Thursday, December 1, 2022



Rating: 3.5/5 stars 

Emily Wilde is a dryadologist from Cambridge on a research trip in the early 1900s on a tiny island in northern Scandinavia off the coast of Norway, researching their Hidden Ones, or their faeries, for her faerie encyclopaedia. One day, Emily’s academic counterpart Wendell (Is he a rival? A friend?) arrives at her cabin with his two assistants and insists on helping her with her field research. Their camaraderie and discoveries end up changing the lives of all those who live in the tiny village they’re staying in, as well as all those who reside through the door in the faerie realms. 

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia is a more academic-focused take on fae, at least for the first half of the book. Emily and Wendell are trying to learn as much as they can about the faeries that live in these northern regions, and the novel is written in journal-like entries that Emily is recording for her research. There are also footnotes, as if this book were a real academic encyclopaedia. 

This book reminded me of a grown-up version of The Spiderwick Chronicles. It’s about fae, but it focuses more on the tiny sprite variety of faeries. There are “courtly fae” as they are called in this book, the adult romantic type, and there are “common fae,” the smaller varieties of fae found in the wild. The common fae are more the focus of Emily’s research, but both types are heavily present in this novel. 

I really enjoyed the first 75% of the story and overall had no complaints, but the last 25% lost me. I wish the focus of the novel had remained on the academic side of common fae and less on the courtly fae toward the end. The whole Hidden King and courtly politics bit felt cliched and overdone, in my opinion, and it pulled the story in a different direction than felt natural. I thought Heather Fawcett had a unique idea for writing a fae story about the smaller more traditional types of faeries, but then the adult-sized romantic and courtly fae came into play, and the story kind of lost its magical quality for me and started to feel like all the other fae novels out there. I liked the beginning and middle a lot more when the story was more focused on the common fae and the research aspect. 

The novel did not end on a cliffhanger, even though this is the first of a series. I have no idea what the sequel will be about since this volume tied up the plot it presented at the beginning, but I also don’t feel a large inclination to continue the series. I like neat endings, and since there weren’t any loose threads left, and since I was kind of turned off by the direction the story went in anyway, I am likely going to just treat this book like a standalone in my mind. 

Overall, I did enjoy Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries quite a bit and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a soft and wholesome novel about faeries. The story features a mix of folklore, history, romance, and fantasy set in a lush and cozy wintery landscape. I thought the book was well-written and had good characters, for the most part. It read a little younger than I expected it to and the plot went in a direction I wasn’t entirely pleased with, but overall I still had a fun time reading this book and I think many people will really enjoy it as well. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Review: THE LOST METAL by Brandon Sanderson


Rating: 5/5 stars

We've been waiting six years for The Lost Metal, and I can safely say that the wait was well worth it. The Lost Metal is the best book in the second era of Mistborn books. I loved it. 

This book starts six years after the end of The Bands of Mourning, and our characters are in new places in their lives. Wax is largely retired, marking Wayne as Marasi's crime-fighting partner. But then a new explosive discovery pulls Wax back into the swing of things, and our trusted trio, with the help of some new companions as well, must do whatever they can to save Elendel. 

I love the character work in this book. My favorite was probably Steris and how she is finally being acknowledged and appreciated for her idiosyncrasies and emergency preparedness skills. Also Wayne was incredible. He delivers his usual quips and his banter with Wax is absolutely hilarious, but his overall growth and understanding of himself are so great to see. 

There were a lot of action and fight scenes in this book, which usually I don't prefer to read, but Brandon writes those scenes so well that I didn't even mind reading them and I flew right through them. 

The most impressive part of The Lost Metal, however, was the immense amount of cosmere crossover. Brandon did say that this would be the most cosmere-aware novel to date, and I can absolutely see that. I've read every cosmere book so far except for Rhythm of War, and The Lost Metal blows all of them out of the water with how many references to other worlds and other magic systems that it has. I was losing my mind as I was reading and picking up on all the subtle references sprinkled throughout the book. As far as I can tell, there are even references to unpublished cosmere worlds. It all makes me extremely excited to read the third era of Mistborn and the second arc of Stormlight because I’m sure the crossovers will be even more plentiful as the cosmere progresses further into the future. 

Overall, The Lost Metal was an extremely satisfying conclusion to the Wax and Wayne era of Mistborn and has lots of setup for future Mistborn books to come. It was funny, fast-paced, and tied up some loose plot points set in motion from a few books earlier. Absolutely read this series. 


Here is a list of references to the greater cosmere I found in The Lost Metal:
This is not a definitive list as this is just what I personally noticed, and I made the list largely after I finished reading, so I’m sure I missed a few things. Contains spoilers for the entire cosmere. 

—Marsh appears in the flesh.
—Kelsier returns.
—Wax has a vision of the battle of Luthadel.
—Wayne becomes a Mistborn for three seconds.
—There were obviously many more references, but these were the big ones.

—Moonlight can soulstamp and is actually Shai from The Emperor’s Soul.
—Codenames is actually Kaise, a relative of Sarene from Elantris.
—Seons appear. Codenames has one.
—The use of Aeons. 

—Roshar is mentioned by name many times.
—The Ghostbloods are mentioned, first by their symbol (three triangles interlocked) which is actually a stylized marewill flower, and then by name. Members are present on Scadriel, and it turns out the organization originated on Scadriel as Kelsier is their leader. Their motives (protect Scadriel at all costs) and many of their members are revealed. 
—Shadesmar / the Cognitive Realm is referenced a few times, and MeLaan travels there at the end.
—MeLaan is going to help a bunch of redheads at the end. Could it be the horneaters? Not sure, but maybe. 
—Wayne eats some chouta! 
—Dlavil, a Ghostbloods member on Scadriel, is siblings with Iyatil, a Ghostbloods member on Roshar.
—Potential references to Skybreakers, though not by name, when Steris receives help from a group of people to sink the ships. They fly into the air, which Steris interprets as Allomancy. One of them had a red tattoo on the back of his hand. 

—Mentions of items being Awakened.

—The word “cosmere” itself appears many times.
—Hoid is mentioned by name throughout the book. 
—TwinSoul can use aether magic, a possible reference to Aether of Night, an unpublished cosmere novel. 
—The Dor, purified Investiture, is mentioned and seen on-page.
—References to Shards, Splinters, Investiture, Connection, and Perpendicularities. 
—Shards named in this book: Preservation, Ruin, Autonomy/Trell, Odium, Whimsy.
—Mentions of the planet Silverlight. Also the note from Harmony to MeLaan that was stamped “Silverlight Mercantile.” 
—References to Bjendal and Mythos, potentially related to cosmere worlds we haven’t seen yet but that will come in the future.
—I remember seeing references to White Sand as well, but I can’t remember exactly what they were.
—Ominous references to Discord. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Review: A DAY OF FALLEN NIGHT by Samantha Shannon


Rating: 5/5 stars

A Day of Fallen Night is set about 500 years before The Priory of the Orange Tree. It’s a mutligenerational, multi-POV political fantasy that’s very intricately detailed and a little bit longer than the first book. Priory is one of my favorite books of all time that I have not stopped talking about or hyping up since I read it the month it was released. I cannot tell you how excited I was to learn that there was going to be more books written in this world, since Shannon originally planned it as a single book. 

I want to point out right away that you do not need to read Priory prior to reading Fallen Night. In fact, if you haven’t read either book yet, I would start with this one. I feel like this story is the kind that is best told in chronological order but with the knowledge that the author wrote the books in reverse chronological order, that she already had everything planned out ahead of time. Both books, though, are standalones with different characters, so you could read them in either order you like. 
It was very interesting to see the subtle changes to the world that we knew in Priory. Of course history changes over time, and this is seen in the slight changes in spelling between some of the city names in the two books. I love that this small detail made the world feel so much richer and more realistic. 

We have four POVs but way more than four main characters. Our storytellers are: 
Dumai: 27, a godsinger at the High Temple of Kwiriki in Seiiki (the East). Daughter of Unora, the Maiden Officiant, and Emperor Jorodu. 
Tunuva: 50, tomb keeper for the Priory and guardian of the remains of Cleolind Onjenyu, who founded the Priory in Lasia (the South). 
Glorian: 15, daughter of Sabran VI of Inys and Bardholdt I of Hróth. Sole heir to the Queendom of Inys (the West) and figurehead for their religion. 
Wulfert: 18, a sailor from Inys and childhood friend of Glorian. He comes from mysterious origins. 

I don’t want to say too much about the storylines for the individual characters because I don’t want to give anything away, but if you know your history of this world, this installment takes place during the time of the second great eruption of the Dreadmount, which released the five High Westerns and their wyverns into the world and caused the Grief of Ages. Each character must deal with the effects of the Draconic Army wreaking havoc on their land while also dealing with a lot of personal trials and political machinations in their own nations. 

Three of the four POV characters have someone come in to their lives who they aren’t really sure if they are a friend or a foe. It was very interesting to read about these characters becoming close to these outsiders, only to wonder if they were going to be betrayed or not. This book definitely punches you in the heart at times. 

Somehow I loved all of these characters and their relationships even more than those in Priory, which I didn’t think was possible. I especially loved seeing how intricately linked they all are to each other and how their stories intertwine. 

I loved this book so much and I have already preordered two copies because I will reread this for the rest of my life. I love this rich and detailed world that Samantha Shannon has created, and I am so excited that she has a third book planned!! It will be a few years before its release, but it’s another prequel and I really hope it’s the story of Cleolind and Galian and the first great eruption of the Dreadmount. I will read anything that takes place in this world because I love everything about it so much. If you love epic fantasy, rich worldbuilding, flawed and relatable characters, dragons, and excellent writing, then do yourself a favor and read this series. 

Note: Do NOT look up this book’s characters in the glossary in The Priory of the Orange Tree because it does spoil some critical scenes that happen in A Day of Fallen Night. I wanted to see if this book’s main characters were listed there, and they were. But then I made the mistake of reading their bios and I thought, “welp, I guess I know how this character is going to die, and what decision that other character is going to make about this big thing” etc. So yes, save yourself the spoilers and finish this book first before you learn how the characters were remembered in history. It’s very awesome, however, to see how much of this story that Samantha Shannon already knew was going to happen when she crafted Priory. The lore and history of this world is so incredible deep and rich. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Review: THE ATLAS PARADOX by Olivie Blake


Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I was excited to read The Atlas Paradox because I quite enjoyed The Atlas Six, but unfortunately, this sequel was kind of boring and slower-moving than it should have been. I felt like the book was longer than it needed to be, and I was glad when it finally was over. 

This novel, like this first, continues to be very character-focused and less plot-focused. In fact, I would say The Atlas Paradox was so character-focused at times that neither I nor Olivie Blake nor any of the characters had any idea where the plot was going. 

I have no idea what The Atlas Complex, the third installment, will be about seeing as the initiates have all graduated from the Alexandrian Society now and this book didn't really leave off in a place that indicated what would happen next. 

I still fully intend to finish off this series as I really enjoy reading about all these characters, but I do hope the final volume will offer more of a solid direction for the plot to go in. I like Olivie Blake's writing style and I've enjoyed getting to read many of her books outside of the Atlas series, so I look forward to seeing what she will come up with when this series is finished. This series will likely remain Blake's most beloved and widely read series, but I feel like her best work is still out there waiting to be written. 

Review: THE SIX DEATHS OF THE SAINT by Alix E. Harrow


Rating: 1.5/5 stars

I read this story solely because it's by Alix E. Harrow, whose stories I generally really enjoy reading, and who I've read everything from so far. I didn't know anything about The Six Deaths of the Saint beforehand besides who the author was; I just jumped right in. 

I honestly didn't really enjoy this story that much. For one, it just didn't make that much sense to me, and I didn't understand what Harrow was trying to communicate with this story. It also didn't have any of her signature beautiful prose that I've come to love in her other works. 

This is a quick read; it took me less than forty minutes to read. The Six Deaths is told in a mix of second-person POV and first-person POV. Usually, I really like reading stories told in second-person, but I don't think it really worked in this instance. I felt that it made the characterization more convoluted, and I'm left still wondering who is who and why any of it matters. 

I can't say whether or not I will be reading any of the other stories in Amazon's "Into Shadow" collection as Harrow's story was the only one I was really interested in, but since they're all pretty short, I might give them a try later on. I know I will be reading any future novels from Harrow, but this story of hers was a flop for me, unfortunately. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Review: STAR FATHER by Charlie N. Holmberg


Rating: 2/5 stars

When the skies go dark, Aija craves only for the Sunlight to return. Then she runs into an unconscious man glowing gold at the river’s edge: the Sun God himself. As she revives him, she realizes she’s falling in love with him, so once he returns to the sky, Aija vows to do whatever she can to become immortal so she can join him up there forever. 

Star Father is told in a similar style to Star Mother, which I read right before starting this book. Even though this book stands alone, there are references to scenes and characters in the first book, so reading Star Mother before Star Father is advisable, but not necessary. 

Star Father has more adventure than the first book as Aija is on a quest to return to the Sun and has to traverse the world and meet with many different gods and godlings, each not quite giving her what she wants, so she has to continue elsewhere in her quest. So even though the book is very adventurous, I got frustrated with how many times Aija’s plan was thwarted. I wanted something good to happen to her, but she encountered problem after problem after problem, and it just made me want to stop reading. I also got kind of bored during most of the middle of the book as I was just waiting for Aija to reach her end goal of returning to the Sun. 

I like Charlie Holmberg’s writing style and I have really enjoyed many of her books, but unfortunately, Star Father was a miss for me. The only reason I wanted to read it was because of the author, not because of the story. The synopsis itself doesn’t interest me as I have never been a fan of mythological retellings or fantasy stories featuring gods, which is obviously the entire focus of this novel. 

I think fans of Charlie Holmberg’s writing style who also like mythologically centered novels will enjoy Star Father, and anyone who loves a good romance between a mortal and a deity will likely enjoy this book as well. I really enjoyed the ending. I actually liked the ending of this book better than that of Star Mother, but I enjoyed the overall story of the first book better than the one in the second book. Star Father is ultimately a story about love, and about how far someone will go to be with the one they love. 

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Review: FLOWERHEART by Catherine Bakewell

Rating: 3/5 stars

Flowerheart is a standalone cottagecore fantasy novel brimming with flowers. It's cozy and wholesome and romantic. 

Clara Lucas has a special kind of magic that makes flowers bloom, but her magic is also a bit uncontrollable. So when she accidentally makes flowers bloom inside her father's chest, she seeks out the help of her childhood friend and magician Xavier Morwyn to help her heal her father. Xavier agrees to help, but only if Clara also helps him with his newest project: creating a cure to the poison Euphoria that has been sweeping the land. 

Clara and Xavier team up to practice magic and help those in need. While this novel seems to be all about flower magic, the true story is about helping those who aren't able to help themselves and making the world happier for everyone while also finding your own inner strength. 

I would recommend this book to fans of Charlie Holmberg and Rachel Griffin as the soft and wholesome magic felt similar to their stories. This book also gives off Ghibli vibes, so Ghibli fans may enjoy this novel as well. 

Flowerheart was an enjoyable book and it would be perfect for a calm afternoon read, but at the same time it wasn't life-changing and I don't think it will leave a lasting imprint on me. It's the kind of book that's fun to read when you're feeling sad or you need a warm hug, and you want a cozy story with a happy ending. It's not hard to get through and the subject matter isn't too heavy. I love reading soft fantasy stories like this one, so I look forward to seeing what other books Catherine Bakewell releases in the future and what other books come to be in the cottagecore genre. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

Review: THE WHISPERING DARK by Kelly Andrew


Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Whispering Dark is a debut standalone dark academia YA fantasy about a deaf college girl and the mysterious boy she’s inexplicably connected to. 

I really enjoyed this book. Delaney is a delightful protagonist, and Colton is a dark and brooding good guy. I’m happy the love interest is actually a good person and not some manipulative jerk, which I feel we see far too often in YA books. 

I also love that Delaney is deaf and has to navigate the difficulties of college with a disability. It was so refreshing to see this honest portrayal, and the author is also deaf so the representation is authentic. There is also an authentically and positively portrayed Muslim side character. 

The characters are adults—Delaney is eighteen and a freshman in college, and Colton is a college senior—but this book is marketed as young adult. For the record, I think this book is being correctly marketed as it is written more like a young adult novel than an adult novel. I’m always wary when young adult novels have adult characters, but the story here is about Delaney coming to terms with how her disability impacts her life and the main focus is on uncovering the mystery of why some students have gone missing. It has a writing style aimed more at a younger audience, so I think the young adult market will enjoy this book, but I am an adult reader who also enjoyed it. 

There is some romance in the story, and even though Delaney and Colton spend most of the book together and you know they long to be with each other, the focus here is not on their romance, it’s on the mystery. I got so involved in trying to piece together the clues of the mystery that I had a hard time putting the book down. 

There were lots of mysterious components that kept me drawn in and guessing: a wall of names of the dead that seems to predict the future, a quiet boy who Lane is told to stay away from, a mysterious boy who’s told to stay away from Lane, those who were once dead and now aren’t, a boy who shows up in Adya’s peripheral vision who may or may not be dead, visions of the afterlife that may or may not be accurate, a secret and dark history of the school Lane’s attending, a mysterious man known only as the Apostle, and the curious ability to walk through the sky like a doorway. 

There are a lot of different elements to this story, and overall I did really enjoy it. The last fifty pages or so kind of lost me as I felt like the story got a little confusing and I didn’t completely love the ending, but I still liked the book as a whole and would recommend it. I’m looking forward to seeing what the author will write next. 

Review: ALONE WITH YOU IN THE ETHER by Olivie Blake


Rating: 4/5 stars

Olivie Blake has a way of writing characters and character interactions that make you feel like you intimately know each person on the page. If you like character-driven stories then this is the book for you. 

The writing style here is a little different from what I’ve seen before. It’s very stream-of-consciousness. I had a hard time when I first started the book because it took some time getting used to, but then I couldn’t stop reading. 

The subtitle on the cover is “a love story” but this book isn’t a traditional romance. It’s about Regan, an artist with a criminal background, and Aldo, a theoretical mathematician doctorate student, who get to know each other over the course of a promise of six conversations. Regan already has a boyfriend and Aldo is awkward and weird, but they connect and keep talking and learning about each other. 

This is kind of a weird story, but I really enjoyed it. I know it was self-published originally and then picked up by Tor, and I read the new traditionally published version so I can’t say how it compares to the original version, if anything changed at all. I’m glad Olivie Blake is getting attention and her stories are being published because I think she’s a good author, and she writes some of the best character-driven stories I’ve read. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Review: STRIKE THE ZITHER by Joan He


Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Strike the Zither is a YA fantasy based on a classic Chinese epic called the Three Kingdoms, mixed with inspirations from some other Chinese stories. This novel employs the classic trope of “pretend you’re defecting so you can join the enemy’s side and gain intel and then use that to turn around and destroy them.” We’ve all seen that done before but it was still enjoyable to read about here for the most part. 

I struggled to follow the story a bit. Zephyr was supposed to be doing these grand things but I felt like I kept missing them happen and then the scenes would be over. For example, I’m still not sure how Zephyr convinced Miasma to let her join her side because I feel like it would have taken a lot to prove that she defected from her original leader, but she pretty much just walks up and is like “I’m on your side now” and Miasma believes her. It was very weird. 

Zephyr conspires with different groups on different sides and I had a hard time gauging the layout of the land because these clans of people were battling and I didn’t think they were close in proximity but Zephyr travels back and forth like they are. I feel like the politics weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been, which made it a little difficult keeping track of the relationships and scheming between everyone. 

I found it hard to emotionally connect with any part of Strike the Zither. For some reason, I felt very distanced from the story, like a far-away viewer of unknown people rather than an active participant. I don’t feel like I know Zephyr that well, or anyone else for that matter. I wasn’t emotionally invested when betrayals or deaths or big events happened, and that saddened me. 

The story takes a drastic turn when stanza two begins, at the 50% mark. It’s like the book turns into an entirely different story with different characters in a different setting that felt narratively very disconnected from the first half of the story. I was quite confused and really didn’t enjoy it from then on, if I’m being honest. 

Also, I found the romance, if you can even call it that, to be quite unrealistic. Zephyr never really liked Crow, until she one day did? I never understood where the attraction came from, especially since he poisoned her and didn’t seem to like her all that much either. I didn’t understand their connection at all. 

Overall, I don’t think I’m the quite right audience for this book, and I can’t say for certain yet whether or not I will be reading the sequel. Strike the Zither ends on a cliffhanger of sorts that does pique my interest in how the story will progress in the next volume, but I don’t know if I’m committed enough to continue on with a series that I found to be just okay. 

I enjoyed The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He, which is why I picked up Strike the Zither. Even though I didn’t enjoy her newest book as much as I enjoyed her sophomore novel, I’m curious to see what other stories she’ll write in the future as I enjoy her writing style overall and the types of stories she writes. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Review: POSTER GIRL by Veronica Roth


Rating: 3/5 stars

Sonya was the poster girl: the face of the Delegation when she was seventeen. Ten years later, the Delegation has fallen and Sonya is just trying to survive in her prison known as the Aperture. That is, until an old enemy returns and offers her freedom if she does one small task: find a missing girl.

Poster Girl is a sci-fi dystopian novel with a mystery aspect thrown in. I was interested in the world presented here, but I feel like it was never fully explained. The people live in the Aperture, which is a sort of prison, and it used to be the Delegation until that collapsed and the Triumvirate took over. People used to have the Elicit, a type of tablet, but now they have the Insight, which is a kind of camera injected directly into the eye. It allows the government to see what you see, but it also used to allow you to see a kind of digital screen overlaying your field of vision, at least until the Delegation fell and the Insight went silent. 

Are you a little confused? Do you have questions? Because that’s a really interesting setup so far, but that’s all it is: a setup. Those are also the only details I got in the whole book, and I needed more. I wanted to know more about the world and the technology but there just wasn’t enough information given in the novel. Both the Delegation and the Triumvirate are bad governments, but also they’re both not? I kept getting mixed signals and nothing was explained enough for me. 

And the book’s title is Poster Girl, and Sonya was the poster girl, but what does that even mean? I never found out. I know her face was on posters around the city and everyone recognizes her, but what was the purpose of that? What was the government trying to promote with her and also why her of everyone? So many questions but so few answers. This novel needed more development. 

I’m feeling pretty conflicted about Poster Girl. I enjoyed the overall plot and the mystery aspect, but I also had some problems with it. I wanted to like it more than I did. If I’m being honest, the only reason I read it was because it’s supposedly going to be the October selection for the adult Fairyloot box, and I try to read all the selections ahead of time so I know whether I like the book enough to buy it. This one I didn’t, and I wouldn’t have read it otherwise. I read Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and also a short story by her, and those were both fine, but she’s not an author that I feel like I need to keep up with or read all of her new releases. I have seen many classic YA authors branching out into adult novels lately, but the handful of those adult novels that I’ve read have been a letdown, and Poster Girl is no different. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. Truly, this book just needs more development to make it better. At under 300 pages, Poster Girl is a quick read, and it’s no wonder I felt like descriptions of the setting, government, plot, etc. were lacking and also felt like the characters were pretty flat. 

Would I recommend this book? It’s a hesitant yes, but only for the type of audience who is excited by the synopsis. It isn’t going to change your life, but it’s decent while it lasts. I found the ending to be rather anticlimactic and unmemorable, but also somehow still satisfying enough to be enjoyable. I really enjoy both dystopian stories and tech-based sci-fi stories, and while Poster Girl falls into both categories, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road in each. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022


Rating: 4/5 stars

I’ve heard this novel described as Howl’s Moving Castle but for adults, and while I don’t totally agree with that statement, I still thought the story was whimsical and cute, and I really enjoyed it. 

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is a hate-to-love romance with some fantasy elements. Mercy is an undertaker and Hart is a demigod marshal who brings her dead bodies to take care of. They hate each other but are forced to work together. One day, Hart writes a letter to no one about how lonely he is. He doesn’t expect it to get delivered to anyone, but it shows up at Mercy’s door, labeled as being from “a friend.” Mercy corresponds with this mysterious friend, confiding in him, neither of them knowing who is on the other end of the pen. I loved this idea because they fall in love with each other via handwritten letters while still hating each other in person. I’ve never seen that done before in a novel, but it was so much fun and had me giggling while I read because I knew more than the characters did about how they actually felt about each other. 

Although this novel is marketed as a fantasy, I think it would appeal more to romance readers who also enjoy fantastical components because the focus of the book is on the relationship between Hart and Mercy with a secondary focus on Mercy’s family and undertaking adventures. The fantasy elements are visibly present but also primarily in the background of the story, so readers expecting an epic fantasy will be disappointed here. I love romantic fantasy novels, so I had a great time with this story. 

I love that The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is a standalone novel. As much as I love a long series, a good standalone that wraps up nicely at the end is so satisfying, and that’s how this book is. It has a nice conclusion and doesn’t leave any questions hanging open at the end. 

I had a great time reading this book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a cute and swoon-worthy fantasy romance novel. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Review: SPELLS FOR FORGETTING by Adrienne Young


Rating: 4.25/5 stars

I picked this book up on a whim and I’m so glad I did because it was delightful! There’s an unsolved murder, a fire, a spell, a secret, a reclusive dark and forested town, and a whole lot of lies in this story. When August comes back to Saoirse Island after escaping eleven years ago, the whole island is anxious for him to leave again, but his visit is going to stir up more memories and secrets and enemies than anyone bargained for. 

Spells for Forgetting is a mystery novel that takes place on the mysterious Saorise Island off the coast of Seattle. Saorise Island isn’t a real place, but the Pacific Northwest vibes were still so accurate in this story! I grew up in the Seattle area, and I love to read books set in that area because there’s just a special ambiance in the air there that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. 

Adrienne Young writes with beautiful, descriptive prose that helps to create a lush and atmospheric setting. I kept getting swept up in her words, and I’d end up reading five or ten chapters at a time when I’d planned on only one. This book is compulsively readable. 

Despite how long it took me to finish this book, it is actually the kind of book you could read in just one or two sittings. I’ve been in the middle of moving and working extra hours and generally being busier than normal during the last month, which has led to drastically less reading time than I normally have. It took me two weeks to read this book, but Spells for Forgetting is the kind of book I would have loved to finish in just a couple days if I had had the time because I was so wrapped up in the story and the characters. 

August and Emery really come to life in this novel. I loved getting to see snippets of their lives eleven years ago before everything happened and know how they used to be, and then get to see them in the current day and see how things have changed. You can feel so much yearning between them, even after all this time. This book has a second-chance romance aspect in it, but it doesn’t come into play until very late in the story. I loved them both though, and I’m happy we got to read from both of their POVs. 

I’ve seen Spells for Forgetting classified as fantasy, but it isn’t really; it’s a mystery. There is a very minor fantastical element included in the form of spells, but it’s the kind of spells that don’t feel fantastical. There aren’t mages or incantations but instead an old apothecary and an ancient book of herbal remedies and spells that seem more paranormal than fantastical. It feels like magic in the way that tarot cards and ouija boards and reading tea leaves feel like magic, but they’re still very much rooted in reality. I think fantasy readers will enjoy this book, but categorizing it solely as fantasy is cutting out a huge audience of fiction readers who would also enjoy this book. 

Spells for Forgetting reminded me a lot of A History of Wild Places, not in the plot but in the setting and the overall feel of the story. I loved that book and I loved this book, so if anyone knows of more similar titles, send them my way. 

I really enjoyed my time spent reading this novel. It was my first book by Adrienne Young, but her writing was so good that now I want to check out some of her other works. I definitely recommend Spells for Forgetting and can't wait to talk to my friends about it. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Review: THE SHADOW OF THE GODS by John Gwynne

Rating: 2/5 stars

DNF at 50%. 

This book is 100% a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” I genuinely really wanted to like this book. I mean, dragons? Yes. A strong female protagonist who is also a mother? Yes. Epic fantasy with epic worldbuilding? Yes. Sounds great! But it’s also Norse mythology–based and focuses a lot on the gods. And that’s a no for me. 

John Gwynne is an excellent writer: he crafts fleshed-out and believable characters in a rich world with a compelling plot. But I just couldn’t find it in me to care. I feel so bad saying that because I think this is a good book, but I know it’s not a book for me. 

I started reading this book physically, and after fifty pages and finding it hard to continue, I switched to the audiobook. This story was easier to understand when reading with my eyes, but I just didn’t have it in me to keep going in that format. Because there are three POVs, the audiobook made it hard to track which POV I was reading from, so I kept getting confused about what was going on. 

I knew rather early on that I wouldn’t be finishing the series, but I at least wanted to finish this book. I struggle with mythology and any stories that are based on it or include it in any way. Doesn’t matter what kind of mythology either—I have never enjoyed it. I know some people love it though, and if that’s you, please check out this story. 

I have been hearing so many accolades for The Shadow of the Gods, and even more so for its sequel, The Hunger of the Gods, so I was excited to read it, but this just isn’t the series for me, due to no fault of the author but only due to my own personal preferences. 

If this book sounds interesting to you in any way, please go read it for yourself and don’t take my word for it. I still want to read John Gwynne’s Faithful and the Fallen series, so I do plan on getting to that eventually, but the Bloodsworn Saga is a pass for me. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Review: THE MOTH KEEPER by K. O'Neill


Rating: 4/5 stars

I love K. O'neill's work and I've read every book they've released so far, so I was very excited to discover that they would be coming out with a new graphic novel. 

The Moth Keeper is true to O'neill's style: it's wholesome with a focus on friendship, found family, nature, and learning how to do hard things. The illustrations were also the soft paint style that you see in all of their other works. 

I really enjoyed this graphic novel and the morals of the story. I have already preordered the hardcover and I can't wait to sit down and reread it because the artwork in the early review copy was clearly unfinished, and I'm excited to see how it will look when it's done. 

I definitely recommend this book, and not just to the target middle-grade audience. I love K's stories and I'm an adult, but I also look forward to reading them to my future children someday. They are always wholesome and inclusive, and The Moth Keeper was no different. It's not as good as The Tea Dragon Society, in my opinion, but it was still great and worth a read. 



Rating: 4/5 stars

The Arc of a Scythe is one of my favorite dystopian series and one of my favorite young adult series ever, but even though I love it so much, I was a little apprehensive to read Gleanings because I have a history of not liking anthologies very much, which this book is.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by this collection. I really shouldn’t be though, as I love Neal Shusterman’s writing and worldbuilding, and this anthology stays true to his style. 

I recommend reading this book only after finishing The Toll. The stories here take place before, during, and after the series, but even the stories that occur pre-Scythe are best read afterward as there are still spoilers for the series in them and reveals that won’t make sense unless you already have the knowledge of the whole trilogy. 

True to the book’s title, each of the stories has to do with gleaning in some way. Most of the stories are about characters that we’ve never met before, so I didn’t have a ton of emotional attachment to any of them, but they were still good stories. We got to peek into the lives of people all over the world and experience more fleshed-out worldbuilding for this series than we got in the original three books. 

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Gleanings. If you are a fan of the Scythe series then you will almost certainly enjoy this collection of stories; but on the other hand, if you want to be done with this series after The Toll and not continue on, then you’re not missing anything crucial here. This anthology is entirely extra material for the fans without being a must-read. It doesn’t negate the ending of the third book or anything drastic like that (as I’ve, unfortunately, seen done before), but simply expounds on a world that readers already know and love. 

“Formidable”—4 stars
We love to see Scythe Curie being a boss. I believe that the events of this story were alluded to in the original trilogy so it was cool to see them played out. 

“Never Work with Animals”—3 stars
This one really surprised me. Definitely didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did. Not my favorite story but still a good one. Also the longest one in the collection, I believe. 

“A Death of Many Colors”—4.5 stars 
I love reading from the Thunderhead’s point of view. And this story was really interesting, surrounding a group of people who don’t believe Scythes are real. 

“Unsavory Row”—4 stars
A very interesting look at the different kinds of Unsavories and the experiences they have. I’m glad this one was included here because I feel like I understand Unsavories better after reading it. 

“A Martian Minute”—4 stars 
Wow, that ending got me. I wasn’t sure about this story the whole time I was reading it because I don’t generally love stories set on Mars, but then the last couple of paragraphs changed everything. That’s the thing about Neal Shusterman—he has a way of writing that leads you down a curvy path where you aren’t sure where he’s leading you but you’re invested enough to keep going, and then you reach the end and suddenly everything makes sense and you realize you’ve been on a remarkable journey and you’ll never be the same. I noticed this numerous times as I was reading the Scythe series, and “A Martian Minute” is no different. Wow. 

“The Mortal Canvas”—4.5 stars 
This was one of my favorite stories in the collection. I love art and artistic exploration, and I enjoyed seeing it through the eyes of these four students as they worked to impress Scythe Af Klint. 

“Cirri”—3 stars 
A story told by “the solitary offspring of the Thunderhead’s brief union with a human,” called Cirri. This story won’t make sense unless you’ve finished The Toll. This one was less exciting than some of the others. 

“Anastasia’s Shadow”—3.5 stars 
This is a story about Citra’s brother, Ben, undergoing scythe training, and it turned out to be rather wholesome in the end. 

“The Persistence of Memory”—4 stars 
Ironic and funny, this story is the second one about art in this collection. I enjoyed it, especially the ending. 

“Meet Cute and Die”—5 stars 
Even though I didn’t know any of these characters before reading this story, I love them all now. Marni and Cochran, who actually did have a meet cute before they both died. I laughed out loud multiple times during this short story. One of the best in the collection, in my opinion. 

“Perchance to Glean”—3 stars 
This story takes place in Antarctica, where people have collective dreams together and scythes glean only during dreams. I thought this was a cool concept, but I have to say that this is the weakest of all the stories in this collection and was a little confusing at times, as is common with stories set in the unlawful land of dreamscapes. 

“A Dark Curtain Rises”—3.5 stars 
A story that takes place far after the end of The Toll, so I won’t say too much about it other than it was unexpected but I liked it. An excellent ending to this collection and also to the Arc of a Scythe series of books as a whole. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Review: BASTILLE VS. THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson & Janci Patterson


Rating: 4/5 stars

It's no secret that I'm a huge Brandon Sanderson fan, but this is the one series by him I hadn't ever read until this year when I heard the sixth and final book was being released. Over the past month, I read the first five volumes for the first time to prepare for the release of Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians, and I had such a fun time with them. 

The ending of the fifth book is quite devastating, and I can't imagine reading it and not knowing that there would be one more installment coming in the series. Luckily for me, I knew ahead of time, and I didn't have the agonizing wait for it to come out either. 

Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians is a great conclusion to the Alcatraz series. It nicely wraps up the story in a satisfactory way and has all the trademark humor and character development that readers have come to expect throughout the first five books. To be honest, I couldn't really tell a difference between this book, written largely by Janci Patterson, and the first five books, written solely by Brandon Sanderson. The humor, including all the jokes and puns, is the same. It's a cohesive installment, which I was very happy to see. 

The only real difference between this book and the other books is that this one is told from Bastille's point-of-view, while the others are all told from Alcatraz's point-of-view. I think having Bastille finish the series off was a great decision since she has become such a critical character in the narrative. 

I love these books, and I can't wait to read them to my future children one day. They have good morals and great characters and excellent illustrations. Overall a very solid middle-grade series that I highly recommend, especially if you love funny fantasy stories. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Review: LEGENDS AND LATTES by Travis Baldree


Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Legends and Lattes was such a wholesome surprise of a novel. 

Viv is an orc who's done with the fighting lifestyle after twenty-two years and wants to do something new. After one day trying a gnomish drink called "coffee," she decides to settle down and open her own coffee shop to share the wonder with others in her town. 

This book is pretty slow, but in a good way. It's not boring at all, but it takes its time letting you get to know the characters. Viv goes through the process of procuring a building, fixing it up, hiring a few assistants, advertising to the people in the town, hosting events in her shop, and overall just watching her small business flourish. And watching her relationship with Tandri grow throughout the novel was adorable. The whole story is so inspiring and sweet. 

I am not a coffee drinker myself, but I loved this book nonetheless, and I loved all the food descriptions that made me hungry while I was reading. I want to visit this coffee shop. 

The perfect way to describe this book is that it's a cozy read. The original self-published cover had the tagline, "A novel of high fantasy and low stakes," which I think is a perfect description, and it's exactly what I wanted. As much as I love epic fantasy, I don't actually love action or battle scenes, so this book that still had that fantastical feel and setting while being a more day-to-day lifestyle story was a subgenre I didn't know I needed. All of the characters are creatures of some sort: there are orcs, succubi, gnomes, dwarfs, and elves, among other species. 

I highly recommend Legends and Lattes if you want a cozy and wholesome fantasy that feels like a hug. We need more low-key stories like this because it was just the best, and I had such a fun time reading this. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022


Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons or any tabletop RPG games, nor watched anyone play them, so I’m not sure why I was drawn to this book. I’ve always loved video games, so I’ve always wanted to try out D&D and other formats of games, but for some reason I’ve never had the opportunity or means to play. Nevertheless, I still wanted to read about its history. 

Slaying the Dragon is the true story of the rise and fall of Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), the original creators of Dungeons & Dragons, and how the game ultimately ended up in the hands of Wizards of the Coast, TSR’s biggest rival at the time. 

Despite having never played D&D and not being a huge fan of nonfiction, I actually found this book to be very interesting and easily readable. The author’s writing is so captivating and enjoyable. This wasn’t dry or hard to read at all. The only real complaint I have is that sometimes I got the people mixed up, but that likely comes from listening to the audiobook and not being able to see the names written down, which overall wasn’t a huge deal. The audiobook narrator was excellent though and had a great voice to listen to. 

The history of D&D is full of surprises and the author did a great job of laying it all out from the beginning, including all the big moments while also highlighting minor details that were notable or simply just interesting facts. I think it’s hilarious that in the “Satanic Panic” era of the 1970s, people thought D&D summoned actual demons and enticed people to commit suicide. I’ve never understood how people come to these absurd conclusions about fantasy games or novels. 

Overall, Slaying the Dragon was a super fun read that I would definitely recommend to any Dungeons & Dragons fans out there, whether you were a hardcore fan in the ’80s or you’re a casual player now or you only read the novels. Tabletop and RPG gamers would likely also have a good time reading this book. Above anything, it’s a really fascinating history, even if you aren’t super familiar with D&D (like me). I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this. 

Monday, July 4, 2022



Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Daughter of Redwinter is the start of an exciting new fantasy series. Raine has a curse that allows her to see and speak to the dead. One day she finds Hazia almost dead in the snow and saves her, which turns out to be a bad decision because Hazia escaped from Redwinter, the monastery fortress of the warrior magicians known as the Draoihn, and the Draoihn want her back. 

This book starts off with action that hooks you and characters that are easy to connect with and enjoy reading about. I really liked getting to know Raine and learn more about her dark magical ability. She is a protagonist that you will love and root for. The character development and world-building in this novel are both done very well. 

Daughter of Redwinter is dark without being grim. It reminds me of Red Sister because of the magical convent and the cold snowy setting, but it’s done way better in my opinion. I had never read an Ed McDonald book before this one, but I have his Raven’s Mark trilogy sitting on my shelf that I will need to move up my TBR now. 

Even though I really enjoyed this book, I don’t think I was able to enjoy it to its fullest potential though by listening to the audiobook. I think I will need to reread this with my eyes before I can continue the series so I get the most out of the story. I liked the narrator, but I don’t know if her voice was conducive to maximum comprehension level. Just something to keep in mind if you choose to go the audiobook route. Overall though, I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this novel and I look forward to continuing the series eventually. 

Daughter of Redwinter is perfect for fans of:
• morally grey characters who make bad decisions. 
• a protagonist whose curse allows her to speak to the dead. 
• incredible and lush worldbuilding. 
• danger, fighting, and death. 
• books such as Red SisterThe WitcherHall of Smoke, and Shadow of the Gods



Rating: 5/5 stars

Add this book to your summer reading list because you are not going to want to miss this one. 

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a story that spans 30 years following the lives of Sam and Sadie and Marx, beginning in college, as they design and produce video games, some bestsellers and some flops, and all the nuances involved in that business. This is a very character-focused story as the narrative weaves in all the characters’ backstories in such a masterly way that you don’t even realize you’re falling in love with each and every character until it’s too late. Even though this novel has video games at its heart, you don’t have to love or even understand gaming to be able to love this story. 

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is compulsively readable. I can’t remember the last time I wanted so badly to forget about everything just so I could read, or when I wanted to call off work (which I didn’t because I’m responsible, but I wanted to) just to get a few more hours of reading in that day. I was invested, and I wish every book’s reading experience was like this one, where I get lost in the pages and don’t get distracted at all until I finish, where I forget that I’m even reading because I’m so involved with what’s going on in the story that I feel like I’m there with the characters. It’s a rare book that provides that kind of experience. 

I absolutely love how this book was written. Zevin employs third-person singular, third-person omniscient, and second-person POVs throughout the book, and it worked. It was being told in past-tense, but as if the characters themselves were in the future and looking back and telling their own story, so occasionally they’d casually hint at what was to come in the future, and that destroyed me. It was always during a happy time, and then a character would be like But we didn’t know everything would change in five years. Excuse me, I am not okay now knowing that! 

Zevin is also an intelligent writer. It’s been a while since I read a book with a word or two on nearly every page that I had to ask Google to define for me. I honestly loved that because I really enjoy learning new words while I read, and it didn’t feel overdone here. 

I fell so deeply in love with Sadie and Sam from the first few pages that I knew this book would emotionally destroy me. I remember mentioning to my husband on page six (6!) that I could tell this was going to be a five-star read and that I would not be okay when it ended. And I knew it: I’m not okay. How did I know that so early on? It was the characters and their relationships. 

I kept longing for a friendship like the one Sadie and Sam had while in college. I’ve had a lot of friends, I’ve had quite a few good friends, and I’ve even had some best friends, but I’ve never had a friendship like the one they had. It’s something I still long for, to this day. I want someone, outside of my husband, to know me as intimately as they knew each other, to do anything for me, to draw me secret mazes, to show up unannounced with bagels when I’m depressed, and just generally know me better than I know myself. 

And I want to do all that for someone else too. I think a lot of us are too shy and uncomfortable to reach that level of friendship with someone, or we form the friendships too late in life, thus not allowing them to have that innocent beginning that children’s friendships have, bonding over the shared love of a game one day and becoming lifelong best friends the next. It’s a special and rare thing to have a friend like that.

This book is not a romance and has next to no romance in it, yet it is undeniably a book about love. The love that Sadie and Sam have for each other is so large and emotional and consuming. But on the other hand, the characters have many small relationships throughout the novel that still were impactful. This book is about love in all its forms—erotic, platonic, unconditional, familial, the love of two people who are more than friends but not lovers, and the love of art, of creation, and of life.

“Every person you knew, every person you loved even, did not have to consume you for the time to have been worthwhile.”

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow has “Best Book of the Year” vibes and was certainly one of the most incredible and outstanding novels I have ever read. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was, and I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. This book deserves all the attention it can get. If everyone knew what story awaited them between the covers, they would all be running to the bookstore to buy a copy. It’s just that good. 

Read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow if you like: 
•Video games (or if you don’t).
•’90s nostalgia. 
•Japanese culture and influences. 
•Academic settings. 
•Grandiloquent language choices. 
•Theatre and poetry, specifically Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson. 
•A character-based narrative. 
•Friendships that define and consume you. 
•Love, in all its many forms. 
•Being forced to stay up until 2 a.m. reading. 
•Emotional damage. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Review: SEASPARROW by Kristin Cashore


Rating: 4.75/5 stars

While I would definitely recommend having read the first four Graceling Realm books prior to reading Seasparrow, you don’t have to have read them recently for this book to make sense. Cashore helpfully recaps everything that happened in Winterkeep during the first few chapters, refreshing the reader on who the characters are, where they are, and what they’re doing. Seasparrow picks up shortly after Winterkeep ends. 

This book starts out being set on a boat, which I thought I wouldn’t like, but I actually didn’t mind it here. I tend to not like stories on boats, but Hava talks so much about her day-to-day activities and her emotions and her spying that the boat setting didn’t bother me. 

Hava, the protagonist and sole POV in this installment, is a girl who has learned to hide. Her Grace is being able to change what people see when they look at her, essentially rendering herself invisible. Her ability makes her the perfect spy for Bitterblue. 

I absolutely loved Hava as this book’s viewpoint character. Before I started reading, I wasn’t sure how I would like her, but I quickly came to love her. She’s so real. She’s bitter and holds grudges longer than she should, but she’s also compassionate and cares fiercely for those close to her. She seeks justice in the face of being wronged, even to the detriment of those around her, which I found to be so relatable. Of all of Cashore’s protagonists so far, I saw myself the most in Hava, which surprised me. Bitterblue has always been my favorite, but she’s a queen and level-headed and can stand up for herself in front of thousands, and that’s just not me. Katsa is loyal and a fierce fighter who will survive against any odds and protect those she loves, the typical strong YA protagonist who I want to be but who I know I’m not. But Hava, she’s smaller, weaker, used to hiding and being overlooked, smart and clever but also irrational at times, and oh so angry. I loved her. I feel like I am her. I love how different each of Cashore’s female leads is across this series. 

Seasparrow is about hope and survival. Kristin Cashore knows how to write about endless and relentless cold in a way that makes me physically cold while I am reading. I had this experience when I first read Graceling years ago, and I had it with this book too. The characters are suffering and doing everything possible to survive in grueling, freezing conditions. I could physically feel it. That’s good writing, in my opinion. 

The end of Winterkeep alluded to lots of political machinations to come in Seasparrow, but the politicking doesn’t come into play until the last third of the story. The first two-thirds of Seasparrow is about hope and survival during a long and physically demanding journey from Winterkeep back to Monsea through the icy cold north seas. It’s slower-paced. The story that I expected to see in this book doesn’t start until the crew finally makes it back to Monsea. That’s when the intrigue with the zilfium finally becomes prevalent. 

The first 70% is pretty slow and the last 30% feels pretty rushed. I honestly didn’t mind it because I loved the book regardless, but less devoted fans may find parts of the book to be more difficult to get through and struggle with the pacing. I would have loved more political intrigue because I think it’s one of Cashore’s strongest areas of writing. 

The ending alluded to a possible sixth book to come in the future as Hava outlines her plans for the next few years, and there’s a possible cold war looming on the horizon. At least I hope there’s another book planned. I could read Graceling books for the rest of my life. I think having the next book be from Trina’s POV would be super interesting as her future plans are mentioned toward the end and it really piqued my interest. Either way, the way Winterkeep ended left more to be desired that I had hoped to get in Seasparrow, but I didn’t feel like this book fully covered what I expected it to, which is why I think there has to be another one coming. 

Seasparrow is mostly a story about Hava coming of age, even though she’s already twenty-one years old. She’s still very haunted by demons from her past, and she’s holding a lot of grudges that she’s struggling to let go of and move past. The reader sees Hava arguing with herself and refusing to admit truths to herself while also being faced with new challenges and being in the spotlight for the first time in her life. And by the end, Hava has gone through so much and overcome so much and really learned who she is and who she wants to be. It was so heartwarming to see and I was so proud of her. 

There is also not really any romance in this novel, except for a slight hinting within the last few chapters at one to come in the future. This is the first Graceling book that didn’t have a romance subplot and instead was primarily character-focused on Hava with the actual plot being secondary. I honestly loved it. I love how Cashore approaches each of her books differently and writes such distinct female leads that are each strong in their own way. 

I loved Seasparrow, so much, and it was definitely one of my most anticipated books of the year. I sincerely hope it’s not the final installment in this series. Each book is written in a way that it could be the last one, or it could be one of many more to come. I have no idea what’s in store, but I’m not ready to leave these characters and this world behind. I believe the Graceling Realm series is a standout YA fantasy series, different from the cookie-cutter stories that seem so common nowadays. It’s truly one of my favorite series ever. I love it. And if you love it as much as I do then you will also enjoy Seasparrow for the journey and the character development and all of the wonderful additions to this world that it brings. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Review: HALF A SOUL by Olivia Atwater


Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Half a Soul is a historical fantasy hate-to-love romance between Elias Wilder, the grumpy and stuck-up Lord Sorcier, and Dora Ettings, a girl cursed by a faerie to have only half a soul. 

I loved that both our hero and our heroine are awkward and unlikable in their society, but still likable to the readers. Elias is snarky and generally avoided by others because of his lack of decorum. Dora does not feel embarrassment or fear ever since she was cursed, so she’s always saying the wrong thing in public. I thought their relationship was cute, and even though the reader knows they will get together from the beginning when they don’t like each other, it is still a fun journey through the book watching them interact and be awkward. 

This book is being published by Orbit, so it’s an adult fantasy, but it’s very clean and wholesome and reads kind of like a YA, so it’s definitely suitable for a young adult audience. I’m actually surprised that Orbit of all publishers is who picked it up because this doesn’t feel like an Orbit title at all, but I am glad that they are diversifying their fantasy genres a bit. 

Half a Soul is part of a series, but it also could be read as a standalone novel. I felt satisfied with the ending so I don’t know yet if I will be finishing the series or not. I liked the book for what it was, a romance with light fantasy elements, but I also don’t feel super inclined to read any more books in the series. If you are looking for a cozy and fun book, then check this out. 

Half a Soul is for fans of books that feature:
• A Regency time period
• Hate-to-love romance
• Grumpy/sunshine romance
• Clean yet swoon-worthy romance 
• Awkward yet wholesome characters
• Soft fantasy with light magic
• Magical mirrors and scissors
• Divination
• Cunning faeries 
• Faerie tales
• A standalone plot that’s also part of a larger series 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Review: THE LOST APOTHECARY by Sarah Penner


Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I saw the entrancing cover when it first came out. The Lost Apothecary is a historical fiction novel about a hidden apothecary that caters to women bent on escaping from the oppressive clutches of their husbands: through discreet murder. 

I saw this advertised as historical fantasy, but it’s not; I’ve read books not labeled as fantasy that have more fantastical elements than this book did. The only aspect that even alludes to something magical is that Eliza, a young girl, believes in ghosts, and she also thinks the potions and tinctures are magical, but they’re just doing what any medicine does. There’s no magic in this book, so don’t be misled before you start it. As much as I love all things fantastical, I think this novel was just fine the way it is and doesn’t need magic to make it better. 

I’m glad I picked up The Lost Apothecary because I really enjoyed it. My favorite part was seeing how the two POVs in eighteenth-century England intertwined with and connected to the POV in the present day. The three perspectives we read from are Nella, the apothecary; Eliza, a young girl sent to the apothecary by her mistress and who wants to become an apprentice to Nella; and Caroline, a woman in the modern-day who finds an old apothecary vial in the river and desires to uncover its history. My favorite historical fiction novels are those that have multiple protagonists whose perspectives all weave together, so this was perfect for me. 

I love that this novel was about giving power to women at a time when they didn’t originally have much power. The Lost Apothecary shows how women can triumph over men who are abusing or neglecting them. I thought it was an original and fun idea: women go to this special hidden apothecary to get poison to administer to their unfaithful husbands, etc. I loved being able to read from the apothecary’s POV and see how she came to be in the place that she was. My favorite perspective, however, was Caroline in the present. It is uncanny (but intentional on the author’s part) how many parallels she draws between her own life and the life of the women she reads about in the 1700s. I thought it was so fun to follow her journey of uncovering the history of the vial she found and the history of the apothecary shop. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable historical fiction novel that I would recommend. It’s not my favorite nor is it the best book out there, but I had a good time reading it and would consider reading other works from Sarah Penner in the future. 

Review: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr


Rating: 4/5 stars

I have to be honest. I almost unhauled this book on many occasions, but something always kept me from doing so each time. I just don’t care much anymore to read WW2 historical fiction, which is what this book is. I kept passing it over when it came time to choose another book, thinking I’ll get to it eventually.

This year I am doing the Buzzwordathon reading challenge, and June’s prompt is a book with the word “all” in the title. All the Light We Cannot See is literally the only book I own that fits that prompt, so I reluctantly picked it up, seeing no other option. 

Dang, am I glad I didn’t unhaul this! This book is the kind of book that reminded me of why I originally liked historical fiction in the first place. Doerr’s writing is incredible and captivating, and it’s what kept me reading. 

The time and place are less of a focus here than the characters, which I really appreciated. I love that we get to see the POVs from two people on opposite sides that you know will ultimately collide in the end. 

Overall, I’m really glad I ended up reading this book, especially after putting it off for so long. All of the praise this book gets is warranted, and I would definitely recommend it. I can’t wait to read Anthony Doerr’s newest work, Cloud Cuckoo Land, because his writing style was my absolute favorite part of this reading experience.