The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a feel good fantasy for a wide range of readers.

Linus Baker works hard and follows the rules. He is forty, lives alone with his cat and is comfortable in his routine. As a Case Worker for The Department of Magical Youth, Linus is often sent out to various orphanages to assess and judge the well-being of the children. When “extremely upper management” send him on a “classified level 4” assignment, Linus isn’t sure they picked the right man for the job.

Marsyas Island Orphanage, is home to six dangerous children: “a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist.” Never one for bravery, Linus must put aside his fear and judge for himself if the children and the orphanage they call home is safe.

But there is more to the island than these children, a charming and enigmatic caregiver/teacher and a surprising caretaker may just baffle Linus more than the children. Can Linus stay objection? Should he?

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story about magical orphans and an unsuspecting savior. But now that I am reviewing this book, I honestly do not know who is the intended audience. It was an electronic book, so I didn’t really look at what “shelf” I got it off of; I just assumed by the color and description it was juvenile or tween. When I was listening to it, I was like “wow a juvenile book narrated by an adult, that’s unique.” Although, is it a juvenile fiction book? Now I am not really sure. I do, however, think it would be a wonderful audio book for a car ride or as a read aloud for younger readers and, content-wise, appropriate for a wide range of readers.

I love Linus’ relationship with each of the children and caregivers. It is really neat to see how he grows throughout the book; he becomes more colorful–gray and dull in the beginning but brighter and more openminded by the end.

There’s also a political commentary going on in this book about “second class citizenship” and equal rights, as well as the state of government run facilities. Whether intended or not, it would make for an interesting discussion.

Overall, I was enchanted by this book and immediately thought of it for a friend of mine who likes to read aloud to her two boys. This one gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Flunked

Flunked by Jen Calonita is a juvenile fiction book, great for 5th graders.

Imagine a fantasy world where villains’ are the ones teaching children how to be good. Well that is just what happens at the Fairy Tale Reform School.

Fairy Tale Reform School is a boarding school for children who show evil tendencies. History is taught by the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen does therapy sessions, Ursula teaches etiquette classes… oh and the headmistress is Cinderella’s evil step mother. Nothing can go wrong here right?

Gilly doesn’t consider herself wicked, at least she doesn’t think she is. But she is a thief. Gilly, her mom, dad and several brothers and sisters live in a shoe and are hardly making ends meat. So she steals from the royals occasionally to get by… they can afford it anyway, right?

Eventually, Gilly gets caught and is send to Fairy Tale Reform School. But who will take care of her family while she is gone? And are these villains’ really reformed criminals or is there something else at work?

This is one I often recommend for 4-5 graders, so I figured I really should read it myself. And it was really good. This is a perfect book for kids who like a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of humor, some action and a good twisted fairy tale.

I love when a series builds a little band of “heroes” who are going to investigate some shady doings in order to save the day. And Gilly, Jax and the rest of her friends are just the right amount of delinquent and good at heart.

Overall, I think this book will appeal to boys and girls 4-6th grade and would be great for readers who like “Land of Stories,” “Whatever After,” and Disney’s “Descendants.” It’ll be interesting to see where the series goes.

This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Dawn Chorus

The Dawn Chorus by Samantha Shannon is a Bone Season novella that takes place between book 3 & 4.

After finally escaping from captivity and torture at the hands of Scion, Paige Mahoney and her ally and confidant, Arcturus Mesarthim, have hold up in a safe house in Scion Paris. But Paige has been damaged both mentally and physically and time may not be enough to bring her back from the edge.

Within the confines of the safe-house, Paige and Arcturus begin to reconnect but after weeks of following separate paths the reunion is fraught with tension and insecurity. The two must work through their differences while waiting for their contact to tell them where they must go next to continue their fight.

I don’t normally read novellas, I just don’t tend to pick them up. But the Bone Season novels are not regularly published and there has been so much time between the third and the to be released fourth book, I decided to give it a try. And I was pleased that I did.

It was nice to get back into the Bone Season world and to remember why I liked the series in the first place. It did also make me wish that the novels would come out faster than every 2-4 years. It seems like forever since I read the last one and the series may need a re-read before the next is published.

This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Forest of Souls

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee is the first book in a new fantasy series, swirling with shamans, mystery and battle.

Sirscha Ashwyn, orphan born, came from nothing but is determined to make something of herself in the Queen’s army–in fact, her most precious goal is to become the Queen’s next Shadow, the royal spy. But things don’t go according to plan and Sirscha’s best friend, Saengo, gets killed… that is, until Sirscha brings her back to life.

Now Sirscha and Saengo are bonded together in a way neither of them understand and both are being hunted and summoned by authority figures neither ever expected to meet.

As war looms, Sirscha must use all of her training to uncover the truth about her countries history and in doing so, must decide what path to forge forward.

There was a lot to like about Forest of Souls. The world building was great. I am really drawn to this idea of shamans and familiars and basically the controversy of their place in society. But I did have a bit of a problem with the plot.

I felt like we were given pieces of a story that didn’t really come together until the very, very end of the novel. I guess when I read a first book in a series, I am looking to be introduced to the characters to build investment in their plights and then get an idea of the main “problem” that they will be facing. I didn’t entirely feel like we got that here. There was a lot of build up to who Sirscha is but not so much about the conflict happening around her. Again, until the very end. So we see where things are going but I just needed a little more.

If you are listening to the audio book for this one, be warned the narrator is very soft spoken. I don’t know if it was meant to be this way, but you’ve been warned.

Overall, I want to see where this book is heading but I am not yet invested in it as a series. Which is why, I am giving it 3 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Empire of Gold

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty is the final book in the Daevabad Trilogy.

The Ghaziri’s have lost their hold on Daevabad and Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her Afsheem Dara taken over, but the battle is far from won. The city is in turmoil, thousands are dead and the quarters are rebelling and afraid of what this new leadership will mean. What is worse, magic is gone.

On the other side of the world Nahri and Ali have escaped the slaughter with the help of magic neither of them comprehend and now they must decide what their next move is. Should they abandon Daevabad and find a life elsewhere or will they fight for a home that never treated either of them very well.

As the city continues to crumble into mayhem, truths will be revealed that been buried for decades if not centuries. Will Daevabad ever recover and will the Jin ever get magic back?

(FYI – I totally butchered all the spelling)

This is a series that I listened to the audio book and phew, were these long audio books. The trilogy takes place over the course of several years and take place in this involved, creative fantasy world full of magical world building and twisty politics. It’s no wonder the books are each 600-800 pages, you need that space to fit everything in.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised that ending didn’t feel rushed. I often find that trilogies start off slow, do a ton of world building in book two and then wrap up really quickly in book three. But this series had a nice pace.

As much as I liked the series and this final book, there was something missing for me that I can’t quite put my finger on. I enjoyed the story but this last one needed something and I’m not sure what. Which is why I am going to give it 3.5 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-