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A Triple Knot
Emma Campion
The High King
Lloyd Alexander
Les Misérables
Victor Hugo
The Complete Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen, Hans Richter, Lily Owens, Arthur Rackham

Big Time

Big Time - Tom Ryan Review to come.

Secrets of the Book

Secrets of the Book - Erin Fry Review coming soon.

Guy in Real Life

Guy in Real Life - Steve Brezenoff Review coming soon.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green I'm not sure what to rate this yet...

The Quick: A Novel

The Quick: A Novel - Lauren Owen Lauren Owen's The Quick is something of a "slow burn" read, first leading you down one path of Victorian England by the hand, then pushing you quite suddenly into something else that it leaves you shocked. The book keeps on doing this, time and time again as it changes from third person narration to another character's diary, and back and forth until you aren't sure you'll be able to differentiate one character from another or that Owen knows quite where her own story is going. But then Part 4 comes along and something amazing happens - characters that seemed superfluous at first show how essential they are, and you find yourself grateful for the jumps back and forth in time that in the beginning felt haphazardous. By the time you've finished reading, you don't want to let go of the world and characters and Owen has created and are simply left mystified and wishing for more. What promised to be the story of a would-be-poet in a dark Victorian London became nothing short of a wonderful story of grief, hope, survival, and love.

Taran Wanderer

Taran Wanderer  - Lloyd Alexander Review coming soon.

Puha (Master of the Wild) (Volume 1)

Puha (Master of the Wild) (Volume 1) - J. Bradley Van Tighem Hollow Leg is a white boy being raised by a Lipan family following his parents' brutal death at the hands of the "Buffalo Men" who now plague his dreams. Not long after being given his official Lipan name, Many Wolves, he is forced to flee from the village to avoid being given over to a Nokomi tribe as a peace offering. With only three wolf hawks he rescued and a village dog, he sets off to find a place to live and survive. After five years on his own, Many Wolves' past comes back to haunt him and he must face his greatest fears.

Puha is a true coming-of-age story for Many Wolves as he grows from a young trying to fit in with the Lipan tribe that raised him, to a self-reliant man providing food and shelter for himself and his animal companions, and ultimately to when he feels ready to stand up to Laughing Crow. However, it is also something of a coming-of-age story for Laughing Crow as well. While the Nokomi war leader always seems to lust for power, blood, and revenge, he comes to realize at different intervals that other things matter as well, even if he doesn't react in what is considered to be the correct way.

There is violence and blood in this story, though it all serves a purpose to the story and is not just thrown in to add to the page count. There were a few times I had to take a break because of it, but I always managed to continue on with the story because I was already so invested in the characters, their lives, and needed to know what was going to happen to them. Without going into too much depth, there are, aside from animals being killed to feed people, there are fights between tribes, and scalpings - among other things. One scene that ranked amongst the more upsetting ones for me was not about any of the fights or scalpings, but featured a rattlesnake. Then again, I do have a great fear of snakes so it is not surprising.

J. Bradley Van Tighem did a wonderful job creating well-developed and multilayered characters. While Many Wolves is the character I connected with the most, I also found myself being able to relate to Laughing Crow despite his arrogant and bloodthirsty personality.

Many Wolves' animal friends and companions are depicted like human characters with their different personalities and relationships with him. Chiquito, one of the wolf hawks, was my favorite of the animals, not just because his small size and slower learning curve very much resembled Many Wolves' state before he went off on his own, but the duo's bond was truly like that of someone and a beloved pet, more so than some of the other animal companions. Nature as a whole was depicted as a character in itself in addition to being a setting and it worked really well. In fact, had nature not played as large of a part as it did, Puha would not have been as enjoyable.

You can read the rest of my review at my blog: http://readerlymusings.com/2014/04/14/book-review-puha-by-j-bradley-van-tighem/

The Frog Prince

The Frog Prince - Jenni James Review coming soon.

The Castle of Llyr

The Castle of Llyr  - Lloyd Alexander Review coming soon.

The Archived

The Archived - Victoria Schwab Review coming soon.

Frost Hollow Hall

Frost Hollow Hall - Emma Carroll Review coming soon.

Hung Up

Hung Up - Kristen Tracy Review coming soon.

The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron  - Lloyd Alexander Prince Gwydion announces it is time to make an attack against Arawn and his indestructible Cauldron-Born army by destroying the Black Cauldron from which they are made. Taran, Fflewddur, Doli, and a number of other friends of the prince join him in his quest, but it quickly proves to be more dangerous than expected and the friends are separated. It is up to Taran to decide how his group should proceed – go after the Black Cauldron, or go back to Caer Dallben and regroup with the others.

The second installment of The Chronicles of Prydain stands on its own right from the off. There is hardly any recap of the events from The Book of Three, but rather a reunion of old characters coupled with introductions of new characters and their goal – to destroy the Black Cauldron Arawn has been using to create an undead army.

While none of the characters have changed much between books, Lloyd Alexander still manages to give us new information about them and their backstories to help us understand them more. One such character is Taran’s guardian, Dallben. There is a lovely segment in which Taran finds out some information about Dallben’s childhood that comes as a bit of a shock to him. Also included is more information about the Black Cauldron and how Arawn came to possess it, which is a nice way of showing more of the Lord of Annuvin without actually bringing his character front and center. Having him remain in shadow is a nice way to build up to when the reader finally meets him (whenever that will actually be).

You can read the rest of my review at my blog: http://readerlymusings.com/2014/03/11/review-the-black-cauldron-by-lloyd-alexander/

Ketchup Clouds

Ketchup Clouds - Annabel Pitcher Zoe sits in her shed at night writing letters to a convicted murderer to tell him, someone who will understand, how she came to kill one of two boys she had feelings for. Her actions are unknown to the people in her life, and the boy’s mother is constantly asking her to visit her or her son’s grave. The guilt is becoming more than she can bear, but writing about everything to a man she doesn’t know and who will never write her back lets her finally tell someone the truth.

Ketchup Clouds is written in the form of letters from a girl who calls herself Zoe to Stuart Harris, a man convicted of murdering his wife, to tell him how she came to kill one of two boys she liked. The identity of which boy she killed, Aaron or Max, remains a mystery until her final letter. The letters are written in such a way that will have the reader laughing at a moment’s notice, but ready to cry the next at the thought of either boy being the one to die. By not giving away the identity of the boy Zoe killed, Annabel Pitcher allows the reader to connect with both boys, and see what made Zoe fall for them in the first place.

Both Aaron and Max are well-developed love interests. Zoe portrays them in her letters in such a way that they both come off as being human, not perfect as some teenage girls in love might try to make them out to be. She even admits to her own mistakes in her actions toward them, which fits in with her need to confess to someone. Even Stuart Harris, who does not reply to Zoe, comes across in shades of gray rather than black or white. This is not solely due to Zoe feeling they are almost the same in that they killed someone they had feelings for, but to other information Zoe has learned about him and brings up in her letters.

Zoe herself may not always be the easiest character to relate to given some of her choices, and at times the reader won’t agree with them. But this is what makes her so human, her mistakes, her grief, her guilt, and attempts to navigate life.

You can read the rest of my review at my blog: http://readerlymusings.com/2014/02/26/book-review-ketchup-clouds-by-annabel-pitcher/

Please Don't Stop the Music

Please Don't Stop the Music - Jane Lovering Review coming soon.

The Book of Three

The Book of Three  - Lloyd Alexander Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper, has grown up wishing for something more. When Hen Wen, the oracular pig he’s supposed to be keeping safe runs away, he finds himself face to face with adventure. With the help of strangers he meets on his journey – including a prince, a furry creature who is more interested in ‘crunchings and munchings’ than anything else, a resourceful girl training to be an enchantress, and a king turned bard – he sets out to warn the people of Caer Dathyl about the Horned King and his army, and find Hen Wen, before it’s too late.

There is no other way to start this review than by saying I absolutely adore this book. It is an incredibly fun fantasy adventure that also has some wonderfully dark moments. This is especially true of the Cauldron-Born who were once human but can no longer remember being so and are unable to be destroyed.

There are a lot of different fantasy elements in this story, but I never found them to be confusing or “too much.” The inclusion of each was wonderfully done and Lloyd Alexander’s writing made it easy to follow. With the way he wove the story together, I could not help but be completely immersed in the story while reading, and unable to focus on much else when I wasn’t.

The story, characters, and world of Prydain were inspired by Welsh mythology, which I admit I am not at all familiar with. For me this was mostly apparent with the way names were spelled and I was incredibly grateful my copy has a pronunciation guide in the back I could reference when I needed. There is also a part of the story that relates to a very well-known Bible story. While I might usually find such an inclusion to be overdone or unnecessary in some works, I loved the way Alexander made it fit in with the world of Prydain.

Some have noted the similarity between various elements of this story and The Lord of the Rings in other reviews. While I do agree they are similar at times, it did not affect my enjoyment of the story.

You can read the rest of my review at my blog: http://readerlymusings.com/2014/02/28/book-review-the-book-of-three-by-lloyd-alexander/