Category: Reviews

Oct 02

Looking Forwards and Back #3 – September/October

Books/Writing, Reviews 7

Um, no? September flew by WAY too fast. It is not possible for it to be October yet. Not that I really mind…I love October, I love the change of the seasons and the year. But…yeah. I feel like I lost a good bit of the month. Which, I sort of did. Some personal issues/stresses/sadness kept cropping up and basically my only coping strategy is to sleep, if books or knitting doesn’t fix it. Possibly not the BEST strategy, but…eh. I’m still here. So far. 😛

img_3920-2

I’m skipping my Something Else Sunday post in favor of this one, since I would like to NOT be an entire week behind on my recap post this month. As you can see, I only read six books this month. Last weekend I literally didn’t even touch a book. It was very sad indeed. But I got past it. 😉 And here are the reviews for this month! I did horribly, averaged one a week…but one is better than none!

25064648 204939141 78951681 29102898

The Reader – by Traci Chee. Wonderful book. Amazing. I ordered a signed copy, and am agreeing awaiting the sequel. 😀
Equal Rites – by Terry Pratchett. Awesome as expected.
Royal Blood – by Rhys Bowen. Middle of the road for this series, but not horrible.
The Cruelty – by Scott Bergstrom. Pretty solidly meh on this one.

img_3921-2

Anywho, I love Halloween and all the legends and stuffs that surround it. I’m using it as an excuse to go crazy on the paranormal/atmospheric/creepy type reads this month. As a result, a couple of books were shoved off of my immediate t0-read list. Which kind of makes me feel sad or like a failure, but, you know what…read what you love and what makes you happy at that time. I’ll have a full post on the titles I collected for October reads later this week…I’ll be lucky to get to more than 3 of them! But I love having choices. Haha. I’m focusing purely on my (very long overdue) library books, and my October/Halloween reads this month. I’ve added a few ARCs at the end of my list but don’t really expect to get to any of them. They’re just there to remind me, haha.

18743370 16158565

These are the books currently keeping me from checking out any others at the library. Because, erm, they might have been renewed the maximum number of times and are now 2 weeks past the last due date. Oops.

26893819 22328546 16034235

Somehow I still haven’t made it to Throne of Glass! Gah.

22543648 7046707 29631300 28962906 19119826 774733 248596

Aaaaand all the creepy books! Haha. Or the ones I expect to be creepy. I’ve already started the audiobook of Dracula – which, by the way, is freaking amazing…the numerous narrators just MAKES the book, to me. I sort of doubt that I will get to Frankenstein, since it’s the least interesting of this particular lot, to me…but I would love to! So many creepy classics I’ve missed through the years.

What’s your favorite Halloween or creepy book for this time of year?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Sep 20

Haunted Hearts: Lit-Cube September Box

Reviews 7

img_3800

I’m so excited to share this box with you guys! I’ve never had a Lit-Cube before but when I saw that A.G. Howard’s new book, The Architect of Song, was going to be the feature for September I jumped on it. So many good reviews and it sounds so creepily gothic. Perfect for the month before Hallowtober. 😉 I haven’t actually read ANY of her books before so I’m even more excited! Also, she helped curate this box – how cool is that?!?

However, I must say I am absolutely DEVASTATED that I couldn’t order the Lit-Cube Halloween box (it wouldn’t have been here in time – *sob*). Because after seeing this one…I have no doubt at all it would have been fan-freaking-tastic.

img_3806

Look at all these goodies!!! So much gorgeousness. The little round soap you see right in the middle had the most amazing cinnamon-y smell, as soon as I opened the box I was looking for WHAT was giving off that delicious autumnal smell. Good things do indeed come in small packages, because it looks so unassuming! Anyway, the Lit-Cube (a one month subscription is $34.95 shipped to the U.S.) contained:

a Readable: A.G. Howard’s The Architect of Song (*squee*)

a Wearable: a gorgeous glass necklace with pressed flowers! :hearteyes:

img_3807

This necklace is so lovely. It’s surprisingly heavy and the flowers are beautifully delicate. I’m a little concerned that my clumsy self will snap the delicate chain, but it wouldn’t be hard to replace.

an Edible: hot chocolate!

Goodies: an amazingly gorgeous leather journal with a quote picked by A.G. Howard herself on the front, a dip pen and ink, and yummy soap (yes…I just used “yummy” to describe soap, I know)! Check out this journal…I am absolutely stunned that this was in the box along with a book!

img_3808

“Keep a green tree in your heart, and perhaps a singing bird will come.” I adore trees. This is so perfect.

img_3809

Looks like lovely paper inside, too!

The ink isn’t marked, so I have no idea what brand it is (it might have been on the card included with the box, but I accidentally threw it away with the packaging after I took the picture). The pen looks very fun, but as a fountain pen aficionado, I think it’s more for decoration than use! Yes, it’s meant for dipping only, but it feels very flimsy overall so I think I will just display it rather than try to use it.

img_3810

Tristan trying to get in on the book box action as I was trying to take pretty pictures – LOL

Overall I am THRILLED with this box! October’s theme is “Tale as Old As Time,” and while I had intended to just try one month…um…yeah. That’s happening. Hehe.

10-lc-ig-oct2016-v2-510x510

This box was bought with my own funds and this review was not solicited in any way. 🙂

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Sep 13

Book Review: Equal Rites

Books/Writing, Reviews 8

I’ve read a hodgepodge of the Discworld books over the years, enough to be completely and totally obsessed with Terry Pratchett’s whimsical, scathing, hilarious writing. I was so sad when he passed away last year. The world truly has lost a great soul, but I really believe he will live on in his writing for decades to come. Partly due to this, and also due to Gollancz putting out the gorgeous, drool-worthy new editions of some of his early works, I said in January that I wanted to read through the Discworld books chronologically. Obviously not going to happen entirely within this year, as I have a bad case of reading ADD (but it’s so much fun to…oh look, squirrel!), but I’m excited to finally be reviewing one! I re-read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic earlier, but this one I hadn’t read at all yet. I was very excited to see the debut of Granny Weatherwax! While you can definitely read just about any Discworld book and enjoy it without having read the others (I started with Thud!, which is actually #34), seeing how the characters were introduced and how certain jokes come into being is really cool. Another thing about the Discworld books: while they are ALL in the same world and most of them overlap or connect, there are several little sub-series within the series.

204939141Equal Rites is the third Discworld book, but the first Witches book (the first two books were in the Rincewind sub-series). I was immediately hooked by the mildly hysterical battle of the sexes that takes place within the first few pages – a dying wizard tries to bequeath his powers (and staff!) to the 8th son of an 8th son…who turns out to be a daughter. Said daughter – Esk – absorbs magic in a slightly different but no less powerful way than a son might have done, resulting in a family and community that really has no idea what to do with her. A boy would have been sent off to Unseen University, but a girl…”Girls can’t be wizards,” everyone tells her. Thankfully, she has Granny Weatherwax for a guardian. Despite Granny’s slight misconceptions of children, they soon get along quite well.

Granny, in fact, was at a loss, but she knew she had to do something. “Didda nasty wolfie fwiten us, den?” she hazarded.

For quite the wrong reasons, this seemed to work. From the depths of the ball a muffled voice said: “I am eight you know.”

I’m quite sure only Granny would be capable of dealing with a small child with such interesting abilities and ways of dealing with seven annoying older brothers.

“Turning people into pigs is not allowed,” she hissed. “Even brothers.”

I don’t even have GIFs for this book. Call me a fangirl, but Pratchett’s prose is both so pointed and poignant that it really speaks best just by itself. I love Esk, and I love Granny, and watching them tear through Discworld was just a rollicking, fun ride (complete with flying broomsticks that have to be kickstarted). While Granny at first tries to insist that Esk study the traditional female magic, she soon realizes that Esk’s  gifts are quite different and she needs alternate methods of instruction. Eek and Granny share the stage and despite the multi-generation gap between them, make a great team. Of course, like any good guardian, Granny spends a good deal of her time chasing or getting Esk out of trouble, but Esk’s independent little self does fantastic on her own, most of the time. Her sometimes unwitting (maybe?) use of magic creates a variety of reactions from the people she meets, especially as they travel closer to Ankh-Morpork, the large capitol city.

Esk, in fact, moved through the fair more like an arsonist moves through a hay hayfield or a neutron bounces through a reactor, poets notwithstanding. 

Needless to say, they create QUITE the stir at Unseen University, break all sorts of rules, cause all sorts of upsets and feelings. But every insular world needs shaken up now and then, and I think Unseen University will definitely be the better for it. 😉

5/5 stars. Pratchett, as usual, manages to create his own very entertaining world and somehow have it be a satirical commentary on our own.  I throughly enjoyed this Discworld installment and it’s definitely going on my list of favorites! Highly recommend.

img_3772-2

 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Sep 06

Looking Forwards and Back #2 – August/September

Books/Writing, Reviews 3

Yes, yes, I know. The first week of September is nearly gone. I had a rough end to August/start to September, so this is super late. But as always, better late than never.

Here’s what actually ended up happening for August:

IMG_3724

Only 8 this month (just one book over HALF of what I read in July…yikes). And below are all the covers! I love looking at them all together. Especially since between the library books and ebooks I don’t get to see them all together in person. Haha. Yes, I am shallow. 😛 Just like before, each cover is linked to my review on GoodReads, and the titles are linked to Book Depository.

26797462 27276264 27803047 25756328 27969081 13345 20821043 12799435

The Vanishing Throne
The Hatching
Alice
Love & Gelato
Labyrinth Lost
Sabriel
The Secret Place
Imprudence

This is my list for this month…no less grandiose, for all my failure at getting anywhere CLOSE to finishing my list last month. Haha.

IMG_3723

Believe it or not, I’ve actually already made progress! I’ve finished or started these:

25064648 204939141

Most excited about (yes, Dream Thieves is a repeat, somehow I didn’t get to it last month!):

173473891  16034235 6316821

I guess we’ll see how I do! I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading this month. I know there is a TON of shiny new releases coming out in September, none of which are in my hot little hands as of yet. 🙁 So I will just have to live vicariously, I guess!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Sep 03

Book Review: Imprudence

Reviews 2

12799435

I’ve been waiting so long on this book! I had so many expectations. As I’ve stated before – I love the world Carriger has created. I’ve read every single book (not all the short stories yet, I’m working on those!) and enjoyed them all. I love the characters. I love hunting for references to the various storylines in the different series. When I sit down with a Gail Carriger book, it’s like sitting down with an old friend and hearing what they’ve been up to.

That said, I need to get something off my chest: I will never love Rue as much as I love her mother, Alexia.

tumblr_ls7pxonegh1r0xz4zo1_500

She’s charming and winsome in her own way but Alexia has my heart. The entire time I was reading this book and the first in this series, I was missing Alexia and the Alexia/Conall vibe. I have tried to get as much behind Rue as I did Alexia and…she’s definitely her mother’s daughter, but she’s not her mother. Which is a good thing! But I just wanted more Alexia. I need to re-read the original Parasol Protectorate series in its entirety. I’ve read Soulless I think 3 times but definitely time to go through all 5 again. Anyway, on to the actual review!

Imprudence picks up almost exactly where Prudence left off (WARNING: spoilers for the FIRST book). The queen is, as expected, rather displeased with Rue’s handling of the weremonkey situation, but that quickly takes a back seat to Rue’s family troubles. Perhaps it’s awful of me, but I was so glad that Alexia and Lord Maccon were more in the forefront of this one! We see them through Rue’s eyes, which was rather entertaining, but they are there for a good portion of the book. The family is struggling to deal with Lord Maccon’s oncoming Alpha madness. He’s slowly losing his grip on reality and becoming entirely werewolf. It was so sad. By the end of Chapter 5 I was bawling while reading in bed. My husband was very concerned. Thankfully they didn’t just sit around moping about it – this is Alexia’s husband, after all! They were very quickly off to do something about it, and rampages and capers ensued.

Well, Lord save anyone if a vampire tried to steal a werewolf’s prey, even if only to kill that prey himself. Especially then.

I love how Rue and Alexia share the tendency to go off on their own and drag everyone else along in their wake. Also have to love that Rue seems to be the only one capable of dragging Alexia herself around – Alexia is much more concerned about appearances than I remember her being, perhaps a by product of all her time serving the Queen. Rue…Rue gives almost no fucks. Especially where her relationship with Quesnel is concerned.

“Like to go somewhere more private and be scandalous some more?”

Ah, yes, Quesnel, the little Frenchman we all fell in love with when he was just Madame Lefoux’s charge and constantly running amok. Quesnel, as we saw in Prudence, has grown up to be a innovative inventor in his own right. He’s also quite the ladies’ man…but somehow Prudence has managed to twist him right around her little finger. Despite her repeated insistence that their relationship is only for “lessons” and her own experience…
giphy
Ok. This is the big reason this book didn’t get 5 stars for me. I can’t get behind Rue and Quesnel. I wanted to. I really did. But I just…can’t. Quesnel is too much of a pretty boy for me…I am Team Big-hairy-dominate-but-gentle-werewolf (aka Lord Maccon) all the way and I guess I was hoping the same for Rue. Of course she’s entitled to her own taste! But it just…it seems forced. I didn’t feel it, and I’d like to think I can usually feel a character’s emotional involvement even if the parties involved aren’t to my own preferences.
Like Tasherit and Prim. I feel their attraction. I feel Prim’s confusion and anxiety and flutterings. And I’m very eager to find out what happens to them in the next book!
Gail wrote in one of her newsletters/posts that she was trying to wrap a lot of things up in this book, since there will not be a 3rd Custard Protocol book until at least 2018. I think she did that very well while still leaving several storylines open for exploration. Like Tasherit and Prim. Like the Woolsey Pack  – oh, I almost forgot.
giphy1
OMG, my beloved Woolsey Pack. I can’t believe what happened. That was also a large part of the tears.WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO WOOLSEY??? This was a huge turning point in the first third of the book and then…crickets. AAAAAHHHH. I think we were supposed to kind of forget but I can’t. Buffy. Lyall. Channing. And of course the Kingair Pack too, even though God knows they’re still off brawling in some distant land like good Scottish boys – capably led by their fierce female Alpha (who, thank GOD, will be having her very own novella some time in the near future). I really hope we have more werewolves in the next book too.
Anyway, overall, 4/5 stars. And I will be eagerly awaiting whatever comes from Gail Carriger’s pen next. 🙂
Book Review - Imprudence

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Aug 26

Book Review: The Secret Place

Books/Writing, Reviews 0

20821043

Find it on GoodReads
Get your own copy – I love the cover on the UK version!

I don’t usually get all the feels when reading a murder mystery. For me mysteries are generally all about the who/what/where/when/why and how the detective figure puts all that together into a solution. But Tana French’s 5th Dublin Murder Squad book, The Secret Place, gave me the feels.

giphy9

Somehow, she manages to intrigue me in every single book, even though the POV character changes each time. Unlike most mystery series (at least in my experience), while there are familiar characters in each one, usually we just see a very brief appearance of the people from the last book in the current one. After there first book, the subsequent book’s main character has also been seen briefly in the previous one. I love this foreshadowing, even if I was completely and totally distraught when I started the second book and realized we weren’t going to see Rob again. Still not over it. Still begging to know what happens to him. Ms. French, are you listening?

I love beautiful; always have. I never saw why I should hate what I wish I had. Love it harder. Work your way closer. Clasp your hands around it tighter. Till you find a way to make it yours.

The Secret Place delves into the world of priviledged upper class high school girls, a very slender sliver of the population and as full of vitriol and poison as Henry VIII’s court ever was. I was skeptical going in…how accurate could it be? I was really afraid that it might end up one of those books that sounds like the author is trying desperately to be young again and only succeeds in dating herself by her generation’s slang. But no. Without compromising her usually sparkling prose in the slightest, Ms. French absorbs us into this cut-a-bitch world. God, I’m so glad I didn’t go to this kind of school. Scary AF. Remember little Holly Mackey, from Faithful Place? Well, she’s back and almost-all-grown-up. Still just as smart and sassy, with a slight tinge of…

giphy8

Holly’s holding her own in this den of lions, along with a very tight group of her friends. They’re having some growing pains, but they’re mostly of the first-world variety. Despite that, they’re actually quite compelling. Much more than I was expecting. I hope Holly appears again. Maybe she’ll eventually join the murder squad herself? Oooo. Now there’s a thought. But I’m getting sidetracked.

My body my mind the way I dress the way I walk…mine all mine.

This book was a lot about the politics and emotions of being a teenager. Yes, teenagers have what I would term politics. In what was a bit of a departure from the previous books (for me) – I guessed the murderer somewhere between page 62 and 101. I kept expecting some huge plot twist and I did doubt myself A LOT, but still. Also, Detective Moran was probably the most…unoriginal narrator she’s had yet. That was helped by the alternating viewpoints – yes, Moran was in the 1st person, but that alternated with chapters in 3rd person from the girls’ POV. Moran is likable but just kind of…there. Now Antoinette Conway, the female detective Moran thrown in with for this case? There’s a bitch I’d like to have at my back, and I mean that in the best possible way. I am SO EXCITED that she’s coming back for The Trespasser!

Also, this is the first time French has had anything but the strictly statistically or scientifically provable events/actions in her books. Trying not to spoil here, but I was really nonplussed by a particular set of occurrences that is never fully explained. I guess that really does happen in real life sometimes, but I have a really hard time extending my reality this far. She actually addressed this in a Q&A on GoodReads (link but DEFINITE SPOILERS here!!), and that made me feel a little better but I still think it should have been clarified better in the book itself.

They can’t tell you what it’s going to be like…in the reek of ragwort and the milk of broken dandelion stems.

Yes, I’m glad I didn’t go to this kind of school. Pretty sure the sensitive, insecure girl I was in high school would have been flayed alive. At the same time, I’m really sad I didn’t have the kind of experiences Holly and her friends have – and the friends. Despite all their issues…these girls will remember each other, always. 20 years down the road, just thinking of the others will bring back not only memories of things seen but things touched, things tasted, heartache and hope.

4/5 stars.I always find mysteries hard to review without giving spoilers. Also I was a BAD BOOK REVIEWER and returned the library book BEFORE COPYING THE QUOTES I WANTED. Ack!!! Hence the short quotes/lack of quotes.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Aug 22

Mini Book Review: Sabriel

Books/Writing, Reviews 2

13345

Find it on GoodReads
Get your own copy

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went into this book knowing pretty much nothing at all about it. It was recommended by a good friend who generally has good (i.e., similar to mine :D) tastes, so I felt good about picking it up! Funny enough, outside of Lord of the Rings, it’s the oldest fantasy I’ve read. Which, I know I know, is hilarious, because it’s only 20 years old. Haha. Fantasy isn’t typically my gig, okay? Though lately I’m enjoying it more and more. Anyway!

My favorite part of this novel was the collision of old world and new – the archaic, medieval world “across the Wall,” and the more modern, WWII type world on the other side. The world (or worlds, I guess, even though they are definitely interconnected) is very layered and complex. Color me intrigued. Intrigued enough to keep reading, even when I felt the characters were kind of flat. Sabriel, god love her, was just…eh. Touchstone was slightly more interesting but also…eh. Mogget was definitely the most interesting character of the entire book. I…well, I’m not sure what I feel about Mogget! I want to love Mogget, but I’m kind of afraid to because…what is Mogget? As it is, the chain of events, piling sinister and weird on top of each other, was enough to keep me reading. Characters are, honestly, the biggest draw of a book for me. To not be totally in love with these was kind of a downer. They’re sympathetic, don’t get me wrong! Just kind of two-dimensional. Also, the romance? Better left out entirely than the way it was just thrown on top like too-stiff frosting. It could have been written so much better. That’s really the only complaint I had about the writing though. The world descriptions were fabulous. I could see the gown Sabriel wore, could hear the winds behind the Paperwing and see its yellow eyes. I’ll definitely be continuing with the series.

Posting will probably be rather sporadic this week and next. I had to work part of the weekend, hence the lack of a Something Else Sunday post. And, I’ll have weird hours all the next two weeks. However! Next up reviews are (covers link to GoodReads):

Aiming for at least 2 of these this week.

 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Aug 19

Bookmarks Galore

Books/Writing, Life, Reviews 0

Lately, I’ve actually been trying to not buy books. I broke my book-buying ban right after our vacation in June and have been sorta-kinda-not really trying to go back on it. Or at least show some restraint. However, this does mean I’ve acquired more bookish STUFF than ever before. OwlCrate has been pretty bad for this, with all the AMAZING stuff they pack in each box…as has bookstagram. Haha! But I wanted to show off some of my favorite new pretties!

DSCN0799

I’m obsessed with Crafted Van’s adorable magnetic bookmarks (they also make magnets and notecards). They’re cute, and they’re the perfect thickness – they don’t stick up or hold the pages up in an odd way like a lot of bookmarks. They don’t fall out. They  make perfect kitty toys. Oh wait, that last part was a completely unintentional design feature, I’m sure. Haha. The royalty ones above came in the June OwlCrate box.

IMG_3460

Yes, that is my one lonely Penguin Drop Caps book behind them. I bought Jane Eyre in hopes that starting my Drop Caps collection would motivate me to finally finish that book. So far it’s not working. 😛

Then I bought these kitty ones…an orange one for Sir Tristan, and a gray one for Alfred (he needs a title too…Assassin, maybe?). They have a TON of different cat designs, both big and small. In the close up pictures you can’t tell really, so I took another one to illustrate sizes of a bunch of different magnetic bookmarks, a few pictures down.

IMG_3616

THEN, I just happened to catch a posting from the Crafted Van Instagram account that they were starting a brand-new monthly subscription! I was beyond excited and immediately signed up. Because I already loved their bookmarks, and it was only $12. Freaking fantabulous. I was not disappointed. I think the little reading octopus is my new favorite bookmark!! Aaaah!! How did they know I love octopi? Anyway, I’m really looking forward to adding to my Crafted Van collection each month. 😀


Next up is this beautifully adorable set from NerdyGrlDesigns. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m slightly obsessed with A Court of Mist and Fury. Despite being unable to write a review on it, but that’s a topic for another post. Haha. Anyway, these little caricatures of Rhysand’s Inner Circle are just…well, adorable. As soon as my SIGNED copy of ACOMAF arrives, I plan to sprinkle them throughout the book. Um…because why not? Why would I use them to mark my place in another, lesser book? Oh, I could always try to string them up across the bookshelf like I see so many lovely bookstagrammers doing…but I’m not that talented and mine would probably look like a redneck Christmas. These feel a little more fragile to me than the others, I think probably because of the arms and legs and other details.

il_570xn-1012469402_nf8g

Banking the shop photo because mine didn’t turn out and I’m too lazy to try to take another.

Then there is another – ahem, no, I do not have a problem – ACOMAF set, this time from Jane’s Little Things. I love her drawings. They definitely have their own very unique look! I adore the quotes she puts on the back. These feel thicker than either of the other ones here, and they’re glossy. They do hold the pages of a mid-weight book up slightly, but it doesn’t damage the book in any way!


Here’s the size comparison picture!

IMG_3623

Then, I found the gorgeous Boookmarky shop. And promptly purchased ANOTHER pair of ACOTAR/ACOMAF themed bookmarks. I love the little charms on these. When I get my books arranged properly (i.e., all standing on end and not just stacked so they are on the shelf SOMEhow) I’ll take a picture of them properly in the books and adorning the spines. This one will have to do for now. However, since I still kind of want to buy out their entire store…this will not be the last of their bookmarks to grace my shelves, I hope!

Who are some of your favorite bookmark creators? Do you use them or just collect them? Do you make your own? As pretty as they are, I do actually use mine (which is why I currently can’t find the Tristan one, or the Queen – waaaaah) and take a lot of joy in watching them move through the pages. 😀

img_3462

All products in this post were purchased by me and reviewed at my own discretion.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Aug 18

Book Review: Love & Gelato

Books/Writing, Reviews 3

25756328

Find it on GoodReads! 
Get your own copy!

I went into this book wanting a fluffy, feel-good, summertime read. I was not disappointed! It was as feel-good as a big pile of puppies.

1

picture courtesy eBay

I wanted to hug it at the end. I really wish I had read books like this when I was the same age as the characters (in this case, 16). Because while it has a few flaws, Love & Gelato is a beautiful story of love had, love lost, love remembered, and love hoped for. Even though I like to pretend I’m too tough for such sentimentality, I still have a real soft spot in my heart for a good happy ending. What really makes me happy though, is a happy ending that isn’t just happily ever after. There’s pain and sadness, enough drama to suit most high-school students but not enough to entirely put the adults off, but above all there is HOPE. Rainbow in the clouds kind of hope.

rainbow_02

photo courtesy Wikipedia

Anyway. The story starts out on a rather sad note, as 16-year-old Lina’s mom passes from cancer, leaving behind quite the bombshell – surprise! Lina’s never-before-heard-from father, who lives in Italy, wants her to come live with him, and it was her mother’s dying wish (basically) that she go spend the summer with him.

giphy7

^Basically Lina’s reaction. With a lot more tears, because obviously her mom just died.

So off she hops to Italy, with much encouragement from her grandmother. She arrives, nearly has a meltdown over the fact that her father is the caretaker of a war memorial (i.e., he lives in a cemetery) – which I was first really annoyed about. I’ve never understood people’s aversion to cemeteries, even when I was younger. I was always more fascinated than scared…not sure what that makes me, haha. But, given that Lina’s mom has just died, I guess she can be forgiven her little freak out.

She almost immediately meets a cute neighbor boy, Ren, who is “as Italian as a plate of meatballs,” yet not quite, and there’s a slight, almost-insta-crush. I say almost, because there are a lot of mixed signals, and a couple of chapters later there is insta-LOVE that made me throw up in my mouth a little. There are several moments that made me laugh out loud – and I think most readers will join me no matter where they fall on the age scale! The people in the little community she finds are memorable, lovable, and sometimes just hysterical.

While all that is going down, she’s also finding out more about her mom – mostly through a journal her mom mysteriously mailed to Italy ahead of her, but also through the memories of the people there who remember her from her youth – her dad, and exploring Italy. Italy. How many 16-year-olds get to go to Italy?? I was really glad that Lina didn’t just wallow in her sadness or her boy-crush and actually went out and explored. You can really tell the author has been to Florence herself – I felt like I was walking the streets right beside Lina.

We also see Florence 16 years prior, through the eyes of Lina’s mom via her journal. They both fall in love with gelato. I have yet to get to experience real Italian gelato for myself, but even the exported stuff makes me weak-kneed.

italian-ice-cream1

TAKE MY MONEY.

I can’t say a whole lot here without giving spoilers, but suffice to say some things just don’t add up, a lot of things don’t have the happy ending we might expect and there are a couple of big surprises. Love hurts. People make the wrong choices. But sometimes, we all get a second chance.

Turns out there’s a reason they call it falling in love, because when it happens – really happens – that’s exactly how it feels…you just let go and hope that someone’s going to be there to catch you. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with some pretty hefty bruises.

I really loved that Lina has to make choices and that they are realistic. Things are not entirely rosy-glassed here. But some things are! Haha. Because you get roses along with the thorns, eventually. I love the ending. It’s not a promise of happily-ever-after, but a happily-right-now. I wish I had realized at 16 that sometimes, happily-right-now with a hope of happily-later-on is sometimes perfection in and of itself.

4/5 stars. Because of the insta-crush/love, and the sheer convenience of the entire thing being a little far-fetched but mostly overlook-able. Also the “puppy-dog sleeping-boy” smell comment at one point. Sorry, but NO MEMBER OF THE MALE SPECTRUM smells nice first thing in the morning, unless he tricked you and brushed his teeth first. Haha!!

IMG_3608

 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider

Aug 16

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost

Books/Writing, Reviews 2

Releasing September 6, 2016
Pre-order your copy!

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect – it seemed like it was trying really hard to do a lot of things. Cultural diversity, magic, a new underworld, bisexuality…it’s a lot to blend into one story. Zoraida Cordova actually manages to do it quite well!

Alex is a bruja who doesn’t want the exceptional power she’s been granted. In the beginning she struck me as a whiny, ungrateful little brat. I can understand her resentment and not being entirely free to choose her own path, but her attempt at rejecting her power puts her entire family in danger – albeit unintentionally.

20017109

However, she immediately sets off to rescue them and is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter the cost. So, props to her for that. She loves her family with an intensity beyond anything else, even if they don’t always see eye to eye or get along. She’s incredibly stubborn, to the point of insisting that complete strangers help her on her quest.

20017110

It got bogged down a little over 1/3 of the way through. When the setting shifted to Los Lagos (the underworld, essentially), it floundered somewhat. Especially with the arrival of certain characters – like, really? (highlight to view spoiler)Rishi? Where did that come from? How did she get her fake wings? How did she know to bring them, if she brought them with her? I feel like Madre didn’t give them to her. I’m still vaguely suspicious of the way her arrival was “explained.” I honestly thought she was one of the bird-women for awhile. Guess the fake wings should have ruled that out but it was just so abrupt and essentially unexplained. Rishi’s quick, unquestioning acceptance of Alex’s magic and all it entails really bothered me too. No muggle (sorry) is going to just unblinkingly accept an entirely new world and the ability to conjure fire, no matter how much in love with the bruja you are. (end spoiler) However, after several chapters where I struggled, it picked back up and carried on and was much clearer. I think maybe a little more description would have benefited the story

“It’s love, Alex. Love is you jumping through a portal despite your own safety. Love is mom singing in the car and Rose making tea when we’re sick and even us fighting because we’re blood, and no matter what you do, I’ll neverforget that you are my sister.”

Family comes first – that’s the mantra I kept seeing over and over again. I’m a little envious of Alex’s relationship with her sisters, to be honest. I’m not very familiar with Hispanic culture and was really intrigued by how it’s portrayed here. Of course I can’t vouch for accuracy, but given the author’s background I would think it would be pretty spot-on. Alex’s family is not distinctly one country or another. She is a vibrant mix of many countries and people and Cordova really wove that into her and her magic. Oh! The magic. Magic in this world has a price that must always be paid, by someone, somewhere. It isn’t free or easy. It marks you. Alex and her family do not have a rosy-glass view of magic – as perhaps illustrated by the Deathly celebration for marking when a bruja or burro comes into their powers.

Also I love that bisexuality is given a normal viewpoint. Which is a really rough way of saying…well, it wasn’t anything special. And I don’t mean that in a bad way! I just mean that it was treated as completely normal, nothing to be shocked or surprised by. Normal. Healthy. Accepted. Supported. Books with characters like this are sorely needed in literature, when so much of the world is so full of hate for anything different from them.

Oh, and Rishi? Rishi is awesome. She has the most amazing lines and is totally someone I would want to hang out with. She has an energetic, zany kind of vibe.

“Why’s it always the heart or the eye of something? You notice that? There are so many body parts that don’t get enough love, like earlobes and belly buttons.”

3.5/5 stars. Overall I really enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what happens in the next one! The ending was a definite cliffhanger, though not with as much shock value as I feel like was intended. Still, I was definitely a little put out that there wasn’t a next chapter! Haha.

Many thanks to Netgalley for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 714 other subscribers

Divider