Waiting on a Wednesday: Circe by Madeline Miller

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*Waiting on a Wednesday is a weekly feature in which I spotlight upcoming releases that I can’t wait to read!

This week, I’m waiting on Circe by Madeline Miller.

I’ve had The Song of Achilles (also by Madeline Miller) on my TBR for a while now. I already own it, so I’m hoping to get to it before Circe comes out!

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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time! What’s not to love about Greek mythology and witches? This book is a retelling of The Odyssey from Circe’s perspective. Advanced reader reviews have been very positive, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this when it comes out in April!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Could Re-Read Forever

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*Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to bring bookish friends together. A new topic is posted each week.

This week’s topic is about books that I could reread again and again without getting sick of them.

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1. A Courtof Thorns and Roses
2. A Court of Mist and Fury
3. A Court of Wings and Ruin
I had to start off with the ACOTAR books because, well, I’ve read this series twice now, and I feel like I could totally read them again. I love all the characters, the asskicking moments, the steamy romance moments, everything.

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4. The Secret History
I rave about this book so much, for good reason. It’s such a dark, thrilling, captivating read. I feel like I could find things that I missed the first time around with each reread. There was just so much substance packed into these pages that I could just devour this book again and again.

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5. The Cruel Prince
I’ve already read this book twice and its only been out for two months, soooo…

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6. The Notebook
Middle school me (back when I had a heart) will always love this book.

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7. The Great Gatsby
This book is amazing and I don’t care what anyone says, Daisy is the real hero. Fight me.

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8. The Hunger Games
This book is beyond addictive, admit it. Also, I still haven’t read the third? Oh well.

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9. The Archived
10. The Unbound
These were the first Victoria Schwab books that I read. The premise is really unique… a Librarian who can access an archive of memories of the dead, called Histories? How does she come up with this stuff?

 

 

Book Haul – End of February

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I spoiled myself a little bit this month, so I wanted to share my recent purchases! I’m a lot more motivated to read when I actually own the books instead of having pretty little pictures on my Goodreads TBR list.


Pre-Order (Hardcover):

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I’m so so excited to read these! I recently featured To Kill a Kingdom on a recent Waiting on a Wednesday post. They both come out on March 6th (along with Children of Blood and Bone, another book I want to read!) and they’re guaranteed to arrive at my doorstep on the day of release. This is actually the first time I’ve ever pre-ordered a book, if that’s any indication of how much I want to read these ones.

The only question is, which one will I read first?!


Paperback:

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I’ve wanted to read The Goldfinch ever since I finished The Secret History. I feel like it might take me awhile to get to The Goldfinch, since its almost double (!) the length of The Secret History (which was a very long book) and I don’t have that kind of time commitment right now.

I’ve only ever read one other Neil Gaiman book (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) so I wanted to read more! Neverwhere seems like a good place to start. Eventually, I’d like to get to all of his books.


eBook (Kindle):

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Circe by Madeline Miller is one of my most anticipated releases of the year, so I wanted to start with The Song of Achilles! I love books that are based on Greek mythology, and I’ve only heard good things about this book.

I’m kind of nervous to read another Maggie Stiefvater book. Her writing is very pretty, but I find her books to be too slow and introspective for my liking. From what I’ve heard, The Raven Boys is very character driven, which is usually a big draw for me. People rave about this series, so I wanted to give it a chance!


If I ever finish Strange the Dreamer and The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I might even be able to crack into these before the weekend!

Sunday Spent in Bed With…Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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It’s cold and rainy outside and I’m curled up in my warm bed with a cup of coffee, and the only way I would leave it is if my apartment were to suddenly catch on fire. Or if I wanted to get another cup of coffee.

I’ve heard so much about Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, so I decided to pick it up. I’m going on four (or maybe five?) days of reading this book now, which is a long time for me. Even with working two jobs, I’m usually able to finish a book in two to three days.

Laini Taylor’s writing is absolutely phenomenal. I feel like I could quote every single sentence of Strange the Dreamer, because everything is just so beautiful and her analogies and descriptions are flawless. You can’t help but care deeply for the characters, which really twists the knife when bad things happen to them. Also, the level of creativity is out of this world and I’m pretty sure that this author is a magician for being able to craft such a magical and unique story.

“He had loved the library, and had felt, as a boy, as though it had a kind of sentience, and perhaps loved him back. But even if it was just walls and a roof with papers inside, it had bewitched him, and drawn him in, and given him everything he needed to become himself.”

I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to read this one, because I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. I had the same problem with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone (which I never actually finished). It’s like, even though I love the story, I have no desire to actually keep reading it and have to force myself through the pages. It’s a paradox. I don’t understand it.

I’m hoping to finish Strange the Dreamer sometime this weekend! In the meantime, I’m just gonna act like a burrito in my heated blanket and ignore the world for awhile.

Coffee Book Tag

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I came across this book tag from Peaks and Pages, and it was originally created by BangadyBangz. I love coffee almost more than I love reading (what can I say, I’m useless without it!) so I absolutely had to do this.

1. Black coffee: a book that was hard to get into but has a lot of diehard fans

I’m sort of dealing with this right now with Strange the Dreamer. People absolutely adore this book, but I’m sort of finding it to be (don’t throw rocks!) boring. The writing is beautiful, but I don’t have that compulsive need to read like I do with most books that capture my interest from the get-go. But I’m only 37% of the way through, so maybe I just need to give it some more time before the story pulls me in.

2. Peppermint mocha: a book that gets popular around the holiday season

When you read during the holiday season, you want to read wintery books! A few that I can think of are The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (the wintery-est of all winter books, bar none) and All the Light We Cannot See. I would include The Snow Child too, although I haven’t read it yet (it’s on my TBR and I’m hoping to get to it sometime soon). I’m actually always looking for recommendations for cozy winter reading!

Check out my reviews for The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower!

Side note: Peppermint mochas are my favorite.

3. Hot chocolate: your favorite children’s book

Harry Potter definitely takes the cake on this one, though I personally think of them as having an ageless demographic.

4. Double espresso: a book that kept you on the edge of your seat

Most recently, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, which was my Book of the Month pick for January. While it wasn’t anything groundbreaking in the thriller genre, it was the right kind of fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat read that I was in the mood for.

You can read my full review for this book here.

5. Starbucks: a book that you see everywhere

I’m still seeing all those hype-y books everywhere, like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, 50 Shades of Grey, etc. I don’t think they’ll be going away anytime soon.

6. Hipster coffee shop: a book by an indie author that you love

I haven’t really read anything by an indie author lately. Does Angelfall by Susan Ee count? I loved that book when it came out a few years ago for the unique and quirky dystopian fantasy that it was. The last book went a little off the deep end and left me completely underwhelmed, but I still enjoyed the series as a whole.

7. Oops, accidentally got decaf: a book you expected more from

I definitely expected more from Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones, since it is roughly based off The Labyrinth and the premise sounded right up my alley (I’m using a lot of clichés in this post, I’m so sorry). The first half was phenomenal, in my opinion. I fully expected it to be a five-star read until the mid-way point, when it became an entirely different book. Angsty, confusing romances aren’t really my thing. I had a hard time believing that the two main characters even liked each other.

I received an ARC of the sequel and read it, hoping that it would contain the elements of Wintersong that I enjoyed. You can read my review for Shadowsong here.

8. The perfect blend – a book with the perfect combination of bitter and sweet

I thought the ending to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab was intensely bittersweet. The entire series was a rollercoaster of emotions, and it concluded in such a satisfying but heartwrenching way. If you haven’t read these books already, do it. Seriously. V.E. (Victoria) Schwab is such a master storyteller, and all her books are phenomenal, but the Shades of Magic series is just amazing. The characterization, worldbuilding, everything.

You can read my review here.

9. Green tea – a book that is quietly beautiful

Maybe The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman? I’m not sure if this book counts as quiet, but there is a melancholic, nostalgic, dream-like quality to it and the writing is beautiful.

10. Chai tea – a book that makes you dream of far off places

I already mentioned Shades of Magic, right? So Harry Potter, the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Caraval, Strange the Dreamer, An Enchantment of Ravens, The Cruel Prince, and The Night Circus.

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

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Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.


Title: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Romance/New Adult/Contemporary
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Paperback
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Disclaimer: This review will contain some minor spoilers.

This book, like many books by Colleen Hoover, will completely shatter you.

If you’re looking for a light, fluffy romance read, this isn’t it. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its funny, romantic, light-hearted moments, but it does deal with some dark subject matter (trigger warning: physical violence and attempted rape).

I went into this book blind. Literally, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I thought that this was about a girl from Maine who moves to Boston and starts dating a hot neurosurgeon (my life, minus the hot neurosurgeon). When the tone of the book shifted about a quarter of the way through, I was completely blindsided. I actually enjoyed the unexpected twist, but I do think that people need to be warned about the content of this book. It confronts the subject of domestic violence and the many reasons that people don’t leave abusive relationships.

It Ends With Us is in no way a love triangle. I don’t know why its marketed as such, but I find that very misleading. This isn’t a book about a girl choosing between two men, this is a book about a girl confronting her past so that she can escape her present situation and create a different future.

Colleen Hoover manages to make her books so much more than just contemporary romances. There’s always something deeper involved. It Ends With Us is especially powerful and gripping. There are strong, multilayered characters and heartwrenching backstories. The way everything ties up at the end is so perfect, and I just can’t wait to read more from this author!

 

Waiting on a Wednesday: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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*Waiting on a Wednesday is a weekly feature in which I spotlight upcoming releases that I can’t wait to read!

This week, I’m waiting on To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.

Most of the future-release books on my TBR aren’t coming out until the end of the year, but luckily I don’t have to wait too long for this one! This is probably one of my biggest anticipated releases of the year (that isn’t a sequel).

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Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

(Credit for cover photo and synopsis: Goodreads)

IT SOUNDS AMAZING.

I’m a sucker for retellings, and this is supposedly a retelling of The Little Mermaid with a mix of other folklore as well! Anyone who knows me knows I love mermaids (I basically am one) and antiheroes, so this book may have been written for me. We’ll see.

To Kill a Kingdom will be available on March 6th.

Finding Motivation to Write

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Writing is hard.

It comes more naturally for some than others, but everyone has struggled with their own writing problems at one point or another. Perfectionism and self-doubt are the biggest obstacles for me; I struggle with them every single time I sit in front of my laptop, staring at a blank page.

I hit 45,000 words on my current project and I’m now closing in on 50,000. While I feel like this should be something to celebrate, I can’t help but feel like I should have more words written. I come down hard on myself for not spending enough time on actual writing, and instead spending time on editing what I’ve already written. I think this is where my perfectionism comes into play: I love editing (an unpopular opinion, I know). It makes me feel good to find the flaws in my writing and polish it into something I myself would want to read. There’s nothing wrong with editing while you write, but I find that this habit has slowed me down significantly. While it will save me from having to do more work later on, I would much prefer to look at the first draft as a whole. Still, I find it hard to continue on when I’m unsatisfied with the words I’ve already written. There’s been times when I’ve edited the same paragraph over and over again, only to look at the clock and see that an hour has gone by… an hour that could have been spent on moving further along with the project. I keep reminding myself to just write for now and worry about the editing part later. I think this is the best way to go, for my own sanity and productivity.

Self-doubt also creeps in while I’m writing. I can’t help but think to myself, would anyone want to read this? Would I even want to read this? The second question is by far the more important one. If you’re not writing for yourself, who are you writing for? You could write something that other people would love, but isn’t it more fulfilling to satisfy yourself? To have a finished product that you could be proud of? Sometimes I reread something and want to rip it to shreds. Other times, I reread something and can’t believe I was the one who wrote it. I try to hold on to these moments of confidence so that I may be motivated to continue.

Lately, I’ve found that if I seclude myself in a space that is not my apartment, I can get a lot more done. I can sit in a cozy cafe or a quiet public library and type for hours without even noticing the time go by. Now, I just need to find a routine. I want to be able to set goals for myself, to keep myself on a schedule. I find this to be another challenge to overcome, with my life being as hectic and unpredictable as it is. Still, this may just be another one of the many excuses I give myself. This whole process is a learning experience, and I’m taking it step-by-step while trying not to be too hard on myself along the way.

I will finish this project, even if it never sees the light of day, and I know that it will be an accomplishment that I will feel immensely proud of. Until then, I can only spend each day battling perfectionism and self-doubt with each word I type on the page.

Review: Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn

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Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?


Title: Anatomy of a Scandal
Author: Sarah Vaughan
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: January 11, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re looking for a riveting courtroom drama, this is it.

Rather than a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller, this book is more of a slow burn, with a few reveals along the way. It’s tense and character driven, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Anatomy of a Scandal is a very well-written, well-researched book about sexual violence; the gray areas that surround it, the way it’s treated in a courtroom, and the social ramifications on everyone involved. There are multiple perspectives which make the book well-rounded and gives you a glimpse into many different facets of the crime. The primary perspectives are of Kate, the sexual offense prosecutor, James, the politician who is on trial for rape, and Sophie, his wife.

Kate and Sophie are incredibly fascinating characters. I liked that Sophie didn’t blindly stand by her husband. She listened to the facts and questioned him along the way. Ultimately, she made the best decision for herself.

I will say that this book takes place in England and is very British. The law and political system is a little different and I didn’t understand some of the terminology, but the book did a fairly good job of making it understandable.

There is a twist around the halfway mark that I suspected pretty early-on, but I don’t think the reader is supposed to be too surprised by this revelation, anyway. Still, I enjoyed the way it was revealed, and thought that it was essential for understanding the motivation behind a particular character’s actions.

I would recommend Anatomy of a Scandal to anyone looking for a fascinating and unique courtroom thriller.

Three of a Theme: Russia-Inspired Fairy Tale Retellings

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This week, I’ll be discussing a trend in my favorites shelf: Russia-inspired fantasy novels!

  1. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  2. Uprooted by Naomi Novak
  3. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Russia is a fascinating country, and I love the blend of Russian history with fantasy elements.

Read:

In The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, it is very apparent how much research has been conducted by Katherine Arden on a period in Russian history that is little-known and poorly documented. She blends this historical context with Russian fairytales and the folklore of the time, to create a magical and believable world.

Uprooted is a fairytale version of Poland and Russia. It has a twist of Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel, as well as hints of Slavic folklore. Naomi Novik has built a wonderful world through this clever mix of origin stories and has managed to make it feel like her own creation.

To Read:

I have yet to read Deathless, but I own a paperback copy and fully plan on reading this one over the next couple of weeks. This book mixes the Russian folklore story of Koschei the Deathless with historical events in the twentieth century. I’ve been told that this book contains some heavy topics, so I’m likely to wait until I’ve read something a little lighter (I’m still reeling from The Secret History).