did you think?

 

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Must Read Mondays: August 28th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


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Garden Spells; links to goodreads

When I read it: July 2014

Genres: magical realism; fantasy; romance

Recommended for: If you liked the movie (or book), Practical Magic, or if you generally enjoy magical realism, check this out.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 

 


What it’s about:

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.


I adored this book, and I think it was my first Sarah Addison Allen read. I actually put off reading any of her books for a while because they were compared to Practical Magic, which I liked, but didn’t love (I thought the movie was better, I’m sorry). In my opinion, Sarah Addison Allen’s books are way better and I recommend them anytime I come across someone else who enjoys magical realism.

It’s been a few years, so the specifics of this book are kind of faded in my memory, but I still think about the Waverly family all the time, and I’ll probably re-read this at some point.

 


If you’ve read this one, what did you think of it? And if you’ve read some of her other books, what’s your favorite?

 

First Lines Fridays: August 25th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

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What it’s about:

A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe. 
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
 
Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.  

After all, she was a normal American herself once.   

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father. 

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.  

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. 

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own. 

But Carolyn has accounted for this. 

And Carolyn has a plan. 

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


I vaguely remember when this came out, and the description hooked me enough to keep it on my radar, but I wasn’t sure enough to buy it right away. A few months ago, the Kindle edition was on sale and I grabbed it after reading a few pages in the sample. I’m still in this never-ending multi-genre slump, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to eventually getting to it.


If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it 🙂

First Lines Fridays: August 11th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


Fairies will not be rushed. I know this now; know I must be patient. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

 

32600721What it’s about:

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


This was another goodreads giveaway win for me, and I’m so excited! I’ve always been fascinated by the Cottingley fairies story, and I’ve read a lot about it online over the years.

(I was actually supposed to start this last month and review it for release day on the 1st of August, but the unexpected ER visit and surgery kind of threw off my reading schedule :/ )

Must Read Mondays: July 31st

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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cover; links to goodreads

 

When I read it: June 2017

Genres: fantasy

Recommended for: I’ve been recommending this to everyone I know who reads fantasy at all.

My review

 

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Guests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.


This was one of those books I finished and then talked ad nauseam about for weeks. Actually, I’m still talking about it, every chance I get, and I might even gift it to a couple of people. I love that it’s a novella, I love how unique it was, I loved the characters, I loved the writing…I just loved it. I borrowed it from the library, but ASAP I’m getting a copy because I think this is one I’ll definitely be re-reading.

The second book in the series, Down Among the Sticks and Bones is out now, so I’ll be getting it, too. (I’m actually probably more excited about it than I was about this one because I think it focuses on my favorite character–Jack–and I need more!)

While it it part of a series, I think you could absolutely read Every Heart a Doorway as a stand-alone. It was complete by itself, and I think the other books are all going to be companion stories, not necessarily sequels.

Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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cover; links to goodreads

Genres: fantasy

Why I read it: The description really intrigued me. I mean, what lives are like for the kids who go through magical doors and then come back to our world? Yes, please!

Who I’d recommend it to: Almost anyone who likes fantasy, but especially other people who have wondered what it was like to go to a magical other world, then come back here.

 

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


What it’s about:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.


Review:

I’ve seen this book everywhere online, and it felt like I was the last person to read it. It was on my TBR for a long time before I finally got a copy from the library, but then I was so not in the mood for fantasy I almost didn’t read it. *sigh* I hate genre slumps. But, finally, the night before it was due back, I couldn’t sleep and opened it to give it a shot. Then I ended up staying up all night because I couldn’t stop reading even though my eyes were burning.

The concept of this book is something I don’t think I’ve encountered before, but I’ve always wanted to. I mean, what was life like for Alice, or the Pevensie kids, or any other children/young adults who’ve stumbled through a magical doorway, had some adventures, but then come back to their original world? Every Heart a Doorway kind of gives us an idea of what it would be like. (Although I think in this book, most of the doors we’re familiar with were considered fiction.)

All of the characters were so unique, and dealt with coming back to this world in different ways, and they all had personalities shaped (at least in part) by their time spent in whatever world they’d been in. There were different categories for the types of worlds kids had visited, and some had more in common than others, even if their worlds were kind of categorized similarly. One thing that all of the kids had in common was that they were back in this world, but really wanted to find their doors again and go back to what they considered their real homes. It was kind of sad, and I wanted all of them–even the characters I didn’t like–to find their doors again to go home.

The writing was beautiful and atmospheric, and I loved it. The whole novella had a little bit of a creepy vibe to it (not like in horror stories, but it was definitely not fluffy all the time), which was refreshing for me because I don’t find that as often as I’d like in fantasy. (It was creepy, or eerie, in the way the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray was at times, if anyone else has read that and knows the vibe I’m talking about.) I’m pretty sure that once I own a copy of this book, I’ll have tons of sticky flags marking quotes.

I didn’t really love Nancy, but I didn’t hate her. She was just…ok…I guess? I didn’t have anything against her, but I didn’t relate or connect to her as much as I thought I would after learning what kind of world she’d come from. Most of the characters were like that for me, except Jack. I was almost scared of how much I related to Jack at times, and she was absolutely my favorite character. See my love/fear in the tweet below…

tor tweet

To illustrate my feelings about jack

(And yes, I did read the excerpt from Down Among the Sticks and Bones and might have screamed in delight because I’m excited, or frustration because it was not yet released.)

But I digress, so back to actually reviewing the book…

So, the concept was fantastic, the characters were all at least ok (some were fleshed out more than others, some I liked more than others, etc.), the writing and setting were great, and this was, overall, a delight to read. My only real complaint was that it was so short. I’m not really upset that it was a novella, but I would have liked to it to be a little longer. I also had the mystery figured out for the most part very early on, but having it all revealed was still interesting and a little surprising. (I won’t say more because spoilers.) I really want to know more about almost everything from this book, especially a couple of the worlds. (Nancy’s and Jack and Jill’s, in particular.)

Now that Down Among the Sticks and Bones is out, and seems like it’s going to focus on Jack and Jill, I am super excited to get my hands on it. I’m probably going to buy a copy of it and Every Heart a Doorway soon, because I can absolutely see myself re-reading this several times, and probably trying to make husband read it.

For uniqueness, great writing, interesting characters, and a fantastic concept, this has probably earned a place on my list of all time favorites.


If you’ve read it, what did you think of it?

First Lines Fridays: June 23rd

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


‘Run! Now!‘ TJ shouted, yanking Allison’s sleeve. Her eyes were focused on the ground, where their friend lay twitching slightly. An arrow shaft stuck out of his chest. Her first thought was that it was all part of the game–just some elaborate prank for the newbies on their first outing. If it was, it wasn’t very funny. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett

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What it’s about:

When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure.

Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe.
Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.

(Cover links to goodreads)

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


I came across this while browsing through the giveaways on Goodreads a few weeks ago, and was intrigued, so I entered the giveaway and actually won a copy. I probably would have eventually bought it, though, even if I hadn’t won, because this sounds kind of like the movie Nights of Badassdom (which I totally recommend). Basically, it sounds like something I’ll probably love and have a great time reading, so I’m excited to get to it ASAP.