Freshwater

Freshwater

African mysticism takes center stage in this novel which explores growing up, mental health, and passion. Ada is born with a multitude of gods within her head, who are not locked out by the shutting of the door. As she grows, a more specific “god” steps forward in the form of her wild, promiscuous side and controls her passion and physicality. All along the gods demand blood, and we find Ada cutting with broken glass wherever she can find it, and the appearance of the blood calms the plethora of voices in her head.

I really liked the premise here. The representation of the confusion in a mind that struggles with depression, anxiety, or personality disorders is well represented with these external forces of African origin. Ada comes from Nigeria to America and brings those influences with her. I have mixed feelings about the depth of this method, because eventually you’ll be reading and go, “okay, so now what?” There is some growth as the gods grow in power over Ada, but Ada herself does not grow or ever really gain control. She is always a servant to the forces within, and that sends a troubling message to those looking for hope, control, or some measure of peace. I suppose it could be trying to bring attention to the multitudes that are lost, but if that’s the purpose I don’t feel like the mark is hit.

Overall the book made me feel hopeless and lost, and in my current mental space that is not a place in which I necessarily wanted to be. But I suppose neither did Ada. So, point made, I guess?

It’s a good book. Don’t rush to it, but if you’re looking for something different and sad that will make you think, consider Freshwater.

Dreaming in Chocolate

dreaming

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes

New Release 2-6-18

One of my favorite quick bite books from last year was The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell. It involved magical pies, found families, romance, and new beginnings and it was a beautiful combo of everything I love in a short and spectacular novel.

So when I saw that she had another magical food book out, I requested the ARC right away, and it was provided by St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in return for an honest review. And you guys know that I am always honest.

Penelope and her mom run a chocolate store in the small town of Malarkey.  Turns out that an old cabinet/desk in the store gives out magical recipes that only Penelope and her mom, Sabine, can see and execute. The town believes in the magic and comes in often for the regular chocolates and the magic chocolates alike.

Penelope’s daughter Ella has an inoperable brain tumor and we are told that they have decided to stop treatment and just let Ella enjoy life since there is nothing more the doctors can do.

At the previous year’s Festival of Fate, they all drank a hot chocolate from one of the magical recipes called “Kismet Hot Chocolate” and wished for Ella to be cured. So when P&E stopped treatment, the town thought she was better, and Penelope let them believe it so they wouldn’t lose business because people would think the recipes didn’t work.

Ella is the daughter of Penelope’s high school sweetheart Noah, who the Kismet hot chocolate told Penelope that she would be together with forever. She told Noah this, and he went running for the hills. She found out she was pregnant, had the baby, and stayed in Malarkey while Noah went elsewhere to start a business and live his life.

Only now he’s back because a relative of his broke their leg and needs help running their in-town business, and so not only is Penelope trying to help Ella live out the remainder of her life in a happy way, but she is hiding Ella’s parentage from both Ella and Noah, because she doesn’t think that involving Noah at this point would be good for Ella in their current situation.

Everybody still with me? Okay.

I was with this book for a long time. The Kindle, at the time of this blog post’s composition, is reading 61%. But I just cant anymore guys, I can’t take it. Every other sentence is how Ella doesn’t have much time left, as if we had forgotten about the cancer and don’t have the mental capacity to feel that tension build as time passes. And sandwiched in between these reminders and actual storyline are reminders that Noah is her father and how she must keep the secret that Ella is his. Ella is his. Ella is his. Ella is dying. They went to the store and saw Noah. She can’t tell Noah that Ella is his. Over, and over, and fucking over.

Crispell tries to convince us that there is some kind of physical connection between Noah and Penelope but every time they brush against each other lightly Penelope cringes or flinches – nothing heats up. The only cool things about this story are Ella’s bucket list and this magical fucking table and I haven’t heard about them in what feels like a very long time.

When books get repetitive like this I lose interest in things. There isn’t anything pressing me to finish the book at this point. I’m not invested anymore. In fact, the repetition and constant nagging actually makes me feel babied, patronized, and a little intellectually insulted. THERE IS A KID. IN THIS BOOK. THAT HAS CANCER. WHO WILL DIE. IN SIX MONTHS. and I don’t care. Not even a little. No emotions.

There is a lot to be said about subtlety. You can pull my heartstrings by inserting little reminders about her cancer in Ella’s actions and health. She’s enjoying an ice cream but loses her balance. She gets lost at school because she suddenly can’t remember the route back to her classroom. It was like Crispell figured headaches must be the symptom of a brain tumor, and bad cancers only end in death, and that was the extent of her research. There was a way to handle at least the cancer in a way that made me want to see Ella’s story through to the end, even if the reappearance of the dad wasn’t that interesting.

So while I would wholeheartedly recommend The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, Dreaming in Chocolate turned out to be a boring flop for me. I’d give it a hard pass.

 

Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1)

timekeeper

Imagine if there was a set of gods that controlled Earth, water, sky, and time. Kind of like a weird Captain Planet situation. Only in this mythology Captain Planet murders the god of time for asking humans for assistance with managing the fibers of time. So there are powerful clocks installed all around the world that are inhabited by clock spirits who keep the time around each area moving in the absence of this god, Aetas.

Without the clock spirit, its clock, and the central cog in the clockwork a city or town becomes magically Stopped, frozen in time forever, impenetrable from the outside. Someone is going around bombing clock towers in England, where our story is set. The main character Danny, a clock mechanic whose father is trapped in a Stopped town, is the youngest clock mechanic ever and must discover who is behind these terrible incidents. Along the way he falls in love with the clock spirit in Enfield, and this complicates his efforts.

I have to admit that this book was a little below where I usually read in terms of reading level. It’s classified as YA but it’s obviously meant for very young YA. The sentences are short, the print is bigger, and it was an obvious plot. The person you most medium expect is the bombing culprit, and the resolution of the story is overwhelmingly positive. Tara Sim is obviously not trying to break anyone’s heart or scar childhoods with this one.

What I really loved about it was the new mythology that was laid out and the questions it posed for future volumes. While I do not intend to follow it further myself, if you have young tweens that enjoy magical stories this would be an amazing book to hand to them. In addition to it being a fun, historical, fantasy story, the main character Danny is gay and we hear him explain how he comes out to his coworkers and family, and watch as he falls in love with Colton, the clock spirit. For a younger person who may be asking questions about their own sexuality, this was a beautifully portrayed journey that would inspire anyone to be themselves and to pursue happiness.

A solid start to the Timekeeper series, with the second installation Chainbreaker recently released into bookstores everywhere, it’s a great time to discover a magically transformed London, teetering on the brink of chronological collapse. Go get you some, or at least get it for a young reader in your life. They are going to love it.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)

The Cruel Prince

New Release 1-2-2018

The first in a new series called The Folk of the Air, The Cruel Prince sets us up with a very bloody and intense beginning. Jude and her twin sister Taryn witness the death of their parents at the hand of Madoc, a military leader from the land of Faerie who has come to exact vengeance on his ex-wife (their mother) and bring his daughter Vivienne (their older sister) back to the faerie lands.

Jude and Taryn are raised as equals to Vivi on Madoc’s estate, and he sees their education and protection as something to which he is honor bound due to the necessity of the murder of their parents. This proves as a special privilege in a land that generally kidnaps mortals for use as servants and thrall.

Vivienne was old enough to remember the mortal world and miss it, and is a terror to Madoc to make him pay for stealing her back. Jude is the rougher twin, seeking acceptance into the Courts of the High King through knighthood. Taryn seeks to fall in love and find her place among the courts through marriage.

It is also time for the crowning of a new High King, and the rules for this are magical and very specific. This first installment in the series shows us the events that lead up to this crowning, the intrigues that exist between the Courts of Faerie, and how Jude, Taryn, and Vivienne come to be wrapped up in it all.

This book was absolutely gorgeous and unexpected. It was typical fairy fantasy in parts (think Maas – Court of Thorns and Roses), but in so many others it was a new world to take in with new rules, fresh dangers, and exciting characters to discover. The story never stopped, the descriptions were rich and compelling, and you had reason to believe that all of this world might be possible just parallel to our own, through the mists above and below our lands.

Go get this book and read it. Add it to your pile of fantasy/science fiction books I have heaped upon you. You will absolutely not be disappointed.