The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried – Shaun David Hutchinson – Review

Dino and July were best friends at one time. That friendship ended and now they are enemies. Now July is dead and Dino is lost. What happens when July sits up in his parent’s funeral home, alive but no quite? Can they fix what was broken? Or will their feud cause a rift in the world itself, stalling death and destroying life as we know it?

The reason I like Shaun David Hutcinson’s books and stories so much is because he knows how to write characters. His characters are vibrant and full of life (no pun intended). He creates people you can find in any place in the world and feel like you can connect with them. Any story that can create characters that I can understand is a story I am going to enjoy.

Dino was a great character. He is one of those people I can relate to really well. He is someone who wants to make sure the people around him are taken care of and are understood. He is willing to put aside what he wants or likes in order to make others happy. He is pretending he is going to join the family business to avoid the conflict with his family.

He spend so much time trying to keep the peace and please others he is losing himself. I understood him because I am much the same way. I define myself by how the people around me are doing. If I can help them and make them happier then I assume I am happier. I forget that sometimes you have to find your own way and find what you want. Sometimes you have to define yourself in your own terms and hope others understand. And if they are people who love you and care about you they will understand.

Now July is Dino’s opposite. July is harsh and brash. She is someone who is going to fight you at a drop of a hat. She is someone who will tell you what she thinks, could care less about what you think and is going to tell you why you are wrong. She is the kind of person that when you first meet her you are going to be turned off by her attitude. You are going to think her rude and selfish.

What Hutchinson does is show that she has a softer side. Right away we see that she cares about her family. Throughout the story you see her reasons for her actions and you realize she is willing to fight for those she cares about. She is just lost. She needs that softer and kinder hand to temper her down. I loved her character because she was complicated. While she was annoying and harsh I understood her. I liked that we see that life is not easy and understanding people is complicated.

Hutchinson has a tendency to put in slight bits of the supernatural or the otherworldly in his books. In we are the ants it was aliens but you never wanted to quite understand the aliens. The larger story dominated and you knew the aliens were there and were important but you didn’t focus on them.

Unfortunately that didn’t work as well in this book in my opinion. I wanted that deeper connection to the story so I didn’t constantly wonder at the reason that July was back from the dead and why no one else was dying. That is touched on but never explained. I found myself wondering about it the whole book unlike we are the ants where I barely registered the aliens purpose.

I think that is largely because this book felt like it was a lot of running around in circles. They went from one place to another and had a heart to heart conversation over and over again. I felt like we could have done all of this really well in a short story or even a novella. I think the larger format made it so we had to rehash ideas too often and drug it out. I think I would have connected more if the story had been shorter.

While the plot didn’t hold my attention it didn’t throw me out of the book. It didn’t make it unreadable and I wasn’t just waiting to get to the end. There was nothing that really stuck out as parts that I disliked. It was a quick read that hit some powerful notes.

I gave the book three stars. While I loved the characters and the development of them I just wish the plot had been a bit more robust or the story had been shorter.

Quotes

“People, Like cats are obsessed with boxes. Cats are content to squeeze their own furry assess into boxes clearly too small for them, whereas humans take sadistic pleasure in trying to shove one another into boxes.” (pg. 14)

“Mirrors are liars. They never show us what’s truly there. They show us what we expect to see.” (pg. 134)

“Men who’ve been taught that emotions are a weakness, and they’re never to show weakness, or they bottle it up and camouflage it with laughter or anger or silence.” (pg. 171)

“Even when she didn’t know who she was, she fought for the right to screw up and figure it out on her own.” (pg.235)

The World of Lore – Wicked Mortals – Aaon Mahnke – Mini-Review

I picked this one up the same time I picked up the Monstrous Creatures edition. I was so enthralled by that one that I decided to read this one right away instead of taking a break for more story-esque books. I thought this one was going to dive into the minds of infamous criminals and serial killers.

I love books that go into the way people’s minds work. I am fascinated by how people think, why they make the decisions that they make, and why they do what they do. I think reading about that is always interesting and that is what I thought this book was going to be about. I thought it was going to give the backstory and the history of these people. I thought there would be commentary on their choices and why they may have done what they did.

While it started out that way diving into H.H. Holmes and others that was only a small part of the book. The first half, if that was about certain people and who they were and where they came from; but then I felt like he ran out of people or sources and fell into just randomly telling stories.

At times the stories felt random barely a page and many times they were about frauds or people fooling other people. There was a whole section on the witch trials again which got boring to me. While it was talked about why people accused people of witch craft and of being sorcerers it didn’t really stay with the theme of wicked mortals. At least not how it was blurbed and how I understood it.

I read the last half quickly, just trying to get through it because it wasn’t holding my attention anymore. I felt like we stopped talking about people making bad choices and just talked about why people were superstitious and fearful of everything. It just didn’t fit with the theme of the rest of the book I thought.

I end up giving the book 3 stars mostly because of the first half. That half I found fascinating , the last half I just had to get through.

Gateway to the Gods – K.A. Applegate – Everworld #7

The group of friends is beginning to realize their lives are now in to parts. There are the Everworld parts, full of adventure, danger and new ways of seeing themselves. Then there is the real world part, school, the mundane and the normal. Which is the one they are meant to live? Where do they belong?

This book was told from April’s POV. We see that she is struggling with a few things in this book. First she can’t understand the way the gods think. They are literally under siege and yet they are barely able to make any changes. They can’t think outside of what they normally think. They can’t adapt.

I thought it was super interesting the way this idea was explored. The idea that the gods are stagnant. They can’t dream or imagine. They are the molds created by the stories that were told about them in the old world. Once they left that world there was no one left to make them into new people or give them new abilities. They are stuck in one form, unable to adapt or change.

I also liked how this book begins to explore the idea that this life is not a nightmare for these four kids. They are beginning to see the advantages to this life. April is conflicted because she likes the independence and the importance she feels in Everworld. She fights, she wins and she is in control.

But that also terrifies her. She is scared of leaving what she knows behind. She is scared to think that Everworld is becoming where she wants to be. For the others there are plenty of reasons why they would choose the other world but for April she doesn’t have a bad home life or OCD to force her to choose this world. She is just seeing that maybe there is more for her here.

I also liked that her conflict is many sided. She is confused not only about her desire to stay in the world but also about what being in a new world is doing to her belief system. She is losing her faith a bit, seeing the world in a new way. She is scared to change her way of thinking and and I am curious how that evolves over the last few books.

This book is the turning point in my memory of the series. I know we are going to move to Egypt and African Gods soon but I don’t remember much beyond that. I am eager to continue from here because my memory is fuzzier. I am interested to see how we get to the end, which I do remember and know I loved.

The World of Lore – Monstrous Creatures – Aaron Mahnke – Mini review

I am going to do just a mini-review for this book since it isn’t a fiction book and thus doesn’t have as much to analyze with plot, setting or characters.

If you have read a number of my other reviews and posts you will know that I love myths and legends. I also love the supernatural (even if it freaks me out a little bit at times). I love the idea of there being creatures things we can’t explain in the world around us.

This book is based off of (or more like a transcript) of the podcast by the same name. Now I have never listened to the podcast, mostly because I tend to get bored and distracted when listening to books or podcasts. Some of the reviews I saw were a bit critical because they said it was what was already in the podcast and nothing added.

I can’t speak to that part but I can speak to the fact that this book did a fantastic job of giving history and stories about some major things in our culture. It delves into vampires, werewolves, zombies, legends and ghosts. I know quite a bit about some legends but this book actually talked about things I didn’t know.

I think my favorite part of this book were all the stories that were told throughout the book. It went into great detail about some of the stories that started a lot of these legends. It went into depth about them, and you got to see how these ideas grew out of these tales.

I loved that it was tied to history. We forget many times that in the past they didn’t have the advantage of the knowledge we have. They didn’t have the ability to explain away things like we did. We see that they strived to get explanations and did it the only way they knew how with the only knowledge they had.

I thought it did a great job at talking about these ideas while also delving into what causes people to think this way. We see that as humans we will go to great lengths to explain difficult things away. I loved the context this provided.

I walked away from this book with a deeper appreciation and much more knowledge about these topics than I had before. I didn’t feel like I was rehashing things I already knew. Too many times these books feel repetitive to me and this one didn’t.

If you enjoy tales of the unknown and supernatural and want to learn more this a great read and I am sure a great podcast.

In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire – Review

Katherine Lundy makes a choice early on in her life. She is going to live her way, she is going to do what she wants when she wants. She learns quickly the world is not going to work in her favor. She finds a door to The Goblin Market, a world where you can get whatever you want as long as you are fair with your deals. But what happens when some deals ask for too much?

I love this series. I love the way this feels like a fairytale while also capturing some important issues of today. You get a lesson without realizing it and you get to see that not all stories end with a happily ever after moment.

This story in particular was about a girl who realizes early on that she is okay being alone. I think I like this one the best so far because I identified with Lundy so well. I was also the quiet child, who loved books and followed the rules. I also balked at the idea of having to fall into line of what a true woman is supposed to be.

I felt like we got to understand Lundy so well. Her back and forth through the door showed us that she was struggling with deciding where she belonged. While the other books the characters stayed, finding their new lives and ways of life, Lundy was stuck in this in-between. She wanted both and learned the hard way that life is not always fair.


Not much threw me out of this book. They are shorter so we get hints at bigger events that happen but I am starting to see that it fits in with the fairytale atmosphere of these stories. While it was a bit bothersome not knowing more about the battles she fought I realized it was more important about what happened afterward. Lundy was created from those after moments and choices and not from the moments themselves.

There was nothing that kept my from enjoying the story. It was fast paced. It hit all the points of the character development well. I read it in 2 days and was sad when it ended.

I gave the book four stars. I loved the story and can’t wait to see who we get to understand better next.

“If the children in the yard next door or on the playground couldn’t find her worth loving the same way, she wasn’t going to change for them.” (pg. 17)

“Following the rules didn’t make you a good person, just like breaking the rules didn’t make you a bad one, but it could make you an invisible person, and invisible people got to do as they liked.” (pg. 38) (This hits very close to home).

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman – Review

There is a Library full of Librarians whose job it is to go to alternate worlds and find important books. They are returned to the Library where they are kept safe and all knowledge is contained in one space. Irene is a junior librarian, someone raised her whole life in this world. Kai is her trainee with secrets. Together they are tasked with retrieving a version o the Grimm fairytales. Seems easy until twists, turns and secrets are revealed. Quickly it becomes a quest for survival for not only the book but themselves as well.

I love the concept of this book. I loved the idea that there are alternate worlds all connected through this Library. The idea that there are people whose sole job it is to go into all these worlds and get important books is fantastic. This is 100% the job I would want if it was an option.

I love that this also connect magic into these worlds. At first I wondered if it was just going to be alternate worlds that certain things didn’t happen in. But no, there are worlds like our own and then there are world with magic and then there are worlds that are a combination of both. I like this because it extends the scope of these stories. I wonder how they will play out throughout the series.

Kai was an interesting character. I knew there was something more about him from the very beginning. You get a hint he is hiding something. I liked the fact that he can switch his personalities so much. One minute he is able to play a proper gentleman of the times then he goes into thief mode. As a reader I felt like I was kept guessing. We still don’t know everything about him and I wonder where his story will go.

Alderich is also an interesting character. I know there is so much more to their story. I want to know how they became who they are. ( I am going to use they because it is unclear what Alderich is at this point, whether human or even has a gender). There is mystery here and I am curious about it all.

I had a few minor issue that didn’t necessarily take me out of the book but kind of gave me pause. First I wasn’t thrilled with the Language system being called The Language. It felt like a lazy name to me. Every time I read it was jarring almost like it was left there a placeholder and was never changed. I felt like it could just have used a better title.

While this world as fascinating I found myself very unclear of how it all worked. I don’t quite understand The Language itself. Why it matters? Who can use it? How do you use it? How do you learn it? I felt like it was there as a way to get out of situations.

I also didn’t quite get the whole chaos idea. It was vaguely explained but I needed a bit more to understand it. Why was there this chaos idea? Why are Fae the main issue around it? How does it work? Why is it called chaos? I again felt like it was hinted at but no real detail given.

My biggest issue with this book was Irene. I honestly did not care for her character at all. She was all over the place. She felt like a strong minded character at the beginning but she got weaker and weaker as the story went on. I thought she could take care of herself but then she went alll damsel who needed men to save her.

She got herself into situations that made no sense. She inner monologued a lot but she never came to any real conclusions in time. She doubted herself too often. She was vague about what she was talking about. I just wanted her to get herself together a bit more. I hope she gets better throughout the series.

I ended up giving this book 3 stars. There is a lot of potential here. The world in fascinating. Some of the characters are great. The mystery is there. I am planning on continuing on with the series but just not right away. I just hope it gets better.

February Wrap Up

This month felt like a slower month for me. It was a slower month in terms of blogging actually. Reading wasn’t as bad, though apparently according to my Goodreads challenge I am 2 books behind. I am not going to get too upset about that yet.

This month was busier than I planned on it being. I didn’t have as much time during the weekends to read or write as I am used to. Hence why I had much fewer posts than I have in the past. I plan on trying to make that better in March but we will see if I am able to that or if things pop up again.

Books read:
I was able to read 3 books this month. It was a decent reading month. I enjoyed this months books.

Crucible – James Rollins – I love this series. This was a good addition to the Sigma Force series. It didn’t focus on who I thought it should focus on though. I did enjoy that it made me more afraid for the main characters than the any other ones have ever done.

Black Wings Beating – Alex London – I was expecting more from this book. It was interesting but didn’t spark enough for me to anticipate the next one.

Fear the Fantastic – K.A. Applegate – I didn’t remember this one from my first readings. It was interesting but it felt kind of boring compared to the other ones.

Blog Posts:
The Crucible – James Rollins – Review
Black Wings Beating – Alex London – Review
Fear the Fantastic – Everworld #6- K.A. Applegate – Mini-Review
Down the TBR Hole #13

(Not only do I plan on making sure to post more I also will get back to reading and commenting more.)

Books I Bought:
Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried – Sean David Hutchinson
Here and Now and Then – Mike Chen
The Masked City – The Invisible Library #2 – Genevieve Cogman
In an Absent Dream – (Wayward Children #4) – Seanan McGuire
Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

Writing:
My writing group is going well. I have found it is helping me stay on track with writing. I may be writing random things and not necessarily my novel but the drive is there. At this point that is what I needed.


Down the TBR Hole #13

I know I haven’t posted much lately. I have been busy but wanted to get another post up before my monthly wrap up. Its been about a month since I did one of these so I thought I’d do another round going through my TBR shelf.

Rules:

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 or 15 or 20, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time

Current TBR – 261

The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Intuitions Deceive Us – Christopher Chabris , Daniel Simons – I love the invisible gorilla experiment, if you don’t know what that is, look it up on Youtube. I love learning more about the weird ways our brains works and how it can deceive us.
Decision: Keep

The Final Empire – Mistborn #1 – Brandon Sanderson – I have heard great things about this series. I just haven’t been able to dive into a dense series yet especially one that I don’t believe is finished. I will get to it eventually but it may be a little while.
Decision: Keep

The Summer that Melted Everything – Tiffany McDaniel – A book about someone being the devil? Sounds interesting to meet.
Decision: Keep

Smoke – Dan Vyleta – I like the idea of the smoke designating who is good and bad but the rest of it doesn’t sound all that interesting. Might come back to it one day but right now it doesn’t spark my interest.
Decision: Remove

A World Apart – David M. Brown – Not sure why I added this one. It sounds alright but not something I would enjoy.
Decision: Remove

The Corner of 1700 Hamilton – Vania Rheault – I think this is a short story collection? Again I have no memory of this one.
Decision: Remove

Pepper Pike – Les Roberts- I added this one because it is set in Cleveland, my hometown. Though I would like to see how Cleveland is portrayed I don’t see myself reading this anytime soon.
Decision: Remove

Don of the Dead – Casey Daniels – Love the idea of having to talk with ghosts to find their murders, kind of like Ghost Whisperer.
Decision: Keep

They Died Crawling: And Other Tales of Cleveland Woe; True Stories of the Foulest Crimes, and Worst Disasters in Cleveland History – John Stark Bellamy II – I was in a Cleveland centered roll at this point. Again sounds interesting but probably won’t get to it anytime soon.
Decision: Remove

The Devourers – Indra Das – Again no idea why I added this. It sounds alright but not really something I usually read.
Decision: Remove

Keep – 4
Remove – 5
Total TBR – 256

Fear the Fantastic – Everworld #6 – K.A. Applegate – Mini-Review

Christopher, April, David and Jalil are once again on the run. They made their escape from Fairy Land and are on the hunt for a way home. A few missteps and they end up in Hewten territory. There they meet Dionysus and Ganymede, two Greek gods. They need to rescue their new friends and make it out alive, a task that is easier said than done when you have to travel through Ka Anor’s territory.

(This is a mini review for the 6th book in the Everworld series. There may be spoilers for the previous five books).

When I started reading this book I realized that I remember very little of this one. I knew it was Christopher’s story and that it involved a lot of the Hewten. The issue I see is that I don’t feel that attached to the Ka Anor or Hewten storyline.

This book should have made me afraid. It should have been tense and made me scared of this threat. Instead I just felt bored. I like the other books and the other stories because it is all about different gods and these teenagers trying to navigate this world. This one was kind of boring.

I found myself just wanting to get out of the area, knowing that they would and move on to Olympus. I didn’t care about the Hewten city. I didn’t care about the fact they could get eaten alive. The threat felt minimal. Even when we see Ka Anor (which I can’t really picture at all) I still didn’t feel that scared or upset at the situation. I think it is because it was so abstract and nothing much truly happened.

The saving grace of this book was Christopher. I have always like his character and this book solidified why. Christopher is the type of character that appears one way but is deeper and more considerate underneath. He hides his insecurities under humor and makes some off color jokes but in this book you see who he truly is. He is a guy who just wants to live and have fun. He doesn’t want to be bogged down with responsibility and moral codes. But he realizes that sometimes you have to make decisions that will haunt you.

I forgot how many deeper issues these books touch on. In this one we see that Christopher has to choose between what he knows is right and his job. He realizes some may seem him as this hard, racist and sexist guy when in reality he is just someone who makes a joke but doesn’t mean them. He begins to realize the face he is showing to the world and the person who truly is are getting confused and misconstrued. I came away from this book wanting to see how far his character grows and who he becomes.

Black Wings Beating – Alex London – Review

Kylee has a secret, one that could change her and her brother’s life forever. The village they live in is being threatened by an outside force. They need to go on a mission to capture the elusive Ghost Eagle. Can Kylee help her brother without revealing who she truly is? Can Brysen prove his worth outside of his sister and save the boy he loves? What happens when secrets get out and the world around them begins to tip?

This book is about the relationship between this society and their falcons and birds. I adore any story that surrounds animals. (Though I always get nervous because I don’t know if an animal is going to survive). I love to see the way stories tell about the relationship between a people and their animals.

This one is interesting because of the way the story works with the birds. I like that the villagers can tame the birds but are never in full control of them. They know that they can’t fully keep these birds down. They know they deserve to fly and be free and it kind of comments back on their way of life as well.

I also like Kylee’s character and her relationship with her brother Brysen. Kylee is a strong minded person who realizes she also has responsibilities. I liked her because you saw that she wanted to get away and be free but she also was not going to let her brother get hurt in the process.

The sibling relationship was the best part of this book. That dynamic grew throughout the story and you saw the secret ways they tried to help each other. You realize that Kylee has always been trying to protect her brother even if he doesn’t release it. You see that Brysen needs his sister if he won’t admit it. I liked that build up and that growth.


I wasn’t fully attached to any of the characters. I liked Kylee but she wasn’t someone I latched onto. She was there but I didn’t find myself scared of what would happen to her. The same went for Brysen. They felt a little flat to me.

I felt like we were told a lot about who they are but never truly shown those things. We got them thinking it over but never acting out to show that side of themselves. You knew that they had secrets but it didn’t feel life altering. I wanted more to be at stake for them. I even wanted them to have more negative or darker sides to them.

The story didn’t feel like it had high stakes to me. I felt like we were just moving piece to piece. I didn’t feel like there was anything in the way that was going to truly stop them. It felt like it was just moving gently along. One issue solved then another and it solved without much fuss.

I didn’t feel any urgency from the plot. I didn’t feel like I wanted to rush to the end. Even the end didn’t leave me wanting the next book right now. I may read the sequel one day when it comes out but I won’t rush out to get it.

I gave this book 3 stars because it was fun to read, loved the birds but wanted it feel like more was at stake and like there was a possibility of true failure.

“Kylee hated the assumption that boys always made when she was made, like her emotions weren’t a part of her thinking mind like theirs but rather tied to the moons and the winds like an animal’s.” (pg. 53)

“The truth was rarely kind, so why not let a lovely lie linger?” (pg. 101)

“It wasn’t the words themselves that had power but the memories that stuck to words like ticks to deer, draining and infecting them. If you shut down your memory and ignored the knowing-self inside you, you could say anything.” (pg. 127)

“He was the sort of man who’d rather take a punch than let go of his hate.” (pg. 186)

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