Book Review: The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr

Dear Bookworms,

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

The Language of Spells
By Garret Weyr

In a world where most people have long forgotten about dragons and magic, 11 year old Maggie sees it all around her. Grisha is one of the last dragons left in Vienna, having been imprisoned for most of his life in a teapot (evil sorcerers really are the worst), he now spends his days giving tours of an old castle, and his nights being...well... generally lonely.

When these two unlikely characters meet one night in a hotel bar (Maggie's upbringing is eccentric to say the least- her parents are into the arts- need I say more?) a deep friendship blooms. The two embark on a journey together to find out what ever became of the worlds mighty dragons; but to find the answer, Maggie may just have to give up the thing she holds most dear, magic is tricky like that. 

This was an exceptional read! Bursting with magic and whimsy, it is one I would gleefully recommend to my big and little readers alike. We should all be more like Maggie; kind, honest, willing to do anything for a friend, and perhaps most importantly, sees things that most people find unimportant or overlook.

This book reminds me that sometimes we need to slow down our fast paced lives and bring ourselves back to the basics, to really see the world. True magic is found in all the cracks and hidden places of life that are often discarded and overlooked; but if we really try, beneath it all, we can see all the wonder the world has to offer, and that can truly be the most beautiful part. 

"People expect that the magical will be extraordinary, but it's often easy to overlook" 

A beautifully written story for lovers of magic of all ages, I highly recommend this one! It was fun and magical with some lovely underlying themes. 

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Dear Bookworms,

Please excuse me while I finish ugly crying as I write this review. 

Yellow Crocus
By Laila Ibrahim

Elizabeth Wainwright is born into privilege on a plantation in Virginia in the 1830's. As is customary at the time, a slave wet nurse, Mattie, is brought in to tend to the infant. So begins the lifelong bond between plantation mistress and slave. The love between the two is strong but when Mattie feels that her family back in the fields is threatened, she has to make terrifying and life changing decisions. As Elizabeth grows up she questions the plantation life and her place within it. She too must decide how she will continue to live, and what more the world may hold for her. 

This novel was absolutely phenomenal (be prepared to see it on my year end list of favorite books- I can already tell it will have made the cut!) Although a story of two very different women born into very different lives, they each faced a life forced upon them by fortune of circumstance.

The blossoming bond these two developed was beautifully written and honest; the love shared, pure. Elizabeth's growth throughout the novel from innocent child who viewed her world through rose colored glasses to the eye opening experience that lead her to truly see her life on the plantation for what it was, was both earth shattering and relieving.

My heart broke for Mattie and the inner struggles she faced with wanting to keep her children safe and protected. As a mother myself I related to this on a visceral level as I'm sure any mother would. This novel provided such an honest look at such a dark park of our countries history that was neither gratuitous or overdone; it was raw and honest. It gave hope and light and left me eager for more of Mattie and Elizabeth's story (which thankfully there IS a sequel!!)

Do yourself a favor and add this one to your reading list, I promise you will not regret it!

Happy Reading!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE

Book Review: Merlin 2 The Seven Songs by T.A Barron

Dear Bookworms,

Back again with the second book in the Lost Years of Merlin series!

(Didn't read the first review? Find it here!)

Book two picks up shortly after book one. Merlin has been tasked with restoring the land of Fincayra with the magical Flowering Harp; travelling the lands and with the pluck of a chord, Merlin is able to bring the once decaying and blight stricken land alive again. During his travels he realizes he cannot fully complete his task while his mind strays to thoughts of his mother. He thinks that if he can just bring his mother to Fincayra, he can continue his mission to restore the lands, and all will be well. When Merlin brings his mother to Fincayra only to have her fall deathly ill, he has but one month to bring her the cure. The cure can only be found by discovering the Seven Souls of Wisdom, and traveling to the other world to defeat the mighty Ogre Balor and only then requesting the antidote from the great  Dagda himself. With time of the essence, Merlin sets out with the help of his ever loyal friend Rhia and an unlikely Jester on a mission wrought with danger in an attempt to save his mother. 

Another magical read! While the hubris of youth definitely makes Merlin a frustrating character this go around (seriously, was I ever this much of an ass when I was a teenager?! I'd like to think not *cough cough*) his struggle is relatable to all of us who have navigated the confusing years of adolescences, if at much higher stakes.

Once again Merlin must use his wits and cunning to navigate and understand the Seven Souls of Wisdom; which are essentially lessons and parables of life. Rhia, as ever, was the perfect balance to Merlin's temper and impulsiveness, and a startling revelation about her left me literally speechless (No spoilers!).

Shim of course was a delight to read again, and all the new characters along the way were the perfect addition to this growing cast of much loved characters. This series continues to be a growing favorite with it's action, magic, and underlying themes of good vs evil. Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended!  

Until next week my bookish friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King

Dear Bookworms,

I love a good Stephen King novel, and while I had heard that his son had made a foray into the writing sphere, I had yet to read any of his novels. I was eager to read this one not just to knock off a 2018 reading challenge item (a book by two authors) but to also try out an Owen King novel.

What if one day, when women around the world fell asleep, they became ensconced in a cocoon like substance, unable to be awoken? This becomes a reality when what quickly becomes dubbed 'the Aurora virus" sweeps the globe. In the small Appalachian town of Dulling, North Carolina not only are it's residents succumbing to the sleeping virus, but a strange women has appeared from seemingly out of nowhere; one who can sleep and wake at will, one who knows things she shouldn't, and has an uncanny ability to have animals do her bidding. As the town scrambles for answers while the female population slowly succumbs to the virus, the sleeping women must forge their own way in a new world where they all end up once they fall asleep. Can the men of Dulling save their women from the other side, and more importantly, do the women want to be saved?

Sleeping Beauties: A Novel
By Stephen King, Owen King

While I really enjoyed the entire premise of this novel and the array of complex and interesting characters, it was a tad too long for me. It could easily have been trimmed by a hundred pages or so and had the same effect, not loosing anything in the plot. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this read to any of my thriller/strange/Stephen King lovers as it delivered on substance. 

As you can imagine, a world run by men quickly devolves into chaos and violence while the women not only survive in this strange new world beyond their cocooned bodies, but they thrive. They work together, problem solve, and build lives while the men pick off the weak and attempt to domineer those left. The men devolve into their baser instincts, the women flourish.

In addition to the action and drama that follows such an interesting conflict, there are some really potent underlying themes as they relate to women's rights and the societal disparity between men and women in a number of arenas, the often unjust and punitive nature of the prison system which often continues to victimize versus rehabilitate it's occupants, and police brutality/implicit bias that occurs between those with power and those without.  

Definitely a solid read, one that I would encourage you all to check out! 

Until next weeks friends...sleep easy....

XOXO,

Coco

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEW HERE!

Book Review: All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

Dear Bookworms, 

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

Fairy-tale retelling alert! We all know how much I dig this genre, and this one was no disappointment. All the Ever Afters is a re-imagined tale of the classic Cinderella story whose main focus is Agnes, or as you may know her from the more well known version, the evil stepmother. 

Agnes is a young child when she is forced from her home into servitude as a laundresses apprentice after her mother dies and her father realizes he has too many mouths to feed. Young Agnes' life is hard, but through hard work, determination, and wit, she slowly works her way up the social ladder. Over the next two decades she learns to read and write, bears children, learns to brew ale, runs her own alehouse, and eventually becomes nursemaid to a young child, affectionately named Ella. When circumstance leads her to marry Ella's father (a nobleman), Agnes struggles to love this breathtaking (if daydreamy) beauty. Agnes beginnings as a servant make it nearly impossible to coddle the young child as everyone else seems to do, but nevertheless she raises her to the best of her ability. Ella and Agnes' relationship is strained at times, but weathers the storm of parental loss and teenage growing pains to transform into something whole and meaningful.

I can't tell you guys how much I adored this book, not only was the story line perfect, but the writing was lyrical and captivating and art in and of itself. 

Part of the reason I really enjoy these types of retelling's is that the reader is privy to a deeper dive into characters lives that are otherwise left very one dimensional in the traditional versions. These secondary characters are made whole, given life experiences, and the reader gains insight into the reasoning behind decisions they made and the grim realities they have faced. 

Agnes was a superbly well written character. Her ingenuity and adaptability really highlighted how much of a survivor she was; in a time period where women were not afford options and possibilities, she really had to work within her circumstances to better her life. Using her wit and perseverance, Agnes was able to take the hard hands dealt to her and not only survive, but thrive. No matter how many times she was knocked down, she got back up, and got back up stronger. 

Seeing her relationship with Ella through this new lens really gave perspective into a different sort of reality. Not everything is so black and white, good and evil. Sometimes we are just different people, with different upbringings, and different world views struggling with relationships because we really just can't see where the fault lies (likely with us as much as with them). It shows just how much the baggage of our past can really impact our relationships if we let it, and that ultimately in the end, it can be overcame, if only we try.

I thought Ella was a really unique interpretation of Cinderella. She came off as not just an entitled aristocrat but someone who also perhaps was on the autism spectrum; her fixation on dresses and linens, self soothing with organizing and repetition, difficulty relating to and forming relationships with others, and her constant desire to be in solitude/her own world. It was a really interesting take on the classic heroine and refreshing to read a different sort of character. 

Overall, highly recommend this one. It was an enchanting read that kept me enthralled from page one!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

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

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE

 

 

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

READ MORE BOOKS REVIEWS HERE!

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!