Book Review: Summer of the Cicadas by Chelsea Catherine

Today’s review is about SUMMER OF THE CICADAS by Chelsea Catherine. It’s a novella-length soft horror story about a cicada “invasion,” confronting loss, and becoming a leader.

Author: Chelsea Catherine
Series: None
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publish Date: August 18, 2020
Print Length: 160

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Book Review: A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

Author: Jessica S. Olson
Series: None
Age Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publish Date: March 24, 2022
Print Length: 384

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ARC Review: A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

Author: S.T. Gibson
Series: None
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Redhook
Publish Date: October 4, 2022
Print Length: 304

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Monthly Book Blog Wrap-Up: January 2022

And just like that January 2022 is over. Done. Finished. On to the next month of the year. Sometimes it feels like time passes by so quickly. Which reminds me of a recent episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation I recently watched. In it Data times how long it takes for a kettle of water to boil in an effort to understand why his human crew mates feel that time moves slowly or fast. But I digress…on to the monthly recap!

Book Reviews
I posted our book reviews in January. From earliest to latest I reviewed:

Book Memes and Other Posts
I posted five book-related memes:

I also posted a variety of other bookish posts including:

That’s a total of 13 blog posts, which ties January 2022 with December 2021. There must be something about the cold weather that makes me more productive than usual…oh wait, yes, the cold. Which keeps me inside. So far it’s been a cold winter with multiple nights in the teens, sometimes as low as 12 Fahrenheit!

Other Book-ish Progress
I set some lofty goals for myself this month considering I’m not a fast reader. I’m motivated to get through my backlog of NetGalley approvals. I’m happy to say I met all of my goals, which included reading and writing reviews for all of the books listed above. I also set a goal to finally write my review of Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian and finished that on Sunday night.

Unexpectedly, I read and wrote three extra reviews for Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith; To Bleed a Crystal Bloom by Sarah A. Parker; and Castles in their Bones by Laura Sebastian. That brought my total reads in January to six, which is fantastic for me.

I also started reading two books this past weekend. The first is The Broken Heart of Arelium by Alex Robins. This read is for a blog tour I signed up for with The Write Reads. The second book I started is The North Wind by Alexandra Warwick. I looked through my NG account and realized I totally forgot to download this approval before the archive date. This means I missed my opportunity to read and review it on NG. I’m not sure why I missed it, but it is what it is. I felt bad, so I decided to read it on Kindle Unlimited and at least post a review here.

And that’s a wrap!

Book Review: A Land of Never After by R.L. Davennor

Author: R.L. Davennor
Publisher: Night Muse Press
Publish Date: October 26, 2021
Print Length: 174

Official Synopsis
All my life, I’ve dreamed of the sea.

Mermaids, stormy skies, daring adventures, pirates…it was little wonder I sprinted to the docks the moment I left the orphanage. Eager to begin my new life, I searched for a ship that would have me—and found a thief instead. I chased the bastard.

Now I’m trapped.

I’m told this place is Neverland, but everything I touch is dead or dying; what’s left is hellbent on killing each other. Monsters lurk around every corner, and everyone I meet hides a damning secret. I’m thrust in the middle of a deadly feud, and the only one capable of unraveling the curse that plagues us.

Neverland is my home now. Until it’s done with me?

It will never let go.

Peter Pan meets Pirates of the Caribbean in A Land of Never After, but reader beware: this children’s tale has been reimagined for adult lovers of all things dark and deadly, with an LGBTQ+ positive twist.

My Review
I received a free, digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

The theme of my reading lately is definitely all about retellings. A Land of Never After is a dark, adult retelling of Peter Pan. Wendy is 16 and is now too old to remain at the orphanage. Hoping to put some distance between herself and a place she doesn’t hold dear, Wendy sets out to catch sail on a ship. But just as her rash and stubborn efforts are about to land her a spot, Wendy’s pulled away by none other than Peter Pan.

She soon finds herself in the Forest of Never, where many have entered, but from which none have returned. This is not your average forest. Everything in it is dying. Leaving is not an option. And you must either kill or be killed.

A Land of Never After is probably the most unique retelling I’ve had the pleasure to read. Dare I say it falls somewhere in the realm of fantasy horror? The incorporation of a curse on all who inhabit the land really takes this twist on Peter Pan to a whole new level. It serves to add more depth to each main character. Compared to the classic children’s tale, the characters in this rendition are more cunning and ruthless. They have to be if they want to live. I also really liked that the curse means more time with Hook and pirate life.

As the synopsis indicates, there is an LGBTQ+ twist. Though the “twist” has nothing to do with the overall plot, it’s important to mention in case someone is looking for a more inclusive read.

Davennor’s writing is easy to read, clean, and to the point. A novella in length, Davennor makes succinct use of the page count to convey important plot points and nuanced emotions of the main characters. There is some world-building, but it’s not extensive, mainly, I think, because of the book length. Perhaps my only critiques are that Wendy seems a bit too rash and naive at the beginning, and the interactions between Wendy and Peter are a bit rushed. I find it a little difficult to imagine a female orphan walking up to a small group of intimidating-looking men at a bar in the evening to ask if they’ve seen Peter.

Overall, I enjoyed A Land of Never After. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that this tale is perfect for those who chase retellings, adore bloodthirsty curses, and get weak in the knees for pirates.

Rating: 3.75/5
Content warnings: language, violence, mentions of gender dysphoria and suicide
Reading format: Kindle e-book