Mischief Maker, a Norse mythology retelling reviewed

4 stars

This book was kindly granted to me by The Book Review Crew and the author, Bruce Nesmith, in exchange for an honest review and as part of a blog tour. Thank you all for that.

This is a new adult or adult (does not specify) retelling of Norse mythology from Loki’s perspective in which there are epic and fierce battles, love, betrayals and, basically, every typical aspect of mythology and its intrigues. But not all is tradition. It focuses on making Loki look like a good guy; one that receives the wrong treatment and image from most other beings in Norse mythology.

I have to confess something. I have never liked Loki and feel instant rejection at an annoying being who show themselves as good, not being able to help themselves or just generally mistreated. I believe there’s a high probability that many others effectively mistreat you throughout life, but if there’s a majority the evidence suggests it will initially be your own fault and there’s always something you can do to improve it, even though it might not be easy at all; but, hey!, a little bit of effort is not going to kill you, is it?

So I do appreciate how well the author did his job and achieved his goal. Loki is here shown so nicely that it’s quite difficult not to feel somehow related to him.

I loved how he rejects being called “god of mischief”, so the reality of his nature is explained and people who believe he was such, get clarified. I was also quite interested in the amount of Norse mythology that is explained here, although it may be overwhelming for someone with no deep knowledge of it, given the amount of events and names.

The writing style was initially hard to read for me, yet I flew through it and enjoyed the sense of humour (especially that of Runnin, the raven) considerably. This happens to me quite regularly when there’s a new to me author, so I never felt stuck by that.

Although the book is plot driven, I realised characters are so deeply analysed and explained that no action is surprising in the sense that they’re coherent with their personalities. However, the reader may reach a few climatic points in which shocking reactions could arise.

The world-building could have been a bit more detailed, but it didn’t feel too short. I could imagine the places and characters easily and really felt on the scene as one more spectator several times.

I’d recommend this book if you’re into Norse mythology and somehow like Loki (Thor was portrayed as evil, which I disliked, but some people may) no matter if you’re character or plot driven. I’m atmosphere driven and, once I got into it, I was totally in!

Hope you enjoyed reading this review and don’t hesitate to comment here if you’ve read the book.

Bear hugs!

Anne

Beyond the Birch by Torina Kingsley. A review

4.5 stars.

Macy is 11 and lives in Grimsby, a small where animals seem to be their only friends. She’s loved by her parents and is shocked when her mother seems to have stopped caring for her and her parent are fighting because of a sheep that keeps on escaping. This is followed by a series of scary events and sudden discoveries about magical beings.

I wouldn’t be able to set if this book is character or plot driven because they’re quite intertwined, so I’ll state that they’re both equally well developed. I found that characters are congruent and their actions coherent with their personalities. I really loved Jay’s personality and how everything developed.

Macy is kind but sure of herself and her decisions. Which reader wouldn’t feel connected to a girl who loves books and the library? I found all characters made their mistakes and really loved the fact that not only the MC finds answers.

There were character tropes typical on children’s fairytales, but I was not at all bothered by them. On the contrary, they took me back to a time in which I did believe they were true and made me smile. We have the chosen one, the best friend that seems is not going to help but ends up being key, the mischievous fae, the magical tree, and some more.

Just missed much more information about the fae and how they became so mischievous, which I don’t think would have been so sudden as to from a simple battle.

However, there were three phrases that really bother me every time I find them because they’ve become too commonplace, and they are the breath you didn’t know you were holding and expressing a feeling that’s contrary to what you’re really thinking.

In general, this book is cute, magical, scary and interesting. It takes you back to your childhood fairy tales, but does it using new ideas that merge with the traditional ones perfectly.

I’d highly recommend reading this, especially if you want a lighthearted and beautifully told middle grade. Also, look at this stunning cover!!!

Hope you’ve found this review useful and please let me know here if you ever read this book.

Bear hugs!

Anne

A Prophecy of Wings by Jane McGarry

3.5 stars.

Hi everyone!!

First of all, I’d like you to take a few minutes to admire this cover because when I saw it, had to ask for this book to review immediately.

We follow Lina, a princess pushed out of their future kingdom as a baby by her evil aunt, her loving mother’s sister. However, the most powerful sorceress of her kingdom protects her and is actually the one who protects her (together with an amulet given to her by the queen, her mother) on the 16 years before she decides to go back to her kingdom and try to take the throne that’s hers to save the fairy world.

This story must ring a bell to many of you, as it is a Thumbelina retelling. For those of you who don’t know who this other character is, it’s a folk tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author and Disney has a film based on it. There are a couple of twists and turns that change things, but of course it’s kept quite loyal to the original story.

As a half-Danish and a lover of Andersen’s stories, I couldn’t avoid getting engaged in the story and falling in love with each character. In a world full of fairies and animals, someone like me doesn’t want to miss a thing. However, I felt the writing style corresponded to a middle grade, even though it had been marketed as a YA.

I ignore if the mistake was made by the publisher or by the author and the editor, but the writing style is simple, which makes the book accessible to young readers and the book quite easy to read. I flew through it and really loved that. Not only the style, but also the cover seems to focus on middle graders, which is by no means a criticism, but a compliment -they have the most beautiful ones-.

Although this story is plot driven and our characters are evidently black or white, good or bad, I fell in love with them and travelled through the story with Lina, who took me back to my childhood stories and didn’t let me go.

As a retelling, I felt it could have exploited originality a lot more and gone far from the original tale to offer the reader more surprises and more of a new and refreshing product somehow.

There are also no real consequences to the actions of the chosen one, rather than friends dying or getting in trouble. It is because of what has been said that I gave this book 3.5 stars, even having quite enjoyed reading it.

I’d recommend this book if you’re into classic fairy tales, love black and white characters and want a nice trip back to childhood.

Hope you liked this review!

Please, let me know if you’re planning to read this book and what middle grade fantasy books you’re read lately. I’m always eager for some recommendations.

Bear hugs!!

Anne

Flash Fire by T J Klune, a review

It seems this blog has lately been gravitating towards writing review, but the truth is I was so behind on reviewing and my life has been so unexpectedly hectic that I’m just now getting up-to-date with everything, so just hold on there for a bit, please, while you enjoy these reviews (at least I hope you are).

I gave this book 4.5 stars and I was kindly given an ARC in exchange of an honest review by the publisher -thanks a lot, Tor!!- and NetGalley. Thank you so much, it was totally worth it! And sorry for the delay.

I think we have all at least heard of The House in the Cerulean Sea. If you have not read that, please do so. If you have, what are you waiting for to read more TJ Klune?! This book was a warm hug in a cabin whilst there’s a pretty strong snowstorm outside; pretty much like what Danish people call “hygge”. This is why I did not doubt it for a second when I saw two more of his books on NG and, surprise surprise, I was accepted for both (second one coming very soon)!

However, I realised too late that this book was a sequel to The Extraordinaries, which I had not read at the time, so I chose to read that one first. I mean, who wants to start a duology with the second book?

In this series we follow Nick Bell, his father, friends and biggest crush through a series of adventures. Nick is a teenager whose mother passed away, living in a world of superheroes, but dreaming of becoming what he cannot be; one of them. He suffers from ADHD and struggles to focus and stay calm, which he’s trying to learn how to do. He writes a fanfic about his crush, Shadow Star and has quite a few followers.

As usual, everything was wholesome, cute and incredibly touching. The author’s sense of humour is impeccable and it’s not easy to make me laugh, so believe me when I tell you something’s funny enough to achieve this. It is sarcastic without being aggressive whatsoever, ironic without crossing the fine like between this and not being a joke anymore.

Character-wise I felt that was the drive for this book; or their emotions to be much more precise. I have found this great writer to be a master on human behaviour and emotions. Being a psychologist, I don’t think I have ever read books with such depth on human motivations, reactions and thoughts as his. Actually, the characters’ train of thought is hilarious!

I feel I cannot reveal anything else without spoiling the book, so I’ll leave you to read it, which you should totally do. No matter if you are character or plot driven; most of us are emotion driven.

Hope you had fun and let me know if you’ve read these or any other TJ Klune’s books, what you thought of them and if you’re planning to do so!

Bear hugs!!

Anne

Wolves of Adalore Blog Tour

4.4 stars

I fell instantly in love when I read the synopsis and the author’s replies regarding why she wrote this book. The idea of a chosen-one female warrior appealed to me.

Niobi, Crispin and Salome are siblings, but the oldest one betrayed their family, got their city burned and had her family ‘killed’. But there was a guardian who helped their oldest brother save Crispin and Salome. Now, they are seeking revenge and they have an unexpected tool nobody believes exists anymore.

The plot contains what, from my point of view, attracts the reader towards this book: our female warrior MC.

Although we have had many in recent years, women in this book are more real to me than any other story I’ve read. I find, as strong male MCs are regularly shown feral, fearless and fierce, female warriors tend to be portrayed the same way just to make them seem similar to males. However, our females are driven by emotions (which is phylogenetically normal), strong, adaptable to different situations and just humans who have certain abilities. All these personality features allow them to feel real and relatable to the reader. I personally always wanted a badass princess I could identify with.

Now, I believe this book is character driven because all of them are properly developed. There are many characters and more appear as the story develops, although there’s no mistaking one for another given their particular personalities and behaviour patterns. I never felt so close to a bunch of people who are not (allegedly) real. I constantly felt as if a friend was telling me their stories.

The story’s pace is not stable, which I don’t find annoying at any moment. I think the pace of life is not consistent, so why should that of the book be? This book is more focused on building the story through conversations and memories rather than getting you into a world without a deep understanding of the background events that made things and people the way they are.

I found elements from Game of Thrones (even specific characters and events), Viking culture and others; not sure, but I felt there was Wicca or Celtic influence too, which I quite enjoyed and made the story much more logical to me. Female Vikings were free to choose a professions, so much so that some of them were pretty strong warriors and went away with males. This is the reason why Viking women don’t exactly have a flat belly, but a curve under their belly button which is a fat storage just men have in other cultures because it’s designed for when they had to spend long periods of time fighting far from home and wouldn’t know how often they would be able to eat.

There’s just an element I found somehow confusing; the book cover. From this and the synopsis, I was quite sure this would be an adventure Middle Grade. There was nothing further from the truth. The art style and the choice of words led me to believe the target audience was late middle graders, but upon reading, it is obviously a YA high/epic fantasy.

So, if you’re either character or plot driven, but care about the logic and background information of your characters and story, this book is for you. Also, who doesn’t like a pretty strong female MC who’s also the chosen one these days?

Highly recommended.

Let me know if you get to it and follow the tour!

Bear hugs!

Anne

The Last Line of Their Lives Blog Tour

I was kindly given this book by The Book Review Crew and the author, Andrew Doan, in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars.

This is the second time The Book Crew Review pleasantly surprises me.

I would have never chosen to read this book. My whole life I’ve avoided small towns and I tend not to enjoy films or books set in small places, but this book was a jewel.

Emmitsville is a small town in Pennsylvania started by a bunch of people who put their faith and businesslike minds to work and build luxury to make this place their home for life. There live two brothers, Allen and Ambrose, who own the cemetery and funerary services of the best place to be buried, so much so that every inhabitant could kill to get a spot in it.

I thought of Emmitsville as a sentient place. Its history was incredibly detailed and nicely explained. I could imagine Greg, our MC, walking through its streets that mane years ago and dreaming of starting to help others through medicine. For some strange reason, its streets are cobbled, the buildings 3 stories at the most and people wear 40s-style clothing and fancy hats.

Character-wise, Greg had this House(the Character from the series)-like attitude and sense of humour that made me empathise with him instantly from his first conversation with Ambrose. The latter has the perfect body and character for a mortician and I wouldn’t take any of our characters off the book.

Regarding the plot, I absolutely loved death was part of life. Contrary to other books and films, death is simply as important as life and these people take as good care of their burial arrangements. Given the allegedly dark topic, this felt like being part of a play written by Edgar Allan Poe or somehow by Godot and, trust me, there’s nothing more enjoyable to me.

The fact that the author, Andrew Doan, is a teacher and a drama director, allowed me to vividly imagine each scene (chapter, if you want to make it dull) and feel as if I was watching a play.

If you like a relatively dark plot with a sarcastic/ironic sense of humour, this book is for you. Also, who doesn’t feel touched by a group of elderly people living their life to the fullest while preparing their deaths? Trust me, you have to read this even if you normally wouldn’t.

Bear hugs!

Anne

The Last Sketch by Gosia Nealon Blog Tour.

Hi, there! I’m back with another book review and it was totally worth it!

An adult historical fiction that gets you closer to WWII than any other book I’ve read before.

4.2 stars.

Wanda lives in a Poland at war invaded by Nazi Germans. One of these will take the world from her while another one will desire to give her his, but she hates him deeply and, let’s face it, he’s engaged! Because in war, you never know if there’s tomorrow.

I have to be honest and say I avoid reading romance (especially enemies to lovers), which is why, when considering if becoming part of The Book Review Crew, I checked every book but this one. I am glad I got a second e-mail inviting me to participate on this blog tour because I would have hated to have missed such a book.

Although we never miss a historical event regarding the last couple of years of WWII, I felt there was so much information omitted from historical events surrounding it. Every historical aspect of the book is accurate and crude, which is what I appreciated the most, given that there’s nothing that discourages me more than reading an alleged historical fiction that ends up not being as historical. However, it did not include millions of victims who also suffered and died in concentration camps, such as gypsies (4 millions of them died in concentration camps), LGBTQIA+, black or disabled. I just feel it’s important we do not forget any.

Having such an crucial topic as the main plot, it was quite character driven and I surprised myself if love or hate with each and every one of them. If you’ve ever read this blog or watched my Booktube channel, you’ll know by now that I’m first atmosphere driven, then plot and lastly character driven, but I felt so close to our MCs and to may of the side characters, they were so well developed and not left just there unexplained, that the author made it impossible for me not to completely fall in love with them or just feel utter disgust against them to the point of becoming physically nauseous! I just couldn’t take some of them, even though I believe they portrayed what they were meant to represent to the point of perfection.

No character felt fake. Every single one of them was human and morally grey somehow. In these you can find the whole range of human nature, from the purest to the worst kind.

The writing style made this book a quick and easy read full of deep emotions and relatable characters that you cannot put down (at least I couldn’t). It includes quite an appropriate balance between dialogue and text, including characters’ thoughts, struggles and feelings; a language appropriate for the target audience and even teaches you some words in a few languages.

If you’re into enemies to lovers, love at first sight, historical events, heroic and evil characters, and a hard, beautiful and deep romance story, this book is for you. You don’t need to be character driven because it’ll get to your heart anyway.

If you get to read this, let me know!

Oh! Go to my Bookstagram (the.book.dreamers.alley) to find out about the Giveaway!

Bear hugs!

Anne

Review of Lying with Lions by Annabel Fielding, a sapphic historical fiction around The Great War

*I received this book free from NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review.*

When the writer suggested my participation on this blog tour, I checked the synopsis and classification first. I have to say I was already into it after having a look at these, but my excitement grew considerably when I was given the link to the book on NetGalley and saw this incredible cover!!! Isn’t it stunning?!

Thanks to Annabel Fielding who kindly asked me if I wanted to participate on this blog tour.

4 stars.

Agnes comes from a modest background and seems to be a sweet girl who doesn’t understand the dark secrets of the Bryants, an aristocratic family she comes to serve as an archivist to document the complete family history and bloodline at the end of the 19th century. As the story develops, mysteries and evil intentions are unveiled, which takes us to find out everyone carries their burden and most of them do not even care; including our sweet Agnes.

This historical fiction story depicts the years that lead to The Great War and those who came after this event, places in several European countries and life in England at the time, perfectly, taking the reader back in time to those settings and occurrences that changed the world.

I started this book completely lost. I was directly thrown into the story and could not comprehend Agnes Ashford’s motives. I could only discern there was a sweet girl working for a rich family in England, but her thoughts did not make sense to me at all. However, about 25% into the book, there are some discoveries that make the whole story come together and allow the reader to grasp the reasons given by our main character on the first chapters.

I’m not keen on spoiling books, so I’ll try to keep it as non-specific as possible. There’s a sapphic love story that made me smile many times throughout this book and also made me feel disgusted. The tragedy that love and life are are depicted masterfully. Everything has an end and it’s regularly a bittersweet one. This and the loyalty to historical events gave me that sense of reality and allowed me to immediately dive under the skin of one of the characters.

Characters are deeply developed, their backgrounds and motives understood. They’re relatable and coherent, unreliable, variable and as extreme as all humans are; especially since they reflect the society of those times from their corresponding social status.

The plot is full of twists and turns learnt not a bit too soon and the ending is one of my all-time favourites on a historical fiction.

If you like intrigue, historical fiction and LGBTQIA+ romance, this book is for you.

Hope you let me know in the comments if you get to read it!

Bear hugs!

Anne

Children of Ash and Elm by Neil Price. Book review of the best Viking history book I’ve ever read.

*I received this book free from NetGalley and Perseus Books, Basic Books in exchange for an honest review.*

As you can assume from the title, this was one of the easiest 5 stars I’ve ever given.

Given that this is a non-fiction, I won’t be explaining world-building or characters. I can otherwise tell you that this book is not lacking on excitement and interesting facts.

Neil Price did an amazing job at creating a history book that would not be boring but, on the contrary, quite interesting; so much so that I could not put this down!

There was much information that I had not previously found altogether on one book, such as the indication that there were trans and genderfluid people in Viking societies, that they were probably accepted even though gay men were not, that not only did divorce exist, but also that women could file it simply based on the fact that they got tired of the other person, which is something I don’t think happened in any other society at the time; especially the ones embedded in Catholicism.

The writing style made the reading lighter, so easier. There’s kind of a mixed format that includes, aside from the text/narration, fractions of poems and other writings from the times and pictures of items found in research and excavations to support arguments stated on the text.

Each term and historical event is explained, so you’re never left wondering what a term means or why something happened a certain way.

This book also focuses on clarifying some myths regarding the “Vikings”, including the meaning of this word and why it’s not correct to call Scandinavians in such a way, which I had no idea about.

Finally, instead of being divided in a timeline (a different era per chapter), it is separated on cultural aspects that made this people who they were, which gives you a 360º perspective and a deeper understanding of the aspects that reflect a certain idiosyncrasy.

If you’re interested in Scandinavian history and mythology and are normally reluctant to read an academic book on the topic, this book is for you!

Hope you let me know if you buy the book or if you have read it.

Bear hugs!

Anne

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields. Books review of a surprising psychological thriller.

*I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

4.7 stars.

TW: Being burried alive, attempt at sexual abuse, kidnap and cheating a partner.

Connie, an American forensic psychologist, is called to join the search for a famous person in Edinburgh who disappeared and seems to have been kidnapped, but little do they know that the case will turn out to be much more complex than expected. At the same time, we live the story from the head of the kidnapper and come to understand his mental disturbance to the point of feeling sorry for them. Will the case be solved or will it turn out to be too complex for Connie and Baarda? I guess you’ll have to read it to find out.

The city of Edinburgh so perfectly portrayed that you can see its alleyways and feel the ancient and stunning architecture that makes it what it is and gives it the nostalgic feeling visitors get to experience.

It was impossible not to feel with the characters, given that the writer explained each of their stories in such depth, including their emotions to whatever had happened or was taking place in their lives.

Connie is a badass forensic psychologist who chose her profession because of some difficult events on her adolescence that are more common than they should be. A psychiatrist made the wrong call, which ended up affecting who knows how many people, just to keep a reputation and using it as a means to justify his mistakes.

Baarda is the police officer assigned to work on this case with Connie, a proper chap who learned to treat people kindly and always do whatever is right. A very sweet and intelligent man.

Fergus, our criminal is deeply disturbed with a disorder that is not accepted by science simply because it has not yet been included in the manuals used to classify which are allegedly all possible disorders.

The writing style made this book so easy to read, revealing just what was necessary and not letting the reader know more than what her characters were thinking at a given moment. You will be surprised at the same time they do and feel hanging more about 40% of the book at least, needing to know what’s going to happen to all of them. No flowery writing.

This book so incredibly documented that every single explanation was supported by thousands of scientific articles and books. It talks about real cases and never includes a symptom or part of an investigation that would be impossible to find in real life. As a psychologist to be quite soon, I only have praise for the investigation done for the making of this wonderful book.

If you’re either character or plot driven, you’ll certainly enjoy this book; especially if you like properly documented books and emotional connections to characters.

Bear hugs!

Ana

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