Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ninth House Review

Hello, all!

Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite authors. She has such a way with characters and world building that just fully pulls you in and makes you feel like you're actually watching these events unfold. Her newest, and first adult release, Ninth House, was one of my most anticipated reads for this year, and it was interesting to say the least.

Pub Date: 10-8-19
Adult - Fantasy
Galaxy "Alex" Stern has seen more hardships in her life than most. Raised by a hippie mom, by her early teens, Alex had dropped out of school and started running around with drug dealers. By the age of twenty, she was the sole survivor of a vicious unsolved homicide. Some, including her own mother, say she threw her life away, but she's given a second chance in the form of a full ride to Yale University. The only catch? She has to monitor the numerous secret societies littered throughout the campus. And they may prove to be more dangerous than the life she's leaving behind.

Recruited for her ability to see ghosts, called Grays, an ability she's spent her whole life running from, Alex now uses it during the rituals and rites performed by each of the secret Houses to make sure everything goes smoothly. As a member of Lethe House, she's tasked with reporting back to the Dean of the goings on of each society, and maintaining some sort of balance. Surrounded by the future rich and powerful elite, Alex learns there's nothing money and influence can't buy you. Soon, she uncovers that under all their occult activities lies an even more sinister plot and the closer she is to finding out the truth, the more her life is put in danger.

Let me first just say, I did actually really love this book. The characters, especially Alex, were so complex and interesting. The plot itself was captivating and I'm such a sucker for a school setting, and was getting all these The Magicians/Dead Poets Society vibes. I loved the way magic worked and how Alex interacted with it. I think it deals with dark, intense themes in a very respectful and truthful manner. Bardugo's writing is top notch, as always. She managed to take the real world we know and flip it in a way that is so eerie and unsettling. That being said, I found this to be a bit too long. I feel like it easily could've been 50+ pages shorter and the effect would've hit harder. I just felt that it took a long time for not a lot to happen. It was a lot of back story and a lot of setting the scene for what's to come in this series (which is a lot more Darlington, I'm hoping.) Despite that, this is a really solid read for those who are into a darker fantasy and I'll just forever be a fan of anything Bardugo puts out. I'm just hoping for the next one to have a bit more action in it.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Serpent & Dove Review

Hello, all!

I've heard a ton of hype surrounding Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, and I have to say, it more than lived up to it.

Pub Date: 9-3-19
Young Adult - Fantasy
Louise "Lou" le Blanc fled her coven and has been living a life of petty crime in the city of Cesarine. Forsaking any magic, Lou has tried to fly as under the radar as possible since there especially, witches are not only feared, but hunted and burned by the militant Chasseurs.

Reid Diggory, fiercely loyal Chasseur, has lived his whole life by one creed: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. He was never meant to cross paths with Lou, but after a wicked (and very public) prank, the two are forced to marry. Lou's reluctant new husband has sworn to protect her, but will his vows still hold true when he finds out what she really is? Unable to ignore her growing feelings, Lou is soon forced to choose a side as the battle between the church and the witches escalates to dangerous levels.

The second I heard "witch and witch-hunter forced to marry", I was sold. I was hooked right from the very first page. Lou is so sassy and doesn't bat an eye at pushing people's buttons. The tension between her and Reid was everything. I loved seeing them gradually open up to one another and eventually come to an understanding. I also loved the way magic worked in this world. It's all based off give and take, which was a really cool concept. There were so many interesting aspects to this book. Aside from the slow burn romance (we all know I love me one of those), the friendships between the characters was lovely, and there was just the right amount of action. Overall, this was such a fun start to this series, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Songs from the Deep Review

Hello, all!

I'm a sucker for a story set on a secluded island, and when you add sirens to that mix, it's a no brainer that I'd want to read it. So big thank you to Netgalley for the copy of Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell.

Pub Date: 11-5-19
Young Adult - Fantasy
Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the sirens that surround her small island home. While most villagers steer clear of the danger, Moira relishes in it. In fact, she spends most of her time on the sea cliffs, playing her violin to the sirens that gather at the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, everyone is quick to blame the sirens, but Moira is unconvinced. She believes the boy was murdered.

Moira enlists the help of Jude Osric, keeper of the lighthouse and her estranged childhood best friend, to help her get to the bottom of this mystery before anyone else, human or siren, gets hurt. But with unhelpful police detectives, townspeople calling for siren blood, and even their own deep-seeded secrets, the pair have many obstacles to overcome. When another body turns up on the beach, and threats start coming their way, it's a race against time to uncover the true killer and bring justice to the island.

I really enjoyed this. I was so engrossed in the story from the very first page, and I flew through this cause I just didn't want to put it down. I loved the whole setting, and especially Moira and Jude's relationship. They complimented each other so well, and I loved their whole dynamic. The mystery was solid enough to where I was never bored, and despite having my own guesses as to who the killer was, I was still pleasantly surprised at the end. Powell did such a great job of balancing out the fantastical siren element with a really well thought out murder mystery.  I'd definitely recommend this if you're a fan of either genre.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Unnatural Magic Review

Hello, all!

I'm always looking for more stories led by independent, strong females and Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner checked all my boxes. Big thank you to Ace Books for the copy!

Pub Date: 11-5-19
Adult - Fantasy
Onna is a genius when it comes to writing parameters for spells, and can do so better than any young man in her small village school. Despite her talents, she's denied admission to the nation's leading arcane academy. Onna doesn't let this setback stop her, and she sets sail for the bustling city of Hexos, hoping to earn a place at a university that doesn't frown upon women in magical education. However, she soon finds herself swept up in investigating the recent string of troll murders that've been plaguing the land.

Tsira is a troll, who despite being the daughter of a clan-leader, never truly fit in so she decides to strike out on her own. On her way, she crosses paths with an injured human soldier in the snow and nurses him back to health. The pair form an unlikely bond which is quickly tested as an unknown mage threatens Tsira's life. After tragedy strikes her family, Tsira swears to uncover who's behind the troll deaths before she's next.

This one is a little interesting for me because even though I enjoyed it, I found it a little hard to get through. It wasn't so much the characters or plot, but more the the pacing. There were a lot of dense parts, especially in the beginning due to all the world building, so it is slow going for a while. Despite that, I did end up liking the different cultures and places Waggoner created, and I also enjoyed the way her magic system works more mathematically than you usually see in fantasy. Telling the story through both Onna and Tsira worked well, but personally, I liked Tsira's perspective a little more because she came across way more dynamic, and I enjoyed her relationship with Jeckran. I do wish their paths would've come together a bit quicker because I think they worked well together. Overall, slowness aside, this was a fresh, imaginative and interesting debut, but I was just hoping for a smidge more.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

OwlCrate October Review

Hello, all!

This months theme was "Dawn of a New World" and it was chock full of sci-fi goodies.

I love stickers and this Warcross inspired one by Blanca Montiel is no exception! I love the holographic effect and the quote as well.

I'm not a huge fan of magnetic bookmarks, but I love these Saga ones by Craftedvan. I only got into Saga within the last year, so I have a ton to catch up on, and these will be perfect for that.

Then we had this lovely crescent moon necklace which has a bunch of wiring throughout by Iron and Ink Designs inspired by The Lunar Chronicles series. I'd like this more if it was a little bit smaller just cause I'm not a fan of larger jewelry, but it's cute.

The last item was this book tin created by Stella Bookish Art inspired by the Illuminae Files. We've gotten one of these tins before, and they're so convenient to hold pins and little bits in.

OwlCrate included two books again this month, and the first was I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi. This story follows Adeem, a coder and radio enthusiast; Cate, a young girl determined to track down the father she's never met; and Jesse, who constantly watches his mother try to make ends meet. After it's revealed that an alien planet may end life as we know it in just seven days, the trio's lives begin to cross and intersect in ways they never would've imagined.

The second book was Crier's War by Nina Varela. In a world where perfect andriods, called Automae, are enslaved by their human creators, Lady Crier, an Automae and daughter of the King, is terrified people will discover she isn't as perfect as she pretends to be. Ayla, Lady Crier's human handmaiden, has been biding her time and waiting for the best moment to take her revenge on the King for murdering her family. Her plan? Murder Lady Crier. But her plans take a turn after her and Crier begin spending more and more time together. Can their feelings for one another survive a world on the brink of war?

I don't usually read a lot of sci-fi, so I'm interested to dive into these. Lemme know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sleepy Hollow

Hello, all!

This time last year I was in Salem, MA and I knew I wanted to do another spooky-ish trip for my birthday, so my mom and I stayed a bit local and went to Sleepy Hollow. The whole thing came about in a funny way; I had mentioned how I wanted to do a day trip up there, and literally the next day, there was an ad for an overnight trip with our local library which we jumped on.

I had never done a library trip before (I actually never even knew they were a thing), so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be pretty cool. It was a two day trip, and jam packed with stuff, so I'm going to break it down by day. Here we go!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Halloween Tag

Hello, all!

In honor of my favorite holiday, I decided to do The Halloween Tag created by Michelle over at A Geek Girl's Guide. (Make sure you go check out her answers as well!) Let's get spooky 🔮🎃

1. When does the Halloween season start for you?

Mid-September because I can't help myself.

2. Do you have any Halloween traditions?

I always try to watch as many horror, or just Halloween-y, movies as I can throughout the month.

3. What is your favorite Halloween memory?

Maybe not my favorite, but just the first one that came to mind-- My friends and I were heading to our other friends Halloween party and we got stuck on the LIRR for hours and everyone in the train car eventually just became friends and we had our own little train party.

4. Do you decorate for Halloween?

YES! Luckily, my roommate is as Halloween obsessed as I am, and we even have one of those projector lights out front that make it look like our house is encased in hellfire.

5. What has been your favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn?

After working at Party City for so many years, I refuse to buy costumes, so I usually make all mine and my favorite was Elliot and ET.

6. If you could be in a Halloween movie (horror or not), which would you choose?

The Monster Squad. I just wanna hang out in the tree house and help save the town from dollar store rip off Universal monsters.

7. How do you plan on celebrating Halloween this year?

Most likely just handing out candy at home while watching Halloween.

8. Have you ever carved a Jack-O-Lantern?

Yep! My best one was one that looked like it was throwing up.

9. What is something you want to do to celebrate Halloween one year?

Probably just throw a big Halloween party.

10. What is your Halloween costume this year? If you don’t have one, what would you like to be?

For work we went with a witch theme, so I'll be Hermione.

11. Do you enjoy a super scary Halloween or a more lighthearted spooky Halloween?

A nice mix of both! 

12. How would you spend a Halloween at home versus going out?

Watching Halloween, it's a given.

13. Why do you love Halloween?

I've just always been a fan of supernatural or spooky things. And because my birthday's the next day, so it was always fun to eat all the candy I got.

Here's all the questions if you wanna join in!

When does the Halloween season start for you?
Do you have any Halloween traditions?
What is your favorite Halloween memory?
Do you decorate for Halloween?
What has been your favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn?
If you could be in a Halloween movie (horror or not), which would you choose?
How do you plan on celebrating Halloween this year?
Have you ever carved a Jack-O-Lantern?
What is something you want to do to celebrate Halloween one year?
What is your Halloween costume this year? If you don’t have one, what would you like to be?
Do you enjoy a super scary Halloween or a more lighthearted spooky Halloween?
How would you spend a Halloween at home versus going out?
Why do you love Halloween?