Review: The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

37007910[1]Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…



Title: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal/Romance
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Rating: ðŸŒŸðŸŒŸ

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

This book captured my interest from the beginning. A dark, historical novel about ghosts and witches in 19th century New England sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver.

The main issue I had with this book was that I can’t identify the main conflict…I mean, there really wasn’t one. Sure, there were ghosts and witchcraft and an eerie house, but that was all in the background of family drama and romantic angst.

The main issue seemed to be that Lydia’s older sister Catherine is a complete nightmare who doesn’t even care how her actions affect her family and who constantly relies on others to clean up her messes. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character more. She is petty, mean, and selfish to the extreme. She couldn’t stand to see Lydia happy and did whatever she could to ensure that she wasn’t. The sisterly hate was the biggest conflict in this story, and it is never properly resolved.

Another issue is the romance between John Barrett and Lydia. There are some insta-love vibes in this book, as I’m still not entirely sure why John even liked Lydia. She was rude to him on several occasions because she didn’t know how to express her feelings or communicate with other human beings. There were so many misunderstandings and so much miscommunication that I just ended up frustrated during most of their interactions.

Some aspects of this story had a lot of promise and could have been interesting, had they actually had anything to do with the story. Instead, they just fizzled out. Creepy dead ghost sister? Nothing. Creepy dead ghost boy who threatens the main characters? Nothing. Creepy house that puts everyone on edge and seems to attract disasters? Absolutely nothing. It’s like a bunch of stuff was thrown in to create suspense and atmosphere, but never actually has any purpose. Even the fact that Lydia is a witch never really matters that much. We only actually see her “power” a couple times, and her use of power in front of John at the end was insanely anticlimactic. The people who found out she was a witch were way too accepting of her. In fact, the two “love interests” seemed to think of her as a rare commodity once they found out she was a witch.

Also, are we really supposed to believe that this is how people talk and act in the early 1800s? I’m no historian, but this book almost seemed like it could have taken place in the 21st Century, other than the occasional mention of propriety and social rules.

It all just seemed way too easy. There was never any real tension, no overarching problem, no character development to speak of. The Witch of Willow Hall is just a creepy book about boy drama and some serious family issues.

July 2018 Mini-Reviews, Part 1

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Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary/Romance/Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book deserves so much praise, but I really don’t think I could do it justice. Instead, I’ll post links to the reviews that made me pick up this book in the first place.

Check out reviews by:
meltotheany
destiny @ howling libraries
Rachel (rachandbooks)


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Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Publisher: Crown
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“Nothing exists. All is a dream. God—man—the world—the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars—a dream, all a dream; they have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space—and you…. And you are not you—you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought.” 

This book was twisty and turny and weird and crazy, but the craziest thing is probably that this is a science fiction novel and I loved it. I usually steer clear of sci-fi at all costs, but this book sounded so good that it’s actually been on my radar for awhile. I finally grabbed it from the library, and I’m so glad that I did.

“I’ve always known, on a purely intellectual level, that our separateness and isolation are an illusion. We’re all made of the same thing—the blown-out pieces of matter formed in the fires of dead stars.”

In Dark Matter, the main character, Jason, must navigate through an infinite amount of worlds to return back to his family and the life that was stolen from him. Some of these worlds are nearly identical to our own, while others couldn’t be more different or (pun intended) out-of-this-world.

Ultimately, this is a story about the meaning of happiness and the path not taken. It is about looking at the choices we have made and how they have brought us to where we are. Do we regret the choices we have made? Would we be happier if we had chosen a different course? At the end of the day, these choices make up who we are as humans.

“I can’t help thinking that we’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.” 

My favorite part of the book was the world-hopping scenes. I loved all the dark and disturbing places that Jason and Amanda encountered while trying to find their way home. I chose to give this four stars instead of five because I thought the ending was a little too easy, but I found the entire book incredibly fast-paced and enjoyable.


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Title: Practice Makes Perfect
Author: Julie James
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: March 3rd, 2009
Rating: ðŸŒŸðŸŒŸ

Seeing all the five-star reviews from people I usually agree with, I really thought I was going to love this. Especially because I was in the mood for a romance novel, and this book has been compared to The Hating Game, one of my favorite romance books ever. Unfortunately, I just didn’t like this. There was very little romance and a lot of arguing and miscommunication. I didn’t think it was funny at all, just very over the top silly. I usually love romantic build-up, but it took so long for the two leads to finally get together. When they did, it wasn’t a satisfying pay-off.


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Title: Bird Box
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Ecco
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Rating: ðŸŒŸðŸŒŸðŸŒŸðŸŒŸ

So, here’s the thing. I’m a horror movie buff. I love Halloween and all things scary.

And this book terrified me.

In the world of Bird Box, there are creatures that humans and animals cannot look upon without going mad. A group of survivors, including the pregnant Malorie, have blocked the windows and locked the doors, surviving on their dwindling food supply and their blindfolded walks outside for water and provisions. They lose hope of survival with each passing day, relying on the optimism and leadership of a man named Tom. All of these events unfolded in the past, while in the present (four years later), Malorie must escape down the river with her two children to an unknown safe haven. A few different timelines are intertwined, connecting the past and present while keeping you guessing as the events unfold.

I’ve never thought a book could be genuinely scary, but apparently I was wrong. This book is loaded with atmosphere, tension, and paranoia. The characters are blindfolded, so you are just as in the dark (literally) as they are. We are given the sounds and smells of the characters’ surroundings. We feel the same fear, paranoia, mistrust and confusion that they do.

Is it gray? Have the trees gone mad? The flowers, the reeds, the sky? Is the entire world insane? Does it battle itself? Does the Earth refute it’s own oceans? The wind has picked up. Has it seen something? Is it mad, too?

I recommend reading this book, but I don’t recommend reading it before bed.


 

Library Haul (aka Drowning in a Pile of Books)

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📚Recently, I looked through the Boston Public Library catalog and found many books that have been on my TBR list for awhile, so I did what any sane person would do and checked out all of them. I’m not sure if I’ll get to reading every book before the deadlines, but I guess challenge accepted?

Anyway, here’s a list of my library finds!

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m so excited to read this book! The reviews have been amazing, and it sounds like the perfect summer read.

 

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Bone Music by Christopher Rice

The synopsis for this book makes it sound like just the kind of book I’ve been wanting to read.

 

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman

This book has been on my to-read list for a very long time, so I was really excited to find it available!

 

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The Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

This book just came out and was available as an eBook! My favorite author loved this book, so I feel like I will too despite my sci-fi aversion.

 

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Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

What’s not to love about a law firm romance? This was recommended for people who love The Hating Game, so count me in.

 

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Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker

I’ve never met a K.A. Tucker book that I didn’t like. I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this for awhile!

 

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Now that the third books is out, it’s about time that I return to this series.

 

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Pucked by Helena Hunting

A funny sports romance is the kind of book I need in my life right now.

 

Other Library Finds:

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Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastri
The Dry by Jane Harper
Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

On the Waiting List:

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All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd
Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Bear Town by Fredrik Backman
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Some of these books I’m waiting for won’t be available for awhile (I’m #62 in line for Little Fires Everywhere) but judging by the list of books I already have, that’s probably a good thing!

Most Anticipated Releases of Summer, 2018

img_1821This summer is chock-full of books I can’t wait to get my hands on! I’m leaving out the books that won’t be released until 2019, or books that I have already received an advanced reader copy of.

These are just a few of my most anticipated upcoming releases this year:

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Vengeful
by V.E. Schwab

Release Date: September 25, 2018

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

 

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The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
Release Date: August 7th, 2018

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

 

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Release Date: September 25th, 2018

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

 

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Dance of Thieves
by Mary E. Pearson

Release Date: August 7th, 2018

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

 

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Wildcard by Marie Lu
Release Date: September 18th, 2018

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

WWW Wednesday: June 13th, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, which asks you to answer the following questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

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The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

*ARC received from Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A summer camp thriller/mystery novel is just what I needed in my life right now. I’m so happy I got approved for this!

 

 

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Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

I never thought I would read another book about robots, but here I am. I’m really excited about this one! All the reviews have been amazing.

This will be the first book I’ve read by Jay Kristoff.

 

 


Recently Read

Circe by Madeline Miller
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang


What I (May) Read Next

31179006[1]Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

 

40182855In the idyllic Atlanta enclave of Sugar Mills, four women are struggling to keep their marriages alive in the hectic whirl of middle-class suburbia.

Adventurous Jess adores her sportswriter husband, but he’s more likely to fall asleep than respond to her creative attempts at seduction. Delia agreed to an open marriage when she had nothing to lose; but now that the reality of her choice has settled in, she feels a void no direct sales commission can fill. Infertility has left ex-tennis star Carras feeling powerless and frustrated. PTA president Maizy is desperate for acceptance in the Sugar Mills community, and with her health-conscious husband.

Enter Parker, a gorgeous young tennis pro moonlighting as a male escort. Could a little well-orchestrated jealousy cure the marital blues? Will a risky scheme put the spark back in their suburban marriages, or burn everything they’ve worked for to the ground?

Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

32454291In 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.


Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Fantasy/Mythology/Retelling
Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

I was hesitant to review this book, only because I wasn’t sure if I had everything to add to what’s already been said. I also don’t feel like I could ever do Circe justice, but I’ll try.

This book drew my eye very early on. I love Greek mythology and retellings, and Circe is such a fascinating character to me. I’ll admit, this book took me a long time to read. Three months, to be exact. I kept finding myself putting it down and moving on to other books, then coming back to it. It wasn’t because it didn’t interest me, but rather that it is a very character-driven, inner-monologue focused, slow-burn story. I couldn’t skim or speed-read; I needed to absorb every single word on the pages.

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

A majority of this book is spent on the island of Aiaia where the goddess Circe is exiled. If you are unfamiliar with Greek mythology and the Odyssey, like I was, much of the content in this book will be new for you. Centuries and generations of Greek myths are folded into this book, but they are told in stories by visiting characters. We don’t actually see any of the action, but action and adventure is not what this story is about.

“My divinity shines in me like the last rays of the sun before they drown in the sea. I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now that they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.”

This is the origin story of Circe and her development over centuries of love and loss. She is a goddess with the voice of a mortal, who empathizes with mortals and loathes the ways of all other self-serving gods and goddesses. This is not a happy story. She suffers greatly, but everything that happens to her helps shape her into the strong, powerful, and somewhat jaded witch that she is. She isn’t perfect; at times she is a villain, at times she is a heroine, but it’s interesting to see how she grows from these experiences.

“Her eyes held mine, gray and steady. It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

The underlying theme in Circe is how the stories of men are often glorified, while the heroines are undermined no matter how prominent their own role was. This is a very women-empowering, sex-positive book about finding yourself in a world where men are given agency, and women are reduced to being in the background.

“The thought was this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”

Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.


Title: Legendary
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: eBook
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

This book was so, so fun!

I adored the first book, Caraval, and this book definitely exceeded my expectations as a sequel. It was such a magical, whimsical ride, and I couldn’t put it down. I loved returning to this world.

The writing is poetic and sucks you right in:

“The air tasted like wonder. Like candied butterfly wings caught in sugared spiderwebs, and drunken peaches coated in luck.”

Donatella Dragna is everything I want in a main character. She is strong, brave, and levelheaded. She likes attention, flirting with men, and knows that she’s pretty, but above all else, she isn’t ashamed to admit it.

“One look at her honey-blond curls, her girlish smile, and her pretty dresses, coupled with the fact that she liked to enjoy herself, and people dismissed her as a silly girl. Tella might have been many things, but she was far from silly or worthless or whatever labels people liked to affix because a person was young and female. Tella liked to think that was where much of her strength came from. She was bold. She was brave. She was cunning. And she was going to come out of this triumphant – no matter the cost.

I enjoyed being in her head more than her sister Scarlett’s, who was the main character and point of view of Caraval. I also enjoyed the romantic aspects a little more than Caraval. This book certainly had enough steamy scenes to satisfy my immoral soul.

“Good was the word people used to describe how they slept at night and bread fresh out of the fire. But Dante was more like the fire. No one called a fire good. Fires were hot, burning things children were warned not play with.”

I absolutely adored Dante.

(Side note and potential spoiler: I see hints at a future love triangle which is usually a huge nope from me, but in this case I’m actually okay with it slash completely living for it).

Legendary messed with my head. I was second-guessing and third-guessing until my head was spinning in circles and I couldn’t even read the words anymore. There were so many possibilities and so many potential outcomes, that I can’t even say if any of my predictions came true. Legendary will do it’s best to mislead you, so I eventually gave up guessing and just went along for the ride.

I loved the morally grey, semi-villainous actions of each of the main characters. No one is really the hero and no one is really the villain; everyone has their own agenda. Even Tella admits that she might be the villain in her own story.

Scarlett was kind of a mess. I liked her perspective in Caraval, but there wasn’t much of her in this book and what I did see was just confusing and kind of obnoxious. There wasn’t as much as a sibling emphasis in Legendary as there was in Caraval, and I hope that changes in the next book. Scarlett’s actions in this one just really bothered me, so I think I would be completely okay if the third book is once more from Tella’s perspective, or even a dual POV.

All of the characters we know are still around, as well as some new ones. Scarlett and Julian’s story continues in the background from where the first book left off, and I’m interested to see how it continues for these two in the third one.

I gave this book four stars out of five, because I thought the ending was a little predictable. Still, Legendary was the most enjoyable read for me so far this year, and I can’t wait to see what Stephanie Garber has in store for us with Finale!

Book Blogger Confession Tag

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I was tagged by the wonderful Melanie @ meltotheany. This was so fun to do!

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

26892110[1]The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

I wanted to like this one, I really did! It ended up just being a little too out there for me. It could have been a right-book-wrong-time situation, so who knows. Maybe I’ll return to it someday.

2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?

15858248[1]Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

There are so many New Adult romances I’ve read that would easily fall into the “guilty pleasure” category. Like, there are so many trashy romances out there that I’ve enjoyed reading, but aren’t objectively good, if that makes sense. I picked this one because it’s lighthearted and funny, and other people seem to enjoy it just as much as I did.

3. Which book do you love to hate?

41865[1]Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

If you weren’t obsessed with these books in 2007, then you’re lying. It’s funny to look back on how much I loved these books at the height of their popularity, whereas I now realize how poorly written and insanely problematic this series was. Still, Twilight got me back into reading, so I can’t hate these books too much.

4. Which book would you like to throw into the sea?

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Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L.James

I’m not one to judge a trashy book for being trashy, but this was just way too dark and emotional to ever be enjoyable for me. I see it everywhere, but I have no interest in ever finishing this series.

5. Which book have you read the most?

3[2]Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I was a huge nerd for these books back in the day (*Istillmightbe*) and must have read this series from start to finish at least four times.

6. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

656[1]War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I feel guilty if I receive books as gifts and don’t read them, but War and Peace is so intimidating that it would sit untouched until the end of time. The classic status would never be enough to get me interested in this 1300 page monster.

7. Which book could you not live without?

25489134[1]The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This question is a little dramatic, but it would be unfortunate if I never got to read The Bear and the Nightingale. This book is so lovely and different than anything I’ve ever read before. It raised the bar for my standards and changed the way I approach new books.

8. Which book made you the angriest?

27774758[1]An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

It may seem like a negative, but the fact that this book made me so angry is a testament to how good it actually is. The world portrayed in this book is brutal. The characters go through hell, and are made to do terrible things to survive. The tension is unreal, only because there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how far the antagonists will go.

9. Which book made you cry the most?

35604686The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

I’ve never cried reading a book, but this one did melt my icy heart just a fraction. This book deals with suicide, grief, and acceptance. It’s a wonderful story, and I think everyone should read it.

10. Which book cover do you hate the most?

22544764[2]Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I really don’t like this cover. I thought the foreign editions were much better (in fact, I bought the UK paperback from The Book Depository). But to each their own! The story inside is amazing, and that’s all that really matters.

 

I Tag:

Norrie @ Reading Under the Blankie
Kayla @ Books and Blends
Danielle @ Life of a Literary Nerd

Finding Time to Read (When Life Gets in the Way)

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Finding time to read can be tricky, especially if you have a busy and unpredictable life. If you have a lot going on, sometimes reading is just one additional task that you just don’t have time for. The trick is to stop thinking of it as an obligation and start thinking of it as something that you enjoy doing. We should all find time for the things that make us happy, especially something as important and enriching as reading books. Reading sparks your creativity, improves your memory and focus, and allows you to experience the world in different ways through different perspectives.

So how do we make time?

1. Start reading in the morning when you’re drinking your coffee, or at night before you go to bed. These are the parts of the day when you have the least going on, so you won’t feel guilty about setting aside time in your busy schedule.

2. Bring a book with you to work or school, so that you have something to do in your downtime. I like to read on my lunch break or during my morning commute.

3. Use a Kindle or download the Kindle app on your phone to read eBooks. It seems like it would be hard to read books on a phone, and maybe it takes some getting used to, but this is how I read a majority of my books. Your phone is something you always have on you, so it’s really easy to open the app and start reading when you’re waiting in line or walking to the bus stop! Just don’t be like me and trip on the sidewalk when you’re not paying attention.

4. Find books that interest you enough to want to read them. If you force yourself to read something that doesn’t really capture your interest, that’s only going to make you come up with excuses to avoid reading.

5. Forgo your seventh binge of The Office to read a new book instead. I love Netflix as much as anyone, but sometimes you need to put the laptop away and take out a book instead.

6. Reread books that made you love reading in the first place (though I’ll probably skip on rereading Twilight).

7. Go to the library. Books can be expensive to buy, and having a return deadline can keep it from lingering on your shelf for too long.

8. Use GoodReads to track books you’ve read and want to read. This site is also a great resource to find books you might have never heard of. You can also set a yearly reading goal, and GoodReads will keep track of your progress.

9. Find books that fit in with your current hobbies or habits. I spend a majority of my free time in the summer laying on beaches, so I usually always have a go-to beach read handy!

10. Take up reviewing. Not only is this a great way to read more (free) books, but it’s also fun way to learn what kind of books you do and don’t like!

Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.


Title: Sky in the Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: April 24th, 2018
Rating: ★★

I’ve seen this book described as being action-packed, with three-dimensional characters and a strong protagonist. I feel like I must have read a completely different book.

The beginning sucked me right in with the opening fight scene, but this book didn’t hold my interest much after that. A large portion of it is spent on pastoral activities like peeling garlic and cleaning armor. I didn’t think it was action-packed at all, but rather just some action scenes mixed in with the day-to-day life of Eelyn as the enemy’s prisoner.

The romance is so incredibly bland. Fiske is uninteresting as a character, and him and Eelyn had absolutely no chemistry. One minute he’s shooting her with an arrow, while the next minute she’s blushing and trying to ignore whatever “connection” they have. The enemies-to-lovers thing didn’t make any sense. I also thought that Eelyn’s acceptance of the Riki happened far too quickly. She is captured by the enemy clan that has fought and killed members of her own clan for years, becoming their slave to be bought and sold. She is given a metal collar and is brutally mistreated by the Riki, but somehow grows to love the family that owns her. For a character who is supposedly a vicious warrior, her subservience doesn’t make a lot of sense.

In general, the characters are bland and lacking any depth or complexity. Familial conflicts were mentioned but then never properly resolved. The writing style is awkward and clunky, which kept pulling me out of the story. There’s a lot of telling-not-showing and a lot of passive voice used: two of my writing pet-peeves.

Overall, I thought Sky in the Deep was shallow and unimaginative. This book would have been great had there been a little more world-building, better character development, and maybe a few more rounds of edits. After all, a Viking-inspired world with a warrior main character would usually be right up my alley. The execution just wasn’t up to par with my expectations.

I always feel bad giving one or two star reviews to books that other reviewers raved about. My opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, as I’m clearly in the minority.