Review: Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi

Authors: Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Released: February 16th, 2021
Received: Review Request

I received a copy of Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found is a new middle grad novel, one that hopes to open up a world of imagination and magic to a younger audience. It’s written by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi, the pseudonyms for Craig Phillips and Harold Hayes, Jr.

Kingston has always loved magic. Even when it was that very love that took away his father. You see, one moment he was there, on the stage. The next he was gone. Yet Kingston still feels a connection there, and a hope that his father will come back, one day.

Now that Kingston is back in Echo City, the hunt for his father – and all of his secrets – is about to begin in earnest. However, even Kingston’s imagination wouldn’t have been able to predict everything he’s about to discover.

“She looks at me with that side-eye and headshake like, look at this kid.

Nuts like his father.”

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found is a fun and fast-paced read, one that I think (and hope) a lot of young readers will enjoy. Especially those that love adventure, magic, and any combination of the two.

I honestly adored the focus on Kingston and his missing father. It single-handedly added such a human element, while still carrying such a strong air of intrigue and mystery. It takes a while for the full story to become revealed, and that just further adds to the mystery of it all.

Likewise, the blurring of the lines between real and magical was brilliantly done. One moment Kingston is grounded in the real world. In Brooklyn. The next, he’s off in another realm. Or he’s in a stranger border between the two. It was enchanting, on every level.

This is a novel that starts out slow, taking the time to introduce the characters, plot, and all the conflict found within. But it quickly picks up the pace, until the readers are in the middle of a whirlwind adventure. Personally, that is the perfect order of pacing in my mind, and it made for an ideal experience here.

Ultimately, I really can’t recommend Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found enough, especially for any readers looking to try something new and different. Bonus points for making a read that both adults and younger readers can enjoy here (though the focus, naturally, is on a younger audience).

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Review: The Push by Ashley Audrain

Author: Ashley Audrain
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Released: January 5th, 2021
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Postpartum depression, paranoia, abuse, infant death, neglect, suicide

3 kitties

The Push is Ashely Audrain’s debut novel, and it’s a novel that I’ve been hearing so many positive things about. It’s a psychological drama with tense family moments all throughout, and has resonated with many readers, from the sounds of it.

Blythe Conner didn’t have what one would call a dream mother, when she was growing up. She made a promise to herself that she would do better with her own baby, Violet. Only…there’s something wrong.

With Violet that is, not with Blythe. She can see that there’s something wrong, even if nobody else believes her. Her belief about this hidden truth is confirmed with the birth of her second child, Sam. He’s perfect, and she doesn’t get that same sense of wrongness from him.

Blythe’s journey through motherhood is far from simple, and far from over. As she has many trials in store for her.

“I’ve come here to give this to you. This is my side of the story.”

The Push was not exactly what I had been expecting, if I’m being completely honest. It was fascinating on some levels, and very well written. But I did not find that emotional connection that many other readers have mentioned in their reviews.

I hate it when I pick up a book, expecting to love it, and I don’t. I wanted to love The Push. I went into it with high expectations, and I simply wasn’t blown away by it. Maybe it’s the subject matter that was explored.

On that note: Content (and spoiler) warning: The Push explores many concepts and tropes, from postpartum depression to paranoia and abuse. Also depicted are scenes involving infant death, neglect, suicide, and a crumbling marriage. So not exactly a light read, by any means.

For me, I think the biggest problem is that the entirety of The Push revolves around the Bad Seed trope. It’s far from being my favorite trope, and thus I just couldn’t get into this narrative, no matter how intriguingly it is written.

Normally I love domestic suspense/psychological thrillers, so you can imagine my disappointment here. I think that’s the main reason I’m going with a three star rating, as opposed to something slightly higher. Still, I feel like I’m missing something for not loving this novel – as everyone else seems to have adored it. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

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Review: Crush by Tracy Wolff

Author: Tracy Wolff
Series: Crave #2
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Released: September 29th, 2020
Received: Own

Finally! I finally sat down to read the highly anticipated sequel to Crave, Crush. Written by Tracy Wolff, this is a novel I’ve been hearing so much about, and finally I can stop dodging all those spoilers out there.

It’s been four months since Grace turned into stone in an effort to save Jaxon. Now she’s back…only nothing feels quite right. Perhaps because she has no memory of the months she’s lost, or any understanding of her new powers.

Okay, the fact that Hudson is sharing the same mental space as her probably ranks high up on the list of things that don’t feel right. This is a man that everyone has been telling her to fear. The man who tried to take Jaxon from her.

Now, Grace must once again fight for her life, though this time around she’s going to be making waves. As she’s not content to let those around her save the day. She’s not going to let them pay that price.

“Sometimes life hands you more than a new hand of cards to play—it hands you a whole new deck, maybe even a whole new game.”

Wow. Crush was one heck of a whirlwind read! It’s one of those books that is going to through you onto an emotional roller coaster as you read, and dump one surprising ending on you before it’s all said and done.

Much like Crave, come to think of it. Good to know that there’s a pattern here. Oh! Speaking of patterns, once again we have a lovely cover here! And it looks like Covet (the third novel in the series) is equally as striking.

I think the thing I loved the most about this book is the glimpse into the larger world. The way the politics works outside of Katmere Academy, and the true weight of the stakes that Grace and her friends are facing.

It certainly worked to add a decent amount of tension into the mix. As did Hudson, for that matter. I know fans are either going to love or hate his character, and with good reason on both fronts. Personally, I’m happy that his character added yet another layer of complications into the mix. Not just on the romance front, but in terms of what is actually happening in the world of vamp politics.

Ironically, I think just about the only thing I didn’t really enjoy in this read was the sporting event (s). I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get into it. Wait, it might be that I’m not into spectating sports, which tainted my appreciation here.

Otherwise though, Crush was a seriously solid read, and I’m officially dying to see what happens in Covet. Also! More good news, I thought that Crave was going to be a trilogy, but it looks like there’s going to be at least four books in the series, with the fourth one being titled Court. Now that is a book I’m looking forward to reading!

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Review: Nightbleed by Peter Fehervari

Author: Peter Fehervari
Series: Warhammer Horror Week 2020 #2
Publisher: Black Library
Released: October 27th, 2020
Received: Own

4 kitties

Nightbleed is one of the newer short stories to come from the world of Warhammer Horror. Specifically, it was released as part of the Warhammer Horror Week 2020, and is written by Peter Fehervari (one of the main reasons I really wanted to check it out!).

Chel is was once a proud medicae, but now she lives in disgrace, stuck working at night due to lack of options. That is, until a horror sweeps into her life, changing the streets of her city. Skreech is a man (perhaps) who has taken to living on the streets, writing the word he knows to be true on the walls, hoping to wake up others alongside him.

“As is so often the way with dreams, her words go unspoken, but not unheard.”

Needless to say, Nightbleed is every bit as twisted and disturbing as one could hope for. Arguably, it’s quite a bit more than that. Peter Fehervari certainly has a way with words, and with warping the worlds of Warhammer.

It’s a macabre tale, with plenty of dark implications woven throughout (hints can be found in the description itself, for those that are curious). It was fascinating seeing how these two very different souls ended up revolving around and interacting with one another.

Perhaps fascinating isn’t quite the right word. It’s more like watching a horror that one cannot look away from. You know things are going to go catastrophically wrong, and yet your eyes remain glued to the page.

That is, in essence, what it feels like to be reading this short. Once again, I must give full credit to Fehervari for what he has managed to create here.

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Review: What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson

Author: Cory Anderson
Series: What Beauty There Is #1
Publisher: Roaring Books Press
Released: April 6th, 2021
Received: BookishFirst
Warnings: Controlling behavior, prison, suicide

4 1/2 kitties

Cory Anderson’s debut novel, What Beauty There Is, will knock your socks off. It cuts to the quick and will leave an impression on your heart.

Jack Morton’s life has been getting smaller for a long time. Then one day, he came home and realized that all he had left in this world was his baby brother. A brother that he’d do anything to protect. However, he has no idea how he’s going to manage that.

Conversely, Ava Bardem is used to having nothing in her life and knows how to prevent anything from getting too close to her heart. She knows the pain that it could bring with it. Yet, she couldn’t stay away from Jack’s plight. So now she must decide. Will she keep her distance or help him?

“ I told Jack to stay away. He’ll make you hurt, I said. He’ll take what matters most. He’ll do it with a smile and then he’ll smoke a cigarette.

Jack didn’t listen.”

What Beauty There Is, written by Cory Anderson, is one of the most heartbreaking and evocative novels I’ve read this year. Her characters seem to bleed off the pages, creating these cozy little nests inside the readers’ hearts.

At least, that is what I experienced while reading What Beauty There Is. There’s something so captivating about the way Jack and Ava’s story unfolds. It’s enchanting, made all the more so by the trepidation I felt at the turning of each page.

The atmosphere and narration alone would have sold me on this book, but then the characters took it to a whole new level. They feel so human, and their story feels so surreal and beautiful at the same time.

In truth, the story of Jack and Ava feels like more than a story. That’s what makes it so gut-wrenching. Their fears, their struggles, and their pain feels real. Too real at times, but that makes the story all the more worth reading.

This is a novel that I strongly recommend everyone experience for themselves. The description alone will not – can not – do it justice.

Thanks to Roaring Books Press and #BookishFirst for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Passages (Tales of Valdemar #14) Edited by Mercedes Lackey

Authors: Charlotte E. English, Anthea Sharp, Jennifer Brozek, Elisabeth Waters, Kristin Schwengel, Elizabeth Vaughan, Dayle A. Dermatis, Paige L. Christie, Lousia Swann, Michele Lang, Brigid Collins, Fiona Patton, Stephanie Shaver, Terry O’Brien, Angela Penrose, Phaedra Weldon, Brenda Cooper, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon
Original World: Mercedes Lackey
Edited by: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Tales of Valdemar #14
Publisher: DAW
Released: November 24th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

4 1/2 kitties

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

Are you a fan of Mercedes Lackey’s Tales of Valdemar series? Do you love the world, and all of the rich details included within? Then this is a short story collection worth checking out, as there are over a dozen stories set in this world, all written by different authors.

Included in Passages are plenty of tales worth reading; Roads Less Traveled by Charlotte E. English, A Ruler’s Gift by Anthea Sharp, Rising to the Occasion by Jennifer Brozek, A Nursery of Raccoons by Elisabeth Waters, Tables Turned by Kristin Schwengel, Expected Consequences by Elizabeth Vaughan, Burrowing Owl, Hidden No More by Dayle A. Dermatis, The Dream Seeker by Paige L. Christie, Shadows and Reflections by Lousia Swann, Flying the Nest by Michele Lang, Snowbound by Brigid Collins, The More Things Change, the More They Change More by Fiona Patton, The Choice Makes the Chosen by Stephanie Shaver, Trial by Reflection by Terry O’Brien, Theory and Practice by Angela Penrose, Tools of the Trade by Phaedra Weldon, The Border Within by Brenda Cooper, Temper by Mercedes Lackey, and The Hawkbrothers’ Ways Death and the Vales by Larry Dixon. Each of which I’ll review in more detail down below.

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Review: Bad Machinery, Vol. 1: The Case of the Team Spirit

Author: John Allison
Artist: John Allison
Publisher: Oni Press
Released: March 27th, 2013
Received: Comixology Unlimited

3 kitties

As a long time fan of John Allison, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually read Bad Machinery. Really, I found (and fell in love with) his work back during the Giant Days era, so I missed all of the series that came before it.

Now it’s time to remedy that mistake! Starting with Bad Machinery, Vol. 1: The Case of the Team Spirit. This series focuses heavily on Shauna, Charlotte, Mildred, Jack, Linton, and Sonny, and the many adventures and mysteries set to head their way.

Shauna, Charlotte, and Mildred are caught in one series of events; they’re seeking to help a little old woman keep her house. Despite all the efforts of those trying to tear it down, naturally. Meanwhile, Jack, Linton, and Sonny are investigating a curse surrounding the local football stadium and its owner.

It probably goes without saying that there are plenty of side quests, adventures, and jokes along the way. This is a group of friends that can be easily distracted, given the right set of circumstances.

One of the charming things about John Allison’s writing is just how human it feels. His characters feel real, and even when they’re dealing with something fairly out of the ordinary, it still all feels so grounded.

That is also true for Bad Machinery, I’m happy to report. These six kids all have their own personality traits, the good and the bad, and it shows. There’s SO much banter and quips to fill the pages, it almost feels overwhelming at times. Almost.

I’ll confess that I had more trouble than I expected, getting into this series. I expected to be able to dive right in, much like I did with Giant Days. That wasn’t exactly the case, and instead I found myself constantly getting distracted by other things in my life, and having to keep coming back to read a few more pages. That’s not like me.

Still, I’m glad to have given it a chance, and to have read it through all the way to the end. I enjoyed both mysteries, not to mention it’s nice to see the world a little bit more fleshed out (in case you didn’t know: the world and characters are shared for both Giant Days and Wicked Things).

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Comic Book Roundup

Word of the Nerd:

Vampire the Masquerade #7 – Coming Soon

America Chavez Made in the U.S.A. #2 – Coming Soon

Monkeys Fighting Robots:

The Last Witch #4 – Read HERE

Silver Coin #1 – Read HERE

Runaways #35 – Read HERE

Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #2 – Read HERE

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Review: Why She Wrote

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers
Authors: Lauren Burke, Hannah K. Chapman
Artist: Kaley Bales
Publisher: Chroncile Books
Released: April 20th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

I received Why She Wrote in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why some of the most famous authors out there were inspired to write? Well, the creative team behind Why She Wrote asked themselves that question, and here is their answer.

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers is an accurate description, and title, for this graphic novel. As this graphic novel tackles the stories of eighteen famous and beloved female authors.

This is a story that any interested reader should make a point of picking up. It allows for a quick glimpse into the lives and motivation of many authors we’ve known and loved for years. More importantly, it portrayed what some of them went through during the time they were making the decision to publish. It is something that adds almost a painful amount of context to their writing, in some instances.

It’s also inspiring, in a way that I’m sure was intentional. And when not inspiring, it certainly is informative. I know that I learned a few things that my education or personal research never turned up. Gotta love it when that happens!

Why She Wrote is split into chapters, giving time to focus on each of the eighteen authors included. Each chapter includes a page (or more) of written history, details, and more about each author. Following that are the images that define this novel. They bring these true stories to life, in a way that is approachable for almost any age range.

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Blog Tour & Review: Just My Luck by Adele Parks

Stay tuned for a review and excerpt of Just My Luck!

Author: Adele Parks
Publisher: HQ
Released: May 14th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

3 1/2 kitties

Just My Luck is a fun and thrilling read, one that is a poignant reminder of why one should never mix friends and money.

Lexi has picked the same numbers for the lottery – for fifteen years straight. They were her lucky numbers, even if they never won her or her friends any money. That is, until the day their numbers were pulled.

They say that money can’t buy happiness – and that’s a lesson Lexi is about to learn the hard way. What it can buy is a whole lot of trouble, betrayal, and heartbreak. Not exactly what Lexi had in mind when she started this tradition all those years ago.

“The numbers glare at me from the computer – 1,8,20,29,49,58. Numbers I am so familiar with, yet they seem peculiar and unbelievable.”

The premise in Just My Luck is an enticing one – a dream gone wrong. Lexi (and her friends) had a special bond over the numbers they repeatedly used for the lottery, and it’s that very bond that got torn apart because of it all.

There’s irony there, sure. But it goes deeper than that as well. I was shocked by how far events went in this novel. It’s easy to take in the summation of this story and create opinions and expectations on the matter – both of which will get twisted up along the way, as Just My Luck brings about many thrilling surprises.

Growing up, I was always told never to mix friends (or family) with money. ‘It never ends well,’ I was told. Well, I feel like Just My Luck is the embodiment of that sentiment. Or perhaps it’s better to say that it grabs that sentiment and stretches it to the farthest points possible. Either way, it made for a fascinating read, one that really drove that point home!

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

Find/buy Just My Luck: Harlequin | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Follow Adele Parks: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

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