Book Reviews

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

This was a very fun story! I loved the creativity and humour and adventure. Our protagonist is not exactly hero-material, but it was great to see him develop throughout the book and use his skills to navigate the trials he faced. 

I had a moment where I thought, ‘How in the world does this all connect to the 1st book.” But then suddenly everything started to fall into place and connections were revealed all over the place. It was exciting to see characters from the previous book come back! 

I can’t say I was thrilled about how women were portrayed and thought of in this book. Flower-in-the-night is illustrated as this ‘perfect’ woman who also happens to be well-educated and then you get the two women who are set up with Abdullah by his father’s first wife’s relatives. They are described as fat and seemingly because of that, are assumed to be distasteful, boring, and shallow. It was very insensitive and could be harmful to anyone who is already struggling with body shaming. 

That aspect aside, I do plan on eventually reading “House of Many ways” and am excited to see if familiar characters appear in that story as well.   

HOUSE OF MANY WAYS

Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great-Uncle William’s tiny cottage while he’s ill should have been easy. But Great-Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland, and his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to any number of places—the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountains, the past, and the Royal Mansion, to name just a few.

By opening that door, Charmain has become responsible for not only the house, but for an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard, and a box of the king’s most treasured documents. She has encountered a terrifying beast called a lubbock, irritated a clan of small blue creatures, and wound up smack in the middle of an urgent search. The king and his daughter are desperate to find the lost, fabled Elfgift—so desperate that they’ve even called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?

Of course, with that magical family involved, there’s bound to be chaos—and unexpected revelations. No one will be more surprised than Charmain by what Howl and Sophie discover.

Book Reviews

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab 

“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”

This book started out really strong for me. The writing was gorgeous and the premise was compelling. I was excited to travel through the ages with Adeline. When everyone forgot Addie, I was shattered and I could almost feel her grief. She wandered about becoming acquainted with the harshness of this world and the limitations of her deal. I had mixed feelings about Addie’s character. She had moments of strength and fire, but then she also had moments where I thought that her actions didn’t quite fit those of a woman who is hundreds of years old. She seemed to be mentally stuck in her 20s and I suppose I expected her to have an old-soul kind of aura. 

“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”

It was exciting when she met someone who could remember her! I was scared and curious to see how things would play out. Unfortunately, Henry was not my favourite. I appreciate that the themes of anxiety and depression were present, but Henry was just rather boring. His character felt stuck, he tended to get drunk often and had very little passion except for the people he thought he was in love with. The relationship between Addie and Luc was far more intriguing! I wish we had spent more time with it and with Luc so we could get to know him better, 

The writing was lovely although there were some themes that were repetitive. Namely, the freckles on Addie’s face that resembled stars, Henry’s black curls, Luc’s green eyes, and perfect image, etc.

All in all, I loved the premise and the writing, but unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue didn’t hold me and sweep me away like I was hoping it would.

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.

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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.

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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.

Book Reviews

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

I will be completely honest, I had a hard time getting into this book. At first, it just felt rather dry and for months I couldn’t convince myself to pick it up. Then finally, I decided to try again. I thought, “This is a classic, even if I don’t care for it too much, I think I should read it.” I started again at the entrance of Mr. Collins and man, was I ever hooked after that. Mr. Collins’ proposal to Lizzy nearly brought me to tears it was so hilarious! And then Lizzy’s attraction to Mr. Wickim was extremely frustrating. I wanted to shake her shoulders and tell her that he was a no-good loser. Then of course there was Mr. Darcy. At first, he’s rather annoying, but after he expressed his undying love and Lizzy gave him a piece of her mind, my heart started to melt for him. It just got better from there and in the end, I think I was just as much in love with him as Lizzy was. This is another thing, the romance is such a slow-burn romance. I think this made Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship solid, though. They had months to think about each other and get to know each other.   

Best Pride And Prejudice 1995 GIFs | Gfycat

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

And oh, all of that witty banter! It’s just too much for me. Lizzy is such a strong and determined woman. She doesn’t let social expectations or snooty rich girls push her around. Oh, no. She speaks her mind and she speaks it well. 

Lastly, I loved that there was a nice wrap-up chapter at the end; it really filled out the happy ending of this story. 

Pride and Prejudice Fan Art - Pride and Prejudice 1995 Fan Art (34592036) -  Fanpop

I think I will definitely be rereading this book. I am sure there are many tiny gems that I missed upon the first reading.   

 

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

“I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.”

Book Reviews

The Eros Project by Helen E. Slater

I absolutely loved the concept for this book! It was intriguing and exciting. I also thought the cover fit really well with the story. 

So I was looking forward to this read and remember, this is only the opinion of one reader, but I did have a hard time getting through it. The ideas around the main plot and the information about the project were pretty solid. However, I found the pacing to be slow and I didn’t care too much for Rebecca, the main protagonist. Especially the section where Mark does all of his cool hacking stuff and Rebeca kind of hung around was rather tiring. Things did pick up a bit, but Rebeca didn’t have the strength that I hoped she would.  

Lastly, this was mostly a clean read, but the author frequently told the readers that so and so “made love together.” This detail was fine at first and I appreciated that the author didn’t go into detail, but it was mentioned quite frequently – I don’t want to know every single time a couple “makes love.”   

Overall, this was an interesting read and if you’re looking for a sweet Science Fiction novel, I would recommend this one for you. 

Book Reviews

Natural Born by Morgan Perryman

I loved the concept for this book! It was really refreshing to read a YA novel with such a close connection to nature. As I read, I found myself deeply wishing that there really was Quid out there who could heal the land. And Quid’s relationship with the natural environment was fascinating as well. She loved nature, but there was a lot of fear involved as well. She didn’t know how to control this ability or even exactly what it was. She was acutely aware of the fact that she was different and of course, she needed to wrestle through that.

Overall, I wish there was more depth. For example, I was really intrigued by Vernie’s past! And I think it had a lot of potential to be a compelling element. I think, though, the work-up towards the revealing of Vernie’s history wasn’t quite intense enough. I read it and thought, “Oh, okay. That’s interesting, but it didn’t impact me the way I wish it had.” This was similar to the revealing of Quid’s origins. It should have been a huge moment, but to me, it didn’t quite hit the mark.

This was a clean read. There is an aspect of romance which seemed to happen quickly and felt a bit cliché, but it was really sweet.

I’m looking forward to the next step in Quid’s journey!

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Book Reviews

My Top 10 Reads of 2020

I know this is a little late, but here it is: my favorite books of 2020. Because I am so indecisive, they are in no particular order and I cheated a little by counting a series as one book.

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Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

An absolutely charming and enthralling read! I was blown away by every splendid detail. This was a story about love, abuse, literature, friendship, and faith. 

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Lost Shadow (The Neverwood Chronicles #3) by Chanda Hahn

What a crazy, intense, exciting read! I’ve been in love with series since book #1 and in this last book, all the pieces come together to create this insane conclusion. Reading this book made me want to start all over again at book #1 so I can take this journey again. 

Harry Potter Volumes 1 - 3 Box Set: J. K. Rowling: Amazon.com: Books

The Harry Potter Series #1-3 by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Witch of Edgehill Series # 3 & 4 by Melissa Erin Jackson

Pawsitively Secretive ; Pawsitively Swindled

If you haven’t read the Witch of Edgehill this series and enjoy cozy mysteries, I absolutely recommend that you do!

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Spellbreaker (Spellbreaker Duology #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

This was the first book I’ve read by Charlie Holmberg and I must say, I was absolutely charmed.

The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows; The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

I found myself being swept away by these stories. 

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This was a lovely and unique adventure! Harrow has a beautiful writing voice that is quite charming. I think it was my favourite part of the book. I found myself lost in a forest of colourful descriptions and creative similes. It was quite enjoyable to read! 

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Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

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Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

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Jackaby by William Ritter

So there you have it! Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below!