First line: There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.
Gwendy is a twelve year old girl from the town of Castle Rock. One day
while running up the stairs to Castle View she is stopped by a gentleman
in a black hat. During their conversation he gives her a box. The box
has buttons. Some are harmless but others are not. He tells her that the
box is her responsibility and to keep it secret. As the years go by
Gwendy notices changes in herself and the world she lives in. Is it the
box? And what price does she have to pay for its gifts?
I had no idea what I was getting in to when I started this book. It
seemed to walk the line between a sweet little story and a nightmare. I
listened to the audiobook while cross stitching on a Sunday morning. I
was completely engrossed in the story. I even gasped and set my
stitching down at several points so that I could focus on the story.
Gwendy first gets the box it appears to be a dream come true. The box
spits out silver dollars and chocolates that suppress cravings.
Everything in her life starts going better. What’s not to like? But when
she starts getting curious about the other buttons I knew something bad
was coming. Books like this show how great of a writer Stephen King
truly is. He can mix the genres and write an excellent story in less
than 200 pages.
FYI: There is a sequel written by the co-author called Gwendy’s Magic Feather.
Hi blog readers! I’ll be writing a monthly blog post, which will be posted the first week of the month. As the title suggests, each post will be some random thoughts I have about reading. Hopefully, they’ll be thoughts that our readers will find interesting as well.
Today, my thoughts have been swirling about book series. I love reading a good series, but sometimes a wrench gets thrown into the works or something else comes up that makes me long for more standalone books. For instance, an author has several books out in a series, hasn’t completed it, but stops writing to pursue other writing adventures (I’m looking at you Jim Butcher and Chris Grabenstein!). Or, a series gets marketed and advertised and sold as a trilogy (yay! only three books!) and then turns into a series of way more books, but now I have to wait a whole year for each book in the series.
Or, along the same lines, you start a series with the first book, and now you have to wait a whole year for each new book. I find myself wondering why I didn’t just wait until the series was finished before I started reading. I’m so impatient to start the next book!
And that leads me back to what started me thinking about series in the first place. One of my book clubs read a fantastic book last month, the first in a series. I gobbled down the first three books in the series and immediately grabbed book four. Opened it, and realized that some really important stuff had happened that I had no record of! Lo and behold, the author interrupted the series and wrote a related trilogy based on one of the characters, and those three books have all the good stuff I missed. So, I’ll be reading those three books in anticipation of getting back to the original series.
I can’t decide if I’m annoyed with the author for doing that, or looking forward to getting more of the story from a different character’s perspective and seeing more of this fabulous world she’s built. What about you? How do you manage series? Do you wait until they’re finished or do you devour each book as they come out? Drop us a comment below and share what your favorite series is, as well as how you prefer to read them.
PS: The series that has every bit of my attention right now is the Soulfinder series by Maria V. Snyder, and the trilogy that tucks in the middle is her Glass series.
Recently Miss Hannah and I recorded a podcast where we gushed about how much we love the author Cassandra Clare and her work. If you love everything Shadowhunters then you should listen to our podcast episode and check out her newest book, The Red Scrolls of Magic.
First line: From the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower, the city was spread at Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood’s feet like a gift.
Following the Mortal War against Valentine Morgenstern and his
followers, it is time for a much needed vacation. Alec Lightwood and his
warlock boyfriend, Magnus Bane, are on a romantic adventure through
Europe. However, everything does not go as planned. With the arrival of
an old friend, Magnus is warned that there is a demon worshipping cult
making trouble in Europe. And the rumored leader is none other than
Magnus Bane himself. In order to clear his name and bring down the cult
he and Alec travel across Europe fighting demons and attending some
rather exciting parties.
My Thoughts: I have been waiting
for this for years! I love Alec and Magnus. I have been a huge fan of
their relationship from the very beginning. And now they are traveling
across Europe. Yes please! One of the best things about Clare’s
characters, especially Magnus, is their wit. He always has perfect
The story started a little slow and the pacing
seemed a little off from Clare’s other works but that may be due to
having a co-writer on this novel. However, once I got into the story I
was hooked. I read the last 200 pages in one day. I could not put it
down. I loved their banter. I was happy to see some characters from
later timelines make an appearance. Even though this novel is much
shorter than her more recent ones it does not lack any of the pieces
that makes her other books so gripping. There is a lot of action,
romance and demons.
And this novel is her first adult novel in
the Shadowhunter universe. It is evident that this is written for a
little older audience because there is some more graphic scenes but it
does not go too far. At the end Cassie writes about how she wanted to
write this novel for a long time and left a gap in her timeline in case
she was able to get it written. I could tell that it was a project she
felt very passionate about.
FYI: This is the first in a new trilogy, The Elder Curses. It takes place after the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series.
First line: Dima heard the barn doors slam before anyone else did.
Nikolai Lantsov, the young king of Ravka, has spent the first several
years of his reign trying to hold his country together. With the help of
his Triumvirate he hopes to strengthen the borders, improve diplomatic
relations and rebuild the Second Army. However, as miracles continue to
happen around the country and a darkness still infects his land, he is
met with more than he imagined.
My Thoughts: Nikolai was
one of my favorite characters from Bardugo’s original trilogy. He has a
sharp wit and charisma that lets him steal every scene. I was so happy
when I learned that he was getting his own duology. Authors do answer
prayers! Ha! And Nina from The Dregs Duology has a starring role
as well. I loved every one of her chapters. She is daring and smart. And
she does not mind causing a little trouble along the way.
“But it’s a very arduous path,” Nikolai said. “Who will carry my snacks?”
In addition to past characters we meet several new
ones. I did not know how I was going to feel about them when they first
entered the storyline but they surprised me. It was a fun plot twist. I
am excited to see where these new characters take us.
half of the book was a little slower, a trait which I have noticed in
the other books. But when the action picks up the story flies by. Trust
me and stick with this. It is worth every minute you spend reading it.
finally that ending! Wow! It was shocking. It literally gave me
goosebumps as I was reading it. I will be highly anticipating the next
book. I hope I do not have to wait too long.
FYI: I would highly recommend you read The Shadow and Bone Trilogy and The Dregs Duology
before picking this one up. There are lots of characters and storylines
that carry on into this latest addition to the Grishaverse.
We have several new apps and services. My new favorite is RBDigital Unlimited. It has a wide selection of older audio books available to download onto your mobile device. I love to read the new releases but sometimes there is a book that I have been meaning to read but have not gotten around to it yet. Well this is a good way to get them off the TBR list! The best part of this is that there is no waiting for a title. Every title on the site is available immediately.
First line: It started on at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the West Portico of St. Paul’s at Covent Garden.
Summary: Peter Grant, a probationary constable, has hopes of becoming a detective. When investigating a disturbance he gathers some information from a witness. However, this witness also happens to be dead. With the knowledge that Peter can communicate with ghosts brings him to the attention of Chief Investigator Thomas Nightingale. He heads a special department in the London PD who deal with magic and supernatural occurrences. As a string of murders overtakes the city, Peter is thrust into the world of magic and mystical beings.
Highlights: I found this to be a mixture of Sherlockand Harry Potter. This is a fun book. As a grownup who loves to read a mixture of YA, fantasy and mysteries, then this is the perfect combination. It was originally recommended to me by my German sister, Melanie. This sat on my to be read pile for a long time but when I saw that I could listen to the audiobook using RBDigital Unlimited, I immediately checked it out. It was gritty and dark but at the same time a little lighthearted. There was humor mixed in with the murder. One thing that I found to be new and interesting is that several of the characters are rivers in human form. This is the name of the series, Rivers of London, but I never actually considered that they would be actual characters. If you want something a little different than this may be it.
Lowlights: A lot of the story was building the world. Who is Peter Grant? What is the magical department and what do they do? As with all new series it takes a bit to get the ball rolling. I think this was my main issue but I will definitely pick up book 2, Moon Over Soho.
Over the six years I have been working here at the library I have found so many things to love. One of those is audio books. I listen to them on my phone and in my car. I have such a long list of books to read that listening has helped knock a few off.
My favorite series to listen and relisten to is Harry Potter. The narrator, Jim Dale, is wonderful. He has different voices for each character. He brings the story to life and makes for a very enjoyable road trip. I recently picked up book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, for the umpteenth time. Each time I read/listen to it I find little things I missed before and I love it even more after each read.
First line: Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways.
Summary: Harry Potter is in this third year at Hogwarts. He is the boy who lived. He defeated the Dark Lord. However, when Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban he finds himself once more in danger. As the Dementors surround the school, Harry’s school year proceeds as normal with Quidditch and classes until he learns that Black is coming to kill him.
Highlights: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite of the series! I have loved it since the first time reading it. I have reread it numerous times. I think one of the main reasons is that it is a little different from the rest of the books. Voldemort does not play a strong role in the story and we learn more about what happened on that fateful Halloween night. What happened to Harry’s parents? Who were they? They became more fleshed out. They had friends. They went to Hogwarts.
Rowling builds so much of the world in this book. The Knight Bus alone is pure genius. I love Ernie and Stan. I was so excited that Universal Studios even has a replica of the Knight Bus outside Diagon Alley. In addition, we get to spend more time in the wizarding world. Harry explores more of Diagon Alley and visits the town of Hogsmeade. While reading I wanted a nice hot cup of Butterbeer. I’ve had the iced version at Universal but warm sounds rather tasty as well.
There are many new characters and each of them adds to the story in their own ways. Even the animals like Buckbeak and Crookshanks. I love the character of Sirius Black. He is very complex. I do not know what it is that draws me to his character but he is always my answer for my favorite character. Plus, Remus Lupin is hands down the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. The lesson with the boggarts is lots of fun to read.
First line: Two small pairs of boots echoed on the afternoon cobblestones—one pair in a sprint, the other in a stumble and slide.
Summary: We all know the story of the little mermaid who falls in love with a prince but what we do not know is what happened before. After the disappearance of her friend, Evie continues to blame herself. However, when a young girl suddenly appears in their city who has a striking resemblance to Anna, Evie believes that miracles do come true. This stranger though has a few secrets. She must gain the love of the prince within four days or disappear into the ocean forever.
Highlights: The cover art is stunning with its mysterious purple eyed witch. I did not even have to read the synopsis before I knew that I wanted to read this. I loved watching The Little Mermaid growing up! My cousins and I would pretend to be mermaids while swimming at the pool. The sea witch was always very creepy and now we get her back-story! The history of the country and its culture was very interesting. The reliance on fishing and the sea is something I am not familiar with (being from Kansas). My favorite part was the flashbacks to when Anna went missing in the sea. It gave us a look at who our characters are and what drives them.
“The sea is a fickle witch.”
Lowlights: There are some dark elements to the story but they do not appear until the end of the story. I expected a little bit more since we were getting the back-story of a villain. And the narrative was very much young adult. They are teenagers who are worried about falling in love. Ok, great. But I want more sea witch!
FYI: This is a debut novel for Kansas author, Sarah Henning!
*This is book 2 in a series! May contain spoilers. Check out my review of Caravalon our blog as well.*
First line: While some rooms on the estate had monsters hiding beneath the beds, Tella swore her mother’s suite concealed enchantment.
Summary: At the end of Caraval it appears that Scarlett and Tella are now safe from their evil father. But this is far from the truth. Tella is entangled in a bargain with a mysterious friend. This friend plans to help Tella find her mother, who disappeared years before, but it comes at a price. Tella must find out the Legend’s real name. However, the truth could bring about the end of Caraval and Legend himself.
Highlights: Once again I cannot help but rave about the beautiful cover! But the language and story make it even more wonderful. I was a little weary about reading Tella’s story when in the previous novel she was a minor character that caused much of Scarlett’s troubles. However, I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed this book than the first one. Tella is a tough girl who does not think that love is anything she is destined to experience. This is quite a change from many YA novels where the girl only wants to find love. She is smart and tricky. She is not scared to get her hands dirty.
I loved the Fates! So creepy and detailed. I was truly terrified of the Undead Queen and her Handmaidens but not more than the Prince of Hearts. Everything about him makes my skin crawl. The addition of these supernatural beings expands and makes the story even more elaborate than Caraval.
That ending! Throughout the story, we follow Tella as she tries to figure out what is real and what is not. I felt like I was slowly going mad along with her trying to piece together all the clues. As we reached the last few pages, I kept wondering if we were going to get another book and we certainly will! I wonder if it will follow Tella some more or expand on another minor character. Either way I am in!
Lowlights: That I have to wait a year for the next book!
First line: On a drowsy Sunday afternoon, a man in a long dark coat hesitated in front of a house on a tree-lined street.
Summary: After the murder of her parents by a faerie of the High Court, Jude and her sisters are taken back to the land of faery. For years, Jude has trained and wished to be a part of the Court even if she is only human. When the chance arrives in the form of a transition of power, she takes her chance. Entering the world of intrigue, she must outwit her family and the wicked prince, Cardan.
Highlights: This is only the second book by Holly Black that I have read and I definitely know that I will be reading more. Her characters are fantastic. Jude is another kick butt girl in a world where is she is actually considered weak. However, she wants to be a part of the faerie world. And who would not want to be an beautiful immortal? The twists and turns were perfect, leaving the reader shocked and intrigued. There seem to be many books about faeries recently. It is following a growing trend but I think this one will not get lost in the group. I cannot wait to see where the author takes us in the next installment.
Lowlights: It started slow with the introductions and character building but it is worth the wait. Don’t give up on this one too early!
Summary: Magic once flowed through the land of Orisha. Maji’s controlled the magic. However, the king led a raid on the Maji of the land, killing them all. Zelie had to watch her mother die because of her magic and she has never forgotten. When Zelie stumbles upon the escaping Princess Amari she starts a quest to bring back magic to the land and revive the Maji. On their tail is Amari’s brother, the prince of Orisha, Inan who is determined to stop the return of magic but he is also hiding a dark secret.
Highlights: That cover! Skies! It is amazing. The author, Tomi Adeyemi, is a born storyteller. In her debut novel, she develops a fantasy world with great cast of characters and rich history. Tomi builds a world that resembles West Africa. The beasts and landscape are easily comparable but also very different. She weaves magic and heart into the whole story. While I was reading, I could easily picture it all happening right before my eyes. I loved all the action sequences. Zelie is badass! She has to hide her skills but she can whoop anyone. Also secretly, Amari is skilled as well. I love seeing amazing female characters that can kick butt and do!
The story is told from three different perspectives. Zelie, Amari and Inan each play an important part in the narrative. Zelie, a Diviner, is the child who had everything taken away from her when the Raid killed her mother. Amari is the princess who grew up sheltered but sees her friend, a Diviner like Zelie, killed by her father. And Inan, the crown prince, who has been taught to fear magic and fight to eradicate it. From each character, we get a look into the prejudices and history of Orisha and its people. All three have to learn from the events of the story and overcome their challenges in order to find peace and equality.
“You crushed us to build you monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back!”
This book is a powerful story that was written in a time of unrest. In the author’s note, she describes turning on the TV and feeling afraid. It is important that we have more books that show that just because we look different we are really all the same no matter what.
Lowlights: The only fault I found was the quick progression of the love story. At least to the reader very little time had passed and they were already talking love. This is one of the biggest troubles with YA fiction but it can easily be overlooked when there is a great story line like this.
FYI: Perfect for fans of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and the movie, Black Panther!