Book Review: Things in Jars

Things in Jars with bookmark and catThings in Jars by Jess Kidd

Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire, is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

Review:
I really enjoyed this unique historical fantasy book. The writing is absolutely gorgeous and the author has an amazing vocabulary, often creating sentences that I stopped to re-read.
Bridie is a fantastic character. I love her no nonsense attitude. She’s smart and unconventional and the kind of character I enjoy. She does things on her own terms. I also especially liked her housemaid. The supporting characters added so much to this book.
The author also does an interesting job in weaving in myth and the paranormal into Victorian life. She has clearly done her research on early medicine, which I found it fascinating.
The pacing of the book did suffer a little in the middle, but all of the wonderful characters amply made up for that.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.
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Book Review: Wildland

Wildland with Stubborn BottleWildland by Rebecca Hodge

For fans of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve comes an exhilarating debut novel of one woman’s courage in the face of catastrophe.

She’ll do anything to save them.
But what will she do to save herself?

When Kat Jamison retreats to the Blue Ridge Mountains, she’s counting on peace and solitude to help her make a difficult decision. Her breast cancer has returned, but after the death of her husband, her will to fight is dampened. Now she has a choice to make: face yet another round of chemotherapy or surrender gracefully.

Self-reflection quickly proves impossible as her getaway is complicated by a pair of abandoned dogs and two friendly children staying nearby, Lily and Nirav. In no time at all, Kat’s quiet seclusion is invaded by the happy confusion of children and pets.

But when lightning ignites a deadly wildfire, Kat’s cabin is cut off from the rest of the camp, separating Lily and Nirav from their parents. Left with no choice, Kat, the children, and the dogs must flee on foot through the drought-stricken forest, away from the ravenous flames. As a frantic rescue mission is launched below the fire line, Kat drives the party deeper into the mountains, determined to save four innocent lives. But when the moment comes to save her own, Kat will have to decide just how hard she’s willing to fight to survive–and what’s worth living for.

A heart-pounding novel of bravery, sacrifice, and self-discovery, Wildland will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.

Review:
I absolutely loved this book. It had me feeling all of the emotions and, yes, I was even reaching for the tissues.
The beginning is on the slow side, but wait a couple of chapters — I couldn’t put it down.
Kat is a wonderful character, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer who goes to the mountains to think about what to do. She meets 2 different dads with their kids. While the kids have a sleepover, a forest fire starts and Kat must get the kids and the 2 dogs in her care to safety. The peril, her decisions, her will to keep everyone safe, the time crunch, and the trust they all must place in each other make for a compelling read.
Having lived close to forest fires, I found the book harrowing and could feel myself there. Hodge wrote the emotion in the book amazingly well. I also loved that Kat was smart and made well thought out decisions. The book explored survival in a dramatic way!
The supporting characters, the dads, kids, and dogs, were also really well portrayed and each added something necessary to the book.
I highly recommend this book. In fact, I own a book box subscription called Callisto Crate and included this book for February and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
If you are interested in this author, I was able to do a Facebook Live interview with her, which you can find by clicking here. I found it fascinating how she wrote this book.
Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane for the review copy.
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Book Review: Finna

FinnaFinna by Nino Cipri

When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.

Review:
I enjoyed this novella — it was different from what I normally read. It takes place in a store called LitenVäld, a loosely veiled Ikea, complete with confusing and generic layouts. An elderly woman goes missing into another dimension and 2 workers, Ava and Jules (who have recently broken up) are tasked with finding her. Amazing concept!
The relationship between Ava and Jules is really well done — the reader feels the awkwardness between this newly broken up couple and how there are still tender feelings beneath the upset. The homogeneous Idea backdrop was a perfect foil for the non-binary character and young people questioning their lives.
Then there was the whole traveling to parallel universes, populated by person eating chairs, drones, or swashbuckling grandmother types.
This is a great read if you are looking for something different and fast that will hook you with adventure, social questions, and interesting characters.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryThe Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

Review:
This is a gorgeous book — starting with the enticing cover and finishing with beautiful, luxurious writing and an engaging, imaginative story. I love it when publishers put a lot of thought into a cover and this one is stunning!
I was captured by the story, the mystique of January and her life with Mr Locke, the way the doors open into different worlds, her notebook, and the sinister overtones and mystery to what is going on.
The different story lines and points of view really drew me in and kept me wanting more, eager to find out how they all came together. I was so invested in January and her desire for self discovery, her courage, and her plight. However, one of the most memorable things for me is her dog! I keep thinking about him.
This is a wonderful portal fantasy that weaves together past, present, and even different worlds in a beautiful way. It was a book I luxuriated in and was sad when it was over.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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