Book Review: The Circus Rose

Hello Everyone,

Such a beautiful cover!

Title: The Circus Rose

Author: Betsy Cornwall

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retelling

Publisher: Clarion Books

Published: 2020

Page Count: 300

Goodreads Summary:

A queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family.

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

Magical, lyrical, told in two parts, one part being poetry and the other part being story this was beautiful, sad, enchanting and wonderful. Betsy Cornwall has won me over with her beautiful prose and elegant writing. Such strong characters though I admit to Ivory being my favorite compared to that of Rose. A retelling of Snow White, Rose Red this is one of my new favorites.

My Review:

I’m always a fan of circus stories. I’m sad that they are mostly gone now. The circus to me was always magical and exciting. I even tried joining one once but was unsuccessful. This book I put off reading for at least two, three years now, I devoured in a single sitting. It was half told in verse, split between two characters, Ivory (who was my favorite) and Rose. While I’m not a big fan of novels in verse, I still felt that this was handled well for a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. While short, this definitely didn’t hold back it’s punches, in proudly displaying Rose and Ivory and their mother, all together struggling to get by daily. The characters felt so real it was as if I was there amongst them, enjoying the show.

This was one of the first YA books I’ve read in a while, and I’m so glad it was a high rating for me. I’m also glad that I own a physical copy. I hope to get through more of the authors backlist titles at some point though no clue when that will be. This book is recommended for those that want representation for bisexual characters, nonbinary characters, sapphic love interests and a satisfying ending.

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

Book Review: Mystery On the Isle of Skye

Hello Everyone,

I love these old covers! So neat!

Book Title: Mystery On the Isle of Skye

Book Author: Phyllis A. Whitney

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Fawcett Juniper

Page Count: 200

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense

Goodreads Summary:

Following instructions contained in the parting gift from her Grandmother when she set out for Isle Of Skye, would lead to startling surprises for Cathy MacLeod. She and her standoffish cousin Don, would be drawn in a search for answers to baffling puzzles. New friends and thrilling adventures wait for Cathy where she learned to love the mountains and legendary magic of her Grandmother’s beautiful isle. The greatest surprise of all came when she least expected it…

My Thoughts:

This was a wonderful little story of a girl going to the Isle of Skye by request of her dying grandmother. At times the story definitely read like it was meant for a much younger audience, but the story itself was intriguing and full of Scottish history, phrases, and words. I adore stories set in Scotland, England, and the surrounding areas so I was sure to love this and Phyllis A Whitney is one of my favorite authors. I dove right into this book, and finished it within a few hours (interruptions by family making it difficult to keep reading). I’m happy that the first read of the year is a high four star read. But onto what the book actually is about!

Book Review:

Catherine “Cathy” Macleod receives a mysterious box and quest from her ailing, dying grandmother to go to the Isle of Skye and follow through on various instructions to receive her prize. The book starts off with Cathy joining her aunt, uncle and two cousins Don and Punch on the trip of a lifetime. She’s swept away into learning all about Scotland and it’s people, especially her family the Macleod’s. I was pleased to note the Battle of Culloden being mentioned, the Sith, fey and magic also having mentions scattered in the book. But those mentions were brief and the story focused more on Cathy becoming friends with Don and Punch. I’m happy to add there’s zero romance in the book. It’s a straight up ya mystery with elements of suspense and a fun quest. While the ending felt abrupt it was a happy ending. The characters felt believable though some of the writing definitely felt dated in the “portly” aunt Bertha. Overall I’m happy to rate this 4.5 stars.

My Rating:

⭐ ⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That

Library Book Review: White Smoke

Hello everyone,

Such a lovely cover.

Title: White Smoke

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Series: Standalone

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Suspense

Publisher: Harper Collins

Page Count: 400

Goodreads Summary:

The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

My Thoughts:

I had no idea that this was a ghost story as I went into this book as blindly as possible and was pleasantly surprised. When’s a better time to read a ghost story if not at Christmas, lol. Especially ones like this. It referenced paranormal activity and the haunting of hill house, both of which I am barely familiar with. The ghost story was well handled and I enjoyed the book. While the beginning is a bit slow paced of a family winning a house in a broken down neighborhood (which for me would have been major red flags); the parents in this story of course didn’t believe that the kids could see ghosts. Of which the ghost cliches in this book constantly made me laugh and wasn’t for me this book wasn’t scary but entertaining.

The ending though. I definitely wasn’t expecting that ending and am still feeling a book hangover like “what did I just read?”. I have no clue what to say and so it’s best not to say anything and let y’all read for yourself. It’s good writing, strong characters and all kinds of fun.

My Rating:

⭐ ⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

Netgalley Review: The Quiet You Carry

The Quiet You Carry

Title: The Quiet You Carry
Author: Nikki Barthlemew
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Flux
Page Count: 300
Type of Book: ARC, Kindle Ebook
Received: Netgalley
Review Word Count: 600
Rated: 5/5 stars
Notes: Loads of trigger warnings in here for depression, anxiety, suicide attempt, child sexual abuse, physical abuse between spouses, foster care system, and I think that’s it.

Get your box of tissues ready, because this book was an emotional roller coaster ride! Complete with lots of triggers and terribly depressing scenes. There was at least one scene that made me almost cry because of how angsty it was. Therefore, of course I’m going to give this book a high rating, not only because of how emotional it was and the fact that I love reading emotional books like this, but because of how realistic and true it rang with every page.

I wasn’t ever in the foster care system, so I was lucky that way. But I knew exactly what the main character, Victoria, was going through in several parts of this book. It made me cringe each scene, wondering how she was going to get out of it, and if the bad guy in the book (the dad in this case) was going to get put away. The answer is, he drives off, fleeing from cops, and we never see what happens to him.

It takes place as Victoria is planning on attending college, but has a year of high school remaining. After getting shoved out of her home in the middle of a freezing cold winter night, social workers take her away to a foster care system where she resides, attempting to figure out how to fix everything, and why her father would lie about her like that.

She meets Connie, the ‘foster mother’ of a small home for girls, and follows rules, and feels as though she has no control over anything anymore. Her father won’t speak to her, her sister and stepmother refuses to talk to her as well, siding with her father. She fears for her sister, and what will happen in leaving her within her father’s grasp for long periods of time.

There’s a lot of abuse in this book, and it’s pretty heavy hitting at times. I was really impressed with how the author handled this, she weaves a story well, and the writing is splendid, and rings true for the situation, as well as the characters themselves. She’s obviously done her research, and my hat goes off to her for doing such a terrific job in pulling such a topic off in YA literature.

I’m giving this a 5/5 stars, because it was beautifully written, and the rating is well deserved. I definitely am now invested in any of the authors future works, because if her books are just as good as this one all the time, then she’s going to continue to be one of my absolute favorites! I highly recommend reading this, even buying this, as soon as it comes out!

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book.

ARC Book Review: A Scandal in Battersea

A Scandal in Battersea

Title: A Scandal in Battlesea
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: The Elemental Masters, Book 12
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: DAW
Page Count: 300
Type of Book: ARC, Paperback
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes: I haven’t read any of the rest of the elemental master series, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, so of course I had to read it. I *have* however, almost all of Mercedes Lackey’s books sitting on my shelves, so am a tremendous fan of hers. The Elemental Masters series is one my younger sister reads, and this is completely new to me but I plan on reading the others of this series soon.
I found this book to be most intriguing, mainly due to the Sherlock Holmes characters. I definitely enjoyed it, due to the more magical elements, and I liked reading Alexandre’s parts best, though I enjoyed all the characters overall. I did find the ending to be a bit rushed, and I was unsatisfied with how the author handled Alexandre’s last scenes, but aside from that I really liked it. It wasn’t as good as her Bardic Voices series, or perhaps her Joust series, but it was a fine a way to pass the time for a few hours regardless.

I’ve read Mercedes Lackey ever since I was about thirteen, when I first began diving into the fantasy genre after having read Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time. This was refreshing, with its promotion of LGBT characters, fascinating world-building schemes, and magical elements, I was hooked by this author for years to come. Granted, I hadn’t read much of her books lately, aside from the new arcs that I have received: The Hills Have Spies, along with another book too that I forget the name of…

But I digress.

This gave several nods to the BBC series of Sherlock, or so I thought. Including the ‘cabbie’, who picked up victims, Mycroft Holmes appearing just at the end of the book, and various other little nods that I rather enjoyed. I found that the author did a good job in paying homage to Sherlock, and loved the scene where he was infuriated about having magic countered against him, thinking it wasn’t fair, and considered it cheating.

My only real complaints were how she’d handled Alexandre’s untimely end, and how the ending itself felt rather rushed, which is why the book is getting 4/5 stars. Otherwise, I’m sure fans of Mercedes Lackey will definitely enjoy this new release of hers.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book.