Tag: readers

Book Review: The Fairies of Sadieville, by Alex Bledsoe

fairies
Image belongs to Tor books.

Title:  The Fairies of Sadieville
Author:  Alex Bledsoe
Genre:  Fantasy…ish.
Rating:  4/5

When graduate students Justin and Veronica find an old film cannister with three words on it, “This is real,” they aren’t prepared for the film inside, which shows a girl transforming into a winged fairy. Justin is desperate to find a topic for his thesis, so the two set out to find the mysterious Sadieville, a town that vanished off the face of the earth over a century ago.

In rural Tennessee, everyone seems to have secrets. Secrets that point to the Tufa, a clannish group with dark skin, dark hair, and white teeth. They all look similar and they seem to have an unusual affinity for music. But not everyone likes Justin and Veronica asking questions, although Tucker Carding seems happy to help them—for reasons unknown.

Soon, Justin and Veronica find a secret, hidden for years, that will have all the Tufa asking a question they never dreamed of:  if they could go back to their homeland of Tir na nOg, would they?

I should probably say that this is the first Tufa novel I’ve read. That really didn’t matter, as I was able to follow the story/history with no problems at all. This read like smart literary fiction with a fantasy element. The setting here is tremendously well-done, with Appalachia full of living, breathing life on every page. I really enjoyed reading this, and highly recommend it!

Alex Bledsoe grew up in Tennessee and now lives in Wisconsin. He’s the author of the Eddie Lacrosse novels, the Firefly Witch novels, the Memphis Vampires novels, and the Tufa novels. His newest novel, The Fairies of Sadieville is the final Tufa novel.

(Galley provided by Tor Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Advertisements

What I Read in February 2018

Books Read in February: 14

Books Read for the Year:  28/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

A Wrinkle in time, by Madeleine L’Engle (classic). I wanted to re-read this, before the movie came out. I loved it again!

Daughters of the Night Sky, by Aimie K. Runyan (cultural book). This is about Russian women pilots during WWII, and was a very good read, although sad—the discrimination and issues the women faced was hard to read about. Also, it’s about war, so of course it’s sad.

sex

Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot, by Mo Isom (spiritual, review forthcoming). As I grew up in the (Baptist) church, and sex was something that was never talked about, this was an intriguing read. And Isom’s conversational voice is phenomenal.

For Review:

You Will Be Mine, by Natasha Preston. I expect some twists and suspense from Preston—and this delivered—but the characters that insisted on doing the stupidest things imaginable—like sneaking off alone while being stalked by a serial killer—kind of ruined this for me. Almost DNF.

The Book of Pearl, by Timothee de Fombelle. I enjoyed this translation of a boy from the world of story forced to grow up in a world without magic—here—and how he tries to gather proof of his home’s existence.

the rending

The Rending and the Nest, by Kaethe Schwehn. Very intriguing dystopian novel. Four years ago, most of the population and animals, a lot of the stuff, and the sunshine and weather disappeared for unknown reasons. The survivors are getting by, making new lives for themselves scavenging from the scraps left over.They gain new hope when one of the women gets pregnant, but when she gives birth to an object, the world comes crashing down around them again. This is a strange book, but it’s very compelling and intriguing.

the belles

 

The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton. On the surface, this book did not seem like it would be right for me:  it’s about a society that reveres beauty above all else, whose inhabitants are born grey and must pay to change their physical appearance to match society’s trends (See? It’s about half of what bothers me so badly about our own society.). Camellia is a Belle, one of the elite who controls Beauty. She is determined to be the Favorite—the leading Belle—but when she reaches court she finds that there is far more going on than she ever imagined, and the darkness she finds has a long reach. This was an engrossing book, and about far more than what I first assumed to be trivial superficiality—though there’s some commentary on that as well. Extremely readable! (Like, I read this in a single day, and can’t wait for the next book!)

TLG

The Liar’s Girl, by Catherine Ryan Howard. This is about a girl whose boyfriend was convicted as a serial killer ten years ago…and now that more victims are showing up, he will only speak to her. She can’t rest until she finds out the truth about his claims of innocence.

tess

Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman. This is a fantasy book that deals with some hard subject matter—rape, emotional abuse, women’s’ rights—but above all else, it’s a book about a character that changes in profound ways as a person. Loved it!

BFM

Blunt Force Magic, by Lawrence Davis. I enjoyed this so much! The MC is very self-deprecating, but he steps in to helps save a stranger–even knowing it’s going to land him a whole lot of magical trouble! (Please read the review, as it’s more detailed. But I will definitely read more of this series!)

DotS

Daughters of the Storm, by Kim Wilkins. This is another one that you should read the full review on, as the writing was great, but I disliked the characters so much that it almost made me DNF the book.

thecoincidencemakers

The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum (review forthcoming). This literary fiction is about three Coincidence Makers—exactly what they sound like—who have different specialties. One of them, a former Imaginary Friend, is haunted by the loss of the Imaginary Friend lover that he knew in his past. A dreamy, soothing read.

DNF:

Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudin. Vapid and superficial, despite the very intriguing premise of the book. (And I love YA, so that wasn’t the problem. But I like real YA, not surface-level, and I couldn’t get past that.)

A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond. Only made it about 10%. I felt pretty distant from the main character to start with, but stuck it out until she met with the accused killer, a teenage kid who just randomly had sex with a girl he didn’t know in her car, and then she turned up dead a few hours later, and he’s totally confused about why he’s been accused. Here’s the thing: I don’t do stupid people. Or stupid characters. So his blasé attitude about the whole situation was a deal-breaker for me right then and there.

Just Because:

The Dark Calling, by Kresley Cole. I hate the idea that this series is almost over, because I love it so much. SO. MUCH. I think I got the first book free—and I knew the author was a good one—so that’s why I ended up reading the first one…just before the second book came out. And I was sucked in from the beginning. I hate when a character I like gets killed off, but it always makes sense in this series. Also…when a love triangle is involved, I usually have a favorite/one that makes mores sense for the heroine. This time I don’t. I love Jack and Aric both equally, and they both make sense for Evie. So…I kind of don’t want to know who she ends up with…

Linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

 

 

What I Read in January (2018)

I upped my reading goal this year from 100 to 150, since I read 174 books last year. Who knows if that’ll happen, but it’s good to have goals.

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books

The Birdwoman’s Palate, by Laksmi Pamuntjak (cultural book of the month). Rather conveniently I thought, this was one of the Amazon First picks for January, so I snapped it up. This books was pretty much all about food, but I enjoyed the characters very much.

O Pioneers, by Willa Cather (classic book). I was actually very surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. I thought it would be kind of dry and boring, but there was a lot going on!

Satisfy My Thirsty Soul, by Linda Dillow (spiritual book). I enjoyed this very much.

To Review

immortalists_1

The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin. So…I have mixed feelings about this book. Or, at least, less than positive feelings about it. It’s about four kids in the 1960s who go see a Gypsy psychic, and the woman tells them the exact dates of their deaths. Then it’s an in-depth look at the lives of each sibling in turn. I found the first two sections almost annoying, because of the choices the first two siblings made. The third was moderately more interesting, but still evoked mostly head-shaking from me. The final section was the best, in my opinion, and allowed me to actually care about the final sibling.

before i let go

Before I Let Go, by Marieke Naijkamp. I still don’t know what to think about this book. The writing is good. The characters are interesting—with a side of weird in some cases—and the setting is vividly drawn. (Okay, the thought of having to live in a tiny Alaskan town gives me the heeby-jeebies on a lot of levels.) Corey and Kyra grew up as best friends, but Corey left Kyra behind when she moved away. Then Kyra dies, and Corey goes back to say goodbye, and finds her hometown has become a strange, dark place, filled with secrets and people she doesn’t understand, all of them linked—somehow—to Kyra’s death.

an eye for an eye

An Eye for an Eye, by Caroline Fardig. The second murder mystery in the Ellie Matthews series. While the book fits comfortably in the murder mystery niche–forensics, questions, running out of time—the characters make it stand out from the rest. Ellie is a very conflicted person.

What the Valley Knows, by Heather Christie (read to review, but didn’t finish). I read about 30% of this—maybe—before giving up. The characters struck me as one-dimensional and the foreshadowing was pretty…blatant, to me, so I just passed on the rest of it.

thisisnotaloveletter_comps

This is Not a Love Letter, by Kim Purcell. I’m not sure I can talk about this book yet. I picked it up on a Friday evening…and finished it around 11 p.m. Two days later, it is still fresh in my mind, and I’m still sad over the ending. And, let me tell you, I was sobbing when I finished it. True story. This is about love, race, and mental illness in a small town.

intraterrestrial

Intraterrestrial, by Nicholas Conley. This book is about traumatic brain injury, bullying, and aliens. Yes, really. When Adam is injured in a car wreck, the voice he’s been hearing in his head makes sense, as the alien asks for his help escaping the Nothing that will destroy them all. Are there really aliens, or are they part of Adam’s TBI?

wc

White Chrysanthemums. Okay. This is an emotional, sad book. It’s about the Korean women/girls who were forced to be military sex slaves in the Korean/Japanese conflict. The idea is horrifying to me, but the book is so well-done and evocative it’s well-worth reading.

the night child

The Night Child, by Anna Quinn. This was not what I thought at all, but it was a good read.

lullaby road

Lullaby Road, by James Anderson. This is the second Anderson book I’ve read, the second about Ben and the desolate stretch of highway he lives and works on. While the book doesn’t sound all that interesting—a middle-aged truck driver hauling freight from one desert ghost town to another—the book is very, very good. The characters are quirky, but so believable! Definitely read Never-Open Desert Diner first, but read this!

thehazelwood

The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert. Sheer magic. Dark magic, to be sure, but I was enthralled from the first page of the story about Alice, who has spent her 17 years on the move with her mother as bad luck plagued them. When her mother is kidnapped by the Hinterland, Alice must brave the Hazel Wood and face her own story if she is to rescue her mom. So good!

the gone world

The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch. I’m not going to lie:  this was a weird book. NCIS meets time travel, with space travel and multiple futures thrown into a murder investigation.

Just Because

Ricochet Joe, by Dean Koontz. I got an email about this book on January first, and decided to read it because…I used to read everything Koontz wrote. I’m a chicken, and his books used to terrify me, but sometimes his writing was so lyrical it amazed me. (There was one sentence, in one of the Odd Thomas books, that took my breath away. Making a mental note to read all of those again this year…) I found the Kindle in Motion aspect of this tale kind of cool, but the story itself was…sub-par, in my mind. Perhaps it’s been too long since I read a Koontz book?

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

What I Read in December

I read 21 books this month, bringing my total for the year up to 174. Quite a bit past my goal of 100 books for the year…

Sir Percy Leads the Band, by Emmuska Orczy (classic). I found this “sequel” to The Scarlet Pimpernel to be a fun, entertaining read. And Sir Percy is such a fantastic character, able to change his persona so completely.

Life and Other Near Death Experiences, by Camille Pagan (cultural book of the month, except not). I thought this was going to be mainly set in the Caribbean, hence its place as “cultural” book, but it wasn’t. It was a very enjoyable read about a woman who finds out she has cancer, and, on the same day, her husband tells her he’s gay. So she runs away to Caribbean to deal with the idea of her pending death. A funny read, and Libby is such a likeable and relateable character that I finished this quickly.

Once Upon a Time by Debbi Macomber (spiritual book of the month). This author is one of the very few “romance” authors I’ll read, and this book was par for her:  well-written, thoughtful, and it spoke to me.

Empire of Ivory, by Naomi Novak (TBR/just because). Another solid read in this series. I can’t believe I let these sit unread on my shelf for years

as you wish

As You Wish, by Chelsea Sedoti (read to review). A magical realism read about a town where every person is granted one wish on their 18th birthday, and it always comes true.

bad call

Bad Call, by Stephen Wallenfels (read to review). This is a YA suspense about a girl and three guys who go hiking in Yosemite and end up in the midst of a snowstorm, with no food and no shelter. One of them doesn’t come back. A decent level of suspense, but the characters’ motivations had me wondering why so much that I’d rate the book three out of five.

How to Hang a Witch, by Adriana Mather (from my Tulsa book haul). So…I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the book was by one of the Mathers—of Salem Witch Trial notoriety—until I finished the book. The book is about a Mather descendant who moves to Salem and discovers the curse that haunts all of the descendant families—and she tries desperately to uncover the truth and stop the curse before it kills her father. I enjoyed this book, and it had a prominent dose of creepiness.

wolves of winter

The Wolves of Winter, by Tyrell Johnson (read to review). I loved this book! Finished it in just a few hours, straight through, because I couldn’t put it down. A dystopian about Lynn, who lives with her family in the Yukon after nuclear war and disease collapsed civilization. Survival is the focus, until Lynn meets Jax, who shows Lynn a destiny she can’t even comprehend. I can’t speak highly enough about this book, and its unique (to me) setting.

Where I End, by Elizabeth Katherine Clark (review forthcoming). The true story of Katherine Clark, who broke her neck when a boy on the playground fell on her. The doctors told her she’d never walk again, but God had other plans. An uplifting, inspiring read.

Believe, edited by Randy Frazee (person/spiritual). I’ve been reading this tome since August. Lots to digest here, but broken down into easy chunks.

Mesmerized_Mock-up dpi 72

Mesmerized, by Candace Camp (read to review). Olivia works to expose mediums and their tricks, but finds herself in the midst of events she can’t explain away, when she starts seeing visions from Blackhope Hall’s past, events that seem to feature the current lord of the manor, Stephen, as well. A solid period romance, with the “mad Morelands” providing even more interest.

Wedding Bells, Magic Spells, by Lisa Shearin (as a treat). I love the Rain Benares books, and this was no exception. Lots of action, smart humor, and, of course, the lovely Mychael.

The Forgotten Book, by Mechthild Glaser (review forthcoming). This is a YA fantasy about Emma, who goes to a prestigious boarding school, and who finds an old book full of scribblings.  But this is not your typical journal:  everything written in the book comes true…in a manner of speaking. I enjoyed this book, and the myths and mystery added depth to it. I thought the school—and its students—were a bit too good to be true—no cliques, no enemies, and a whole lot of freedom, but I enjoyed this very much.

The Black Painting, by Neil Olsen (review forthcoming). This was merely a “meh” read to me. Frankly, the characters were too confusing, and the narrative was too disjointed–which makes sense for a novel about characters who arguably all have a mental illness–for me to really get into. And the painting by Goya is very creepy to me.

Firebrand, by Kristen Britain (as a Christmas weekend treat). I absolutely love this series. SO MUCH. Karigan is such a strong character, yet so flawed, and I can both sympathize with and respect her. The characters in this series are so vibrant I feel like I know them personally, and I am drawn into all their stories. This is probably one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. Loved it!

Breaking Rules, by S.B. Alexander (to review, but stopped reading). I made it about halfway through this before I stopped reading. There are a ton of good reviews on Goodreads, but the characters are too wishy-washy for me. One second, Train was charming and flirty, the next he was a rude jerk. And sometimes Montana was strong and independent, and sometimes she was also just a jerk.

Menagerie and Spectacle, by Rachel Vincent (Read the first as a treat, because it was already on my Kindle, then had to buy the second one immediately.) I am a huge Rachel Vincent fan, and Menagerie had such a unique concept. Sadly, I could totally see “normal” humans acting this way towards anyone different—because that happens all the time. Looking forward to the enxt one.

The Holy Bible, as an obvious spiritual choice, that I read via a 365-day reading plan.

The Stars Never Rise and The Flame Never Dies, by Rachel Vincent (Read the first as a treat, because it was already on my Kindle, then had to buy the second one immediately.) I finished the first one in about 3 hours, then had to make myself ration the second one…for two days. Fantastic concept. where demons really exist and have consumed all the available souls as they try to take over a world run by the Church, who is desperate to catch natural exorcists. So good!

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

 

 

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower, by Katherine Arden

the girl in the tower
Image belongs to Del Rey.

Vasya has long seen creatures from legend, and her ability to see has brought trouble down upon her and her family. Only the aid of Morozko (Frost, the winter demon from the stories) has kept her alive so far, and the love of Solovey, her magnificent stallion. With her parents dead and her village casting her out as a witch, Vasya knows her options are limited:  life in a convent or marriage to a Moscovite prince. She wants neither, and disguises herself as a boy as she sets out to explore the world.

She finds burned villages, missing girls, and bandits that vanish leaving no traces behind. After she rescues three girls from the bandits, the Grand Prince of Moscow calls her a hero, and she is reunited with her brother and sister. But Vasya cannot reveal that she is female, or her entire family risks disgrace and death. Soon she realizes that a danger stalks Moscow and the Grand Prince, and even Morozko, who she no longer knows if she can trust, may not be able to help her.

Have you ever identified with a character so completely that it almost broke your heart? That’s how I felt about Vasya as I was reading The Girl in the Tower. Everyone wants her to be content to marry, raise a family, and be conventional, but she wants anything but that. She wants to travel, live her life, and be happy, but the people around her don’t want that for her:  they want her to conform. And she doesn’t want to hurt those she loves, so she’s torn.

Vasya is a powerful character, so relatable that you want to cry for her struggles. This is a magical, vibrant book, and wonder permeates every page. The setting is so vividly depicted that I found myself shivering—and I hate cold weather!

Katherine Arden is from Texas, but lived in Vermont, Russia, Hawaii, France, and Hawaii (again). She has picked Macadamia nuts, made smoothies, and sold real estate, but now she writes. The Girl in the Tower is her newest novel, the second book in The Winternight trilogy.

Go. Read this! And if you haven’t read The Bear and the Nightingale, read it first!

the girl in the tower2
Gorgeous covers!

(Galley provided by Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in September

labyrinth-lost

Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova (Read to review.). Loved this!

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert (Read for school, and as one of my classics for the month.)

cutter-boy

Cutter Boy, by Cristy Watson (Read to review.). Quick, good read about a difficult topic.

darcy-moon

Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs, by Catherine Carvell (Read to review.) I didn’t realize this was a middle-grade book, but it was enjoyable, with a good message.

the-sunlight-pilgrims

The Sunlight Pilgrims, by Jenni Fagan (Read to review.) Wow. This novel is extremely well-done! Unique setting, and the characters are fascinating.

tracing-the-bones

Tracing the Bones, by Elise Miller (Read to review.) This book was both intriguing and painful to read.

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles (Read for school). Read it before. It still bores me.

Scary Close, by Donald Miller (My spiritual book for the month.)

Series, Interrupted

How do you feel about starting a series of books…in the middle? Or at least, not at the beginning? I don’t mean deliberately, I mean you find a book that looks completely amazing, you buy it and start reading, and then you realize it’s part of a series…and not the first book.

What do you do?

Throw it down in disgust and walk away forever?

Keep reading, on the assumption that you’ll figure out what happened before?

Stop, buy and read the previous books in the series, and then read your enchanting new love?

(Is there some other option/reaction I haven’t mentioned?)

I won’t purposefully start reading in the middle of a series. Are you kidding me? And not get the whole story? And, generally, I try to ensure that whatever fabulous new book I’ve stumbled across and been intrigued by is not in the middle of a series. But it has happened. Occasionally. Recently. Like last week.

I started reading Suddenly Spellbound by Erica Lucke Dean to review it, and then realized it was not the first book in the series. Since I was reading it for something other than pure enjoyment, I kept reading, but the bits of backstory and mentions of past shenanigans bothered me, because I didn’t know the details of what had happened.

If I’d been reading just for me, I would have gone with either option one or three above. I would not have kept reading, because not knowing drives me up the wall.

So, what would you have done?

 

The Week of Big Goals: Result Update

So, I was supposed to be off all last week, and I had big goals:  “writing two essays, starting another, and beginning work on a leadership project, in addition to a plethora of textbook-reading), but I’m also going to get in six solid writing sessions. At least that’s the plan. And six brainstorming sessions as well.” How’d that turn out?  I’m glad you asked. (I’m pretty sure you asked, didn’t you?)

I actually ended up working Monday evening  and Thursday morning for a few hours, so the week wasn’t quite as free as I planned. But…I got those two essays written, and 1/5 of the third one done as well. Made a start on the leadership project. Did all the homework/quizzes/reading for this week. I think I only got in four writing sessions, but that’s twice as many as a normal week, so I’m calling it a win. I also edited TWELVE FREAKING CHAPTERS in Witches (I totally didn’t realize it was that many. Wow.) I also moved all my drafts to Google Docs, which took a ridiculous amount o f time, considering there were 10 manuscripts. I worked on brainstorming/outlining for my three current WIPs. Wrote a total of six blog posts. And read six books.

Dang. I was way more productive than I thought. Even snuck in a couple of naps, too.

That was my week, for the win!

Community

Holly Lisle is looking for readers and writers to build a community that fosters the growth of new writers.  The readers will have the opportunity to help writers they support to grow and learn, the writers will gain support and assistance where they need it.  Holly does wonderful things for other writers, and this is a fantastic new idea of hers that is still in beta development.  If you’re interested, check it out here.