Review: Review: The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

The Living DeadAuthors: George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: August 4th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Typical zombie-related warnings
Rating: 4 1/2 kitties

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

Most movie buffs – especially those that love zombie movies (and books) will happily talk about Night of the Living Dead. It started off the zombie craze, and left a permanent mark on our imagination.

After that, George A. Romero sat down to write a zombie novel. Sadly, he never had a chance to finish that novel, which certainly would have been as groundbreaking as his movies. Now, Daniel Kraus has picked up the task of finishing that very novel.

The Living Dead both is and is not a classic zombie story. The zombie apocalypse started small, but quickly grew to the devastating levels befitting our imaginations. Throughout this novel, the journey of several survivors is revealed. A teenager desperate to survive, a statistician who kept on going with her job, a medical examiner and his diener, they are just a few of the characters pulled into this tale that is larger than life.

“You have always been the living dead. You will always be. It was the coming of death that allowed you to live.”

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Review: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between WorldsAuthor: Micaiah Johnson
Publisher: Crown
Released: August 4th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Abuse, drugs
Rating: 5 Stars

I received a copy of The Space Between Worlds in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Space Between Worlds is the outstanding debut novel of Micaiah Johnson, and it is an impressive feat of science fiction.

Cara lives in a time when multiverse travel is possible – for the select few, that is. You see, it turns out than it isn’t the most intelligent, or the bravest, required to travel between worlds. But the rarest.

One cannot travel to a world where they already exist. Thus, Cara, who’s counterpart is dead in 372 worlds, is a commodity for her company. She’s rapidly becoming more rare and valuable with time. Just not in the way she’d want.

Her position in these worlds has put her in a unique place, however. One that could result with her saving the day. Not just on her own world, but on many others. She just has to survive whatever comes next. A trait that she is apparently not known for.

“Another me is gone. As I walk into the valley, I’m a little more valuable walking down the mountain than I was walking up.”

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Review: Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

WhichwoodAuthor: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Released: November 14th, 2017
Received: Own
Warnings: Death, depression, mental illness
Rating: 4 kitties

Whichwood is the second novel in Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore series. It’s a beautiful fantasy world full of rich details and character development. But as we all know; magic comes at a cost. And it has rules that must be followed.

Laylee is the last of the mordeshoor in Whichwood. That means that she’s the last person responsible for caring for the dead – and for keeping their souls from coming after the living. It used to be a noble profession, but it’s since become something that people tend to look down upon, thanks to their fear of the dead.

Unfortunately for them, neglecting a mordeshoor has consequences. And the people of Whichwood are about to find out exactly what that means.

Whichwood may be the second novel in a series, but you don’t actually have had to read Furthermore in order to jump in and follow along here. I know I had no issues –though I clearly missed out on some of the backstory for characters introduced later on in the novel.

 

“Maybe it was not naiveté, but suffering, that inspired kindness. Maybe, she thought, it was pain that inspired compassion.”

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Review: Prodigy Prince by Natasha Sapienza

Prodigy PrinceAuthor: Natasha Sapienza
Released: December 12th, 2017
Received: Review Request
Rating: 4 kitties

I received a copy of Prodigy Prince in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Prodigy Prince by Natasha Sapienza is the tale of two brothers, both princes, and their fight for what they believe in. One is determined to save his people, while the other is driven to follow his own ambitions in life.

Prince Nuelle is a most generous prince. In many ways, he could have been the perfect prince. He was kind and sweet and very giving. He should never have been in line for becoming king, since his elder brother received all of the training to do that.

Until one day, Prince Antikai, the elder brother, went off on his own, something that went directly against the King’s orders. Harsh punishment swiftly followed, resulting with the brother’s becoming odds with one another.

 

“Nuelle writhed as blood spilled and pain seared through his face.”

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Review: Drowned Country by Emily Tesh

Drowned CountryAuthor: Emily Tesh
Series: The Greenhollow Duology #2
Publisher: Tor.com
Release: August 18th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Rating: 4 1/2 kitties

I received a copy of Drowned Country in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Drowned Country is the second novella in the Greenhollow Duology by Emily Tesh, and is something I personally have been waiting for all year. If you’re looking for a series with stunningly fresh aesthetic, this is it.

In Silver in the Wood we were introduced to a world of magic, monsters, and men. Silver followed the lore he was so obsessed with into the woods, and there he found Tobias Finch. If only the story had ended right there.

Now Silver is the Wild Man of Greenhollow, and adjusting from a normal life chasing fantasy did not prepare him for a life of magic and isolation. But the world does not stop for anyone, not even Wild Men.

With a monster on the loose, Silver, alongside his mother and Finch, will be diving back into this world for another adventure, or risk losing it all. Again.

“’I cannot think what else to call it,’ Mrs Silver said, ‘when a healthy young person insists on building himself a thorn-grit fortress and sitting in it, consuming nothing but sour fruit and small beer for months on end.’”

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Review: Otaku by Chris Kluwe

OtakuAuthor: Chris Kluwe
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: March 3rd, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Racism, sexism, assault, classism
Rating: 4 kitties

I received a copy of Otaku through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Chris Kluwe’s debut novel is an impressive feat, made all the more shocking and impressive given his previous career. Otaku is a science fiction novel, one that dives headfirst into the realm of virtual realities, and a fight against corruption.

Ashley Akachi, aka Ash, is famous for her gameplay within the Infinite Game. You’d think that’d earn her more slack, but really all it’s done is make her a target. A target for those that hate women succeeding. A target for those that want to use her.

One thing is certain, in this complex world full of politics, schemes, corruption, and more, Ash is about to find herself in the middle of it all. And it will be her actions that decide the fate for not just herself, but everyone she has ever known or cared about.

“It takes a special type of mindset to run endgame encounters, the toughest challenges Infinite Game’s developers can nightmare up. No one knows if they have that mindset or not until they do their first run. Most of them head back to Candyland, home of the omnipresent computer assist. I decided to stay, the darkness calling to something inside me, a thrill I can’t find anywhere else.”

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Review: Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott

Unconquerable SunAuthor: Kate Elliot
Series: The Sun Chronicles #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: July 7th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Rating: 4 1/2 kitties

I received a copy of Unconquerable Sun in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Kate Elliot is back and with an all-new tale. Or retelling, as the case may be. Here she’s taken Alexander the Great and done something new with the core concept. She shot it into space and started playing with the genders of the primary characters.

Princess Sun is the daughter of Eirene, and living up to her legend (and expectations) has been anything but easy. Now Princess Sun is of age, and it seems like there are more plans for her than ever. All of which require her wit, intelligence, and allies in order to stand a chance at surviving.

“She could not shake the sense she was merely a potentially useful tool in her parents’ personal tool kits, a piece held in reserve within the larger game they were playing.”

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Review: Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

Tales of the PeculiarAuthor: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Released: September 3rd, 2016
Received: Own
Rating: 4 kitties

Tales of the Peculiar is a collection of short stories or lore from the world of the Peculiars. It fits into the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series, and could even be considered a prequel. Though I personally would read the first few novels first, since they add so much context to the world.

In short, these are all legends and stories told by the Peculiars of this world. Like a lot of fairy tales and legends, a lot of these stories serve to teach children a lesson. That adds to the impact, while also making them feel a bit like coming home. After all, each and every one of us grew up hearing stories such as these. Though perhaps they weren’t quite as peculiar.

In total there are ten short stories in this collection: The Splendid Cannibal, The Fork-Tongued Princess, The First Ymbryne, The Woman Who Befriended Ghosts, Cocobolo, The Pigeons of Saint Paul’s, The Girl Who Could Tame Nightmares, The Locust, The Boy Who Could Hold Back the Sea, and The Tale of Cuthbert.

 

“So please enjoy these Tales – before a crackling fire on a chilly night, ideally.”

Spoiler Warning

 

Tales of the Peculiar is a fun and interesting collection of short stories written by Ransom Riggs. I’ve been looking forward to something like this ever since it was hinted at a few books ago, and it was absolutely worth the wait.

This novel will read more like a children’s storybook than anything else –and that was clearly the intent. As such, there are going to be some stories that the reader connects to more than others. I know I personally had my favorites (but I’ll try not to color your opinion here).

 

The Splendid Cannibal

This children’s story is rather graphic and morbid, as it quite literally does discuss cannibals. If it is any consolation, they’re not cannibals by choice. This is also the story of a village full of peculiars, all whom can grow back their limbs. You can probably guess where this story is going to lead.

The moral behind this story is fairly obvious, though one can also argue that there are a few secondary lessons to be learned as well. It was an interesting, if somewhat graphic, story to read.

 

The Fork-Tongued Princess

Every children’s story collection has to include a story about a princess. In this case, the princess is Peculiar. She was afraid that what made her peculiar (a forked tongue, ability to breathe fire, and scales on her back) would ruin any chance at marriage or love.

This princess had to learn some hard lessons about life and love. But in the end, she came out so much stronger for it. And we could all learn a thing or two from her journey.

 

The First Ymbryne

This is the tale of the very first Ymbryne and how she learned to control her powers – and how it saved the Peculiar lives around her. This is a story I’ve been waiting for, and it was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some. It answered a lot of questions, though of course, one could argue that none of it is verified (being a story instead of fact).

 

The Woman Who Befriended Ghosts

Hildy grew up with only the company of her dead sister as a friend. As such, she has become rather fond of ghosts, and rather awkward around the living. So how exactly is she meant to make friends?

This was an interesting twist of a tale. But honestly, it fits in really well, both with this collection and with the general themes of the Peculiar Children series.

 

Cocobolo

A sad tale of a boy who loses his father – only to learn one day that his father never voluntarily left him at all. And that he walks the same path as his father.

This was a sad tale. Beautiful, but sad. I’m not sure how much more to describe it, because I don’t want to spoil it all. But it will leave you feeling a complex variety of emotions.

 

The Pigeons of Saint Paul’s

We already know that animals can be Peculiar. But what would happen if there was a whole flock of pigeons who were? How would they find a way to compromise with the humans, assuming they even could? (Or vice versa).

This was a fun and interesting tale, though I may be biased since I adore the concept of Peculiar animals.

 

The Girl Who Could Tame Nightmares

Every Peculiar has spent time finding how they can be useful. And learning about the risks of their Peculiarity – including how society sees them, or even the risks of using their abilities. This example shows all of the reasons why one must be careful.

This was a dark and creepy story, and I loved it. It was interesting seeing a completely different side of Peculiarity – one that desperately wanted to be used, but came at a high cost (mostly due to a lack of understanding).

 

The Locust

A boy who loves any and all animals is naturally going to have a tough time on a farm, especially when he can’t even bear the death of an insect. Until one day he found a way to cope.

This was both beautiful and heartbreaking. The young boy’s compassion isolated him as much as his Peculiar nature did, and it was ultimately the father who needed to learn a lesson in this tale. It was powerful to read.

 

The Boy Who Could Hold Back the Sea

There are some Peculiars who must be careful about showing off their abilities, for humanity will use and use them until they’re all dried up. Or blame them for every little thing that goes wrong in their lives. That goes doubly so for any who can affect the weather or natural events, such as the body who could control the tide.

This was very clearly a cautionary tale: one must always be careful about trusting strangers, especially when it comes to the secrets you keep that so easily could be used by others.

 

The Tale of Cuthbert.

The Tale of Cuthbert is the last story in this collection, and it is the perfect ending. He’s the giant referenced earlier in the series, and this just gives us a bit more of an idea of his life. It’s heartbreaking to read, for this was a giant willing to give up anything and everything for those he loved.

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Review: All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

All the Ever AftersAll the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother
Author: Danielle Teller
Publisher: William Morrow
Released: May 22nd, 2018
Received: Goodreads Giveaways
Rating: 4 kitties

I received a copy of All the Ever Afters through the Goodreads Giveaways program.

All the Ever Afters is a retelling of the classic story of Cinderella, but with a twist. This story takes the focus off of Cinderella, and instead puts it directly onto Agnes, also usually known as the wicked stepmother.

Agnes is not a woman who had a wonderful life, before her stepdaughter’s marriage to a prince. And even that didn’t magically change her world or her life for the better, for the people in politics can be the cruelest of them all.

Agnes was born into the life of being a serf, she had to work hard to get anything good in her life, from a decent job to a house. And she did earn a lot of change in her life, when you think about it. But it was a series of constant struggles for her.

 

“Being strong does not disqualify you from being beautiful.”

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Review: Queen’s Gambit by Karen Chance

Queen's GambitAuthor: Karen Chance
Series: Dorina Basarab #5
Released: July 2020
Received: Own
Rating: 4 1/2 kitties

Queen’s Gambit is the fifth novel in the Dorina Basarab series by Karen Chance, and it is a book I’ve been dying to read. To be fair, I’ve felt that way about every novel in this series (and the Cassandra Palmer series, for that matter).

Dory is a dhampir, which creates no end of complications in her life. Yet the biggest challenge is about to occur, and all she can do is hope to get herself and her family safe through the ordeal. It’s strange, her having a family. It’s not something she thought she’d ever be allowed to treasure, but now that she has it, she’s never letting go.

“My name is Dory Basarab, daughter of the famous vampire senator and general Mircea Basarab, and recently a member in my own right of the North American Vampire Senate.”

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