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Book review: The Bone Way, by Holly J. Underhill

I purchased a copy of The Bone Way by Holly J. Underhill.

Teagan’s wife, Cressidae, is missing. She has left for the Shadow Realm, a kingdom of the dead filled with untold nightmares—and the only place that can save Teagan from a lethal poison that’s killing her slowly. It is ruled by a princess said to make powerful deals with those brave enough to find her, and Cressidae has gone to bargain for Teagan’s life. Cressidae has forgotten one very important thing: no one makes it out on their own.

Despite the risks to her own safety, Teagan is determined to save her wife—and perhaps even herself in the process. The princess of the Shadow Realm, however, doesn’t let mortals roam her territories without opposition. In this thrilling fantasy novella, Teagan and Cressidae must face both the horrors of the Shadow Realm as well as their own past.

my review

This should have been…needs to be…a full-length novel instead of a novella. I liked the idea of it. I liked the world. I liked that it’s a retelling. The writing is mechanically sound. But it 100% feels like part of a story, as opposed to a story of its own. It leans heavily on flashbacks to give a lot of what happens context. But the flashbacks just break up the flow of the already too-short work. You barely get to know or care about Teagan and not at all about Cressidae. The villain is villainous until she encounters the smallest push-back. All in all, I suppose I wanted to like this a lot more than I did.

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Book Review: The Bone Way

Review: The Bone Way – Holly J. Underhill

 

 

 

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Book Review: Bloodlaced, by Courtney Maguire

Blood Bound, book three of Courtney Maguire‘s Youkai Bloodlines, was over on Sadie‘s Spotlight earlier in the year. So, when I stumbled across a copy of Bloodlaced (book one), I opted to start the series.

Kanjin hardly view their servants as human. Even less so when they are different.

Asagi is different. Both a man and a woman.

In the wake of his failure to protect a boy he saw as a son from their abusive master, Asagi is sold into the house of a young nobleman, Mahiro, who is the opposite of everything Asagi has ever known—gentle, kind, and generous.

Mahiro bonds with Asagi and their friendship blooms into a deep and profound love. But when Asagi is poisoned out of jealousy, Mahiro reveals himself to be youkai, a demon who feeds on blood, and he has no choice but to turn Asagi to save his life.

Asagi awakes reborn, strong, and eternally youthful. But the price for Asagi’s new life is high.

The blood of the innocent.

Just as Asagi’s trust in Mahiro falters, the boy he failed to protect, now a man, reappears.

New master, same threat.

With both a literal and proverbial monster at the door, Asagi must decide what it means to be human to protect what he loves most.

my review

Oh man, this book was a rollercoaster for me. I took one look at the cover and the fact that it’s about vampires in ancient Japan (to use a western for them) and thought, “I am in!” I expected to love it. Then, I hated the first 25%. It’s basically trauma porn. Granted, the abuse is off-page, but it’s very clear what is happening, and the main character martyred themself more than once. So, I thought, “Oh, this isn’t for me, after all.”

Then, things balanced out, and I got a little bored. Then, at the 50% mark, the plot shifted, and I was interested again. Then, the romance (and the whole plot, really) went off in a direction I didn’t expect, and I was uncertain but invested. And THEN, I cried at the end before being given a little ray of hope on the last page. Rollercoaster of emotion!

As I said, I’m not into victimized hero(ine) plotlines. I’m not saying it’s bad in any objective way; I just don’t enjoy reading it. I did get a bit bored in the middle; the pacing is a bit off. And I have to admit that I’ve never really understood why, when a book is supposed to be happening somewhere that speaks another language (Japanese in this case), authors sometimes still throw the occasional that-language word into the English narrative, usually as expletives. It always stands out to me, breaking the flow. But overall, I will be looking forward to continuing the series.

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Review: Bloodlaced (Youkai Bloodlines #1) by Courtney Maguire

Book Review: Bloodlaced (Youkai Bloodlines Book 1) by Courtney Maguire

 

 

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Book Review: Coven, by Jennifer Dugan

Sooo, funny story about how you can think you remember something and be completely wrong. I knew I signed up to read and review Coven, by Jenifer Dugan and Kit Seaton. So, I wasn’t surprised when it showed up in the mail. Usually when I receive a graphic novel, it’s from Rockstar Book Tours. So, I set the book aside, waiting for the email to tell me my assigned tour date. And I waited and waited and waited.

Finally, it had been so long I went to the website searching for the tour dates and was confounded to not be able to find anything listed. That is until a few days later, when I received the polite email from Bookish First reminding me not to forget to post my review. Oooooh, that’s where I signed up! Bookish First has no assigned dates; I could have reviewed Coven the day it arrived. So, I dived right in.

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Emsy has always lived in sunny California, and she’d much rather spend her days surfing with her friends or hanging out with her girlfriend than honing her powers as a fire elemental. But when members of her family’s coven back east are murdered under mysterious circumstances that can only be the result of powerful witchcraft, her family must suddenly return to dreary upstate New York. There, Emsy will have to master her neglected craft in order to find the killer . . . before her family becomes their next target.

my review

I generally really enjoyed this. I thought the art was gorgeous and the book portrayed the volatile, hyper-focused, but not always very logical mindset of teens well. It handled the grief aspect equally as well.

I liked the plot (though I figured out who the villain was very early on). There was a little humor, a lot of diversity, and I thought Emsy coming to accept her coven as family counted as personal growth. I can imagine her, Ben, and Ash as the power trio of the up-and-coming generation of the coven.

I did think the pacing a bit off; the beginning dragged bit more than needed and most of the action is packed into the last third. Plus, I feel like we could have been given more resolution between Emsy and her California friends. But all in all, I’ll call this a win. I’d be happy to read another contribution from Jennifer Dugan and/or Kit Seaton.

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