Nightbooks | J.A. White

Nightbooks by J.A. White published 24 July 2018

A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.

Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place.

This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.

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How was it?

I’m not the target audience for this book, it’s for a middle grade audience, so I didn’t expect to be as into the story as I was. It has a lot of elements that I like in my stories, a smart and adaptable main character, magic, and a bit of a mystery.

I was right there with Alex trying to figure out how to get out of that apartment. Picking the possible clues with him, hatching a plan like I was also trapped with him. I was rooting for him.
I generally don’t like horror but this book is just creepy, whether it’s Alex’s stories to the witch or the plot itself.

The book is also a bit inceptiony in the sense that there are stories within stories, with the main one reminiscent of or connected to a famous classic story. The young writer aspect in Alex’s character is also a big draw for me it seemed very realistic to me. I loved that about him.

The characters are great, they seems and act like their age, and they make sense giving the situation they’re in. The book is a quick read but not as memorable as I would have liked. It distracts and entertain while reading it but a day later I couldn’t remember one of Alex’s stories, and I thought they were great.

Nightbooks is a bit scary like the show Grimm was and a perfect read for creative middle graders.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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July readings | Baseball, Roommates, FWBs, and Magic

Title: Bat Boy
Series: Easton U Pirates #1
Author: Christina Lee
Genre(s): Contemporary, MM, Sports, Romance
Page count: 218 pages
Published: 20 November 2020

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Title: First Impressions
Series: Auckland Med. #1
Author: Jay Hogan
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Mystery, Crime, MM
Page count: 351 pages
Published: 15 December 2019

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Title: Carry On
Series: Simon Snow #1
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT, Romance
Page count: 522 Pages
Published: 9 May 2017

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: True Mate
Series: Prosper Woods Chronicles #1
Author: Patricia Logan
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT, Romance
Page count: 202 pages
Published: 30 April 2021

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Title: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Genre(s): Poetry, Fantasy, Fiction, Mythology, Historical
Page count: 208 pages

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Title: Enthralled
Series: The Knight and the Necromancer
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, MM, Fiction, Short stories
Page count: 78 pages
Published: 12 January 2021

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Title: Roommate
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Queer, Romance, Fiction
Page count: 304 pages
Published: 12 January 2021

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Title: THE taking of Jake Livingston
Author: Ryan Douglass
Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal, Queer, Fiction
Page count: 308 pages
Published: 13 July 2021

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Title: Lux
Series: The Reckoners
Author: Brandon Sanderson, Steven Michael Bohls
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy,
Runtime: 13h55min
Published: 22 July 2021

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Title: Home Plate
Series: Eastern U Pirates #2
Author: Christina Lee
Genre(s): Contemporary, MM, Sports, Romance
Page count: 257 pages
Published: 29 January 2021

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The Necromancer’s Reckoning | S.J. Himes

Every action has consequences.
For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.
Until now.
The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.
If found guilty, Angel’s apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel’s mate, refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.
The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.
Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a grave robbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town…a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.

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How was it?

The Beacon Hills Sorcerer series is among the best books in the genre. The storytelling is smooth and smart, from Dance, Dilemma to Reckoning it’s a captivating saga that’s unfolding bit by bit and gets better each time. The characters are amazing, they keep growing and evolving, and it’s always earned. Nothing is rushed but the story is far from a slow burn.

In fact Reckoning is fast paced with plenty of action and mayhem. The “magic police”, the High Council of Sorcery, is back in town after a long absence. A Sorcerer civil war didn’t capture their attention but it seems that the growing fame and power that Angel’s latest accomplishments afforded him doesn’t sit well with them.

There always was some kind of geopolitical aspects to the series. The sphere of influence and rules for Vampires, Humans, and Practitioners have always permeated the story, but here it’s centered stage and it’s entertaining as hell. Angel, Simeon and Eroch are just badass. I pity the fools that underestimate them.

The Necromancer’s Reckoning is gripping, exciting and sweet entry to the series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Enthralled | A. H. Lee

Trapped in a necromancer’s tower on the longest night of the year.

Merek is a pillar of his country community and a confirmed bachelor. He had his chance at love, and he let it slip away. But he’s got friends, a faithful dog, and a snug home. Holidays can be difficult, but Merek knows how to handle loneliness.

When he volunteers to house-sit for a necromancer on the day before Solstice, Merek expects to be doing the job with no companion apart from his dog. He’s displeased to be trapped in the tower overnight by a sudden snow storm. However, everything changes when his old lover shows up on the doorstep.

Ian is cold and clearly afraid of something. Merek lets him in. That was his first mistake.

The kiss was his second.

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How was it?

When I was reading The Capital I remember wondering how Sairis, the necromancer, learned about the tipsy Knave. Putting the Romance in Necromancy answered that question by introducing us to Merek, but after reading The Border and in particular The Sea I was curious to know how Merek’s life might have changed since he’s the reason Roland and Sairis met.

This short story started well, I felt for Marek, I know it’s fantasy world but it’s weird how it gaves you a sense of what it could have been like to for queers in the middle ages. Anyway no matter how many times Marek called himself less than smart, I couldn’t believe how thick he was being, oblivious to an annoying level. It’s a novella and I was tempted to skip a few parts but thank the writing god(s) – I don’t know how many there are but there must be at least one – the story picks up to end on a high note. There’s also a nice creepy atmosphere throughout that I liked, creepier most of The Knight and the Necromancer series, and despite not being the sprawling adventure the main series is story fits right into this world.

Enthralled is spooky but sweet, a good addition to the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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The Necromancer’s Dilemma | S.J. Himes

Even love can die without trust.

Angel’s brother, Isaac, has returned home, and the pair begin to make slow and awkward attempts back to each other. Learning how to be a brother to a grown man instead of a parental figure has Angel adjusting his behaviors and habits, and Isaac still remains a mystery. Was it merely entering adulthood that turned Isaac away from an overprotective Angel, or does Isaac carry a secret that will keep them from finally being a real family?

Daniel Macavoy, Angel’s new apprentice, is torn between his bond with Angel and the grasping machinations of his father. Dealing with a traumatized apprentice with dangerous holes in his magical education, saving Daniel may be harder than Angel first thought—especially since the biggest problem is not revenge, but guilt.

The one shining beacon in his life is Simeon, Elder vampire of Boston’s only Bloodclan. Four hundred years old and sexy as sin, Simeon is warrior and sage, patient and cunning. The strength Angel draws from Simeon’s devotion and the newborn mate-bond between them is steadfast and true…and the fount of death magic that animates the undead lord places Angel in the midst of a power struggle for control over himself, his lover, and his family.

Through it all, Angel is beleaguered by the unwanted attention of a troll-hybrid, the adventures of a dragon in the city, and a serial killer has decided to hunt the back alleys and midnight streets of Boston.

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How was it?

The Necromancer’s Dance sets up these characters and the world they live in so well that it’s easy to get back into it. The focus might be a bit more on Angelus and Simeon but all of the side characters grow along with them. It doesn’t feel as contained as other books in the genre feel. It’s like a TV show with a comprehensive cast but they all get their moments in the spotlight.

Since Angel now consults for the police,  there’s also a mystery woven into the story. It’s attention grabbing and allows for a broader understanding of Simeon and Angelus’ bond while giving us more information on the people around the couple. I throughly enjoyed the story, it has sweet and comedic moments, as well as great action sequences and character moments, some that had me going “funk yeah get him!”

This series is slowly becoming a favorite. All of the characters are compelling, they each have their strength and weaknesses, they have baggage, a history and it comes across throughout the two books. Also because of who Angel and Simeon are, a Necromancer and an elder vampire, so can see how their bond might become a problem, because that’s never been done, and also what it implies for the balance of power in that world.

The Necromancer’s Dilemma is a good read that’s made even better when reading right after The Necromancer’s Dance. I think it could be read as a stand alone, since the story on its own is great but for the full effect the two blend into each other perfectly. Of all the books in the series I probably remember this one the most because it also feature a favorite character of mine, a little creature that I garante that you’ll fall in love with as well.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Necromancer’s Dilemma is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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Previous book(s) in the series:

Carry On | Rainbow Rowell

Carry On (Simon Snow 1) by Rainbow Rowell published 9 May 2017

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

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How was it?

The way I found my way to this book series was so random. I saw a post on instagram about book three: Any Way the Wind Blows coming out, the cover made me think they might queer characters and someone in the comments confirmed it so here I am.

To anyone who wants to read this, hold on! It gets better. The beginning is not very engaging, just enough to keep me reading. It’s a lot of reminiscing that sort of teach you about this world and its characters but it’s not that effective, yet I still picked up a few things. The book becomes a tad more interesting when Baz shows up.

If I didn’t know it was a queer book Simon’s obsession with Baz would have clued me in. It seemed innocent at first but it steadily got obvious just as the story started to get better because Baz made his appearance. The dynamic between Simon and Baz is one of the most entertaining things about this book, I learned more about this magical world through their interactions than the “recap” I had slog through in the first few chapters. It might sound like I prefer Baz to Simon, which is not true but the slow and rough start told through Simon’s eyes did not help. He also annoyed me at times, for example when you get a message from the the other side you tell it!

Besides that I enjoyed a lot of the characters, Penny among them of course, even Agatha and the mage. I even came to like the weird way the spells are constructed but the cute romantic scenes between Basilton and Simon made a huge difference in my experience of this book. It’s full of banter and a ton of double entendra, a whole that needs to be field? Seriously? maybe it’s my filthy mind reading into things but they are there.

If you grew up reading and/or watching Harry Potter you might inadvertently compare this book to Rowling’s series. I did that at the beginning but it was more to make sense of Simon Snow’s world in comparison to something similar that I know. I wouldn’t call the series a Harry Potter Fan fiction because I shed that idea from my mind once I got familiar enough with Simon’s world. However I’ll admit that there’s a bunch of similarities and yet I don’t think they’re the same. Nevertheless an easy way to describe this book would be “Harry Potter but a lot gayer, without queerbating or subtle homophobia” or “What if Harry dated Drago?”

Since I got book two and three as well before reading the first I’ll be read the rest but I probably won’t rush.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Carry On is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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The Necromancer’s Dance | S.J. Himes

In a world where magic is real and evil walks amongst humanity, a young sorcerer is beset upon by enemies, both old and new. Angelus Salvatore is the only necromancer in all of Boston, and his name is whispered warily by the undead and fellow sorcerers alike. He and his brother Isaac are the lone survivors of an attack by an army of the undead, in which Angel used a spell so powerful it forever marked his place in history. Now, years later, Angel struggles to balance his career as a teacher of the higher magical arts, his role as big brother, and a tenuous relationship with an Elder vampire from the local clan. When his brother’s boyfriend is used as a pawn in a mysterious plot to draw Angel out, Angel is once again pulled back into the old hostilities that fueled the Blood Wars and led to his family’s death.

Leaning on others for help is something Angel cannot do, and while he searches for clues into who may be targeting him and his brother, Angel finds his heart steadily growing occupied with Simeon, Elder and vampire. Dealing with death magic and vampires on a daily basis may leave Angel jaded when it comes to life and staying that way, but the more time he spends fending off the ancient vampire’s attention and affections, the more he realizes he wants to give in.

Can Angel find out who wants him dead, and keep his heart safe in the process? How can he fall for a vampire, when his whole family was torn apart by an army of the undead?

Death stalks the streets of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill….and there is no one more suited to battle against death than a necromancer.

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How was it?

The Necromancer’s Dance is one these books that are so engrossing that when you come up for air you realize that you’ve covered two third of the book not sure how you got there. I’m not talking about zombie reading* but being so completely into the story that you don’t notice time passing.

Lately I’ve been gravitating to Urban fantasy books and this book scratch that hitch. The world is compelling, very easy to understand, and it’s chuck full of complex characters. They feel real because sorcery and magical creatures aside, they could be people we know since their problems and struggles are relatable.

The story is a bit dark but there is some levity. Whether it comes from Angel himself, who’s snarky and a bit of smartass, or some of the situations he finds himself in. The story is not gloomy but there are a few gruesome scenes in it.

The romance could have been a tad too cheesy but S.J. Himes make it work. Simeon is the sweet to Angel’s sour, they are adorable together. It looks like love at first sight because the story picks up at the beginning of their romance, but the author does a great job at making their history as “colleagues”, acquaintances felt.

The Necromancer’s Dance is a captivating book, one that you’ll probably read more than once, and love a little more every time. It’s definitely a series to watch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Necromancer’s Dance is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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