Book Reviews

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

This was an impulsive purchase, I will admit. There are many other books on my shelf that I need to read, but it had been some time since my last book purchase…and what can say? I craved the thrill of holding a new book in my hands and seeing it join the other treasures on my shelf. 

Previously, I read The Forest of Vanishing Stars and quite enjoyed it so I hoped that this one would be likewise enchanting. I was not disappointed. 

Don’t get me wrong, this book is heartbreaking. It’s a story about WW2 and its atrocities, but in a way, it was also beautiful because it was about those who fought for what was right no matter the cost. Eva is a strong female lead who despite the danger and her mother’s discouraging comments, bravely defies the enemy by forging many, many documents for Jewish children and underground agents. While her mother’s negativity hurt her, she knew she had to do what was right. I’m not sure how I felt about Remy. I think that we didn’t get to know him extremely well; although, from what we saw of him, he seemed sweet and also determined to fight for freedom. 

The writing was good, but perhaps a bit on the plain side. Personally, I prefer writing that has a few more flourishes, especially with this audience in mind. However, Harmel effectively told the story and had me captured by this beautiful tale. 

This was mostly a clean read until Eva and Remy “slept” together—it was briefly mentioned and there were no explicit details. I didn’t think this was needed to, in a sense, “prove” their love, and is the main reason I will be bumping this review down to 4 stars. 

Despite this, I did enjoy Harmel’s ability to spin a convincing historical piece and am interested in reading another of her stories.   

Book Reviews

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

I better start off by saying that the cover of this book is gorgeous, and the title is absolutely compelling! These components may or may not have been a part of why I requested this book in the first place…
I really love the concept of this book. The mystery surrounding the poisonous plants, the intrigue of the botany department, a woman trying to make her way in the academic world in the 1920s. I think the latter point was my favourite and was what made me the most excited about this book.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting through this one, though. The plot moved along a bit too slowly for my taste. The main characters were likeable; Saffron had her moments and overall was smart and determined. She and Alexander also developed a really sweet relationship. However, the writing was heavy and lacked the excitement to keep me engaged all the way through.

Thank you to Net Galley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reviews

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

This was a rather spontaneous purchase from our local bookstore, but I really wanted a paperback to read instead of an e-book which my currently-read shelf mostly consists of right now. So I went with this one and I must say, I quite enjoyed it. 

This book was entertaining and fast-paced and “everything” was important. Details I hardly noticed came back later and played a crucial role. Avery was a fun character to tag along with- she was smart and observant. Well, that is when it came to the puzzles. When it came to the Hawthorne boys…that was a different story. Her interactions with the boys were probably my least favourite aspects of this book. They felt forced because they often circulated around their appearances and I didn’t feel an emotional connection between Avery and the boys. 

The Hawthorne Legacy : Barnes, Jennifer Lynn: Books

With that said, I think I will read the second book and see where things go. I like the puzzle aspect of this book as well as the mysterious mansion setting. And I think the characters do have potential – with more depth, I think I could like them. 

P.S. Perhaps part of what influenced my purchase was the gorgeous covers. 😉

Book Reviews

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J.K.Rowling)

What a delightful little book! I listened to the audiobook version of this one with Eddie Redmayne and I quite enjoyed it. Having watched the Fantastic Beasts films, I thought it was a perfect fit for him and added that extra touch. There were also side effects that went with each creature which were quite entertaining, although at times a touch overdramatic. 

I think what entertained me most of all about this book was the sheer creativity of it all. For someone to develop all of these creatures, their habitats, their mannerisms, etc. is quite impressive. You also aren’t quite sure what to expect from each creature because Rowling’s interpretation is unique to her. 

I’d love to get my hands on an illustrated copy of this book. While I have a pretty vivid imagination, I’d love to see images of these creatures.

Fantastic Beasts Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them GIF - Fantastic  Beasts Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Niffler - Discover & Share  GIFs

Book Reviews

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

“I think we ought to live happily ever after.”

This was such a fun read! It had just the right balance of magic, fun, and quirkiness. It was an original fairytale that inspired me and left me smiling.

“Yes, you are nosy. You’re a dreadfully nosy, horribly bossy, appallingly clean old woman. Control yourself. You’re victimizing us all.”

I love Sophie, the main character. She was a determined, no-nonsense, young woman who even when faced with the Witch of the Waste, just kept on rolling with it. She was so hilarious! She just bossed everyone around but was still really kind to everyone. Then Howl was just a vain, temperamental, sweet, and brilliant guy. He definitely grew on me! Now, to be honest, I wasn’t sold on Sophie and Howl’s relationship, but the ending was still very sweet.

“If I give you a hint and tell you it’s a hint, it will be information.”

I really enjoyed the world and the idea of the moving castle with its different doors. The writing was also simple yet precise. It is easy to read yet still creative.
I can’t wait to read more books by Dianna Wynne Jones!

Book Reviews

Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston

I will guiltily admit that the cover and title consisted of about 80% of what attracted me to this book. It’s a lovely cover that nicely represents important elements of the story. As I read, I also appreciated how the title came up in conversation – it was fitting and effective.

Then allow me to go on and say that I really enjoyed the concept for this book – the idea of the Wildwood, the journey through it, and the truth behind the crown. Unfortunately, I was rather confused by the world-building. I got a medieval vibe, yet there was talk of muskets and trains (I think). It is, of course, a made-up world, but I wasn’t sure how to imagine things.

While the growth in Cerys and Fox was evident, I found I couldn’t connect well with them as characters. I felt that Fox did not mature the way I hope he would.

This was not a clean read. There was strong language which I think was uncalled for. I don’t think it provided any useful purpose to the story.

With that all said, perhaps you would enjoy this book, so read a few more reviews and make a desicion for yourself. 🙂

Book Reviews

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

The blurb for this book intrigued me and I quite enjoy a well-written survival novel, so I thought I would give this one a go. I was very impressed! The survival details that Harmel put into this book were superb and clearly showed that she had done her homework. She didn’t just decide to write this book and then wing it. No, she obviously spent hours thinking it through and researching for it.

The main character, Yona, has had a rocky past and spends much of her time alone. I think we could easily say that things have been traumatic for her. Yet, I found myself really liking her. She had a maturity and purity that was beautiful to read about. She was naïve as was made obvious by the first man she fell in love with and the way he eventually treated her, but she grew and she learned and she did not become bitter because of it. Her relationship with her father was absolutely heartbreaking. I wanted so bad for her to be reunited with her family and to be able to build a relationship with them, but that was not to be. I think, however, that this was an important point of the plot. Because in losing her biological family, she became ever closer with her adopted family – the Jews she risked her life to save.


Unfortunately this was not a clean read. Yona is intimate with Alexsander and then Zus which surprised me. I thought that there would at the very least be more push back at this because of their strong Jewish faith. Instead, it was easily accepted and hardly spoken of. At least, though, Harmel did not go into detail for these scenes and mentioned them, but did not feel the need to elaborate.

Despite this, I do plan to read more books by Kristin Harmel – I did very much enjoy this one.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley

I wasn’t sure how this book would go since it’s the 5th in a series, but I quickly found myself enjoying Kat’s lemon cake along with the rest of the characters (in a manner of speaking).
One of my favourite aspects of this book was the detail. Jennifer Ashley was very thorough with all of her historical details (as far as I could tell). While some might find all of the cooking instructions boring, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them and the way Kat prepared her suppers.

At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Kat, but by the end, I realized that I appreciated her contentedness, kindness, and determination. She loved her job and the people around her and it was lovely to read about. Daniel was a real sweetheart! Kat and Daniel each had their own mystery to solve and as they went about doing this, their paths frequently crossed. I really, really hope she and Daniel can find a happy ending together.

The mystery was well executed as well. The evidence was all on the page, but like Kat, I had to figure it out. I definitely did not put all the pieces together and enjoyed that the ending took me by surprise. Honestly, I came to a point where I suspected almost all of Lady Covington’s family and staff.

I am excited to read more books in this series and I expectantly await the next installment.

Book Reviews

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Yet another wonderful classic by Jane Austen. I thoroughly enjoyed Pride and Prejudice so I was excited to see if this one would be similar. It was and it wasn’t. It didn’t have the same humour that I think Pride and Prejudice has, but the love story was nevertheless epic. I know that there are those who would disagree with me and think that Persuasion is a hoot – to each their own I suppose. 

Anne was a solid character who didn’t allow the silliness or unkindness of her family to sway her. Yes, she didn’t enjoy it and I think she shone most when she was in the presence of others, yet still, she remained steady and kind and intelligent. One thing I found that I could really relate to was her value of good, deep conversation. I just wish there was more of that between Captain Wentworth and Anne. This is one of the main things that bugged me about this book. They hardly spoke to each other until the end! I wish they had more direct interactions, although I think Austen purposefully intended them to become acquainted with each other for a second time from a distance.

It was also interesting to read about an old love that is renewed rather than something new which is more common. It added a level of intensity because Anne and Wentworth had been in love with each other for years but kept trying to deny their feelings. I found my heart aching for them and I kept wishing that they would just hurry and make up. 

Overall, I enjoyed Persuasion and I am on to Sense and Sensibility next. 

Book Reviews

Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

This was an exciting retelling of the Tempest. When I first started it, I wasn’t quite sure if I would enjoy it, but at about 30% I was dragged in. I think one of the things that struck me the most was that the plot spans over the course of a day. It was amazing how much could happen and how much the characters could change in so short a time. 

The secrets and different personalities of the Prosper family definitely kept things interesting. I almost want to say that they were beautifully flawed (some being less beautiful than others). Overall, I think they were well written. Cohoe gave them a fantastical magical sort of aura while still showing their bad sides. The main character, Mae, began as a naive and innocent protagonist but did mature as the story moved along. While I did value this growth, I found the way she allowed others to walk all over was rather annoying. Also, at times she seemed a bit bland and it was difficult to connect with her. 

I wish there was more depth into the 1920’s styles and mannerisms, but I did enjoy the way the Prosper’s house was described.      

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.