Posts By: Lizzy

Mar 21

The Gilded Wolves

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★½

The Gilded WolvesThe Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1) by Roshani Chokshi
Published by Wednesday Books on January 15, 2019
Pages: 388
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-half-stars

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It's 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history—but only if they can stay alive.

Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war.

My heart was both incredibly full and totally shattered when I finished this book. I immediately raced off to see when Book 2 is due out, and *gasp* there’s not even a DATE yet! How shall I survive? *melodramatic scream*

Characters

The Gilded Wolves is the story of friends. The most unlikely group of misfits who, despite their myriad differences, fit together and work together and love each other – even if they won’t come out and say it in so many words. I love this squad so much! Jury is out on whether it will be on par with my current favorite squads (a tie between the Lunar Chronicles gang and the Night Court circle). There is a TON of diversity as far as nationality, color, and sexuality. The diversity actually feels natural, too, not just “thrown in” for good measure the way it does in so many books published recently. I think part of this is because the author herself is of a mixed heritage and it gives her a unique viewpoint from which to write.

“You know how moths look at a fire and think, ‘Oooh! shiny!’ and then die in a burst of flames and regret?”

“Vaguely.”

“Right. Just checking to be sure.”

I loved Severin and Tristan, the brothers-not-really. Loved them so, so much. I really wish a little more of their back story had been explained, because while there are little tiny pieces of Severin’s story told through flashbacks (usually only a couple of paragraphs long), it really just wasn’t enough! Must. Have. More.

He wished he didn’t know what he had lost. Maybe then every day wouldn’t feel like this. As if he had once known how to fly, but the skies had shaken him loose and left him with nothing but the memory of wings.

Severin, the leader of this merry (or not) band, is a complex character. I’m a complete sucker for anti-heroes, so I was predisposed to like him, buuuuut at the end he is super super shitty to Laila. I understand WHY – he’s hurting, and either to keep himself from hurting or as an attempt to ease the pain he lashes out at her. Not to mention freezing everyone else out as well, but especially her. That was…completely uncalled for. Laila, being who she is, sees beyond his heartless words and actions to the pain underneath. Their relationship is far from resolved in this book, but I hope – I really hope – that Laila remains true to herself, regardless of her feelings for Severin. It could turn into a toxic relationship very quickly unless Severin actually allows himself to heal.

Laila, the magnificent baking queen with a mask of glitter and sensuality. She is amazing and so, so strong. Despite being very young she kind of gives off the mama bear vibe and I adored it. Her relationship with Severin is unique in YA in that they actually have history, it’s not insta-love or even lust. As I said above…it’s not resolved, at all, and I’m very interested to see how it goes in the following books.

I feel like this would be Zofia’s face on the regular.

<<<Then we have…my darling Zofia. Who is about the most awkward human being on the face of the planet, and I adore her for it. I feel like maybe she is on the spectrum, due to the way she immerses herself in projects and reacts to people? Also the ways she takes things literally. I love it so much.

“What on EARTH are you doing?”

“I am imitating patterns of flirtation.”

“Wait. You’re flirting. With…ME?”

“Maybe I have the methodology wrong.”

Oh, Zofia. She’s also a math whiz, and counts to keep herself calm. Also Zofia + Enrique would be awesome.

Oh yes, Enrique. I really feel that Enrique didn’t get enough screen time in this story and I’m hopeful that he gets more in the future books. He seems to have so many layers to him, and he just wants everyone to be happy and get along. Oh, and he’s a historian! Mad props.

Tristan, sweet, spider-loving Tristan (yes really). He reminded me of a little brother that everyone wants to protect and love on, which is essentially what he is to this entire group but especially to Severin. I loved his constant experiments and just his general vibe. Now I have to shut up because SPOILERS but dear god my heart!

I cannot WAIT to see what happens to this awesome squad in the next book! Also kind of terrified because like I already said…MY HEART.

Setting/Worldbuilding

Paris is dual-faced in this book – on one side, glittering and sparkly (hello, Laila), and on the other dark, dangerous, and hateful (oh, is that you, Severin?). In the shadowy places in between is everyone just trying to survive and find their place in a world that would cut them down and leave them bleeding on the street. The magic system was, to me, the weakest part of the story. I still don’t quite understand how forging works? Or how the ability is passed on or down or whatever? It was fascinating but I really need it spelled out in more detail.

Plot

“Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”

The heist! I actually usually don’t like books involving heists, they give me a very Oceans 11 vibe and I get so nervous I literally can’t sit still. However, this one had so many puzzles and clues and different places to go I just HAD to keep reading. It was awesome. Even if I still don’t quite understand the magic behind the forged artifacts, it was enough for me that they were THE most valuable and coveted items on the planet and people would kill for them. How the squad got to them and the allies they had to make along the way was just…aaah! I WAS THERE FOR IT.

Overall, 4.5/5 stars. Half a star off for my confusion over the magic system. All the stars for the squad. This is truly a YA book, with young characters who act young (but not too young), and with sex being more innuendo than action. I loved it. Book 2 please hurry!

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four-half-stars

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Mar 20

The NetGalley Problem – is it worth it?

Books/Writing 3

Book blogger confession: NetGalley is both the most wonderful thing to happen to me, and my kryptonite.

We all dream of having hard copy ARCs, but sometimes it takes awhile to build the following for those! It seems safe to safe most book bloggers start off by using either NetGalley or Edelweiss to request ARCs  (or both).  I signed up for both but ended up only using NetGalley because it’s just more intuitive to me. I do use Edelweiss’s saved search feature – after learning about it from Reader Voracious’ most amazing and helpful post – because it helps me find new releases that aren’t as popular. Edelweiss has a TON of books, a lot more than NetGalley, and not all are available to request ARCs but you can at least see a lot more of what is releasing at any given time, and I really like that.

NetGalley makes it easy to request upcoming books. Just set up your account, add some profile information, and you can request away! It’s super easy. Almost too easy.

What Not to Do

I’ve been on Netgalley since 2016. I took most of 2018 off from reading ARCs, so in the 2+ years I’ve been a regular visitor, I’ve received 53 eARCs. Not that many, really. However, in the beginning I made some mistakes.

  • Request everything that looks interesting. Now, this might sound like a good idea when starting off, as you don’t have any NetGalley stats/percentage. However, you might get surprised and get an influx of eARCs, and then your feedback percentage goes WAY down and no one wants to approve you for books.
  • Review books super late. While you can always go back and leave feedback, which will boost your percentage no matter how late you are, when you are *coughoverayearcough* several months late with your reviews it seems like the publisher/publicist never sees them, which makes sense.
  • Don’t read publisher approval preferences. I didn’t notice this little feature when I started out, but if you go to each publisher’s page, there is a button that says “View Approval Preferences.” This really helped me start to tailor my requests. Some publishers don’t approve until you have over 1,000 followers. Some want you to have specific information in your profile.

NetGalley Success

When I came back to NetGalley this year, the first thing I did was try to clear off all the old titles I had. If you use the Send-to-Kindle option, the files never actually disappear. If you use Adobe Digital Editions (like I did for a long time), they automatically delete. Thankfully I had sent almost all of my old books to my Kindle app, which is what I’m using regularly to read eARCs now.

After that, I let myself wander over to the “Find Titles” section…just to see. Um, right. I promptly went on a requesting spree, because I told myself my feedback ration was still under the desired 80% so I wouldn’t get that many, maybe one of two.

Oops. I suddenly ended up with about eight new titles, which isn’t a lot for some bloggers but cued total panic for me. I hadn’t really paid attention to WHEN these titles were releasing, despite my goal of posting feedback within a month of publication (ideally BEFORE publication), which meant most of them released around the same time. OOPS.

There went my feedback ratio, AGAIN, and even further in the hole. I think at one point (around the time the approvals stopped), it was around 47%. ARGH! Like I said, that little “Request Title” button is like crack for me. Total kryptonite.

So, I buckled down to read these new ARCs. Thing is, I had so many that in my limited reading time, I had NO TIME to read all the other books I was hoping to get to! All those new releases I pre-orded for January, February, March…yeah, I’ve read ONE, because I’ve felt SO obligated to read all the NetGalley books.

That’s kind of…not fun. As much as I love reading new releases AHEAD of time, I also want to read the books I cared enough about to pay for, or put on special request at my library.

Is It Worth It?

YMMV, but for me the answer is – sometimes. Obviously I get SUPER excited when I get to read a book early. It’s like being let into an inclusive club, it’s fun, and I love hoping/knowing that my review might help an author get more readers. On the other hand, there is that sense of obligation – not for any particular rating, but to at least read and rate. When too many stack up, that’s STRESSFUL.

Reading should not be stressful. Books are my happy place.

So what does this mean? Am I/have I abandoned NetGalley? Not on your life. But I have implemented some strategies that have really helped me cut back on the stress and let me ENJOY the titles I do receive. I’ll be posting more about that in detail in a later post, but the end result is –

  • I have an 80%+ rating on NetGalley right now. Which, I’ve discovered, DOES actually boost your chances of getting approved considerably.
  • I have eight NetGalley titles currently waiting for reading/review, but they are spread out until SEPTEMBER. I have one coming out this month, two in June, two in July, two in August, and one in September. That’s a lot of time to read eight books! Did you hear the stress bubble pop?
  • I’m going to be reading many more of my MOST anticipated 2019 books, along with the books on my shelves already. This makes me SO HAPPY!

Let’s face it, that’s how we should feel about the books we read. Not stressed.

How About You?

How do you manage your ARC requests? What are your strategies?

Of Interest

If you’re struggling under a mountain of ARCs, check out Avalinah’s State of the ARC meme. I haven’t joined but it sounds like an awesome way to tackle the pile!

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Mar 18

The Waking Forest Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

The Waking Forest ReviewThe Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees
on March 12, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, magical realism, Young Adult
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I sort of do know what she means, sitting here in the semi-dark and the semi-silence. I have a scratchy, restless feeling, as if my soul were grinding against my skin, my bones, not necessarily wanting to get out but urging my body to go to impossible places, convinced I can touch the stars and not burn.

The Waking Forest is a story that is a true journey. I wasn’t EXACTLY sure what to expect going into it, and I was almost halfway through before I was even sure what the heck I was reading! Perhaps not the most stellar start for a debut novel, BUT. Bear with me – and bear with the book, too. While I did only rate it at 3.5/5 stars, I also feel it is totally a book worth reading and I will gladly be reading the next novel that Alyssa Wees comes out with.

The first half of the book is told in alternating chapters between Rhea, in our modern world, and the Witch of the Wood, in a very odd dream-like world. I was SO confused as to what was supposed to be happening in these…but the writing is beautiful. If you are not into heavy descriptions and very sustained metaphors, you might not enjoy it. It’s a very different style from what I’ve been reading recently, so it took a little while for it to grow on me. But grow on me it did, and eventually the prose (which could, admittedly, be considered kind of “purple” prose) was just painting these amazing pictures…so even if I was turned around and had no idea where the story was going, I was just enjoying the journey.

Eventually the two tales merge, and that is rather…mind-bending. There is enough foreshadowing that you sort of see it coming, but not…not…in the way it played out, or at least I didn’t. The story shifts to an entirely fantasy world, with incredible creatures and magic. I really wish the magic had been better explained! I was still kind of confused by how everything worked in the end, but it was glorious and shiny and I liked it.

My absolute favorite part was Rhea’s relationship with her sisters. These four girls are kicking ass and taking names and making no apologies – and dealing with their own issues along the way. There is some beautiful encouragement for those of us who struggle with anxiety in these pages – and the characters aren’t considered less than or incapable because of it! I loved it. Absolutely loved it.

Overall, The Waking Forest isn’t perfect but if you like fantasy and quirky characters, definitely give it a try. And keep an eye out for more books by Wees!

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three-half-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Mar 14

Born of Nothing Blog Tour

Book Tours 0



Born of Nothing
Jill Ramsower
(The Fae Games #4)
Publication date: March 5th 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

It was over before it began.

A druid woman and a Fae man—we were two people from different worlds, only by chance did our paths happen to cross. He was beautiful and damaged and totally captivating. If only I could have continued to buy into the propaganda of fear and hate my people had taught me about the Fae, then maybe I would have believed him to be the savage he appeared to be.

Instead, I offered the cryptic man my help. The time I spent with him allowed me to see the man he was behind the chiseled, formal exterior. What developed between us was tender, intimate, and totally unexpected.

My druid family was not as enlightened as I was. My mom didn’t want me near the Fae; she certainly never would have understood that I had developed feelings for a Fae man. I tried to keep my private life a secret. I tried to keep the peace, but my mother’s threats and intolerance left me with no choice. I had to make the hardest decision of my life. I had to leave the only family I’d ever known. I just never imagined what I’d face when I didn’t make it out in time…

Goodreads / Amazon

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I’m very happy to be able to share this new release in the Fae Games series with you! I’m a total sucker for forbidden love stories…so this sounds right up my alley. And that cover! Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour posts. Also scroll down to enter the giveaways! Below is an excerpt for your enjoyment.

Once, when I was young, my mother took me to the Dublin Zoo. I loved seeing all the animals, as most children do, but my heart hurt to see the wild creatures kept in small enclosures. Standing outside the wire cage of a large eagle, I began to cry for the bird who was in such a small aviary that it didn’t have enough room to fly. 

My mother took me aside and explained that the bird’s wing had been broken when it lived in the wild. He had been rescued by conservationists, nursed back to health, and provided an easy life where he could not be harmed. Even if he’d been able to fly again, his life at the zoo was infinitely easier than it had been in the wild where he had to fight daily to survive. Now, he was well cared for and would live a much longer, happier life.

I took another look at the majestic bird as he sat unbothered, his glossy feathers shining in the sun, and realized that there was truth in her statement. Mother Nature could be cruel and unfair. In the zookeeper’s hands, the wildlife was kept relatively free of disease and allowed to enjoy their lives without the constant threat of death lurking around every corner.

I had accepted her explanation as a child, but only now did I truly understand the freedom such a life provided. There was security in knowing that I was safe and unburdened by the multitude of daily decisions that plagued my life before.

Those days had been so painful that I had buried them deep inside me. I did not think of them. Instead, I celebrated all the blessings around me. At the top of that list was my family, because family is everything.

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Author Bio:

Jill is a Texan, born and raised. She manages the hectic social calendars for her three active children and occasionally spends an evening with her dashing husband. Aside from being an author and a mom, she’s an attorney, travel junkie, and voracious reader.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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Mar 14

Cover Reveal – Witch’s Honor by Anya Cosgrove!

Book Tours, Books/Writing 0

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, Shadow Walker, so I’m super excited to get to participate in the cover reveal for the sequel, due out April 11, 2019! Oh, and I like this cover much, much better than the first. 😀 Be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway! 

Witch’s Honor
Anya J. Cosgrove
(Bloody Hearts #2)
Publication date: April 11th 2019
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

First rescued by two smoking-hot brothers and now torn between them, what’s a witch to do?

Be good? Or wicked…

Alana is still a long way from mastering her magic when she embarks on a journey to save other witches. Jealousy and secret fester as she can’t help but fall for the two insanely similar but drastically different men in her life.

She has to choose between light or dark. Human or demon. Thom or Liam.

But her alluring roommates will soon be the least of her troubles. From deadly angels to uncovering her legacy as a Garrett witch, Alana’s life is about to change once again. And the maniacal demon that almost devoured her is still alive, biding his time…

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

Sequel to:

 

Author Bio:

Anya J Cosgrove lives in Québec with her husband, her beautiful son, and two mischievous cats. She works as a veterinarian by day. She’s a travel and Disney junkie and is passionate about her favorite paranormal series.

What would Buffy do? Kick ass!

Read it first! http://bit.ly/anyaslair

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!

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Mar 04

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Mystery of Black Hollow LaneThe Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on March 5, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Modern
Pages: 320
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

The first in an exciting new series, this suspenseful debut brings readers on a journey filled with secrets, mystery, and unforgettable characters.

With a dad who disappeared years ago and a mother who's a bit too busy to parent, Emmy is shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England, where she's sure she won't fit in.

But then she finds a box of mysterious medallions in the attic of her home—medallions that belonged to her father. Her father who may have gone to Wellsworth.

When she arrives at school, she finds the strange symbols from the medallions etched into walls and books, which leads Emmy and her new friends, Jack and Lola, to Wellsworth's secret society: The Order of Black Hollow Lane. Emmy can't help but think that the society had something to do with her dad's disappearance, and that there may be more than just dark secrets in the halls of Wellsworth...

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is the kind of book I would have LOVED reading as a nine or ten-year-old. It has strong, independent kids with their own unique voices, an intriguing mystery (that the adults are dead-bent on NOT being helpful with), and juuuuust enough creep factor to make a warm blanket desirable.

Emmy’s father disappeared when she was a toddler, and her mother is a “parenting expert” that is rarely around and emotionally distant even when she’s physically present. At the start of the story, Emmy is shipped off to a boarding school in England, despite having never been there in her life. Never one to remain down for long (however much her mother’s actions might hurt her), she acclimates quickly, making new friends with some of the more colorful characters at the school.

The mystery of Emmy’s father’s disappearance is a main theme, as she is (as many of us would be) desperate to find out anything about him, his life, and yes of course his disappearance. It was very intriguing to have all that thrown in with the typical school stuff (reminds me vaguely of Harry Potter here, considering the main friend group is also three people), and it seems the groundwork has been laid for future books in the series. Some questions were answered by the end, but even more were asked! I’m very eager to see when the next book will be released and what will happen to Emmy and her friends next.

I did wish there had been at least ONE adult who was straight with the kids, instead of constantly blowing them off or just trying to pretend things hadn’t happened. Children are smarter than we give them credit for, and often able to handle things much better than we might anticipate.

4/5 stars.

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four-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Feb 28

You Asked for Perfect Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

You Asked for Perfect ReviewYou Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 5, 2019
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard - really hard - to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

You Asked for Perfect absolutely gutted me. Shattered my heart. All the feels.

I was not expecting this. In fact, I put off reading this book for a LONG time, because I was so much less excited about it than about Girl Out of Water, Laura Silverman’s first book (which is, um, apparently one of those books I meant to write a review for and never got around to…oops). However, since I’m trying to be a good little reviewer – and also, hello, academic stress, I can relate – I picked it up last week.

Ariel Stone is the classic, driven, overachiever student. Except he’s Jewish and bisexual. Also, he’s waaaaaaay stressed out, and despite the 10+ year age difference I can so relate.

I used to like studying. That burst of satisfaction when new material clicks. The competitive gratification of finishing a test first, knowing you got everything right.

YES! So true! But then there is the pressure we type-A people like to put on ourselves…and the expectations of our family/teachers/friends…and next thing you know, studying is about as fun as plucking your leg hair out with tweezers.

If I stay any longer, he’ll see what’s happening. He’ll see I don’t understand. I’m not smart enough. I’m an imposter. If I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked for, at least I don’t have to do it in front of an audience.

I really just wanted to wrap Ariel up in a big hug. Like, this kid put so much stress on himself, and he cares so much about his family – and, oh, let’s not forget Amir, because Amir is cool on his own and he and Ariel together is just adorable. Oh, and his FAMILY! Actually, both of their families…why did I not have relationships like this as a teenager? They are supportive – academically and emotionally. The sibling banter is fun and believable. I liked that the story included Ariel’s little sister Rachel, and showed just HOW YOUNG the academic pressure can and does start. It broke my heart, not just Rachel, but Ariel, and Isaac (another young savant that is a secondary character but also struggling).

“If it’s not important to you, why do you tell everyone I’m applying there? It’s all you guys talk about. Like it’s the only worthwhile thing about me.” My voice begins to shake. “If I don’t get in, that’s it. I’ll be Ariel, the one who didn’t get into Harvard. I’ll let everyone down. I’ll let you guys down. And I might not get in. I really might not, because I’m not perfect. They asked for perfect, and I’m not.”

Ariel really grows so much through this story, even though it takes place over only a few weeks. He realizes a lot of his pressure is internal, and he realizes that sometimes…people are more important than academics. Basically he came to the realization that I wish I had, years and years ago. Realizing that sometimes, a couple of extra points on a test aren’t worth missing quality time with family and friends. Oh, and he also got a cute boyfriend out of it, which is always a plus. 😉

5/5 stars. Go buy it, go read it, go hug it.

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five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Feb 26

The Victory Garden Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Victory Garden ReviewThe Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen
Published by Lake Union Publishing on February 12, 2019
Pages: 368
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

From the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War.

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.

When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster, but may open a path to her destiny.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Victory Garden is a poignant, sweet book that takes place at the end of WWI in England. Emily is just turning twenty-one as the book starts, and she at last has the legal standing to shake off her overprotective parents and really DO something for the war effort. Having already lost her brother, she feels the need to do something to honor him.

“I want to be useful. I want to do my bit, so that Freddie’s death was somehow not in vain.”

In the process of finding how she is going to do her bit, she (naturally) meets a dashing young pilot (Australian! Gasp!), falls in love, her lover dies a hero, and it turns out she’s pregnant.

All this is revealed in the blurb, so I picked it up thinking that it had to be more than just a romance since…well, you know. Hard to have a romance when one party is deceased, however heroically.

The “more” turns out to be the massive amount of growth and experience Emily goes through in less than a year. She becomes a “land girl,” – something I was not familiar with at all, and I think many Americans would be there with me. She stands up to her parents, who despite being protective are just as much about their own egos as they are about shielding her from heartbreak. She takes a chance on love, knowing that it will most likely end in heartbreak. In the process, she discovers the power of both independence and female friendships. Britain lost a large majority of their fighting age men in WWI, something I hadn’t honestly given much thought.  The story really shows just how that loss changed – or at least how it began to change – societal roles for both genders.

The Victory Garden isn’t particular heavy on either history or romance. In fact, there could have been less of a romance and the story would have worked just as well. I knew going in that Emily’s dashing aviator was going to pass, as so many of them did at that time, so I went in willing myself to not get too invested. The history was interesting but not overwhelming in detail.

As far as the actual garden, there was SOME emphasis on it in the last half of the book, and a little tiny bit of a mystery involving an old journal Emily finds, but it was very…well, I wish had been more about the herbs and the garden. It seems like the title is a bit of a misnomer. 😛

Overall, 4/5 stars. I closed the book feeling a little sad, but hopeful for Emily’s future with her child.

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four-stars

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Feb 21

The Psychology of Time Travel

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

The Psychology of Time TravelThe Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
Published by Crooked Lane Books on February 12, 2019
Pages: 336
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

Perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman's The Power and Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures comes The Psychology of Time Travel, a mind-bending, time-travel debut.

In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history.

Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?

Traversing the decades and told from alternating perspectives, The Psychology of Time Travel introduces a fabulous new voice in fiction and a new must-read for fans of speculative fiction and women’s fiction alike.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I was intrigued by the premise of The Psychology of Time Travel. Time travel itself has always fascinated me, and I loved the idea of it being a group of women pioneers who actually made that leap for the first time. Also, the author herself is a psychologist, which I think lent a special depth to the characterization and some aspects of the story (notably mental health issues).

Characters

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a picture with a redhaired model, but this is about how I picture Ruby.

Within the first couple of chapters we are introduced to one of the main characters, Ruby, as she changes the oil in her motorcycle, and I was SOLD. I’m hopeless when it comes to mechanical things myself, but I love seeing women mow down that stereotype. Also motorcycles are just awesome. I miss ours…but I digress.

The characters – and there are MANY – are from various walks of life, various sexualites, various cultures. I enjoyed all the diversity but the constant perspective hopping became exhausting rather quickly. Especially since even after the book was halfway over, there were STILL new characters being introduced! I almost went cross-eyed trying to keep them all straight. That said, the friendships developed through the book are really what MADE the story. Not the romance – which was a little hard to believe – but the friendships.

I struggled some to connect with the characters, sadly, and only really felt invested in two. The others I didn’t really care that much about, they were interesting but if they lived or died I was just…meh.

The SCIENCE

Yes, all caps, because the amount of thought put into just how time travel would work – really, actually, maybe work – was very much evident. Unlike a lot of books with time travel elements, there are no dire consequences if your younger or older self sees you as a time traveler (no time-turner woes here), it’s just an accepted part of society and life for those travel. There is new slang and jargon for time travel and the occurrences that go along with it – even down to terms for sex with one’s older or younger self! The story also probes into thedisregard for death that most time travelers either already have, or develop through their career. After all, if someone they love dies, they can just travel back in time and see them again. Despite that…they aren’t actually able to change the past. It’s all very mind-bending.

The Mystery

There’s a behind-a-locked-door murder mystery plotline as well, and it was quite interesting. However, that is definitely not the main draw for the story.

Overall, 3.5/5 stars. The Psychology of Time Travel is a very intriguing story, especially if you like seeing things from many different viewpoints and angles.

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three-half-stars

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Feb 19

February 2019 New Book Releases

Books/Writing 0

I hope you all are having a great February! This post is…LATE. Very late. However, there are some books coming out this month that sounds absolutely amazing and that I’m eagerly waiting to dive into, as well as a couple I was lucky enough to get to read early! So here is a very short list, by no means all inclusive of awesome books from February. 😉

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All covers link to GoodReads!

  • The Matchmaker’s List just sounds like so much fun. I feel like it might be sort of a grown-up When Dimple Met Rishi? Maybe a little?
  • The Winter Sister synopsis intrigued me. Unsolved murders/disappearances, sisters, old houses…yes please!
  • The Silent Patient – I’m not sure what it was about thrillers this month, not normally something I’m THAT much into but this one…even just the description gave me chills and I really need to KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!
  • Two Witches and a Whiskey – I’ve done several reviews of Annette Marie’s books lately, and I have absolutely loved the previous two books in this series, Three Mages and a Margarita and Dark Arts and a Daiquiri. Urban fantasy with a kick of humor and a dose of sexy. I’m so excited for this one!!!
  • Four Dead Queens just sounds epic and creepy and cool. I don’t know when the hell I will get around to reading all these but hell yes please.
  • The Beast’s Heart – I’ve already read and reviewed this one, it’s a nice read in a more traditional fairy tale tone than a lot of retellings.
  • The Psychology of Time Travel – finished this a few days ago, review coming soon! It was good though. More women’s fiction than anything else, though obviously it’s futuristic.

Are any of these on your TBR? Anything not on my list that you’re super stoked about for February? It’s so hard to choose!

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