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review 2018-07-26 02:23
’The Brilliant Death’ turned out to be a brilliant book, filled with gender-bending, shape-shifting magic, and a surprising love story
The Brilliant Death - Amy Rose Capetta

‘The Brilliant Death’ just quite simply is a beautiful book. It defied and exceeded my expectations for it, and I could barely put it down once I started. I didn’t actually even mean to read it right now, and what I mean by that is, my plan was just to ‘read a little bit’, ie. The Prologue, and well…suddenly, I’d read the whole book.
The premise of the book rolls some themes together but once you start reading ‘The Brilliant Death’ you find it’s more than a sum of shape-shifting magic plus warring Mafia-style crime families.


The story revolves around this wonderful character Teodora, and the book opens with her remembering the first time she saw her father kill someone, in order to protect ‘his family and his mountains’. She learns early on that her father is a powerful man.
Teodora di Sangrò is the daughter of the ‘great Niccolo di Sangrò’, who has control of the Uccelli region and heads a loyal family. One day Niccolò is suddenly poisoned by a letter he receives from the Capo, who has taken over the governance of all of Vinalia.
The Capo has summoned ‘the heirs of the five families’ as these poisonous letters have left the fathers for dead (except Niccolò, who is barely grasping onto life), to his home in Amalia, but Niccolò had wanted his second son, Luca, to become the heir.


Before Luca sets off on his trip to Amalia, Teodora/Teo catches the ruthless eldest son Benaimo, brother to them both, skinning Luca alive, so she dares reveal her greatest secret to them both, which is how she’s managed to carry out her ‘work' (ridding the kingdom of ‘bad people’) for her family for so long without a drop of blood being shed: Teo is a strega, and she has been turning nasty human beings into (mostly) inanimate objects for years. This time though, she manages to turn her brother into a vicious owl.


Luca and Teo set off on their journey to Amalia, set on finding an antidote to their father’s poisoning and to fulfill the Capo’s Summons, with a plan in mind, and luckily they meet another dashing and knowledgeable strega, Cielo, which means they have hope.
I don’t want to reveal much more of the plot beyond that because once Teo, Cielo, and Luca start their journey to Amalia, the story really gets going and it’s hard not to become fully invested after that point.


The storyline builds from the journey that the trio take, and this involves Teo learning more of her magic (and her self-discovery), to a novel that involves the deception and intrigue we often see in a royal court. Yet this time, these ‘families’ who are convening are basically feared mobsters in an Italian-style court of old, and the lush world-building that the author Amy Rose Capetta has conjured up for them is vivid and so different from every other court or castle I’ve read of lately.


The magic that is central to this book is a very special kind of magic, it’s shape-shifting, and that’s important to the most wonderful, surprising, and probably groundbreaking part of this novel: Teo (and Cielo) learns to change from a girl to a boy, and back (as a strega), and the conversation about how she/he feels in that body at different times. The power to change the body, and how Teo learns to harness magic is a fascinating part of this book, and Capetta approaches it with a delicateness, and at the same time, boldness, which makes the ‘gender-bending’ so unique and so wonderful to read.


The love story that is wrapped up in the magic, as well as the danger and adventure, is so original, that it’s hard to describe. I found myself loving these ‘odd’ characters, and even though I found a few holes to pick at and a few slight issues with pacing (slight rushed parts), the writing is beautiful; my eyes didn’t want to leave the page, plus I enjoyed the different sections Capetta used to divide the book up with.


This is an absolute stunner of a fantasy for this coming Fall (the cover even stands out in its lush Autumn tones), and this is sure to capture lots of peoples’ attention with its enthralling magic, and uniquely wonderful gender-bending love-story. A ‘Brilliant Book’.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/2382952474
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review 2018-06-27 06:11
Moonstruck #1: Magic to Brew
Moonstruck #1 - Magic to Brew - Shea Beagle,Grace Ellis

Super cute, über diverse, whimsical fun. The pastel, fluffy, round art fit the writing perfectly. A sweet story that centers on self acceptance that's complete with magic, monsters, and cute lesbian werewolves. Perfect for tweens, teens, and young at heart adults.

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review 2018-06-21 03:18
Chainbreaker: Timekeeper #2 (Part 1...because it doesn't end)
Chainbreaker - Tara Sim

This book has no ending. For real. It just stops. I'm not even sure I can classify it as a cliffhanger it is so abrupt. And with a page count approaching 500 that really yanks my chain.

 

On the plus side this book is mostly set in India, which was a nice change from the well tread streets of London. There are airships, fallen towers, and some action. I liked the side characters introduced, and I enjoyed getting to know Daphne more. The world continues to amuse me.

 

On the down side the pace is glacially slow. This isn't helped by long passages of flashbacks, or that chapters alternate between POV characters instead of staying where the action is. Danny and Colton are separated for almost the entire book, so if the romance element is important to you, well, sorry, you're just going to get pining. And, as I mentioned, there's no ending.

 

This book frustrated me. But, and here's the thing, I'm planning to read the third in the trilogy. After that build up I need to see what happens. So if you go into this book just be prepared for it to be part 1 of 2, and for a slow burn.

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review 2018-06-21 03:06
Timekeeper: Or, what if clocks controlled time
Timekeeper - Tara Sim

This was a cute queer teen romance with some really interesting world building. I find the idea of time being run by clocks, and all the implications and complications that entails, absolutely fascinating. I can honestly say I've never encountered a setting quite like this one before. Heck, I didn't even mind that this had strong historical fiction elements (which is not something I generally enjoy). The central mysteries held the book together fairly well, and kept pages turning, despite being pretty obvious. There was even some action thrown in, though not a lot. I also enjoyed Colton and Danny's budding relationship, and found them very cute.

 

On the flip side, the story lagged in places and tended to repeat itself. The writing was fine, but nothing terribly special. Some of the conflicts could have easily been solved by people just talking to one another, which is a pet peeve of mine, but not all of them so it wasn't too exasperating. This was one of those books that I enjoyed, but didn't really capture me to the point where I was thinking about while I wasn't reading it, nor yearning to pick it back up again. I liked it. I'm going to read the next in the series. But all in all I found the ideas are more memorable than the story.

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review 2018-04-04 01:50
A perfectly written mystery by queer author Caleb Roehrig; brings gay characters to the the main stage, and shows off natural talent for creating suspense and compelling story
White Rabbit - Caleb Roehrig

I tried to get an early copy of ‘White Rabbit’ months ago, and if I’d been able to I would have been able to tell everyone to go and preorder this book! I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty mystery from Caleb Roehrig, and read the whole thing this last weekend, devouring his sophomore novel about Rufus Holt, and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night, and a cast of colorful teenage characters.

Seventeen year old, gay Rufus is the main character and he's just now coming to terms with the breakup of his relationship with Sebastian, when they end up having to spend the night as super sleuths; Rufus receives a call from his sister April asking for help, which starts the ball rolling. They drive out to a cottage in the middle of nowhere where she’s been at a now-abandoned party, to find her covered in blood and next to her dead boyfriend Fox Whitney. Rufus doesn't believe April could have committed any crime (nor does his stepmom Isabel, who pays him to find out who did), and he and Sebastian spend the night uncovering clues, and discovering their peers’ unsavory behavior (isn't it always that way?).

We find out about the relationship between Rufus and Sebastian, and their shared past, through memories, and the romantic storyline between the two of them is very subtle and so well-written; Roehrig’s language and written dialogue is so natural, this arc fits within the mystery so perfectly. And when it comes to the actual mystery itself, it’s without holes. Follow along with the details and clues because you want to understand the boys’ thinking, and then when it all blows open at the end, hopefully other readers will be as surprised as I was.

I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what comes next for Caleb, because this was so cleverly written, and is such compulsive reading, and I can see him writing both for teens and adults. There’s also wit and smarts about him that I feel can shine through even further (check out his Twitter feed), and I bet there’s an even more complex or even funny read coming next.

PS. And next time, I REALLY would love that early copy so I can review it and can tell everyone to go order their book!

 

 

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