Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Haunting of Henry Davis by Kathryn Siebel

Book 47/125


The Haunting of Henry Davis
July 2, 2019
240 pages • Hardcover
978-1101932773 • $16.99


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Book description:
Two kids are about to find out that their lives are anything but ordinary when a ghost arrives and stirs up adventure. Perfect for fans of A Tale Dark and Grimm!

Ghosts only haunt when they've left something behind...
When Henry Davis moves into the neighborhood, Barbara Anne and her classmates at Washington Carver Elementary don't know what to make of him. He's pale, small, odd. For curious Barbara Anne, Henry's also a riddle--a boy who sits alone at recess sketching in a mysterious notebook, a boy, she soon learns, who's being haunted by a ghost named Edgar.


Today, I'm participating in the blog tour for Kathryn Siebel's The Haunting of Henry Davis. Check out my blog tour post yesterday for K. G. Campbell's A Small Zombie Problem.

At the heart of Kathryn Siebel's The Haunting of Henry Davis is a story of friendship, but that story is wrapped in mystery and ghosts. When Barbara Anne befriends Henry Davis, the weird quiet kid at school, she has no idea the kind of adventure she's going to go on. Henry has a secret, and that secret is he is being haunted by a ghost. Barbara Anne finds out Henry's secret, and being the take charge kind of girl she is, decides that she is going to help Henry get to the bottom of his haunting. Together with their other school friends Renee and Zach, they all discover a little something about the past and a lot about the power of friendship.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Haunting of Henry Davis. Siebel's writing is smart and witty, and she clearly has a knack for capturing the personalities of her young protagonists. Each of the kids are so well written, but I confess to really enjoying Barbara Anne's character the most. She's just so snarky and confident; I think her character will particularly appeal to younger female readers. The story is just creepy enough when it needs to be but nothing too scary for younger readers. I appreciated the touches of historical information that is sprinkled throughout, as well as the kids dealing with real world personal issues. While being a ghost story, all of these things made the story so much more grounded.

Perfect for younger readers who are looking for a great ghost story, they'll also discover there is so much more to The Haunting of Henry Davis than a good scare. Highly recommended!


I'd like to thank Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing me with a copy of The Haunting of Henry Davis in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Small Zombie Problem by K. G. Campbell

Book 46/125


A Small Zombie Problem
Zombie Problems, Book 1
June 4, 2019
240 pages • Hardcover
978-0553539554 • $16.99


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from these links.

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Book description:
In his fiction debut--and the start of a new series--celebrated illustrator K.G. Campbell brings a touch of Tim Burton to this singularly strange and wonderful story about a lonely boy whose life is about to get a whole lot more complicated when a zombie follows him home.

August DuPont has spent his whole life inside a dilapidated house with his aunt Hydrangea. His lonely existence ends abruptly with the arrival of an invitation to meet an aunt--and cousins--he didn't even know existed. When Aunt Orchid suggests that August attend school with his cousins, it's a dream come true. But August has scarcely begun to celebrate his reversal of fortune when he is confronted by a small problem on his way home. So begins an adventure filled with a wild child, a zombie, a fabled white alligator, and an unimaginable family secret.


An illustration by K. G. Campbell from the book.
Today, I'm excited to be taking part in the blog tour for K. G. Campbell's A Small Zombie Problem. Come back tomorrow for my blog tour stop for The Haunting of Henry Davis by Kathryn Siebel.

A Small Zombie Problem, K. G. Campbell's middle grade fiction debut, is a fun, quirky, Southern Gothic-flavored tale of family, secrets, family secrets, and zombies, obviously. August DuPont lives with his Aunt Hydrangea in their dilapidated family estate, the last members of the DuPont family and heirs to quickly dwindling DuPont's Peppy Pepper Sauce dynasty. August lives a solitary and lonely life, as he has never left his house at his aunt's insistence (she is agoraphobic and has convinced August that the outside world is a terrifying place). However, one day the grocery delivery boy drops a box of August's favorite snack, Mudd Pies, and August sees his opportunity to take a quick step outside to retrieve his snacks. Of course, this doesn't go nearly as well as August expects it to and sets in motion an adventure that involves a long hidden family pepper sauce secret, newly discovered family, a white alligator, and a wee bit of a zombie problem.

An illustration by K. G. Campbell from the book.
I really enjoyed Campbell's almost timeless presentation of the story (we're never really quite sure when this story takes place) and his accompanying illustrations are delightfully creepy. The story feels very atmospheric at times, and Campbell's writing is spot on creepy when it needs to be, and he also writes some surprisingly beautiful turns of phrase. I was suitably impressed several times with his writing style. August starts out so quiet and introverted and his blossoming confidence throughout the story is handled very well, and Claudette's inclusion as an actual character instead of the zombie plot device is a nice change of pace.

The book starts out a little slow, but as the action picks up, things move along fairly quickly. The ending seems a little abrupt, but the cliffhanger should leave young readers anxious for the next book in the series. I know I'll be looking forward to it.


I'd like to thank Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing me with a copy of A Small Zombie Problem in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

DC: The New Frontier: DC Black Label Edition by Darwyn Cooke

Book 14/125


DC: The New Frontier
DC Black Label Edition
Published by DC Comics • February 19, 2019
520 pages • Paperback
978-1401290924 • $34.99


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Book description:
Welcome to the DC Universe in 1950s America - a land of promise and paranoia, of glittering cities and segregated slums, of dizzying scientific progress and simmering Cold War conflict. A land without the Justice League - Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Or so it seems.

Darwyn Cooke's undeniable classic is now released as a part of DC's prestigious new imprint of standalone graphic novels, DC Black Label.

The masked mystery men who fought for freedom in the Second World War have been outlawed. The soldiers and spies who conducted top-secret missions into the unknown now work in the shadows. And those icons who do still fight on - Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman - operate under hidden agendas and dueling ideologies.

Yet this America needs its heroes more than ever. With darkness gathering on the horizon once more, only a bold new generation of adventurers - young, daring, and dedicated to the better angels of our nature - is equal to the challenge of the New Frontier.
From Eisner Award-winning writer-artist Darwyn Cooke and Eisner Award-winning colorist Dave Stewart comes DC: The New Frontier - a timeless tale of idealism that has become one of the most acclaimed superhero comics of the 21st century. This edition collects the original 6-issue miniseries together with the Justice League: New Frontier Special, and features over 50 pages of designs, sketches and preliminary artwork from the author. 
DC Black Label, a new publishing imprint from DC Entertainment, gives premier talent the opportunity to expand upon the canon of DC's iconic Super Hero comic book characters with unique, standalone stories that are outside of the current DC Universe continuity. An all-star lineup of creative teams will craft their own personal definitive DC stories in the tradition of compelling literary works like Batman: The Killing Joke, All-Star Superman and Kingdom Come.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Book 13/125


Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries
The Murderbot Diaries, Book 3
Published by Tor.Com Publishing • August 7, 2018
160 pages • Hardcover
978-1250191786 • $17.99


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Book description:
Rogue Protocol is the third entry in Martha Wells' Hugo, Nebula, Alex, and Locus Award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Murderbot Diaries.

Starring a human-like android who keeps getting sucked back into adventure after adventure, though it just wants to be left alone, away from humanity and small talk.


Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?

Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is back on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah's SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

"I love Murderbot!" -

New York Times bestselling author Ann Leckie

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Iron: Or the War After by S. M. Vidaurri

Book 12/125


Iron: Or the War After
Published by Archaia • February 5, 2019
160 Pages • Paperback
978-1684152988 • $19.99


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Book description:
It is the aftermath of a long war, in a world of constant winter.

When an intelligence spy from the Resistance — the rabbit, Hardin — steals secret information from a military base of the Regime, his actions set off a chain of events that reverberates through the ranks of both sides, touching everyone from the highest-ranking officials to the smallest orphaned child. When the snow finally settles, who will be the true patriot and who the true traitor?

Iron: or The War After marks the debut graphic novel from storyteller S.M. Vidaurri (Iscariot), who weaves a heartfelt fable shrouded in political intrigue.

Abbott by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Sami Kivelä

Book 11/125


Abbott
by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Sami Kivelä
Published by BOOM! Studios • October 30, 2018
192 Pages • Paperback
978-1684152452 • $17.99


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Book description:
While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city’s elite.

In the uncertain social and political climate of 1972 Detroit, hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Elena Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy.

Hugo Award-nominated novelist Saladin Ahmed (
Star Wars: Canto Bight, Black Bolt) and artist Sami Kivelä (Beautiful Canvas) present one woman's search for the truth that destroyed her family amidst an exploration of the systemic societal constructs that haunt our country to this day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Book 10/125


Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries
The Murderbot Diaries, Book 2
Published by Tor.Com Publishing • May 8, 2018
160 pages • Hardcover
978-1250186928 • $16.99


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Book description:
A USA Today bestseller

"I love Murderbot!" - Ann Leckie

Artificial Condition is the follow-up to Martha Wells' Hugo, Nebula, Alex, and Locus Award-winning, New York Times bestselling All Systems Red.

It has a dark past - one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…


Not my favorite of the series, Artificial Condition definitely feels like it was put together as a surprise follow up to All Systems Red. ASR finished on a very satisfying note and I feel that everyone was a little surprised by its popularity (question mark? Not sure why, because it's incredible) and decided to have Wells pick up the story and start running with it. This follow up felt a little jumbled and rushed, and came very quickly and a little underwhelmingly to the answer of why Murderbot calls itself Murderbot. However, even what I feel was a mediocre Martha Wells story is still remarkably strong and still made me want to find out what happens next to Murderbot. A new mystery is on the horizon and Murderbot finds itself in a position that it didn't think it was going to be in: saving humans because it wants to and chooses to, not because it has been ordered to do so. It was remains hilariously cynical and exasperated by humans, while still discovering what it might actually mean to be human.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Book 9/125


All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries
The Murderbot Diaries, Book 1
by Martha Wells
Published by Tor.Com Publishing
May 2, 2017 • January 22, 2019 (Hardcover re-release)
154 Pages • ISBN 978-0765397539 • Paperback
176 pages • ISBN 978-1250214713 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Winner: 2018 Hugo Award
Winner: 2018 Nebula Award
Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 Locus Award


"As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure."

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid―a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

The Murderbot Diaries
Book 1
All Systems Red
Book 2
Artificial Condition
Book 3
Rogue Protocol
Book 4
Exit Strategy


Another fantastic series from Tor.Com Publishing, Martha Wells' Murderbot turns out to be one of the most human characters you'll find. Basically a cyborg constructed to be a Security Unit (SecUnit) who has hacked its governor unit and is now rogue and self-aware, tho no one knows it, Murderbot continues doing its job because it really has nothing better to do. Assigned to protect the members of a scientific exploratory mission, Murderbot wants nothing better than to be left alone when not needed so that it can watch the hours of entertainment it has downloaded. However, when a fellow mission goes silent, the team decides to investigate and Murderbot decides to protect them (even tho it has advised against the investigation) because, to its surprise, it is beginning to care for the well-being of its crew. Eventually it becomes clear to the crew that Murderbot is rogue and self-aware and as they come to terms with that knowledge, Murderbot needs to keep its crew alive as someone seems to be out to kill them.

All Systems Red is a fast-paced scifi with a murder mystery undertone that is wildly satisfying. Wells strips away all the extraneous details that usually bog down scifi novels for me and just gives us exactly what we need to know to keep the story moving, and not much more. This also helps put us in the frame of mind of Murderbot, as it doesn't really care what's really going on around it, it just wants to watch TV. It is Murderbot's struggles with itself, wanting to know what it is and what its future holds, that makes this book so amazing. Through the experiences and wants and needs of an artificial being, we see what it means to be human. It doesn't seem like this should be something that would be easy to convey, yet Wells does it with ease, adding in a little bit of humor along the way. The Murderbot Diaries should be on your TBR list if it isn't already.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

Book 8/125


In an Absent Dream
Wayward Children, Book 4
by Seanan McGuire
Published by Tor.Com Publishing
January 8, 2019
208 Pages • ISBN 978-0765399298 • Hardcover



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Book description:
A stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire's Alex award-winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway.

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she's found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

The Wayward Children Series
Book 1:
Every Heart a Doorway
Book 2:
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Book 3:
Beneath the Sugar Sky
Book 4:
In an Absent Dream


Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series of books gets better with each addition, with the latest, In an Absent Dream, by far being the strongest story to date. Following the established every other book sequence, this volume tells Lundy's portal story, as she finds her door to the Goblin Market. McGuire offers up some serious ideas to ponder, such as idea of fair value for everything and what that means to either the recipient or the giver. It's some heavy ideas, and after finishing Absent Dream, I had to take some time to really mull over the notions that are put forth, and it really made me think about my own interactions with those around me and how the idea of fair value can applied to our real world.

McGuire doesn't just write one hell of an amazing book, but she pushes us, the readers, to consider how we can actually be better people by understanding how we can, and should, be fair to each other. It's really quite a remarkable book. And her writing; it's more beautiful with every book. There are so many potential stories to be told, I hope deep down that she never leaves this series and continues to offer us such amazing books forever.

Here is a handy outline of all the portal worlds discovered so far in the series.

The books follow an every other pattern, one book set in the "now" at the school, the next telling a portal world story about one of the students, then back to the school.
  1. Every Heart a Doorway (2016): At the school
  2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017): Jack and Jill's portal story
  3. Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018): Back at the school
  4. In an Absent Dream (2019): Lundy's portal story
  5. Come Tumbling Down (2020): Should be back at the school

Friday, January 11, 2019

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Book 7/125


Beneath the Sugar Sky
Wayward Children, Book 3
by Seanan McGuire
Published by Tor.Com Publishing
January 9, 2018
176 Pages • ISBN 978-0765393586 • Hardcover



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Book description:
A stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire's Alex-award winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway

Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire's Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the "real" world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.


I honestly can't go too much into what this book is about as it could spoil portions of Every Heart a Doorway, but it's just as fantastic as every other book in the series. Back in Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, Beneath the Sugar Sky picks up shortly after the events of Every Heart and introduces us to some new students at the school; we also get to see more into a couple of the portal worlds that we have heard about in previous books.* I can't wait to see where McGuire takes the story next year after the events of this book.**

* Here is a handy outline of all the portal worlds discovered so far in the series. Some possible spoilers as this list is up to date with the most recent book.

** The books follow an every other pattern, one book set in the "now" at the school, the next telling a portal world story about one of the students, then back to the school.
  1. Every Heart a Doorway (2016): At the school
  2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017): Jack and Jill's portal story
  3. Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018): Back at the school
  4. In an Absent Dream (2019): Lundy's portal story
  5. Come Tumbling Down (2020): Should be back at the school

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Saga, Vol 9 illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K Vaughn

Book 6/125


Saga, Vol 9
illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K Vaughn
Published by Image Comics • October 2, 2018
152 Pages • ISBN 978-1534308374 • Paperback



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Book description:
The multiple Eisner Award-winning series returns with a spacefaring adventure about fake news and genuine terror. Get ready for the most shocking, most impactful SAGA storyline yet.

Collects
SAGA #49-54


Saga continues to be one of the stronger graphic novels that I've been reading, and the ending to this volume... And a year hiatus to the series... ugh

I knew the hiatus was coming after this volume, but I wasn't expecting this ending. Needless to say, there are several THINGS in this volume, especially ONE THING that happens at the end and if you're a fan of this series, you're in for a shock. That's all I can say, because SPOILERS.

Dr. Thirteenth by Adam Hargreaves

Book 5/125


Dr. Thirteenth
Mr. Men/Little Miss Doctor Who Mashups
by Adam Hargreaves
Published by Penguin Young Readers • January 8, 2019
32 Pages • Paperback
ISBN 978-1524788605



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Book description:
The much-anticipated Dr. Thirteenth is here! A fabulous mashup of the fantastical storytelling of Doctor Who and the whimsical humor of Roger Hargreaves, the book will to appeal to fans of both iconic brands!

An all new Doctor Who adventure featuring the Thirteenth - and first female! - Doctor reimagined in the style of Roger Hargreaves. The Doctor, Graham, and Ryan try and come up with a fabulous surprise for Yaz on her birthday. And what an explosive surprise it is…


As a kid, I loved the Mr. Men/Little Miss books, so when these Doctor Who mashups were announced, I knew I was going to get them. At the time of release, Peter Capaldi was just finishing his run as the Twelfth Doctor, and Jodie Whittaker had been announced as the Thirteenth Doctor, but there was no mention of a Dr. Thirteenth book for her, and I was really hoping they weren't going to pass her up, and I was very happy when her own mashup was released.

Just as much fun as the other volumes in this series, Dr. Thirteenth finds the Doctor, Graham, and Ryan trying to find a birthday present for Yaz, and it ends up in the Doctor's hands to deliver the surprise. The illustrations are spot on as a Hargreaves homage, and the story is cute enough for a kid to a kid to enjoy, but is equally enjoyable for an adult as a nostalgic throwback to the original books. I'd like to see more of these released in the future.

Jim Lee's DC Legends Artifact Edition illustrated by Jim Lee

Book 4/125


Jim Lee's DC Legends Artifact Edition
illustrated by Jim Lee
Published by IDW • January, 2019
144 Pages • Hardcover
ISBN 978-1684054428





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Book description:
Jim Lee began his career at Marvel comics in the mid-1980s. Rising in popularity at a rapid pace, he soon took over the company’s flagship title and made it his own: The X-Men. In the ‘90s, Lee formed his own company, WildStorm Productions, which was later bought by DC Comics, allowing the artist the opportunity to draw the adventures of some of comics’ oldest and most iconic superheroes: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, to name a few.

This Artifact Edition will focus on the last 25 years of Jim Lee’s storied career, showcasing his rendition of the Dark Knight Detective, as well as the last Son of Krypton, all the while placing his own unique stamp on each character. Additionally, there will be examples of WildC.A.T.s and other pre-DC work.

As with all Artifact Editions, each page will be scanned from the original art, offering a unique look at the creative process of one of the most popular and creative artists working in the field. The only way you could get a better look at Jim Lee’s original art is if you were sitting next to him at his drawing board!


This is a gorgeous oversized volume featuring direct scans of some of Jim Lee's more iconic images from his time with Wildstorm and DC. I have been a fan of Jim Lee's artistic abilities since his early days with Marvel (How much do I wish there would be a similar volume published of his Marvel stuff? A lot. I wish that a lot.), so to have a volume that is basically full-sized scans of his original artwork is amazing. Some of my favorite moments from Lee's Wildstorm days and some of his most iconic Batman images are included here. If you're a fan of Jim Lee, this is an absolute must-have for your collection.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Book 3/125


Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Wayward Children, Book 2
by Seanan McGuire
Published by Tor.Com Publishing • June 13, 2017
176 Pages • ISBN 978-0765392039 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 ALA RUSA Fantasy Award

Seanan McGuire returns to her popular Wayward Children series with
Down Among the Sticks and Bones―a truly standalone story suitable for adult and young adult readers of urban fantasy, and the follow-up to the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List book Every Heart a Doorway.

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter―polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter―adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and
choices.


Down Among the Sticks and Bones, the remarkable follow-up to Seanan McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway, tells the story of twin sisters Jack & Jill, and how they found their door, and how they were forced back to the real world. Raised to fit the perfect ideals and preconceived notions of children that their parents have, Jacqueline and Jillian are never allowed to be children. They are told how to behave, how to dress, how to act, but never how to love or be loved. One day, the sisters decide to do something dangerous; they are going to break a rule and play in their grandmother's former room (Gemma Lou being the only person in their entire world who tried to encourage them to be individuals). They find an old steamer trunk in her room that contains costume jewelry and outfits for dress up, and underneath the clothes they find a stairwell in the trunk that shouldn't be there. Determined not to ruin their adventure, the sisters decide to follow the stairs down, their 12 year old minds not quite comprehending the impossibility of this event. At the bottom of the stairs they find a door, and that door holds a sign that reads, Be Sure.

This door leads them to The Moors, a dark and sinister world of vampires and werewolves, mad scientists and other things that go bump in the night. Here, the sisters discover their true selves. Here, they also discover that they have choices, and those choices eventually come with consequences.

Most portal fantasies always have a darker tone under their magic and whimsy, but on The Moors, all the magic and whimsy is stripped away to reveal just how dangerous and stark some worlds can be. Brutal and fierce, this book is the perfect follow up/companion to Every Heart a Doorway.

Here is a handy outline of all the portal worlds discovered so far in the series. Some possible spoilers as this list is up to date with the most recent book.

The books follow an every other pattern, one book set in the "now" at the school, the next telling a portal world story about one of the students, then back to the school.
  1. Every Heart a Doorway (2016): At the school
  2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017): Jack and Jill's portal story
  3. Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018): Back at the school
  4. In an Absent Dream (2019): Lundy's portal story
  5. Come Tumbling Down (2020): Should be back at the school

Monday, January 7, 2019

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Book 2/125


Every Heart a Doorway
Wayward Children, Book 1
by Seanan McGuire
Published by Tor.Com Publishing • April 5, 2016
176 Pages • ISBN 978-0765385505 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Winner: 2017 Hugo Award
Winner: 2017 Alex Award
Winner: 2017 Locus Award
Winner: 2016 Nebula Award
Nominated: 2017 World Fantasy Award
Nominated: 2017 British Fantasy Award
2016 Tiptree Honor List

"A mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy ― a jewel of a book that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll's and C. S. Lewis' classics" ―NPR


Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

No matter the cost.


This is such a fantastic idea for a story: a "home" for those who have come back from a portal world (think Wonderland, Narnia, or Oz), but can't accept that they are unable to go back to that portal world. Eleanor West (who has a portal all her own, and knows where it is, and is just biding her time until she can return) runs such a home, taking in the children who can't cope with the normalcy of the "real" world and who yearn to return to their true "homes." Some do find their way back, but many don't, and are in constant turmoil as a result.

Nancy is one such child. When she found her door to the Halls of the Dead, she thought she'd found her true home. But when then the Lord of the Dead sends Nancy back to the real world so that she can be certain that she wants to stay in the Halls of the Dead, she is unable to re-acclimate herself, and her parents send her to Eleanor West's School as a last resort.

As the new girl in the school, Nancy feels immediately out of place but is able to make friends with her roommate Sumi, Kade, a young man banished from his portal world, and Jack, who was apprenticed to a mad scientist. After one of the students is found murdered, suspicion immediately falls on Nancy as the newest arrival, but through the help of her friends they are able to discover the identity of the true murderer.

This is the fourth time I’ve read this book, as I do a complete reread when a new book is released in the series, and I’m still struck by the power of McGuire’s writing. The books are sinister and dark and beautiful and I can’t recommend them enough.

Here is a handy outline of all the portal worlds discovered so far in the series. Some possible spoilers as this list is up to date with the most recent book.

The books follow an every other pattern, one book set in the "now" at the school, the next telling a portal world story about one of the students, then back to the school.
  1. Every Heart a Doorway (2016): At the school
  2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017): Jack and Jill's portal story
  3. Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018): Back at the school
  4. In an Absent Dream (2019): Lundy's portal story
  5. Come Tumbling Down (2020): Should be back at the school

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't: (to say nothing of the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar) by Gail Carriger

Book 1/125


The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't: (to say nothing of the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar)
by Gail Carriger
June 29, 2014
32 Pages • ISBN 978-1944751036 • Kindle



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Book description:
A short tale of mummies, werewolves, and well-preserved felines set in the world of the Parasol Protectorate.

Alessandro Tarabotti and his valet, Floote, are on a mission in Egypt when they encounter visiting tourists and the situation turns to mummies. What is Alessandro’s real mission and will his Aunt Archangelica approve of his treatment of her cat?

In this short story,
New York Times best selling author Gail Carriger uses her comedic voice to delve into the history of her beloved steampunk universe.

If you have ever wondered about Alexia’s father, this will give you a glimpse into his adventures, character, and romantic interests.


First "book" of the year is actually a short story, but Gail is hosting a Parasolverse readalong leading up to the release of Reticence this summer, and the first story in the reading list is this short story about Alexia Tarabotti's father, Alessandro. It's a very fast read, and a much too short introduction to Alessandro Tarabotti, but Carriger manages to drop several clues about plot points that eventually show up in all three of her main series.