Review Roundup

Masquerade Season by ‘Pemi Aguda [short story]

This one really made me think and it hit me harder than I anticipated. Actually, Masquerade Season reminded me of The Giving Tree, honestly. One of those stories where the message makes you ache and it leaves you deeply melancholy.

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt [fiction]

I got a chapter sampler version, so I’m only reviewing the couple of chapters I read, but I really, really like the prose in this one. There’s a very distinct voice, which is so nice to find. The set up is very intriguing, and I’m really curious to see how it’s going to wrap up.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC-excerpt. Excited to read the full book!

Dust Bowl Venus by Stella Beratlis [poetry collection]

Woe be unto us: We thought dancing did not matter.

I really do have, like, a thing for poetry. I truly do. Poems are so fly, and these ones are awesome.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use by Sara Levine [children’s books]

This is such an informative and awesome kid’s book! It’s interactive, which is great for teaching kids and getting them engaged with the material, and there are so many different birds that are described herein. It also delves briefly into how evolution and Darwinism work. A lovely, colourful book for young readers!

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

Winter Soldier Vol. 1: The Longest Winter by Ed Brubaker [graphic novel/comic books]

I’m gonna admit, I picked this up because of the show. It’s awesome to finally have the focus on Bucky’s character, who I’ve always found interesting. This comic was quite compelling and I really liked the artwork. I was a bit confused? I feel like there was backstory I didn’t have, but maybe it’s just because I’m so used to the show/films universe. Like, I wasn’t expecting Bucky and Natasha to be so close! I liked them together, I was just a bit thrown. That said, I liked it overall. Definitely going to read a few more Winter Soldier tales. 

Mika and the Dragonfly by Ellen Delange [children’s books]

Do you need a spoiler warning for a kid’s book? It’s only 17 pages, so I have no idea! But, uh, spoilers? Haha. The artwork in this is absolutely lovely, and there’s a good message about being kind to insects and making friends. I’m a little unsure about the method of resolution, though: the dragonfly’s wing fell off and the kid ends up gluing it back on.

Adults don’t take kid’s books literally, of course, but I’d just be sure to tell the kid you’re reading this to not to attempt gluing a dragonfly’s wing back on. I really worry about the dragonflies, okay?! That’s my only nitpick, though. Overall it’s a very sweet little book and definitely worth picking up.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

Book Review: Mortal Engines (2001)

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve

I absolutely fell in love with the Mortal Engines film by Peter Jackson, which I’ve reviewed here, and ever since I watched it, I’ve been wanting to read the book. I finally had time to finish it the other week and I ADORED it. There are a few big differences from the film, but I loved both in their own way. For anyone who loves dystopian fiction, definitely dive into this series.

*SPOILER WARNING*

“You aren’t a hero, and I’m not beautiful, and we probably won’t live happily ever after,” she said. “But we’re alive, and together, and we’re going to be all right.”

Oh my goshhhhh, this book is so fantastic, I cannot. Hester/Tom are so fucking perfect together. The scene where he’s specifically told not to tell Hester and in less than a second goes, nope, Hester’s gonna be mad if I don’t and then runs off to tell her immediately is *chef’s kiss* These two are so perfect together I canNOT.

Tom looked round at her, and saw more clearly than ever before the kind, shy Hester peeping from behind the grim mask. He smiled at her with such warmth that she blushed.

This entire book has me like, protect Hester Shaw at all costs she is precious, despite the fact that, you know, she could break my face with her pinkie finger.

But seriously, this book is soooo good. And as grim as it is, this universe is fascinating! I definitely love Tom and Hester as much as I did in the film. Anna is a total badass, too! I also adore Kate and Bevis. Precious little investigator duo \o/

Anywho, I must get the rest of the series! 

Audiobook Review: Midnight Sun (2020)

I first read Twilight (2006) when I was thirteen. I loved it, and read all three sequels in quick succession. I was a bit hesitant to give Midnight Sun a go, however. After all, it’s the same plot as Twilight, only from Edward’s POV. (There’s also a gender-swapped version of Twilight, too. So, there’s three Twilights to choose from, really.) But then I read The Host, and I really enjoyed that, and I found out that Jake Abel (in The Host movie) was voicing Edward in the audiobook, so I decided I wanted to give it a try.

‘My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me.’

Ah, the nostalgia hit me hard on this one. I was deffo not expecting it. Like, I haven’t read Twilight since I was a teenager, but diving back into this world has been so fun. And I really, really like Edward’s POV. I actually prefer his POV. And I wholeheartedly recommend reading this via audiobook. After listening to it, I can’t picture anyone else as Edward. Jake Abel is A+ casting.

Also, Edward is bloody hilarious in this. Like, the things he obsesses over had me howling. Dude has absolutely ZERO chill. And I like the insight and development of their relationship that Meyer goes into. He and Bella have a lot of conversations that they didn’t have in Twilight, and hearing his perspective on the whole thing actually makes a lot more sense now. Bella always thought of him as so perfect and it was really hard to get a read on *Edward* in her book. Now, reading his perspective, it just makes so much more sense. The books complement each other quite well in that sense.

You learn about Bella’s favourite bands, movies, books. It’s not just Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. Bella gets cool points for Monty Python love, I’ll give her that. She talks about having jobs back in Arizona which led to her lack of a social life because she was always taking care of her mother, having no childhood because she was the adult, etc. Edward susses out why she loves taking care of people and worries about her not getting to do the things she actually wants. His concern for her wants is really sweet, honestly. Yes, he needs to chill, but it’s hard not to sympathise with the lad. Seriously, though, it’s from Edward’s POV, but Bella’s personality is explored so thoroughly in this one and I’m so here for it.

As well, his interactions with Emmett have me giggle snorting. They’re great bros in this and the family interactions really added that extra side to the novel that we never got from Bella’s POV. He’s also so sassy about Mike and the other students in the school. Like, chill dude. C’mon. Be cool. No one can conjure problems out of thin air to worry about quite like Edward. Poor lad needs a cup of tea and a calm movie.

Anyways, this book is pretty cool and Bella/Edward are still shippable.

Book Reviews: The Host (2008), Roommate (2021), Skyward (2018)

I read some really fantastic books this week. I think the one that’s going to be swirling around in my head for the next couple of days is The Host, though. It made me think and feel and wonder and angst. There were a few things I wish were done a bit differently or shortened, but overall I really truly adored it. Roommate by Sarina Bowen felt like a book to read at autumn time and I devoured it. Skyward by Joe Henderson was so brilliantly coloured and detailed and had such great representation. If you’re in search of a brilliant graphic novel, definitely pick up this one! I also read another children’s book that was wonderful, but I’m going to save that for a separate post.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

“Eight full lives and I never found anyone I would stay on a planet for, anyone I would follow when they left. I never found a partner. Why now? Why you?”

Wow. This book. I have a lot of feelings. I understand now why this is the book Stephenie Meyer picks as her favourite. There is so much that I loved about this story: dear Wanda, tough Melanie, kind Jeb, lil Jamie, angsty Jared and sweet, lovely Ian.

lil’ bit, Jared, it’s true
(gif set credit)

SPOILER WARNING

That said, I don’t think there’s even teams, because the book is pretty solidly Wanda/Ian, Jared/Melanie. But I think the gif is hilarious XD

Ian is a total pumpkin pie precious cinnamon roll gem, though. I mean:

“I held you in my hand, Wanderer. And you were so beautiful.”

And:

“You deserve a life, too, Wanda. You deserve to stay.”

“But I love her, Ian.”

He closed his eyes, and his pale lips went dead white. “But I love you,” he whispered. “Doesn’t that matter?”

“Of course it matters. So much. Can’t you see? That only makes it more . . . necessary.”

Gosh, I cried at multiple parts of this story and I’m well impressed by the sheer humanity Meyer packed into this alien tale. Bravo, Meyer, you got me. You got my EMOTIONS.

I’ve always thought that if a person wants to, he can get along with just about anybody. I like putting my theories to the test. And see, here you are, one of the nicest gals I ever met. It’s real interesting to have a soul as a friend, and it makes me feel super special that I’ve managed it.

JEB ♡

My interest in this book started when I stumbled upon an interesting interview where Stephenie Meyer talked about The Host and said, ‘If I never wrote another book, I think I’d probably choose The Host. It feels like my most important story in a lot of ways. But I very much hope that my best book is still ahead of me. (Let’s be honest, though. I’m going to be remembered for Twilight.)’ For anyone curious, the interview is here.

I always get curious about the book that an author picks as their favourite of all their work, and the fact that she picked it over Twilight is striking to me and has left me very curious to read it.

Also, the movie left me with FEELS. Jared and Melanie OTP:

And of course Ian and Wanda \o/ ❤❤❤❤

I love all these characters.😭😭😭

(Movie review.)

Roommate by Sarina Bowen

We’re like a constellation in the night sky—people associate the stars with one another, but those stars only look like a group. They’re really millions of light years apart.

This book has everything you could possibly want in a romance story: adorable couple + amazing, delicious descriptions of cooking and baking + great side characters + heartfelt romance.

I loved Roderick and Kieran so much! Precious pies, both of them. I wholeheartedly recommend this one!!

Skyward, Vol. 1: My Low-G Life by Joe Henderson

This was a seriously cool graphic novel and I’m so curious to see where it goes in future volumes. The artwork in this is breath-taking, and there’s really good representation, too. I love the central characters, and the premise of a world without gravity is intriguing (albeit highly disconcerting!). The ending left me with EMOTIONS, so I must read the next one asap.

Book Review for Blog Tour: Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire (2020)

Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire
Part of the Bloodlaced blog tour

“Are you a man or a woman?” she asked, her nose millimeters from mine. The same question I’d been asked a million times before. I only ever had one answer.

“I am Asagi.”

I really like how very different this book is from others in the vampire genre. If I was to compare it to any of the ones I’ve read, I’d probably say it fits in with Shari Sakurai’s Demon’s Blood series in that both are set in historical Japan and follow the characters’ struggles around vampirism. Bloodlaced is a nuanced character study and a good bit of the book occurs before the fantasy element comes in. The story focuses heavily on the effects of imbalanced relationships, and especially how these relationships impact those without a say in their circumstances.

There are some spoilers herein.

The story begins with Asagi and Tsukito, two household slaves, the day they are sold to a new master (who is a complete arsehole, let’s be clear). It’s a horrible, brutal place where both are abused. And no matter how hard Asagi works to keep Tsukito safe, things get very dark and bleak for the pair. Eventually, Asagi is bought by a new master, Mahiro.

I was unsure of Mahiro at the start, although Asagi certainly wasn’t:

Like a fool, I’d fallen in love with the moon, and once again it was out of my reach.

To be sure, Mahiro is nothing like Asagi’s previous master and encourages opinions and respect amongst members of the household. And so Asagi quickly falls in love with Mahiro. Asagi also makes friends with Kira, who hides a secret about her relationship with Mahiro and is, awkwardly, madly in love with him. So the closer Asagi and Mahiro become, the more jealous she gets.

Asagi soon learns that Mahiro is a blood-drinking immortal. Though Asagi’s reaction is bad at first, soon they grow closer and become deeply attached to each other. But the joy doesn’t last long. An unfortunate series of events leads to Mahiro turning Asagi into a creature just like him. Something Asagi isn’t remotely delighted about. Worse, the longer they’re together, the more Asagi realises that Mahiro is not an equal, nor views himself as such, and resentment builds slowly on Asagi’s side.

He was still my master. I might not have been bound in chains, but I had become a slave of another kind, bound by blood and time.

I was so glad Asagi realised this and didn’t excuse Mahiro’s views simply because he was kinder than some. (I was worrying, guys. WORRYING.) As time goes on, Asagi begins to push back and I was rooting so hard for Asagi to find Tsukito and get the happy ending that was denied to both of them.

The ending was straight up AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. I wasn’t expecting any of the final twists, but overall I really liked how how everything came together in the end. A very impressive start to a new series!

Really excited to read what happens next!

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review as part of the Bloodlaced Blog Tour.

If you like Bella Forrest, P. C. Cast, AJ Tipton, or Anne Rice, you will love this beautiful dark paranormal fantasy romance.

Publisher: City Owl Press (September 29, 2020)
Releases on: September 29, 2020
Genre: LGBTQIA Dark Historical Paranormal Romance
Language: English
ISBN 9781648980152

Buy Links:


Amazon: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1Amz
Amazon Paperback: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1AmzPrt
B&N: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1BN
Kobo: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1Kobo
iBooks: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1iBooks
GoodReads: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1GR
City Owl: https://smarturl.it/Youkai1CO

About the Author:

Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.

Website: https://www.courtneymaguirewrites.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CourtneyMaguireWrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PretentiousAho
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/courtneymaguirewrites/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Courtney-Maguire/e/B082S34S7W

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (2011)

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
by Deborah Harkness

‘I saw the logic that they used, and the death of a thousand cuts as experimental scientists slowly chipped away at the belief that the world was an inexplicably powerful, magical place. Ultimately they failed, though. The magic never really went away. It waited, quietly, for people to return to it when they found the science wanting.’

TEA! WINE! BOOKS! MAGIC!

This book is basically an ode to all the things a historian loves: archival research in old libraries with numerous texts and tomes, historical tangents, philosophical debates, and an investigation into the inexplicable and wondrous. I’m also fairly certain I’ve never encountered two characters who love the history of wine and tea more than Diana and Matthew. Bless their hearts.

A Discovery of Witches is the first in a trilogy that follows the fantastical adventures of Diana Bishop, a professor/witch who is spending her summer in Oxford for research on alchemical texts. But it’s in the archives that she stumbles upon something: a book that everyone in the magical world wants to get their hands on. Diana, though a witch, wants nothing to do with magic and pretends not to notice the book or its magical ~allure. That is, until a vampire named Matthew Clairmont catches her notice.

Matthew, along with an entire library of magical onlookers (i.e. magical stalkers), all want the book. For some reason, though, only Diana has ever been able to access it. This discovery leads to a spiral of events that put Diana in danger as various vampires and witches try to get the book. Few of the book’s seekers care about Diana’s wellbeing, leaving her with only Matthew and her aunts to help. Her aunts, Sarah and Emily, were wonderful! Very motherly. They’re both witches themselves and I love their scenes. I also loved Matthew’s relationships with his family: especially Marcus, his son and Ysabeau, his mum. The story eventually leads the main couple from England to France and then to the United States, so there’s a good bit of setting changes. The library scenes were probably my favourite, though!

This is a vampire tale quite different from Buffy or Vampire Diaries. I was reminded a bit of Twilight at the start, but not because the storylines are the same (they’re not) or because Diana is similar to Bella (she isn’t), or because the vampires are similar (they’re totally, totally, totally different), but rather because Matthew reminded me a bit of Edward at the start. That sort of quiet, reserved, chivalrous type who lurks in the shadows. That changed pretty quickly, though. Matthew is much, much darker than Edward. His history is long and brutal and he makes no attempts at hiding it. There are some seriously interesting events in history that he’s been party to. This is a book that lauds history, so you do get a lot of historical moments re-imagined through the lens of vampires and witches, which was seriously cool. Diana and Matthew are the epitome of researching academics, which I adore ♡ Their chemistry is also unreal.

I’m definitely curious about book two, Shadow of Night, especially given that ending! OH MY GOSH.

Has anyone else read this trilogy? Or seen the show?