Imagine waking up naked, in a cell with two rotting corpses, and then a man in rags with two katana’s breaks down your prison door and basically says “come with me if you want to live”. That’s how we start “The Last Day in Hell” where our main female MC, January, wakes up confused, not knowing anything about herself or who she was, not even her real name, the only fact she knows is that she is naked, dead, and the date she died. When our main male MC, Jack, and his crew find her they explain the world January suddenly finds herself in, and how they have to traverse this hellscape full of monsters in order to reach a door that could potentially lead them out of Hell if they are chosen. They don’t know why they are in Hell to begin with, so proving themselves worthy of getting out of this place becomes difficult when no one really knows what to do in order to atone. The book starts off action packed and full of intrigue. I originally loved the premise of this story, but the more I read, the more I realized this book just wasn’t for me.
“The Changeling” feels like two books in one. You have the contemporary fiction of a young black family navigating their new life changes when welcoming a baby in New York City, which includes dealing with the racism they face as very bookish people—Apollo is a book man, hunting down rare books, and Emma is a librarian. But it’s also a story that closely aligns with the traditional folklore around changelings (I won’t go into details just in case you aren’t familiar and want to be completely surprised by this novel). Marrying those two stories is tricky, at the best of times, but Lavelle does a fabulous job, for the most part, of weaving a chilling, slow burn contemporary thriller with a fantasy horror story. The effect is a literary fiction that I can totally see college or advanced High School students dissecting in their English classes. But the connections between these two worlds wasn’t always there, so the author had to take great leaps on occasion, plus there is just one thing I cannot forgive Emma for…
When people kept saying that this book was like Mulan meets Project Runway, I took it with a grain of salt. Usually those comparisons are loose, or the elements are there, but not in a significant way. That’s not the case with “Spin the Dawn”. Oh no! The Project Runway and Mulan elements were STRONG in this book, especially for the first half of the novel (and again toward the end but mainly early on). Was I mad about this? Absolutely not! I can’t remember the last YA fantasy I devoured the way I did this magical story of Maia, who dreams of being the Imperial Tailor but can’t because of her gender. Then, when a decree is called for a new Imperial Tailor, and all the great Masters of the land must participate in the competition, or send their son in their stead, Maia steps in for her ailing father, and war broken brother. Pretending to be a boy and fooling all the men she’s competing with turns out to be the easiest of the trials and dangers Maia had to face, which tells you already how exciting this book ended up being.
*sings* “Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done…” Good, now that I have summoned Supernatural fans worldwide, come, sit right here and let me tell you about this fabulous debut novel, “Resurrection Road.” We follow a mage with no memories from beyond 5 years ago, and two cousin hunters doing their thing, when one broken down car brings this trio, and their literal best dog in the world, together to find a missing friend. And, because we’ve got two hunters leading the search and rescue party, there’s many a detour along the way to put down ghosts, releasing them back into the Good Night where they can complete their journey. But not all the spirits and monsters this group encounter are what they seem, while others are exactly what they seem to be. All the while, through the hunting and searching, these three characters grow in incredible ways, from not being trusting of mages—and people in general—to trying to prove their worth not just as a hunter, but person, to deciding not to run from some mysterious past, but toward a grounded future. Honestly, there is a reason why I summoned you SPN fans here, and that’s because this book is for you!
Gaiman has always been hit or miss for me. Some of his books I love, some I don’t care for, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Neverwhere, outside of the fact that there’s something deeply satisfying about holding the illustrated version—something about thick little hardcovers is just the best feeling. Anyway, Neverwhere is a not subtle in its message: the homeless are invisible to those who want to pretend the “problem” doesn’t exist—but make it magic that has a very Tim Burton feel, because this is Gaiman, after all. When Richard sees one of those who have fallen through the cracks—a citizen of London Below—and proceeds to help her, it sets off a chain of events that plunges him into London Below and makes him just as invisible to London Above, and his old life, as the rest of the characters in this novel. In which there a lot, all of which are unique and magical and so beautifully distinct from each other. I even loved Mr Vandemar and Mr Croup who are unequivocally terrible people, but they are written in such a creative way that I couldn’t help but love them just as much as Richard and our heroine Door, with her opal-colored eyes.
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