Book Review: Merlin the Lost Years by T.A Barron

Dear Bookworms,

Y'all I have found a new series to totally fangirl about AND it's being made into a movie later this year....squeal!

Always a lover of magic, an entire series based on the beginning years of perhaps the most celebrated and well known sorcerer of all time, Merlin, was bound to peak my interest. 

Having washed up on the shores of ancient Wales five years prior, young Emrys has no recollection of his life before. He lives humbly with his healer mother (well, she claims to be his mother, but how can he really be certain with absolutely no memories of this woman who claims to have raised him?), and although outcasts, they are at least tolerated. 

After a terrible accident leaves him with a permanent injury, Emrys takes to the sea in an attempt to find his true home, answers about where he came from, and what this frightening power building within him means. His journey takes him to the magical land of Fincayra, a bridge between Earth and the otherworld. Emrys soon finds his journey of self discovery is entangled with the evil spirit Rhita Gawr who's powers are slowly destroying Fincayra and everything good within it. Can Emrys discover his past while at the same time protecting the future of a land in which he feels a deep connection?

This book blew me away! It was humbling to read a tale of one of the most formidable sorcerers in literature as an awkward, fumbling teenager. It's a great reminder that we all come from somewhere; we all go through that awkward stage of childhood and adolescence where we are unsure of ourselves, must determine our strengths and weaknesses, have our character tested, and make hard decisions. It's not only the large moments in life, but the small ones too; the ones we make day in and day out that ultimately determine the people we end up becoming. We have choices to make every day. Choices to fight, to concede, to preserve, to overcome. No one is born great, they become great through those series of choices. It is not always brawn and muscle which win but cunning and wit. 

The entire cast of supporting characters was phenomenal, making the book really that much more special and enjoyable. From the Druma girl Emrys befriends, Rhia who really serves as the catalyst for the entire conflict against Rhita Gawr, to the loveable pint sized troll, Shim (my favorite character for sure). Even Trouble, the pest of a Merlin hawk who really didn't take no for an answer when befriending Emrys. Everyone served such an important role not just in the progression of the plot but also in the development of Emrys as a character. 

As the first of 12 books in the series, I will absolutely be continuing on to see how else Emrys (now Merlin) continues to grow and evolve into the ever powerful sorcerer he is destined to become. 

Who's coming with to see the movie?!   

XOXO,

Coco

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Book Review: The Rebecca Pendragon Trilogy by Gary Green

Dear Bookworms,

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Twelve year old Rebecca's life is forever changed when her single mother dies in a car accident and she is sent to live in a small rural town in Minnesota with her Grandmother. Having barely settled into her new routine, Rebecca's world is rocked once more with the revelation that magic is real and she is tangled in a nasty feud with the god Pan, who was subsequently responsible for her mothers "accident". With the help of gnomes, fairies, and a dragon or two, Rebecca must train for the eventual fight against Pan who aims to rid the world of humanity. Can Rebecca save both magic and human kind alike? Or will Pan destroy the world as she knows it?

While this book has a pretty awesome plot foundation and a fun group of main and supporting characters, I felt it seemed rushed and predictable at times. This book could have easily been a proper YA trilogy with a tad more natural build up with some plot and character development. It was somewhat simplistic for my taste which lent itself to a more elementary grade level read but contained a few scenes which are more high-school age level (mention of suicide/sex/underage drinking etc) which was confusing to me as the reader as to who the intended audience was? The writing and plot was too watered down and simplistic for an older age group, but some subject matter was not appropriate for the younger age group. 

This wasn't a terrible read, like I said, it has good bones and some likable characters, but I would have enjoyed it more with some more finesse and buildup to the finale with some more subtle character development along the way. 

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Dear Bookworms,

Another Alan Gratz book for the win! 

The previous two books I have read and reviewed by Grantz (Refugee and Projekt 1065) blew me away, and Prisoner B-3087 lived up to the high bar I have set. 

Prisoner B-3087
By Alan Gratz, Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener

Yanek Gruener is 10 when the Nazis come to occupy his hometown of Krakow, Poland. Slowly but steadily over the next two years the Nazis strip the Jews of rights, close their shops, steal their valuables, until finally sending them off to the dreaded "relocation centers" or concentration camps. Over the next four years, Yanek is shuffled between 10 concentration camps. He is starved, beaten, separated from loved ones, and worked almost to death; but still he survives. This harrowing tale gives the readers a first hand look at horrors no person, let alone child should endure; based on the true story of Jack Gruener.

Like the previous novels, this read was absolutely heartbreaking but infused with a strength and resilience that is undeniable. I found another strong character in Yanek, facing not only the brutal fight to survive in what is arguably the most horrific experience in modern history, but the battles he wages with himself between keeping and loosing his own humanity in his fight to survive. Gratz's ability to depict such harsh subject matter in a way which is so layered and nuanced with other important lessons is truly remarkable, making his reads that much more powerful. 

Gratz is for sure on my auto-buy list, and I HIGHLY recommend you do the same! 

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!   

Until next week friends!

XOXO, 

Coco

Book Review: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Dear Bookworms,

I bought this one on a whim as my free book from my monthly Audible subscription and am so happy I was impulsive with my credit! This book was phenomenal. 

Greta Helsing is a doctor to the supernatural. If you are a vampire, werewolf, ghoul, demon, or the like in the London area, you go to Dr. Helsing for care. When a serial killer begins picking off humans and supernatural alike, Greta is sucked into the mystery, being the one who is called upon to patch up an attack on the friend of a friend (who is coincidentally a vampire). A secret sect is terrorizing London, and they don't appreciate Greta's meddling with their attempted slayings. Can Greta and her band of misfits get to the bottom of the murders before the killers silence them for good?

Granted, I am a fan of all things supernatural but this was a fantastic read. Everything from the deary setting of London to the eccentric and likable characters ( I don't think I have ever wanted to hold and cuddle a ghoulette more in my life) was enough to draw me in and get me hooked. In addition to the action packed plot line, the authors writing style was captivating, almost lyrical. Although the story could be a stand alone novel, I was excited to learn that this is one in a projected series, following Greta and her unique medical practice across various other mysteries and unfortunate supernatural events within London. If you are a fan of the supernatural, and a good 'ol fashioned mystery, I cannot recommend this one enough!   

Until next week friends!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Terra Nova by Shane Arbuthnott

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Terra Nova
By Shane Arbuthnott

Terra Nova is the follow up novel to Dominion, taking place shortly after it's ending. Molly and her family have teamed up with the Unionists, a faction of people fed up with Haviland Industries and their exploitation of the poor of Terra Nova. While the two groups don't see eye to eye about the spirits, they unite under the common enemy of Haviland Industries to break into factories, freeing the workers and spirits alike. The rebellion becomes increasingly more dangerous as Disposal agents become equipped with more advanced weaponry and a formidably adversary comes back into the picture. As Molly risks everything for the cause she believes in, she questions herself as those she loves the most are put into jeopardy. Will Molly's rebellion finally crush the oppressive regime of Haviland Industries and if so, at what cost? 

I really enjoyed this follow up to Dominion, even more so with the new glimpses into Molly's world with the introduction of a new character Wiskacan (sidenote: I would be interested to read a story featuring Wiskacan and more about his home and way of life!). As with the previous novel, there were lots of underlying themes that I felt were really highlighted well. Oppression of those not like us plays a pretty pervasive part in much of humanities history. Oppression based on fear but also the hunger for power and maintaining the status quo in the world. Arbuthnott very cleverly reminds us that we can build the world up better and faster by working alongside of our neighbors, versus from the sweat of the oppressed brows. Much like its predecessor, this book was filled with action packed adventure, loveable spirits, and a fearless heroine in Molly. My favorite part of the book hands down was the glimpse into the font, seeing what the spirit side entailed. (Can I live there?!) 

I'm not sure if Molly Stouts adventure ends here, or if Arbuthnott has more up his sleeve, but this is definitely a series I would continue reading if so! 

Until next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

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Book Review: The Man on the Roof by Michael Stephenson

Dear Bookworms, 

This weeks read was provided to  me for free in exchange for an honest review.

The Man On The Roof
By Michael Stephenson

Shady Lake seems like any other suburban neighborhood in Ohio. It's residents host regular barbecues and potlucks and plan weekly shopping outings; a generally tight knit group. When a teenage boy is found dead on the street, viciously stabbed and strung up from the end of a summer BBQ banner hung across the lane, everyone is on high alert. There is a killer living on the lane. Everyone is hiding secrets, and with the appearance of a man on the roof in the dead of night, the police have no end to the number of suspects....

This book hurt my brain....in a good way. It was like a mash up of Murder on the Orient Express and Desperate Housewives. While I was confused at the beginning (there are  A LOT of characters to keep up with) it was fairly easy to keep everyone straight once I got on a roll reading.

The book was written in third person with interspersed chapters written in first person from the perspective of all the characters living on the Lane (who were subsequently suspects in the teenage boys murder). To say these chapters were shocking would be an understatement, I may never look at my neighbors the same- ha! Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) was hiding a secret.

I felt I did a pretty good job figuring out who was who along the way, but of course there were the twists I just did not see coming (which is always amazing). My only gripes are that a) it was a tad long to me and b) I did not understand the significance of the man on the roof. No spoilers, but that whole sub plot confused me. I think I may know what was going on there but I'm not 100% sure. Regardless of these two things, I absolutely enjoyed this one!

Overall, a solid thriller read; full of scandal, intrigue, and the perfect amount of shock and awe while reading. Would definitely recommend for all my psychological thriller fans out there!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Dominion by Shane Arbuthnott

Dear Bookworms,

This read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Molly Stout hails from a long line of harvesters. In fact, her ancestor, Haviland, was the one who discovered the spirits in the skies, paving the way for his descendants (and others) to make a living sailing the skies in their airships, catching, and containing the sinister beasts whose energy is then harvested to power machinery. During a particularly intense catch, a spirit actually talks to Molly, claiming to be a friend to her ancestor Haviland, turning Molly's entire world view on it's head.

Dominion
By Shane Arbuthnott

Overall this was a really fun and exciting read. I will say it took a few chapters to really get a grasp on this world that Arbuthnott has created. It was a sort of sci-fi/steam punk-ish genre which was neat. I would have liked a little more world building (geography/topography/cultural norms/etc) which I'm sure the lack of contributed to my confusion in the beginning. The premise was certainly unique which was refreshing. 

Molly was a well written main character. I enjoyed her spunk and tenacity, she was easy to root for! I appreciated the numerous points of tension Molly encountered, all which served to further develop her as a more robust character. (Molly vs herself and her understanding of the world; Molly vs her Father; Molly vs harvesters; etc) The real stars of this book are the spirits. They have my heart for sure; Ariel, Cog, Legerdemain, Toves, they were all endearing and likable, especially little Cog! 

I will most certainly be reading the next installment, Terra Nova to see where the story takes us next! Lucky for me, I also have a copy handy to dive right into! 

Until next time friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE

Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Dear Bookworms,

I know, I'm obsessed. Another Neil Gaiman book? Yes, don't judge, the man is brilliant. And Neverwhere is my new all time favorite of Gaimans masterpieces. 

Like Norse Mythology, I listened to this one on audiobook which was read by none other than Neil himself. (I could listen to this man read all. day. long. *sigh*)

Richard Mayhew lives an ordinary life in London. He works a normal job, has a normal (if overbearing and condescending) fiance, pays his bills on time; just a pretty generally sensible person. All of this changes when he quite literally stumbles upon a bleeding, semi conscious girl (Door) on the way to an important dinner function one Friday evening. Against the protestations of his fiance Jessica, Richard comes to the young woman's aid.  She insists on no hospital, so he helps her back to his apartment to get cleaned up and rested. Little does Richard know, doing so entangles himself in the peculiar world of London Below and Doors quest to find her family's killer, while avoiding being killed themselves. 

As I said before, this book was most definitely my favorite Gaiman read by far. For me, discovering London Below along with Richard was something akin to a dream come true. Being a lover of fantasy and magic myself, seeing that come alive for a character like Richard, who's life is so relatable in its mundaneness, was thrilling (and gave me a little hope that maybe there is some magic within our ordinary lives). The whole quest to find the killer was very "Labyrinth-esque" to me and the entire world of London Below was utterly fascinating. It was dark and ethereal but magical and enticing all the same. The ending of the book was PERFECT, even better than what I had been expecting (don't worry no spoilers here!). The various trials and tribulations Door and Richard encounter run the gambit of tense and frightening to comical and clever. I cannot recommend this one enough! 

Who else is a huge Gaiman fan? Which one is your fav?

XOXO, 

Coco 

 

 

Book Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Dear Bookworms, 

I found this read on Goodreads while perusing for a book to fulfill my reading challenge prompt of "a book involving time travel", which seemed somewhat of stretch for this category once i finished the book but, c'est la vie!

Harry August lives the same life over again and again. No I don't mean this figuratively, I mean this quite literally. He is always born at the turn of the century, lives his life, dies, and is born again in exactly the same manner to live his same life again. Always retaining the memories of his former lives, he is quite an exceptionally smart man after a few lives (although he did go quite mad in his second life not knowing wtf was going on). He soon discovers the Cronus Club, it's members kalachakra or ouroborans as they are known are like himself, living in the endless cycle of birth, life, death. In his eleventh life, a small child comes to him on his deathbed with a dire warning:

"The world is ending...The message has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back down generations from a thousand years forward in time. The works is ending and we cannot prevent it. So now it's up to you."

So upon his rebirth into his twelfth year, Harry tasks himself with finding out who is altering the worlds timeline, and plot a way to restore it to order. Can Harry out smart the aberration, or is the world doomed for destruction? 

Overall I enjoyed this read. I will say that it took me at least half of the book to really get into it though. The beginning did seem to drag, focused mainly on the many previous lives before the warning. And while it was interesing, it didn't really seem (at the time) to play into the larger plot line. Once things got rolling, it was entertaining to watch the game of wits transpire between Harry and our mystery villain (no spoilers!). The concept was neat, and I enjoyed Harry and reading about all of his previous lives. Made me wonder what I would do with an endless amount of time at my disposal. Would I learn new languages and earn various degrees with each new life, or play the lottery and live each life as one of leisure? (I'm still undecided at the moment, probably a little both seeing as I have all the time in the world!) Interesting and fun, if a tad slow, but one that I would recommend none the less. 

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Until next week my book loving friends!

XOXO, 

Coco

Book Review: Mirror Sisters by VC Andrews

Dear Bookworms,

I have always been a big VC Andrews fan. Known for her deliciously taboo series', I find them the perfect "trashy" read to suck you in with their grotesque and creepy story lines. It pains me to say I just really didn't like this one. 

Kaylee and Haylee are identical twins, raised by a very particular mother who insisted each girl was treated in exactly the same manner in every regard. They are dressed the same, hair styled the same, must eat the same things, and have the same friends. If one is punished, so is the other. Despite their identical upbringing, Kaylee and Haylee are very different girls. Where Kaylee is more shy and reserved, Haylee enjoys being the center of attention. Under the ever watchful eye of their mother, the girls are careful to never let their differences show, with Haylee resorting to deceit and subterfuge to express her individuality and distinguish herself from her twin. Little does Kaylee know just how different her sister is and just how far she is willing to go to be an individual. 

Let me preface this with the fact that I listened to this one on audibook and this could very well be the reason I felt so "meh" about the book. The narrator was absolutely terrible. So monotone and drab, she really did nothing to bring the characters to life for me. The dialogue was stiff and dry and didn't elicit any sense of drama or intrigue. I will say the plot itself was interesting. The overbearing mother, the sinister twin pitted against the unsuspecting innocent twin; all the makings of a spine tingling thriller right?  

Meh

Again, I feel the narrator really just turned me off. With an energetic, experienced narrator, I think this book could have had a lot of potential. (Or if I had just read it versus listened maybe?) As it was, I don't think I will continue with the other books in the series as I really just didn't get invested in the characters. 

Any other VC Andrews fans out there? Flowers in the Attic was my jam!

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Geniune Fraud by E. Lockhart

Dear Bookworms,

So I think I was like the only person in the world who didn't loooooove E. Lockhart's (pen name for American author Emily Jenkins) previous novel, We Were Liars. I wanted to, I really did, but it just wasn't wow for me. I wanted to give her another chance (and was admittedly drawn in by the gorgeous cover) so I picked up Genuine Fraud in the hopes that I would be converted, after all the hype surrounding her books. 

So was I?

Yes..ish

Genuine Fraud
By E. Lockhart

Ok so hear me out, this book had a lot of unique characteristics that once I got used to, I really enjoyed. The story of Jule is told...backwards.

Weird right? 

So the book opens with Chapter 19; Jule is in a posh resort in Mexico and is obviously hiding out (from what/who? we don't know) and has been "made" by a detective. She flees the resort, hiding out in the slums of Mexico, trying to figure out her next move. Each chapter takes us back a few weeks, each chapter ending up where the previous one has begun.

Are you following me? So the mystery of the novel is figuring out the "where it all went wrong" because it's very obvious, something is terribly wrong.

Jule is a chameleon, you're never really sure what you're getting with her, or where her story will end up taking you. Jules backstory definitely took a much different turn than I was anticipating. If a Singe White Female storyline is your jam- I think you would find this entertaining. I will say it would not have been nearly as entertaining if read backwards to forwards- the whole point of the mystery would have been lost. 

Overall I would recommend this one, it was a very unique reading/storytelling experience. The mystery was intriguing, kept me riveted and eager for more. There is no neat, wrapped nicely with a bow ending, (So if you are the kind of reader who needs everything finished up and over by the end, this one isn't for you) but was satisfying and fitting. 

Anyone else read Genuine Fraud? What did you all think? Love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE! 

Book Review: Refugee by Alan Gratz

Dear Bookworms,

This week I have another Alan Gratz novel and if I wasn't already before, I am officially, 100%, hooked for life on anything Gratz publishes, ever. 

Refugee
By Alan Gratz

Refugee tells the tales of three children throughout history, fleeing their dangerous and warn torn countries in the hopes of finding safety elsewhere. Josef is fleeing Nazi occupied Berlin in 1939 with his parents and young sister aboard the St. Louis bound for Cuba. Mahmoud is on the run from present day war-torn Aleppo with his parents, brother, and infant sister. Isabel boards a rickety homemade boat in the 90's with her parents, neighbors, and grandfather in the hopes of reaching el norte, Miami and life of freedom and possibility. Each child faces obstacles and setbacks throughout their journey. Devastating loss and unimaginably tough choices  are forced upon these children, these families. 

While not biographical accounts, they are based in fact and are bits and pieces of real stories, of real people, fleeing unimaginable horrors in the search for a better life, all them hard hitting and raw.

It was amazing how relatable each character was. While spanning different eras, different cultures, different struggles, their humanity bound them together. They each had hopes and dreams for a better life, love for their families, unimaginable courage in the face of adversity. They once had friends, played games, watched TV, played with toys and yet faced such terrifying obstacles to living the simple, happy lives they were meant to live.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was how each story was in some small part connected. It really highlighted the point that we are all, as a human race, connected in some way or fashion and the choices of our actions ripple throughout not only our life, but generations of lives. It is really quite powerful to sit back and look at a novel which spans so many decades and generations.

These stories were touching and heartbreaking but most of all, important. Mahmouds story is all too relevant in today's time. The United States continues to wag war on refugees in the political sphere and books like Refugee are important to putting a face, a story, an actual human being, to the elusive word, "refugee". Stories like Josefs, Isabels, or Mahmouds could be our own;  we are only separated by good fortune of circumstance.

Look for the invisible, the forgotten, and help. 

You can get your copy of this book on Amazon by clicking here.

XOXO,

Coco

READ MORE OF MY BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Interview with Author David Ahern

Special alert over in Coco's bookish corner! This week we have an author interview!

David Ahern, author of the fun (@DaveAhernWriter), witty Madam Tulip mysteries was nice enough to do a Q & A to answer all our burning questions:

Madam Tulip
By David Ahern

Coco: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Generally, how and where do you get your inspiration for your books?

DA: This is going to be not at all helpful: I sit down and write. Sometimes I work things out a little ahead of where I am; sometimes I just go with the characters. Then I rewrite. And rewrite.  

I get my ideas mostly from staring into space. If I stare for long enough, ideas will come just so I can get something to eat.

Coco: Are any of your characters drawn from real life relationships? And who, (if anyone) do you think you would most relate to/want to hang out with if your characters were real?   

DA: I don’t model characters on people I know, although aspects characters I remember from way back do turn up.  Who would I hang out with? Derry, of course, although I’d probably fall madly in love with her and she’d have to be tactful. Bella would be too dangerous.  There’d be every chance more or less any night out could end up in a police cell or a riot. Bruce, definitely handy to have around if the bailiffs came to call or a nightclub bouncer got tetchy.  The answer has to be Jacko. I’d be guaranteed to meet interesting people, though I doubt I’d remember much about it in the morning.

Coco: When you aren't writing, who are you reading? And more specifically, was there one book from childhood that sticks out as drawing you into the literary world?  

DA: I don’t read fiction when I’m writing, though I eat non-fiction. When I was about eight, my grandfather gave me a complete works of Dickens.  I was way too young, but I read them all anyway. Magic.

Coco: If you weren't a writer, what profession could you see yourself in (excluding being a generally sensible psychologist!).
 

DA: I’m an archaeology nut. Definitely missed my vocation. Even now, I pine for rain-drenched days in the bottom of a muddy trench.  Too late.

Coco: And now for one silly one! If you were a time traveler, what time period would you chose and why?

DA: Now, no question about it. I’m still surprised to have lived so long without being drafted into somebody’s army or being hung for stealing a sheep. In this part of the world, we don’t realise how lucky we are.

Coco: What time period inspires you the most?


DA: Always tomorrow.

 

Thanks David for the interview, I'm looking forward to many more of Derry's mysteries! 

If you have missed the reviews for the three currently published Madam Tulip books, check them out here!

Madam Tulip

Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance

You can also visit David Ahern's website for more info! www.davidahern.info

 

Book Review: Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz

Dear Bookworms,

So I have had a couple Alan Grantz books on my TBR list for what feels like aaaaaages. A friend and fellow bookworm lent me Projekt 1065 and in true Coco fashion, I finished it in a day. I am certainly a fan for life. 

Projekt 1065 tells the tale of a young Irish boy, Michael, living in Nazi Germany in the 1940's. His father (and mother) uses his position as the Irish Ambassador to Berlin to run a spy network for the Allies.

With his eidetic memory and quick wit, Michael uses his position within the Hilters Youth program to gain information that may be useful to the Allies. After learning about a top secret project that could turn the tide of the war in Germany's favor, Michael must dance the line between faithful German youth and Allied spy; his life and the fate of the war could depend on his success.

I have to say, this book was really phenomenal. Nazi Germany can be a really hard hitting topic to write about, and while not as heavy and heart wrenching as others (think Number the Stars) it was thought provoking and engaging in it's own right.

Stories of young people doing extraordinary things always strike a chord with me, especially in the face of adversary or against popular opinion.

The inner turmoil Michael faced when witnessing morally unjust actions while trying to remain undercover really made me feel for him, and raised bigger questions like "do we sacrifice one man for the ultimate goal of saving many?" These are hard hitting moral dilemmas that no child should ever have to encounter, but Michael comports himself with strong character and reason, making those hard calls time and time again.

 The story was action packed, broken into short bursts of chapters which made it virtually impossible to put the book down (the famous last words of any bookworm "just one more chapter!). 

Gratz has certainly found himself a fan with me and I most definitely be reading more (i.e. ALL) of his work going forward. 

READ MORE OF MY BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

Dear Bookworms, 

So you all should know by now I have a serious love of a fairytale retelling. Hiddensee is a re-imagined novel of the infamous Nutcracker story, which I found really unique and was initially, quite excited to read. 

Dirk grew up deep in the woods, far from any town or village, with the old lady and the old man; until the day he ran away after an accident in the woods left him with one eye and the sneaking suspicion the pair had tried to kill him.

The novel follows Dirk as he makes his way through Bavaria, never settling for terribly long in one place. After traveling the world, he sets up shop as a toy-maker, carving beautiful figurines from wood, earning himself quite the reputation.

Finally as an old man, he gifts his prized Nutcracker, carved from the wood of that log ago forest in which he was raised, to the sickly Klara, his goddaughter. In what her parents are convinced are fever dreams, Klaras toys come to life at night in an epic battle, the Nutcracker included.

Having read many of Maguires novels in the past (Wicked, Son of a Witch, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), I had really high hopes for this book. Unfortunately I just really didn't love it. I wanted to love it so badly, but I didn't. I found it boring and uneventful.

There were parts that were entertaining and exciting. I was particularly fond of the time Felix and Dirk spent together, and was pretty bummed that nothing ever really transpired between the two as far as a romantic relationship. It was confusing at times and hard to follow, perhaps it was too nuanced with hidden meanings that I really just didn't understand? Either way, this was my least favorite of Maguire's books.

Not really where he was trying to go with this book, but I would have found a book about Felix and Dirks relationship much more appealing than the genesis of the Nutcracker (which really only comprised a very small portion of the book). Overall, this book wasn't for me, but I wouldn't discourage you from reading if you enjoy this genre. 

See you guys next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

Dear Bookworms,

Artemis: A Novel
By Andy Weir

Guys, I am over the moon about this book..... anyone see what I did there? I crack myself up....

Jazz Bashara lives on Artemis, the one and only colony on the moon in late 2080's. Small time smuggler, she has big plans to save up some money, pass her license to become an EVA Master, and get out of the tiny cramped room she rents and into a room that she can actually stand up in. Not asking too much right? When the job of a lifetime comes her way with a top payout of 1 million slugs (Artemis currency) she can't pass up the opportunity, even though it's absolutely insane. Jazz soon finds herself embroiled in a life and death conspiracy with dueling parties warring for economic and political control of Artemis, and if she isn't careful she may wind up dead, or worse... deported.

I have been a fan of Weir since his smash hit, The Martian, and if it's even possible, I think I enjoyed Artemis even more.

This book is action packed from literally the first scene to the last and bursting with all that science-y stuff we all loved from The Martian. I feel like we readers deserve an honorary chemistry/physics degree just from reading. Weir has this insane way of making this stuff fun and exciting....like heart stopping/jump out of your chair/ biting your nails exciting. He is a true master storyteller for sure.

Jazz was clever, witty, brash, and smart as hell; I basically want to be her best friend. All the supporting characters were fantastic, as were their individual dynamics with Jazz. Each one definitely contributed in their own way not only to the plot progression, but to Jazz's identity and personal development throughout the novel. (Svoboda was hands down my favorite, I wonder if Jazz ever did test that new product he developed... I want to say she did....wink wink). 

Absolutely fantastic book, can't recommend it enough. Weir has forever earned himself a place on my auto-buy list!  GET YOUR OWN COPY ON AMAZON BY CLICKING HERE!

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

Dear Bookworms, 

Back again with another fun Madam Tulip adventure! After reviewing the previous two books by David Ahern, he graciously gifted me an ARC of the newest installment of Madam Tulip.

Derry O'Donnell gets an offer she just can't refuse (which granted, isn't saying much when you're an unemployed actor). A part in a film being shot in Scotland, playing a (you guessed it) fortune teller. No audition necessary, cushy pay, and all expenses paid. Her BFF and fellow actor, Bruce is also given a part, same conditions, to sweeten the deal. Packing her bags, Derry sets off for the Scottish highlands where it doesn't take long for mystery to unfold. Production has been riddled with mishaps and something just doesn't sit right with Derry about the whole thing. She gets roped into doing a private reading with the producer and his family, further entangling herself in what inevitably proves to be a mortally dangerous game of who, what, why. 

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Much like its predecessors, The Bones of Chance is filled with that impossible Derry circumstance. This chick seems doomed to fall into one bad situation after another. But like always, her wit and (mostly) good sense pull through in the end. Having an ex-military BFF helping out doesn't hurt the girls survival rates either if we're being honest, but she certainly holds her own in life and death situations. 

Bones of Chance was a fun read, light and humorous while simultaneously having that underlying nervous tension thrumming as any good mystery should. I enjoy the sub plots with Jacko and Vanessa, they always bring a pleasantly comical element to the story line and this time was no exception. This is definitely a fun series for all my mystery fans out there, and I certainly plan on following Derry into her next misadventure! 

Bones of Chance will be released 4/12/18 and is avaible for pre-order on Amazon! 

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Until next week my bookish friends!

XOXO, 

Coco

Book Review: Nightshift by Stephen King

Dear Bookworms,

This week we have a book of short stories by none other than the master of thrill, Stephen King. I originally picked it up to cross off "a book with a time of day in the title" from my 2018 reading challenge. ("Night" counts as a time of day right?)

Night Shift
By Stephen King

Nightshift is a collection of 20 short stories ranging from the bizarre and the thought provoking, to the down right macabre. Featuring such classics as Children of the Corn and Salem's Lot, these stories have been not only read, but turn into movies, earning their place as a staple in horror classics for decades, and it's easy to see why.

It's no doubt that King is a skilled writer, and I've devoured dozens of his books. I'm not sure why I always shy away from short stories when choosing my next read, but coming across a gem like Nightshift, reminds me all over again why I need to give them a chance.

Quick glimpses into horror and dystopia, Kings stories keep my synapses firing long after I finish. I was quickly enraptured, "just one more story", until I found myself curled up under the blanket in an attempt not to wake my husband as I read feverishly into the night. Then subsequently scared to stop reading for fear of every creak of the house settling, or groan of wind at the window.

How King can make even a laundry machine press terrifying is beyond me, but he did. Although I enjoyed them all, a few of my favorites include Graveyard Shift (ROUS' anyone?!- and if you don't get that reference we can't be friends), The Boogeyman (thanks for opening up that fear again King),  and Quitters Inc. (I will NEVER pick up a cigarette I swear!) 

If you are in the mood for spine tingling horror and creepy crawlies, this is definitely your next read. 

Just make sure to read it with the light on.... and don't go accidentally summoning any demons. 

Until next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

**CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!**

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Dear Bookworms,

Another Gaiman review for you guys! He is quickly becoming one of my more favorite authors to read. I was immediately sucked in with this GORGEOUS cover, take a look- she's a beaut right?

Norse Mythology
By Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology is basically a history of the Norse gods of lore a la Neil Gaiman. In a lovely forward by the author, Neil explains how he spent years researching and compiling the stories of old Norse mythology; Odin, Thor, and Loki are the heavy hitters you all have probably heard of thanks to the massive success of Marvel. But make no mistake, these stories are not the fun, lighthearted tales of the silver screen. These are deeper, darker, more savage. 

I actually listened to this one on audiobook and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was narrated by the author himself. Let me just say, this mans voice is as smooth as butter. Listening to his book was not only a literary pleasure but also a soothing relaxing experience. 10/10 recommend anything narrated by Gaiman himself.

(Sidenote: He sounded a lot like Alan Rickman to me which may be part of the reason I fell in love with his voice.)

So each chapter of this book was a different tale from Norse mythology beginning with the genesis of Midgard and Asgard and ending with Ragnarok. In between was riddled with the stories of how Thor got his hammer, why Odin has one eye, the mead of poetry, and Lokis bastard children (one of which reigns over Hell). Each story was eloquently told and rang true of the old myths and legends. They were savage at times, clever, and sometimes comical. I haven't read much mythology, but it was interesting to read a different (more authentic) take on Thor. Dude was kind of as asshole guys. He was frequently the dimwit, heavy handed, fool of the story. Loki remained the trickster, if much more malicious and savage. 

Overall a really fun read, exciting and interesting for a mythology book (nothing dry or boring here) which was made even more enjoyable by Gaimans delightful narration. Definitely recommend!

Until next week friends!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Devils Song by Lauren Stahl

Dear Bookworms,

I snagged a copy of this read from LibraryThing as part of their early reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. 

The Devil's Song
By Lauren Stahl

Prosecutor Kate Magda has landed a career defining case at the DAs office. A series of brutal murders have claimed the lives of two young women in Mission County, Pennslyvania and the circumstances surrounding their deaths niggle at Kates senses that this case is more personal than she originally thought. It seems an old childhood traumatic event has been unearthed and each new clue brings her deeper into a past she would much rather forget, but one step closer to catching the killer. Can Kate piece together clues from her past to the current murders before the killer catches up to her?

This was a pretty strong debut novel for Stahl. The story jumps off pretty much right away with Kate diving into the case headlong. She is immediately caught up in the similarities to her own childhood trauma which begins a downward spiral and unwinding of the always polished and put together attorney.

I wish there had been a little more of a buildup to Kate realizing the connections to her past, more of a slow and sickening realization versus the immediate recognition. Despite that, it was still an immensely enjoyable read, in fact I finished it in two settings.

The plot line was engaging and exciting, all the characters were well defined and concrete. The ending took a different turn than I was expecting, and everything fit nicely into place. It looks like Stahl is setting us up for book two with that ending, which is exciting! I think the characters have great potential to make for a good running series, and Stahl certainly has the writing chops to do it! If you are a fan of thrillers or legal fiction, this is most definitely your next read. 

Head on over to Amazon to scoop up your copy today! 

Until next week friends!

XOXO, 

Coco

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!