Kith (The Good Neighbors, #2) by Holly Black

Kith (The Good Neighbors, #2) by Holly Black

kithRue’s world is getting darker. In the last volume of The Good Neighbors, she discovered that faeries are real and not harmless, glitter-sparkled fantasies like fairy tales have described them.

In this installment, Rue learns about the perils of faerie enchantments and intricate faerie plans. Mixing magic with the every day world, human and faerie, is downright dangerous.

Rue also discovers more about her mother’s (Nia’s) family and not everything she learns is comforting.

“You can’t keep mom here against her will.” “Oh, can’t I?” “Give me a test then. A test like you gave my dad. I’ll win her from you.” “Don’t be silly. Nia, do you want to leave my hill? Does the moral world hold anymore allure for you?” pg 49. Yeah, does it?

Rue’s parents didn’t have a traditional first date. It’s awfully sad just how their two worlds came together.

Rue spends much of this volume trying to walk the line between the faerie and human worlds and feeling guilty about loving and belonging to both.

“Let me propose a toast. To love. In what we love best, our worst selves are revealed.” pg 52.

Love and jealousy play a large part in this story as does control and betrayal.

Sometimes, we ruin the relationships that mean the most to us because we’re careless or confused or bored. Other times, we may not be completely honest with ourselves about whether two people, or in this case human and faerie, even belonged together in the first place.

Rue stumbles her way through these questions in a teenage, angsty sort of way. She’s a flawed heroine, but I rather like her.

I’m looking forward to the last entry in the series.

See my review of the first book in the series: HERE.

Thanks for reading!

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Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds by Jacques F. Vallée

Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds by Jacques F. Vallée

passportJacques F. Vallee was one of the first scientists to closely study UFO phenomenon. He goes beyond a simple examination and compares it to the fairy religions and mythologies from the past. Passport to Magonia is one of his most well-known works.

Vallee also mentions, in the new preface that he wrote for the book in the early ’90s, of the difficulties that he had compiling the thousands of eyewitness accounts that are included in Passport to Magonia. I suppose with the easy connections to the internet that are available now, that I hadn’t considered how laborious it would be to gather all of that information together in the time before computers.

At the very least, Passport to Magonia can be admired for its thoroughness in the section: “A Century of UFO Landings.” It is approximately 150 pages of account after account of UFO encounters. The amount of information, types of witnesses and manner of UFO phenomena is truly mind-boggling.

Some of the standout examples for me are: Juan Diego’s tilma and the sky anchor that was left behind in 1211 a.d. at a church in Cloera, Ireland. And, Aleister Crowley’s run in with two gnomes or aliens.

Vallee cites the book, Magick Without Tears, for the Crowley experience. It makes me so curious- I may just have to look into it.

So many of these accounts are beyond belief, which makes for great reading, but which Vallee reminds the reader, cannot be taken at face value.

He reminds us of our inability to understand the accounts even as he seeks to understand them. Futility, thy name is Passport to Magonia?

Readers who enjoy UFO literature will probably enjoy this classic book. Vallee doesn’t provide the answers, but he has crafted a framework for UFO exploration beyond the usual acceptance or denial of a puzzling and reoccurring phenomena.

Thanks for reading!

Kin (The Good Neighbors, #1) by Holly Black

Kin (The Good Neighbors, #1) by Holly Black

goodneighborsRue’s mother has always been a little different. She talks to plants, hangs out naked in the yard and seems ageless. Rue knows her mother is not like other parents. But then, one day when her mom disappears, Rue begins to see strange things- creatures with horns in the coffee shop, a winged girl hanging out in the high school hallway- and she realizes that she’s different too.

Where has her mother gone and is Rue going crazy?

“You know how sometimes, when you glance at something out of the corner of your eye, it looks different for a moment? Well, sometimes when I look straight at a thing, it looks weird too. And those moments are stretching wider and wider.” pg 5.

I enjoyed the faerie lore in this graphic novel: “If an older mortal is beautiful or good at riddles, we might take them, but we always leave something behind in exchange. Sometimes we glamour wood to take on their appearance or we abandon a faerie in their place.” pg 36.

This book deals with surprisingly dark themes so I wouldn’t let my tween read it. The story contains (non-explicit) drug use, rape and kidnapping. It should be ok for most mature teens.

The artwork is pretty. The people aren’t depicted like normal every day people (especially the faeries) but, for the most part, I don’t think the artist over-sexualized the women. That’s one of my pet peeves with graphic novels: when they depict females as ridiculously proportioned pin ups. But, like I said, this one isn’t over-the-top.

The faeries are quite creepy too: “Let me tell you a story. … Long ago, mortals called us the fair folk, the people of peace, the good neighbors. They called us these things not because we were fair or peaceful or good, but because they feared us. As they should. As they will again.” pg 77

Recommended for readers who like dark fairy tales and fans of Holly Black.

The Princess and the Goblin (Princess Irene and Curdie #1) by George MacDonald

The Princess and the Goblin (Princess Irene and Curdie #1) by George MacDonald

princessandgoblinA charming fairy tale for children about a princess, a miner and hundreds of goblins- not just one.

The goblins hate the king because they used to be normal humans. They chose to live underground, to be away from the king and his taxes, and that choice has turned them inhumanely ugly and grotesque.

“They had enough of affection left for each other to preserve them from being absolutely cruel for cruelty’s sake to those that came in their way; but still they so heartily cherished the ancestral grudge against those who occupied their former possessions and especially against the descendants of the king who had caused their expulsion, that they sought every opportunity of tormenting them in ways that were as odd as their inventors; and although dwarfed and misshapen, they had strength equal to their cunning.” loc 54, ebook.

So, the king hides away his daughter to protect her from the goblins, while he travels across the kingdom, exerting the rule of law.

One rainy day, she is wandering bored through the house, when she discovers a secret stair with an extraordinary person in a hidden room.

The Princess tries to tell her nurse about her experience, but the nurse doesn’t believe her.

“You don’t believe me, then!” exclaimed the princess, astonished and angry, as she well might be. “Did you expect me to believe you, princess?” asked the nurse coldly. “I know princesses are in the habit of telling make-believes, but you are the first I ever heard of who expected to have them believed.” loc 181, ebook.

Meanwhile, in the mines under the mountains, the miners are accustomed to hearing strange sounds from the goblins who dwell within the walls.

“They worked only at night, for the miners’ night was the goblins’ day. Indeed, the greater number of the miners were afraid of the goblins; for there were strange stories well known amongst them of the treatment some had received whom the goblins had surprised at their work during the night.” loc 411, ebook.

One day, a miner named Curdie, hears actual goblin voices and discovers that they are closer to the goblin’s world that anyone ever realized.

He also overhears something frightening and determines to investigate the goblins’ world more to learn the truth.

To discover how the princess’ and Curdie’s worlds come together, you’re going to have to read the story.

I enjoyed The Princess and the Goblin. Recommended for tweens or the young at heart.

Readers who crave the simplicity and magic of books like The Hobbit, may also enjoy the story.

Thanks for reading!

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean Telt by Hisself by David Almond

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean Telt by Hisself by David Almond

billydeanA strange story about a boy who grows up in a room by himself. Through his extreme isolation, he discovers he has powers beyond that of a normal boy. There is a mystery surrounding his parentage and also about the world outside the only room he has ever known. The boy’s name is Billy Dean and this is his tale.

This pseudo-memoir is written mostly phonetically and with intentional misspellings, which was incredibly annoying at first, but you find yourself getting used to it. “This tale is told by 1 that died at birth by 1 that came into the world in the days of endles war & at a moment of disaster. He grew in isolayshon wile the enjins of destruchshon flew & smoke rose over the sitys & wile wilderness & waste crept all acros the world.” pg 1, ebook.

David Almond was attempting to capture Billy Dean’s innocent but uneducated voice through the misshaping of the words. I get what he was going for, but felt it did a disservice to the story.

Which wasn’t that good. It could have been though and that was disappointing.

Take this intense moment when Billy Dean’s father tells him that he should have killed his son the moment he was born: “Wilfred O bliddy Wilfred shud hav killd the monster in the woom. …. He grabbd me by the throte. Shudnt he? he yelld at me. Anser me you cretin! Tel me I shud have ended it befor it had bluddy begun. Tel me yes you shud hav Daddy!” pg 32, ebook.

It just doesn’t have the impact it could have, does it.

Or this moment, when Billy Dean is comforting his mother: “Im so sory” she wispers. “It was all supposed to be so different.” … “Its lovely Mam” he grones at her. “Its byutiful.” And all this nite he wil not slepe for the aykin of his mussels & the stingin of his bones & the thumpin of his hart & the byuty & the wunder of this world. pg 87

Beyond my issues with how the author chose to present his story, I felt that the magical part of the story was misshandled, especially when it comes to the child Billy Dean.

It made the timing of events feel strange. Nothing would happen, this this huge unexplained thing would roll out and the reader would be expected to accept that as the new normal and go on.

Perhaps Almond was trying to express the inexplicable nature of existence?

This book left me with a lot of unanswered questions, but not in a good way. I can’t recommend it.

Thanks for reading.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

english wifeThe year is 1899. The Van Duyvils are an extraordinarily wealthy and established family in New York. One night, at a holiday party, there is a murder… or is it a suicide?

The newspapers whip the public into a fury with their sensational headlines. They ask, ‘Who are the Van Duyvils and who is the new English wife?’

And there, our story begins.

Lauren Willig has created a lovely mystery/historical fiction with snappy dialogue and enough layers to keep readers guessing to the very end.

I loved Janie Van Duyvil, one of the main characters in this tale “There were times when she wished she had been born a male, that she might make her own way, that she might marry as she pleased and live as she would.” loc 45, ebook.

As she desperately tries to piece together the clues to find the murderer, Janie also comes into her own and begins to stand up to her tyrannical mother.

“It is her marriage,” Georgie pointed out drily. “Surely, she has some say.” “If you can think that, you haven’t met my mother.” loc 1179, ebook

I also enjoyed the role of the press in this story. James Burke is a reporter for ‘The News of the World.’ He wants to get the scoop on the murders. But, part of his job, is to sell papers. “The man had the gall to widen his eyes in innocence. “We prefer to call it investigative reporting, Miss Van Duyvil.” “I call it scandal-mongering, pure and simple.” loc 252, ebook.

My favorite scene is when Janie goes to ‘The News of the World’ building and readers get a glimpse into the crazy newsroom. “There was an undeniable energy to the room, the clacking typewriters, the shouting voices, that put energy into her step and color in her cheek.” What fun.

Willig seems to have a handle on what makes reporters tick. She even captures the gallow’s humor that they use to maintain their sanity. “Will it appear in an illustrated supplement in The World?” “Not unless there’s a body hidden there.” Mr. Bruke grimaced. “Sorry. In the newsroom, we… well, the worse it is, the more of a joke we make it. It’s a way to get through the day without being sick.” loc 2765, ebook.

Recommended for readers who want to lose themselves in a mystery with some romance along the way, The English Wifemay just fit the bill.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance digital copy of this book. Reminder: the brief quotations in this review may vary from the final printed form.

Thanks for reading!

The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg

The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg

handmaid and carpenterA re-telling of the birth of Jesus from the viewpoints of Mary and Joseph.

I picked up this audiobook thinking, ‘Oh, this’ll get me in the Christmas spirit.’ But, I was dismayed to discover I turned into the Grinch instead.

I did not connect with this at all.

I didn’t like the characters. I didn’t like the dialogue.

I found myself rolling my eyes when Joseph was talking about traditional gender roles. I realize Elizabeth Berg was beating us over the head with it because she was depicting Joseph was uber-traditional, but I had zero patience for it.

The moment the angel comes to Mary could have been something spectacular and it sounded almost exactly like the King James version of the Bible. I wanted this re-telling to bring a new dimension to the story and it didn’t.

The interactions between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, were stilted and strange.

Berg tried to bring a sacred feminine vibe into the mix by making Mary knowledgeable about herbs. It just fell flat.

I can’t recommend this one.

I’m off to steal the presents from Cindy Lou Who. The Grinch, signing off!

Thanks for reading.