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Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep

Time to gush about one of my favorite reads of the year! Into the Drowning Deep is by Mira Grant, who also goes by Seanan McGuire. This book is about mermaids, and not the beautiful Disney type. Of course this book gets 5 stars from me and I’m crossing my fingers that there are more books coming in the series because I absolutely need more of this world.

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary”about mermaids. It was lost at sea with all hands. Many believe the incident to be a hoax. A new crew sets out to prove that the seven-year-old hoax about mermaids isn’t a hoax at all. Not all the crew are believers, but soon enough they are all faced with creatures of the deep whose discovery will come at a high price. Continue reading “Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep”

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Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Reincarnation Blues

I’ve always loved stories dealing with reincarnation. There’s something romantic about the idea of living multiple lives and becoming a better person through each experience. Add a love story to the mix and I couldn’t say no to reading Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore. This book had such a unique take on reincarnation and I adored the love story. I give the book 4 stars out of 5 and recommend this to anyone looking for a good reincarnation tale.

The story is about Milo, a man who has lived almost 10,000 lives in a world where you get 10,000 lives to reach Perfection and become part of the oversoul to be at one with the universe. Milo has fallen in love with Suzie, the incarnation of Death. He doesn’t want to reach Perfection, he just wants to be with Suzie. But if Milo doesn’t reach Perfection in time, his soul will be destroyed. Continue reading “Book Review: Reincarnation Blues”

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Book Review: The Silent Companions

One of my recent reads was a spooky Victorian gothic set in a crumbling English estate in the countryside. I enjoy horror and creepy stories and I have a tendency to gravitate toward ones with historical settings. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell did not disappoint. I give it 4 stars and if you are looking for a good creepy gothic, add this to your list right away. If you are like me and find stories about anything doll-like horrifying then don’t read this one right before bed.

So what’s it about? Elsie has recently married into the Bainbridge family. Her husband’s family is marked by tragedy, including the death of countless Bainbridge heirs, but Elsie has also suffered from the gruesome loss of her father in the family’s matchstick factory. Elsie’s happy marriage comes to a screeching halt when her husband suddenly dies, leaving her as the owner of the Bainbridge estate known as the Bridge. The estate is full of eerie lifelike wooden dolls. Elsie is unnerved when she discovers one that looks just like her as a child. Her fears intensify when the dolls begin to multiply, first taking on the visages of past inhabitants and then tragic figures from her own background. Then the grisly bodies of the Bridge’s inhabitants begin to stack up. What at first seems to be a dark power haunting the manor could just as easily be Elsie’s runaway imagination bringing her fears to life. Purcell masterfully toes the line between these possibilities as she tells the story behind the lurking evil through Elsie’s experiences at the Bridge, her time spent in a psychiatric hospital after her stay, and through the 17th-century diary revealing the origin of the dolls. Continue reading “Book Review: The Silent Companions”

history · Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Carnegie’s Maid

I couldn’t pass up a book that takes place in 1860’s industrial Pittsburgh, let alone one about Carnegie. You might recognize the author Marie Benedict from her last book, The Other Einstein. I give Carnegie’s Maid 3.5 stars. While I enjoyed the idea of the story, the world-building and character development fell too flat for me. The climax was also underwhelming. One thing this book did get right is detailing the struggle of Irish immigrants in America. That aspect was the most believable for me in this historical.

As the title suggests, Carnegie’s Maid follows the story of Clara Kelly, an Irish immigrant who heads to America to find employment. When a girl with the same name as her dies on the boat, Clara assumes the other girl’s identity to take her job in Pittsburgh as a lady’s maid. Clara uses her salary to help her struggling family in Ireland. However, her new position becomes tricky when a blossoming romance begins between Clara and Andrew Carnegie. Due to their difference in status, a successful marriage between them is unlikely. When Carnegie’s mother gets wind of Clara’s fake identity, she threatens to tell Andrew. Knowing a happy future together is futile, Clara leaves to pursue a life elsewhere, using her salary to pay for her family’s tickets to America. The story is a great peek into the rise of the Carnegie steel empire, how Carnegie’s success affected poor immigrants, and his sudden rise as a philanthropist. Continue reading “Book Review: Carnegie’s Maid”

history · Reading · Reviews

Book Review: On A Cold Dark Sea

On A Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell is about three women who were aboard the Titanic. No Jack and Rose here, so no need to debate if they could have both fit on their makeshift raft, but there is still a touch of tragic romance. I give this Titanic tale four stars. While there are romantic elements to it, the story focuses more on the human element and how the tragedy impacted the lives of survivors and not the excitement of the sinking.

This book is about three women from varying backgrounds and social standings: Charlotte, Esme, and Anna. The book switches between perspectives effortlessly. Charlotte winds up on the Titanic with a man she loves but can’t marry. Esme is struck in a loveless marriage while she falls for a man named Charlie who sweeps her off her feet. Anna is leaving behind her home of Sweden to make a new life in America while her best friend prepares to marry the love of Anna’s life. Each woman survives the sinking, but they don’t escape unscathed. They all lose someone close to them and in the aftermath struggle to come to terms with their lives post-tragedy. None of them can fully escape the past while Anna prepares for a marriage of her own, Esme fights to hold onto her new love, and Charlotte mourns what could have been. This book explores what it means to be a Titanic survivor.

The book shows us snippets of their lives before boarding the Titanic, their time aboard, and how they fared after surviving including coming to terms with those they lost in the sinking. This makes it easy to see the big picture and the impact the tragedy had on their lives and in some cases, how it changed the course of their lives. The actual sinking of the ship itself gets little screen time, which is unfortunate for those of us interested in it, but it also keeps the sinking from taking up too much of the book.

Continue reading “Book Review: On A Cold Dark Sea”

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Book Review: The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli was a book that originally wasn’t high on my reading list, but I ran into it at the library and picked it up and I’m so glad I did. I give this book 5 stars. The little stories included in it were beautiful and I was hooked for the whole ride. As an editor I see a lot of authors struggle with world building, but this book is a great of example of how to do world building gradually without overwhelming readers. The world building was fantastic and one of my favorite aspects of this book.

32667458In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her. Continue reading “Book Review: The Last Namsara”

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Bad Parents in Fiction

A trend I’ve noticed a lot recently is bad or abusive guardians in young adult fantasy. I’d say out of the last five YA fantasy books I read, three of them included abusive guardians. I find it curious, but I admit it’s something I’m growing tired of.  This is a topic I’ve been wanting to get off my chest and explore. I’d like to believe there are heroes who have happy families but still choose to go on the adventure. Admittedly I had a rough childhood at times myself, which is why I like to see portrayals of happy families to know that well you know, they actually exist.

Off the top of my head I can think of quite a few examples of YA fantasies that include abusive or awful parents/guardians. The list includes Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Glitter by Aprilynne Pike, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, and Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller. All but one of those books (Caraval) I’ve read this year. I’ve noticed this concept is often used to do one of two things: be a motivator for the main character to go on their journey, or to motivate a character to succeed by making their parent proud while on that journey because then they will finally get the love they’ve been searching for from their parent. And other times the parents are bad parents in that they are just so uninvolved that the main character can do anything without the parents noticing. I know it can be so hard in YA to let characters act on their own without being parented, but sometimes the oblivious parent role is just too obvious. Continue reading “Bad Parents in Fiction”