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#BookReview of The Once and Future Witches Alix E. Harrow #NetGalley #Fantasy #Witches

Review

The Once and Future Witches

by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: October 13th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Once and Future Witches
by Alix E. Harrow from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…a well-written, character driven story that is brilliant…

Set in New Salem in 1893, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow follows the journey of the three Eastwood sisters: Beatrice Belladonna, Agnes Amaranth, and James Juniper. Years after their mother dies due to complications after childbirth, the sisters are separated by their monster of a Father but not before their relationship with each other had been damaged.  The sisters before being separated grew up hearing fairytales and stories of magic and witches from their grandmother Mags. After Mags dies an invisible force draws the three sisters together. An angry, bold and bitter Juniper is drawn to New Salem where the eldest sister Beatrice Belladonna, timid librarian and the unwed, strong and pregnant middle sister Agnes Amaranth are pulled to the middle of town where the three end up in the middle of a Suffragette protest. When a magical storm hits, a dark tower briefly appears, the three sisters realize that Mags’s fairytales and stories about witches might have had some truth to them, a truth which becomes their mission in life.  The sisters realize that they are not alone on their mission, uncovering powerful enemies, reforging bonds, and embracing a way of life long forgotten. 
 
I really enjoyed the novel, but it felt quite different from Ms. Harrow’s previous novel The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Although a well-written, character driven story that is brilliant in its way of tackling subject matter such as abuse, sexuality, racism, misogyny etc. with captivating, emotional, and heartbreaking moments (keeps tissues handy) I found some of it was hard to get through, some sections long-winded and cliché although the book still held my interest. An interesting read for those who love character driven, witchy stories with a powerful sense of sisterhood. 

#BookReview of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke #NetGalley #Fantasy #MagicRealism

 

Piranesi

by Susanna Clarke

Release date: September 15th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke from NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.
…so exquisitely unique and brilliant that it takes on a life of its own…
Every once in a while, a book comes along that is so exquisitely unique and brilliant that it takes on a life of its own, and for me Piranesi is just such a book. I loved Susanna Clarke’s last book “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” and was thrilled to see Piranesi listed on NetGalley.  I love everything about Piranesi it is so vastly different and beautifully written I could not put it down. From beginning to end the book is so quirky and complex it is almost impossible to summarize in a way that doesn’t ruin the unfolding story for the reader. Our narrator, Piranesi lives in the halls of a massive labyrinth, he does not remember anything other than living in the Labyrinth and his only human company is “The Other,” whom he meets with regularly but does not know which part of the Labyrinth he comes from only that he is a scientist of sorts and he asks Piranesi collects data about the Labyrinth for him. Other than his research, Piranesi lives a simple life, he roams the statue lined corridors fishing and scavenging from the flooded levels of the labyrinth during high tide. He communes with the sea birds and cares for the skeletons that reside in the alcoves.  He eagerly listens to the messages the labyrinth sends him looking for wisdom of who he is while flashes from a life lost long ago make him question his reality.   Such a complex novel with a brilliant unfolding story filled with intrigue, ancient magic, victories and tragedies. I highly recommend.

#BookReview Sea Change by Nancy Kress #ScienceFiction #Ecology #GMO via #NetGalley

 

Sea Change

by Nancy Kress

Release date: May 22nd, 2020

Sea Change Cover

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(3.5) Rounded Up


I received a complimentary ARC copy Sea Change by Nancy Kress from NetGalleyTachyon Publications in order to read and give an honest review.

To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters …

This was the first work of fiction I have read from Nancy Kress. In the past I had read her non-fiction books on writing as part of a workshop I had taken and really enjoyed them.  I was really looking forward to reading this novella and although well-written in many ways, it just wasn’t what I expected.

Coined a bio-thriller, although interesting wasn’t as dynamic or “thrilling” as advertised.  The author bases an espionage story around the benefits of GMO’s over traditional agriculture but much of it felt like a huge info dump interspersed with an interesting mystery and very character driven story.  To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters.

The Protagonist, Renata Black is driven by her beliefs, all her life she has been championing for good, always looking for a cause even to the point of ruining her marriage to her Hollywood bound husband.   When her son dies because of a water issue attributed to agricultural run-off she makes promoting GMO’s her new mission.

Set in the future, an incident ten years prior involving an bio-pharmaceutical incident resulting the deaths of children causes major GMO companies to disappear and agriculture with pesticides and fertilizers to become the norm.  Looking for a cause to help her deal with her grief  of losing her son she joins “The Org” as operative Caroline Denton. The Org, a pro-GMO, ultra-secretive , underground organization is working to bring back GMO’s to reduce starvation and ecological disasters around the world. When not working as an operative as Renata she works as a paralegal for a lawyer prosecuting rape cases for the Quinault reservation, where her son passed away.

The story opens with Caroline getting to investigate a runaway  self-driving house blocking traffic and its operator/owner believed to be an Org operative is missing, and it appears to be the result of a mole in “The Org”. When a splinter cell gets raided and her name becomes known, Caroline/Renata is hunted by the government and labelled a terrorist.

The hunt for the missing operator, a case involving the rape of a Quinault teenager and her grief over losing her son are the plot-lines running through this novella, but they all felt overshadowed by too many info dumps revolving around GMO’s which in my opinion took away from the story of this short novella.  Reading is subjective and although I found Sea Change hard to immerse myself in, doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated by someone else.

 

#Book #Review The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley #MagicRealism #Steampunk #HistoricalFiction #NetGalley

Review

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

(The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2)

by Natasha Pulley

Release date: March 3rd, 2020

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley from NetGalley  Bloomsbury Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

I am a huge fan of Natasha Pulley, she has such a unique and wonderful voice, her novels are always magical and mesmerizing. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is the second instalment in her The Watchmaker of Filigree Street which as expected is incredibly well written, complex, completely unique and captivating. Although it definitely stands on its own I really do recommend reading the first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

We start a while after the events in The Watchmaker of Filigree. Thaniel Steepleton, Keita Mori and Thaniel’s daughter, Six and their Katsu their mechanical quirky octopus begin their adventure in Victorian-era London living their lives when they are asked to travel to investigate a ghost-infested British Legation in Tokyo.  Pulley introduces us to steampunk Tokyo, Hokkaido and even the infamous Aokigahara forest. Thaniel suffering from tuberculosis in the thick London fog agrees to accept the posting as an interpreter, while Mori returns to his royal home to use his powers to investigate unfortunately having to also face a past that he has worked hard to put behind him.

Slowly the Legation begins to see an increase in ghostly activity which seems to be plaguing them. Stranger things begin to happen when Pepperharrow, a woman from Mori’s past is called upon to honour a debt, Mori starts to change and seems incredibly distant.   When Mori goes missing, Thaniel and Pepper independently go to extreme lengths to find him.

This book has everything, the author introduces us to some larger than life heroes and villains in this instalment as well as introducing us to an interesting scientific plotline. I would highly recommend this book, Natasha Pulley has given us an exquisite novel, filled with characters that come to life, rich, well-researched world-building and beautiful, flawless prose that should be savoured and enjoyed.

#Review of The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold #UrbanFantasy #Noir #NetGalley

Review

 

The Last Smile in Sunder City Cover

The Last Smile in Sunder City

by Luke Arnold

Release Date: February 25th 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold from NetGalley and Orbit Books in order to read and give an honest review.

In his debut novel, author Luke Arnold does a masterful job with The Last Smile in Sunder City combining urban fantasy with the noir detective stories of old.

When magic disappears from Sunder city it leaves behind its magical creatures, powerless and living life like an average human. When a former vampire, now beloved old and frail teacher goes missing our protagonist Fetch Phillips is hired to find out what happened to him.  Some say he turned to dust or ran away some say his dedication to his students wouldn’t let him just leave.  Fetch a self-destructive, alcoholic living in his detective agency office, spending his days trying to assuage himself of his guilt-ridden past put himself in peril trying to get to the bottom of it. When a student goes missing too, he feels even more pressure to solve the case.  Sunder City feels like a bit of a character in itself, a typical noir city fraught with seedy back street bars, brothels and greasy spoons with disgusting food but excellent coffee.

I wasn’t sure about this book when I started but I have to say I was carried away, the characters, the pacing, the writer’s voice, his twisty plot turns, completely engaged me. With an intriguing mystery and interesting backstory, this is a fantastic book I highly recommend! I will definitely look forward to Mr Arnold’s future books.

#UrbanFantasy #BookReview of #Voodoo Shanghai by Kristi Charish via @PenguinRandomCA

 

Review

VooDoo Shanghi Cover

Voodoo Shanghai

The Kincaid Strange Series, Book Three

by Kristi Charish

Release date: February 18th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Lipstick Voodoo (The Kincaid Strange Series, Book Three) by Kristi Charish from Penguin Random House Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

… fast-paced mysteries with an urban fantasy/paranormal twist but with plenty of intelligence, wit and dark humour, making this series quirky, fun and extremely entertaining…

I am a huge fan of Kristi Charish so I was thrilled to get to review the third and final (?) offering from her Kincaid Strange Series. I really have fun with this series, the books are definitely fast-paced mysteries with an urban fantasy/paranormal twist but with plenty of intelligence, wit, and dark humour, making this series, quirky fun and extremely entertaining.

Our protagonist, Paranormal Practitioner, Kincaid Strange, is on the case again picking up where Lipstick Voodoo leaves off with Kincaid now working as Gideon, a powerful sorcerer’s spirit’s, new apprentice. Although no longer working for the Seattle PD, Kincaid is getting her life back together and she is finding a moderate amount of success.  When her ex Aaron, asks for her help on an investigation in Portland, a case involving the ghost of who they believe to be Martin Dane, the White Picket Fence Serial Killer her newfound success in on the line. Something doesn’t sit right with Kincaid, she knows she is not being told everything and it’s making her a bit wary of taking the case but a young girl is involved.  When she receives a warning from the other side, her curiosity and sense of justice prevail and she pursues it even if it means her walking into a trap.  When she arrives in Portland she runs into more trouble than she expected, a magic bog, missing ghosts, zombies and witches just to name a few.

I love Charish’s female protagonist in both this series, Kincaid Strange and her Owl books
She writes strong, smart and sassy but also flawed female characters which make them easy to find empathy for and appreciate.  Although not a fan of zombies, in particular, Charish writes them in a fun way that enhances the quirkiness of her books.

All in all, a fabulous fun read but with one doozy of a cliff hanger at the very end which I really hope indicates we won’t be seeing the last of Kincaid Strange!  If you are looking for a fun, intelligent and quirky urban fantasy, this book is for you.

 

Making every moment matter in 2020! #amwriting #revisions #UrbanFantasy #Egyptology #amstudying #Archaeology

 

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“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ~William Faulkner

Although battling a bad case of bronchitis, 2020 is off to a busy start!   Just when I think I can’t get any busier…SURPRISE!!! Feeling so blessed that during the past year so many wonderful people have come into my life giving me new opportunities to grow and learn. I exceeded my goal during NaNoWriMo and am knee-deep working on revisions and research.   Looking forward to working on a few new projects that I will be sharing over the next few months as well as making big changes to my coaching practice at Ignite Your Creativity…stay tuned for more information.

Keep your eyes open for Professor Owl’s Book Corner February Newsletter for Young Adults coming out this week, my #WATWB We are the World Blogfest post on January 31st  as well as a few book reviews on Boho and Bookish.

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”  ~Anne Lamott

Wherever you may be in your day or evening, I hope you’re making each moment matter!
Live, laugh & love! ❤

#amwriting #researching #mythology #egyptology #urbanfantasy #gothic #writerscommunity #studying #archaeology #history #arttherapy #coaching #volunteering #palaeography #transcribing #amreading #photography #blogging #bookreview #authorinterviews #journaling

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Storytellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”~ Ursula K. Le Guin

My Spotify Playlist ~ #AmWriting #UrbanFantasy #Egyptology #Mystery ~ The Secret of Living

Happy Holidays from Urban Word Nerd

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Christmas 2019

Wishing those who celebrate…

A Very Merry Christmas & a
happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Thank you to everyone for their love, kindness and support this year.♥️
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#merrychristmas #seasonsgreetings #happynewyear

#UrbanFantasy #BookReview of Fallen by Benedict Jacka via #NetGalley

 

Review

Fallen by Benedict Jacka Cover

Fallen

Alex Verus #10

by Benedict Jacka

Release date: September 24th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Fallen (Alex Verus #10) by Benedict Jacka from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group/ Penguin Random House in order to read and give an honest review.

… is a brilliant, page-turner which is perhaps my favourite in the series…

I am a huge fan of Benedict Jacka and was so I was thrilled for the opportunity to read and review the tenth instalment in his Alex Verus series. I really enjoy this series, it’s such a unique, fast-paced urban fantasy, filled with magic, mystery and mayhem.    

Definitely not a stand-alone, Fallen picks up with the fallout from San Vittore as witnessed in his last book Marked.  So much has happened to Mage Alex Verus and his friends and in this book, we see Alex face a whole new set of challenges. The council becomes a huge issue and we see a significant departure from the normal Alex we’ve followed through the previous books. In Fallen, we see the “normal’ good guy Verus, change into a more ruthless and cut-throat Alex.  Sadly, we also say goodbye (hopefully, not permanently) to a main and much-beloved character and Alex’s old life as he knew it. This book has the usual cast of characters, Anne, Luna Varium, Arachne, the quirky air elemental, Starbreeze and some of the ones we love to hate. Dark mage Richard, Rachel/Deleo, Onyx and Cinder all reappear to make this perhaps one of the more action-packed books in the series to date.

As always, Jacka does an amazing job and putting Alex in almost inescapable situations where he’s damned if he does or damned if he doesn’t and Fallen is no exception. The Council decides to put a warrant out for both Anne and Alex their life is changed forever. On the run, and using stones to jump through gate after gate, they also have to contend with another problem. When Richard hatches a plan that involves capturing Anne and forcing her to do his bidding Versus must fight for her even if it means his death.

Without giving away much more this is such a brilliant, page-turner and I have to say is perhaps my favourite in the series! I would highly recommend it!

#BookReview of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow #SciFi #Fantasy #Portals #NetGalley

 

Review

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: September 10th, 2019

Ten Thousand Doors of January Cover

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
by Alix E. Harrow from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Since tales of Narnia and Oz, stories about secret portals to other worlds have been embraced by readers young and old.  The idea of quickly transporting to new and exciting locations always seems to thrill us and the Ten Thousand Doors of January is no exception.  Author Alix E. Harrow beautifully crafts her debut novel to appeal to those who love to escape into the written word.  

The author introduces us to a young January Scaller who is intelligent, well-read and inquisitive.  Her father a treasure hunter of sorts has left January in the care of his employer a rather wealthy and well-respected collector, Mr Locke, after her mother’s disappearance. Being of mixed race at the turn of the century, January has always felt out of place in Mr Locke’s social circle but Mr Locke and his money have always provided her with more than she needs. Well educated, well cared for and lavished with gifts, January has it all but is still unhappy. Her father Julian is always away hunting down artefacts for Mr Locke, leaving January alone much of the time. Although lonely and missing her father she has one friend, the local grocer’s son, Samuel who gives her a pup called Bad (Sinbad) so she never feels alone, cements their friendship which will endure time and the trials which lie ahead.  

January discovers a strange door, which, at the time she doesn’t realize, will change the course of her life forever. When a mysterious friend of her father, Jane, comes to assist Mr Locke in January’s care she gets the friendship of another woman. When she receives a mysterious book on her seventeenth birthday which delves into mysterious doors to new worlds and the intriguing adventures of Adelaid Lee Larson, she discovers much more than she bargained for.   When Mr Locke begins realizing that January is close to discovering a secret, a secret that he has kept at all costs, her kindly old guardian and his friends become her worse nightmare come true. Isolated from her friends and facing insurmountable odds, she realizes what true friendship is when her friends’ rally around her and begin an adventure that will change their lives forever. 

Without giving too much away Ms Harrow has crafted an incredible novel that is full of intelligence, beauty, whimsy, tragedy and just pure entertainment.  Well-written, with unique multi-faceted characters and imaginative plotlines, this is perhaps one of my favourite reads of the year and I highly recommend it!