“Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend

Yeahie!! I’m catching up on reviews. Here’s another novel I completed in May for Wyrd & Wonder, a month of reading nothing but fantasy.

I had Wundersmith out from the library at the time, so I read it for the event. It’s the second novel in the Nevermoor series and was even more enjoyable than the first book.

Genre:

Middle-grade Fantasy

Series:

Nevermoor, book 2

Pubbed:

October 2018

Goodreads summary:

Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And she is fast learning that not all magic is used for good.

Morrigan Crow has escaped her deadly fate and found a new home in the fantastical city of Nevermoor. She has also discovered that she has a strange and magical ability. But will her unique talent be a blessing or another curse?

Now that Morrigan and her best friend Hawthorne are proud scholars in the elite Wundrous Society, she is sure that she’s found a place to belong at last, but life is far from perfect. Can Morrigan prove that she deserves to be in the Society – or will an unexpected new enemy ruin her new life? (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would. Although I enjoyed reading Nevermoor, was hooked, and thought it entertaining, I thought parts of it were too derivative of the Harry Potter series. That worried me. The Nevermoor story is its own thing and the similarity to the Harry Potter books helped to make me love it more, but I worried that if the next book and all the others are so similar to Harry Potter, then I wouldn’t like it much. I would instead be annoyed. Gladly, Wundersmith doesn’t have as many similarities to the Harry Potter books, and I loved it for what it is.

Although Morrigan has escaped her curse and is now living in a place where she is accepted, loved, and cared for by those she lives amongst, she learns that because of her unique knack, the larger Nevermoor community might fear her and some of those closest to her might too if they should ever learn that she’s a wundersmith. Although I felt sorry for Morrigan for once again being in a situation where she’s an outcast, I loved this twist. It shows that she didn’t outwit her fate and that she has to find a way to deal with it. It made me wonder who it will shape her to be. She could easily allow the awful treatment to shape who she is and react by hating and resenting everyone, but instead she keeps choosing to be optimistic, to be grateful for what she has, and, more importantly, to rely on her instincts and who she knows herself to be and capable of becoming to guide her. I think that’s a great message and it’s part of the reason why I like the story. But my dark side thinks there’s still time for Morrigan to say “f— all that” and just be resentful and evil, lol!

Apart from that, a major reason why I loved this book is because Nevermoor grows larger for the reader. We learn more about it and in doing so, we (or, at least, me) become enchanted by it. In this way, Wundersmith reminded me of the early Harry Potter books when we were all charmed by the fantastical world as we learn more about Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. In Wundersmith, we accompany Morrigan as she joins her group of fellow new recruits to the attend lessons at the Wundrous Society. The place sounds amazing and so too the lessons, but unfortunately, because of what Morrigan is, she doesn’t have many exciting lessons. I wonder if this is why we aren’t provided with more details about the place. I crave to know more about it.

We are also introduced to more places in Nevermoor, such as the Ghastly Market, where knacks and wunimals can be bought and sold, and Tricksy Lanes, which are lanes that have a trick placed on it, such as flipping a person upside down when they’re halfway down the lane or making the person feel as if they’re running out of air the further they walk down the lane. It all sounds amazing, but I don’t think the world-building is consistent because I still have many questions, the biggest being if Nevermoor is a different country or a different world all together from the one Morrigan was taken from. That was touched on in this book, but I can’t remember the details (that’s what I get for waiting so long to write my review). I’d love to see a map of the world with the different worlds/countries in relation to Nevermoor. I just wish the world-building was more fleshed out.

Despite that, I loved the story. I loved the little adventures Morrigan goes on. I love that the reader, and Morrigan, is misled for part of the story. I love how Morrigan’s friendship with Cadence develops. I love that Morrigan learns more about her knack and becomes more comfortable about who she is (although she still has doubts). The only thing that keeps annoying me is Jupiter. I hate it when a character (or an IRL person) constantly and obviously withholds information, and he keeps doing that. It’s ANNOYING!! I mean, Dumbledore did that too but I wasn’t as annoyed. I think it’s because Jupiter is more present and obviously involved in Morrigan’s life than Dumbledore was in Harry’s. I just need him to be straight up with Morrigan. It makes me not trust him.

Overall: ★★★★★

Yea, I have questions and was annoyed by some things, but overall, I enjoyed this one. It was a fun read and had the Harry Potter charm to it that kept me hooked.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

Because I want to Buy it.

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“Watch Hollow” by Gregory Funaro

Here’s another book that was recommended to me by Lilyn over on Sci-Fi & Scary. I read her review and decided to try the book myself. Now, I can’t wait to try the next book in this duology.

Genre:

Middle-grade Horror; Fantasy

Series:

Watch Hollow, book 1

Pubbed:

2019

Goodreads summary:

Deep within the enchanted woods in the town of Watch Hollow stands the once-grand Blackford House, whose halls hold a magical secret: a giant cuckoo clock that does much more than tell time. But when the clock’s gears cease to turn, an evil presence lurking among the trees begins to come out of the shadows.

When Lucy and Oliver Tinker arrive in Watch Hollow, they have no idea that anything is wrong. A mysterious stranger has made their father an offer that’s too good for him to refuse. All Mr. Tinker needs to do is fix the clock at Blackford House and fistfuls of gold coins are his to keep.

It doesn’t take long, however, for the children to realize that there is more to Blackford House than meets the eye. And before they can entirely understand the strange world they’ve stumbled into, Lucy and Oliver must join forces with a host of magical clock animals to defeat the Garr—a vicious monster that not only wants Blackford House for itself, but also seeks to destroy everything the Tinkers hold dear. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I read Watch Hollow for the Wyrd & Wonder reading event held in May, when I read only fantasy novels. Watch Hollow is first a fantasy novel, but an old, creaky house containing a huge, mysterious clock that operates it and that’s surrounded by dark menacing woods that creep ever closer gives it the feel of horror. The story isn’t scary, but it is creepy and can be unsettling for some young ones. However, there are many light moments in the story, and there are even some lovable fantastical creatures to look forward to who all help Lucy, the protagonist, to keep the evil presence in the woods, the Garr, at bay.

I enjoyed the story although I didn’t expect to. I was quickly swept up in it as I wondered what it’s about and what would happen next. Although the bulk of the story takes place at Blackford House, there’s still much adventure and fun as Lucy works with her fantastical friends to figure out what the Garr is, enter its territory in the creepy woods, and evade it while trying to save others. The story flows at an even pace, but it kept my attention throughout and was a fun, exciting read.

I like how it ends as well. Although Lucy’s father obviously cares about both Lucy and her brother, Oliver, it’s also obvious that he favors Oliver over Lucy. Oliver and Lucy have a very close relationship, but it doesn’t seem to be true of Lucy and her father. But by the end of the story, it seems that Lucy has grown closer to her father, and her father has learned to value Lucy’s insights and opinions as much as Oliver’s. I really like the development there.

Also, I like that this is a story about a single father with kids. I hardly read children’s books with a positive father presence or where the father knows and helps with what’s going on. Mostly, there are either no parents or the parent who is involved is the mother (which is okay, but I like seeing more father presence as well).

Of course, I can’t wait to read the next book. The end of this made me wonder if something would happen next. At the time, I didn’t see any indication that the story would continue in another book. I took to Goodreads to ask the author (I really needed to know) and he confirmed that there will be another book! I was so happy. 😊

Overall: ★★★★★

I enjoyed it. The story is entertaining and the writing is pretty good so, yeah! It gets 5 stars. I highly recommend it to you, especially if you want something quick and fun to read for Halloween or a Friday 13th celebration or if you just want to read a middle-grade novel that touches on the haunted house/creepy woods trope.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

It’s a good read. I’ve recommended it to parents and kids at the bookstore too and they bought it!! 😀

Book Haul #54: HUGE Haul from ALA Conference

Back in June, I got to attend the American Library Association Conference in Washington, D.C., with a bunch of other locally based bookstagrammers. It was a wonderful event and a book lover’s paradise because in addition to various sessions for the librarians, there were loads of publishers in attendance showing off upcoming books and giving away ARCs of them. We were all excited.

I was stunned and a little overwhelmed on the first day, so although I attended on the Saturday and Sunday and got bags so full of books that I felt as if I was lifting weights all weekend, I didn’t get as much as other attendees, some whom carried along small suitcases for their books. It was a great event, and I’m so glad that I attended.

Well, anyway, here’s what I got:

(I totally just screenshot my own photos off IG. Does anyone know how to download your pics from IG when they are bunched together in one post?)

Books

From Hachette (Orbit Books)

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter (pub. July 16, 2019)

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender (pub. November 12, 2019)

I’m excited about this one because the author is from the Caribbean. I actually reached out to Orbit to request a copy, but no one responded, so I was glad I got a copy at the conference. Well, I almost didn’t get a copy because I missed the allotted time when the author was there, but I got lucky. The person at the booth was very nice and gave me one of the final copies there.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry (pub. July 23, 2019)

From Seven Stories Press

All City by Alex DiFrancesco

Like a Thief in Broad Daylight: Power in the Era pf Post-Human Capitalism by Slavoj Žižek (pub. September 17, 2019)

From Soho Press

Sarah Jane by James Sallis (pub. October 1, 2019)

From Penguin Random House

How to Be an Antiracist By Ibram X. Kendi (pub. August 13, 2019)

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (pub. July 16, 2019)

I was standing in line to get this signed hoping to afterward jump in the line for the new Erin Morgenstern book, Starless Sea. But by the time I got to the Morgenstern line, it was capped 😦 so I missed out on getting an ARC copy signed. I was so disappointed. It was bittersweet because I was glad to get Whitehead’s book and to chat with him a bit as he signed my copy.

A Tear in the Ocean by H.M. Bouwman, illus. by Yuko Shimizu

I love the cover, so I had to get it, and the author was there so she signed it too! I think I got a little polar bear figure from her as well. It was so cute. I placed it on my bookshelf. I was pleasantly surprised that the illustrations in the book are by Yuko Shimizu. I love her work. She illustrated the covers for J.Y. Yang’s Tensorate series, a silkpunk fantasy novella series.

Birdie and Me by J.M.M. Nuanez (pub. February 18, 2020)

More from Penguin Random House

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill (pub. September 17, 2019)

The True Bastards by Jonathan French (pub. October 8, 2019)

I actually DNF’d the first book, but I picked up a copy of the second book because I intend to give the first another try before I give up on it.

From Bloomsbury:

The Beast by Ally Condie & Brendan Reichs (pub. October 1, 2019)

The Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce & Debbie Levy

From Cinco Puntos Press:

House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle

From Bellevue Literary Press:

The Bear by Andrew Krivak (pub. February 11, 2020)

I’m looking forward to trying this one because it’s blurbed by both Marlon James (one of my fav authors) and Jessmyn Ward, whose work I’ve read. I met the author, who was really cool to talk to, and got it signed. I believe the story is dystopian.

From Simon & Schuster:

The Story That Cannot be Told by J. Kasper Kramer (pub. October 2019)

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell (pub. August 27, 2019)

From Tor:

Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson (pub. November 5, 2019)

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade (pub. November 5, 2019)

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz (pub. September 24, 2019)

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis  (pub. October 1, 2019)

From Akashic Books

A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes (pub. October 1, 2019)


Comics & graphic novels

From Image Comics

Image is one of my favorite publishers for comic books, so after getting over my shock on the first day of how many publishers were at the conference, I made it my mission to visit their booth on the second day to get samples and see if they have anything I’ve never heard of but would like to read. I picked up:

Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special by Jim Rugg (illus.) & Brian Maruca

Little Bird, Chapter 1: The Fight for Elder’s Hope by Darcy Van Poelgeest, illus. by Ian Bertram

It was recommended to me by someone at the booth.

Redneck, #1 by Donny Cates, illus. by Lisandro Estherren

Southern Bastards, #1 by Jason Aaron, illus. by Jason Latour

Image Comics 2019 catalog

I picked it up because Maika from Monstress is on the cover and I love Sana Takeda’s illustrations.

Dead Reckoning is a graphic novel imprint of the Naval Institute Press that focuses on military history, military biography and memoir, general history, and tales of the high seas. I didn’t know about them before, so I picked up a catalog. I’m not big on stories about war and such, but the cover art got me curious.

Activist: A Story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting by Lauren Hogg, illus. by Doonald Hudson

“This is the fifth in a series of graphic novels written by young adults for their peers.” Hogg seeks here to help raise awareness about gun violence.

Green Lantern Legacy by Minh Lê, illus. by Andie Tong

We Are Here Forever by Michelle Gish (illus.) (pub. July 30, 2019)

From Lion Forge

Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval (illus.), transl. by Lucas Marangon

Haphaven by Norm Harper, illus. by Louie Joyce

The Castoffs, #8 by M.K. Reed & Brian “Smitty” Smith, illus. by Wyeth Yates

Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries (pub. in September 2019)

I picked up these two to sample them. I do like the artwork in Witchy, so I might check my library for the full version

From Oni Press

I watch a lot of booktube (haven’t been keeping up with it much lately), so I did a double-take when I saw Margot Wood (often posting on IG and YouTube for Epic Reads) there. She was very nice and we chatted some about blogging, booktube, and writing and such. She also gave me these:

Oni Press Spring 2019 catalog

Okay, she didn’t give me that one; I picked it up. But since it’s in the photo, I’ll mention it here.

The Black Mage (pub. October 29, 2019)

I received an ARC copy. Apparently, it’s Own Voices and explores racism in a fantasy setting. I’ll have to read it soon. I’m so intrigued.

Spectacle, #1 by Megan Rose Gedris (illus.)

Kim Reaper, #1: Vampire Island by Sarah Graley (illus.)

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill (illus.) (pub. September 17, 2019)

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady G. & J.R. Zuckerberg (illus.)oooooo

Emiline: Knight in Training by Kimberli Johnson (illus.)

And there again is another publisher’s catalog. This one is the Soho Press Fall 2019 catalog. I picked it up because I love the cover and really thought it was a comic book until I read the words and realize it’s a catalog. I’m keeping it anyway because I love the colors. The cover is for the novel Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry which will be pubbed October 8, 2019. It’s about a girl who’s caught in an intimate moment with her best friend, Sarah, and is sent to re-education camp to be made heterosexual.

Others

Rivers of London, Vol. 1: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch, illus. by Lee Sullivan

Who Did It First: 50 Scientists, Artists, and Mathematicians Who Revolutionized the World by Julie Leung, illus. by Caitlin Kuhwald (pub. October 15, 2019)

This is just a sample of an illustrated picture featuring 50 pioneers in various fields. I like the illustrations, so I got the sample to remind myself to check it out when it’s published.


That’s a lot for this #bookhaul.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books.

Top 5 Tuesday #10: K – L – M – N – O

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm.

This week’s topic:

K – L – M – N – O

(books with titles that start with the featured letters)

K if for…

Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

This was one of the best books I read last year and one of my favorites of last year as well. It’s a historical fiction novel with a strong sense of magical realism that’s set in Uganda and is about the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. The story focuses on how the curse has affected generations of Kintu Kidda’s descendants. It’s an amazing read. The story and the prose are great, and I HIGHLY recommend you give this one a try. The structure of the story and the names that are repeated every generation made Kintu remind me of One Hundred Years of Solitude, another wonderful story.

L is for…

Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor

This is one of my favorite books. Written in the mid-1980s, Linden Hills was a contemporary novel of its time about African Americans chasing the American dream and what it might cost to attain it. The story is set in a wealthy Black community that’s modeled after Dante’s Inferno. It’s this element, as well as the writing, that hooked me to the story. It’s been a while since I’ve read it and I have forgotten some details, but I’m sure if I should reread it, I’d still consider it a favorite.

M is for…

Mother of the Sea by Zetta Elliott

I read this one last year and really liked it. It’s a fantasy short story about a girl who’s abducted from her village and sold into slavery. Much of the story takes place aboard the slave ship as it sails the Middle Passage. The girl endures the brutal journey with the help of a mischievous child, who may be connected to a goddess. This was an interesting read. I enjoyed it, but I wish it was longer.

N is for…

No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin

A book of essays the majority of which appeared as posts on Le Guin’s blog between 2010 and 2012. It was a good read while I was reading it, but after completing it, I forgot everything. I think I read it too quickly.

O is for…

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of my favorite classics. The prose is beautiful and the story is captivating. But what is it about? It’s hard for me to say in just one sentence. It is magical realism and is about generations of the Buendia family. Beyond that, I don’t know what else to say to describe the plot. It is an interesting read and can be confusing for some, but it’s totally worth trying.

That’s it for me.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these.

Book Haul #53: The Prelude

I haven’t done a book haul since May, so I have a ton of stuff to share with you. It’s not because I bought loads of books — I did purchase a few — but because I attended the American Library Association Conference that was held in Washington, D.C., and was able to fill several bags with books while there. It was a great event. 🙂

But before I show those books, let’s take a look at the ones that aren’t from the conference.

Purchases

Physical

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Best Books So Far in 2019

Everyone is has done one of these posts. So here I am with mine. 😛 I enjoy reading them and have gotten recommendations from a few, so I hope you all will get as much out of mine too. 🙂

These are the books I’ve read in the first half of the year and have given the highest ratings. I’ll start at January and work my way to July. Rereads are not included.

Not all are my favorites, but I’ll indicate which are as I go along.

City of Dragons by Robin Hobb

★★★★☆ 1/2

Summary: An epic fantasy story, City of Dragons is the third and shortest book in the Rain Wild Chronicles in which we follow the dragons and their outcast caretakers as they seek the fabled city of Kelsingra.

Why I like it: I loved it for the development we get in the plot and characters. And that’s all I’ll say because this is third book so anything else would be a spoiler.

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Top 5 Tuesday #9: F – G – H – I – J

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm.

This week’s topic:

F – G – H – I – J

(books with titles that start with the featured letters)

F is for…

Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin

I own this book. I bought it because I love the cover, but I haven’t yet read it, and I’ve since forgotten what it’s about. I seriously need to do a year of reading books I own. I’ve “tried” to do so before, but it didn’t work out.

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