Review: The Awakening by Nora Roberts

Author: Nora Roberts
Series: The Dragon Heart Legacy #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: November 24th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

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I received a copy of The Awakening in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Nora Roberts is at it again; she’s starting a new series, this one with a fantasy and romance bend. That was really all I needed to hear to know that I wanted to give this one a read! The Awakening is the first in her new The Dragon Heart Legacy.

The realm of Talamh is in danger – has been in grave danger for years, truth be told. Keegan, and those that came before him, did their best to hold the evil at bay, but all of their hopes now rest on one woman.

Enter Breen Kelly. She was raised having a normal life, if by normal one means she got used to being constantly told how average and normal she was. That is, until she finally learned the truth about herself. Now she has to make a decision. Her old life, or her new one. Unless a balance can be struck.

“If the fates deem who rises, why can’t we see? Why can’t you,’ Keegan insisted, ‘who sees the before and the yet to come?”

The Awakening is a fascinating read, one that formed a blooming world that is impossible to look away from. It’s rich in detail, and portrays a variety of characters and motivations. In short, while it is very much a magical series, it still feels so human at the same time.

Needless to say, it captivated me. Though I really do mean it when I say that this is a detailed novel – it’s four hundred and forty-eight pages of descriptions, character development, and world-building.

That did result in the occasional dip in pacing, if I’m being brutally honest. Though I did enjoy learning as much as possible about Breen and the dozens of characters that came into her life. It was wonderful, especially when her two worlds were put in direct comparison.

I was shocked by the BFF vibes that came with this book, it was a nice addition. I feel like it was important to show such a healthy relationship, especially considering that there were a few very unhealthy ones in the mix as well. Gotta adore the balance!

Honestly, it’s almost impossible not to feel a little envious of Breen. Yes, her life isn’t perfect. But she did suddenly come across a world of magic and people who loved her – not to mention a budding career in writing, and so much more.

Long story short: the world and magical systems have left me hoping for more, in a good way, that is. It’s enough to guarantee that I’ll be coming back for the next novel!

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Review: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Author: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: September 3rd, 2019
Received: Own

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is another addition to DC’s young adult line, which thus far has truly been fantastic. If you haven’t checked out the other series, such as Teen Titans: Beast Boy or Victor and Nora, you really should (seriously, go do it).

Once upon a time, Harley Quinn was a teenager. She was still the tough and confident person we all know her as, naturally. But she was still very young, and had a lot to learn about the world. Consider Breaking Glass to be her crash course.

Sent to Gotham to live with her grandmother (whom has actually passed away), Harley makes new friends and allies. All while getting herself into a fair share of trouble, and standing up for what she considers to be right. A fact made all the more complicated by the appearance of the Joker.

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass was such a shocking, yet fantastic, read. It blew me out of the water, and left me wanting more. It wasn’t just Harley’s character that got to shine here, but Ivy’s as well.

Both of these young women are brilliant and determined. One knew solidly what the path ahead was for her, and how she had to fight it. The other was a bit lost, but still trying with everything she had.

It’s endearing, in that sense. Likewise, all of the changes made to Harley and Ivy’s characters were well-thought out, and overall worked to make their characters even more interesting. Not to mention, much more representative and approachable. There are good lessons woven into this narrative, to say the least.

While I adored Harley, I do have to admit that many of the secondary and supporting characters made her story shine all the more. Mama, Ivy, and everyone else who came into Harley’s life and worked to make it better. It gave her world a more complete feeling, and it was wonderful.

The inclusion of current debates, ethics, racism, sexism, and so much more was an excellent call. All of these things are naturally things that Harley would truly care about, and Ivy as well. The lens in which the two learn made it all the more powerful, and I loved it so much.

On top of an amazing plot, the artwork was also highly enjoyable. It still had many of those classic Harley Quinn elements, while being aged down pretty significantly. It felt very much in line with the rest of the young adult series, and made a good balance between black/white and color.

All of which combined together to create one of my favorite graphic novels from this year. Okay, I know it is actually from 2019, but I read it in 2020, so I’m counting it as one of my 2020 reads. And it certainly was a highlight from this year.

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Review: Angel of the Overpass by Seanan McGuire

Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Ghost Roads #3
Publisher: DAW
Released: May 11, 2021
Received: NetGalley

Angel of the Overpass is the third novel in Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series. If you haven’t read this series, I strongly recommend picking it up, especially if you’re a fan of ghosts, legends, and urban fantasies. If it wasn’t apparent by this point – the Ghost Roads series is one of my favorites.

Rose Marshall – the woman with a hundred names. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. The Phantom Prom Date. The Ghost of Sparrow Hill Road. It’s been fifty years since she died, and her story has had plenty of time to change.

Rose herself has changed since that time. She may be a ghost, but that doesn’t mean she’s a static being. Granted, she has been on the run from Bobby Cross this whole time. He’s the one who killed her, and even now, he’s still hunting her. Yet now, he’s lost his protection, and that evens the score.

A quick note before I begin my review: The events in Angel of the Overpass are heavily impacted by another series of Seanan McGuire. InCryptid and Ghost Roads share the same world, and the events of That Ain’t Witchcraft, in particular, are going to change things up. You can read Angel of the Overpass without having read it, of course. But it will add a lot to the story. Take it from somebody who only this year binged all ten of the InCryptid novels.

“I’m tired of letting Bobby scare me. I’m tired of letting Bobby chase me. Really, I’m tired of Bobby, full stop.”

Angel of the Overpass is the perfect third novel in this series. It’s poetic, dark, and beautiful in equal measure. More than that, it’s once again giving readers a chance to see the Ghost Roads. These roads are infinitely complex and will always be fascinating to learn about.

You see, they are an amalgam of all of our lore, plus a bit (read: a lot) of imagination from Seanan McGuire’s side of things. The end result is an expansive world that I, for one, will never grow tired of.

This world feels more precarious and open to change than ever before (see my note above). It’s added a new source of tension, but it’s also added some hope. All of which is kicking off change left and right, not just in the world – but for many of the characters that we’ve come to know as well.

One of the dominant themes in Angel of the Overpass seems to be change. The world itself is changing, so it only makes sense that everyone and everything in it is changing as well. We already know that ghosts don’t automatically stay the same from the moment they come into existence.

Now McGuire is simply driving that point home. Rose’s quests have taken her to all different realms for the dead, yet there hasn’t been a quest quite like this one. Not for Rose, and I highly doubt for any other ghost either.

There was something so fascinating and empowering about what Rose went through in this novel. More than that, it felt so…well, I was going to say human, but perhaps that isn’t the right word in this instance.

Angel of the Overpass is a compelling read, one that will keep you on the edge of your seat right up until you finish the book. So plan ahead, and leave yourself plenty of room to read. Trust me on this one.

Angel of the Overpass is a novel that I have happily been waiting for, ever since the last novel (The Girl in the Green Silk Gown) dropped. It was well worth the wait, bringing about change and understanding in equal measure. It’s a novel that does justice to the characters and to the fans who have been looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Thanks to DAW and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Blog Tour & Review: Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

Stay tuned below for a review & excerpt of Call Me Elizabeth Lark!

Author: Melissa Colasanti
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Released: Marh 9, 2021
Received: Blog Tour

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Melissa Colasanti’s debut novel, Call Me Elizabeth Lark, is a thrilling novel that puts family tries, obligations – and danger into a whole different light.

Myra Barkley never gave up on her daughter. She went missing twenty years ago, and she’s still convinced that one day her baby girl will come home. Well, that day has arrived, or so Myra believes. This isn’t the first time she’s had this daydream.

Elizabeth Lark is not Myra’s daughter, but she’s willing to let her believe she is. Elizabeth is on the run, having killed her husband (in self-defense). She needs a safe place for her and her son to lie low. So why not take up residence with this woman who so desperately wants her daughter back?

I really have to give Melissa Colasanti credit here. I’ve seen (and read) countless missing-person stories over the years. But I’ve never seen one so…complicated. Call Me Elizabeth Lark is a novel full of twists and turns and more than one moment that will tug on heartstrings.

It’s impossible not to feel for Myra, all while understanding why Elizabeth might feel compelled to take advantage of this woman’s grief. It’s all so complex and sticky, yet it makes for a fantastic foundation here.

It’s worth noting that there are actually three main perspectives in Call Me Elizabeth Lark. There’s Myra and Elizabeth (obviously), plus a third, Gwen. Gwen is Myra’s other daughter, and she also has a lot of feelings over her missing (and supposedly now found) sister.

Surprisingly, this novel felt more akin to a cozy mystery than a thriller in some ways. I think that’s because while I was able to predict a lot of what was about to happen, I found myself not minding that in the least.

All things considered, this is a pretty solid debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what Melissa Colasanti comes up with next.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Info: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Info: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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Blog Tour & Review: Catnapped by R.J. Blain

Author: R.J. Blain
Series: Magical Romantic Comedies #14
Published: Pen & Page Publishing
Released: May 11, 2021

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The story continues in Catnapped by R.J. Blain. This is the fourteenth novel in the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a Body Count) series and is an absolute delight to read.

What would you do if the most important person in the world went missing? For Diana, that person is Mr. Flooferson, her cat and former lab animal. As for what she’s willing to do? As it turns out, she’s ready to make a deal with the devil.

Literally. What should have been a quest to get back her cat quickly turns into a story larger than life, with news that could change the world forever. It’s certainly changing the way Diana looks at the world.

Oh my goodness. Catnapped was such an absolute delight to read. I’m glad that I was a little bit impulsive and decided to dive right in any way. It was worth it! I should probably mention that I’m not up to date on this series (I’ve only read Dirty Deeds, a short story anthology), but I had no trouble following along.

No, that’s an understatement. I really enjoyed this read. To be fair, I suspected that I would. The cover screams that it is my sort of urban fantasy favorite, and the title is cute and enough to get my attention (urban fantasy + cat = you have my attention).

Diana is a human living among supernaturals, and that comes with all sorts of complications. I love how determined she was to protect (and get back) her cat – even if her cat does have an adorably silly name. Actually, the latter just helped to add charm, as far as I’m concerned.

This book lived up to the expectations I set in my mind and was a blast to read. I’m really going to have to go back sometime and read through the whole series. It’s clearly going to be worth it.

Thanks to Pen & Page Press for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Catnapped: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Weekly Update

This was a strange week. Part of me wants to leave it at that, but I won’t. It was a week that had a lot of good and bad news, some big, some relatively minor. But when all jumbled together it certainly felt larger to me!

A bit of good news: I got my second vaccination this week! I am one step closer to finally getting out in the world. My first goal (once my two weeks are up, of course) is going to be checking out my new local library.

A bit of bad news: One of the sites I’ve been writing for the last few years shut down this week. It was pretty sudden and I’m not going to lie, my heart hurts. I’ll miss Word of the Nerd, but at least I can honestly say that I enjoyed my time there.

WOTN shutting down does mean that there will be a bit of a shuffle, both in my time and on my blogs. Since I’m no longer writing book and comic reviews for the site, I do have a bit of time on my hands.

Going forward, all of the comics I had been reviewing for WOTN will instead be done on my other blog, Quirky Cat’s Comics. I may be transitioning all of my graphic novel reviews over there in the coming months. I haven’t fully decided.

On the bright side, this also means that I’m going to (theoretically) have more time on my hands for a few projects I’ve been wanting to pick up for this blog. We’ll see if I actually have the time, as I have been spending every spare moment possible out in my gardens. Fingers crossed!

Books Read:

  • Angel of the Overpass
  • Aetherbound
  • The Nation of Plants
  • A Crown of Dawn
  • A Good Mother
  • Black Water Sister
  • Catnapped
  • Call Me Elizabeth Lark

Next’s Weeks Reading Lineup:

  • A Master of Djinn
  • Local Woman Missing
  • The Album of Dr. Moreau
  • House of Hollow
  • The Promised Queen
  • The Photographer

I know that I’m a bit of an overachiever when it comes to writing up my weekly lists – so I make no promises to actually read all of these books! However! We all know that I’m going to do my best.

Weekly Quote:

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (of Books):

A Universe of Wishes – Read HERE
The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman – Read HERE
Sweet Paradise – Read HERE
Project Hail Mary – Read HERE
Villainous – Read HERE
Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy – Read HERE
The Bright and Breaking Sea – Read HERE
The Way Back – Read HERE

The Review Crew:

Project Hail Mary – Read HERE

Quirky Cat’s Comics:

Thor & Loki: Double Trouble #3 – Read HERE

America Chavez: Made in the U.S.A. #3 – Read HERE

Monkeys Fighting Robots:

Eve #1 – Read HERE

The Last Witch #5 – Read HERE

The Review Crew:

May Picks for BOTM – Read HERE

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Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: February 2nd, 2021
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Starving, prejudice, Great Depression

Kristin Hannah is back, and that means it’s time to get ready for all of the feels. But seriously, The Four Winds is yet another highly anticipated novel, even if I knew going into it that it was going to make me cry.

Elsa Martinelli grew up believing that she would never be loved. Yet her whole world changed the moment she saw even a glimmer of it, granting her a level of determination and fortitude that she never would have imagined.

Had her story not been set in Texas during the Great Depression, her story might have ended there, with a blooming heart. That is not the case, as she must not struggle to bring her family through the Dust Bowl era, with all the complications one could expect, and about a hundred more on top.

“Courage is fear you ignore.”

If you’re looking for a book that will tug on your heartstrings and forge a strong emotional connection to the characters within, then The Four Winds is the book for you. This is by far the most emotionally compelling book I’ve read this year, and I feel like that is saying something.

Kristin Hannah’s writing is evocative and beautiful, creating characters that truly do feel human – the good and the bad. The raw and the beautiful. It’s all there, in stark and unavoidable detail. That’s a talent she’s known for, so I probably should have expected how far this book would bury into my soul.

I didn’t, and the surprise made for a wonderful yet painful journey. Think about her writing, and the setting, and my statement will make complete sense, and not contain all that much of a spoiler either.

“A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me.”

The Four Winds really did blow me away. It was compelling, it was wonderful, and it was everything in between. I’ll confess that this book absolutely made me ugly cry, and I’m not even ashamed to admit it either. It just goes to show how well written it is. Hannah really grasped (and portrayed) all the hardship and struggles of these years, while also highlighting the strength of will some people carry within themselves.

Admittedly, that means that this will not be a book I’m rereading anytime soon, but that’s okay. It had the impact I was hoping for (more than, really).

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Review: The Way Back by Gavriel Savit

Author: Gavriel Savit
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released: November 17th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

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I received a copy of The Way Back in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is my first time reading anything by Gavriel Savit – however, I’ve been hearing SO many nice things about The Way Back that I just knew I had to give this novel a try. Plus, this adventure is being positively compared to writing by Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman, so how could I possibly ever resist?

Demons and the dead are everywhere – though most stay contained in their own little world. With few excuses to ever cross the border, that is where they have little choice but to remain. That is, until a wedding invites all – no exceptions. That sounds like exactly the sort of excuse they have been looking for.

Two teenagers, both vastly different in experiences and temperaments, have found themselves on the wrong side of this particular adventure. Now their only hope is to find their way back, as the title itself states.

“She had seen the Angel of Death.

And her instrument was not a knife.

It was a spoon.”

The Way Back is arguably one of the most enchanting novels I’ve read in quite some time. The writing itself seemed to suck me in, while that brilliant world full of rich details kept me thoroughly trapped.

I mean that almost literally. It took days for my brain to be free of the world described within these pages. Some would call that a book hangover, and honestly, they wouldn’t be wrong. But it felt different than that at the same time. There was just something so…captivating about the story and the setting itself.

“The young were nervous. The old were reflective.

Tupik was going to bury its dead.”

While the world itself (and the demons within), were plenty fascinating, that isn’t the only thing I loved about this novel. For example, I adored the differing perspectives of the main character, Yehuda Leib and Bluma.

Their journeys were fascinating, and they felt so vibrant and alive. This is a story I’d honestly suggest to any teenager, young adult, or even adult to give a go. I can see why this world was so compared to the worlds created by Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman – it lives up to that statement. At least, it certainly did for me.

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Review: The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

Author: Chloe Neill
Series: Captain Kit Brightling #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Released: November 17th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

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I received a copy of The Bright and Breaking Sea in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Chloe Neill’s newest series is here, and I couldn’t be more excited for it! The Bright and Breaking Sea is the first novel in the Captain Kit Brightling series, and I hope it lasts a good long while.

Kit Brightling is a woman of extraordinary skill and confidence. That is how she became a captain of her own ship in Queen Charlotte’s fleet. Kit is more than a Captain, however. She’s a spy, a soldier, and a loyal woman through and through.

So when she is tasked with the job of acting against a known tyrant – one who wants more war for her country – Kit doesn’t hesitate. Okay, perhaps she hesitates a little as Rian Grant is thrown into her life, and onto her ship.

“Secrets, Kit thought ruefully, were the currency of both war and peace.”

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Review: Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Adriana Melo
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: May 19th, 2020
Received: Own

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Who doesn’t love a story based on the dynamic duo that is Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. Best friends, cohorts, lovers, these two really can be everything to each other, when handed off to the right creative team.

Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy follows the events of Heroes in Crisis, where Poison Ivy was unceremoniously killed, and later, brought back. Even though Ivy may be back, she’s not back to full strength yet. Hence why Harley is still blaming herself for the whole situation, and doing her best to protect her.

Unfortunately, things never go quite according to plan for these two. Before long, the two are on the run, as yet another villain makes an appearance. He wants Ivy in his life, and he’s not willing to take no for an answer. Probably not the smartest decision, given who we’re talking about here.

Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy was a thrilling read, one that was full of plenty of surprises, and even a few twists. The whole adventure felt right at home in either Harley or Ivy’s narrative. It even went a long way to fixing some of the wrongs formed in Heroes in Crisis.

It’s fun and a bit chaotic – but in a good way. This is Harley we’re talking about. Any series that includes her must also make room for the chaos. Just saying. It was funny, and just a touch cute, giving these two wonderful ladies another chance to shine.

As somebody who didn’t love some of what happened in Heroes in Crisis (sorry, it just hurt so much), I was thrilled to see these two back together again. It was refreshing, and it helped to soothe the heartache and frustration. At least, a little bit.

What really threw me through a loop was the conclusion. I refuse to ruin it – but I will say that you should get ready for one heck of a surprise. It’s a twist that would feel right at home with Batman: White Knight.

Part of me almost wishes that there would be a sequel to this story, as I’m curious to see what happens next. The rest of me is fairly content with where things left off, and knows that we’ll see whatever the fallout is, either in Harley’s series, or Batman’s. Somewhere, it will crop up.

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