Bleu’s Reviews: Conjure Women

Conjure Women focuses on three very different women of the same plantation. Told primarily from the perspective of Rue, daughter of esteemed conjure woman and favorite of Marse Charles Miss May Belle. Rue also happens to be trusted friend and confidant of the master’s daughter Varina. As the story swings from the past during May Belle’s reign as Queen of conjure on the plantation to present day Rue who has taken on the mantle as healer in the Resurrection – era village that is all that remains of their old home. Following the birth of “Bean”;  a child with unusual eyes, and the seasonal appearance of a traveling preacher, a sickness takes hold of the towns children. The townspeople are ready to turn their backs on Rue and towards their faith. As Rue works to find a cure, she begins a path at uncovering everyone’s secrets including her own.

Post – read I still can’t pinpoint exactly where this is located and I’m perfectly okay with that. Every main location was so well crafted I feel like I was blended into the story with them. My favorite would be Atakora’s description of the woods, the darkness of it how the fog seemed to emanate from it. The woods in post civil war village became a character in itself. I also loved how Rue interacted with the land itself, hiding coins in trees as she’d seen her mother do. How she often crouched low to the earth to pick flowers and herbs even the detail in which she described finding the herbs from different spots. I absolutely love a well built world and this book has it in spades.

The story is more about Rue than anyone else but seems to focus on Rue and how she maneuvers around other people. She is often measuring herself against her mother’s accomplishments. She feels a weighty responsible to look after the town and its children despite a clear and present threat to herself and yet she persists to ensure the people who live there are looked after and well cared for. Just as she had always served and cared for Varina throughout their upbringing. She often lets Varina lure her into mischief and I only say let because I feel like Rue at times doesn’t even attempt to speak up. The relationship she shares with Varina is a complex one that seems more maternal at times than what it truly is. The rivalries between a lot of the characters twists the theories of faith, magic and deception. What is illusion when belief becomes a tangible thing? Each of the characters in the book seem to be holding a secret and as the story progressed Atakora peeled back another layer until the final secret was brought to the light and true freedom could finally come.

 

Overall I 100% loved this book!

 

Its my first 5-star read of the year and I have loads more reading to do. As a debut novel I’d have to say Afia Atakora should be super proud of herself. Conjure Women was an amazign read. It was well written, i was into the story and genuinely felt something from start to finish. My goodreads feed was flooded with updates and I was able to finish this beauty in about three days.

 

I will be doing a live zoom discussion with #ALLTHINGSLIT Book Club to discuss Conjure Women be sure to check my social media for more information about that ❤ Can’t wait to chat with everyone soon.

 

What Did You Think Of Conjure Women?

Leave A Comment Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Bleu’s Reviews: A Discovery of Witches

bea3f7f05bccbf7b6b2cf106e37002ef5721044790384047149.jpg

 

It begins with a book recommendation and a purchase

It begins with a TV show and a binge session

It begins with a discovery of witches … book review

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

I am kicking myself for not having read this book sooner. I originally heard of the All Souls Trilogy  back when i worked for a company that won’t be named because they don’t sponsor me. LOL.

My coworker, another book fan soul sister recommended I check out the series. I made sure to buy all three of the books in the series and added them to my collection, TBR and c7e7739a729e409a46fa5fe50cb8aa4f328589467160928262.jpglong list of books I’d been planning to read.

I’d even attempted reading the book on two separate occasions the last of which was a month long maternity leave when I couldn’t be bothered to do much of anything, especially reading.

This year however, I made it my first book of the reading season and despite a shaky start while trying to find time to read with a growing toddler attempting to crawl everywhere, I picked up a rhythm and finished the book in about three weeks.

Alchemical historian and Oxford resident Diana Bishop, descendant of the Salem Bishop’s has shut herself off form her magic. Until she requests a not so ordinary book from the Bodlien library one day.  This book, Ashmole 782, will bring a host of magical creatures she never expected to socialize with and unravel a secret engrained in the fabric of her life…and then there are vampires.

My first impressions of the book…

I absolutely loved this book. At it’s core it’s a pretty standard formula. Matthew is the tortured hero who falls in love with our female protagonist. That Matthew follows the tropes of all vampires is a bonus, he is brooding and secretive with a killer temper, but 20200115_124316.jpghe loves fiercely and his love for Diana though sudden is unbreakable. Diana for her part plays the typical female lead in a YA love story, though she possesses great strength and abilities that rival those around her, she is fearful of her power, spends most of the book being coddled and cared for and only begins to step into her own towards the final stages of the story.

It usually annoys me while i’m reading, and I won’t lie some of the ways Matthew condescended to Diana and left her out of things irritated me a lot. However, Harkness did something few people have dared to do form what I’ve read. She gave Diana her strength back.

The best part of the story for me was “watching” Diana go through a literal transformation. At the start of the book she is completely closed off from her magic. Her past fears and an unknown spell only allow her to do tiny tasks like grabbing a book or fixing the washer. By the final pages Diana is hopeful of what she can do with her d33bfe4e23d3e4982f9b79fb20fdf4a7945846634189835100.jpgpowers and is able to control them to some small degree.

I do frequently enjoy a good vampire love story and Matthew and Diana’s forbidden love gives me all types of squishy feelings.  Their relationship mirrors that of mixed race couples during the civil rights era. Simply because they are different they are forbidden to be together and by defying this law they are putting themselves and their families in danger. They will do it for LOVE. The fear some of the characters have for their children and the support Matthew and Diana get from friends, family other people who are like them is reminiscent of the real life struggles mixed couples faced.

It’s great when a story has a deeper meaning. As a person of color, whether Deborah Harkness intended for this to be the theme or not, what stuck out most for me in this story were the ways it portrayed the downside of generational racial inequality and prejudice. Matthew and Diana are two different races of creatures and because of that they are forbidden to be together.

In a society where the hierarchy of magical creatures places value on lineage and supernatural ability Witches and Vampires are at the top and Daemons are at the bottom, Daemons aren’t even allowed to congregate together.  The way Harkness developed the society and culture of the characters in the world of All Souls is one of my favorite parts. I absolutely love a well built world.

The characters in the A Discovery of Witches  really moved the story along for me. I’d watched season one of the tv show beforehand so I was able to actually envision the cast for the first few chapters. Once I really got into the story though, the characters became more alive and no longer seemed remotely close to the way the actors portrayed them.3a956443b3e15ec5a9e1f9c7e43d8fb26087554198723611023.jpg

Diana can be annoyingly meek at times but has a resilient spirit. Her dedication to Matthew is on the one hand the stuff of feminist nightmares while the relationship as a whole draws you in. I root for this old fashioned chivalrous relationship despite being completely aware that he patronizes her and lies repeatedly. Because he’s a vampire? At one point it gets so annoying in the book I physically rolled my eyes. He eventually comes to respect her after she nearly dies trying to save his life and frequently blames himself for not being able to protect her. Even though she doesn’t seem to be able to protect herself either. Matthew’s decision  to aide her in learning her magic wins him brownie points in my book. His cute little French pet names for her makes my heart go fuzzy.

The way magic, magical creatures and the supernatural are sorted in this world is why A Discovery of Witches  is becoming one of my favorite series to read. Harkness took the c0ce585322590a49e08b7290e633998e901557597508079403.jpgconcept of the magical community and broke it down in a way that I’ve often thought about for my own writing.  Vampires long since believed to be “dead” are merely beings with an alternative metabolism that slows their heart rates and reserves energy. The term, sleep like the dead, was used as the explanation for why people thought these beings were in fact deceased.

Experiencing magic through Diana’s eyes as she finally learns to wield and control it is what kept me reading through the book. More than I wanted to know how the lovers would fair against their adversaries, more than I enjoyed meeting each new character that showed 9c005c70f2392849b97d083135c169496164085333605234820.jpgup at Sept-Tours and later the bewitched house in Madison. I enjoyed the magic and the history that was entertwined within the magic.

I guess that’s my reasoning for why I’m shirking my 2020 TBR and jumping right into Shadow of Night. I’ll be reading this along with a few shorter e-books I’ve promised to review from some lesser known authors so keep your eyes on the blog for a lot of new content.

My goal at the start of my read was to complete the first book of the All SOuls Trilogy  before season 2 of A Discovery of Witches started back on BBC. As I was checking my email this morning, sneek-peeks of the cast of season 2 are just being released, so I think I beat my deadline.

 

67b47f2c1d365ec6ebe6d1cf858ad13a3526889674511976082.jpg

 

What Was Your Favorite Part of A Discovery of Witches?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Bleu’s Reviews: Mirror, Mirror

11806a55fe107a2b94a6ce9d9d6121398479350815735507757.jpg

Rating: 3 out of 5

Gregory Maguire is still one of my favorite authors but Mirror, Mirror is sadly one of my least favorite books by this author. It’s tragic because I really wanted to love this book as much as I love much of his other works. Mirror, Mirror wasn’t a poorly written book but it definitely didn’t inspire me to read on.

As far as his body of work goes, the same tools and tricks he uses to craft and ensnare us with his other stories are utilized here. Maguire infuses reality and history into a fairytale as old as time itself, while finding a way to draw forth a deeper moral to the screenshot_20190124-220719_chrome4007441423460780054.jpgoverall concept, making us look closer at our childhood bedtime stories.

This time however, I found the story weighed down with too much historical context. This time around I felt sequestered on an island. It dragged on like the years Vicente spent in prison. I too was trapped, between my desire to finish the book and my inability to completely buy into the history lesson.

Maguire’s retelling of the Grimm’s classic Snow White, takes us to Montefiore. A luxurious farm nestled high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria. We meet our main character, seven – year – old Bianca de Nevada and her doting father Don Vicente.

Vicente is sent on a religious quest by the unscrupulous Cesare Borgia and his sister, Lucrezia leaving innocent Bianca at the mercy of the two wicked children of the corrupt political family.

96700515d6979b8a8e4dc940e9856c4f6444981157864553769.jpgSnow White’s tale has always been about purity and innocence and this version was no different. Maguire’s Mirror, Mirror added another layer of depth toying with the theme of influence and how influence can effect and alter another’s existence.
We saw how the influence of Pope Alexander VI shaped his children and led them ultimately to their demises.

How Vicente’s influence kept Bianca on Montefiore, how Primavera and Fra Ludovico were able to protect the young girl with whatever little influence they had. How Bianca’s mere presence was enough to change the dwarves.

We watched the transformations of each main character in the book as the story crept on at it’s snails pace. The intention seemed to be to give context. Snow White’s was a slow systematic manipulation at the hands of Lucrezia. A years long evolution in what seemed like a chrysalis stage ending the final if not abrupt emergence as a fully physical formed young woman, gullible but seemingly of age.

Vicente’s evolution was more a literal withering of his body and at times his mind. He remained determined to her back to his daughter despite the challenges he’d faced.

Lucrezia Borgia’s evolution was more a literal transformation, when we are introduced to her she is at the height of her power both physically and politically but gradually falls away. In time Lucrezia’s own vanity strips her of everything and her relentlessness drives her to her death.

Maguire’s interpretation of Snow White showed a young girl who was always isolated. Shyer than most, she possessed a curiosity that was often outweighed by her meekness. I rooted for our heroin to some day be rejoined with her father but even more than that I fc624855b3c17871e57bfcfe49791c892177338806584808463.jpgrooted for our heroin to save herself.

This Snow White didn’t seem like the main character at all. The action happened around her or to her but never as a direct result of her. In fact the entire catalyst of her story was in reaction Cesare Borgia and not the young girl directly.

This may be why the book dragged on for ages. It took me about four months to finish reading it in its entirety, partly because I knew how the story would end. I wasn’t waiting for some great plot twist or any alterations to the basic story line. There was instead a more pensive waiting to see how the author would unfold the common tropes of Snow White.

His delivery though overwhelmed with backstory and scenery did not disappoint. We witnessed Maguire masterfully craft the magic mirror, then shatter it’s magic with science before shrouding it with myth again. Maguire unpeeled the layers of the queen’s depravity and her spell-craft and even gave meaning to the high position the apple screenshot_20190124-220930_google2242974854855260815.jpgplayed in the story. The apple which has always been a symbol of purity and wisdom. A religious scion to relate to, a means of temptation especially when paired with the feminine mystique.

Maguire’s apple served as not only a means to begin the story but a common thread tying all the tales loose ends together. The apple which once tempted Eve in her garden drove Lucrezia to insanity and murder. A nod at how even the semblance of influence is enough to alter one’s behavior.

Overall I did enjoy the book. I’m rating it 3/5 because I wouldn’t force myself to endure it a second time but definitely would recommend reading it if you’re a fan of Maguire’s books. If you enjoy a good fairy tale or like adult adaptation’s of children’s stories than this book is great to add to the list.

For me I get to scratch it off my Gregory Maguire bucket – list and move on to my new read.

 

749a7d0d007183a029f3f7ba87d5e9541499451612295408644.jpg

 

What Is Your Favorite Snow White Re-Telling?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Renegades Read Along (Chap 1 – 15)

IMG_20180609_212056_465

Currently Reading: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

I was having some trouble getting through my read of Renegades and was hoping to add some excitement in hopes of finishing the book. So this is me trying to spice things up with what will hopefully be a new permanent addition to the blog. For more on what I thought about the first fifteen chapters watch the video below!

 

 

What Do You Think of The Book So Far?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What We’re Reading: House of D’Antonio

House of D'Antonio

The views shared throughout this review are solely the opinions of Blu Moon Fiction Staff. As always, we recommend reading the book for yourself and should you disagree with our views we encourage you to tell us. The reviews published by Blu Moon Fiction have been read for content, spelling and grammar.

The very first thing I noticed when receiving my copy of, The House of D’Antonio by Reece Cooper James, was the beautiful cover. The young woman on the cover is very striking and the translucent figure gives a sense that something of the paranormal may be happening.

Flipping to the back of the book we read of Roman D’Antonio king of Brocklehurst and surviving ruler of the House of D’Antonio. He alone is charged with traveling through dimensions to seek out Abigail, whose bloodline is the key to breaking the D’Antonio curse. Abigail has been bred to understand her family’s legacy as one of great responsibility; in her world she envisions Roman as her imaginary friend. From the explanation you should infer  this novel is one that features the two meeting and blending worlds in a way that either successfully ends the curse or doesn’t. Unfortunately, that is not what you get.

The most noticeable thing when you open the book is the possibly triple spaced layout. There are a few minor typos that can be overlooked if you desire to power through. If layout doesn’t put you off and for some people it may, then continue reading and learn all about  Abigail “Abi”Trenaulde.

What We’re Reading – American Gods

American-Gods-neil-gaiman-657066_600_860

 

I’d been really hype, I’d managed to grab tickets to a literary event in Atlanta and was determined to seem farther along in my business than I was at current. I was going to read up on black authors and authors in my genre, I was going to devour novels like a starving man stranded in the desert. I had been pouring over lists and catalogues for days compiling my shining achievement a Must Read list of 50 books specifically from the Urban Fantasy genre.

This is my swimming pool. I’m a fairy following, vampire documenting witch, with an affinity for the elements and an unnatural affinity for speaking to the GODS. I create them, and their worlds manifest themselves in my memory. I’ve traveled through earth, around it and above, my realm has spanned the cosmos and interrupted normal time patterns.

Yet, after spending half a salary on new books to begin my new expedition into a world of Gods and monsters I found myself staring at the same 3 pages for at least a month. I couldn’t get into the story, the character of Shadow didn’t really grab me. The mystery of American Gods was eluding me.

It opened simple enough , plopping us at the end of a prison sentence; we meet Shadow a young man who’s looking forward to a life of vanilla normalcy once he finishes his time for armed robbery. His wife Laura will be waiting as will his old job. He even picked up a new hobby, he’s recently become infatuated with coin tricks.

A few anecdotes aside, the first chapter or so of American Gods wasn’t enough to pull me in. The book sat closed bookmarked by a transpass for another month or so. Mid July I did manage to make it to chapter 3. The most profound moment at that point; had been reading and then visualizing a woman, who had literally consumed a guy with her womanly virtues. It was this moment that hooked me, i’d been dying to learn more about this Goddess, to discern why she posed as a prostitute and to discover who she’d really been.

Much like  during my time with the Nicholas Flamel series, I found myself researching the Gods origins. As mythic fiction is more my passion, seeing how others write it intrigued me. I’m still reserving all my opinions until I get to the end ofo the book, but the slow set up would definitely be something I’d change in my novels.

Gradually I began to see a true backstory, the world outside the world of Shadow the grieving convict. The world as it was for Wednesday his mysterious new employer. It’s obvious that Wednesday is one of the afformentioned Gods on the cover. He reserved in providing information but happily drags Shadow along to meet a hosts of characters. There is a significance in the coins that I feel speaks to Shadows true nature, but even now I’m not sure what or who he is really supposed to be.

Shadow wins a coin from a self – proclaimed leprachaun after a bar fight and he gives that coin to Laura at her funeral.  I am familiar with the tradition of leaving coins over the eyes of the dead to pay their passage into the underworld. However, I am unsure how I feel about gifting a magicalk coin to you alduturous dead ex-wife.

It seems to bring her back to life somehow, as Laura acts as a sort of ghostly guradian angel, literally murdering to keep Shadow safe.

I stopped last night two pages into chapter 7. The book has over 600 pages and I’m on 157. Originally I thoguht i’d be done the book by August and as of august 16, i’m about 25% through. Here are my take aways at this point.

There is an underlying war that may or may not be happening between the Gods of Myth and the new gods of what i believe to be “Technology” and “Money” or something along those lines. CIA style drones Wood and Stone beat poor Shadow silly during interrogation which ends with one’s death at the hands of Laura. It is definitely becoming interesting but it does drag a bit. I’ll continue to crawl through the chapters. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

#ShowsWeLove: Once Upon A Time: Season 5 Episode 16 – Our Decay A.K.A. Cora Pt. 2

OUAT 5X16 - Regina and Robin

 

Zelena a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the West’s character is a notable one. First-born of Cora, a miller’s daughter, a.k.a. Queen of Hearts. Abandoned, so her mother could grab the crown she so desperately craved, she’s resents Regina for being the one Cora kept. So eager to surpass her sister, Zelena has managed to repeat her mother’s mistakes.

Tonight’s episode takes us back to OZ for a glimpse of the puzzling romance of Zelena and Hades startign with the spell that’d bring them together. Zelena, still ruling in OZ had plans to create a time spell that would send her back to before Cora abandoned her.

OUAT 5X16 Hades-She’d need a brain and having kidnapped the scarecrow she nearly succeeded in stealing his. Until Dorothy, who returned to Oz per the request of the Munchkins, came in to stop her. With the help of TOTO they escape leaving Zelena furious.

She immediately rushes to Munchkinland demanding answers, what she gets instead is attention from the Underworld’s Lord and Master. Hades spins a tail of treachery, that Zeus somehow tricked him into being stuck in the Underworld with a frozen heart and that only true love’s kiss will start his heart again. He means to use her time spell to go back and change his fate. The two bond over their vengeance and sibling rivalry.

He offers to help her by leading her to Dorothy, in turn she will help him with a spell of his own. Zelena tracks down Dorothy and manages to get the Scarecrows brain. Returning to her lair, Hades reveals that he is now in love with her. When she spurns him he vows she’ll regret it. OUAT 5X16  - Zelena

Rushing to the present day Underworld we see that Rumple is being forced to create a portal to bring living beings there. Rumple succeeds in doing so just as Zelena posing as the Blue Fairy comes to steal Baby Hood from Belle. Her plans when the real Blue Fairy appears but most importantly when the portal opens she and Belle and Baby Hood are sucked through it. Zelena injured and magicless is bested by Belle who runs to find help.

She finds Rumple who reveals, he’s still the Dark One; she’s pregnant, and that the baby will belongs to Hades.  Demanding he fix things, Belle takes the baby  and continues to look for help.  Zelena limps her way to Regina and Robin asking for help. Eventually tracking Belle down, as we suspected Zelena tries stealing her away.  Helpless to stop a crying baby without magic, Zelena decides the safest place for the child is with Robin and Regina.

Zelena goes off to find Hades, but as the two square off he confesses that this was all a ploy to show his love for her. Claiming to have tried to smuggle the baby away for her he begs to prove his love. Tearfully she declines this time leaving to go get her daughter back.

Let the games begin, the underworld just got more hectic. Next week Rumple faces off against Gaston….OMG!