Fantasy

Title & Author: Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree
Published by: Tor Trade
Pub Date: November 7, 2023
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 339
Date Read: 2024/05/19
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Spoiler-ish

The ending made me incredibly sad. I was going to read “Legends & Lattes”, but decided I would start with the sequel-prequel. Now that I know I will be leaving most of the characters behind, I have no interest in continuing (at least not for while), with the story-line.

Travis Baldree mentioned a mystery set in this world and I hope he goes back to the idea. I enjoyed the story and the coziness of it all. Just felt like Maylee deserved better.

 

Highlights
Chapter 16– Page: 115
“You know, there’s a lot of people out there. Lot of noise. I love what I do, love it every day, but none of us sees more than a tiny piece of all the world, like we’re lookin’ out a little-bitty window. And I saw you through mine, and somethin’ inside me said, ‘That’s somebody you oughta know.’ Simple as that.
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Chapter 35– Page: 231
“Never trust a writer who doesn’t have too many books to read. Or a reader, for that matter,” said Zelia.
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      Omg. How can she scare me, make me comforted, and then break my heart?
Likes:

      Well it’s T. Kingfisher and she is one of my favorite authors. I will love and support her work whenever it comes out.

      The characters, especially Hester. I enjoyed her character and point of view the most. I have a friend that reminded me a lot of Hester, and so was able to envision her. Let me just tell you, it was like having my friend I haven’t seen for years besides me for a few days.

      Penelope Green – ugh! She seems like an old-school cool type person that I know I will never be, but have tried many times to emulate.

      Lady Strauss – just an all around defender of her friends. I love it.

      Willard and Alice. Dependable, good-natured people to be surrounded by.

      Finally, the bad guys! They are actually bad, you know? Like there is no redemption for them, and they were terrifying. For example, being made obedient, and just watching your mother use your body as a puppet… The opening description of being made to sit still in a church pew, unable to move, as a fly walks across your hand. Feeling the individual hairs of the fly’s foot pierce the skin, the idea, makes me feel a little icky. Look, here’s a picture of a fly’s foot. No, thank you.

      Ok, enough about flies. I know they are mostly harmless, but I would definitely have sent that fly flying.

      The amazing thing about T. Kingfisher’s writing here is that all the characters are flawed, but it isn’t portrayed negatively. I have never cared for books where the main character is flawless, beautiful, and perfect. I have never met anyone like that in real life, and it all feels so fake. I mean, I get that fiction is usually a suspension of disbelief, but I want to be able to relate to most of the characters I am reading about.
Dislikes:

      The pacing. I adore novella’s and T. Kingfisher writes the best of them. So when I saw that this was over 300 pages, I was a bit surprised, and this might be why I felt that it got a little slow to the action.

      The romance. Reader, it might not even be fair to write this. I was not in the mood for a romantic tale. I found Hester’s reasoning’s to be selfish and frustrating. Also, when I talk about flawed characters, this was the one spot where I was the most disappointed. Every single time she talked about how old she was and how undeserving she was for love, it made me roll my eyes.

      Anyway, this is a 4.5 star book for me. I loved it. I wish T. Kingfisher would actually hire me as a beta reader and email me every day with her newest writings. I think it would be a win-win, really. She would get my undying loyalty (which I mean she already has), and I in turn would get awesome things to read without having to wait.

      Which actually brings me to the last bit of my review. As I don’t have an in with T. Kingfisher, I’d like to give my thanks to the awesome people over at Netgalley and Tor who approve my requests for her books. THANK YOU!


 Chapter 8 — Page: 68
“None whatsoever,” said Hester dryly. “Otherwise people might get on them.” She turned to Doom. “There was a terrible murder in Little Haw, you see, and your daughter was overset by the thought that she might know the victims.”
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 Chapter 8 — Page: 69
Doom’s glance was quick and cold. Hester smiled comfortably and adjusted her shawl.
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 Chapter 10 — Page: 82
“Walk,” she ordered finally. “To the far wall and back.” Cordelia obeyed, trying not to stumble. She wasn’t used to thinking about how she walked, and suddenly the whole concept of walking seemed completely absurd. You fell forward and put out a foot to catch yourself before you sprawled on the ground. And then you did it again? And this was normal?
It’s like thinking about blinking. The moment you think about it, you start to worry that you aren’t blinking often enough, or too often and now I’m thinking about blinking, oh dear . . .
Still, her feet took care of themselves while she was worried about blinking too much, so that was a small mercy.
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 Chapter 17 — Page: 154
“The student has, I think, outshone the master.”
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 Chapter 20 — Page: 180
She let her mouth witter on, hoping that her brain would come up with something brilliant in the interim. It declined to do so.
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 Chapter 28 — Page: 244
and dogs made of bones.
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 Chapter 28 — Page: 247
Willard
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 Chapter 29 — Page: 248
Worse than the eyestrain was the fear that she would miss something vital. She would often find herself halfway down a page with no memory of what she had just read, and would be forced to start again.
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Published by: Tor Publishing Group
Pub Date: 06 Aug 2024
Genre: Novellas & Short Stories | Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pages: 208
Date Read: 14 Mar 2024
Rating: ★★★★☆

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      Eveen the Eviscerator is skilled, discreet, professional, and here for your most pressing needs in the ancient city of Tal Abisi. Her guild is strong, her blades are sharp, and her rules are simple. Those sworn to the Matron of Assassins—resurrected, deadly, wiped of their memories—have only three unbreakable vows.

      First, the contract must be just. That’s above Eveen’s pay grade.

      Second, even the most powerful assassin may only kill the contracted. Eveen’s a professional. She’s never missed her mark.

      The third and the simplest: once you accept a job, you must carry it out. And if you stray? A final death would be a mercy. When the Festival of the Clockwork King turns the city upside down, Eveen’s newest mission brings her face-to-face with a past she isn’t supposed to remember and a vow she can’t forget.

      Thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions are mine.

      At this point in the review, I haven’t even finished reading it, and yet I already know I love it. Here’s why: kick butt female main character, Eveen. There truly isn’t anything wrong with her character, Well except maybe that she kills people. But besides that small detail, I love her.

      Eveen wagged a finger. “That’s solid literature! Asheel hunts maniacs—even though he’s a maniac! A maniac who hunts other maniacs? Genius! And Terrors of the Demon Lands is reputedly an eyewitness account.”
      Fennis regarded her skeptically.

      Isn’t this like a lot of anime plots, lol? And speaking of loling, I literally did that a few times, and again I’m not even 60% into this book.

      Also, I just really enjoy books where the main characters are above the age of thirty, or just doesn’t put an age on the characters, either way just another reason Eveen needs to be in more stories. Please, write more stories with her in it.

      Then there’s everyone else in the story. Fennis and Ennis are adorable, and I would want them on my side. Baseema, another kick butt woman, whom I would not want to cross. Sky is super smart, strong, and capable. The quads were funny and scary. The Banari made me chuckle. Really having a hard time here to think of one bad thing. I guess, let me finish reading the story.

      Another thing is the world building is absolutely beautiful. I felt like I was there. The festival sounded neat, and I got Guild Wars vibes from it. The Clockwork King, the Pirate Princess, and the Golden Bounty, magic called shimmer, laboratories with machines to see auras! Speaking of laboratories, that brings me back to this part:

      “You’ve used this before, then?” the girl asked.

      “On myself, yes. And cats. Regrettably, they won’t let me experiment on students.”

      “You shared your aura with a cat?” Eveen asked, half-expecting the man to lick himself.

      “Yes. Remarkable creatures. Half in this world and half . . . who knows.”

      “What is it cats are thinking about?” the girl asked.

      Ennis shrugged. “Mostly fancy themselves predators who hunt and eat us. Delusions of grandeur. Anyway, the principle here should be the same.

      LOL

      I found this while looking up the author:

      But much of his beloved sci-fi and fantasy fiction didn’t pass, or barely passed, his mother’s litmus test: It lacked Black and Latino characters, women, and LGBTQ people at the center of the stories.

      Gabriel had from a young age written fiction as a hobby, loving the idea of world-building, of dystopias, of a kernel of history spinning out into a new alternative reality. And the absence of people like him in those stories colored his writing from day one.

      “I felt a need for more diverse tales with more diverse characters drawn from more diverse sources,” he says. Link

      This story doesn’t lack. I mean, if I finish this book and all the characters are killed off in insane manners, I might still give this at least three stars. Even while being incredibly saddened and disappointed, because I rarely start writing reviews in the middle of books.

      Ok. I am back from finishing this story. I loved it. I love novella’s because they are short, and I really wouldn’t want to add anymore to this particular story. However, I want to read more stories involving all of them. Most of all, I want more stories with and about Eveen. I started a book that was kind of close to this one in terms of smart, but also kind of goofy leading lady main characters, and had to stop reading it. It wasn’t Eveen, it was similar, but not close enough, because it wasn’t Mr. Clark’s writing. No hate to that other novel, though, I’ll try again later on.

      Anyway, I don’t have anything else to say, and so, this concludes the love letter to this book.

      Please write more about Eveen, pretty please?

Published by: Tor Publishing Group
Pub Date: 06 Aug 2024
Genre: Novellas & Short Stories | Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pages: 208
Date Read: 14 Mar 2024
Rating: ★★★★★

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Published by: Harlequin Trade Publishing
Pub Date: 09 Jul 2024
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pages: 288 pages
Date Read: 01 Mar 2024
Rating:★★★★☆

      The Dallergut Dream Department Store by Miye Lee is a beautifully written story about a woman named Penny who is a new employee at the store. This story is set in a universe where there is a plane of existence for those that live in the dream realm and humans who go there in that in between state of just falling asleep and dreaming. They can buy dreams from any dream maker and or store. What follows is a series of small tales about the lives of those in this realm and the customers who come to the story.

      I really loved how well thought out this story is. It is smart and heart warming. There were times when the story was describing the way dreams influence our feelings throughout the day and I was like, “oh man that is clever!” All of the characters have their own personality and I cared the most for Penny, Weather, and Dallergut. The atmosphere is cozy, and for a lot of the book I kept this as my bed time book.

      There was only one chapter I had a hard time reading. It dealt with death and a few times I decided to just skip it. The story was great though and I wanted to know how the characters would handle it, so I went back and read it. I wasn’t disappointed.

      The translator’s note is so sweet. You can tell they loved their work on this book and I hope they (and the reader’s) get their wish for a sequel.

      Thanks to the author Miye Lee, Harlequin Trade Publishing, and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions are mine.

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Published by: Tor Publishing Group
Pub Date: 09 Jul 2024
Genre: Cozy Fantasy
Pages: 384
Date Read: 23 Feb 2024
Ratings: ★★★★★  

Sarah Beth Durst wrote one of my favorite books of 2020. That story was about a woman who did magic with bones, on a mission to save her husband from death. It was a beautiful love story that had me hooked and crying at the end. That story, however, felt darker, and there was more at stake for the characters than in “The Spellshop.’ By no means is this a remark on this story negatively. It is more of a remark on the wide range of her story-telling.

      “The Spellshop’ is a story about a librarian who escapes the revolution happening in the capital city with an illegally created sentient plant and five packed crates of magic books. 

      She flees back to her home island and struggles with whether she should share the magic or keep it secreted away for fear of the possible consequences. See, magic is banned for everyone, but only those designated. If she doesn’t use her resources, though, the islanders will suffer, with their land and animals dying. She can see that they need her help desperately.

      Kiela is kind and brave; however, she hadn’t started the story that way. Her character grows throughout, from quiet and reserved to strong and outgoing.

      Caz (the sentient talking plant), is by far my favorite character. He’s fierce and protective, and except for water, he’s fearless as well.

      To judge this book against “The Bone Maker” would be unfair, as this is a cozy fantasy and the content is nowhere near as dark. This is more like a comforting lie-in, snuggled under a heated blanket.

      Ah! I almost forgot about the winged cats and the cloud bears. I understand I was supposed to be scared of the cloud bears, but I would absolutely be the idiot cooing at them, trying to get their attention. Maybe even try to hug them? I would be the basis of the cautionary tales told to keep the children away from the cloud bears.

      And the cats! I would also love it if winged cats were real. The cover illustration of a winged cat napping is so adorable. I can easily imagine how it would be to hold one; I bet they are soooo soft!

      Finally, the world-building is amazing! Her writing is clear and descriptive, and I had an easy time seeing the town, the steps, the garden, and the cottage that, just like “The Bone Maker,” I will be able to visit in my mind for many years from now.

Thanks to the author Sarah Beth Durst, Tor, and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions are mine.

Highlights –

Chapter Twenty-Seven — Page: 283

      She would never have believed how attached she could become in such a short amount of time.
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Chapter Twenty-Seven — Page: 284
      “You can be alone with me.”
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Other books read by this author: The Bone Maker
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Published by: Tor Publishing Group
Pub Date: 27 Feb 2024
Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pages: 368
Date Read: 09 Feb 2024
      Thank you Netgalley, author, and the publishers for allowing me the opportunity to read this e-arc. I look forward to reading more from this author.

     No one goes into the north woods and makes it back out. Except for one.

     When The Tyrants children leave in the middle of the night to see what the woods are like, Veris knows the chances of getting them back out are low. However, she is the only person to have done it, and so, with her family being held hostage by The Tyrant goes into the woods to retrieve the children.

     I enjoyed this novella so much! I loved the woods, and just how alive they are. I loved the depictions of the creatures (whoever knew a scarf could cause my heart to race?). Most of all, I loved Veris. She is a strong, capable woman, who just sets out to get things done. Not out of bravado, not even out of a sense of duty. Just love for her family. She showed incredible empathy and didn’t whine about her situation. However, there is a bit of the story that almost made me quit the whole thing. I am not going to go into details, but to say that I do not care for authors who use sexual trauma (out of nowhere) as a plot point.

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Published by: Tor Books
Pub Date: 15 Aug 2023
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 128
Date Read: 11 Feb 2023
      A few years ago I started reading adult fairy tales like “Uprooted” and “Spinning Silver” both by Naomi Novik, and fell into a black hole of where I couldn’t find books that had a similar feel. Then I started reading T. Kingfisher and have been following her stuff like a weird devotee. In all of her works you can’t help but like the characters. I’m speaking too broadly and not drilling down on this particular book, but it still applies.

      If I could meet the greenteeths and not be eaten by them, I think I would. The sense of family Toadling got from them was like a warm hug to me.

      The Goddess – this year is really the year of the rabbit. So many fantasy books like “The Magician’s Daughter” by H.G. Parry and this one features a magical rabbit. I realize two doesn’t really equal a lot, but I stand by what I’m saying, and anyways I like talking rabbits. The Goddess however, like she says, “We are made of cruelty and kindness both.”

      Toadling and Halim were both relatable characters. I loved them both, but especially Halim. I loved his dedication to doing the right thing and the descriptions of his mother. How she would expect him to behave and how she would care for Toadling if he brought her back with him. There’s an earnestness and wit to him, “…a knife that my mother’s imam said duas over and also I had it blessed by the Benedictine monk who ran the library, so between the two of them, it ought to be quite holy by now. I couldn’t find a rabbi. Well, I did, but he wanted to come along because he’d never met a fairy, and I thought you wouldn’t like that.”

      Toadling was such a lonesome creature before Halim came along. I could feel her grief at being the last sentinel, and was happy with the speed with which she made Halim a friend.

      The one problem I have with T. Kingfisher novels is that I have such a book hangover once they’re done, and this particular story was just a little over hundred pages, so it lasted me only a day. I’m now stuck to opening many books on my ereader and not committing to any.

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Another quote, this one made me laugh out loud.

Chapter 6 — Page: 65

“Not that he’d have died,” she had muttered, “but I was like to throttle him if he did not stop his whining.”

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Other books read by this author:
Thornhedge A House With Good Bones Nettle and Bone What Moves the Dead
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Published by: Redhook Books
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2023
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley
     Thanks to the author H.G.Perry, the publisher Redhook Books, and NetGalley for allowing me the chance to review this book. I absolutely loved this book. The storytelling was so calming, and told beautifully. It’s been probably a little over a week since I finished this and I am sad that there isn’t more to read. The world being built, characters, and the magic system… I hope H.G. Perry continues on with this story.

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Published: Del Rey Books
Pub Date: 10 Jan 2023
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Date Read: 25 Jan 2023
     Emily is just about done her work on her encyclopedia and the last thing it needs is some information on the elusive ljosland faeries. After offending the village head-woman Aud, Emily finds it difficult to get the much needed stories, and much more needed supplies to live out the difficult winter there. To add to this misfortune, her coworker and suspected fae, Wendell Brambleby shows up to “help” her with her book, despite being very much uninvited.

     The dynamic between Emily and Wendell was hilarious. I found myself at times laughing out loud at the banter between the two.”Yes.” He flicked another page. “And you shall shut yourself away forever in those old stones with your books and your mysteries like a dragon with her hoard, having as little association with the living as possible and emerging only to breathe fire at your students.”

     He has an irritating way of understanding me, at least in part, which is more than anyone else does – no doubt some faerie gift of his. “You intend to stay here, do you?” I said, to change the subject.”

     Emily’s character and mannerisms are so so dry, Wendell’s the complete opposite. Both character’s grow as the story progresses, but Emily’s character has the biggest transformation. She goes from an academic doing things for the villagers not to help but to learn from them, but even so she by the end of it realizes this and goes on to see how that could be perceived. It doesn’t make her an awful person, she still helps them, but does call into question the motives. “He shrugged, unruffled by a slight against something he put little stock in, namely, his character. “In any event, these are practical people, and they care more about what you did than the why of it all.”

     Other reviewers have likened this to Howl’s Moving Castle – but I was put more into mind of “Spinning Silver” and “Uprooted” both by Naomi Novik and “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke (mainly for the footnotes that were a delight to read.)

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Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: 26 Apr 2022
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 245
Source: NetGalley
Date Read: 23 Mar 2022
      Thank you NetGalley, T. Kingfisher and Macmillan-Tor/Forge, for allowing me the opportunity to read this e-arc.

      I loved this book so so much. It has a bone dog (wish I could make one of my own), magical godmothers, women who can raise the dead, and a sweet slow burn romance. I finished this one way too quickly and now feel ejected out of a world that I wish I could live in a little bit longer.

Other books read by this author:
Thornhedge A House With Good Bones Nettle and Bone What Moves the Dead
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