The final showdown between gods and monsters was a bit hard to follow, if I’m being honest. I’m hesitant to post this, but I’m going to. The fact of the matter is not all books or book series are five star-worthy.
Louisa’s story opens in London, where she and her friends are trying to begin their lives as normal people. How we got to London from the First City, where book 2 left off in a cliffhanger fashion, we’re not really sure, but the first few chapters of Tomb of Ancients hit hard and fast. There’s a ball and bloodshed, and the fancy ladies and gentlemen of the 1800’s get zombified, and we have an intriguing build up with Louisa’s sister but it ends up being for nothing because her memory of the aforementioned ball and bloodshed get wiped from her mind and she’s not mentioned again. And this all happens before we once again return to Coldthistle House and it’s fantastical characters who never have a chance to be fantastic, or the actual story of the third book begins.
I was so excited to receive Tomb of Ancients for review. But honestly, this entire series has such potential, but it falls so short it’s not even worth it to summarize the third book. There are such well thought out scenes that are strung together in a way that it’s obvious large cuts were done in editing without a proper final read through to make sure it all still makes sense.
It feels like the characters and world that were created were never given a fair chance.
The epilogue though. Someone who has suffered through these books please write a fanfic exploring the epilogue.
I was not the biggest fan of the the first House of Furies book. It was slow and clunky, but within in it’s lagging pages was the start of an intriguing story. I intended to read the next book in the series but wasn’t in any particular rush to do so.
Fast forward about seven months – I was in the beginnings of a summer of rereads when I was contacted to review the third book in the series, and since I knew there was potential there, I agreed. So while Tomb of Ancients sat on my shelf, I deep dove into Court of Shadows and I’m glad I did.
There’s an order to things at Coldthistle House. And though I strayed away into other lands and time, I found myself sucked back into the House, and the story it has to tell. So did Louisa Ditton. The story opens with Louisa back at the House, again working as a maid, and terribly missing her friend Mary and her relationship with Lee Bremerton.
The strange and mysterious cast of characters that reside within the house’s walls are rattled. A young woman and her fiancee’s family are the current guests when a convening of the courts is announced that spins the house into chaos. Terrifying creatures whose sole purpose is divining the truth out of you at all costs are around every corner. A vengeful ancient god arrives as the bride-to-be dies before her time. And there’s a journal that must be translated before Mr. Morningside stands trial.
Louisa strikes a deal to translate the journal and free herself and her friends from the house, and in doing so unlocks a story of what happened Before. Before Morningside came to be and before the ancients were laid to an enchanted sleep. The horror and mystery within the journal are an epic story within a story.
Court of Shadows is a considerably faster paced read than it’s predecessor, and a much better story overall. I can’t wait to start the third book and see how it all plays out. I hope we learn more about Louisa’s powers and her background, as well as more about the house’s employees.
Seventeen year old Louisa Ditton is unwanted. By her parents, by her grandparents, by her school. By the general populace. She’s telling fortunes in the streets for pennies until an old crone tricks her into coming to Coldthistle House, where she begins working as a maid. But things aren’t as they seem inside the mansion, where the next day Mrs. Haylam, the old crone, isn’t quite so old or quite so cronish, and there’s a girl working that reminds Louisa a little too much of her childhood imaginary friend. There’s also the Residents, terrifying smoke-like creatures that may or may not be protecting her, but are extremely dangerous to the guests. And don’t forget Mr. Morningside, the owner of Coldthistle House, who seems to be a few hundred years old and has backwards feet, like a demon.
Coming across Mr. Morningside’s diary, Louisa starts to unravel the alarming histories of her employer, as well as those of the inhabitants of the house itself. And it’s not long before she realizes that all the guests that come to Coldthistle House don’t actually leave.
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux is a gothic novel set in Victorian times and is filled with murder and mystery, making it the perfect book to read in late September / early October. I found the side characters to be more interesting than Louisa and her love interest, Lee Bremerton, and hope they’re further explored in the next book. Unfortunately there is a lot of unnecessary plot, a lot of side plot, and not a lot of getting to the point, but the strange and weird that happens within the 400-odd pages is enough that I will pick up the second book in the series at one point.
Roux seems to be a fan of shorts within her different book universes, so hopefully we will get one featuring the Residents, and how they came to be. The hints that were dropped have me itching for more.
The Asylum series by Madeleine Roux is one of my favorites. I recently finished its conclusion, Catacomb, in a marathon read of about four hours. I did have to pause a few chapters in to go back and reread the first two; it had been about four years since I read them and I needed to reacquaint myself with the story, but it was absolutely worth it. Madeleine Roux does a great job with set description, particularly. I could really visualize the settings and felt myself drawn in to all of the adventures.
Full of mystery, suspense, intrigue, and New Orleans, Catacomb is my favorite book in the series. Dan Crawford and his friends Jordan and Abby have finally put their nightmare in New Hampshire behind them. Ready to road trip to New Orleans, where Jordan is moving for school, they’re looking forward to a few weeks of fun and relaxation before college. Nobody is trying to stalk them, kill them, or mind-control them. They deserve this.
Until a mysterious figure on a motorcycle keeps showing up wherever they go, photographing them. And a muscle car follows them from a campsite they bunk down in to the Quarter. And a friend starts contacting them from beyond the grave. Dan, Jordan, and Abby are once again thrust into a paranormal experience that will haunt them and connect them for the rest of their lives.
I didn’t mind that Catacomb barely ties into the first two books in the Asylum series. We revisit the same trio of characters but they are quite literally onto the next stage of their lives, figuratively and literally. One could consider the first two books the New Hampshire experience and the New Orleans setting as a stand alone novel, but I do recommend reading them in order to get the full experience of their history together. We dive deeper into Dan’s past, learning more about his parents directly, and start to see that his hallucinations are perhaps something more than that.
While their final adventure wraps up as well as it can, it’s nice that Roux didn’t spell out everyone’s happy ending. Dan does get a sweet epilogue in the end though, which was appreciated given all he was put through.
Morgan Matson is the ultimate summer author. Fast, fun reads with characters that draw you in; her books are perfect for reading in an afternoon while laying on the beach or in your backyard. They are meant to be read stand alone but typically take place in the same little town and past characters can pop up in minor roles.
In Save the Date, it’s Charlie Grant’s last summer at home before she goes off to college and it’s going to be a blast. All her older siblings are flying in for their sister’s wedding. Her mother’s popular comic strip, that’s actually based on the Grant family, is also coming to an end and will coincide with the wedding. Charlie’s devotion to her family makes her determined that the weekend goes perfectly.
Until mix up after mix up happens because of the wedding planner, one brother brings home a nightmare of a girlfriend, another brother won’t speak to anyone but her, and the alarm system decides it needs an exorcism. Also, there’s a boy. Isn’t there always? He’s responsible and smart and is able to problem solve like a champion. Which turns out to be a highly necessary skill over the course of the next three days.
Morgan Matson always bring a good story to the table. This one showcases one of the best family dynamics I’ve read about in a long time. I haven’t disliked a book by her yet. If you need something light, heartwarming, and funny, Save the Date is for you.
I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to read through what’s on my Kindle but I keep getting sidetracked by the Readers Also Enjoyed section of Goodreads. Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca is of the latter, and its the kind of book I went mad for trying to get a hold of. Since it was published in 2015 I thought I might have it in my vault of ebooks already, but in the end I made the purchase on Amazon.
Kelsey and David met in Newport one summer while her family was vacationing at her uncle’s cabin and David’s family came out to help out his grandfather, who lived next door. Fast becoming friends, they learned David and his father would be moving to the little town in Connecticut Kelsey was from. Miscommunications and the hurt David unknowingly caused her left Kelsey reeling after two years of friendship, and when her dad took a job out of state, she jumped at the chance to start over. Reinventing herself completely, she was ready for senior year. But then David walked back into Kelsey’s life, and the world she cultivated for herself got turned upside down.
Told from a back and forth viewing of past and present Kelsey, we watch her friendship with David grow and change and in the end, all is right in their world. Unfortunately for this book, it was 321 pages of cat and mouse with genuinely bad decisions all around. Kelsey and David didn’t really grow at all in their four years of high school and their friends were underdeveloped and underutilized. This was a very frustrating read where I felt nothing but annoyance*
*I did, however, really enjoy the descriptions of Newport and its Cliff Walk as I went to school in Rhode Island and am familiar with the places mentioned.
Tim Mason is a fuck up. This was well established in Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door. In its companion piece, The Boy Most Likely To, we follow Tim as he tries for redemption.
The story opens with an ultimatum and the offer of a scotch. Thankfully, newly sober Tim Mason only accepts the former, and we swiftly move into his escape from his clinical home life and into the arms of the loving and chaotic Garrett family. Living above their garage, there’s no judgement from the people who have welcomed Tim into their lives (expect, perhaps from the oldest Garrett sister, Alice). They accept his sarcasm and charm, and later, the biggest surprise of all.
I felt the twinge of needing something more from My Life Next Door and found it in The Boy Most Likely To. Huntley Fitzpatrick has a way of making you fall in love with her characters. Tim Mason is reckless, charming, and a bit of a mess. A lot of a mess. But he has 50-odd days sober and is trying to turn it around for himself. I like that he realizes he needs to do better or he could go down a road he won’t be able to come back from. He tries for his GED and continues with his job at the Garrett family’s hardware store. He doesn’t find solace in the bottom of a bottle or any illegal substance when he runs into his biggest drama yet. He steps up and does what his family wanted him to do all along – he becomes a man.
In my adult years, I’ve read in voracious spurts. I met a group of friends online who loved to read, and it rekindled my own love. Previously, I hadn’t picked up a book besides the newest Harry Potter in years. Recently I have gone through another dead period, reading only a handful of books a year for about three years or so. And then I picked up Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff.
Brenna Yovanoff is one of my favorite authors for dipping into the slightly strange edge of young adult books. She has only written a few books, but all are worth a read. Published in 2016, Places No One Knows is my favorite book of hers to date and what brought me out of my most recent no-book-funk.
Waverly Camdenmar is the robotic best friend of the most power hungry girl in high school. Her existence up until now has been to do everything exactly right in order to secure a perfect existence in the universe, and at night she runs to feel everything and nothing. When she finds herself in Marshall Holt’s bedroom the first night, her orderly world is turned upside down as a boy she never felt anything for flips the on switch to her human side. She’s curious about his desire to turn himself into nothing, and when she keeps dreaming herself into his life at night he realizes he still wants more than a few hours of her time. He begins to want more for himself, too.
I cheered for these characters as they went about their daily struggles for perfection and to do better. When they reached their truest potentials, I was happy for them. This was definitely a book I will reread at one point.
I was drawn in by the cover art for Meet Me at the River by Nina de Gramont. I should’ve known then I would only find it to be okay. It’s cliched to say not to judge a book by its cover, but the statement is right, in a way. I was attracted by beautiful artwork and the fact that it popped up under Readers Also Enjoyed on Goodreads.com when I finished reading my last book.
Meet Me at the River tells the story of two step siblings, Tressa Earnshaw and Luke Kingsbury, who love each other. When Luke dies, Tressa has to learn to live again. While navigating her senior year of high school in the mountain town her mother has moved them back to, she comes to terms with her survivors guilt over her boyfriend’s death, as well as a blossoming relationship with two unexpected allies, and a fear of leaving the place that holds all her best memories.
This is a radical story, but de Gramont weaves it neatly in a back and forth narrative style between Tessa and Luke, telling their past, present, and future. It’s poetic in its own way, but as I felt no connection the characters and felt the story dragged on, it’s only three stars from me.
Hauntingly beautiful is the perfect way of describing Laura Nowlin’s If He Had Been With Me. The young adult novel was published on April 2nd, 2013 and I have read it several times since then. Picking it off the shelf makes me feel warm inside, like I am visiting old friends, despite the emotions I feel towards the end. It is a story that has stayed with me for years, and I imagine it will continue to do so for a very long time.
I feel for Autumn and Finny, the main characters. Their lives, their hopes and desires, and their character flaws all resonate with me in some way that has reached inside and taken hold. I’m fairly detached in personality, but I cried at the end, and felt real anger towards decisions made. The story is from Autumn’s point of view, but I firmly believe that Finn’s is just as important and wish it could be explored in greater detail. I ache to know more even though their stories are long over.
Autumn and Finn are life long friends who grow apart as they grow up, each still loving the other in their own way despite cold distance at times. During their senior year of high school, the ice begins to thaw between them, and the summer before college, they realize how much they love each other. On August 8th, that all changes forever.
I like all kinds of books, although my preferences do typically tend towards paranormal and urban fantasy. Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. However, when asked for a recommendation by someone, If He Had Been With Me is my typical answer. And that’s the highest praise I can give.