The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved and devoured the first half of this book. If that pace continued, this book would have got an easy five star rating. Unfortunately, the last fifty percent of this book felt like it would never end, and not in a good way. This book has very, very long descriptions. Sometimes I would be taken out of the plot, because it was so overwhelmingly descriptive; especially with our main protagonist’s lessons. This is a very early ARC, so I’m hoping that editors can cut this down a lot to help showcase the magic that was in the first half of this story.

First off, I was sold on this book because 1.) look at this cover, and 2.) it surrounds asha, who are beautiful, talented, and amazing fighters with magical powers. Asha are pretty much Geishas and learning about them and their schooling was really enjoyable. If you liked Memoirs of a Geisha you will probably really like this, too.

“There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

The main asha of this book, Tea, doesn’t start out even knowing she could be an asha. Her parents and sisters all have “normal” magical powers/elements. But Tea soon discovers she is a bone witch after accidentally resurrecting her newly dead brother at his funeral.

I loved Tea’s relationship with her brother, and the bond they have. The thing I look most forward to in this series is seeing how that bond grows, and how it affects both of them.

Luckily for Tea, when she resurrects her brother, a very powerful bone witch is in her town. Mykaela is probably my favorite character in this world, and is an amazing teacher/mother figure to Tea. She completely takes her under her wing and teaches her about bone witches and their duties, while putting Tea on the path to become a very powerful asha.

Other ashas control elements: fire, earth, water, wind. Bone witches are dark asha, who tamper with death. Bone witches are not very respected in this world, even though their powers hold the most important job in this world: The False Prince used death magic to create Daeva, different demons that come back to life every so many years, and bone witches are the only kind of asha that are able to defeat them, that is until that next time they resurrect. Yet, because these monsters are created with death magic, bone witches also get the negative connotation.

One of the more unique and cool aspects of this world, is that all the people wear heartglasses around their necks. Your heartglass will change colors depending on what you’re feeling, but will overall stay mostly the same color.

Green = Sickly.
Blue = Worry.
Orange = Disinterest.
Yellow = Fear.
Red = Healthy and Happy.
Pink = Romantic.
Black = Punishment.
Silver = Can draw runes, which means you can fight, whether it be as an asha if you’re a girl or as a solider if you’re a boy. Silver heartglasses are so very important and are so very sought after.

The other romantic and seriously scary thing about heartglasses is that if you fall in love with someone you can give them your heartglass. Tea’s mother and father have done this. Even though it sounds romantic, it is scary because if you give your heartglass to someone that ends up being unworthy they can use it to control you and have an immense amount of power over you. Your heartglass is essentially a piece of you, and giving it away can be disastrous.

“We can endure any amount of sadness, for the people we love.”

Heartglasses can also be forged by heartforgers using memories. This is going to play a big part in this series, I’m sure. As of now, only the very wealthy can afford such a luxury. Normal witches lose their memories after gifting them to a heartforger, but not dark asha, they are able to keep theirs.

Dark asha/bone witches are also able to read other’s heartglasses, which comes in very handy. Tea can see when someone is hurt, angry, flirting, even lying. Like I said, the heartglasses were amazing and unique; I can’t wait to learn even more about them.

This book also handles some pretty tough topics in a really positive way. The most prominent topic being how their society, like ours, views men’s masculinity; Men in this world are not asha, and they are looked down upon on for dancing or doing “women-like” things. Tea’s best friend, Likh, has a silver heartglass, therefore he could be an asha, and has dreamed of it since his heartglass turned silver, but instead men with silver heartglasses are forced to join the army. The arts do not show strength; therefore it makes men look weak to perform them. I could write an essay on how happy I am this is getting some attention in a YA book.

“Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, rather than in what they expect you to be.”

Another cool thing about The Bone Witch is that the story is being told from Tea in the future. In between chapters you can see current Tea, much older, telling this tale to someone else. I always love when stories are chronicled like this, so that made it a much more fun read, too!

A couple of the more negative things about this book would probably be the potential for a love triangle and the fact that Tea definitely suffers from special snowflake syndrome. The love triangle is hinted towards, even though we only feel a real connection to one of them in this book. The special snowflake syndrome is very abundant, but Tea is also written very well and seems very intelligent and capable, so it wasn’t overwhelming or angering to me.

“But when you are younger and know no better, an infatuation can lead all the world to burn.”

This book series has so much potential. I will probably buy this in 2017 upon release, just because I really do believe this could be something amazing.

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

I’ll be honest; I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a lettering designer before Nate Piekos in this bind-up. I know that sounds awful, but I always get so wrapped up in the story, the art, the coloring, that I get too distracted to pay the proper respect to the lettering. But in I hate Fairyland, Vol. One: Madly Ever After the lettering completely made this graphic novel for me.

I don’t mean to sell the story, art, or coloring short; they are also amazing. This story is whimsical and hilarious, while being bright and dark at the same time. I will put a disclaimer out that this graphic novel is very, very gory, but I think it’s well done and creates and amazing juxtaposition for the world our main protagonist is stuck in.

Gertrude, like many little girls, wishes for a new magical world, but, unlike many little girls, Gertrude gets her wish and falls into Fairyland. Unfortunately, she soon realizes that getting home will not be as easy as she thought.

We then get to see Gertrude twenty-seven years later, but still trapped in her same little girl body since bodies don’t age in Fairyland. Gertrude is now jaded, bitter, and borderline insane with a thirst for vengeance and on a mission to find a key.

Fairyland is amazing and feels like a brand new Alice in Wonderland with a twist. I would completely recommend this to anyone that won’t be bothered by a little blood, guts, and deranged children killing things.

I’m now going to break down each issue in this bind up. There will be SPOILERS, so please use caution in continuing if you have not read this graphic novel!

Issue #1:
We meet Gertrude and see her wish for a new world, then her falling into Fairyland. We meet Queen Cloudia, who rules Fairyland, and she gives Gertrude a guide named Larrigon Wentsworth III (or Larry) and a map to all the known lands. If Gertrude wants to return home, she will have to find a hidden key that will unlock a door to her world. We then see Gertrude twenty-seven years later, still searching for that key. Even though Gertrude is on a very self destructive path, killing anything in her way, Queen Cloudia can’t do anything because Gertrude is still considered a guest in Fairyland, and harming her is against the rules.

Issue #2:
Queen Cloudia decides she is going to ask for help, since she cannot stop Gertrude herself, so she hires a witch named Horribella. She sets up a zombie army, who Gertrude and her trusty guide Larry have to battle.

Issue #3:
After Horribella tries and fails, Cloudia goes to Barque to meet with the Council of Elders. They decided to invite a new child, Happy, to Fairyland. If Happy is able to find the key and open the door back home before Gertrude, Gertrude will no longer be considered a guest, and the queen would have free reign to kill or punish her. Happy comes to Fairyland and is also given a guide, named Ms. Lady, and a map! Gertrude and Happy meet, and we see Happy has some powers of her own.

Issue #4:
If Happy gets the key first, Gertrude will also be stuck in Fairyland forever. She decides to try to wield the power of the seven evil dooms, so she goes and talks to Lord Darketh Deaddeath where he makes Gertrude prove her worth.

Issue #5:
Happy finds the key first by performing good deeds. Fairyland has a goodbye party for her, and she’s almost out the door when Gertrude crashes the party. Gertrude ends up getting the key by defeating Happy, but before she leaves to return back home and fulfill what she’s been after for twenty-seven years, she makes a grave mistake: She kills Queen Cloudia which, by the rules, makes Gertrude the new queen of Fairyland, and the door back home vanishes.

This was such an amazing journey. I loved every issue, and couldn’t put this down. I cannot wait for Volume Two, and plan to buy it the day of release.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

First and foremost, this book needs to have trigger warnings for physical abuse and attempted rape. I understand the shock value packs a much bigger punch, but this book needs some disclaimers. It feels pretty gross that this book is marketed as a love-triangle romance from the synopsis.

Now that I got that off my chest, I did like this book. Colleen Hoover is always hit (Confess) or miss (November 9) with me, but she is mostly a hit and always an auto-buy author for me. I think she’s a really talented author, and she has one of the best personalities in the book world. Also, her author’s note at the end completely gutted me.

“In the future . . . if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again . . . fall in love with me.”

Without giving too much away, this story is about a girl who finds herself still fighting the demons from her past. This book is in no way a love triangle, but we do get glimpses of her past love while watching her fall in love with someone new.

This book deals heavily with how easy it looks, from the outside, to leave an abusive relationship, and how far from the truth that really is sometimes. This book in no way glorifies abuse or excuses it, but forces the reader to see feel the struggle abuse victims feel when being in love with their abusers. It’s pretty eye opening, and I think worth a read for anyone, because most books involving abuse don’t even come close to handling the situation as well as CoHo does. This book is realistic, and heart breaking, and eye opening.

“Preventing your heart from forgiving someone you love is actually a hell of a lot harder than simply forgiving them.”

This book also has an amazing female friendship that is sort of unconventional. This was one of my favorite parts of the book, even though one part was a little unbelievable for me. Allysa truly was the real MVP of this book, in my opinion.

My biggest complaint, besides not having trigger warnings, was the name of these characters. Like, I’m all about unique names, but this story was way over the top: Lily Blossom Bloom, Ryle, Atlas. Like, please, let’s not. Obviously, I’m not going to mark the book down over this, I just feel like it was something that needed to be said, because I felt like the Lord was testing me, personally, with these name choices.

“Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person. Fifteen seconds that we’ll never get back.”

Also, this book made my ugly cry a lot. I mean, a lot, a lot. So, you’ve been warned.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

I want to rate this book five stars and I want to rate this book one star.

“When spares are spared, when time is turned, when unseen children murder their fathers: Then will the Dark Lord return.”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a script from the play (currently only playing in London) that stars Albus Potter, Harry and Ginny’s middle child, and his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy. Obviously we are not used to those last names being friends, let alone best friends, but their friendship is the best thing about this story.

The second best thing is seeing Slytherin in a positive light. We, so far, have only read thing in this series that star Gryffindor’s golden child. Reading other perspectives and representations of Hogwarts houses was amazing, and I wish we could get a lot more of it.

I was hesitant when I found out this script was going to be released as a book. All around me, everyone was jumping up and down, squealing with excitement. I was just going over in my head all the things that could go wrong. The Harry Potter series was perfect, and I didn’t want a dark cloud looming over what I consider my childhood.

I still went to the midnight release party (shout out to Henderson, NV’s Barnes & Noble for being absolutely amazing, and throwing together an equally amazing and organized event!), I still felt like a kid on Christmas, I still got extremely emotional when actually purchasing this book, I still took a selfie and posted it on all my social media outlets, because I was so thankful to be able to go to a midnight release party that celebrates my favorite books of all time. Especially when I believed there would never be another midnight release after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007.

The Harry Potter magic is still alive and I was holding it with my own two hands. Every page I turned in Act One was like returning to the best place on Earth. I was even more emotional while reading and I had to stop myself every few pages just to collect my feelings. This, this magic I can’t describe, is why I want to give this book five stars. No other series in the world can do this and it’s not all about the nostalgia factor. Harry Potter is truly magic, and that magic deserves all the stars in the world.

I’m sorry, but the rest of this review is going to be filled with *SPOILERS*. I’m really not sure how to express my feelings without talking about major plot (or lack thereof) points.

The biggest issue I need to address, and hope I’m not alone with this feeling, is that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child felt like the biggest queer bait in the entire world. This feeling wasn’t brought about from me just hoping, there is so much subtext to help establish that Albus and Scorpius had something more than friendship. The evidence was so overwhelming, I was completely convinced and, more importantly, happy that J.K. Rowling was finally giving us something more than “oh, Dumbledore was gay”. But alas, the entire book makes you believe these two were in love and it’s for nothing. This was by far my biggest disappointment in this book.

My next biggest disappointment was the fact that Harry Potter was an asshole. Like, a really big asshole. The way he spoke to McGonagall, when trying to force her to monitor his child’s every movement, left me speechless. I wanted to stop reading the book right then and there.

And that terrible conversation came after he already said an unforgivable comment to Albus. I am not a mother, even though I hope to one day be one, but I can’t imagine, under any circumstance, would I ever tell my child I wish they weren’t my child. What a horrible thing to say, that is completely filled with hate. This is the boy I watched grow up and become to the most powerful wizard of all time, while learning lesson after lesson of how to be a good person? I was dumbfounded.

But you want to know who was a good father? Draco Malfoy. God, what I would give to read J.K. Rowling canon of Astoria Malfoy, who was able to help shape Draco and Scorpius into the men they are in this play. Draco showed such exponential growth, not only in this script, but since his time at Hogwarts. Such a wonderful character, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child portrayed him spectacularly. Oh, and he totally saved the day.

The other character I liked a lot was Delphi. I’m going to guess others will not feel this way, because Delphi feels like the biggest fan-fiction thing about this book, but I still enjoyed it. For those of you who are masochist and are spoiling themselves by reading my review, Delphi is Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange’s love child. Now, I know that this timeline feels questionable, because Delphi was supposed to be born before the Battle of Hogwarts, but I still let it slide and just enjoyed the “surprise”. I also felt a great deal of empathy for Delphi. I think Act Four in Godric’s Hollow was so sad for her, because all she wanted was to have her dad and have him be proud of her. Like, I know she was going to ruin the world, but her reasoning really resonated inside me, and I could understand her pain and desperation.

I was not expecting Cedric Diggory to play such a major role in this story. As much as I love Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I wasn’t crazy about this plot line. I just seemed like a convenient plot they could manipulate into making people feel that Harry Potter nostalgia.

Speaking of convenient plots, I felt like the time turners were also too convenient. It worked amazing for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but it felt so wrong here. I hated this plot device, and I have to assume that time turners are all different, because the two in this book didn’t work the same as the one in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I didn’t like it at all, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how freaking dangerous these things are, and how no one has used them in nineteen years, but all of a sudden the Potters have access to two? Talk about a big ass grey area plot point.

Other things that felt horrible:
-Dumbledore and Harry confessing their love to one another. Like, can you guys not? It felt so forced and awkward. I hated everything about that scene, which could have been a beautiful moment had it happened in the actual series and not nineteen years later.
-No one even talking about Teddy Lupin! Like, I’ve already said Harry was acting like a shitty father in this book; I shouldn’t be surprised if he’s a shitty godfather as well.
-Getting to see Lily get sorted, but no mention of Hugo’s sorting. It felt so weird for them to say his name a couple of times, but get nothing about his character. I understand his last name isn’t Potter, so he isn’t as important to this world, but he felt so neglected to me.
-How unlikable Rose, Ron and Hermione’s child, was.
-The Trolley Witch. Like, what the fuck did I just read?
-The baby Harry’s blanket. Like, did they sneak into the house and steal baby Harry’s blanket so they could write a message on it for present-day Harry? I am not too convinced that Lily and James wouldn’t have seen them, since they literally sacrifice themselves to protect Harry a few hours later.

So why am I giving this book, that I just ripped apart with my review, five stars? Because Act One of this play brought me more joy than any other book has in nine years. Yes, I am disappointed and, yes, I will agree that the majority of this felt like fan-fiction, but I can’t even put into words what small parts of this script did to me. I feel so thankful and so blessed that I was able to peak inside this world that was such a big reason for my happiness growing up. And in this world, that unconditional love and happiness deserve more than five stars.

I’m sorry if this review is all over the place with things I liked and didn’t like. I completely apologize if this seems really unorganized to you. I literally just sat down and starting typing all my feelings out and ended up having this cathartic experience. I completely understand the plot holes, and I hope I’ve listed all the major ones, and I understand that many of these characters that I grew up with were not acting like themselves. I also understand that I’m choosing to ignore a lot of these things, because, honestly, mostly nostalgia. I understand these one star reviews, and if I could separate myself from all the things that Harry Potter means to me, I probably wouldn’t give this a five star rating.