The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

For the record, I should probably give you a heads up by letting you know that this will be a rambling review. If you’ve been here before, you already know that I tend to do that when I review a book by an author I adore. For the record, T.J. Klune is one of those authors and unsurprisingly, The House in the Cerulean Sea is most definitely one of those books. Consider yourself forewarned. 😉

I have to admit that Linus didn’t win me over in the beginning. The more I got to know him though, the more I realized that the real reason I couldn’t connect with him was because he couldn’t connect with himself. He was lost and didn’t even really realize it. He wasn’t really living, but simply surviving. It took me a while, but in true T.J. fashion, once I connected with this amazing story it wouldn’t let me go.

I was as leery as Linus when readers were first introduced to Arthur and his charges. It didn’t take long to figure out that these kids were much more than their “classification.” It also didn’t take me long to pick a favorite. (I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my adoration of Lucy. ❤ ) Only T.J. Klune could make me fall in love with the Anti… well, that name or label just isn’t used in reference to one of Arthur’s charges.

Kids are a soft spot for me and The House in the Cerulean Sea pulled on all my heart strings. It did more than that though. there was more than one message. Without spoiling anything, but to give you just a taste of why this author is a must read for me…

“It’s not fair,” Linus said, staring off into nothing. “The way some people can be. But as long as you remember to be just and kind like I know you are, what those people think won’t matter in the long run. Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.”

So yeah, Linus grew on me, just like he grew on Arthur and his charges. And then there was a theme that is front and center in a lot of T.J.’s books and one that I adore…

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

The House in the Cerulean Sea was much more than I expected. Sure, it was a little bit corny at times, but it made me smile. And yeah, the inevitable tears were there, even when I didn’t quite expect them. If you’ve never read a book by T.J. Klune, this is an amazing place to start.

“Don’t you wish you were here?”

Trust me, once you read The House in the Cerulean Sea, you’ll totally understand. 😉

 

 

 

Heartsong (Green Creek #3) by T.J. Klune

All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine.
Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home.
But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told. Whispers of traitorous wolves and wild magic abound—but who are the traitors and who the betrayed?
More than anything, Robbie hungers for answers, because one of those alleged traitors is Kelly Bennett—the wolf who may be his mate.
The truth has a way of coming out. And when it does, everything will shatter.

Oh Robbie *sigh*, oh Kelly *sigh*… oh T.J. *glares* If you’ve read any books by T.J. Klune, no explanation is necessary.

I really don’t know how to explain Heartsong without giving anything away. Rest assured, it was full of the usual angst, wit and inevitable heartbreak that readers have come to expect from the Green Creek series, but the approach was slightly different. And that is all I’m going to say, except stick with it and be patient. Sorry?

If you’ve read the other books in the Green Creek series, which you should before you pick up Heartsong, you know that the Bennet Pack has a few battles left to fight before things settle down for them. (If it’s been a while since you’ve read Ravensong, you might want to consider a quick reread to get yourself up to speed – just a suggestion.)

The first part of the book focuses on Robbie and… well, you’ll have to keep reading Heartsong to understand, but it’s worth it. A lot’s happened since the end of Ravensong. Betrayal from unexpected sources, love found… and lost, heartbreak, danger, suspense and more. I can’t honestly say I loved every minute of it because there was a lot of pain involved in Heartsong, but there was still a lot to love.

The bonds of the pack were stretched to the limit and there were trust issues where there never were before, but pack is pack, family is family and nothing was more important to the Bennets. That’s one of the things I love about this series. Loyalty, family and most importantly love flow strong between the wolves, humans and even the omegas.

And then there was the ending *glares at the evil author one more time*. Nothing will ever be the same for some members of the pack. The next book is Brothersong and it’s going to be bittersweet, mainly because it marks the end of the Green Creek series. If, like me, you’re craving just a little bit more once you finish Heartsong, you can visit T.J. Klune’s website and read or even listen to Feralsong, a free short story he wrote for his faithful fans. Given how things ended, I don’t think I can hold off reading Brothersong once it’s released. I can’t wait to continue the Green Creek series – especially since it features Gavin and “stupid” Carter. 😉

Until You (At First Sight #3) by T.J. Klune

Together with their families and friends, Paul Auster and Vincent Taylor request the honor of your company at the celebration of their marriage.
Paul Auster and Vince Taylor just want to have a simple wedding. Really, is that too much to ask?
As the big day approaches, they struggle to keep everything from spiraling out of control. From meddling friends and intrusive family, to a certain drag queen’s idea as to what constitutes a normal bachelor party, Paul and Vince have their work cut out for them.

So, now I can honestly say that I’ve completed TJ Klune’s At First Sight series. We won’t discuss how long it took me or the fact that I didn’t exactly read it in order, or how many times that I started from the beginning to get to this point. The important part is that I’m done and I loved every minute of it. 😉

If you’ve spent any time at all with the Auster clan, you wouldn’t have to read the book blurb to guess that Vince and Paul’s big day would happen without hitting a few snags along the way. Until You may have been short and sweet, but it wasn’t lacking in the wit, charm, humor and most importantly, love that readers have come to expect from books in this series. I adore this family! ❤

Until You was also the perfect lead into Why We Fight. Although the Auster’s story comes to a close with that final book, I have no doubt that this is one series that will remain on my re-read list.

DragonFlyRating5

 

How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by T.J. Klune

Josiah Erickson wants to be a movie star. The problem with that is so does half of Los Angeles. But he’s on his way, what with memorable roles as a TV show background cadaver and a guy in a commercial for herpes medication. All he needs is his big break. And that break may come in the form of a novelist who goes by the enigmatic name of Q-Bert.
Q-Bert, who is ready to make his directorial debut in a film Josy would be perfect for. Q-Bert, who Josy may or may not have a friend-crush on, and potentially something more. Being demisexual can be confusing.
From the City of Angels to the small mountain town of Abby, Oregon, Josy will give his all to make sure his dreams come true—even the ones he never thought possible.

My initial reaction when I finished How to Be a Movie Star? – Oh Josy, and Quincy, and We Three Queens, and Gus and Casey, and … oh my…
I gotta admit, it wasn’t quite as good as How to Be a Normal Person, but it was close enough to make me fall in love with these characters (and a few others) all over again. *sigh*

How to Be was never meant to be a series. No matter how much readers begged for a sequel to How to Be a Normal Person, the author assured them that there would never be another book that featured Grumpy Gus and friends. It was a one time stand alone – end of discussion. Thank whatever powers that be that these characters were more strong willed than the author expected. 😀

Out of the Three Ironic Amigos (Casey’s friends from LA), Josy was my favorite (and apparently Gus’.) For that reason, I’m really glad that he got his HEA. Then there was Q-Bert. He was adorable and flustered and shy and Josy… was, well Josy – their first meeting was both adorable and a total disaster.

I loved getting to know Josy better and meeting Q-Bert, but spending time with Gus and Casey was great too. Gus was a quirky as ever and Casey was just as devoted. One of my favorite moments was when both Josy and Casey jumped to Gus’ defense when Q-Bert asked a totally innocent question… their reaction was priceless and made me love them both even more.

There’s so much more I could say about How to Be a Movie Star, but honestly, it’s something you just have to experience. From the rest of the Ironic Amigos, to the quirky residents of Abby, Oregon – which of course, include the We Three Queens, it was the perfect sequel that was never meant to be. 😉

 

The Art of Breathing (Bear, Otter & the Kid #3) by T.J. Klune

Tyson Thompson graduated high school at sixteen and left the town of Seafare, Oregon, bound for what he assumed would be bigger and better things. He soon found out the real world has teeth, and he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him. His brother, Bear, and his brother’s husband, Otter, believe coming home is exactly what Tyson needs to find himself again. Surrounded by family in the Green Monstrosity, Tyson attempts to put the pieces of his broken life back together.
But shortly after he arrives home, Tyson comes face to face with inevitability in the form of his childhood friend and first love, Dominic Miller, who he hasn’t seen since the day he left Seafare. As their paths cross, old wounds reopen, new secrets are revealed, and Tyson discovers there is more to his own story than he was told all those years ago.
In a sea of familiar faces, new friends, and the memories of a mother’s devastating choice, Tyson will learn that in order to have any hope for a future, he must fight the ghosts of his past.

This is the second time I’ve read The Art of Breathing (I should probably mention that it won’t be my last…) For some strange, unexplainable reason, I neglected to write a review the first time. The only excuse I may have is that this book gave me such an emotional hangover that I couldn’t come up with anything coherent to write… For the record, waiting and reading it again hasn’t helped, but I owe it to this book and series to give it a try…

The Art of Breathing is told from Tyson (the Kid’s) POV. It’s rather ironic in a way because the other books in the series are told from Bear’s POV and in this book Tyson realizes, much to his dismay, that he and his brother have much more in common that he’s comfortable admitting. 😉

There were a lot of surprises in The Art of Breathing. A lot of tears, a lot of laughs and a fair amount of heartbreak. As per usual with T.J. Klune, those moments can make you shed tears of laughter followed by tears of heartbreak within the span of just a few pages… I kinda both love and hate him for that. *sigh*

Tyson wasn’t in a very good place through a lot of The Art of Breathing, mostly because of Dom. Because of that, regardless of how unfair it was, I spent a lot of this book not very happy with Dominic. Nothing’s exactly as it seems though and as the story unfolded I actually fell right back in love with him. Their story needed to come full circle and I understand why things happen the way they did, but it didn’t make experiencing them through Tyson made them any easier. I think to me, regardless of how much he’s grown in this series, I’m always going to see him as just the “little guy” we met in Bear, Otter and the Kid.

Tyson was at the center of this story, but there was so much to love about The Art of Breathing that I’m not quite sure I can list it all. To be honest, I decided to re-read the Kid’s book for a couple of reasons. First, the next book in Klune’s At First Sight series is coming out soon and since Why We Fight is Corey/Kori’s book and I first met him/her in The Art of Breathing, I wanted to refresh my memory. Second… I have decided that 2019 will be the year that I finally put on my “Big Girl Pants” and read The Long and Winding Road.

Bear, Otter and the Kid was my first T.J. Klune read and this series has pulled me into an author’s world like no other. Saying goodbye to these characters isn’t going to be easy, but like this review, I owe it to them to finally see it through. ❤

Blasphemy! by T.J. Klune

Blasphemy!
Or,
When he sees Satan stuck in a rut, God provides a little divine intervention, suggesting the Devil get back to basics.
Taking God’s advice, Satan answers a summons to a crossroad on Earth, hellbent on brokering a deal in exchange for the soul of the human who summoned him.
The problem with that is the summoner is a deviant twink named Jimmy who immediately falls in love at first sight, much to Satan’s dismay.
Blasphemy! Where God is a frat bro who wants to get his brother laid, Satan absolutely does not have time for this shit, and Jimmy wants to climb the Devil like a tree.

This book is pure T.J. Klune hilarity – as you can probably tell from the description. That little blurb doesn’t even come close to the LOL! moments that are woven within this short little gem. There is absolutely nothing serious about this one, so if you need a short, funny read to tickle your funny bone, Blasphemy! should do the trick. Enjoy!

Blasphemy! is a freebie that’s available on T.J. Klune’s website. You can read it there or download the PDF or mobi version, but before you do – please read the disclaimer. 😉

The Bones Beneath My Skin by T.J. Klune

In the spring of 1995, Nate Cartwright has lost everything: his parents are dead, his older brother wants nothing to do with him, and he’s been fired from his job as a journalist in Washington DC. With nothing left to lose, he returns to his family’s summer cabin outside the small mountain town of Roseland, Oregon to try and find some sense of direction.
The cabin should be empty.
It’s not.
Inside is a man named Alex. And with him is an extraordinary little girl who calls herself Artemis Darth Vader.
Artemis, who isn’t exactly as she appears.
Soon it becomes clear that Nate must make a choice: let himself drown in the memories of his past, or fight for a future he never thought possible.
Because the girl is special. And forces are descending upon them who want nothing more than to control her.

At one point while reading The Bones Beneath My Skin, I posted “I think my favorite part of any TJ Klune book has to be his characters’ inner dialogue. It just makes them that much more “real” – and Nate is no exception.” That was less than half way through the book and my opinion never changed – not that I thought it would.

That being said, one of my least favorite parts about reading ANY TJ Klune book is this part. The review writing part… the part where I not only can’t, but don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, while at the same time trying desperately to let EVERYONE know that they need to read this book. Happens. Every. Single. Time. (Kind of ironic I know, since I requested to review this one…) So prepare yourself for rambling vagueness…

Nate spent the first few chapters of The Bones Beneath My Skin worrying about his sanity or hoping he’d wake up from the craziest dream ever. He came to his inherited cabin to find some direction and try to sort out the mess he had made of his life. Instead, things became exceedingly more complicated from the moment he found Alex and Artemis squatting in his cabin.

Now’s where the vagueness comes in… There was a lot more to Alex and Artemis than Nate could even come close to guessing… and he had a LOT of theories. The one thing that he did know – even after knowing her for a very short time – was that Artemis was special and she needed protecting, he just had no idea what from or why.

The Bones Beneath My Skin had pretty much everything that I’ve come to expect from a T.J. Klune novel. Witty characters, suspense, humor, and a strong sense of family – proving once again that a “found” family can sometimes be a lot better than the one you’re born into.

In The Bones Beneath My Skin, there was also action, twists, turns and more than a few surprises. Then there was the emotion. I was pretty proud of myself for making it through a T.J. Klune book tear-free – not that this book wasn’t full of feels – it definitely was. That’s not something new for this author either. What threw me was that I thought I was home free. I made it all the way to 95%. I was so close… and then? Well, you’re just going to have to read The Bones Beneath My Skin to discover for yourself all of Alex, Artemis and even Nick’s secrets.

Lovesong (Green Creek #2.5) by TJ Klune

She has lived.
She has lost.
Everything she has is blue.
But here, in the end, she’ll be given one last chance.
A gift for all she has endured.
And her lovesong will be heard.

Author’s Note: This is part of a series meant to be read in order, starting with Wolfsong followed by Ravensong. If you haven’t read both books, this will spoil major events. You’ve been warned.

Lovesong was published on TJ Klune’s website as a free short story for his readers. You can read it here – but please heed the author’s warning. There are things revealed that you really don’t want to know until you experience them in both Wolfsong and Ravensong.

This author has a knack for breaking hearts and slowly, very slowly putting them back together. Some things are beyond that though, but with a shred of hope… Yeah, there’s always hope and Lovesong is full of that. That’s not saying it’s still not heartbreaking, but with hope comes healing.

This is Elizabeth’s story and it’s full of heartbreak, awesomeness and most of all, best of all hope… ❤

Ravensong (Green Creek #2) by TJ Klune

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.
It should have been enough.
And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.
Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.
But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.
Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.

Ravensong didn’t affect me nearly as much as Wolfsong, but it was still powerful in its own way. Going in, readers that paid attention were warned by the author that this was Gordo’s story and being in his head wasn’t going to be anything like it was with Ox. I paid attention and I knew that, but I still wasn’t prepared for Gordo’s darkness. That’s not a bad thing because Gordo had been through so much, it would have been weird if he didn’t have a harder edge.

Mark and Gordo were broken and in a lot of ways they had broken each other. They still loved each other though and the kind of bond they had wasn’t an easy one to break. Gordo thought he had though. He thought that he could keep Mark at a distance and ignore his feelings. He thought he hid them well, but it’s hard to hide things from a pack, especially when one of them is destined to be your mate.

So much happened in Ravensong. There was a lot of overlap with events that took place in Wolfsong, but they were seen from Gordo’s POV, so it wasn’t redundant. It actually added to both stories.

Richard Collins may be dead, but what he started is far from over. I don’t want to spoil anything, but TJ Klune’s concept of an Omega wolf plays a very big role in Ravensong. I can’t say much more except that I spent a lot of time in this book holding my breath. Mainly because I had no idea exactly how much of his #EvilAuthor side was going to come into play. Yeah, that love/hate relationship is still going strong.

Regardless of the tension – there was so much to love about Ravensong… The sense of family (pack!pack!pack!) continued to be strong. The characters were amazing. The twists and turns and craziness kept the pages turning and I loved every single minute of it.

 

A Wish Upon the Stars (Tales from Verania #4) by T.J. Klune

Nearly a year ago, blinded by grief and betrayal, Sam of Wilds made a desperate decision to follow the Great White into the Dark Woods. Now, he emerges to a world changed.
The City of Lockes is a prison. The King has been locked away in the dungeons. The Kingdom of Verania has fallen, and the Dark wizard Myrin sits on the throne.
But soon after his return, Sam learns of a resistance fighting in his name led by a courageous knight, a defiant prince, a pissed-off unicorn, and a half-giant who wants to smash everything in sight. If he has any hope of defeating the villains who have taken their home, Sam must face the consequences of his choices—and the friends he left behind.

I have a really, really, really hard time reviewing books by this author. Only because I want my reviews to convince everyone that they should be reading them and I know that I can’t come close to conveying their awesomeness… See, even I don’t believe me when I start spewing things like this. I’ve got to try though, so…

I’ve said this before, but it needs to be repeated. Just because this book centers around a young wizard hopelessly in love with a courageous knight, the prince he has sworn to serve and protect, a band of dragons and his best friends – a half giant and a gay unicorn – doesn’t mean that Tales from Verania is a series full of silliness and fluff. Although there is plenty of that, I mean, how couldn’t there be? The stories go way beyond that. The silliness is sweet relief from the danger and heartbreak – because there’s plenty of that too…

In true TJ Klune form, the chapters are laced with tears of laughter followed by tears of heartbreak. There are also tears of pure, unexpected joy. (He’s evil like that – hence the ongoing love/hate relationship.) Sam comes back from the Dark Woods sooner than the Great White wanted him to, but he’d been gone long enough. For those he left behind, he’d been gone too long. Alliances that Sam isn’t exactly comfortable with have been made and he has a lot of making up to do – even though he knows in his heart it was the right thing to do, maybe… There’s a lot that needs to be done and not much time to do it. As with every adventure and situation these characters have been through – they will work and fight together.

As with most series, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Merry Band of Misfits. I have to say though, as series endings go, A Wish Upon the Stars was amazing. This is definitely going to be on my re-read list. Also, if I ever decide to try listening to audio books again, this series will be my first attempt. I’ve heard from more than one listener that Michael Lesley’s narration is not to be missed. 😉