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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo {4 Stars}

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo {4 Stars}

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2)
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on Sept. 27th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 536 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

4 Stars

All right, so I have a problem. During November of last year I took a break from blogging to win NanoWrimo. But of course I was still reading! I’ve been debating what to do with the notes that I took after finishing each book. I had a plan to write out a full review of them based on the notes, but three months later and I have to admit that that is just not likely to happen. I still want to talk about the books with you though! So here is a barebones, just-my-notes chat about Crooked Kingdom!

Strengths:
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The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne {4 Stars}

The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne {4 Stars}

The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne (Oberon's Meaty Mysteries, The Iron Druid Chronicles)
Published by Subterranean Press on Sept. 30th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 112 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Thanks to his relationship with the ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, Oberon the Irish wolfhound knows trouble when he smells it—and furthermore, he knows he can handle it.

When he discovers that a prizewinning poodle has been abducted in Eugene, Oregon, he learns that it’s part of a rash of hound abductions all over the Pacific Northwest. Since the police aren’t too worried about dogs they assume have run away, Oberon knows it’s up to him to track down those hounds and reunite them with their humans. For justice! And gravy!

Engaging the services of his faithful Druid, Oberon must travel throughout Oregon and Washington to question a man with a huge salami, thwart the plans of diabolical squirrels, and avoid, at all costs, a fight with a great big bear.

But if he’s going to solve the case of the Purloined Poodle, Oberon will have to recruit the help of a Boston terrier named Starbuck, survive the vegetables in a hipster pot pie, and firmly refuse to be distracted by fire hydrants and rabbits hiding in the rose bushes.

At the end of the day, will it be a sad bowl of dry kibble for the world’s finest hound detective, or will everything be coming up sirloins?

The Purloined Poodle is another exciting novella entry in Kevin Hearne’s New York Times best-selling Iron Druid series.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower {4 Stars}

Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower  {4 Stars}

Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower (A Magical Bookshop Mystery #1)
Published by NAL on April 5th, 2016
Genres: Paranormal Cozy
Page Length: 345 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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From Amanda Flower—who writes the national bestselling Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries as Isabella Alan—comes the first in the new Magical Bookshop Mystery series.

Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother’s bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health. Violet doesn’t need to read between the lines: her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books. It’s where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you...

Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems from Grandma Daisy’s shop. The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect. Now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good...

4 Stars

Strengths:
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The Reader by Traci Chee ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Reader by Traci Chee will catch your eye immediately with that cover, but it will keep you hooked with its beautiful writing, fascinating magic, protagonists you just want to befriend, and pirates! I had high hopes but didn’t know what to expect from this book, and within a few chapters I could hardly contain my excitement because I had found one of those really special fantasies that remind you why you love reading.

Note: I borrowed an advanced copy of The Reader. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Reader by Traci Chee ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Reader by Traci Chee (The Sea of Ink and Gold #1)
Published by Putnam Juvenille on Sept. 13th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 448 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp Audiobook {3 Stars}

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp is a book I had my eye on for a long time. It is a strange fantasy that wanders and pulls on classic fantasy tropes like fairy princesses and witches and things. I had hoped to love it from the title (the full title is The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides), but didn’t find the humor that I had been expecting and got annoyed with the amount the plot wandered. It reminded me a lot of Stardust by Gaiman though, so if you liked that one, maybe try this?

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp Audiobook {3 Stars}

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
Narrated by Steve West

Published by Tor Books on Oct. 14th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 304 pages
Audio Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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The Accidental Highwayman is the first swashbuckling adventure for young adults by talented author and illustrator, Ben Tripp.

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher "Kit" Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man's riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.
Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master's quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….
Fans of classic fairy-tale fantasies will find much to love in this irresistible YA debut by Ben Tripp, the son of one of America's most beloved illustrators, Wallace Tripp (Amelia Bedelia). Following in his father's footsteps, Ben has woven illustrations throughout the story.

3 Stars

Strengths:
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The Rook by Daniel O’Malley {4.5 Stars}

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley is a book that completely flew under my radar for which I am exceedingly chagrined. To be fair, it came out back in 2012 when I was just starting to pay attention to new books coming out, unlike my current obsessed state. However, this whole situation therefore made me exceedingly glad that the sequel showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep, since I went right out and grabbed The Rook from the library and proceeded to lose an entire weekend in a mysterious time contraction event.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley {4.5 Stars}

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (The Checquy Files #1)
Published by Little Brown on Jan 11th, 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Fantasy
Page Length: 486 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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"The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, The Rookis a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi {4 Stars}

Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi is a middle grade graphic novel featuring a brother and sister team fighting to rescue their mother in a mysterious world beneath their new house. There are also adorable robots including the pink bunny on the cover and a magical stone that seems to have some sinister purpose with the kids. This is of course one of the graphic novels that was heavily recommended to me as I make my way into sf/f graphic novels and I definitely recommend it for fans of middle grade fantasy!

Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi {4 Stars}

Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet #1)
Published by Graphix on Jan. 1st, 2008
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, MG
Page Length: 192 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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There's something strange behind the basement door...

After a family tragedy, Emily, Navin and their mother move to an ancestral home to start a new life. On the family's very first night in the mysterious house, Em and Navin's mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature. Now it's up to Em and Navin to figure out how to set things right and save their mother's life!

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho {4.5 Stars}

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is a historical fantasy that beautifully combines humor, magic, and writing appropriate to the historical period. I didn’t expect to be as amused and enamored by this one as I quickly became, but trust me, as long as you don’t mind fairly advanced vocabulary and dense-writing, this is a fantastic story that will have you laughing out loud.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho {4.5 Stars}

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (Sorcerer Royal #1)
Published by Ace on Sept. 1st, 2015
Genres: Adult, Historical Fantasy
Page Length: 371 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples {3.5 Stars}

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples is a graphic novel I’ve been hearing about for a long time and comes up pretty much whenever I say that I should really start reading comics, what’s a good speculative fic one to start with? I’m so glad I finally got on this band wagon! In hindsight I should really have requested more from the library all at once, but you know how these things go ;-).

Note: This is my first time reviewing a graphic novel, bear with me!

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples {3.5 Stars}

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples (Saga #1)
Published by Image Comics on Oct. 23rd, 2012
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Page Length: 160 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

3.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente caught my eye as soon as it was announced because I love Valente’s Fairyland books and so am eager to consume anything she writes. However, that synopsis gave me pause because it is honestly hard to tell at all what the book is going to be about and it is pretty clear that it is going to unlike anything you’ve read before. It is definitely unlike anything I read before and I made it to page 200 before realizing that there are books by favorite authors that just don’t appeal to me and that’s okay! Check out a sample before you put money down, but if you are looking for something truly unique, this is a good place to start.

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente {Just Hatched}

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
Published by Tor Books on Oct. 20th, 2015
Genres: Adult, Alternative History, Genre-bender
Page Length: 432 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own, from the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.

Aesthetically recalling A Trip to the Moon and House of Leaves, and told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.

2.5 Stars

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