Quick Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Once upon a time, Alice’s Grandma wrote a book of creepy fairy tales and then build a house in the woods and shut herself off the world. That alone sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, right? That was purpose because in a lot of ways this is just an elaborate fairy tale dressed up as a novel. Alice and her mother for years moved from place to place, trying to outrun their bad luck that always seemed to follow them because of course they would be cursed. Then they finally settled down and well Alice’s mom got kidnapped and now Alice has to find her but she needs help from classmate and super fan of her grandmother, Ellery Finch to find her. Her mom’s disappearance has something to do with her Grandmother’s stories but Alice has never read them and they are hard to find. I won’t’ say more as to not spoil it but this was fun and kind of creepy. Like a good fairy tale should be because lets be honest. A lot of fairy tales were creepy before they Disney got a hold of them. So yeah, solid book. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Quick Review: Blade Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

The mistake I might have made was read this right after The Priory of the Orange Tree because it’s not that it was bad or anything but the The Priory was such a well written, tightly constructed fantasy that I couldn’t help but compare them. I like this series. I think it’s fun and do love the expanding on the world building but there were times I felt it dragged. I’ve also started to be more drawn to Queen Erida more than Corayne. Corayne is still the brave kinda naive girl she was in the first. In a lot of ways she is a lot like Erida. They are both women who are living in a man’s world and have to prove themselves. While Corayne has choosen the path that will save the world and others, Erida has choosen the path of glory for herself. Her methods may be questionable but I can’t really fault her reasonings. If she was a King instead of a Queen. No one would question her ambitions or her claim to the throne. It would just be accepted. As wrong as she may be, I can’t help be drawn to her and a little sad that her story takes place so far away from the other main characters that her time is limited. A solid middle novel. It will be interesting to see where it goes next.

Quick Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

This was delightful. I like a good entertaining fantasy novel. It’s told through the narration of 4 different characters. Ead, a handmaiden from the Priory of the Orange Tree, Tane a dragonrider from the East, Dr. Roos, an alchemist from the West exiled in the east by Queen Sabran and Loth, a Lord from Queen Sabran’s court. They all tell the story of how their known world is set to fight the threat of the Nameless One. A powerful dragon that 1,000 years ago terrorized the world a but was thought to be defeated by a king but was actually defeated by 2 woman. This was a good book. All the narrators were interesting and brought a different world view to what is going on. The one thing that I did find overwhelming was the love story. I had read before starting that it was a sapphic love story, which it is but it’s not the main focal point. I guess when you only have 700 pages to tell your story and 4 narrators, romance has to wait. For fans of fantasy novels like Game of Thrones or the Lord of the Rings. This is right up you alley but better since it’s all one book so no waiting years between novels. That being said, I just read that Samantha Shannon is going to release a prequel early next year. So yes this was great book. You should read it.

What I’m Listening to Now: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

I don’t normally listen to audio books. I’m not even sure this counts since it’s more of a radio production then anything else but I’ve been interested in this book for a while and with the Netflix series coming out soon. No time like the present to get on it.

Quick Review: Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

This book is a fairy tale and it is a book of Revenge. Which I kinda like. Marra is the youngest princess from a small country. Her Country is always in precarious position. It has an important port that the two bigger kingdoms on either side of them want to control. Her mom, the Queen makes an arrangement with the Prince in the kingdom to the north. She marries her oldest daughter to him and in return, he promises protection from the kingdom from attacking. Unfortunately, Marra’s sister dies within a year of marrying the prince so the second oldest princess marries the prince and Marra is sent to the convent so she doesn’t marry and have an heir that potential could have a claim on the small kingdom. This is alright with Marra as she never wanted to be in the chess game of being a princess. She likes living in the convent and being herself. She learns useful skills and has the freedom she never had before. That was before her niece dies and she realizes how much her sister is suffering in her marriage. Her sister is in a constant state of pregnancy because she is less likely to be abused by the prince when she is pregnant. The prince doesn’t want to risk losing his heir but Marra worries that the constant pregnancies or the prince will kill her sister. She sets out to save her by planning to kill the prince and save her sister but she can’t do it alone. She seeks out a powerful gravewitch who agrees to help if Marra can complete 3 impossible tasks and of course she does. On the way to the North Kingdom, they build a team. A dog made of bones, a former knight, a possessed chicken and fairy godmother. They are all delightful in their own ways. If this ever gets made into a movie. I do hope that Dame Judy Dench plays the gravewitch and Dame Helen Mirren plays the fairy godmother. Anyways, Marra is a girl or no real ambition. She doesn’t want to be a princess and every time she is asked to do anything in a official capacity it chaffs at her but she doesn’t hesitate to what she needs to do save her sister. She also realizes that she can’t do it alone and seeks the help she needs. I think this is a good lesson for all of us. To know that we are not alone and help is available. Even if it is to kill a prince. So this was a fun read. I enjoyed it.

Happy PRIDE!

Happy Pride month. Here are a few of my favorite books and series that feature LGBTQIA+ characters. What are your favorites? Leave them in the comments.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – Polyamorous
Science Fantasy reimagining of the rise of Chinese Empress Wu Zetian. With a true love triangle as Zetian has two love interests who are also in love with each other. There truly isn’t anything else like it.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling – Lesbian
Love is always hard but harder when you meet someone new but your ex girlfriend is still apart of your coven and there are witch hunters after you.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – Bi
The first of the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy follows Alex, who hates magic so much she accidently makes her family vanish and has to go into a different realm to find them. She also discovers herself as well.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – Lesbian
This is not an easy read as it deals with sexual assault but at it’s core is a love story between two young girls who risk everything to be together.

Carry On Trilogy by Rainbow Rowell – Gay
Based on fan fiction written by another of Rainbow Rowell’s characters in Fangirl and takes it to a new level. Harry Potter like chosen Simon Snow falls in love with his childhood enemy Baz. Fans of the enemies to lovers will love it.

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland, Bi
This is actually the second book in the series but I’m picking it as it goes more into main character, Jane’s sexuality. Jane is an amazing character that just knows how to survive and isn’t going to let some zombies get in the way.

Rick Riordan books – Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Ace
Rick Riordan’s many children series based on world mythology are filled with LGBTQIA+ characters. I would first suggest Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Main character, Magnus is definitely queer who falls in love with Alex who is trans. The Trials of Apollo series follows God Apollo who based on Greek mythology was bisexual. Actually many of the Gods of different world mythologies are somewhere on the rainbow and Riordan doesn’t shy away from these stories just because who writes for kids.

ShadowHunters Chronicles by Cassandra Clare – Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Poly
Like. Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare’s ShadowHunters Chronicles populated with many LGBTQIA+. Original series features Alex and Magnus, a gay shadowhunter and a bi-sexual warlock. The Dark Artifices series features a poly relationship, a trans character and more than 1 same sex couples. The most recent series, The Last Hours has a bisexual and lesbian character as part of the main group of characters even takes place in Edwardian England. I’ll admit that as the series go on, there are times I get tired at the formulaic it is but I always come back for the characters because they are always well written

The Dreamers Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater – Gay
A spin series from her popular Ravens Cycle, centers around gay and dreamer and Ronan. True, his relationship with fellow Raven Boy, Adam, isn’t the center of the story as many who read the first series would assume but it’s not far off. Anyways, Ronan is a fantastic character who l love and what the world for him.

Review: A Little Too Familiar by Lish McBride

This is was like the perfect hug. It was so warm and comforting. Lou (short for Louise) is an Animal Mage who is training for her dream job of pairing people with their familiar animals. Declan is a werewolf who just got out of a relationship and is trying to start over. Unfortunately, he has had some traumatic experiences with Animal Mages in the past so living with one is not ideal. Even if he is immediately attracted to her. I’m not sure what trope this is because it’s not really enemies to lovers since it’s not Lou who hurt him but it’s kind of the closest. Whatever it is I dig it. Declan has some things going on that prevent him from truly understanding his feelings and Lou just doesn’t understand why he has such a severe reaction to her but is willing to give him space. Which is a little hard when you’re roommates. Even more difficult is when Declan’s father and step mother escape from jail and come for him. That would put a temper on anything.

I loved everything about this book. Lou and Declan are the kind of couple you want to root for. Their roommates, Trick and Van perfectly compliment them as the quirky friends. Lou’s family are amazing and all bring color to the novel. What I like about it too is family and the found family dynamic. Lou has a big family filled with with her mom and her other family that she is not related to but helped raised her. It’s kind of complicated but it works. You then have her friends that are just as much apart of her family as the others. Those who was born into and those she chooses is very powerful. This is contrasted with Declan’s family, which was toxic to begin with. He was abused and dealt with so much trauma that left him scarred. When his parents were sent to jail, he and 1 sister were placed in one foster home while his other siblings another. This was for a reason but also meant that Declan lost what little family he had and made it hard him to trust others and let them in. It must be hard for a wolf without a pack. Meeting Lou is a blessing for Declan because not only does he find love but he also gains a family, a pack he has needed his whole life. Like I said, this book just so cozy and wonderful. Romance lovers and paranormal lovers who are looking for a fun and breezy book to read this summer. You can’t go wrong with this one.