The Crow Box by Nikki Rae (Shadow and Ink #1)

Title: The Crow Box
Series: Shadow and Ink
Author: Nikki Rae
Date Added: July 8, 2016
Date Started: August 9, 2018
Date Finished: August 22, 2018
Reading Duration: 13 day
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror

Cover of The Crow Box by Nikki Rae (Shadow and Ink #1)Pages: 164
Publication Date: January 14, 2016
Publisher: Self
Media: eBook/Kindle


The small wooden box is dirty, the size of a human fist, and sealed with wax. When Corbin takes it upon herself to clean it and break the seal, a voice she has tried to ignore gathers strength. Shadows play on the walls at night, and with a family history of mental illness, Corbin fears the worst. But the voice tells her it is real. That its name is Six and it will prove it in time.

Drawn to this mysterious entity, Corbin isn’t sure what to believe and the line between reality and her imagination blurs more every day.

Some doors should not be opened; can this one be closed?


This novel did many good things.  It established its characters really well from the start.  We know Corbin’s mother is a hoarder without the MC needing to blatantly say it, and it makes it all the more real because we’re shown.  She (the mom in this case) has some kind of mental health condition that allows her to collect disability (which in and of itself is a privilege), and she has her “good” days where she can put on a bathrobe, fix her hair and makeup, and cook burnt toast and runny eggs.

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Two Hearts by Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn #1.5)

Title: Two Hearts
Series: The Last Unicorn
Author: Peter S. Beagle
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: July 27, 2018
Date Finished: August 10, 2018
Reading Duration: 14 Days
Genre: Short Story, Fantasy

Cover of Two Hearts by Peter S. BeaglePages: 36
Publication Date: October 2005
Publisher: Online
Media: Website


Coda to The Last Unicorn – a novelette. Available for free on the author’s website.


Do not be ashamed of me because I am old.

If there was one work of fiction or fantasy I would recommend to everyone, it would be The Last Unicorn.  Ahead of its time and meta before meta was cool, it is not your typical fairy tale even though it contains all the elements: a mythic creature, a forlorn quest, an evil king, a hero prince.  Yet, there was an elusive awareness embodied in all of the characters not hitherto seen , as if they, too, were aware they lived in a story, but even with this knowledge, they were still beholden to the rules, tedious though they might be.  Written and published in the late 60’s, Beagle professes it took two years to write, and “it was hard every step of the way.”

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The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (The Paper Magician #1) (DNF)

Title: The Paper Magician
Series: The Paper Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Date Added: June 17, 2016
Date Started: August 9, 2018
Date DNF: August 9, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult (YA)

Cover of The Paper Magician by Charlie N. HolmbergPages: 222
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Publisher: 47North
Media: eBook/Kindle


Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.


I wished I’d just passed on this based on sample, but I don’t think I read enough to make the correct call.  The beginning is intriguing enough to draw you in, but as I went along the first chapter, I didn’t get much from the MC Ceony except that she’s a good student who wanted to work with metal instead of the paper craft foisted upon her.  Usually students can choose their material, but because Folding is dying out, she was assigned to that.  It’s a pretty common set up for a narrative, and while I did wonder how Holmberg might bend this ubiquitous motif in a unique way, it just didn’t hold my interest, and after rereading the blurb, I felt less of a draw to find out.

I’m not counting the author out though.  I do like her style, and I have Smoke and Summons from her Numina series on my list.

Dolor and Shadow by Angela B. Chrysler (Tales of the Drui #1)

Title: Dolor and Shadow
Series Title: Tales of the Drui
Author: Angela B. Chrysler
Date Added: June 16, 2016
Date Started: July 4, 2018
Date Finished: August 8, 2018
Reading Duration: 35 Days
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

Cover of Dolor and Shadow by Angela B. Chrysler (Tales of the Drui #1)Pages: 588
Publication Date: May 31, 2015
Publisher: Creativia
Media: eBook/Kindle


As the elven city burns, Princess Kallan is taken to Alfheim while a great power begins to awaken within her. Desperate to keep the child hidden, her abilities are suppressed and her memory erased. But the gods have powers as well, and it is only a matter of time before they find the child again.

When Kallan, the elven witch, Queen of Lorlenalin, fails to save her dying father, she inherits her father’s war and vows revenge on the one man she believes is responsible: Rune, King of Gunir. But nothing is as it seems, and the gods are relentless.

A twist of fate puts Kallan into the protection of the man she has sworn to kill, and Rune into possession of power he does not understand. From Alfheim, to Jotunheim, and then lost in the world of Men, these two must form an alliance to make their way home, and try to solve the lies of the past and of the Shadow that hunts them all.


I had started reading this before and Initially thought it was boring or the characters irritated me for some reason, but as I’d barely finished the prologue, I figured I’d give it another chance.  The beginning quote is directly from The Poetic Edda, which I’d recently finished, and the novel itself if rife with Norse Mythology.

The prologue introduces two characters, a grandmother and her granddaughter who are elves or Alfar (as the story calls them) living on Midgard, and there are mentions of Alfenheim and Jotunheim, which are other locales on Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  Gudrun, the elder, is telling the young Kallan about a war between the Aesir and Vanar with the latter on the losing end.  I’m always down for Norse Mythology, so my hopes were high, but they had been as soon as I saw the title had “dolor” in it, which not only means “sorrow” in Latin, but is also used in the Advent Children version of “One Winged Angel,” which has been stuck in my head since I started writing this review.

“Saevam iram
Iram et dolorum…”

The title translates to “Sorrow and Shadow” so I was pretty stoked.

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The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen

Title: The Faust Act
Series Title: The Wicked + The Divine
Author: Kieron Gillen
Illustrators: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson & Clayton Cowles
Date Added: June 6, 2017
Date Started: August 2, 2018
Date Finished: August 7, 2018
Reading Duration: 5 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Mythology

Cover of The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust ActPages: 176
Publication Date: November 12, 2014
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Hardback (Library)


Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. 


The story is fast paced and glamorous in this “gods incarnated into the bodies of youths” metaphor of celebrity culture.  It starts off with Lucifer

standing trial for murder, and the trial itself ending in an unexpected way (yes, even more unexpected than Phoenix Wright, though there is an explosion of sorts…).   It’s clever how once again Lucifer is being thrown under the bus for something he (in shtis case she) didn’t do (as in some interpretations/translations “Lucifer” was erroneously conflated with Satan, but this is something I need to do more research on).

The majority of the characters in this are POC including the main Laura who desperately wants into this world.

Laura Wilson, main character from The Wicked + The DivineThe cycle, or at least who’s chosen, seems perpetuated by Ananke who appears as an old woman.  She infuses people (usually teenagers from what I can tell) with the incarnation per what Luci explains, and this is the main reason Laura was at the Amaterasu concert.  Everyone wants to be a god, but no one wants to deal with the consequences.

The artwork in this graphic novel is absolutely gorgeous; McKelvie, Wilson, and Cowles definitely deserve all the props, but the story is vapid AF.  Before you castigate me and insist “That’s the point!” let me elaborate.  My assumption is that later volumes delve deeper into the reasons for the recurrence, but if this first one is meant as an introduction, it does a poor job at showing them as anything more than one-dimensional caricatures.

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A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #3)

An Ember in the Ashes

<–A Torch Against the Night

Title: A Reaper at the Gates
Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Date Added: August 23, 2017
Date Started: July 2, 2018
Date Finished: August 4, 2018
Reading Duration: 33 days
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult (YA), Romance

A Reaper at the Gates coverPages: 464
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Media: Paperback


Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.


***Spoilers for all previous books in the series***

Tahir has the gift of making characters on both sides of the conflict sympathetic, even casting some compassion on Keris Veturia.  Though a tortured past doesn’t excuse the horrible things one does, it often provides an explanation.  It is no easy feat to do something like this, and it is one of the better attributes of ASOIAF, as well.  Like Martin, Tahir not only titles her chapters by the character whose viewpoint we follow, but she adds additional ones with each volume.  This is merely logistical, though; what’s more interesting is how Tahir, like GRRM, seems to subscribe (whether consciously or no) to William Faulkner’s philosophy:

The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.

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Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes #1) (DNF)

Title: Beware the Kitten Holy
Series Title: Lumberjanes
Author: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, & Faith Hicks
Artists: Brooke A. Allen, Shannon Waters, Kay Leyh, Carolyn Nowak, & Carey Pietsch
Date Added: January 13, 2017
Date Started: July 19, 2018
Date DNF: July 25, 2018
Reading Duration: 6 days
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult (YA), Fantasy

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten HolyPages: 128
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Media: Paperback (Library)


At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.


I feel like this was definitely geared towards a different demographic than yours truly’s, which is why I ended up DNFing it.  So much wacky stuff was going on that I never got much of a sense of the characters, but to be fair I didn’t get much past Chapter 1.  There was a pattern of the girls finding and/or running from three-eyed creatures .  They start off facing three-eyed foxes, run into a three-eyed river monster, and then Ripley tries to get her candy bar back from a three-eyed eagle (believe it or not).  From what I read, the characters seemed pretty interchangeable, except for the one girl who could recite the Lumberjanes pledge by memory.  I’m hoping they became more distinct as the story went on.  There was decent representation, at least in terms of racial diversity, and I can see the appeal; it just wasn’t appealing to me.  Kinda like Mamma Mia lol.

Wytches, Volume 1 by Scott Snyder (Wytches #1-6)

Title: Wytches, Volume 1
Series Title: Wytches
Author: Scott Snyder
Artists: Jock, Matt Hollingsworth, & Clem Robins
Date Added: October 9, 2017
Date Started: July 8, 2018
Date Finished: July 15, 2018
Reading Duration: 7 days
Genre: Graphic Novel, Horror, Fantasy

Wytches, Volume 1 CoverPages: 192
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: October 8, 2014
Media: Paperback (Library)


Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying. Wytches takes the mythology of witches to a far creepier, bone-chilling place than readers have dared venture before. When the Rooks family moves to the remote town of Litchfield, NH to escape a haunting trauma, they’re hopeful about starting over. But something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. Watching from the trees. Ancient…and hungry.


This was…okay.  I liked how the novel was cleverly bookended with everything occurring tying in with an incident in the beginning.  There was also an in-story comic that cleverly connected with the book’s plot, and the artwork is decent.

I liked the relationship Sailor had with Charlie, her father, but her character is not well developed.  She had a cool, quirky look, which may have been Snyder’s way of hinting why she’d been bullied, but no personality to fill that role.

Sailor from Wytches. She has reddish and is wearing a yellow hat and yellow tinted, rectangular glasses. Her expression is troubled. Her speech bubble says, "I don't know. What if they all know about me?" where the "know" is in bold.

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The Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose by Moses Norton – Review & Analysis

Title: The Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose
Author: Moses Norton
Date Added: May 28, 2019
Date Started: June 13, 2019
Date Finished: July 5, 2019
Reading Duration: 22 Days
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult (YA), Novella

The Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose by Moses NortonPages: 104
Publisher: Self
Publication Date: May 27, 2019
Media: eBook/Kindle & Physical Copy


Who is the Scissor-man? Nobody cares, nobody sees, except for one little boy. This debut literary fantasy novella takes a hard look at society and its outcasts through the eyes of innocent youth. In a world where death is ignored, Orasi becomes fascinated with the Scissor-man, the homeless mortician. After he finds a black thread in the snow, Orasi begins to unravel the legends surrounding this horrifying figure, and his journey of discovery brings him closer than ever to the father he barely knew. But the world is a place that has already decided its rules. His is just one beating heart among millions who are already dead, and Orasi may not like what he finds in the end…The Last Stitch Goes Through The Nose tests its characters to see if they are still breathing, and it might reach out to see if you are, too. The Last Stitch is perfect for the Young Adult reader who isn’t too grown up yet, or the adult reader who suspects they can still see through the eyes of a child.


Note: I’ll be breaking this up into Review and Analysis where the Review section will contain no spoilers, but the Analysis will.


Review


Only this kind of a memory remained: a makeshift history such as pleased those who had yet to suffer their own encounter with the end. The dead man was glorified, made new in memory.

This is not a happy story.  It’s a story that makes an important point that should lead to better outcomes, but it won’t.  It gives us a child protagonist we hope will bolster change in the tradition that children defy adults as well as adult expectations and prejudices.

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Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #2)

Title: Fool Moon
Series Title: The Dresden Files
Author: Jim Butcher
Date Added: January 17, 2013
Date Started: May 26, 2018
Date Finished: June 27, 2018
Reading Duration: 32 Days
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal/Supernatural, Mystery

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #2) coverPages: 401
Publication Date: January 1, 2001
Publisher: Roc
Media: Paperback


Harry Dresden–Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work–magical or mundane.

But just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses–and the first two don’t count…


Where do I even begin?  Not only is this book astoundingly predictable, but the main character’s overbearing White Knight complex is arguably the catalyst for a friend’s death and the start of everything.   Harry’s refusal to give her any information leads to her making a fatal error, and you can see it coming from a mile away.  It’s bad enough he does this to one of his student’s, but when Dresden does the same thing to Karen Murphy, the fucking police chief, it’s impossible not to call him out for his sexism.  Murphy is a police lieutenant with experience, and it’s goddamn patronizing, which is exactly what she tells him.  She’s not his daughter.  She’s not his student.  She’s a an experienced cop who has every right to take the risk.  If she has the information and knows something is dangerous, it’s her choice whether or not to follow through.  While I get Murphy might know all the ins and outs of magic, it’s still not Harry’s call, and the truth is his unwillingness to supply information is why his other friend wound up dead.

I said what I said gif - A Black woman with blonde hair gesticulating/pointing with her left hand

Then later, Murphy tells him not to keep secrets from her, and what does Harry do?  He doesn’t tell her about the car potentially tailing him, nor about the spell he could use to find the killer.  Then he has the fucking audacity to blame her for no longer considering him a friend, when he’s the one jeopardizing the friendship with his actions.  I can’t feel sorry for him for this or when Murphy arrests his ass.  All he had to do was let her know what was going on, and the only reason he didn’t was because of his ridiculous White Knight thing.

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