Review: The Near Witch

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Book: The Near Witch
Author: 
V.E. Schwab

Blurb:

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

My Review:

My first encounter with V.E. Schwab’s work was her Shades of Magic series, and I immediately fell in love. So when I heard that her out-of-print debut was around the corner, I didn’t hesitate to hit that pre-order button. I knew I was in for a treat and I was not disappointed!

As the blurb says, this story is part fairy tale and part love story. The narrative centers around a young woman who lives in a small town, trapped by the expectations of the men around her, but aching to follow in her late father’s footsteps. She’s wise beyond her years, and living in that special point of adolescence/young adulthood where she hovers between relating to children and wanting to be an adult, taken seriously by her seniors. Add to that that the men in her life are dismissive of her ideas on the basis of her needing to stay in her place as a girl, and that makes for a great heroine with a righteous rebellious streak. Lexi doesn’t care what rules she has to break if it means saving the people she cares about.

The world of this book is one I didn’t want to leave. Its mythos, while simple, was so well-developed and immersive that it felt like it could be real. My favorite kind of fantasy is the kind that feels like it could be happening in real life, and fairy tales that manage to spin magic with a touch of realism are my kryptonite. It made me wish the story was longer, if only so I could spend more time in that world.

I think my favorite part of the story, however, was how the character that should have been the prince in shining armor was more of a damsel in distress. Lexi was very much in command, and though she had many forces acting against her, she never really needed saving, or felt helpless, and was fully capable of kicking ass and doing what needed doing. Cole, on the other hand, while valiant and brave, played more of the role of the person that needed saving. This story had the familiarity of a fairy tale, but has a unique spin to it I wasn’t expecting.

All in all, if you’re a fan of fairy tales (think Holly Black’s work), then this should definitely be your next read!

Rating: 5/5


Like my review? Leave a comment with a book/movie/show you think I’d love!

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Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

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A wild review appears!

It’s been a long time since I’ve done reviews of any kind on here, so I want to get back to it. I’ve been really good about my reading goals for the year so far (shooting for at least 52), and I’m excited about how much reading I’ve been getting done, so I want to share that excitement with you guys while simultaneously attempting to revive this blog. Maybe after I get into a regular rhythm, I’ll open up to submissions so I can get more indie writers in my life.


Book: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Blurb:

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

My Review:

This was an odd book. I picked it up because I recently read Smoke & Summons and absolutely loved it! So I wanted something by the same author to hold me over while I wait for Myths & Mortals. That brought me to this one.

To be honest, it was a little slow and underwhelming for me, maybe because I loved Smoke & Summons so much. A lot happened around the main character, Maire, but it never felt like she was the one driving the story. I’m sure that was intentional, since she spends most of the story as a slave and it’s more of an introspective piece that examines her past. Still, based on the blurb I’d expected something with more action, and I was a bit disappointed at having figured out exactly what the secret was long before Maire did.

The world is pretty cool, though, and while the characters didn’t keep my attention I was curious about how the world worked.

In the end, I still enjoyed it, and would recommend it to people who like a lighter read with good world-building.

Rating: 3/5


I’ll be trying to post these at least once a week, so keep an eye out for them!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Blog Tour: Tattoos by Stacy Overby

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Tattoos by Stacy OverbyOne hushed cry in the middle of the night, and Eli Thorson’s life unravels. A highly trained Black Ops specialist, he is used to danger, but Eli’s path forces him to confront the illusions he’s been taught his whole life — ones that make him question all the good he thought he was doing.

Unable to work for a command that defiles the oaths he swore, he works to untangle the web of lies and deceit he finds woven throughout his worlds. The tattooed marks of his profession run more than skin deep. As a Specialist it is his duty to protect the people, the laws, and all the United Earth Government stands for, even if it means taking down the entire Black Ops division to do it.


Happy Hump Day!

I’ve got a special treat for you guys today. I’m participating in the blog tour for Stacy Overby’s new release, Tattoos! Stacy’s a great writer and I’m super excited to help promote her work and share this interview.

Without further ado, here’s Stacy Overby!

Tell me a bit about the book you’re promoting. What inspired it?

Tattoos came from a love of science fiction. However, I tend to shy away from a lot of hard sci-fi because I lose focus and can’t engage well with the story for all the science being added to the stories. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t find good hard sci-fi, not sure. But I wanted sci-fi more reminiscent of Star Wars, where the characters and the story were the bigger players. The space and science type stuff were there, but played more of a supporting role. Combine that with a healthy dose of “Oh crap, NaNoWriMo starts in two days. What am I writing about?”, and Tattoos was born back in 2011.

Favorite author(s)?

This question keeps coming up and I struggle every time to answer it. There are so many good authors out there I have a hard time picking just one. For big name authors, I tend to go with Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Anne Bishop, and Anne McCaffery. They have such a knack for great story-telling with characters who feel real. Indie authors are just as tough because I have the privilege of knowing so many who are wonderful. I’d have to put JK Allen, Rebekah Jonsey, Rebecca Pierce, Robert Cano, Eric Keizer, and Sam DeLoach on my list. They all have a gift for bringing the reader into their words, be it in poetry or in verse, and creating something bigger as a result.

Favorite underrated read?

I would have to go with the Major Ariane Kedros series by Laura E. Reeve. It’s a military sci-fi series that I stumbled across, but rarely hear much about. I think Reeve did a nice job of balancing the science part of the science fiction with the story and character elements.

Who/What influences your work?

Obviously, Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had an influence. I can’t pull off the truly absurd the way Adams did, but I love the “anything goes” way he wrote and it all worked in the end. It’s that daring that I aspire to. Honestly, though, some of the themes and a lot of the emotion stems from my day job. I’m the program director for an adolescent substance abuse/mental health treatment program. I used to be a case manager for them for 4 years prior to taking the director position. In that time I’ve heard so many dark, scary, heart-breaking, angering, frustrating, hurtful, etc. stories from kids it’s almost unbelievable. Part of my own self care with all of that has become my writing. I channel all of that into my fictional/poetical worlds. That’s why they so often take a darker bent. Not always, though. There are some lighter spots.

What’s your ideal writing space? What’s your actual writing space?

Let me start with my actual writing space. It’s pretty much anywhere I am in that five minutes. Between my job, my other hobbies, and my family’s stuff, I’m so all over the place, I’ve had to learn to write on the fly. The backs of receipts dug out of my purse while putting gas in have been fair game in the past, as has the margins of flyers sitting poolside at my son’s swimming lessons.

Ideally, I’d have a nice office type spot with a couch and that is totally off limits to anyone else in my house. It’s also not allowed to collect all the clutter and junk because that’s the convenient place to throw it. Lots of windows and light as well. Plus good speakers for music and room for yoga. I’d also have family pictures along with my various fandom stuff up everywhere.

How do you get in “the zone” before sitting down to write? Do you have any rituals?

Again, I tend to forego most rituals for time’s sake. However, one thing that does help me stay in “the zone” is that I build playlists for my major projects. That way, I can listen to them while I’m driving or doing things where I can’t write. They keep me in the right frame of mind for the characters and events in the book. Here’s the post I did sharing some of my playlist for Tattoos – thisisnothitchhikersguide.com/2018/12/15/my-soundtrack-for-tattoos/

What’s the first thing you ever wrote?

Ever, ever? That was a really bad piece back in about third grade with a wizard and an elf and I don’t remember what else. I even got another kid in my class to draw some pictures to go with it. Man, I thought I was cool with that story. I wonder if I still have that somewhere…

What piece of advice would you give a young writer just starting out?

It’s a tough business to be in. I know it’s easy to think that all you’ve got to do is put words on a page and how hard can that be? But there’s so much more. Getting that story down is only the first step of a long journey. Persevere, though, and that journey is so worth it. All the work that comes after getting those first words down is about making sure every possible bit of that story looks its best and shines as beautiful as possible. It’s also about getting that story in front of readers to enjoy. Remember that when the road gets tough and you want to quit. I don’t know that anyone loves your story as much as you do. It deserves all of that work to be the best it can so that readers can see it for the amazing story it is.

When you’re not writing, what are you up to?

Sleeping? Wait, I already gave most of that up. Kidding, mostly. I love spending time outside. Hiking, camping, photography. It’s all great. I also love spending time with my family. My son’s six now and he’s getting into Cub Scouts, swimming, and such. So we spend quite a bit of time at the pool or Cub Scout events. I also quilt and crochet. Oh, and I love to cook. At least when I have time.

You can purchase Tattoos at the following links:


As always, think happy thoughts!

Ambrosia: A Poetry Anthology

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Ambrosia-ebookTitle: Ambrosia
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis:

*Delight in the nectar of the gods. Feed your mind with Ambrosia*

Whispers to the gods are like honey from a poet’s lips. When several poets raise their voices together, it’s a sacred feast of memories and dreams. Poetry is divine food for the soul, full of emotional and celestial feeling. Join us in our longing, our pain and passion, heartache, logic and insanity, fear, faith, confusion, hope, unity, solitude, daily life, political strife, and more. 

From the creative minds of Eric Keizer, A.L. Mabry, Sam DeLoach, Alyssa Trivett, Mello Sakia, Stacy Overby, Phillip Matthew Roberts, Veronica Falletta and Stephanie Ayers. 

The Poets of this project have partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and all royalties will be donated to this charity.

My Review:

I’ll preface this the way I preface all my poetry reviews: I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry. It’s not really something I read for fun. That being said, this is yet another poetry collection I’ll find myself coming back to now and again.

From the first poem, to the last, you can feel the raw emotion behind each and every piece. Rather than present one large picture, like the last poetry collection I read, this one presents an array of beauty, longing, pain, and every other emotion you could think of. Not every poem deals with vast emotion – many focus on quieter moments, small snippets of a life not difficult to imagine. I found myself settling into these poems the way I settle into a favorite novel. Like a warm blanket at the end of a long day, if that makes sense.

It’s not only the emotion behind the words that make this a great read, either. The technical aspects contribute just as much to the experience. Many of the poets play with format in a way that increases the enjoyment of the work. Some of the poems I had to read out loud, as they were lyrical and begged to be actually heard.

Like I said, this is one I’ll be coming back to every few months. If you like poetry, don’t miss out on this great collection! Not to mention, proceeds are going to a great cause.

As always, think happy thoughts!

The Glass Thief by John Ryers

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Happy New Year!

We’re starting the year off right by supporting a fellow author. Check out The Glass Thief by John Ryers. Below you’ll find some excerpts and other goodies to get you interested. It’s only been out a day, so don’t miss out on your chance to be one of the first to read it!

the-glass-thief-coverSynopsis:

A debt is owed.

Del Kanadis–indentured thief to the King of Fires–desires freedom above all else. When given the opportunity to repay his debt with a single job, he begrudgingly accepts, believing it to be a fool’s errand. His task: infiltrate a secluded village rumoured to hold a relic capable of defeating the Fire King’s enemies.

Living amongst the townsfolk and gaining the trust of those in charge, Del quickly discovers they know more than they’re letting on, and that perhaps the relic truly does exist. Upon discovering their ultimate secret, he realizes winning his own life back could come at the cost of everyone else losing theirs.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

A debt was owed.

Four simple words and a simpler concept still, but it was the repayment of said debt that was particularly difficult for one glass thief, Del Kanadis. If it were just a matter of acquiring enough gold to satisfy the debtor, then Del wouldn’t be freezing his ass off in the middle of a moonlit cornfield right now. But as it was, it wasn’t to be settled by coin alone, but rather favours of a delicate nature. A nature that required weeks of meticulous plotting, planning and preparation.

author-pic-john-ryersABOUT JOHN RYERS

John is a graphic designer by day, and graphic designer by night (depending on the client), but most importantly, he’s a writer at heart. His dreams include writing for a living, experiencing virtual reality on a Matrix-esque level, and flying unaided (or possibly via really sweet jetpack).

John writes all genres but prefers Dark Fantasy over most anything else. This is due in part to the fact that he likes it the best, and because it’s awesome.

John prefers blue cheese over cheddar, cats over dogs, and will attempt to answer any question with sarcasm whether appropriate or not.

He completed his first novel The Glass Thief in 2017 and you should buy it. Or don’t. He’s not the boss of you.

Check out The Glass Thief on Amazon & Goodreads!

Stay tuned later in the week for an interview with the author  🙂

As always, think happy thoughts!

Still processing Cursed Child feelings…

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Image from pottermore.com

Hello!

So I meant to get a post up yesterday but things got busy and then when I finally had some free time/motivation, my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child finally decided to show up. Of course I dropped everything. I have so many feelings. Too many to really put in words but I’m going to try.

I guess here’s my review/recap/thoughts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Fair warning, I can’t really fully process/review this without spoilers, so SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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