Anne Z.'s blog
Review by Samwise McGinn
If you enjoyed “The Walking Dead” series, this is the series for you. The story is well paced and leaves you with enough breadcrumbs to come back for more. As questions about the world are answered, there are questions that arise about the main characters.
We follow the tale of hybrid human Gus and his mysterious protector, Jeppard. Jeppard saved Gus from some hunters who were going to kill the boy because of his hybrid status. This is clearly visible since Gus has antlers, which is what makes him the so-called hybrid.
Hybrid-humans started appearing shortly after a mysterious plague killed off most of humanity. Anyone who got pregnant thereafter is guaranteed to have an animal-hybrid child. Most of what is left of humanity is waiting for the plague to take them as it appears inevitable, but the hybrid children are immune to this disease.
This is what makes all of these kids targets of violence. People believe that the cure is within the children and that they can figure out how to save themselves by experimenting and dissecting the children.
This graphic novel is full of violence and action, as well as meaningful dialogue. While the story focuses on Gus, the story does branch off to other perspectives to provide additional world building.
I found that this story was moving and heartwarming in the end, a tale of desperation and friendship as well as knowing when to stand up for yourself. It’s being made into a Netflix series and is expected to be released on June 4.
Looking for a great title to give this Mother's Day? Here are some Inklings recommendations:
This is my personal number 1 pick for this Mother's Day!
Family. Family and all its beauty. Family and all its problems, mishaps, and hurts. That is the essence of The Butterfly Room. The book as a whole felt like sitting down with your grandmother (or an old friend) and having her tell you her family's story.
The story is about Posy, Posy at 7 catching butterflies with her dad and ignorant to the problems between the adults in her life. And it is also about Posy approaching 70, with two sons completely different from each other and each with their own set of life problems, a family home she can no longer upkeep, a man she thought she would never see again, and devastating secrets.
I was confused at first with all the many characters, but once I got them straight in my head I absolutely loved the book. Posy is a charming and strong minded woman and her son's storylines were, for very different reasons, engaging as well as heartbreaking.
Fiona West is originally from Oregon, not too far from us. Her book, Could be Something Good, is a small town contemporary romance story between an experienced midwife and a dyslexic medical resident. It's a story about why age is really just a number, why family matters, and knowing who you are. Daniel was a delight. Fun and easy going while at the same time responsible and knowledgeable. His struggles to read were portrayed beautifully and his pursuit of Winnie was respectful and smartly written. Winnie was a great character as well. A fantastic midwife with a lot on her plate and an overbearing mother.
If your mom/grandmother/wife/etc has fallen in love with the new Netflix show this past December, The Bridgertons, this is a title she might enjoy. Lady Clara was sweet and lovable. The kind of women I would happily have as a best friend and call upon in a time of need. Someone you can rely on and is always brave. Her life changed fifteen years when a rogue took her innocence. Determined to never give into temptation again, she settles into a life as caregiver for her family. Quincy has a heart of gold. I was not prepared for the first few pages of the book and the heartbreak he goes through as a young boy. I wanted to hold him! Due to some unexpected events, they end up agreeing to a fake engagement. The fake engagement gave them the perfect opportunity to spend time together and get to know each other better. During those days Quincy thought Clara how to have fun and smile freely, to let go of control. And Clara thought him to love and to trust.
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Review by Emily Ring
When your debut novel gets a cover blurb from none other than Stephen King, it’s safe to say that you have arrived. Such is the case with Carole Johnstone, whose debut thriller Mirrorland attracted a tremendous amount of attention before its release, including that of the King of thrills and chills himself. Remarkably, Mirrorland lives up to its hype. With its devilish twists and turns and psychological trickery, it’s not a book you’ll put down easily, nor one that you’ll forget.
Cat and her twin sister El are mirror twins, perfectly identical. During their troubled childhood, they are inseparable, escaping from the horrors of the real world into their secret hideaway, Mirrorland. Sometimes as clowns, sometimes pirates, always in one disguise or another, they build up an imaginary world where they are always together, protected from their irrational mother and their unpredictable grandfather. But when a handsome boy named Ross moves in next door, a rift begins to form between them, one that grows through the tragedy that abruptly ends their childhood. As they attempt to build new lives, far from the home they’ve always known, their differences grow until an unforgiveable betrayal finally separates them once and for all.
More than a decade later, Cat is unexpectedly pulled back into El’s orbit when word comes from Ross (now married to El) that El has disappeared in what appears to be a boating accident. Cat abandons her crumbling life in LA and returns to the Scottish home of her childhood, now owned by Ross and El. The house is full of memories, virtually unchanged by the intervening years and occupants. And Mirrorland still stands, empty except for the echoes of the twins’ childhood. As Cat is drawn further into her own past, and her feelings for Ross, inconsistencies appear in the accounts of El’s disappearance. To untangle the mystery and uncover the lies, Cat will have to confront the horror that ended her childhood, and the secrets locked away in her family’s home. She survived the monsters that bayed outside the walls of Mirrorland once, but can she do it again?
Now, a personal confession: since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve struggled to sit down and read a book. I listen to countless audiobooks, usually while doing something else, but the low-level anxiety that’s always present at the back of mind makes it nearly impossible for me to focus on the words on the page, to lose myself in fiction the way I always could before. Mirrorland was the first book in the better part of a year that grabbed me enough that I carried it with me, read it during meals, took it to bed at night. Its pacing is exceptional; a steady thrum of “just one more page” played in my head whenever it was time for me to set the book down to return to the world. Mirrorland is scary in the way that Hitchcock movies are scary, with a deep, slithering, existential dread that confounds all sense of reason. If you enjoy a story that opens like a puzzle box and takes every page to piece back together, then you’ll love Mirrorland as much as I did.
Review by Rachel Fowler
April is Poetry month and in lieu of that it seemed the perfect time to read poetry, which is not my usual genre. The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane seemed a good place to start with its small size and beautifully illustrated poems. I very much enjoyed Macfarlane’s previous poetry book, The Lost Words, which is about the importance of hanging on to the words that describe nature. His newest book expands on this idea by celebrating different plants and animals in nature with cute short poems and gorgeous illustrations.
The book starts with an introduction that speaks of the necessity of seeing nature’s beauty and the joy and importance of sharing that beauty with others. The author then highlights several different plants and animals found in nature, like red foxes, daisies and oak trees. For all the flora and fauna listed, a short but clever and often rhyming poem is presented. These poems serve to educate and delight the reader with half-factual information and half-witty perceived personalities of each creature or plant. Jackie Morris is the illustrator and provides the most stunning watercolor illustrations for each poem. Her work brings out the depth and magic of each critter, plant, and tree so each entry is truly enchanting.
I enjoyed this book immensely. I fell in love with the entertaining poems and stunning artwork right away. I especially liked the poems about animals because they were so fun to read. While I feel every entry is breathtakingly beautiful, my absolute favorite poem is called Heartwood andis about trees. I think this book is perfect for anyone looking to dip their toes in poetry or is already a longtime lover of the genre. This book is definitely now in my top recommendations for poetry.
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Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart, $18.99 (Out April 20th)
Review by Anne Zastrow; contribution from Lisa Martin.
The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose is inspired by real missing Russian Crown Jewels. M.J. Rose explains in an article to The Adventurine how she stumbled upon an NPR article about the disappearance of the missing Russian Crown Jewels that to date, have not been found. Captivated by it and how such amazing items could simply disappear she decides her new novel will tell the story of the lost tiara.
It is apparent throughout the book that M.J. Rose researched well the Romanov Jewels, the Russian Revolution, and especially the impact it had on the Russian people. Although she never goes into gruesome details, the poverty and difficulties the people experienced at the time are carefully and respectfully mentioned.
The book is told from two different perspectives, that of mother and daughter. The alternating chapters reveal Sofiya's life in Russia from 1915 through 1922, and Isobelle's in 1948 Manhattan, US.
First we have Isabelle, a young architect in post World War II Manhattan. While renovating her mother's home she finds a hidden box, and inside the box, the remnants of what once was a beautiful tiara. She knows very little of her mother's past during the fall of the Ramanovs in Russia or about the man her mother loved, her father. Curiosity and longing to feel closer to her now gone mother propels her forward into finding out more details about the tiara, and consequently, her mother and father. With the help of a young jeweler, who is conflicted by his loyalty to the Midas Society, an international organization whose mission is to return stolen items to their rightful owners, they start investigating.
The second perspective is that of her mother Sofiya. In 1925, young Sofiya was close friends with the daughter of the Tsar of Russia and together they tended to the wounded soldiers in the makeshift hospital within the grounds of the Alexander Palace in St. Petersburg. While there, Sofiya meets a wounded soldier and finds love. But it is not easy, it is not simple, and their journey is long, painful, and full of twists and turns.
The Last Tiara is indeed about a lost tiara. But it is also about love. It is historical fiction mixed with romance and mystery. The historical aspects are well researched, the mystery keeps you wanting to know more, and the romances are tender and passionate. The perfect weekend read!
Lisa Martin here at Inklings also loved the book. Here is what she had to say: "I finished this book and loved it. The mystery and intrigue kept me wanting to read just one more chapter. It is a great story for those who love historical fiction."
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