Content/Trigger Warnings:Talk of abusive parent figures, captivity, grief, loss of loved ones in the past
“I always thought they were so sweet together.”
Dearest reader, I completely fell head over heels for Mooncakes! From the black cats to the witchy magic, to unconditional family love and found family love, to the struggles of becoming the person who you want to be and on your own time, to wise butt-kicking grannies, to the cutest F/NB relationship I have been waiting for, my heart is so full and I’m so in love with this graphic novel! My heart is so full!
When news of strange activity happening in the woods reaches Nova, she ends up following a white wolf into the forest. Not knowing what to expect, she certainly wasn’t expecting a demon horse to appear out of nowhere fighting her childhood best friend and crush. Teaming up together (and some witch-tastic grandmas), Tam and Nova will help one another, but find each other all over again. And soon, they’ll uncover the dark intentions lurking in their own town and real power of werewolf magic.
Aside from all the paranormal and magical goodness happening in this book, the characters will have you falling in love. Our first main character is Nova who’s Chinese-American who’s still coping with the death of her parents, while also living with her two grandmothers (they are seriously the cutest), and is also hearing impaired. And our second main character is Tam who’s also Chinese-American, is nonbinary and a werewolf who grew up with Nova, but recently left their family for mistreatment and for unkindness.
If you still haven’t fallen in love yet then let me add on with both of our main characters are young adults who are still learning and discovering things about themselves, both together and separately. Both Tam and Nova are dealing with hurt from their parents and even though they’re both two different kinds of hurt, they’re both supporting one another through their struggles and challenges with unconditional love. Unconditional love is one of the most powerful forces and it’s so beautiful to watch these two characters connect with one another is so many ways. It’s beautiful, powerful, and my heart is still melting and sobbing from how this graphic novel concludes.
Overall, I’m always here for a queer book with magical elements and paranormal activity, sprinkled with lots of family bonds and unconditional love. This was everything I wanted for the fall season and I’m so glad that I picked this book up! The representation was fantastic, the artwork is absolutely stunning, and magical/paranormal elements are so good. If you’re looking for some cute, full of meaning and underlying messages, and something quick to pull you out of a reading slump then you need to read this book before the fall season is over with!
Content/Trigger Warnings:Death, loss of a loved one, grief, death of an animal
“The living had a tendency to make promises they could not keep.”
Nothing stays buried forever.
Ryn only cares about two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And both seem to be hanging by thin strings. The existence of a gravedigger is slowly being pushed aside and Ryn’s family is barely scraping by in their small village. There’s just one catch…the dead don’t always stay buried. Some say an ancient curse is the cause of the bone houses rising, but when a mapmaker by the name of Ellis arrives in town, things will never be the same again. The bone houses are becoming more aggressive and only Ryn can put a stop to their terror. Teaming up with Ellis, Ryn sets out on a journey to put an end to this curse and stop the bone houses, once and for all.
Readers, I loved this book immensely. I devoured this book and I never wanted to put this book down. Anything that has any for of necromancy, I am always here for it and this book is no exception. There’s necromancy, a subtle romance, and a hilarious goat that can’t stop, won’t stop! I’m hear for all of it and now I’m convinced I need to read more work by this author. I never anticipated this to become one of my favorites of 2019, but here we are and so excited to tell you about it.
Our story is split between two perspectives. We have the perspective of seventeen-year-old Ryn who’s a gravedigger and loves her family with her whole heart. She’s a strong-headed lady who would do anything to protect her family and their graveyard from falling into the wrong hands even if that means bargaining and taking jobs to guide weary travelers through all kinds of danger. There’s also the perspective of Ellis, a simple mapmaker who has found his way into Colbren. Unfortunately for him, his first night arriving to the village ends up with him being attacked by a bone house. Fortunately for Ellis, he meets our daring heroine Ryn. Ellis has a mysterious past and there’s more to him that meets the eye. With Ryn being backed into a corner from the bone houses venturing out of the forest to trying to prevent her family from losing their home, Ryn quickly accepts the offer of being Ellis’s guide for his map making the minute he mentions it. Thus our unlikely pair being their journey.
“Pain doesn’t make a person weak or strong, pain just – is. It’s not a purifier, it’s a part of living.”
This book was everything my heart needed for the month of October. There is a main theme of family means everything in this book. Ryn is very family focused from protecting her siblings to waiting for her father to return one day, Ryn would do anything for them. I also really loved how open Ryn was about her fear of losing the ones she loved and cared about. I definitely saw myself a lot in Ryn’s character. Ellis has no idea who his parents are. On this journey he’s trying to track down his parents and where he came from. We also have a goat who rose from the dead as a bone goat to follow Ryn and protect her from any harm that may find them on their journey. There’s just a strong sense of family throughout this book and it made me so soft, sappy, and a little weepy. I’m a very family oriented type of person and I would do anything for my own family. So reading this book was like a piece of my soul imprinted on the pages.
We also get amazing chronic pain representation in this book. Our main character, Ellis, has an old injury that he has to cope with. When the pain from this old wound flares up, he has to use willow bark to help. Ellis also talks about all the various treatments he had to undergo while under the care of his prince. My heart ached so much for Ellis. As someone who suffers from chronic pain and has family members who also suffer from chronic pain, Ellis was so relatable and a lot of the details that are talked about are very accurate. Chronic pain is one of the more lesser medical conditions that get talked about especially in books. The fact that we get so many moments of Ellis battling the pain, taking into account his medical supply, and the scene of him trying to tell Ryn about his injury and his pain, it’s like a breath of fresh air.
I also have to take a moment to talk about the goat in this book. I swear, this goat was a hilarious highlight of this whole book. This goat follows Ryn and Ellis on their journey to protect them from anything that may want to cause them harm. This goat pops up at the most ridiculous times, but at some of the most important moments as well. This goat scales a wall in the mine sideways, but acts like a guard dog while Ellis was in immense pain. I loved this goat and is was a great little bit to keep the mood light at times. I’ll admit, I was really rooting for that goat to be magic!
I am going to add a little breakdown right here, spoiler free. This book is broken up into three parts and this breakdown will help you get an idea of what each section holds.
💀 The Living – This sets the scene. We’re introduced to Ryn and her siblings, their financial situation, and details of the town. We also learn about the bone houses. We also met Ellis in this section. Ryn offers him guidance throughout the this section and eventually offers to be his guide into the mountains.
💀 The Dead – This is where the journey begins. Everything that happens to Ryn and Ellis on their journey happens in this section. Ryn and Ellis also begin to reveal more about themselves to each other. We learn about Ryn’s Uncle and Ellis reveals his chronic pain and injury. Also, a lot of battle along the way and some subtle romance brewing!
💀 The After – This is Ryn and Ellis after the bone houses have been stopped and the curse has been lifted. Both of our main characters are figuring out what the future holds and what it means to keep on living.
“I grew up thinking monsters could be slain.” “And I grew up thinking people were the monsters.”
There are only two things to this book that I think many readers will have issues with. The first issue is the dialect. There’s a very “olden time” dialect that gets spoken throughout this book and if you’re not used to seeing or hearing dialect like that then I think it will be challenging for any reader. The other issue is the ending of this book. Without going into spoilers, I’ve talked about this with my buddy reader and a few other readers who have also finished the book, who felt that the ending was very predictable or hinted to far too soon in the book. Now, this wasn’t the case for my reading experience. I was so fully caught up in the moment, the action, and how everything was unfolding that it didn’t really register with my reading experience. However, that is something to be aware of if that’s something that might impact your reading experience.
Overall, I loved this book with my whole heart and soul! It was the perfect book for me to read right now and I’m so glad I didn’t put this book off or set it aside. It truly is a wonderful book to read for the spooky season and even in the fall in general. There’s so many wonderful, hidden messages in this book and it will truly warm the heart. Plus necromancy! Who can refuse a book with necromancy happenings taking place?! What a read for this spooky season!
Content/Trigger Warnings:Death/murder, graphic content, trauma, talk of gender dysphoria, minor transphobia
“It gets better. It never gets easy, but it does start to hurt a little less.”
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children No Solicitations No Visitors No Quests
Children have been disappearing under all the right conditions with all the love and care they could hope for. Slipping through cracks, fading into the shadows under their bed, falling deep into the pits of a well, or stumbling through the back of the wardrobe… only this time they find themselves some place new, some place magical. But these lands come with a price and besides, what magical realm has use for a miracle child who’s used up all their luck…
Every Heart A Doorway follows the journey of Nancy, a pale girl who wants nothing more than to tumble back down her door. A door that leads to ghosts and for her, a life of being the perfect statue. She’d not the only child who lands at the home for Wayward Children. Oh no, plenty of children under Eleanor’s care understands the longing and desire to go back through their door, just like Nancy does. But Nancy’s arrival isn’t the only thing that shakes things up. Something evil begins to lurk in the shadows and when tragedy strikes, Nancy will find herself teaming up with outcasts yet some new friends to solve the reason behind the dark deeds brewing at the Home for Wayward Children.
“Death was precious. That didn’t change the fact that life was limited.”
If you would have told me I’d be thrown down a rabbit hole and become obsessed with this series, I probably would have awkwardly chuckled and ate some popcorn. Now, I’m in so deep. So deep that I already ordered the next two books in the series because I know I’m going to binge read the daylights out of this series! And I already have the fourth book lined up in my cart! It was so good and I still can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read Every Heart A Doorway!
Seanan McGuire is a legend from packing this book with so much representation! I can’t begin to list how many books I’ve read that barely had any representation, if any at all! Not only does McGuire give us a main character who’s asexual, but we get a second main character who’s transgender. Take my soul now! Not to mention, this book abolishes gender roles, but we also get a scene where transphobia is shut down with assertiveness and then there reinforcement of love. It was so wonderful read and simply wonderful.
If you were expecting a book of romance and fairy tales then this probably won’t be a book up you’ll be into. Basically, this book is a murder mystery that takes place inside the Wayward Children boarding school. This boarding school is home to many (seventy some children) children who have traveled through doors that are portals to magical worlds or realms. These children have spent so much time there that they come back changed and they no longer fit into society. You wouldn’t either if all you wanted to do was go back to the place that made you finally feel like you found your place in the world. Home is where the heart is.
“You’re nobody’s rainbow. You’re nobody’s princess. You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”
I’ll admit, this book did a few blows to me. As I already mentioned, this book is pretty diverse with it’s characters. But the thing that gut punched me every time was the content of trauma in this book. It’s such an important topic and often times, not many books like to address trauma or acknowledge how important addressing trauma is. In this book, you have all these kids who feel completely displaced and they no longer feel like kids. These kids travel to these mystical realms and it changes them, and unfortunately, it leads to them suffering from PTSD. The worst part is they don’t even have the support they need from their loved ones. Most of these kids’ loved ones don’t believe their children and instead have their children shipped off to this boarding school to get “fixed.” My soul breaks for these children because I have been there and I’m still right there. And Seanan McGuire just hit the nail on the head with trauma because in reality, most kids don’t get the support of their loved ones when they go through traumatic events and they get shipped off to get “fixed” when all they need is someone to say they understand and they’re here for them. Thankfully, we have a character like Eleanor because she may have the ability to open any door at any given time, but she stays in the real world to care for these children who may never go back to their magical worlds.
“We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”
Not every child was from the same realm though. Many children at the boarding school were from different doors that led to different magical realms and those realms didn’t always get along well with other realms. Our main character Nancy actually comes from the realm of the Underworld (and yes, we get a name drop of Persephone, my Queen!). The Lord of the Dead makes a promise to Nancy that Nancy will return, but only if she’s “sure” or when she’s truly ready, but being back in the real world throws her some curve balls and suddenly she’s starting to have doubts. As I mentioned, other children at the boarding school had very different realms compared to Nancy. Some children come from places similar to Candyland while others may come from realms that sound more like a world ruled by Dracula to lands that are battle grounds for fairies and goblins. One can never truly know what they’ll find on the end of a mysterious door.
“This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm.”
Overall, I don’t think I have anything negative to say about this book. Other than the fact that I wish this book didn’t end so soon. For a book so short, it really packed a punch to my gut and as I had already mentioned, I already ordered the next two books in this series. I think anyone who loves a good mystery and loves fantasy should read this book. If you get the opportunity to read this series and you still haven’t read this series (like me) then let me be the person you need, to tell you to go pick this series up and then come gush about this book with me!
ARC was given by Henry Holt and Company via Macmillion in exchange for an honest review
This review is being published before the release date (September 3rd, 2019)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/mass murder, talk of decapitation, talk of burning people alive, war themes, violence, starvation, trauma/PTSD, grief, loss of a loved one, abuse, torture
“In a moonlight room overlooking the City of Faith, a priest knelt before Ephyra and begged for his life.”
The Age of Darkness approaches. Five lives stand in its way. Who will stop it… or unleash it?
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared. All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course: A prince exiled from his kingdom. A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand. A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart. A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone. And a dying girl on the verge of giving up. One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Synopsis from GoodReads
The Four Bodily Graces
🌻 Grace of Heart: Enhances strength, agility, speed, and senses; Wielded by: Elite fighters 🌻 Grace of Blood: Give and takes energy to heal or harm; Wielded by: Healers 🌻 Grace of Mind: Creates objects imbued with unique properties; Wielded by: Alchemists & artificers 🌻 Grace of Sight: Senses and locates living beings; Wielded by: Scryers
🌻 Ephyra – The Assassin, Sister to Beru 🌻 Beru – The Innocent, Sister of Ephyra, dying 🌻 Jude – The Protector, The Keeper of the Word 🌻 Anton – The Gambler 🌻 Hassan – The Prince, trying to reclaim his kingdom
Alright, first off, I completely and utterly recommend this book if you’re a lover of Wicked Saints or Shadow of the Fox. I say this because both of these books have made my top books for 2019 and so has There Will Come A Darkness. There’s also a very similar theme that all three of these books have in common and I’m living for it! I’m going to do my best to make this as reader friendly and spoiler free as possible, but I’m so in love with this book and I want everyone to go pre-order this book immediately. So if you’re not a fan of reviewers who gush about the things they love, this review might not be for you and that’s okay! I still hope you look into this beautiful debut for this trilogy! And if you’re still here then let’s get started!
“She sucked in a breath, shaking herself slightly. Her amber eyes, always disarming to Hassan, held something in them he hadn’t seen there before.”
If you were expecting a book from one or two perspectives, then you thought wrong! Pool uses the five perspectives of the five main characters and delivers an outstanding job of it. Normally, I’m the type of reader who doesn’t like more than three point of views, but Katy made each perspective interesting and shows how some of the characters over lap with one another. It worked really well with this story and I think if the author hadn’t wrote this book in the five perspectives then this book wouldn’t be as captivating and interesting as it is. And with there being so many different point of views, it’ll be easy for readers to learn their favorite and see who they’re truly rooting for while reading.
Now, I said this in Wicked Saints, but I’m back to do it again with There Will Come A Darkness because this little nerd needs to gush a little. I mentioned it before, but let me expose myself again, I love a book that has characters with special characteristics. As I mentioned in previous reviews, I do a lot of D&D and various other RPGs, I do cosplaying, and I do LARPing in my spare time. So, whenever there is a book with characters of certain character classes with special abilities or powers; sign me up, put that book in my hands, and don’t disturb me for the next week or so! I will be in a hole binge reading those books. That’s absolutely what happened with this book. I was so invested in all the characters, in the plot, it felt like I was watching this divided world fall to it’s knees. I was extremely partial to Ephyra and Beru. Immensely for Ephyra because her grace is used for healing and helping others. You know I’m a bit bias when it comes to my clerics and healers. Watching her walk that thin line with her grace, it was heartbreaking and it made me really reevaluate the characters I play. I don’t think a character has imprinted on me in such a way in a long time and to truly become an all time favorite character. I loved these characters with all my heart. Each character will remind the reader of something familiar and every time something would happen or they’d show a little bit of their personality, it was like a blanket of familiarity wrapped itself around me.
And speaking of these characters, I have such an immense love for each of them. None of these characters are good or bad, they’re morally grey and I loved every ounce of humanity they showed in this book. Watching them tread water between light and dark, watching some walk a thin line between doing just enough and doing something terrible, and reading them go through the emotions of things being too much to the moments of hope. I love when characters can display their humanity because it represents reality so much more than characters who are just good or just evil. Even though this book has an obvious villain or threat, all of our main characters tip their own scales of right and wrong. They are neither good nor bad, sometimes they do something they shouldn’t, or they find themselves fighting with the ones they care about most, or even find themselves doubting everything they are, what they represent, and if they really are the answer to making a difference. I truly believe that any reader will find themselves attached to one of these characters based off their personality, their actions, their inner thoughts, and doing what they believe is right even if it may be wrong at times. For me, Ephyra is the one character I’m attached to more than all the others. The bond she has with her sister and everything she does for her sister, how could I not get attached to her. But all the characters are just as good and I catch glimpses of familiarity in them as well. I think any reader will.
“Our Graces aren’t just our power – they’re our connection to the world. Without them we’re just…ash.”
Honestly, I couldn’t put this book down. There are so many good elements infused in this book that made it nearly impossible to put it down. Even when I found myself putting this book down, I was still vibrating from the adrenaline and the need to know what was about to happen next. The pace is fast and I had to take moments to remind myself to breathe. Each page is another piece, another clue, another bit to fill a much bigger picture. I also think the few twists that were added into this book really stirred the pot and it left me wanting more. Wanting more romance, wanting more of the two sisters, wanting more gut wrenching moments – just in a state of wanting because what was given was so beautiful, so heartstopping, so delicious and I need to have the second book now! Please and thank you!
Overall, I’m still trying to catch my breath from this book. This book blew me out of the water, took me by storm, and I don’t know how I can read anything else until I have the next book, in this trilogy, in my hands. This book truly felt like it was made for me and each moment I felt like I was sinking deeper into this world. Pool is going to be an author to watch because her writing is so beautiful in the way she paints her worlds, her characters, and how she can weave everything into a book that will steal your heart and soul. This is the book that reminded me why I love fantasy so much and I think anyone who may be in a reading slump, in need of a fast paced fantasy, in need of a reminder of why fantasy is your genre… you need to pick this book up when it comes out. I think many readers will regret it if they miss out on this book. And I don’t know when the second book is coming out, but you better believe I’m buying myself time until it comes out. I can’t wait!
“But it wasn’t Jude who’d failed to live up to his destiny. It was Anton. By trying so hard, for so long, to escape it, he had nearly doomed the both of them.”
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.