Oct 20

Review of Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

As soon as I saw that Toil and Trouble had a story by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth May of the Falconer trilogy, I knew I had to have it. Even if the subject matter hadn’t been one of great intrigue and interest to me, I would have bought it for that alone! Then it turned out to also have a story by Zoraida Cordova, which was also awesome.

Review of Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and WitchcraftToil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood, Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 28, 2018
Genres: magical realism, Young Adult
Pages: 405
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads four-stars

A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely--has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

The fifteen short stories in Toil and Trouble vary widely. They all have a couple common elements, as one might guess from the subtitle – all involve women, most of them amazingly strong, vibrant characters, and all involve “witchcraft” as defined by each particular author. Some I enjoyed more than others, namely the ones by Elizabeth May, Jessica Spotswood, and Emery Lord. I will definitely be finding books by the latter two and reading them, as somehow I had never come across their work before. For a more detailed review individually, check out The Sassy Book Geek’s review. She has an absolutely AMAZING overview of each story in this anthology!

The relationships that many of the stories showcase – and in such a short few pages – are beautiful, and heart-wrenching. There are sisters, lovers, friends, mothers and daughters and grandmothers. Reading these made me realize how much I need to value the female friends and caring family members I have in my life, as well as feel a little jealous of a few of them! The sister trio in Emery Lord’s story really pulled at my heart strings.

“She’d tell her daughters someday: ‘If you don’t feel safe enough to yell back, you’re not safe enough. My babies, that is not love.’” ~ Emery Lord in Toil & Trouble

If you are looking for an atmospheric collection of stories, this is definitely it! If you are looking for horror, this is NOT it. The hair-raising factor in these is due to the “unnatural” powers and magic, not anything particularly grotesque.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review! 

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four-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Oct 19

FULL Review of Three Mages and a Margarita

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

FULL Review of Three Mages and a MargaritaThree Mages and a Margarita (The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #1) by Annette Marie
Published by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc. on September 14, 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 312
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.

It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview — to see if I'd mesh with their "special" clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That's the definition of fitting in, right?

I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they… offered me the job?

It turns out this place isn't a bar. It's a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I'm exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there's a good reason no one else wants to work here.

So what's a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course — with a pay raise.

--Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn't a reverse harem. It's 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.


Tori has no problem getting herself into trouble in every book in the Guild Codex series, but each one is a complete adventure—no cliffhanger endings.

--THE GUILD CODEX: SPELLBOUNDThree Mages and a Margarita (#1)Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2)Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3)

I was expecting to like Three Mages and a Margarita. I was NOT expecting to love it. And well..let’s just say as soon as I finished I jumped onto GoodReads to see when the next one was coming out!

I signed up for the book tour because I like sassy female characters and felt like I could use a lighthearted, amusing read in the middle of all my heavy science stuff that I’ve been working on for months. The description made me think Jim Butcher and Gail Carriger had a brain-child…and I was NOT disappointed!

Characters

Tori is the bomb. She takes no shit, from anyone, and yet she still has soft heart and she tries to care about people. It’s only sort of hinted at what sort of trauma her past holds (she tries to reveal-but-not-reveal to one other character in the book and it just left some things up in the air), but she has difficulty trusting anyone. She takes care of herself, but she tries to take care of other people too. The dichotomy is something she admits to struggling with, but it doesn’t weigh the book down.

The three mages are, as promised, sexy AF. Despite that, it is not (also as promised) a reverse harem. Just a good dose of sexual tension and admiration on all sides, hence the two flames. Nothing too sexual though, though I feel like the potential is there. I am extremely eager to see what happens in subsequent books, and I’m kind of hoping for a HEA on all counts for this series. Because it just seems like it needs it. All three guys – despite being often seen together and best friends – are quite different and I loved them all but I loved Ezra just a teeny bit more. :heart_eyes: Ahem.

Worldbuilding

Now, I don’t read that much urban fantasy, so it’s possible the magic system isn’t all that original, but I thought it was fascinating. I loved how the explanation of magic users in the modern world was explained, how they stayed hidden from the normal/human set, as well as how they used their powers and weapons.

Storyline

The plot kept it moving, which I really liked. The only reason I didn’t read this all in one sitting was because – well, homework and being a responsible student. 😛 Whomp whomp. (Also when I went to write this review, my ePub had for some reason VANISHED from my computer and I really wanted to look back and re-read a few things before I wrote it, hence the very short review in the actual tour post.) Things just kept happening! I wanted to find out more and more and it didn’t feel predictable at all. I did feel like one part – not the actual climax, but leading up to that – was oddly rushed, but when I thought back over it a scene between wasn’t really necessary, I was just a bit stunned by how fast it moved on. The ACTUAL climax I actually panicked slightly, though I was pretty sure they wouldn’t kill off a particular character it certainly seemed like it was going to happen for awhile and just OMG NO. In the end, everything seemed pretty well-resolved though, aside from the non-romance, so I’m interested to see what else is going to happen in the next two books.

Yes! Two! Aaaaah!! Maybe more? I certainly hope so! I think Three Mages and a Margarita is the start to a series I could see myself enjoying for a very long time to come.

Book 2, Dark Arts and a Daiquiri, is due out November 18, of THIS YEAR! Such a short wait between books, I am just over the moon.

Book 3, Two Witches and a Whiskey, titled but no GR page or pub date yet.

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher as part of a promotional book tour by Expresso Book Tours. This in no way influenced my ability to give an honest review.

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five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Oct 10

Book Tour: Three Mages and a Margarita

Book Tours 0



Three Mages and a Margarita
Annette Marie
(The Guild Codex: Spellbound #1)
Publication date: September 14th 2018
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.

It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview—to see if I’d mesh with their “special” clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That’s the definition of fitting in, right?

I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they…offered me the job?

It turns out this place isn’t a bar. It’s aguild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I’m exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there’s a good reason no one else wants to work here.

So what’s a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.


Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn’t a reverse harem. It’s 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.

Goodreads / Amazon

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I was so excited to get a review copy of this book! It sounded like Harvey Dresden (Jim Butcher, Dresden Files) meets Alexia Tarabotti (Gail Carriger, The Parasol Protectorate) and I was NOT disappointed. Urban fantasy is hit or miss for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and will be on the lookout for the next installment in the series. I may have to add the author’s first series to my TBR as well!

Recommended if you enjoy fantasy books that don’t take themselves too seriously, but are engaging and fast-paced enough to maintain interest.

You can follow the rest of the tour on the stops below, and don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!

October 8th
Writers and Authors >> Guest post
diary of a wannabe writer >> Review
Fabulous and Fun >> Review

October 9th
Am Kinda Busy Reading >> Review
Rachel’s Reflections >> Review

October 10th
Girls With Books >> Excerpt
The Bent Bookworm >> Review

October 11th
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Loved By Sunny >> Guest post

October 12th
Abooktropolis >> Review
Adventures in Writing >> Excerpt

October 15th
Just Books >> Excerpt
Lindsey Reads >> Review

October 16th
Whatever You Can Still Betray >> Excerpt
Twirling Book Princess >> Excerpt

October 17th
The Reading Life >> Review
Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews >> Review

October 18th
Fantasy Raiders  >> Review
The Bouncing Tigger Reads >> Interview

October 19th
Book Reviews by Steph >> Guest post
Smada’s book Smack >> Review

October 22nd
The BookWorm Drinketh >> Review
My Life Loves and Passion >> Review

October 23rd
Lola’s Reviews >> Review
Finding Magic In Books  >> Review

October 24th
Don’t Judge, Read >> Review
Bookwyrming Thoughts >> Review
Two Ends of the Pen >> Interview

October 25th
Meet Your New Favorite Book >> Review
I Smell Sheep >> Review

October 26th
Oh Hey Books >> Guest post
Cranky TBC >> Review

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Author Bio:

Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Aug 30

Cover Reveal: The Wolf of the Baskervilles

Books/Writing 0

I am unfortunately a couple of days late on this post – had some life issues come up and it didn’t get scheduled as it was supposed to! Regardless, this sounds like a really interesting take on the whole Sherlock Holmes thing and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out.

The Wolf of the Baskervilles
Majanka Verstraete
(The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, #3)
Publication date: June 25th 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Who is Marisol Holmes?

She’s a teenager.

Detective.

Jaguar shifter.

And don’t forget, she’s also the descendant of the great Sherlock Holmes.

Our heroine had been in some pretty tight spots before, but now? She’s about to face her biggest challenge yet: a powerful shifter with a taste for blood. No one has faced down the deadly wolf of the Baskervilles and lived to tell the tale.

Even so, Marisol Holmes plans to do just that.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Google Play / iBooks

 

Author Bio:

Author Majanka Verstraete has written more than twenty unique works of fiction. A native of Belgium, Majanka’s novels explore the true nature of monsters: the good, the bad, and just about every species in between. Her young adult books include the acclaimed Mirrorland (YA Dark Fantasy) and Angel of Death (YA Paranormal) series of novels. At MHB, Majanka is currently developing a new YA shifter series with a fresh take on fierce female detectives called THE ADVENTURES OF MARISOL HOLMES.

When she’s not writing, Majanka is probably playing World of Warcraft or catching up with the dozens of TV series she’s addicted to.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Aug 23

Review of A Thousand Perfect Notes

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

TW: mental and physical abuse, parental neglect.

Review of A Thousand Perfect NotesA Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews
Published by Orchard Books on June 7, 2018
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 282
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music - because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

He wouldn’t be kissable. He’s piano keys and crumpled music trapped in his soul. Not kissable. Kickable.

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Excuse me while I go bawl my eyes out. This book just tore open my soul. I haven’t wanted so badly to protect and take care of a fictional character in a long, LONG time. Let me try to put all these feelings into words.

Yeah, I’m struggling over here.

A Thousand Perfect Notes is for anyone who needs a story of hope in darkness, of relief from oppression, of happiness out of pain and sorrow. Not being melodramatic, either. Beck’s story is one of the harshest I’ve read in the YA genre, and the first I’ve felt it really necessary to post a Trigger Warning for. My heart was bleeding by the time I finished, and trust me – I tore through this book in about two and a half hours. I was just so desperate to see what happened to him!

Beck is not perfect. He sometimes acts in ways that perhaps are not the epitome of kindness and definitely not politeness. But he carries so much pain…mental, physical, emotional. And on top of all that he is ALWAYS HUNGRY. It kills me to think of anyone being really, truly hungry – not just the hangry we all like to joke about when our regular mealtime gets off kilter, but honest-to-god hungry because there isn’t enough food and nowhere except maybe the trash to get it. All my mama bear instincts just want to go on a rampage for the person who would do this to their children.

If people cut him open, they’d never accuse him of being empty. He’s not a shell of a pianist – he’s a composer. Cut his chest and see his heart beat with a song all his own.

Part of the conflict is that while Beck’s mother uses music to contribute to his abuse, Beck has his own musical talent inside him – one that she belittles and says is worthless, but that is desperate to break out of him.

Then there is Joey. Wild, free spirited, painful Joey, the little sister that Beck would do anything for – be anything for – if it meant being able to protect her. Regardless of the personal cost to himself. He sees himself as weak for being unable to stop his mother’s abuse.

The Maestro – Beck’s mother – is a loathsome, vile person. I had such a deep anger boiling in me towards her at the end of the book, I wanted to reach through the pages and physically rescue Beck and Joey myself. Perhaps tripping the Maestro down a very tall flight of stairs in the process. Sadly, while she may SEEM to be a bit over the top, there are far too many people just like her, and even more who are willing to inflict the kind of emotional and mental abuse she deals out to Beck, without necessarily the physical.

August is amazing. While I can see many of the typical “manic pixie girl” characteristics in her, she is still very much her own little quirky self. I loved the repartee between her and her parents, who are awesome in their own right. Yay for having a healthy, loving family to contrast Beck’s horrible mother with!

The ending was satisfying, but still heartbreaking. I am very upset that there is not a sequel planned. 🙁

This might be the most incoherent review I’ve written yet, I’m just so in my feelings about these characters.

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five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Aug 15

Review of The Unexpected Everything

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

I picked this book up at a steal ($3.99 for the hardcover) at Books-A-Million last year, and then when I realized one of the 2018 books I was looking at – Save the Date, if anyone is curious – was by the same author I decided I really needed to pull it out and read it. Then come to find out said Morgan Matson also wrote Since You’ve Been Gone, which was EXTREMELY popular yet I still haven’t read and apparently I hadn’t paid any attention at all to who wrote it…anyway. Small book world!

Review of The Unexpected EverythingThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, Морган Мэтсон
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 3, 2016
Genres: Modern, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 519
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads three-half-stars
one-flame

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

The Unexpected Everything

Cute. Fluffy. Dogs. Sounds like an awesome time, right? I adore dogs and I’ve even contemplated trying to establish a dog-walking business myself to bring in some side hustle cash, so I thought for sure I would love this book! I kind of did…and I kind of didn’t. There is one huge, glaring issue in particular, but…

Good Things First:

Dogs! Obviously.

Andie isn’t even particularly a dog person before the story starts, but after a chance encounter with one she quickly gets lured in. PUPPY LOVE! Anyone who can resist is either heartless or allergic. 😛 Anyway.

Friends! Andie and her three best girlfriends are tight. They care so much about each other, it just leaps off the page. I love the way the group texts were presented in the hard copy of the book, complete with emojis. It was awesome and hysterical and oh-so-accurate.

Cute. Andie and Clark are SO different and yet they work and are adorable together.

Andie is a sexual being and it is portrayed in a POSITIVE light. I loved this. For far too long it’s been the THING for guys to be players and have casual hookups and be cheered for doing so, while if a girl does the same she’s a slut. Not so here. Andie does have emotional struggles, which contribute to her inability (in the beginning) to connect with any of her boyfriends much beyond a fun and physical level. Even when she does begin to realize that oh hey, feelings are ok even if they’re sometimes annoying, she still enjoys the physical side of things. YES! The book doesn’t go into too much detail and is pretty tame as far as sexual stuff really, but the implications are there.

Not Great Stuff:

This book is nothing but a HUGE basketful of privilege. White privilege, rich privilege, political privilege, straight privilege…all of it. This smacked me in the face even though yes, I’m white and straight. I am not and have never been from the kind of world this book exists in – where all teenagers have their own cars, the newest phones, perfectly safe neighborhoods, huge houses, don’t NEED a job but only work one to avoid boredom…WTF. There are no characters of any other nationality or color, or sexual identity. Like they don’t even exist. WHAT WORLD DO YOU LIVE IN?!? I was extremely bothered and this aspect alone is what brings my rating down. I understand that sure, in some places, this is how people live. But the characters in this book don’t seem to have any idea of how well off they are, or that there’s anything special about their lives. I guess, maybe, that this is supposed to be a light-hearted, escapism type read…but even if so I just can’t buy it. It’s not okay and I am extremely disappointed. I’m not sure I will be trying anymore Matson books. Looking at the other reviews on GoodReads, I seem to be one of the only people bothered by this aspect…so maybe I’m oversensitive or something. But it just rubbed me wrong.

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three-half-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Aug 14

Stacking the Shelves [2]

Books/Writing 0

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I’ve decided to join in with the Stacking the Shelves meme from Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality! Probably not every week, as I often go weeks without buying books at present, but it’s fun to see what deals I’ve managed to find and what stuff I get to splurge on.

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We are all book lovers and the need to share our enthusiasm is sometimes overwhelming. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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Again with the ebooks this week! No new NetGalleys, but I did snag quite a few freebies! A lot of the free ones are outside my usual tastes, but I like to get them so I have choices for every possible reading mood that might strike. Hehe!

     

The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress (free) – a bluestocking is something like a scholar, so I’m intrigued. When I feel the need for a romance I might pick this up.

Conjure (The Hoodoo Apprentice #1) (free) – hmmmm. Pirates, soul eating, demon dogs?

The Replacement Crush (free) – IT’S ABOUT A BOOK BLOGGER. Therefore I must read it regardless of content. I don’t think I’ve heard of any other books about book bloggers specifically!

Royally Screwed (Royally #1) – I’ve wanted to read this ever since it first came out. But I’m too embarrassed to carry around books with shirtless men on their covers…so I finally bought the ebook.

Mountains Beyond Mountains – I was turned onto this book in my anthropology class last semester. A medical doctor who travels the world learning and caring for other cultures? Sounds like a role model to me.

A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #1) – because it was on sale for $1.99, and I occasionally get a burning need for cozy mysteries.

Flight of a Witch (Felse Investigations #3) – see above reason. Also,  did NOT realize this was #3 of this particular series when I bought it. Whoops.

 

And that’s it for this week! Yes, I’m a couple of days late posting…oops. Oh well. What sort of deals and steals have you found for your shelf lately?

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If you really enjoyed reading and would like to show your support for future content and help keep the blog running (my goal is to make the blog self-supporting), consider using the affiliate links on this page to buy your next book, or donate to the blog using one of the links below!

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 13

Review of The Royal Runaway

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Review of The Royal RunawayThe Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory
Published by Gallery Books on October 9, 2018
Genres: Modern, Romance
Pages: 304
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads three-stars
one-half-flames

For fans of The Princess Diaries and The Royal We comes a fun and daring novel about a modern-day princess who teams up with a spy to find out what happened to the fiancé who left her at the altar—and who just might get her own fairytale in the process.

Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent is so over this princess thing.

After her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day, she’s finally back home after spending four months in exile—aka it’s back to press conferences, public appearances, and putting on a show for the Driedish nation as the perfect princess they expect her to be. But Thea’s sick of duty. After all, that’s what got her into this mess in the first place.

So when she sneaks out of the palace and meets a sexy Scot named Nick in a local bar, she relishes the chance to be a normal woman for a change. But just as she thinks she’s found her Prince Charming for the night, he reveals his intentions are less than honorable: he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s not above blackmail. As Thea reluctantly joins forces with Nick to find out what happened the day her fiancé disappeared, together they discover a secret that could destroy a centuries-old monarchy and change life as they know it.

Funny, fast-paced, and full of more twists and turns than the castle Thea lives in, The Royal Runaway is a fresh romantic comedy that will leave you cheering for the modern-day royal who chucks the rulebook aside to create her own happily-ever-after.

Fluffy. A little bit funny, a lot ridiculous. Requires much more suspension of disbelief than my usual picks, but even still it was entertaining enough to finish. The title feels a bit misleading, as Thea never really seems to run away…she just sort of flounces off and disappears for a few days but doesn’t really go far. But anyway…

The plot is a bit…farfetched. Hence the required suspension of disbelief. The locale is obviously based on England, but the author has invented another country (I suppose so no one can say she’s dissing the actual British royal family?) and culture. Said country and culture is pretty much England…except England is also mentioned. Color me confused, for the first few chapters until I gave up trying to understand and just rolled with it. Then there is the issue of Princess Thea’s fiance’ abandoning her at the altar, and all the other super-secret-squirrel-stuff…and then there’s the other guy, who, yes, sounds hot, but in a very generic sense. Oh well, it was still cute.

I struggled a bit to really connect with and feel for the characters. Both Thea and Nick are just kind of…flat. Not in an annoying way, there just didn’t seem to be a lot there other than Nick’s oh-so-attractive-secretiveness about his past life and Thea’s terribly, exhausting choices between family duty and her heart’s desires. Oooookay, first world problems much? That is, at least, pointed out in the book. Thea needed a backbone. Nick needed to think more with his big head instead of his little one, all James Bond style.

The end was a little rushed, but it tied up all the loose ends nicely. All in all The Royal Runaway was a light, quick and easy read but without a whole lot of substance – which sometimes is exactly what is needed.

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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If you really enjoyed reading and would like to show your support for future content and help keep the blog running (my goal is to make the blog self-supporting), consider using the affiliate links on this page to buy your next book, or donate to the blog using one of the links below!

 

three-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Aug 08

Ask a Reader Tag

Books/Writing 0

I decided to play along with the Ask A Reader tag from Charis Rae over at Reading. Writing. Wandering. I saw this a couple of weeks ago and it reminded me of WHY I got into blogging in the first place – because I love books and reading, pure and simple! So here we go.

      1. What sparked your love for reading?

I have literally loved books for as long as I can remember. My mom and dad taught me to read when I was three years old, and I remember the first “real” book I read being some little easy reader about a little boy and a snowman or a snowstorm. Sadly I have no idea what book it was! But I was off to the races and I’ve never stopped ever since!

        2. Where do you get your books?

Anywhere I can! If I’m buying, usually Amazon, but I much prefer to support my local bookstore when it’s not something I need right here right now. I do hate that local stores are usually more expensive…I’m pinching my pennies so paying an extra $2 makes me cringe…but I do really try!! My ebooks are all from Barnes and Noble since I have a Nook.

         3. Where do you read?

My favorite place is in a comfy reading chair, in a secluded corner of my house. Or in my bed. Or in a porch swing on a warm day with a slight breeze and lots of sunshine.

         4. When do you read?

Whenever I feel like it and DON’T feel guilty that I should be doing something else!

         5. What genres do you read?

Mostly YA at present. Within that I enjoy fantasy, historical, steampunk, mystery, and occasionally some contemporary. I also enjoy historical and mystery novels in general.

         6. What are your favorite childhood reads?

This is a hard question. My reading choices were severely limited growing up (yay fundamentalist cult…the fear of ideas is a powerful thing and it’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about the Read Banned Books projects). I did read Johanna Spyri’s Heidi over and over. Also Anne of Green Gables. I got my hands on some of the American Girl books at one point, but my mom quickly decided those were giving me “rebellious ideas” and they got taken away. Harry Potter was burned in one of the church groups my family was in…I didn’t read those until I was in my late 20s. I still feel like I missed a huge chunk of childhood.

         7. What are your favorite books?

Oh god, this question. So many. The Raven Cycle, the Lunar Chronicles, Dublin Murder Squad, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings…here, just look at my favs shelf on GoodReads! LOL

         8. Do you read fast or slow?

Pretty fast. I just don’t have enough time to do it!

         9. Do you set reading goals? What are they?

I usually set a numbers goal every year (52 for 2018), and I try to participate in some challenges. I’m not always successful, haha. I have more luck with just the numbers.

       10. How do you track your reads?

Just on GoodReads, really. I catalog my physical library on LibraryThing.

       11. Do you binge-read?

Not really anymore! I used to. Sometimes I get the urge, but again, time.

       12. Do you fall in love with characters?

Oh hell yes. Jamie Fraser, Rhysand, Ronan Lynch, Mr. Knightley…

       13. Do you buddy-read?

I really don’t! I feel like it’s so much pressure. What if I take forever to finish the book, or if I finish waaaaay before them…what if we have vastly differing opinions…gah.

       14. Do you re-read?

Absolutely. Re-reading is the best comfort food available.

       15. What’s the best thing about being a reader?

Getting to see the world from someone else’s viewpoint, experiencing to some extent different places in the world, seeing that people are people regardless of their religion, sexual orientation, or color.

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Well, that was fun! I hope you enjoyed reading my version of the Ask a Reader tag. If anyone is reading this and wants to join in and reminisce about all the reasons we love reading, consider yourself tagged. 🙂

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Aug 06

Review of the Upside of Unrequited

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

I was looking forward to this book SOOO much! I had such high expectations and hopes…some of which panned out, some of which didn’t. Regardless, I hope you enjoy my review of The Upside of Unrequited.

Review of the Upside of UnrequitedThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 11, 2017
Pages: 336
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads three-half-stars
one-flame

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Molly is a mess. A shy, self-conscious, boy-obsessed mess. She’s seventeen, has never had a boyfriend or even kissed a boy, and she hates it. She has had twenty-six crushes, none of which panned out for her. She thinks and worries (and people often comment along the same lines) that she is fat, too fat to be attractive to any boys.

First of all – geez louise! I know I was definitely more relationship and (in my case) boy obsessed when I was sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen years old than I am now or have ever been since, but DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY it is literally all this girl thinks about. She has a couple of other interests, but appears to have never given even a slight thought to what she wants to do with those interests after high school. College is mentioned, but only as an annoyance, because of adults asking what colleges she has applied to. Goals? What are goals? It seems so odd to have little to no interest in one’s future. I also remember that four years felt like an eternity at seventeen, or even at twenty-two. So I get some of that – but not all. Molly just seems so extremely focused on boys, their attractiveness, their potential to be boyfriend or hookup material…it seems excessive and concerned me. If she was a friend of mine I would be staging an intervention, not trying to goad her on or set her up with whatever eligible guy I could find.

That said, of course most people want to be a relationship of some kind, with another person or people. There are many different kinds of relationships – MANY of which are modeled in this book, hurray! Everyone deserves to be happy and to be loved. However, I think it’s very unhealthy to look to a relationship for one’s happiness. Another person can never make you happy if you are unhappy with yourself – as Molly definitely seems to be, despite her moms and other friends constantly trying to build up her self worth. However, Molly tends to be very selfish and focused inward, only looking at situations from the point of view of how they effect HER.

Molly especially struggles with her twin sister’s new relationship. She becomes jealous of Cassie’s girlfriend and all the time they spend together. Just like we have all had the friend who started dating someone new and fell off the face of the earth. Eventually she does realize that this is a season, and that things will change throughout their lives, and she comes more to terms with her sister having a life separate from her.

We might see each other every day. We might see each other once a year. Maybe it will ebb and flow and change with the decades. Maybe we’ll never pin it down. I think every relationship is actually a million relationships.

^Best quote of the book, there. Not that Cassie is an angel, by any means. While Molly clearly adores her twin, Cassie also takes advantage of her in a lot of ways and is rather insensitive to her feelings.

GOOD STUFF:

Lots, and lots of diverse representation – LOTS! Molly has two moms, one of which is bisexual, there are gay, lesbian, and pansexual characters, as well as people of all different ethnic backgrounds. It made my heart happy.

Mental health treatment. Molly takes medication for her mental health. It’s not made a big deal of, it is just NORMAL, and I think that is so important.

Excellent writing – the style was entertaining and easy to read. I read this in less than 3 hours, not counting breaks. Will definitely pick up another of Albertalli’s books.

I just could not get on board with Molly, even while I did understand that some of what seemed to be selfishness was really anxiety. Anxiety can sometimes makes people appear to be selfish when really what they’re worried about is taking care of someone, or worried they will offend or hurt someone. I felt bad for her, but I was horrified by the implications of the conclusion, even if it was sweet and made me say “Awwwww!” for a few seconds. The content and conclusion are what really made me lower my rating, the writing itself was quite excellent. So, I’ll give the author another try and see.

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three-half-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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