Modern Fairytale Series (Books 1-3) – Holly Black

Title: Tithe; Valiant; Ironside (Books # 1-3 of the Modern Fairytale Series)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Continuing my Holly Black kick, I breezed through this series in a week. It is part of her earlier work and that fact is a bit obvious, but it still was well done.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tithe and Ironside (Book 1 and 3). Whereas, I struggled a bit more with Valiant (Book 2). I think one reason is Book 1 and 3 focus on Kaye, a pixie changeling who I have grown rather attached to. Book 2, brought in all new characters and love interests and I never got into the whole homeless, drug addled storyline. It just did not click for me. Maybe because it was more urban fantasy than traditional fantasy? Not sure, it just didn’t hook me as hard as the others. Overall though, I enjoyed all the stories, some just a little  more than others.

Looking for an awesome fantasy adventure that takes you on a dark and twisty ride? Then look no further, for Black is your Queen of Faerie.

You can find them on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis:

Tithe: Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.

Valiant: When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she’s trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city’s labyrinthine subway system.

But there’s something eerily beguiling about Val’s new friends. And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.

Ironside: In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben’s coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing — her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can’t see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn’t exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.

Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth — that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother’s shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben’s throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?

Holly Black spins a seductive tale at once achingly real and chillingly enchanted, set in a dangerous world where pleasure mingles with pain and nothing is exactly as it appears.

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The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan

Title: The Bonesetter’s Daughter
Author: Amy Tan
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction/Cultural
Page Length: 387 pages

I have had this book on my to-be-read shelf for years, possibly a decade or more. Finally, it came time to read it. I have been a fan of Amy Tan ever since I saw the movie, The Joy Luck Club and realized I would probably also love her actual writing.

As expected, this was a wonderful and culturally vibrant story. I felt immersed into this world, featuring both modern San Francisco and historical China.

I am a sucker for mother/daughter stories and was instantly enthralled by Ruth and LuLing’s relationship, which had notes of bitterness and love. As all the best relationships should. The ancestry Tan ventures into about their heritage was spellbinding and gripping. Tan is a magical writer transporting the reader to another time. She has a pulse on the complexity of child and parent relationships.

If you love learning about other cultures, while at the same time having your heart pierced, then check Tan out, you will not be disappointed.

You can find the story on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: Ruth Young and her widowed mother, LuLing, have always had a tumultuous relationship. Now, before she succumbs to forgetfulness, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings, which reveal a side of LuLing that Ruth has never known. . . .

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion–all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother’s past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.

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The Queen of Nothing – Holly Black

Title: The Queen of Nothing (#3 Folk of the Air)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Page Length: 308 pages

I rushed to finish this series off, so excited was I to delve back into this world. The finishing installment of the story wraps everything up in a nice compact, shiny bow. The ending was just as rewarding as the beginning and the middle. I never have much to say about sequels unless they miss the mark entirely, but Black hits it out of the park with this concluding tale.

If you love the young adult genre with a magic bent, then I feel confident you will love Black.

You can find the story on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: The finale to the New York Times bestselling Folk of Air trilogy, that started with The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, from award-winning author Holly Black.

After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watches her fair share of reality television, and does the odd job or two, including trying to convince a cannibalistic faerie from hunting her own in the mortal world.

When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking of a favor, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal.

When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and uncover how to break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.

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A Beautiful Wedding – Jamie McGuire

Title: A Beautiful Wedding
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Romance/Chick-lit/New Adult
Page Length: 146 pages

One night, many years ago, I fell in-love with the first book of this series, Beautiful Disaster. In my late night book crash, I bought the sequels thinking I would love them just as much. I did not, but felt compelled to finish the series since I had bought them already.

I feel the author has been trying to cash in on this series by extending it beyond its limits.

That being said, I have now finished the series, yay! And I can say that while they are well written and never boring, they lack purpose and necessity. I finished because I felt obligated to my spending habits, not because I really felt I needed more of this romance.

However, I am sure there are many readers out there who will crave the wedding scenes, which this book takes care of in more than one way. So if you are a Travis and Abby fan, and cannot get enough of their romance, then I am confident you will be pleased with this story. McGuire wraps it all up in a nice little consumable bow.

You can find the novella on Amazon in multiple formats, but I dare say it is rather overpriced.

Synopsis: You know that Abby Abernathy unexpectedly became Mrs. Maddox. But what do you really know?


Why did Abby pop the question?


What secrets were shared before the ceremony?


Where did they spend their wedding night?


Who else knew about it . . . and didn’t tell?


Everything about Abby and Travis’s elopement was top-secret . . . until now. Fans of Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster will get all of their questions answered in this whirlwind tale of the wedding day (and night!)—and as with all good stories, this one will definitely have been worth the wait.

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The Wicked King – Holly Black

Title: The Wicked King (#2)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Page Length: 336 pages

This is a continuation of the Folk of the Air series. I always find it hard to review sequels, as they just continue the story I already began. What I liked most about this story was that we get more relationship development of Jude and Cardan. It is an odd situation and the author keeps you on your toes for the entirety of this portion of their journey. Additionally, we get to explore more of the world development and see other parts that make up Faerie.

Black’s characters remain as complex as they were in the beginning, and it is hard not to equally love and hate them all. Jude and Cardan’s individual motives and objectives remain in shadow, which makes you question their choices all the more.

If you love young adult and fantasy books, then I predict you will love this series. Check it out! It is well worth your investment.

You can find the series on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.

Jude has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were biddable. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her, even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a faerie world.

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Forever People – Alison Lyke

Title: Forever People
Author: Alison Lyke
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Length: 216

I did not know what to expect when I cracked this story open, but I soon found myself engaged in a religious conspiracy theory, unlike any other. This story had depths that I was not anticipating.

The story followed Camille, a bounty hunter like character who makes sure the dying pay their debts. In her world, the only afterlife is man-made and functions on a digital level. Unfortunately, only those who can pay and live in the right hemisphere can ascend.

I found the religious commentary to be quite intriguing, as it calls into question where we go when we die, and who is worthy of an afterlife. Lyke has a creative and intelligent mind that produced a unique and compelling story .

If you are a fan of bad-ass chicks who know how to take care of themselves, and a world full of technology we can only hope to see one day, then I recommend this story for you.

It is a fast-paced, surprising tale that will leave you with questions you did not realize you had.

You can find the book on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Synopsis: Welcome to Zeta City, where the whole world goes to die. Here, the Node System uploads the minds of the dying so they can spend eternity in a digital Promised Land. But, this cyber heaven is causing hell on earth for the living because the System forces them to earn Points to buy data in the afterlife.

Camille is a salty mercenary out to hoard as many Points as possible by exploiting the dying with illegal technology. She’s on the hunt for Toy, a rebel leader who uploaded lethal technology to her own brain in an attempt to wipe out everyone’s Node Points.

Camille goes to increasingly dangerous lengths in pursuit of Toy. She soon finds that the Node is full of warm reunions with loved ones and otherworldly creations. It’s also full of lies.

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The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince (Book #1 The Folk of the Air series)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy/YA
Page Length: 370 pages

Holly Black, Black, Black…that is all I see these days on social media. So being a young adult fantasy nerd, I had to see what the fuss was about.

Oh wow, I have found a new favorite author! Black is a marvelous storyteller, who writes complicated characters that are both monstrous and lovable at the same time. They are flawed but redemptive.

Her romance building is slow and as complex as the characters themselves. I love that this is a story about sisters, lovers, fathers, brothers, step-parents, etc. It is a full world of intricacy and court politics. And do not forget the faerie magic that this book is saturated in. What more could a fantasy junkie like me ask for?

I recommend this book to all magic loving readers, who love messy romances and characters that are both dark and light.

You can find the tale on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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The Velveteen Daughter – Laurel Davis Huber

Title: The Velveteen Daughter
Author: Laurel Davis Huber
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical/Biography
Page Length: 371 pages

A fan of children’s stories and especially of The Velveteen Rabbit, I was intrigued to learn more about the famous author, Margery Williams. Especially, to learn what it takes to become real.

The tone of the story was initially a bit jarring to read. I was not sure if it was just bad writing or the voice the author used. However, I kept reading and found my initial issues with the voice disappeared, as I fell into this strange little story. Though the chapters were mighty short.

The author claims this is a historical account based on records, but in all honesty it is also highly fictionalized. So when reading it, I took everything with a grain of salt. For the author cannot know for sure, the feelings and happenings of Margery and her daughter Pamela.

It was an interesting way to write their stories and while I found myself becoming enraptured by their personal struggles, I had to remind myself that these were somewhat fictionalized versions of the real Margery and Pamela. Regardless, I enjoyed the read, fiction or real, the two woman are easy to relate to.

Overall, I recommend it to Margery Williams fans.

You can find the tale on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: The Velveteen Daughter reveals for the first time the true story of two remarkable women: Margery Williams Bianco, the author of one of the most beloved children’s books of all time—The Velveteen Rabbit—and her daughter Pamela, a world-renowned child prodigy artist whose fame at one time greatly eclipses her mother’s. But celebrity at such an early age exacts a great toll. Pamela’s dreams elude her as she struggles with severe depressions, an overbearing father, an obsessive love affair, and a spectacularly misguided marriage. Throughout, her life raft is her mother.

The glamorous art world of Europe and New York in the early 20th century and a supporting cast of luminaries—Eugene O’Neill and his wife Agnes (Margery’s niece), Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and Richard Hughes, author of A High Wind in Jamaica—provide a vivid backdrop to the Biancos’ story. From the opening pages, the novel will captivate readers with its multifaceted and illuminating observations on art, family, and the consequences of genius touched by madness.

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Chaos Umpire Sits (Book #2) – Kevin Kneupper

Title: Chaos Umpire Sits (Book #2 in the They Who Fell series)
Author: Kevin Kneupper
Publisher: Self
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Dystopian
Page Length: 334 pages

Initially, I was not sure about this series. The first installment was interesting but failed to hook me. However, I decided to keep reading and I am glad I did. Book #2 starts off a bit slow, but it picks up as you continue to read and I found the new characters that come onto the stage to be most intriguing. Additionally, old characters that I was on the fence about resurface and I have a new appreciation for their characterizations. I am starting to feel for these characters now. Even the evil Ecanus has moments where I feel like he isn’t so bad…until he is again. The story is evolving and becoming more complicated. Kneupper’s creativity is starting to blossom and shine in this continuation.

The moves have been set in motion, and as long as you are committed to keep reading, I feel you will be rewarded for your loyalty. For a self-published story, it’s well done. It’s better than some books that come from publishers. So, don’t let the self-publishing deter you from checking this writer out. He has his act together and is a true storyteller. Well done Kneupper, I look forward to the concluding chapters to follow in book #3.

Synopsis: The tower is fallen, its residents scattered or dead. A mob of human refugees swarm the city, tossed into a world they haven’t seen in years, and one Jana knows only from distant memories as a child. The ones who tore down her home would have her flee to safety, and to abandon her need to find Rhamiel and know what became of him. But the strike against the angels has returned them to their martial ways, and an army is reforming under the banner of Uzziel with the goal of eliminating any threats to the Seraphim forever. And other castes of angels have agendas of their own, eager to fill the vacuum left by the tower’s collapse.

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The Town That Feared Dusk (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 17) – Calvin Demmer

Title: The Town That Feared Dusk
Author: Calvin Demmer
Publisher: Demain Publishing
Genre: Horror/Short Stories
Page Length: 32 pages

Looking for a short scary snack? Then look no further. Demmer has written another delightful frightening short tale that can be read on your lunch break.

Dive into the haunting tale of disappearing folks and a strange bridge in what feels like the middle of nowhere. Suicide the reports say, but is that what really happened? You will have to read for yourself to learn the truth.

I enjoyed the read, it was concise, creepy and entertaining. You can find the story on Amazon in Kindle format.

Synopsis: Sylvia Bernstein doesn’t want to end up on a dead-end path like a former journalism colleague. She begins searching the tabloid’s archives for a story that can get her career back on track. A strange bridge, with an abnormally high rate of suicides, seems like the perfect place to start. She journeys to the little town, eager to investigate, but encounters a tale far more sinister than she ever expected…

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His debut collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, was released in June 2018. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

CONNECT WITH CALVIN

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*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review