Month in Review: June 2017

Biggest blog news this month: I created this blog!

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I imported my reviews from my writing blog, Miz Writer Lady, and they came with their timestamps, so the archives go back a few years, but The Once and Future Reader has only been around a few short weeks.

Here’s what I’ve done this month! Continue reading

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Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

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As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Sarah Dessen has been one of those consistent presences in my life.  I started reading her books when I was twelve (perhaps a little young to be reading Just Listen, but I credit Sarah Dessen with getting me into writing, because as I read her books, I discovered the desire to want to do exactly what she did).  So I don’t think it’s possible for me to be disappointed with anything Sarah Dessen does, because I have such a long and tender history with her books.  Once and for All did have a snag for me because I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance, but I still really enjoyed it.

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Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

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Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back! And she’s drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because, every time she closes her eyes, she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan. Yes, she did imprison him for all eternity, but come on. How is she supposed to solve a missing persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hellbent on murder when the devil’s son just won’t give up?

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Charlotte Davidson, grim reaper and private investigator with a penchant for trouble, returns.  Still hilarious, still exciting, but now that I’m three books in, the shine is starting to wear off.  Issues are arising for me, specifically with the relationship development between our mighty heroine and her boy toy Reyes Farrow.

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

So, like…it was fine.  It didn’t live up to the hype but it didn’t utterly fail me, either.  It was engaging, the characters were interesting, the world was cool, but I just didn’t find myself particularly engaged at any point.  Like an “okay” first date, there was nothing wrong that I could put my finger on, but there was no…spark.  For this reason, I probably won’t be continuing with the series.

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

I had no idea what this book was about before I started reading it.  I picked it up because it’s a Printz Medal winner, so it had to be good, right?  Yes.  I went in totally blind but it paid off so well.  I absolutely loved how Neal Shusterman took a no-holds-barred look at the role death plays in our lives and explored the problems of immortality.  All of this packaged up with characters to cheer for and a fascinating world.  I can’t wait to have this book for my shelves.

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Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

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If you hang around with dead people, life can get pretty complicated. Take it from Charley Davidson, part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper. Complicated is her middle name. The deceased find her very sparkly. Demons find her irresistible. And one entity in particular wants to seduce her in every way possible.

When Charley and Cookie (her best friend/receptionist) have to track down a missing woman, the case is not quite as open and shut as they anticipate. Cookie’s friend Mimi disappeared five days earlier. Mimi then sends Cookie a cryptic message telling Cookie to meet her at an nearby coffee shop. The coffee is brewing, but Mimi’s still missing. There is, however, a clue Mimi left on the bathroom wall: a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains to them that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old high school friend had been murdered. The same woman whose name Mimi had scribbled on the bathroom wall.

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty.

Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Can she keep those she loves out of harm’s way? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel her as she does?

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

I wish this were a TV show because I would definitely marathon it.  As it is, it’s hard not to rush out and get the next book right this second.  Charley’s character is magnetic, her powers fascinating, her life thrilling.  Despite some of the issues starting to develop for me in this second installment, I very much enjoyed it and can’t wait to get a hold of book three.

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The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…

With The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen draws her unforgettable story full of magic and adventure to a thrilling close.

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Never thought I’d give a book in this series anything less than a 5/5 but good lord if that ending didn’t just ruin the whole thing. I loved everything right up until the last chapter. That last chapter made me question the existence of this entire series, this series I loved so much. I still love it, but I feel I’ll have to love it without that last chapter, like cutting out an ex-boyfriend from an old picture.

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