Top Ten Tuesday (17): Top Ten Books Set Outside the US

Top Ten Tuesday (17): Top Ten Books Set Outside the US

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, the theme is “Ten Books Set Outside the US” and we’re happy to be participating! Well, this one was a little bit difficult! How exactly do you define “outside of the US?” Certainly I read many, many books that don’t even take place in this universe, let alone this country! But I decided that, for the most part, I would leave off any sort of fantasy/science fiction that clearly takes place off-world or in any sort of other realm entirely. I’ve also left off any works that take place only partially in this world but primarily in others (sorry, His Dark Materials).   The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley This is the second TTT I’ve done in a row that this book has earned a spot on! This book is the tale of 16 year old… Read more »

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The Invisible Library: Review

The Invisible Library: Review

Once again I find myself in the position with a book that is practically perfect in its premise, yet I ultimately fail to forge much of a connection with it. This is not a bad book, and I think it has its readers! I mean, it is a book about a great Library that has access to infinite alternate dimensions and universes. It also has werewolves, vampires, Fae, and dragons all romping around and creating magic, mystery, and mayhem in a sort of alternate steampunk “Victorian” London. Sign me way up for that. However, I get this sense of “fuzziness” for lack of better word to describe it with fantasies and other genre works where the world building is not at all clear to me. The Library is a very advanced institution that seems to exist out of time. It has its own Language that allows Librarians to alter their… Read more »

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Top Ten Tuesday (16): Top Ten Under the Radar Reads

Top Ten Tuesday (16): Top Ten Under the Radar Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, the theme is “Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads” and we’re happy to be participating!     Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak This one is a beautiful mashup of contemporary and paranormal, with a dash of fairy tale thrown in for good measure. Aidan can’t remember swaths of his life. And he didn’t even realize it until an old friend reappears and lost memories begin to resurface. What happened to Aidan’s memories? Magic is woven into every line in the story. Its contemporary yet fairy tale feel reminded me a lot of the stunning Bone Gap. Bonus: this is an LGBT read. It’s also a 2016 Stonewall Honor Book! Taming the Forest King by Claudia J. Edwards I’m not at all surprised to see that this one has very few… Read more »

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Lucky Few: Review

Lucky Few: Review

It’s interesting that the blurb for this book compares it to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. While I can see some common threads of interest (namely the contemplation of mortality), this is a very different book. First, no one in this story is actually dying. Next, the dynamics of relationships between the characters, the nature of their revelations, and the overall tone of the story is wholly different. Lucky Few is a funny contemporary that examines relationships, growing up, and the very nature of change through a sweetly morbid lens. The story is eminently readable. From the first page it flows with self deprecating humor and charm. The chemistry and interaction between the three main characters feels natural and adds a rhythm to the story that is noticeable for its absence when the characters are apart. Stevie is wry and judgmental, but with a good nature and easy… Read more »

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Steeplejack: Review

Steeplejack: Review

It’s interesting to ponder what qualifies as a fantasy and what exactly makes that so. You can have fantasy that takes place in whole other realms replete with magic and magical creatures. You can have fantasy that places in our very own world, but with elements of the wondrous. Then you have works like Steeplejack, in which there is no magic (or none yet presented) but the world it takes place in is not our own, and so it is a fantasy work. It just occurred to me while reading how interesting the many varietals of fantasy works are.  This is a book that reads very much like a historical crime novel that takes place in 19th century South Africa. But it is not 19th century South Africa, only a land in an unknown world that has many echoes and similarities to it. Does this seem like a complaint? Not… Read more »

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Places No One Knows: Review

Places No One Knows: Review

What a strange impossible dream of a story this book is. For the first ¾ of it I had no idea entirely what to make of it. Here is a girl who doesn’t sleep, but basically sleepwalks through her life. The (probably intentional) sense of numbness did nothing to make this an enjoyable reading experience.  It was like reading through a haze of drear and gray. And then, in the final act, it was as if a flower had suddenly turned to bloom. My heart was aching, and I was gripping the pages turning them furiously while shouting at the heroine in my head. I went from feeling sort of meh to full on adoration. This is one of the hardest times I’ve ever had rating a book. I’ll tell you right off the bat that a part of the reason I had trouble connecting is that I found the… Read more »

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Flamecaster: Review

Flamecaster: Review

Some things Flamecaster contains: spies, blood-drinking assassin priests(!!!), magic, dragons(!!!!!), intrigue, deception, and heartbreak. Oh, that heartbreak. It’s interesting both that the author chose to return to the same world as a previous series, and also was not at all afraid to wreck some heavy damage in the lives of previously established and beloved characters. Things have not been happy for Raisa and Han in recent times. Their eldest child, and heir to the throne, was killed in combat not too long before the start of the book. You wander along thinking, “Yes, this is pretty bad.” And then it gets worse: Yes, she goes there. But I admire this for the boldness of it, if nothing else. And also, When I saw the first synopsis for this book, and its heavy mention of Adrian sul’Han, I must admit I was worried! One of the things I enjoyed so much… Read more »

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