Book Review – The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1)



The Magpie Lord, the first book in K.J. Charles’ series, is about the reluctant Lord Crane who is the target of a malicious and magical murderer. Stephen Day, a practitioner of magic, is hired to help Crane discover who is trying to murder him and why. Their search takes them to Crane’s ancestral home, where the two discover more about magic and Crane’s ancestry, as well as possible feelings for one another.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was the perfect balance of paranormal, murder mystery, and romance. Charles is really good at writing atmospheric settings, and I could feel the cold and the dread of Crane’s ancestral home as Stephen and Crane tried to, well, not die.

I liked the way magic is portrayed, and I hope that the magic is explored even further in the next books of this series.

I like the characters. They are simple, but they have a lot of determination and emotion, especially when it comes to one another. The side characters were also well-written, though I do hope we see more of them in the following books.

And the romance, the romance! The lust definitely was not much of a slow burn, but I think the love was. It was completely worth it though, and you could see the characters’ devotion to each other by the end.

The only thing I really would criticize (Spoilers) is the fact that the murderers were people we really didn’t know throughout the story. I think it would have been just a bit cooler if it was someone we knew. But even so, this did not take too much away from the goodness that was this book.

I’m really excited to read the next books in the series!



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Book Review – Myth & Magic: Queer Fairy Tales

Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales by Radclyffe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Myth and Magic by Radclyffe


Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales is a collection of queer fairy tale retellings written by queer authors. The stories are all based on well-known tales: Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Snow Queen, Cinderella, and others we all know. Some of the retellings are pure fantasy, while others border more on magical-realism.

As any of you who read my reviews know, I love me my fairy tale and folklore retellings. When I saw this collection recommended to me on Scribd, I was so happy. Now, I realize I gave this book 3 stars, but that’s only because I didn’t like every single story that was in it. But the ones I did like, I really really liked.

I think my favorite stories were the ones based on Jack and the Beanstalk, The Princess and the Frog, Sleeping Beauty, and I really liked the story based on The Red Shoes – it was so sweet, and definitely one of my favorite fairy tales in general.

The ones I didn’t like I think I didn’t like either because I wasn’t a fan of the author’s writing style, or because some of them dealt with sex in their story in a way that just wasn’t for me. However, they will definitely be for someone else, which is why I urge everyone to check out this book!

I don’t think there’s much more to say about this book, except that it was a super fun read, and, again, I love me some fairy tale retellings. And, in my opinion, reading queer fairy tales is the best thing to do during Pride month! I recommend this book to everyone, but especially those who want a bit of fantasy and love mingled in their life.



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Book Review – Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey

Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey



Magic’s Pawn, the first novel in the Last Herald Mage trilogy, is about a young man named Vanyel, who is sent away from his home to live with his Herald-Mage aunt after not meeting his lord father’s expectations. In his new home, Vanyel learns things about the world and himself that he had shut away – he learns about magic and the gifts of himself and others, and most importantly, he learns about love and how to live and grow strong after heartbreak and trauma.

This was my first Mercedes Lackey novel; I had originally bought A Scandal in Battersea to read first, but then Magic’s Pawn caught my eye – perhaps it was the magic, perhaps it was the love story, who knows, but I am very happy I read this one first. And during Pride Month too, which makes it even better.

I think Vanyel is supposed to be a sort of annoying character at first – he carries himself with arrogance to hide his insecurities. However, the way that Lackey wrote his character really just made me sympathize with him all the more. Really, Lackey wrote all of her characters well, even the annoying ones, and the evil ones. Again, with Vanyel, by the end of the story you can’t help but like him. He’s just trying his darndest in the end and, really, aren’t we all?

Because the book is so character-driven, there isn’t as much depth in the world-building. However, what there is of the world-building was written very well. We readers get a sense of the places that Vanyel is, for lack of a better term, flung into. But in truth, what makes the places are indeed the people that live there. Vanyel’s childhood home seems barren and rugged, just like the personality of his unforgiving father; Haven, the home of the Herald-Mages, welcoming and with a curious nature that all of its inhabitants have; and others, though I don’t want to spoil the book by saying more about them.

One final thing that I want to talk about is the way Lackey writes her characters dealing with their emotions. In short, they deal with them in a very realistic, very human way, that I think all readers can and will appreciate. Vanyel, especially, deals with emotions of hurt and despair, as well as insecurities that any of us might find ourselves dealing with. He just has to deal with them longer, and, on top of that, with magic consuming him on all sides. Lackey has him, and others, deal with these emotions in healthy ways, and in loving ways.

Overall, Vanyel is very relatable as a character, and his story here is wonderfully and emotionally compelling. I think I would have loved this book when I was 9 years old and just getting into Lord of the Rings – I am happy to have found this book now though!

I recommend to everyone, and especially to those who want some emotional, raw, and real emotions and love from lgbt+ and mlm characters this Pride Month.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Magic’s Promise.



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Book Review – The Hobbits of Tolkien by David Day

The Hobbits of Tolkien by David Day

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Hobbits of Tolkien by David Day



I have pretty much all of David Day’s Tolkien guide books, and The Hobbits of Tolkien is the newest addition to my very extensive Tolkien collection. In this illustrated guide, Day gives us the history of Hobbits from their creation by Tolkien, to their own fictional history, all the way up to the Lord of the Rings. It was fascinating to read about the ancient Hobbit races and founders of the Shire and their connections to ancient English peoples, folklore, and cultures, as well as why Bilbo Baggins was THE choice for the role of burglar in The Hobbit.

I expected an extensive and in-depth discussion of Hobbits by Day, and I was not disappointed. What did surprise me, in the best possible of ways, was that most of this book is filled with linguistics and etymology. Day explains how all words stemming from “hob-” (including the word “hob” and its many meanings) play some intricate role in the description and role that Hobbits play in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. In addition, Day teaches readers how various words in ancient and modern Germanic, Norse, Celtic, and English languages all contributed to the naming of characters, places, and races. My absolute favorite linguistic connection that Day makes is the connection between the names Smaug and Smeagol, both coming from ancient Germanic words that have to do with burrowing or twisting or squeezing into holes.


The illustrations are also absolutely gorgeous. My favorite is one of the watercolor paintings of The Shire.


I recommend this to every Tolkien fan, and to all linguists and etymologists, and even to those who just want to learn a bit more about Hobbits.



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Book Review – Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kiki's Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono


Kiki’s Delivery Service is about a young witch named Kiki who, at the age of thirteen, leaves home for a year to train and come of age. She leaves home with her black cat Jiji and finds a town by the sea, where, after some trials and tribulations, makes friends, starts a business, and leads a happy life.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is my favorite Studio Ghibli film, and it was only last year that I discovered it was based on this book! So of course I immediately bought it, but took my time in reading it. While the film will always be closer to my heart, this book was a cozy and wholesome read.

Some key differences between the book and the film:

The book talks more about the culture of the witches and Kiki’s family, explaining more why the witches have to live away from home after a year.

The book is much more episodic, with each chapter acting as a different sketch during each season Kiki lived in her seaside town. She makes many more friends than are shown in the film, including a girl just her age. I think that was important to include, especially after Tombo tells Kiki, basically, that she isn’t like other girls (and she finds it really weird to say). The other characters are very quirky and fun and give the reader a greater sense of the town’s character.

I am happy to say that Jiji is just as snarky as in the film, and as all black cats should be.

While this book is targeted towards a younger audience, I recommend it to readers of all ages. It is the perfect, wholesome coming-of-age story, filled with magic and learning how to be a person.



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Book Review – The Daughters of Ys by M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux

The Daughters of Ys by M.T. Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Daughters of Ys by M.T. Anderson


The Daughters of Ys is based on a Breton tale, and includes (at least what I think is) Celtic folklore. In this story, two young women are the princesses of the mythical kingdom of Ys, the daughters of a king and a sorceress. Rozenn, the older daughter, loves solitude and a more wild life. Dahut, the younger, gains the abilities of her mother and craves the power and rule of the kingdom. Both sisters must reconcile not only their differences, but their own lives in order to save their kingdom and their people.

I am a huge fan of Celtic and folklore retellings, and this one was superbly done. Rozenn is not from the original story, rather from the opera by Lalo, but I can see why the authors chose to include her. In the original story, Dahut is lost to the sea, seemingly without redemption for her deeds. Here, at least one daughter gets to live and prosper, though Dahut does get a chance at an afterlife of her own. I love how different the sisters are and why they are made to decide what they decide. Ultimately, they must reckon with powers beyond their control – powers that include references to Faerie, Celtic deities and monsters, and others.
I also liked the portrayal of the liminality between Celtic and Christian mythology, as at the time that this story would take place, Christianity was just peeking its head into a larger world.

I absolutely have to talk about the art. Jo Rioux has a gorgeous art style that reminds me a lot of the art style from the Cartoon Saloon films The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, very much in tune with the Celtic and mythological themes, as well as the liminality between the human and the spiritual world.
A lot of this graphic novel has to do with the sea, and Rioux presents even things that aren’t the sea – the shadows and plants and architecture – as a flowing substance that envelops the surroundings and its characters.

I recommend this amazing graphic novel to those who love mythological retellings, and those who like films like The Secret of Kells.



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Book Review – Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston

Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston

Those Who Run in the Sky is a middle grade, fantasy novel about a young Inuk man, Pitu, who learns that not only is he to be the next leader of his igluit, his village, but also is to become a powerful shaman. But when he is swept into the spirit world, he has to struggle with more than he bargained for.

This novel is, to my unlearned mind, a great first representation of Inuit culture and mythology, told by an author who is herself Inuk. She also uses this story to teach Inuk words, which is part of the reason I enjoyed and plan on keeping this book. The other reason is that the story, while not so plot-oriented, is full of imagery, culture, and tons of character development, making this the ideal coming-of-age story. I could see the Northern Lights in the sky, and imagine the harsh cold of the arctic winter. I could feel the emotion as Pitu becomes lost in many ways.

I have only a few criticisms of this book. The main one is that the writing and language tend to be a bit juvenile, but that is expected in many middle grade books. The other, less prominent criticism is that there are no real turns or climaxes to the plot, making the story feel more like a journey than a singular, linear tale. Which is not a bad thing, just different from what I am used to.

I recommend this book to everyone, even if it’s only to learn some Inuk words.





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Book Review – And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness (day 5 of the 2020 Reading Rush)

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness


And The Ocean Was Our Sky is a retelling of Moby Dick, though the hunters we see are both humans and whales. Whales hunt humans to protect themselves, and humans hunt whales for the same reason. Bathsheba is an apprentice of a ship of whales, whose captain is obsessed with hunting down the almost mythical whale and human-hunting man, Toby Wick. But when Bathsheba has the chance to speak with a human herself, she realizes that the hunts and destinies of whales and men always prophesied to her may not be as fixed in fate as she thought.

First I want to talk about the illustrations by Rovina Cai. They are simply beautiful. Cai uses a palette of greys, blacks, and reds to make the images of the hunts and depths of the sea starkly stand out and draw the eye to the brutality of the story. Her style reminds me very much of the art by Emily Carroll in her book Through The Woods, which I also love.

For those who loved The Deep by Rivers Solomon, this is a logical choice for your next read. Patrick Ness also writes about humanity through the perspective of an endangered sea, and writes about characters going against the destinies that have been thrust upon their unwilling selves. It is interesting that both of these authors chose the sea as the perspective of their respective books. Is it because things are darker in the sea and contrast with the brightness of the air and land in which humanity lives? Is it because the vast sea allows for more room to grow? There are so many possibilities that I cannot answer or choose – only the author can do that – but the setting of the deep see keeps drawing me in, and is why I loved And The Ocean Was Our Sky so much.



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Book Review -Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire


After reading and loving Every Heart A Doorway, I was eager to read more of Seanan McGuire’s other works. So when I saw she had written prequels to that first book, I jumped right in. This prequel is about Jack and Jill, who went through a chest into another world. The former became a scientist’s apprentice, the latter the adopted daughter of a vampire as mysterious and powerful as the legendary Count himself.

I won’t say too much about the plot of Down Among the Sticks and Bones, as a lot of it is explained in Every Heart A Doorway. The reason for this is also because I wasn’t too keen on the story. It explained the background of why Jack and Jill were the way they were in the first book, but other than that it was nothing special. What really had me hooked to this book, though, was McGuire’s writing, which continues to be amazing. It is poetic, full of wonderful imagery, and her characters seem almost alive.

I listened to this book on Scribd for day 3 of this year’s Reading Rush.



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Book Review – The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

This is the first book I read for the 2020 Reading Rush, happening this week!

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Changeling Sea is about Peri, a girl who hates and fears the sea, and yet finds herself entwined in its movements and intentions. She meets a prince who longs for the sea, a sea-dragon that longs for the land, and a wizard that, along with Peri, knows more secrets than they care to tell.

McKillip was inspired by classic changeling stories to write this tale, and she does it magnificently. In this case we meet two changelings, one trapped on land that belongs in the sea, and one trapped in the sea that belongs on land. Peri acts as the liaison between the land and sea, herself almost a changeling, though enchantress is more like it, especially since she follows patterns of enchantresses that McKillip often engages, like Sybel from The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

What I love as well as the changeling themes and the poetic descriptions of the sea, are the fairytale references. Images of Swan Lake and the Seven (sometimes Six) Swans come to mind when looking at the changeling princes, and Peri fits the well-known trope of hermit witch who guides heroes on their journeys. Peri does find love in the end though, through romance, friendship, and the love between a mother and a daughter.

McKillip once again did not disappoint, and I may like this book even better than the last one I read. I recommend to all who love and fear the sea with all its mystery, depth, and magic.



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