SAWKILL GIRLS by Claire Legrand

“Why do the monsters eat girls?” she asked at last.

“Because,” Marion answered, looking beyond Zoey to the sea, “when a predator hunts, it seeks out the vulnerable. The desperate.”

Zoey’s laugh was bitter, “Oh, and we poor delicate girls are vulnerable and desperate, is that what you’re saying?”

“What I’m saying,” Marion said, now looking right at Zoey, her gray eyes bright, “is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

I finished Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand yesterday – and it’s a great spooky YA book. A monster lives on a small island populated by the wealthy elite – and it feeds on the innards of teenage girls. There’s a lot going on in this book – but at its heart its about girls and how disposable they are in society. It’s about female anger and how girls fight back.

I loved this book – but I confess I wanted more from it (which I’ll dive into below in the spoilers section). Overall, it was an enjoyable, spooky book and I definitely recommend it to those who seeking a good, bloody story featuring a diverse (in color and sexuality) cast.

I desperately want there to be more books in this series. All my fingers and toes are crossed for further exploration into the pocket dimensions, powers, cults, and monsters lurking in new books. Even if it’s different characters each time, she’s opened a window into a very unique world and I want to go there again and see more.

Rating: 4 Stars.

So… SPOILER DISCUSSION TIME…

 

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SERPENT & DOVE by Shelby Mahurin

“There are some things that can’t be changed with words. Some things have to be seen. They have to be felt.”

Decided to read a fun fantasy romance novel today – about a renegade witch who finds herself married to a witch hunter. The novel is told from alternating points of view – between our mismatched lovers – and overall it was a highly enjoyable tale of medieval lore, mystery, and (most of all) love.

I am a sucker for a wild girl paired with a prudish guy, what can I say? And I especially enjoy cohabitation stories where the couple is either married but not “together” or pretending to be married but not “together.” All that “oh my, wherever shall I sleep? On the floor? The couch? Should we share a bed and put pillows between us? Decisions, decisions…” it never gets old to me. There was a surprisingly detailed sex scene too (I believe the expression ‘to the hilt’ was used, as cringe worthy as ever).

Serpent & Dove has a nice dusting of French throughout, adding a little foreign flavor to our fantasy world.  There’s loads of fun characters coming in and out of the scenes, from apprentices to courtesans, witches to royals, and bakers to scorned aristocracy. And we’re also given a nice dose of feminism as well as plea for deeper understanding between all people we’ve labeled as “other” for various reasons. It was nicely done. For a debut novel, it was rich in detail and showed clear evidence of expert writing and editing, keeping the flow steady and enjoyable throughout.

I really liked it.

My only complaint was the tale was set in this historical world with corsets and daggers and metal bath tubs… but it kept throwing in modern language stylings, with our female witch in particular. I don’t mind cursing or vulgarity, those are not particular to any time period, but the turn of phrases, the expressions, the slang… it was 21st Century. And it always, always threw me out of the story setting. If she was going to write this way, the author should have just made our witch a time traveler. Everyone else is all proper and our witch is slinging punchy jokes and contemporary witticisms.

I don’t know if it will bother others as much as it bothered me… and honestly, that’s my only complaint for an otherwise enjoyable rompish fantasy-romance. Oh, and it’s set up for a sequel… with a nice twist or two at the end to leave us wanting more. There were several sets of magical creatures referred to that I would love to see explored in more detail in future books.

I’ll definitely be buying the next installment.

Rating: Four Stars

Originally published: September 3, 2019
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Title: Serpent & Dove
Genre: Fantasy Fiction

THE LIBRARY AT MOUNT CHAR by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char – responsible for one of the worst sentences I have ever read in my life.

Carolyn felt a little squirt of horror at that but she squelched it.

What can I say? I liked this book… and I kinda hated this book. It’s a conundrum.

Image result for the library at mount char by scott hawkins

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins is a truly original story. Not quite fantasy, not quite science fiction, not quite horror – but rather a sprinkling of all three. It’s the tale of an ancient being, god-like in power, who takes twelve children under his wing to raise in mysterious, ancient arts. Each child is assigned a certain category to study, a discipline, such as death – languages – war – animals – the future – and so on. In order to learn these arts, the god-like figure known only as “Father,” goes to cruel extremes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book’s wacky premise and characters. Unfortunately,  there were…. problems. It’s the author’s first book – and I almost feel it was the responsibility of his editor to point out the issues with the plot that tangled this story into such a mess towards the end. Hopefully Mr. Hawkin’s will continue to hone his craft and his next book will be an improvement.

SPOILERS FOLLOW…. if you’ve read it, or if you just like spoilers… please follow me into section two of of this review… . Continue reading

THE BLADE ITSELF by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie.

Image result for the blade itselfNever before have I enjoyed a book so much that failed to have even a semblance of a plot. Well developed characters, lush and rich world building, politics, history, even a little romance. But plot? Nope.

It’s baffling.

What does our main character Logan want? Our brute with a fine mind from the North, who turns into the Hulk when the bloodlust takes him? He… uh… well, he’s just following another guy around cause… uh… well.

Basically he’s just living life.

What does our main character Jezal want? That handsome devil, the spoiled nobility with natural athletic abilities? He wants… to be an important man in government one day. Vaguely. And maybe to win a tournament to be further admired. I guess.  He’s just avoiding difficulties, flirting a bit, fencing, looking down on people.

You know… living life.

What does our main character Glokta want? Our torturer, our cripple, our grumpy guss who lives in pain? Nothing. He doesn’t want shit. He’s just… passing the time.

Living life.

And there we have it. The three main characters. Just living life. Just existing.

Listen, living life is fine and dandy. We’re all just living life, aren’t we? But no one is gonna write a freaking book about me if that’s all I’m doing.

Image result for the blade itself incites to deeds of violenceThere are other characters – who actually have some more pressing ambitions and motivations. Politics. An ancient war or a new one. Vengeance. Things that could be a plot – if they were driving the story. I guess the Magi is driving and everyone else is just in the car at this point, no idea why they’re along for the ride, where they are going, or why it’s important. And that’s how the book ends!

So basically The Blade Itself is a very long character introduction. I know all the characters very well indeed. I just don’t know what they want. Or what the plot is. I kind of care a bit about all of them, so when a plot is introduced at some point… odds are I will care about it. But will our characters care about it? Or are they just going to be dragged around for the rest of the trilogy, only invested in the events because they’re being forced into the car? What does it mean to them?

If some big evil is brewing that might possibly wipe out their hometowns or life as they know it… I should feel that it would matter to these folks. I’m not sure it would. These three main characters are all the types who would probably have a long sit down and consider the merits of the Eye of Sauron.

It’s exasperating. Because it really is a fun book. The characters are fun, the dialogue is fun, the world is interesting. It just… doesn’t have a plot.

Whatever.

Image result for the blade itself incites to deeds of violence

Will I read the next book? Probably. But I’ll probably read something else first… and the more books I put between myself and this book, the more unlikely it is I will return to the story. So… who knows.

RATING: 4 out of 5. Even without a plot, I still liked it.

THE WOLF GIFT by Anne Rice

The Wolf Gift, Anne Rice’s foray into the mythology of werewolves, or Morphenkinder, is an amazing, agonizingly slow, frustratingly rambling book. It was full of details you wanted to know, didn’t know you wanted to know, and absolutely didn’t want to know. Much like… most Anne Rice books. But the poorly paced plot is so well written you don’t really mind… much like most Anne Rice books.

I loved to hate it. Let me tell you why….

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MAGONIA by Maria Dahvana Headley

art by Artem Rhads Chebka

Just finished Magonia by Headley – which had excellent characters, families, and a surreal and highly unusual fantasy world floating above our own. In this book, there is a  world above the clouds, filled with shapeshifting birds and other surreal creatures who have long roamed the secret spaces of the air. These creatures aren’t quite human, though many can transform themselves into humanoid forms. Unable to breath in the lower atmosphere, they have a strange relationship with the human world – basically “fishing” out food and supplies when needed. I must say – it was intriguing.

Unfortunately… it had two severe draw backs. The antagonist was shockingly undeveloped- which was unfortunate. And my biggest qualm, the two main characters were stupidly smart.

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THE EMPEROR OF ANY PLACE by Tim Wynne-Jones

 

The Emperor of Any Place is about men. Specifically, the Canadian son of a draft dodging American, his military grandfather, and two soldiers shipwrecked on a mysterious island from opposing sides of WWII.

It deals with growing up, grief, responsibility, fathers and sons, male mentors, and male friends. There’s a nice mystery that baited me enough that I actually finished the book, even though I was only halfheartedly invested. The author went on and on about things I found tedious and boring (constructing forts, shelters, miniature boat models). There were tangent plotlines that felt irrelevant, mainly the bits about the grandson, his band and his friends. But there were also very intriguing elements – the diary of the two men on the island, for example.

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Review – Queen In Hyun’s Man

Review – Queen In Hyun’s Man

Though the first two episodes of this drama are notoriously slow, this is one of the most interesting (and romantic) time traveling between Joseon Era & Modern Times shows out there.  Why?  Because the two main leads are so interesting (and romantic).  They feel fresh… even though it’s not a new show (it came out in 2012).  Ji Hyun-Woo plays the thoughtful scholar who snickers at jokes, explores the new world with a reserved wonder, quietly observes situations before taking action, and is totally hard for his modern companion and doesn’t hide it.

Ji Hyun-Woo and Yoo In-Na are crackling with chemistry.

Yoo In-Na plays our leading lady, an adorable ditzy actress who’s won over by her time traveler almost instantly… oh the way he talks, she mutters.  Their banter is so refreshingly real.  It feels like an actual couple, not some k-drama construct.  She’s lying through her teeth, flirting, trying to show off, and he’s teasing her, testing her.  They make this show.  There’s really no other reason to watch it.  The plot is decent, but it’s watching this 300 year time gap couple cuddle in the library that makes this show stand out.  It literally made me feel like a giddy school girl every time these two were together, starting about episode three and kicking into full gear by episode four.

You will be helplessly charmed.  It’s not cheesy or gimicky or cutesy.  These are two grown people falling in love, just… head over heels in love.  And it’s magnetic.  Check it out if you’re in the mood for lots of PDA and heart melting romance.

Overall Rating – 9/10.  Dear God, Let Me Be Reincarnated As Yoo In-A In My Next Life.

Review – Circle: Two Worlds

Review – Circle: Two Worlds

A well done, high concept sci fi show about memories, responsibility, and identity.   The story revolves around two twins who discover a mysterious woman in the woods when they are children.  Is she an alien?  The woman disappears from their life, only to reappear again when they are in their early twenties.  At the same time a string of questionable suicides start occurring at the Health and Science College.  Who is she?  And how is she connected to these events and the lives of the twins?  Rotating between 2017, our time, and 2037, when the country has been split into “Normal Earth,” a wasteland of pollution and dust, and “Smart Earth,” a clean environment where all the citizens are on modified mood controllers and live peacefully.

There are plenty of spectacular twists in this drama and the plot was so unconventional, I had no idea where it was taking me from episode to episode.  The acting was incredible, especially from Yeo Jin-Goo… wow, that boy has an expressive face, does he not?  Murder, mystery, secret experiments, missing persons and aliens!   Who could ask for more? (Uh, I could!  sequel, please?)

As with all mystery shows – I won’t do a lengthy review since mystery shows are best enjoyed with the full mystery unraveling as you watch.  So… do yourself a favor and check it out.

Overall Rating – 9/10.  Blue Worms Are Not Your Friends.

Review – Oh My Ghostess

Review – Oh My Ghostess

Can I just say now right now that my favorite thing about this cute little show was the epic girl-friendship between the professor the shaman?  How adorable were they?  I loved that we had two older women coming together as friends with no common ground whatsoever other than the fact they were both lonely and needed a buddy.  Sometimes that is all it takes.  Their friendship made the entire story better, like having home made icing on a cake instead of store bought.  Sure, we were gonna eat that cake regardless… but now it’s just so much yummier.

Oh My Ghostess was a cute, supernatural romance about a shy young girl who gets possessed by a horny extroverted ghost – which both makes her life better and worse.  The horny ghost is convinced if she can lose her virginity to man of vitality, then she will let go of the grudge keeping her from crossing over to the next world.  When that man of vitality happens to be the shy girl’s boss and secret crush, hilarity ensues.

“Oh, Chef!”

Park Bo-Young was so adorable and funny in this show – jumping back and forth between a wide eyed innocent and a shameless rambunctious hussy with ease – that’s great acting prowess, right there.  Cho Jung-Seok played the male lead, a persnickety chef who’s a bit of a narcissist but also a surprisingly sweet romantic at heart.  His character transformation over the show was as just as impressive as the female lead.  Throw in a bunch of playful restaurant coworkers, a gigantic cop with a little boy’s smile, the dead girl’s family, and a murder mystery or two… and you’ve got a nice way to spend sixteen hours.

It was a fun little romance and I can see why so many people have recommended this show over the years.  Add me to the list.  I recommend it too.

Overall Rating – 8/10.  Don’t Die A Virgin In Korea.