Book Review for Upcoming Mystery/Thriller “A Guide for Murdered Children” by Sarah Sparrow

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE.

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

 

Title: A Guide for Murdered Children

Author: Sarah Sparrow

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Expected Publication: March 20, 2018

Page Count: 400 pages

 

 

synopsis

We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.” (Goodreads)

 

My Review

A Guide for Murdered Children is separated into three books: “Closely Watched Trains”, “The Spirit Room”, and “Local and Express”. While reading the first 25% of this book the first time around I was terribly confused. I honestly had no idea what in the world was happening. The story flipped from past to present and it was challenging to keep everything straight. I almost decided to stop reading it, instead I flipped to the beginning to try again. I’m SO GLAD that I did, because I understood it much better the second time around.

Detective Willow “Dubya” Wylde is presently at a rehab in Arizona. He’s made some really bad choices in life, ruining his career and family. It’s time to make amends and restore balance. The story flips to the past where we meet brother and sister, Troy and Maya on the day they were murdered in Saggerty Falls, Michigan. Back to the present we meet Deputy Lydia Molloy as she falls to her death at the Macomb Orchard Trail and Deputy Daniel Doheny, who dies from a heart attack. In the present eleven year old Winston is also murdered around the same time that Renée “Honeychile” Devonshire dies from an asthma attack. The murdered children’s spirits enter the body of those who have recently died (usually adults except for Honeychile) in order to achieve their moment of balance by killing the person who took their life.  As the murdered children’s spirits enter their “landlords”, the “landlord” body comes back to life – so the people who know the “landlords” don’t realize they have died. I hope that made sense. I’ll wait while you go back and re-read that part…Okay, you following me?

Annie, the Porter, greets the new arrivals on the train, giving them the address for the meeting.  There are also Subalterns on the train, who are ancient, shadowy beings. Annie, The Porter, knows her replacement is coming soon but doesn’t know who it is yet.  At the meeting the murdered children are given the Guidebook of rules they must follow.

Detective Willow has a recurring dream of being on a train. In the dream the Porter gives him an address. When he wakes up he decides to go to the address, discovering it’s the new house of his ex-wife and her new husband Owen, who is Willow’s old cop partner. He makes up a story that he’s there to make amends with both of them, and Owen asks Willow to join his new Cold Case team. In Book Two and Three there are a lot of twists and turns, it kept me turning the pages wondering what in the world was going to happen next.

A Guide for Murdered Children is an extremely out-of-the-box concept of balance and forgiveness. It’s a little far-fetched for a Mystery/Thriller, you’ll have to put aside your questions and just let it be revealed to you.

The main character, Willow, is seriously annoying. I don’t think he experiences enough of a transition to make me like him in the end. If you like unlikable characters he might be right up your alley.  Although I did not enjoy Willow’s character, I enjoyed Annie, and Willow’s ex-wife. I would have loved more information about the Subalterns.

The book is too long and can benefit by an editor not afraid to trim the unnecessary bits.  If you can get past the first 25%, and let your mind wander outside of reality, then I think you’ll enjoy this thriller.

 

About the author.jpg

From what I could figure out A Guide for Murdered Children is written with a pen name, Sarah Sparrow. I attempted some digging around online, but wasn’t able to figure out the real name of the author.

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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

I’m finally getting around to writing a book review for The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. As always, this review is spoiler-free.

the bazaar of bad dreams

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Mass Market Paperback: 686 pages

Published 2016 by Pocket Books

synopsis

“Since Night Shift was published more than thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled an entire generation of readers with his genius as a prominent writer of short fiction. Now, in his latest collection, he once again assembles a generous array of unforgettable, tantalizing tales. There are thrilling connections between these works – themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. Magnificent, eerie, and utterly compelling, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is one of Stephen King’s finest gifts to readers everywhere – a master storyteller at his very best.” (Book Back Blurb)

Includes the new story “Cookie Jar”

Stephen King delivers an “outstanding” (USA TODAY) collection of stories, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.” (Goodreads)

My Review

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, vivid stories that will haunt your dreams. King’s imagination is limitless. The first story, “Mile 81” is about a monster car that kills people. My favourite stories are “The Dune”, a “magical place where an invisible Moving Finger would write terrible things in the sand”, “Morality”, a story to make you wonder about how much money would someone have to pay you to commit a horrible sin, “Ur”, a story that Amazon asked King to write about the Kindle (this one has references to The Dark Tower series), “Under the weather”, an extremely disturbing love story, and “Obits”, a tale which I won’t give any info because it will give it away. Just read it.

Some reviewers have said that the stories weren’t scary, but for me, the frightening part is that aspects of each story reflect a version of events that COULD happen “in real life”. King doesn’t write simple heart-pounding typical creepy stories, he gives me that “goosebumpy” feeling of “Wow, I know this character is an ass for doing this, but I might do the same, (or know of someone who would do the same).

I think my fellow “Constant Readers” will quite enjoy these stories, but I’m not sure how someone who’s never read King’s work would enjoy The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. Have you read it? What did you think? What were your favourite stories?

Until next time…

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio #BookReview #thewonderofwonder #choosekind

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

Wonder.jpg

 

Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date published: September 2017 (originally published 2012)

Page Count: 352 pages

synopsis

A special movie tie-in edition of R.J. Palacio’s #1 New York Times bestseller, now a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Mandy Patinkin.
Over 5 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and Auggie Pullman, the ordinary boy with the extraordinary face, who inspired a movement to Choose Kind. This special movie tie-in trade paperback edition features an eight-page full-color insert with photos from the film, a new introduction by the author, and a family discussion guide.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, a #1 New York Times bestseller, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” –indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Join the conversation: #thewonderofwonder, #choosekind

My Review

If you haven’t heard of Wonder, you’ve been living under a rock. Both the book and movie are a big hit, and have made an enormous impact on millions of people. I do not have the talent to write a worthy review for such an important piece of literature – but I’ll give it a shot, in hopes that you’ll pick up this book, read it, then have your kids read it, and tell everyone you know to read it. Our western society is at a fork in the road, and it’s books like Wonder that may help shift the tide so we can all choose kindness.

 

Wonder is a story about acceptance, courage, compassion, loyalty, and kindness. It’s told from many perspectives: August, his sister Via, his friend Summer, his other friend Jack, and Via’s friend Miranda.

The characters feel authentic and reminded me of people I know in real life. I cried when August cried, and I laughed when he laughed. His school principal, Mr. Tushman, is like so many principals that I have worked with, hard, but kind. They work to bring the best out of you. August makes some great friends at school, Jack, Charlotte, and Summer – and he also makes some enemies, Julian. Mr. Browne, the teacher who is amazing at his job and understands how to connect with his students, not to just teach the curriculum, but to teach life changing lessons. As a parent I couldn’t help but feel connected to Augusts’ parents who struggled, like many parents, with trying to protect their children, yet give them the room to grow.

Summer is most definitely my favourite character. I would love to read an entire book about her, and I wonder what she would be like as an adult. She’s the kind of friend I wish we could all have, and the person I hope I am.

August’s first day of school
“I went straight to room 301 on the third floor. Now I was glad I’d gone on that little tour, because I knew exactly where to go and didn’t have to look up once. I noticed that some kids were definitely staring at me now. I did my thing of pretending not to notice.” page 37

“In the hallways, which were always crowded, my face would always surprise some unsuspecting kid who maybe hadn’t heard about me. The kid would make the sound you make when you hold your breath before going underwater, a little “uh!” sound. This happened maybe four or five times a day for the first few weeks: on the stairs, in front of the lockers, in the library. Five hundred kids in a school: eventually every one of them was going to see my face at some time.” page 61

“This precept means that we should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.” August, explaining Mr. Browne’s precept, Your Deeds Are Your Monuments. page 65

 

I purposefully read Wonder slowly, because I didn’t want it to end. One of my top 10 books I’ve ever read – maybe even top five. If you haven’t read Wonder, READ IT NOW! And…Choose Kind.

About the author.jpg

“R.J. Palacio lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4859212.R_J_Palacio

Things To Do When It’s Raining {Review}

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

things to do when it's raining

 

Title: Things To Do When It’s Raining

Author: Marissa Stapley

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Canadian

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada

Date published: Expected Publication February 6, 2018

Page Count: 256 pages

 

 

synopsis

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lily and George. A childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up and got over her heartbreak, and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay by separate forces. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline and their past unravelling around her. A lifetime of secrets that implicate Gabe and Mae’s family reveal a version of the past that will forever change Mae’s future.

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a poignant generational story about family and secrets. With honesty and heart, Marissa Stapley reminds us of the redemptive power of love and forgiveness, and that, ultimately, family is a choice.

 

My Review

Things to do When it’s Raining takes place in Alexandria Bay, New York, on the beautiful St. Lawrence River. It’s a real place, and coincidentally it’s only about 100km away from where I live! I didn’t realize this when I requested the advance reader copy. I’ve seen the 1000 Islands area and it’s absolutely stunning. If you’ve never been, I suggest taking a trip there someday.

This story touches on themes that I think many of us can relate to: family secrets, struggling to forgive, grief, regret, and the power of love. Mae Summers grew up in Alexandria Bay. She was raised by her grandparents George and Lily after her parents Virginia and Chase died when Mae was a child. We meet Mae as an adult, living in New York City, engaged to Peter. We find out Peter has committed fraud and up and left Mae with nothing but a short note scribbled on paper. She ends up losing everything, and finds herself back at the inn her grandparents own in Alexandria Bay. After 67 years of marriage, Mae’s grandfather George finds out that his best friend who was killed in the war is the real father of Virginia (Mae’s mother). He leaves Lily to stay at a hotel. Meanwhile Lily is losing her mind and has been forgetting the names of people, places, and objects. George finds out Gabe’s father, Jonah, is in the hospital and isn’t doing well, so he calls Gabe to tell him he should probably come back to Alexandria Bay. Gabe’s mother left when he was really young, and Jonah is a drunk who used to physically and emotionally abuse Gabe. Gabe he decides he should go back to check on his Dad. Gabe and Mae get to see each other after many years, work through current life challenges and in the process reveal many secrets that have been buried for too long.

 

Mae was extremely naive. I mean…she’s an adult, and somehow had no idea what Peter was doing behind her back when she worked with him? I dunno, I found that slightly unbelievable. I had a hard time getting into the story, but once we arrived in Alexandria Bay and I got to meet George, Lily, and Jonah, I became more engaged in their stories.

 

Gabe is my favourite character. He’s been through some real crap in his life. You would think the ability to love someone else would have died in him long ago. I would have liked more info about Gabe’s life after he left Alexandria Bay.

If this story wasn’t written in third person narrative I would have been able to felt more connected to the characters. There was too much telling, not enough showing.

Overall, this is an easy read with a compelling story. If you like romance stories with family drama and secrets, then you’ll like Things to do When it’s Raining. Expected publication is next month 🙂

 

 

About the author.jpg

Marissa Stapley is the Globe and Mail bestselling author of the novel Mating for Life, and the forthcoming Things to Do When It’s Raining. She writes the commercial fiction review column “Shelf Love” for the Globe and Mail, reports on books and culture for the Toronto Star, and lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7382096.Marissa_Stapley

http://www.marissastapley.com

New Poetry Book “Take Me With You” {Review}

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

Take me with you

Title: Take Me With You

Author:  Andrea Gibson

Genre: Poetry, LGBTQIA

Publisher: Plume Books

Date published: Expected Publication January 23, 2018

Page Count: 193

 

synopsis

“For readers of Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey) and Cheryl Strayed, a book small enough to carry with you, with messages big enough to stay with you, from one of the most quotable and influential poets of our time.

Andrea Gibson explores themes of love, gender, politics, sexuality, family, and forgiveness with stunning imagery and a fierce willingness to delve into the exploration of what it means to heal and to be different in this strange age. Take Me With You, illustrated throughout with evocative line drawings by Sarah J. Coleman, is small enough to fit in your bag, with messages that are big enough to wake even the sleepiest heart. Divided into three sections (love, the world, and becoming) of one liners, couplets, greatest hits phrases, and longer form poems, it has something for everyone, and will be placed in stockings, lockers, and the hands of anyone who could use its wisdom”

 

My Review

Take Me With You is a poetry pocket book highlighting a wide variety of relatable topics, split into three sections: Love, The World, and On Becoming. These poems talk about the good and bad parts of love: how it feels to love someone, to be loved, and to have your heart broken. Gibson also tackles big themes about the world such as creation versus destruction, women’s rights, the internal struggle of someone who is transgender, feminism, heaven, the broken parts of America, gun violence, tolerance, veterans, war, the pressures social media put on us, and kindness. In the last section titled “On Becoming” Gibson shares thoughts on struggling painfully through mental health challenges like anxiety in order to end up at a place where you love ALL of yourself, including the flaws which help to make you who you are.

After reading other reviews I think the final book is three long poems rather than a bunch of short poems. I read the ebook version which had each poem on a different page. Reading these words as three long poems would be a completely different experience.

There are some insightful and unique comparisons such as, needing someone as much as the moon needs the sea, or comparing a room in a home to the palm of a hand, or how in Autumn the leaves fall as if they are in love with the ground.

Either way, Take Me With You is a delightful little book about HOPE and I would recommend this to everyone, especially to readers who want to read more poetry that isn’t filled with complicated prose.

About the author

Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist who lives in Boulder, Colorado. Their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today’s society. In addition to using poetry to express what they feel and provide social and political commentary on real issues, they are involved with many activist groups. They often perform at Take Back the Night events, LGBTQ events, pride events, trans events, anti-war rallies, peace rallies, organizations against the occupation of Palestine, and groups focused on examining the wrongs of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. They also work with a group called Vox Feminista whose model is to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” on all these issues. Throughout the year, they tour Universities and other venues across the country.https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/457281.Andrea_Gibson

Check out Andrea’s website: https://www.andreagibson.org/

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite book and movie: The Last Unicorn ~ Spoiler-Free Book Review

The Last Unicorn (2008)

Title: The Last Unicorn

Author:  Peter S. Beagle

Genre: Fiction: Fantasy, Young Adult, Classic

Publisher: Penguin Roc

Date published: 40th Anniversary Edition published 2008. First published 1968.

Page Count: 294

 

 

synopsis

She was magical, beautiful beyond belief — and completely alone…

The unicorn had lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumours carried a message she could not ignore: “Unicorns are gone from the world.”

Aided by a bumbling magician and an indomitable spinster, she set out to learn the truth. but she feared even her immortal wisdom meant nothing in a world where a mad king’s curse and terror incarnate lived only to stalk the last unicorn to her doom…” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29127.The_Last_Unicorn?ac=1&from_search=true

 

My Review

Two hunters who have failed to track down their prey are traveling through the unicorn’s forest. She overhears one hunter tell the other that this forest must be protected by the last unicorn. They decide to move on and the unicorn is left to wonder whether she truly is the last of her kind. She decides to leave her forest and find the other unicorns. On her journey she meets a talking butterfly who tells her about the Red Bull who chased all the other unicorns away.

“He was the color of blood, not the springing blood of the heart but the blood that stirs under an old wound that never really healed. A terrible light poured from him like sweat, and his roar started landslides flowing into one another. His horns were as pale as scars.” – Decribing the Red Bull

While sleeping the unicorn is captured by a witch named Mommy Fortuna who runs a traveling carnival of caged mythical creatures, including the evil Harpy, Celaeno. Mommy Fortuna tells the unicorn that the Red Bull belongs to King Haggard.

“…the Red Bull will know you when he sees you.” – Mommy Fortuna

Schmendrick, a magician who works for Mommy Fortuna, helps the unicorn escape. Molly Grue, a middle-aged woman, joins Schmendrick and the unicorn as they travel to the castle where King Haggard and his son Prince Lír live.

 

The Last Unicorn, a third person narrative, is a story about how we are often our own worst enemy, and when we find ourselves in the most dire situation surrounded by evil we must let love show us to believe in ourselves and each other.

“You must never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention.” – The Unicorn

There is a ton of story with breath-taking language smashed into this small book. I cannot name one character as my favourite. Schmendrick, Molly, King Haggard, Prince Lir, the Red Bull, are all extremely well-written characters with distinct and authentic personalities. The unicorn and Lady Amalthea are the same being, and yet feel like two completely different characters.

“The hero has to make a prophecy come true, and the villain is the one who has to stop him – though in another kind of story, it’s more often the other way around. And a hero has to be in trouble from the moment of his birth, or he’s not a real hero. It’s a great relief to find out about Prince Lír. I’ve been waiting for this tale to turn up a leading man.” – Schmendrick the Magician

The Last Unicorn has been my favourite movie since I was a child. I cannot possibly count how many times I’ve watched it. For some reason, I’ve never read the book. I wonder that perhaps I was afraid the book would let me down, or I would realize my most treasured movie was a horrible adaptation. I’m happy to say the book took my breath away. I LOVE the movie, but the book is SO MUCH BETTER than the movie. I know I will be re-reading this book many, many times.

“‘Haggard, I would not be you for all the world,’ he declared. ‘You have let your doom in by the front door, though it will not depart that way.” – Mabruk (King Haggard’s magician)

READ THIS. Even if you don’t like fiction. Even if you don’t like fantasy. Even if you don’t like unicorns! 🙂

 

About the author.jpg

Peter Beagle.jpgPeter S. Beagle

“Peter Soyer Beagle (born April 20, 1939) is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. He is also a talented guitarist and folk singer. He wrote his first novel, A Fine and Private Place , when he was only 19 years old. Today he is best known as the author of The Last Unicorn, which routinely polls as one of the top ten fantasy novels of all time, and at least two of his other books (A Fine and Private Place and I See By My Outfit) are considered modern classics.”

 

Stories From The Vinyl Cafe (Spoiler-Free Book Review)

stories from the vinyl cafe.jpgStories From the Vinyl Cafe (Vinyl Cafe #1)

Published 2009 by Penguin Canada (first published 1995)
226 pages
Fiction: Short Stories, Canadian
Stories From The Vinyl Cafe is a collection of eighteen tales written by Stuart Mclean. There is a fantastic balance between serious topics and touching stories about losing pets, family relationships, marriage, overcoming fear, stinky skunks, a mom who got caught stealing sausage from the grocery store, doing the right thing and remembering Canadian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.
“Everyone should get to drive a car with everything they own piled around them. All alone. Heading towards the horizon. Driving into the future”.
These stories may be short but they are packed full of emotion and authentic Canadian culture. This one was a page-turner that left me wanting to read more of Mclean’s work.

Friday Night Knitting Club Book Review

The Friday Night Knitting ClubThe Friday Night Knitting Club (Friday Night Knitting Club #1)

352 pages
Published January 2007
Fiction: Mothers and Daughters, Female Friendship, Knitting, New York
Shortly after Georgia and her boyfriend James broke up she found out she was pregnant. James took off overseas pursuing his career, while Georgia was alone, lost, without a plan. While knitting at Central Park, Anita complimented Georgia on her knitting, encouraging her to start her own business selling her work. That advice and new friendship led to Georgia opening her own yarn shop, Walker and Daughter. Twelve years later, Georgia’s business has done well, and her baby girl Dakota has grown into a beautiful twelve-year-old teen. Anita has become a great family friend, and working at the shop, picking up more hours there since her husband died. After twelve long years James has returned to New York and wants a relationship with his daughter. Georgia is going to need the help of Anita, her friends, and coworkers, to support her through this tough time.
When I first started reading Friday Night Knitting Club I felt annoyed by the style of writing and I didn’t think I was going to like the story. I’m happy to say, I was wrong. This is a great story about family, friends, love, and loss. I shed a few tears, and had a few good laughs. This cozy read is not just for knitters – like many have said, reading this story might make you want to learn how to knit.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer – Spoiler Free Book Review!

RenegadesRenegades (Renegades #1)

Published November 2017
552 pages
YA Sci-Fi Fantasy
Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The author of The Lunar Chronicles has brought a brand new story about superheroes, villains, freedom, and power. The story takes place in Gatlon City – which reminded me of Batman’s city, Gotham. This world has prodigies – people with superpowers. The general public was not supportive of prodigies. Like many superhero stories, the prodigies are feared, unaccepted, and were hunted until Ace Anarchy decided that needed to change. He put together a group of prodigies, called the Anarchists, who tore the city apart. They destroyed government and law enforcement, thinking they were giving people freedom. The Age of Anarchy lasted for 20 years. Different gangs of prodigies were formed, and began fighting for control. In response, a band of superheroes called the Renegades formed, and worked together to stop the Anarchists.
Nova is a six-year-old girl, living with her mom, dad, and baby sister Evie in a small apartment. Nova has a gift, she can put people to sleep with one touch. Her father is also a prodigy who can “pull threads of energy out of the air” and sculpt objects with this energy. As Nova was watching her father making something new, she asked him what he was making. One evening, Nova’s family are killed by a man working for a villain gang. She managed to survive by putting the assailant to sleep. Nova’s father always told her that if anything bad happened the Renegades would come to save them. They let her down. Her Uncle Alec – also known as, Ace Anarchy, found her, raised her, and trained her to become Nightmare.
Ten years later, it’s the 9th anniversary of the The Day of Triumph, when the Renegades took on the Anarchists and won. To celebrate this day the city holds a Renegade Parade. Nightmare and her team of villains plan an attack at the parade to take out the Council, founding members of the Renegades. While at the parade Nova meets Adrian, also known as Sketch. He is also a prodigy, who can make his drawings come to life.
In the first couple of chapters there is a lot of action and we are introduced to a bunch of characters. Ingrid – The Detonator, Phobia, Honey – Queen Bee, Winston – The Puppeteer, Leroy – Cyanide, and Nova – Nightmare, are Anarchists. The Council are Hugh Everhart (Captain Chromium), Simon Westwood (The Dread Waren), Tamaya (Thunderbird), Evander (Blacklight), and Kasumi (Tsunami). At this parade we also meet more Renegades: Magpie, Red Assassin, Smokescreen, and the Sentinel. See what I mean? Way too many names! It would have been a lot better to have just their superhero/villain name, then introduce their real personas later on.
One cannot be brave who has no fear.
Because Nova wears a mask and a hood when she is Nightmare, the Renegades don’t know who she really is or what she looks like. She decides to compete at the Renegade Trials so she can become a Renegade and spy on them from the inside.
One of the most interesting Renegades is a boy named Max who lives in a glass room at Renegade Headquarters. There are so many questions I have about Max and I hope the next book gives me more about his story.
I also enjoyed the same-sex relationship between Captain Chromium and The Dread Waren, who adopted Adrian (Sketch) after his mother was killed. Adrian is convinced Nightmare knows who murdered his mother. He creates a secret alter-ego, the Sentinel, in an attempt to find Nightmare and hopefully get answers he’s been wanting for many years.
Even though there are info-dumps, and the first 100 pages are kind of confusing, I REALLY enjoyed this book and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. There are a lot of questions to be answered, and I’m extremely interested to see what becomes of these characters. I am also hoping that we meet more villains because we met a bunch of Renegades, but not very many villains. The story is a little longer than it needs to be. The middle part slows down quite a bit, and there is a lot that could have been cut. BUT! It’s a fun read and I LOVED it!
During the last 10 pages my jaw dropped further with each page. I did NOT see that coming and I LOVE it when an author can blindsided me like that. If you’re a fan of The Lunar Chronicles you’re gonna like Renegades. Highly recommend this one!

The Joy of Doing Nothing

the joy of doing nothing.jpgThe Joy of Doing Nothing: A Real-Life Guide to Stepping Back, Slowing Down, and Creating a Simpler, Joy-Filled Life

160 pages
Expected Publication: December 5, 2017
Average Rating on Netgalley 4/5 stars
Average Rating on Goodreads 3/5 stars

Book Blurb

Fight back against busyness and celebrate the pleasure of doing nothing in this new guide that helps relieve stress and increase happiness in your life.

In The Joy of Doing Nothing you’ll discover how to step away from everything you think you have to do and learn to live a minimalist life. Rachel Jonat shares simple strategies to help you stop over scheduling, find time for yourself, and create moments of calm every day. You’ll learn how to focus more on the important aspects of life, such as family and friends, and scale back your schedule to create more time in the day to care for yourself.“

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

My Thoughts

Burn out is OPTIONAL. If you feel like your schedule of activities is dictating your life and you have no control over your time, then it’s time to take a step back and have a good, hard look at your calendar. Take back the power of setting boundaries. The philosophy of doing nothing is about self-care, finding clarity, restoring yourself, feeling more content, being more productive, reducing stress, and so much more. Jonat shares thoughtful advice on how to take control of your time by saying “no”, and disconnecting from tech. There is a difference between doing nothing and procrastination. Procrastination is simply putting things off, while taking the time to do nothing is actually taking mindful breaks.

Teaching yourself and your children the art of stillness will benefit all of you physically and mentally. There are many studies which show how slowing down improves health, and even helps to fight disease. Jonat includes a great how-to guide on teaching children how to do nothing and I’m really excited to see the results for my own kids.

The Joy of Doing Nothing has some fantastic tips on how to take control of your time in order to find some peace. I was once addicted to my phone and social media. I was checking my messages, emails, and social media notifications constantly and I felt ridden with anxiety. A couple of years ago I decided to spend less time on my phone, and more time in the present with my family and friends, writing, reading, knitting, or just plain relaxing. I have to admit, it was HARD. The phone was an addiction for me. I was caught up in the idea that being busy meant I was important. I often hear people almost bragging, or competing about just how busy they are and whoever is the busiest wins. One day something clicked and I realized that is not right and it was contributing to my anxiety big time. I used to suffer from SEVERE anxiety. I used to worry for my entire day. Since reducing my phone time/social media time I almost immediately felt more peaceful. My brain started  to slow down.

In January 2017 I made the decision to spend less time watching TV, and more time reading. I bring a book with me almost every where I go, so if I have a little bit of free time I read a few pages instead of looking at my phone. I also started going to bed earlier so I can read 30 minutes before sleep. I used to wake up a million times a night and felt exhausted every day, but now I sleep through the night at least 7 hours and I feel AMAZING.

I have also made changes to our family schedules so we have more time to just BE. I like that the weekends are usually a time for my kids to relax and play with toys, read, write, and colour, instead of rushing around to sports and other activities. My youngest has had less outbursts at home and at school. My oldest has actually said that many classmates have complained to her about their busy schedules and she’s happy that we have lots of relax time in our calendar.

Even though I’ve already been unplugging and making changes to our schedules I still found a lot of value in this short book. There were some great tips on how to use my time, especially “fringe time”, to my advantage in order to find more peace and enjoy life.

I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE. This would make a great Christmas gift to someone you love, especially to yourself! ♥ ♥ ♥