Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire

Rating: ✨✨✨✨✨

Genre: young adult, fantasy, magical realism, LGBTQIA+

Content warnings: death, murder

This is just one of those books that I will be always grateful to have stumbled upon. I was browsing a book recommendations post on tumblr with awesome asexual/aromantic representation. That’s all I knew about the story, an ace main character and I read the blurb. I went in with no expectations and this little series instantly made it to my all time favorites list.

The Wayward Children is a series of short novellas set in a world, where on Earth special kids exist. They might not be special to the people around them, but they are chosen by other worlds to accept as their own. The worlds want them so bad that a door appears to the chosen child inviting them to live in the world that is most compatible with them. The only instruction they get is that they need to be sure of their choice and they have to keep their new world’s rules. It is a portal-magic series with lots of heart and a very lovely and diverse set of characters.

It is honestly incredible to me to this day how thin these books are compared to other young adult stories.. and despite that so many things happen! I never feel like the book was cut short or any character development or bonding scenes were cut or rushed. Seanan is just mighty good.

I also have to mention the prose! Ever since my love was reignited for Maggie Stiefvater’s beautiful soul-touching prose I have been craving it from other books. This book was the first one that gave me that same comfort, of feeling known and connecting so deeply to an author’s principles. The series has beautiful, unapologetically feminist prose throughout and it won’t stand for anything less.

In each book we have a central character whose story is the main focus of the plot and a few supporting characters who will be back from time to time in the other books, or end up being the protagonists in that book. All books and plot are connected, even if chronologically they have a fun trick to them. Every odd volume is set in the present, every even is set in the past.

As such, the first book, Every Heart a Doorway is set in the present, and follows Nancy and her adminission to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. This is a great set up as we both learn more about Nancy and we are introduced to the world through her. 

Nancy was young when she found a peculiar door in the cellar and on the opposite side she found herself in a garden of pomegranate trees. She fell in love with the Halls Of The Death immediately and never wanted to return to the world she was born in. However, after years, she was still sent back to her birth-world. A world that is far too fast and noisy for her, to parents who never really understood her. Her parents of course don’t believe a word about mysterious doors and a world filled with ghosts and living statues and as a last resort they send her away to a boarding school for troubled kids.

The only thing they don’t realize is that the headmistress, Eleanor, has been through the doors herself and the stuff she tells to desperate parents is nothing more than a well rehearsed sales pitch. Eleanor was one of the lucky ones, her doors allowed her to visit between the world of her choice and her birth-world several times. Still she lives in her birth-world now, trying to guide kids who went through similair journeys. Eleanor, with the help of a small staff, offers lessons and counseling to the kids. As a part of this, every kid shares about the world they found. The worlds are as different as can be and the kids only seem to have one thing in common: they all hope to return one day. 

As Nancy makes some friends and struggles to accept that she might never return to her beloved world, a murder mystery intrudes on their peaceful school life. She and her new friends set out to solve the mystery while also keeping an eye out for doors that could appear at any place.

The series is about finding your place in the world, finding a place that feels like it was made for you – and then loosing it. Do you give up hope or can you keep faith that you will be able to return? What happened to those kids who just disappeared one day? Did they find doors of their own or did something else happen to them? Despite all the hard hitting questions the books manage to be full of hope and heart.

P.S.
I am just going to to happy-cry a little in the corner because I just realized we are getting a boxset release for the first three volumes. It’s not like I don’t have them already, but do I also need the set? Absolutely.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Buy the boxset on Amazon

Doodle It All by Boutique-Sha

Rating ✨✨✨✨✨

Genre: non-fiction, arts and crafts

Content warnings: none

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is just the cutest! Have you ever wanted to draw cute things for yourself or a child? This book is the perfect place to start. You don’t need prior art knowledge to be able to start.

All of the tiny items are drawn in a simplified way using base shapes and they are super adorable. There are some stationary recommendations at the beginning of the book but really you only need a pen or pencil and a piece of paper to start.

There are several topics that are shown: animals, people, food, kitchen utensils, household items, clothes, hobbies, vehicles and so on! Every little illustration is shown step-by-step. Just flipping through this book makes me want to grab a piece of paper and start drawing again!

And my absolutele favorite are the special lessons at the end, we get some cute ideas for collage by using masking tapes. Recommended for all of your artsy needs! It would make a great gift for kids, especially if you end up drawing a bit together after opening the book.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Rating ✨✨✨✨✨

Genre: young adult, fantasy, magic, fiction

Content warnings: violent fights, deaths mentioned, sex workers, indentured workers

Please note that there are a few book series set in this universe, called the Grisha-verse. This book is part of a duology, there is no third book so far. This book was my first from this author and I did not feel like I missed anything important, so you should be fine to start with this as well. As far as I know there are references to the other books but those are only fun easter eggs for readers who are already familiar with the Grisha-verse.

This book was a huge surprise for me. It is rare when I cannot pinpoint it what exact moment makes me fall in love with a series, but that is the case with this book. The first few chapters did not convince me, however once the action starts there is just no stopping. I don’t know how the writer managed it, but the constantly changing POV and the twists made the book so dynamic, that it was a joy to read.

The setting is a world where people with minor magical powers exist – the Grisha. The story starts in Ketterdam, where most Grisha are not powerful enough to have the upper hand and they are practically kept as slaves by rich merchants. In the first chapter we learn a bit about them, then we are introduced to one of the city’s crime band, the Dregs. The story follows a smaller team who are attempting the heist of a life time – go beyond enemy lines, infiltrate a military base and get out with the prize. The crew members come from different backgrounds, the only thing they share is that they currently reside in Ketterdam and have nothing to loose.

I loved that this was a character focused book, every chapter you learned more about them and about their feelings regarding the other members. Now, most of them are not good people, they work in a line where killing people is part of the job. However, each of them has a different view on this, and everyone’s backstory is explained very well. It was great to see how they overcame their fears and their pasts. We have soldiers who were brainwashed from a young age, kids who were kidnapped and sold as slaves, kids who left their family for totally unrelated reasons. At first it was very ludicrous to me, but also to the people in the books, that we are talking about literal 17 year olds threatening adults in a lot of scenes. But damn man, after learning what these kids have been through they get to be as extra as they want. I appreciated that there were romantic undertones but it never took over the story. At times we were also kept in the dark about the details of the heist, or quite simply the plans had to be changed and improvised on the spot, which just made everything more exciting. I loved the female friendship in this book, it was one of the most stable relationships in both of their lives based on respect and trust. The book ends on a surprisingly hopeful note and I am excited to see how things turn out in book two. 

One thing that made me a bit sad was when a character who is clearly touch averse due to trauma was rejected, partly due to this. Now this was not discussed in detail and I hope this gets a bit more cleared up in book two but this is not a good look so far especially since the other party knows abuse and sexual abuse well enough. (Note: yes, this does get resolved in a satisfactory way in the next book.)

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon