Posted in Mystery

The Wicked Deep

I recently finished The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw. I have to say, I was bored for a while. I was interested enough to continue with the story, but I wasn’t invested in the characters by any means..until I met Hazel.

The book is set in the small harbor town of Sparrow. The legend of the Swan Sisters runs rampant every year after the school year ends as it marks the beginning of Swan Season. 200 years prior, the Swan Sisters were sentenced to death and drowned in the harbor for being “witches.” Really, the towns women were jealous that their husbands were intrigued by the beautiful sisters.

Women, scold your men, don’t drown innocent women.

During the Swan Season, Sparrow is filled with tourists waiting to watch the curse of the sisters unfold. The legend says the sisters return each summer and inhabit the bodies of 3 of the girls from the town. The girls then choose at least 1 boy from the town to be their victim. They boy is found dead, drowned, in the harbor after coming in to contact with any of the girls inhabited by a Swan sister.

Marguerite is the first to strike, hating the people of Sparrow more than the others. Aurora is greedy, she’s known to take 2 boys at once so they can spend eternity with her in the murky harbor. Hazel takes 1 boy at random, but this season is different.

I love that Ernshaw chose to make one of the sisters want to stop being vengeful. Hazel decides that it is time for the Sister’s curse on the town to be over. For 3 consecutive years, she has chosen to inhabit Penny Talbot, the daughter of the Lighthouse owner that disappeared 3 years prior, that lives on the small Lumiere Island. Hazel’s former love, Owen, once lived on Lumiere Island, but he chose to drown with her on the day of her murder.

On the island she meets Bo, a young man that Penny offered shelter too in exchange for help maintaining the island. Hazel falls in love with Bo, Bo falls in love with “Penny.” Bo is in Sparrow to discover who drowned his brother, Kyle, the previous summer

To make a long blog post short, Bo finds out that Penny is Hazel, that Hazel killed Penny’s father as well as Bo’s brother, and that somehow, he is still capable of loving her. Hazel decides to end the curse once and for all by drowning herself and asking Bo to drag Penny’s body from the water afterwards so that she might live..

Ernshaw’s unexpected twist in her story by exposing Penny to be Hazel was a smart strategic move. I am also impressed that she chose to let Bo stay in love with Hazel. Overall. Ernshaw was able to turn my viewpoint from barely a 3 star read to a solid 4 star, or should I say 4 Swan read?? Moon read?? Oh, well, y’all get the point.

Well done.

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Posted in Fantasy

March TBR “Battle of the Books” results:

And the winner is…….CROWN OF FEATHERS by NICKI PAU PRETO

  • The List- Patricia Forde – Review already posted: 3.5 stars
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters- Emil Ferris- DNF

While Emil Ferris creates a fantastical world in images, I found the story line to be too broken up by side stories. I couldn’t make myself take the time to finish it, and I doubt this is a graphic novel I will ever come back to.

  • A Wrinkle in Time- Madeleine L’Engle: 3.5 stars

A brief synopsis: Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin are on a quest across space to save Meg’s and Charles Wallace’s father from IT. With the help of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, they are able to free him from the confines of IT and bring him home safely.

Review: I read A Wrinkle in Time as a young child in elementary school. The only scene that stuck with me was the children on planet Camazotz bouncing balls and skipping ropes in synchronization. I had to dig deep in the recesses of my mind to figure out which book that scene was from. After finally discovering that it was indeed A Wrinkle in Time, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the re-read and the nostalgia that accompanied it.

  • Queen of Hearts- Colleen Oakes: 4.5 stars

Brief Synopsis: Dinah is the Princess of Wonderland. Her mother is dead. Her brother is mad. Her father is the King, and he is filled with hatred for her. One day, a bastard sister is introduced to the Wonderlanders, and is being groomed as the Duchess of Wonderland. Shortly after, a mysterious note is slipped to Dinah at a dinner. She needs to find Faina Baker in the black towers. But why?

Dinah sneaks into the towers as a prisoner, accompanied by her best friend, Wardley. They discover Faina is mad and that her warnings are all riddles. After this meeting, Faina is murdered on Execution day, Dinah is framed for their murder of her brother, and she escapes into the Twisted Woods where a completely different journey begins.

Review: Oakes is fantastic. She puts a dark twist on Wonderland that has just enough detail from Alice for it to easily be recognized as Wonderland, but this is not your average, happy fairy-tale. There’s murder, torture, suggested sexual violence (not enough for kids to not be able to read this, but enough that you understand what’s going on between guards and female prisoners), dungeons, and much scheming on the part of Cheshire, the kings most trusted adviser. If you’re looking for a dark, but familiar tale. This is the book for you.

“I will not be afraid of this wood because my fight to live does not begin now. I have been fighting all my life, I just didn’t know it…I did not die today, so I will not fear death tomorrow.”

Dinah

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass- Lewis Carroll: 4.9 stars

Review: Carroll has created a masterpiece. I can officially say that I now have a favorite classic tale. I’ve never been a super fan of Alice in Wonderland. It was never my favorite Disney movie, but after reading the book, my opinions have changed. I had a difficult time getting through the first few chapters as the writing is much like Tolkien’s (not leaving much to the imagination). I swapped to an illustrated edition and then the story flew by and I found myself pacing to drag it out longer.

I love the whimsical elements, the nonsense, the plays on words. Simply amazing.

  • Crown of Feathers- Nicki Pao Preto: 5 Stars—WINNER WINNER PHEONIX DINNER?

Brief Synopsis: Nicki Pau Preto is a genius. Val and Veronyka are animages on the run from the empire. They are hunted for their abilities to communicate with animals, namely the potential to bond with pheonixes, and are 2 of the remaining supporters of the Pheonix Riders. Val is in charge. She is cruel, distant, domineering, while Veronyka is light hearted, hopeful, seeking companionship. They find 2 pheonix eggs, but only one hatches, and it chooses Veronyka as her bondmate. Eventually Val’s need to control Nyka and her bondmate led her to murder the hatchling pheonix. Nyka leaves in search of the hidden Pheonix Riders and to put Val out of her life. Nyka find out that the Riders only accept male apprentices, so like Mulan, she poses as a male, Nyk, and enters the Rider camp and befriends the commanders son, Tristan. It isn’t long before Val finds her…but to unravel the rest of the storym you’re just going to have to read it;).

Review: I haven’t been this stressed out, on the edge of my seat, wanting to scream at the characters, over a book in a long time. Pau Preto has written a phenomenal story. In my personal opinion, if you read this book, do yourself a favor and don’t read the epilogue unless you want to be internally writhing wanting to know what will happen in the next book. Other books in this TBR list were amazing in their own way, but this book tops them all. I had to go back and adjust my rating. I am a fantasy lover for life, it has always been my prefered genre, and sadly the others just didn’t stand a chance in comparison. Congratulation Crown of Feathers, you have won.

“She knew my darkness better than anyone, and always, she had forgiven me. Always, she had seen the good in me. Until the day she didn’t.”

-Avalkyra Ashfire

  • Five Feet Apart- Rachael Lippincott: 4.8 stars

Brief Synopsis: Stella and Will both have Cystic Fibrosis. Will also has B. Cepacia. A bacterial infection that no longer allows him the opportunity for a lung transplant to prolong his life. People with cystic fibrosis can not be closer than 6 feet from each other due to risk of cross contamination from different strains of the condition. Yet Stella and Will fall in love anyways.

Stella is a know it all, goody two shoes who created an app to help with remembering her treatment schedules, and Will is the mischievous rebel, always stressing out the nurses, that doesn’t want to take his meds.

Review: Lippincott creates an amazing, heart-wrenching scenario surrounding this Romeo and Juliet romance. Stella and Will risk it all to try to be together and not cross-contaminate. I haven’t cried this hard over a book in a long time, but I was absolutely sobbing. The story is beautifully told and I will definitely be recommending it to everyone.

Side Note: Can we PLEASE appreciate how beautiful this cover art is?! I mean, geez, 5 stars in my book! *buh dum tss*

“There’s one theory I like that says in order to understand death, we have to look at birth. So, while we’re in the womb, we’re living that existence right? We have no idea that our next existence is just an inch away. Maybe death is the same. Maybe is just the next life. An inch away.”

-Stella

  • The Graveyard Apartment- Mariko Koike: 2 stars

A brief synopsis: A family from Tokyo buys a nice apartment conveniently located close to schools and work, but is also adjacent to a Buddhist temple, crematorium, and a graveyard. Shortly after moving in they begin to experience strange paranormal phenomena.

Review: This book upset me for a number of reasons and I am hesitant to give it the full 2 stars. There is not a lot of character development, nor do the characters use much common sense. While this may be part of the supposed charm of the book, I found it infuriating and could not wait to finish the book simply so I could stop looking at it.

Posted in Fantasy

For Those Delightfully Lost in Wonderland:1

In efforts to make this post not be a 76 miles long, I will be posting all of my Alice books in a series of posts. I hope you enjoy them, and welcome to

First we have the book that started my love for Alice, Heartless by Marissa Meyer.

Heartless: Marissa Meyer

Brief Synopsis: Heartless is a brilliant, beautifully written re-telling of Alice. Catherine is the most desired female in Wonderland. She has, unfortunately, captured the eye of the dimwitted King of Hearts, and he seeks to make her his Queen of Hearts. Cath’s only wish in life is to open a bakery and spend her days making the most delightful treats in all of wonderland, but being the daughter of a Marchioness does not allow room for lowly tasks like baking,

Cath is invited to a royal ball at which she will be expected to accept the King’s marriage proposal, but rather she spots Jest, the new court Jester. A jabberwocky attacks and Cath gets away and avoids the King’s proposal, but she cannot out Jest out of mind. It was love at first sight. They pursue a whirlwind relationship all the while under the guise that Cath is courting the King.

Cath meets Haigha (pronounced Hare) and Hatta, Jest’s two closest friends, and then learn that they are not residents of Hearts, but of Chess, and that they had come through the Looking Glass to steal the heart from the Queen of Hearts, Cath’s heart, to end the centuries long war in Chess.

Ultimately Cath chooses Jest, but it is all to their own downfall. Hatta, Haigha, Jest, and Cath all have their lives ruined by one fateful decision to believe they could defy prophecy.

Queen of Hearts: Colleen Oakes

Brief Synopsis: Dinah is the Princess of Wonderland. Her mother is dead. Her brother is mad. Her father is the King, and he is filled with hatred for her. One day, a bastard sister is introduced to the Wonderlanders, and is being groomed as the Duchess of Wonderland. Shortly after, a mysterious note is slipped to Dinah at a dinner. She needs to find Faina Baker in the black towers. But why?

Dinah sneaks into the towers as a prisoner, accompanied by her best friend, Wardley. They discover Faina is mad and that her warnings are all riddles. After this meeting, Faina is murdered on Execution day, Dinah is framed for their murder of her brother, and she escapes into the Twisted Woods where a completely different journey begins.

Review: Oakes is fantastic. She puts a dark twist on Wonderland that has just enough detail from Alice for it to easily be recognized as Wonderland, but this is not your average, happy fairy-tale. There’s murder, torture, suggested sexual violence (not enough for kids to not be able to read this, but enough that you understand what’s going on between guards and female prisoners), dungeons, and much scheming on the part of Cheshire, the kings most trusted adviser. If you’re looking for a dark, but familiar tale. This is the book for you.

Grimm Fairy Tales: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Vol. 1: Raven Gregory

This graphic novel is weird. It provides a very interesting take on the typical character’s involved. Cheshire is now a giant ferocious feline, the Jabberwocky looks like a space worm, and there is now a cannibalistic walrus. The artwork is phenomenal.

The white rabbit is twisted and scheming. The Red Queen is awful, but defeated. The jabberwocky rules Wonderland. But my personal favorite is the spade. Her character is unexpected, kind, yet totally badass.

Here are a few interesting excerpts from the novel to give an idea of more of the artwork!

Posted in sci-fi

L’Engle Flamingle Part 1 : A Wind in the Door

I was quite fond of L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time as a child, though as an adult, I couldn’t remember which book it was that I read that had those elements in the story that I loved. I remembered scenes and images I’d created in my mind, but couldn’t remember what book it came from.

While working on a “New Realms” display, I was recommended by my boss to include A Wrinkle in Time. That sparked a memory and a nagging feeling that this was the book that contained the vague elements I remembered.

I then decided to reread it, and discovered that the book was the book that I had been searching for and that is part of a quintet series! Imagine my excitement! Thus my L’Engle Flamingle officially began.

My brief review of A Wrinkle in Time can be found under my ‘Battle of the Books Results’ post (yet to be posted).

So here I’ll start with A Wind in the Door: 3.5 stars.

Meg and Calvin meet a cherubim, Proginoskes, and go on another epic journey, but this time to save Charles Wallace from being Xed (extinguished, or killed) by the Echthros (Monsters of Nothingness). Accompanied by Mr. Jenkins, the unlikely quartet finds themselves inside one of Charles Wallaces mitochondrion where they try to convince Sporos, a farandolae (a being that lives in mitochondria) to mature and help the mitochondria to survive. In the end, Progo sacrifices himself to save everyone else and Charles Wallace lives.

“The Echthroi are those who hate, those who would keep you from being Named, who would un-Name you. It is the nature of love to create. It is the nature of hate to destroy.”

-Meg

After starting A Wind in the Door, several of questions came to mind that I believe were left unanswered from A Wrinkle in time. Such as “What the hell exactly happened? Did IT get vanquished? Does the darkness still cover Earth? Did I overlook an entire explanation? Also, what the heck happened to the Echthroi?”

I am still confused about these questions, though I do believe Earth is still covered in darkness due to the presence of the Echthros, but if anybody can provide me with some clarity, PLEASE comment and give my confused brain some resolution.

Throughout this section of the Murray’s life, I honed in on the fact that Meg is incapable of making decisions and handling situations on her own unless it is literally life or death. I am annoyed. In A Wrinkle in Time she expected her Father to fix all the problems, and in the mean time, Calvin.  Now, in A Wind in the Door, she still depends on Calvin, is upset that her father can’t handle it for her since he’s on a business trip, tries to depend on Teacher to do everything, then clings to Progo. Talk about falling into the weak female stereotype. I understand she’s a terrified child, but nonetheless, I am annoyed by her character.

On a more positive side note, I love the Osmosis Jones vibes that L’Engle creates while Progo, Meg, Calvin, and Mr. Jenkins are inside of Charles Wallace’s cells trying to save his life.

I also love the mention of Calvin’s science experiment involving plants and love. The concept it simple, 3 plants, 1 placed in a horrible negative environment, it inevitably dies. The next placed in a neutral environment and given the basic necessities to live, it lives, but doesn’t thrive. The third is placed in a  neutral environment, given the necessities, but is also spoken too, encouraged, and this plant thrives and grows above and beyond. This gives way to the belief that love and encouragement are the root of all.

Lastly, I found L’Engle’s ending quite appropriate. In wondering where Progo has gone after sacrificing himself to save Meg, Calvin, Charles Wallace, and Mr. Jenkins, a huge gust of wind comes through the door, blowing it open. I guess guardian angels really do exist, huh?

Posted in Book Challenges

March 2019 TBR: “Battle of the Books”

Let’s find the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow, shall we? Which book on my March TBR will be the winner!

  1. The List- Patricia Forde – Review already posted:3.5 stars
  2. My Favorite Thing is Monsters- Emil Ferris
  3. A Wrinkle in Time- Madeleine L’Engle
  4. Queen of Hearts- Colleen Oakes
  5. Through the Looking-Glass- Lewis Carroll
  6. Alice in Wonderland(Illustrated)- Lewis Carroll
  7. Crown of Feathers- Nicki Pao Preto
  8. Five Feet Apart- Rachael Lippincott
  9. The Graveyard Apartment- Mariko Koike

These will be read in no particular order.

Have any of you read some of my TBR and care to give me your thoughts (without spoilers please)?

(Lot’s of Alice, I know, but after reading Heartless by Marissa Meyer, I’m hooked!)

Posted in Dystopian

“Extinction is the saddest word.” -Benjamin

I recently finished The List by Patricia Forde. Forde creates a brilliant dystopian atmosphere in which a society has survived the Melting of the world as they know it.

The main characters to be mentioned are Letta, our young, fiery protagonist, Marlo, an adventurous Creator-outcast from Ark, John Noa, the novels antagonist and leader of Ark, Benjamin, Letta’s mentor/father figure, and Leyla, a color catcher.

According to John Noa the dwindling society, amusingly named Ark, having the ability to use language is what lead to the desecration of man kind, and language should be limited to the bare minimum to preserve life. But let’s be real, he’s nuts. He believes that language should be confined to “List” speak. List consists of 500 words each person is allowed to learn in order to speak in short, stunted sentences. Me speak list. Make blog post. Is good, no?

Letta, our protagonist, lost her parents who went to find new lands after the destruction of the world and is now a wordsmith apprentice (person who collects words to add to their collection.) You may be thinking, “why would she be collecting words for a society in which words aren’t allowed?” Well Noa wants to destroy every new word he can come across and erase it from humanity. Smart, huh?

Letta, which ironically enough sounds like “Letter”, is the spark of the rebellion within Ark after helping Marlo, a “Creator,” hide within the Wordsmith shop from the evil Gavvers (police) trying to take him to the holding cells to be punished for being an outsider. Letta eventually befriends Marlo after saving his life and Marlo returns the favor by helping her bring down Noa.

Noa has devised a plan and kidnapped Letta’s mentor, Benjamin, who has raised her from a young age. Noa has him tortured and Letta later finds him dumped in the woods where he uses his last breaths to warn her about Noa’s plan to eradicate language completely with a chemical called NICENE. NICENE damages the temporal lobe and takes away the users ability to form new words, understand them, speak, or communicate. They often die within a few months from the shock of their newfound state. They are always stuck in the present, never able to look back or to the future. What a stagnant way to live.

But, ya wanna know the real kicker? Noa saves himself and a select few from being issued the drug. He equates himself to a savior and believes he should still be trusted to use language. How screwed up is that? Who made him God?

In the midst of all of this, Letta meets Leyla, a musician, a color catcher. Letta is troubled by music as she has never been around music, and has had it ingrained in her that music is evil. She confronts Leyla for playing a sad tune and cannot understand why it is affecting her the way it is. Later it is discovered that Leyla is Letta’s aunt, and that the song was her mother’s favorite. Knowing this information only served to bolster Letta’s determination to destroy Noa and Ark.

Ultimately, Letta, with Marlo’s help, kills Noa and saves the day.

Now that this not so brief synopsis has been told, let’s get down to it. Noa and the Ark. I think this allusion is pretty obvious. Even the reason for the world ending is an allusion to the Bible. The polar ice caps all melt due to global warming and flood the earth, in Forde’s story this is known as ‘the Melting.’ Of course, Noa creates Ark and saves them all from the flood, while the rest that survived the Melting, the ‘non believers’ that did not choose to originally follow Noa into Ark, were forced live outside of Ark with no fresh water and are essentially lepers to society.

Outside of Ark are the non believers, they are known as descretors to Noa, but Creators among themselves. There are also the scavengers that live in Tintown that speak List and live off meager findings within woods ravaged by dangerous animals. Last there are the Wordless, these individuals lost the ability to speak by either NICENE, having their tongues cut out, or forms of mental torture that made them never want to speak again. The Creators and Letta strive to bring down Noa and Ark knowing that life is made for freedom outside the bounds of strict laws rules that have no true foundation other than that of opinion.

Escape the norm. Challenge society. Stand out. Be different. Don’t blindly follow. You are not a sheep. You are an individual allowed thoughts and feelings. Take advantage of that to the fullest and be wary of those trying to influence you to their point of view ‘just because they say so.’ Like Letta, you are your own savior, and it is up to you to decide if you would destroy or if you would create.

Benjamin always said “Extinction was the saddest word”. This is not just the end of a life, but the end or eras, traditions, thought processes.