Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 12-1-20
Adult - Historical Fiction

The Arctic Fury- Greer Macallister: It's 1853, and there are not many ways for a woman to make her way in the world, but Virginia Reeve has made a name for herself by being a trail guide in California. Her expertise has caught the eye of a mysterious benefactor who has her brought out to Boston for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: lead an all-female crew into the depths of the Arctic in search of the lost Franklin Expedition. Virginia and her team each bring something vital to the dangerous mission, but soon find themselves completely out of their depths when faced with the bracing wilderness, and as time passes it becomes clear that not everyone will make it out alive. Virginia uses every trick in her arsenal to keep herself and her crew alive, but her good intentions fall upon deaf ears as she's put to trial a year and a half later for the lives of the women who never made it back. No one knows what happened out on that ice, and when dark secrets from Virginia's past come to light, any hope she had of going free starts to slip away.

This is a dual timeline story chronicling this group of women as they make their way through the harsh Arctic terrain, and then the sensationalized trial of the crew's leader when not all the women come back alive. The premise sounded like it was going to be this whirlwind adventure/mystery story, and while it had those elements, I couldn't help but feel a little bored at times. The parts showcasing the women's journey were very atmospheric and you could feel how bleak it was as any hope of them surviving just dwindled with each step. It also seemed very true to the time in regards to how women were treated which lead to a lot of frustrating moments especially when it came to the trial. I think it was an interesting reimagining of events, and there were a few twists thrown in that I appreciated, but overall, it just didn't grip me as much as I was hoping for.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 5-23-19
Adult - Fantasy/Romance

A Touch of Darkness- Scarlett St. Clair: Persephone may be the Goddess of Spring, but ever since she was young her powers have been lacking. Instead of being able to nurture things into growing like her mother, Demeter, flowers and plants shrivel from Persephone's touch. Frustrated by this, she instead focuses her time in New Athens, blending in amongst the mortals posing as a journalist. But all hope of living an unassuming life is dashed after Persephone unknowingly enters into a bargain with the God of the Dead, Hades. Persephone is given an impossible task: she has six months to create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

I didn't have a whole lot of expectations going into this, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I flew through this in almost one sitting because it was just so addicting. That being said, this wasn't without its fair share of issues. The writing itself is pretty simple, and nothing about the characters or world was that mind-blowing. Character-wise, I enjoyed Hades a lot, but Persephone took me a while to warm up to because she could be so annoying with how judgmental she was towards him. My favorite character was Hecate and I hope that we get more of her throughout the rest of the series. I also loved the Underworld setting and how different it actually was compared to what people thought of it. Another issue I had was that I felt the story heavily relied on the physical aspect of Persephone and Hades' relationship, which I mean, I get it, but at times it felt all steam and no substance. I would've just loved to see more emotional development and vulnerability. Aside from that, this was still highly entertaining and I'm interested to see where else the series goes.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 7-23-19
Adult - Fantasy

Gods of Jade and Shadow-Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Casiopea Tun has always looked up to the stars and wished for more. She longs for adventure and a life outside the small Mexican village she lives in spending her days scrubbing the floor of her wealthy grandfather's home. Her prayers are answered when she finds a wooden box with strange carvings in her grandfather's room. Throwing caution to the wind, Casiopea opens the box and unleashes the spirit of an ancient Mayan god. After being betrayed by his brother, Hun-Kame will do anything to take back his throne and he requires Casiopea's help to do it. With their future's now entwined, Casiopea and Hun-Kame are set on a quest to reclaim what was stolen. If they succeed, Casiopea is set to receive her heart's desires, however, if they fail, it could mean the end of her life.

I've heard a lot of hype around this book and it's well deserved. I find Moreno-Garcia's writing to be a bit of a slow burn, and it takes a while for me to get into it, but I fell into this one rather quickly. A lot of that had to do with the characters themselves. Casiopea is so willful and Hum-Kame is so stoic, and while they tended to butt heads in the beginning, by the end, they developed this bond that was so strong and satisfying. I liked watching them open up and start to trust one another. Aside from the characters, the plot itself was so adventurous. Watching the pair go on this journey that took them all over and put them up against demons and other gods was fun and I never found myself bored at any point. It was well-paced and easy to read. I also liked how while there was a slight romantic aspect, it didn't overwhelm the story and didn't end in your typical fairy tale way. All in all, it was a charming take on Mexican folklore full of action and highly entertaining.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Blog Tour: These Feathered Flames Excerpt

Hello, all!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I enjoy a good retelling. While I love reading a reimagining of a familiar story, it's also fun to learn about other cultures, so I'm excited to be a part of the blog tour for These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy. Big thanks to Inkyard Press for having me!

Pub Date: 4-20-21
YA - Fantasy

This is a retelling of the Russian folklore, The Firebird, and it follows two sisters who are heir to their lands and whose fates have been decided since they were very young. One is kept at court and trained to learn all the skills needed to become the future Queen, while the other is taken away to learn magic from her mysterious aunt knows as the Firebird. Each girl will have to come into her own power and navigate court politics and decide who to trust, who they can love, and most importantly, who killed their mother.

You can check out an excerpt from the book below!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

To Love and to Loathe Review

Hello, all!

I read To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters last year (review here) and immediately fell in love with her characters, so when I saw that she was coming out with a companion novel, To Love and to Loathe, I was all about it. I mean, it's an enemies-to-lovers historical romance, so really, what is there not for me to love? Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-6-21
Adult - Contemporary

Lady Diana Templeton and Jeremy, the Marquess of Willingham, have been at each other's throats for most of their lives. They are well-known in society for their verbal sparring matches (and flirtations), and each takes pride in being able to one-up the other. During one such argument, Diana challenges the rakish Jeremy to find a wife within a year or she'll forfeit a hundred pounds. Thinking she has this bet in the bag, Diana is thrown for a loop when Jeremy approaches her with a very different proposition.

Jeremy has always had a way with the ladies. He's never been shy about his bedroom activities, but after his latest partner implied he wasn't as talented as he thought, he seeks out the one person he knows will always be brutally honest: Lady Diana. As the pair are about to spend time at a house party, he suggests that they use this opportunity to test his prowess in the bedroom. She can give him an honest critique of his abilities, and the gossip they'll churn up will show to other gentlemen that the widowed Diana is interested in taking up a lover. Believing this will be the perfect way to ensure she wins their bet, Diana agrees but quickly learns that it's not only money on the line but her heart as well.

Like I mentioned, I was really looking forward to this and it was so much fun. Waters has such a way of making slightly messy/petty characters so entertaining and investing. I'm always a sucker for a hate-to-love romance, so I was completely hooked on Diana and Jeremy from the very first page. Their bickering was delightful and you could feel the tension between them increasing with every teasing comment. There were so many times I found myself smiling or laughing at their antics. Though I will admit, Diana did get on my nerves slightly at times just due to her scheming/manipulations. There were also some moments where I found the writing to be a bit repetitive, but not enough to diminish my enjoyment. Overall, this was a solid follow-up and I can't wait to see where this series goes next.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Blog Tour: The Last Bookshop in London Excerpt

Hello, all!

You all know by how much I love a historical fiction and books about books. When you mix the two together, it's an instant winner in my book. I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. Big thanks to the publisher for having me!

Pub Date: 4-6-21
Adult - Historical Fiction


This is set during WWII and it based around the true history of the handful of bookshops that survived the Blitz. It's all about wartime hardships, loss, love, and the healing power of books and literature. For my part of the tour, I'm sharing with you all an excerpt. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Twice Shy Review

Hello, all!

Now that the weather is starting to turn a bit warmer, I tend to pick up more contemporaries. Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle was actually on my Most Anticipated Releases of 2021 list last year, so massive thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy! (Also, randomly, every time I see this title I just start singing "Last Christmas", please tell me I'm not the only one.)

Pub Date: 4-6-21
Adult - Contemporary

Maybell Parrish has always lived with her heart on her sleeve. She's not one to rock the boat and is never one to make a scene. She much prefers to spend her time daydreaming about her make-believe café than cleaning up vomit in the hotel she's spent the majority of her adult life working at where she is vastly under-appreciated. Maybell has dreamt of striking out on her own, but the thought terrifies her. So when Maybell inherits her great-aunt Violet's manor house in the Smokies, she takes this as the universe telling her to finally take a chance.

When Maybell was younger, she spent a glorious summer at Falling Stars with Violet and her husband. As a kid who spent most of her time couch-surfing with her mom, a place to call home and people to care for her was all Maybell could ever want. Maybell expects to find the safe house of her dreams, but what she gets is a nightmare. The manor house is falling apart and chock full of garbage, but the worst part? Maybell isn't even the sole inheritor, she has to share everything with the grumpy groundskeeper, Wesley Koehler. The pair butt heads immediately over their differing opinions on what the property should be turned into and refuse to compromise. That as well as a list of last wishes left behind by Violet lead to some tension that doesn't sit well with Maybell, the perpetual people pleaser. Determined to make this situation mutually beneficial, Maybell slowly starts to chip away at Wesley's frosty exterior and is pleasantly surprised to find a soft heart hiding behind all his scowls.

This is the book equivalent of a warm hug and made me feel all fuzzy inside. The characters were so easy to fall in love with and made this shine. Maybell is charming and a little quirky and Wesley is my favorite trope of a grumpy character who is secretly a sweetheart inside. I found myself relating to both of them in different ways which kept me invested in what was happening. You find they have an interesting sort of history together due to a terrible prank Maybell's friend pulled on her that I thought would've played more into the plot than it did, but it ended up being more of a footnote. There were other aspects that I thought would be more in the forefront as well, like the majority of turning the house into the hotel/animal sanctuary, but it almost felt like an afterthought. The little snippets we did get of them working on the house were cute, like with the mural they painted. Despite that, I was still fully invested in this and thought Hogle did a wonderful job creating a relationship that felt real and mature. If you prefer your contemporaries to be more romantic and less steamy, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Snow Child Review

Hello, all!

I haven't seen a lot of talk around The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, which is a shame because it's fantastic. 

Pub Date: 2-1-12
Adult - Historical Fiction/Fantasy

After suffering a miscarriage, Jack and Mabel pack up their lives and leave the East Coast for the wilderness of Alaska looking for a fresh start. The pair weren't prepared for the hardships homesteading brings, and soon they start drifting apart: Jack, from the back-breaking work of keeping up the farm, and Mabel from the heartbreak she feels. Then, in a moment of pure joy during the first snow of the season, Jack and Mabel make a child out of snow. By morning the snow child is gone, but small tracks lead away from it, and soon the two start seeing flashes of a little girl running through the woods.

Neither one wants to admit to what they're seeing, but still, go out of their way to track down this mysterious girl, but every time they get close, she runs away. Until one day, she comes to them. Faina seems to be of another world. She has branches in her hair, hunts with a red fox, and is never bothered by the cold. As Jack and Mabel try to understand who she is and how she came to be, they grow to love her as a daughter. But they soon discover things aren't always as they seem, and despite all the happiness Faina has brought to their lives, keeping her for their own may cause more harm than good.

This book is so much more than a fairy tale retelling. It touches upon sadness, loneliness, grief, survival, but also hope and the strength of family. I enjoyed seeing Jack and Mabel grow from their pain, and how this strange little girl helped open their hearts back up to love. Faina is such an interesting character, but at times came off a little too aloof where it was hard to fully connect with her. Which is understandable given the type of character she is, but I still wanted a bit more. Aside from the characters, Ivey does a beautiful job at setting the scene and making you feel as if you're in the Alaskan wilderness. This is definitely a sadder book, but it made the story feel more grounded and real. In some ways, this felt like winter: it was bleak and gray and cold, but there's a warmth to it if you know where to look.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Seems my streak of picking up lackluster books continues. Like last month, there were a few standouts, but overall my reading was still just pretty blah. 



Audio:

Happily Ever Afters- Elise Bryant; 3/5
To Sir Phillip, With Love- Julia Quinn; 4/5
A Touch of Darkness- Scarlett St. Clair; 3.5/5
These Violent Delights- Chloe Gong; 2/5
The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah; 5/5
Remote Control- Nnedi Okorafor; 3/5
Accidentally Engaged- Farah Heron; 3/5
The Mist- Stephen King; 3/5
The Chalk Man- CJ Tudor; 4/5
The Shadow in the Glass- JJA Harwood; 3/5

Digital:

An Unexpected Peril- Deanna Raybourn; 4/5
Bruised- Tanya Boteju; 2/5
To Love and to Loathe- Martha Waters; 4/5
Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Vol. #1- Kelly Thompson; 2/5

Physical:

The Ladies of the Secret Circus- Constance Sayers; 3/5
Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood- Sarah J. Maas; 5/5 (re-read)
Call Me By Your Name- Andre Aciman; 3.5/5
A Certain Hunger- Chelsea G. Summers; 2/5
You Had Me at Hola- Alexis Daria; 3/5
The Divines- Ellie Eaton; 2.5/5
Gods of Jade and Shadow- Silvia Moreno-Garcia; 4/5
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters- Emily Roberson; 4/5
Twice Shy- Sarah Hogle; 4/5
84, Charing Cross Road- Helene Hanf; 5/5

Some favorites were: The Nightingale (oh, how this wrecked my heart), To Love and to Loathe, and 84, Charing Cross Road. Some least favorites were: A Certain Hunger, Bruised, and The Violent Delights.

How was your reading month? What was your favorite/least favorite?