Review: A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water #1) by Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water, #1)A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Tavia is a Siren living in present-day, Portland, Oregon. Due to fear and discrimination against Sirens, Tavia is forced to hide her nature from those outside her home.

Navigating the world repressing her true-self presents a lot of challenges for her. It can be frustrating and often feels like the world is closing in on her.

Tavia’s best friend, Effie, was taken in by Tavia’s parents after suffering through some tough times.

Since then, the girls have come to rely upon one another. It’s them against world for the most part; at least it feels that way.

While Effie is not a Siren, there is definitely something magical about her. As she gets older, she begins to notice she is changing and she may not be able to hide much longer.

Effie works as a mermaid at a local Renaissance Fair, incorporating the lore of that job into her personality and thus, blending the lines between fantasy and reality.

When a murder trial making the national spotlight turns out to have a Siren as a victim, Siren’s existence is now a hot button issue.

Tavia listens as those around her discuss the case and the Siren’s fate and rights. From there we watch as the debates, opinions and stakes heat up.

Drenched in allegory, A Song Below Water includes lush, lyrical storytelling and is nuanced enough to provide a lasting impact.

Tavia and Effie’s relationship is beautiful to read. Their unconditional support for one another, set against a backdrop of a world that doesn’t guarantee them social justice. It was quite moving.

This novel is particularly relevant to the climate of the United States over the last few years. I love YA Contemporary stories that provide such social commentary.

The fact that this one mixed in fantastical elements with black girl magic made it that much more enjoyable.

The sequel to this novel, following different perspectives is now available. I am currently reading it and actually enjoying it even more.

I cannot wait to see what magic Morrow creates next!!

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Review: Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Lost in the Never WoodsLost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Five years ago, Wendy Darling and her two brothers, Michael and John, went missing in the local woods.

Six months later, Wendy was found. She had no memory of her time away, or the fate of her little brothers.

After she returns, the police question her pretty hard, not sure how much of her story they can believe. Perhaps she knows more than she is letting on.

Now in her Senior year of high school, Wendy is working at a hospital and trying to move on with her life, although she is still plagued with thoughts of her brothers.

When children start disappearing again, in ways similar to Wendy and her brothers, all eyes look to her for answers.

She feels no closer to knowing what really happened all those years ago, but something is definitely going on, as the boy she thought lived only in her stories becomes real.

Peter Pan. He is real and he is pleading with Wendy for her help finding his shadow; the villain of this tale.

Lost in the Never Woods was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The first 10% seemed really promising and the last 10% gave me a conclusion that felt satisfying. However, everything in between was a giant slog.

The tone was quite melancholy and morose. The pace was incredibly slow, the relationships forced and the magical elements felt bland. Not what I was hoping for.

The writing style itself was good. It had a pleasing flow and you can tell that Thomas put a lot of thought into the real world issues discussed; grief, guilt, PTSD, those aspects were well done.

Overall, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for and I never felt connected. With this being said, there is a Reader for every book and vice versa.

So, don’t take my word for it. If the synopsis sounds interesting to you, give it a go. It could end up being your new favorite book!

I will definitely pick up more work from this author in the future. I already own Cemetery Boys and am really excited to get to that one!

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Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Apocalypse of Elena MendozaThe Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elena Mendoza is a miracle, literally.

The product of parthenogenesis, a virgin birth, Elena’ life has been quirky indeed.

As you can imagine, this anomaly made the headlines, making Elena low-key famous.

She does her best to just live her life, ignoring the chatter around her, but it hasn’t always been easy.

Elena has never really fit in and although she has some close relationships, she’s far from one of the popular kids.

When the girl she has been crushing on, Freddie, comes close to losing her life, right in front of Elena’s eyes, she discovers she has the ability to heal. A power she never realized she had.

However, the power comes at a price.

Every time she heals, a random number of people disappear, sucked up by a bright light; raptured, if you will.

Through Elena’s own musings, as well as her conversations with certain inanimate objects, we begin to slowly understand the reality of her situation.

Somehow, she needs to save the world. The future of humanity rests on her young shoulders, or does it?

This was so good. Wildly creative and although the content may seem over the top, there are some incredibly important topics to be found within these pages.

Examining complex relationships, as well as the power of free will and identity, this will definitely stick with me.

There’s no doubt, if you are looking for a queer story to make you think about life and the choices we make, Shaun David Hutchinson is a good way to go.

This was completely unique and stole my heart in an oddly compelling way!

I’m so happy my random number generator selected this book for me to read off of my enormous TBR list.

Who knows how long it would have actually taken me to get to it otherwise!? I really enjoyed my time reading this.

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Review: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Tuesday Mooney Talks to GhostsTuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tuesday Mooney, a 30-something researcher, living in Boston is about to have the adventure of a lifetime following the clues on a dead billionaire’s treasure hunt.

She is just the sort of character I love, independent, funny, smart, quirky and a bit of a loner; I was happy to go along for the ride.

Full of hilarious hijinks and engrossing twists and turns, this story grabbed me by the heart and never let up. I was a big fan of Racculia’s work going in and it certainly didn’t disappoint!

Every page is full of intelligent writing and witty banter, I am seriously addicted to her style. I could absolutely see myself reading this story again. There was a great cast of side characters that brought humor and depth.

The setting of the city of Boston, a place where I have lived, made it even more exciting. Tie in the fact that she kept mentioning my hometown of Nantucket, felt like I was reading about a friend or neighbor!

As always, Racculia weaves some fairly serious topics into her otherwise humorous narrative. There is an examination of grief, guilt, the loss of a friend, loss of a family member, loss of a job, questioning of self-worth, intimacy, adult friendships and the presence of an afterlife, to name a few.

I think she always handles such topics with grace. It was all really well done here.

If you are looking for a fun, fast-paced, fantastical adult novel, you should definitely give this one a try. If you do and you enjoy it, be sure to check out Bellweather Rhapsody as well!

Finally, thank you to my friend, Tucker, for sending me his copy. I will cherish it forever!!

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Review: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

When the Sky Fell on SplendorWhen the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

This is a tough one.

A sort of genre-mash of things I love but together seemed a little disjointed but still good…yeah…

A few years back the town of Splendor was wracked by an industrial accident. Pretty much everyone in the town was effected in some way.

The plant were the accident occurred literally employed about half the town. There was an explosion and a lot of people were killed.

As you can for imagine, for a small town, this had horrible ramifications. People had brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and spouses stolen away from them in an instant.

In part, that is what this book is about. Even though it is around 5-years later, the aftermath continues to be challenging for those remaining residents of Splendor.

We follow a group of teens who have really come together since the accident. The adults in their lives are dealing with their own grief and sort of left the kids on their own to deal with theirs. This group of kids has come to rely on each other in both meaningful and beautiful ways.

As an exploration of grief, this is a touching, heart-wrenching story but there is also a science-fiction element that I found truly interesting.

You can tell that the author really enjoys science, as do I. There are detailed sections on black holes, time/space, fibonacci spirals and the idea of a cosmic consciousness.

I loved the friend group and how supportive they were of one another and I loved the science. However, there was something a little wonky about the way it was all strung together. It didn’t feel cohesive to me.

As always, this is 100% subjective and you may read this and think, ‘what the hell was Meg talking about?’ And that’s fine!

Just for me, it felt like the narrative was fighting over what kind of story it was trying to be. It didn’t feel like a seamless composition, if that makes sense.

Overall, I am really glad that I read this book. It is definitely a thoughtful exploration of a lot of interesting and important topics. I also think Emily Henry is a very talented woman and clearly a lot more intelligent than I am!

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Review: You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

You Must Not MissYou Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

I think about this book ALL THE TIME but still am at a loss for how to adaquately review it.

I implore y’all to please read this book. If you are not sold on it simply by the fact that this is written by Katrina Leno, how about that it one of the most solidly unique and hella dark YA stories that I have ever read. This is literally a revenge thriller at its most bizarre.

There’s really no way to easily describe what this book is. I would say the following:

It’s horror like Stephen King’s Carrie is horror.

It’s fantasy like Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones is fantasy.

It’s moving like Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay is moving.

It’s like so many other things while simultaneously being like nothing at all.

Katrina Leno’s writing is so great. This story drew me in immediately. Magpie is a high school girl who feels silenced, like her power has been stripped from her by others. This is about her taking that power back.

I was surprised how dark this got but in such a creative and beautifully written way. I love dark stories so this meshed with my tastes perfectly.

I would highly recommend this to people who like dark plots but also to anyone who enjoys a solid contemporary story with a deep magical realism component. I need everyone to give this a shot!!!

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Review: The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

Pegasus Books expected publication date: January 2, 2018

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wow – what a book! I know I will be mentally processing this one for a while – thank heavens for Kindle highlighting. I did a lot of highlighting during the course of reading this book, not because the concepts were difficult to understand or follow but because they were so meaningful. Ian Mortimer, as many know, is a wonderful historian, and he doesn’t disappoint with this work. The Outcasts of Time is indeed a work of fiction but is replete with very specific historical details; it runs through every element of the story.

Although there is a ‘time travel’ in this story, I wouldn’t classify it is science-fiction or fantasy. The only ‘magical’ element is the fact that the main character is, as he puts it, ‘skipping across time like a stone across water’; all other elements of the story are realistic. The time travel element allows the author to delve into a cultural examination of place through the passing of time that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. In a way, this reminds me of the format of Octavia Butler’s, Kindred; where time travel is similarly used to examine cultural changes over time.

Mortimer truly digs deep into society and how the workings of that change over time due to things like increased wealth, better living conditions, changes to transportation and the invention of more powerful and devastating weaponry. A phrase repeated throughout the work, ‘homo homini daemon’ – man is devil to man, speaks to the heart of some of the issues taken up in this work, that seems just as much a philosophical treatise as a work of fiction. A couple of my favorite lines being, “The man who has no knowledge of the past has no wisdom” and “…you must see what you mean to others to know your true worth.” The last paragraph practically made my heart explode as the narrative came to its resounding conclusion.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book – thank you to Pegasus Books for providing me with a copy. I would definitely recommend this book to history lovers of all kinds!

Review: The Beautiful Ones


Release Day: October 24, 2017

I received an early copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press so I ended up actually finishing it on the release day.  The Beautiful Ones surprised me with the smoothness of the text.  I had never read anything by this author, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but I will definitely read other books of hers now.  There was a lot more romance in the story than I would typically seek out in a novel (I am far from a ‘romantic’) but it is subtle and romantic in a way that even I could relate to and enjoy.  While I was reading, I kept thinking of how much it reminded me of a more modern version of William Makepeace Thackeray’s, Vanity Fair, but with magic!

The atmosphere was thick with old world upper class traditions (most notably, gossip!) and excesses; easily transporting the reader to the streets and parties of Loisail (the city where the majority of the action takes place).  The main characters were quirky and full of vices; spewing forth with inner desires.  It is told from the perspective of multiple characters and moves along at a steady pace; although it may be considered a slow burn, taking a while for the action to truly heat up.  There is plenty of beauty and angst in this novel to keep one entertained and I would certainly recommend it to friends who enjoy novels of love, envy and magic.