Book Review: Reverie


By: Ryan La Sala

4 Stars

Magical Realism, LGBT, YA

A few weeks ago, Kane Montgomery was in an accident that robbed him of his memory. The only thing he knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. The world as he knows it feels different―reality seems different. And when strange things start happening around him, Kane isn’t sure where to turn.

And then three of his classmates show up, claiming to be his friends and the only people who can tell him what’s truly going on. Kane doesn’t know what to believe or who he can trust. But as he and the others are dragged into increasingly fantastical dream worlds drawn from imagination, it becomes clear that there is dark magic at work. Nothing in Kane’s life is an accident, and only he can keep the world itself from unraveling.

Reverie is an intricate and compelling LGBT young adult book about the secret worlds we hide within ourselves and what happens when they become real.

I fully appreciated the originality of this book. The concept of dreams entering reality, that a few with the ability to take control to keep others from harm, was great. I even appreciated the underlying social commentary, the subtlety with which Mr. La Sala speaks of real issues buried in this fantastical story. While I didn’t like Girls of Paper and Fire because of the forced-down-your-throat way of telling, Reverie allows the story to make its point; allows the characters organic growth as they stumble and search and find the courage to be true.

On its surface, Reverie is a great story. That is enough to make the book worth reading. From page one, there is the overlying sense of urgency to find out what is going on that manages to maintain throughout, even as we’re swung back-and-forth between who might really be the villain, including the one whose central to the story. The question of how friends are made, how social boundaries might be crossed, and how those friendships make us better people is central to this telling.

There was something missing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars. Possibly, that missing thing was simply because of Reverie’s reading level. As a YA book, there is a line. There was also the lingering idea (in my mind) that this might have easily been a little darker, a little more horror or thriller that might have ramped it to the next level. Either way, Reverie is a great read.

Happy Reading 🙂

Book Review: Exile, Verity Chronicles Book 1

Book Review

Exile, Book 1 of the Verity Chronicles

By: T.S. Valmond and A.K. Duboff

3 Stars

Freedom comes at a price…

TSS Agent Joe Anderson has a problem with authority. They say he’s insubordinate… or so it’s called when you punch a superior officer during a routine training exercise.

With no other place for him, Joe is shipped off to the outer colonies to run undercover surveillance. The assignment seems tedious until he makes his way onto a newly purchased cargo ship.

Captain Iza Sundari came from nothing, but she’s fought to carve out a life for herself with her eclectic crew on a ship of her own. Captaining a ship is the closest thing to freedom she can find, but she’ll have to pay for it. And freedom comes at a steep price.

When a risky proposition leads to the perfect job, it seems Iza’s financial troubles might be over. But with hidden agendas at every turn, she’ll have to cross a line she swore she never would to protect her ship and crew.

Set in the internationally bestselling Cadicle space opera universe, the standalone Verity Chronicles series is perfect for fans of Firefly, Dark Matter, and classic space adventure.

This book was good.
A little lackluster in the overall premise, I’m thinking picks up in the next installment. I’ll be reading book 2 to find out.

The characters were REAL. I both loved and hated them all at times and was thankful none of them fell into the caricature of themselves like can sometimes happen. They grew and changed and softened and hardened when they needed to. Reminiscent of Firefly without being obvious about it, if you love space adventures that center around people and relationships, check this one out.

Book Review: The Starless Sea

Book Review

The Starless Sea

By: Erin Morgenstern

5 Stars

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

Stories within stories within stories all connected.

I loved reading this book. While I tend to binge read, I could not do that with this one. I’d find I’d have to put it down and go away to let it simmer and melt in my brain before returning.

The narrative was so vulnerable. Like the layer we hold ourselves on when speaking to each other in real life, that layer where fear of being misunderstood and judged lives large, was peeled back and a whole new kind of communication was established. I loved how each seemingly unrelated nuance actually added more layers to the entirety. If forced to look up concepts in a dictionary, like you might a word or phrase, this jumble of tales is what you might find because every sidebar enriched the rest.

While in these pages, I felt like I could believe in fairies and unicorns and real magic again and for even a moment, I was sad that maybe I had missed my door without the second chance Zachary received. That maybe this wasn’t some story, but a recount of what we all might find.

I loved how the personal relationships mattered. Pairs grounding each other to “reality,” to motivate beyond a bigger picture none were entirely clear on.

Around half-way through, the book stumbles a bit. There was a point when I lifted my head and wondered if maybe we weren’t about to fall into redundancy. But don’t worry. That’s where it picks up and the pieces start really coming together.

Such a richly crafted chronicle that reminds us the end is never the last, and all beginnings stem from what was, to become what might be.

Book Review: Delivering Evil for Experts (The Guild Codex: Demonized, #4)

Book Review

Delivering Evil for Experts, Book 4 of The Guild Code: Demonized

By: Annette Marie

5 Stars

A Great Magic System and unique take on Magical Realism

I promised to avenge my parents.

But their killer is still on the loose, and he’s stolen more than my parents’ lives. Now, as he draws closer to his mysterious goals, he’s poised to destroy what little I have left.

I promised to translate an ancient grimoire.

But it holds the secrets of my family—and the secret history of demon summoning. I fear its answers as much as I need them. Who was the foremother of Demonica…and who am I?

I promised to send my demon home.

But the way he watches me, the way he protects me, the way he touches me⁠—how can I cast him away forever? I swore I would do this for him, but can I? Should I?

But I promised—and I will keep my promises even if they cost me my heart, my soul, and my life.

This series was adorable. I loved our main Miss Nerd forced to become a power to save herself and especially loved the slow-burn romance I kept changing my mind on. Some days, I thought ‘Don’t do it!’ while others had me hope things worked out. I also enjoyed that the romance angle didn’t overshadow the story. I appreciated the entire world and magic system. Definitely my favorite of the series.

THE GUILD CODEX: Demonized Series:
Taming Demons for Beginners (#1)
Slaying Monsters for the Feeble (#2)
Hunting Fiends for the Ill-Equipped (#3)
Delivering Evil for Experts (#4)