House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – Non-Spoiler Book Review

My non-spoiler thoughts and opinions on House of Salt and Sorrow: a dark fantasy inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s story, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”

Happy Wednesday!

After reading House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig and not hearing too much buzz about it online, I decided to write a non-spoiler review in case it sounds like something you would be interested in picking up.

This is a young adult book inspired by the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and it released in August of 2019. I loved this story when I was younger so I was very intrigued and interested in picking up this book. Here is a quick synopsis of the book in case you have never heard of it:

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House of Salt and Sorrows follows Annaleigh who is one of eleven other sisters, the princesses of the Salann Islands. Once again, she finds herself at a funeral for another one of her sisters and now, only eight remain after the supposed curse that affects her family takes another. 

When Annaleigh becomes swarmed by gruesome, ghostly visions and her sisters begin disappearing to balls in the middle of the night in places unheard of, she begins to wonder if it really is a curse that killed her sisters, or if something dark is at play. She must discover the truth before death takes another one of her sisters, or finally takes her. 

I will not lie, my expectations were fairly high going into this book and while I liked it, it did not live up to my hype. However, I did enjoy my time reading it and had a lot of fun! There were strong aspects of the story and some weak ones as there always are, and I was happy to have a story featuring one of my favourite fairytales.

The first thing I want to comment on is the cover because I think it is GORGEOUS. I love covers with the ocean on them and this is covered in pretty shells and various shades of blue. Definitely worth the purchase to showcase on my shelves! I also love how it has octopi tentacles to allude to the darker elements of the story…very nice touch.

When I skimmed Goodreads reviews of this book, I noted that a few talked about how creepy the story was. Now, I do not get creeped out or spooked often, but they were right, towards the end of the book, the story took a dark twist that I enjoyed. Some parts made my skin crawl and I was pleasantly surprised that a book could still do that to me. This was mostly towards the end, but the whole book does have dark elements that I personally enjoy most. Towards the end of the book was also when the story had me the most interested.

The story was its strongest aspect. While it did fall flat at times, overall, I was curious to see how it ended. This kept me flipping the page and each time, wondering who would be the curse’s next victim and also who was the mastermind behind this all. Once the balls came into place too, I wanted to know more about them. The mystery aspect was what allowed me to hold on during all 400 pages and get through them in only a few days.

Honestly, I did like the world because of the role their gods played in it. I thought it was unique compared to other books and I enjoyed learning about the religion. We didn’t dive too deep into it, however, so I would have liked to see more of that. I also would have enjoyed more description of the world, but the bit that we did get intrigued me.

Sadly, the scenes at the balls failed my expectations. This was what I was most excited for but I felt like the explanation for it at the end of the story was rushed. It was an interesting take though, but if it had more development and thought put into it, it would have greatly benefited. Ugh, it is hard describing this without giving away spoilers!

The characters did suffer I think, because of the large cast of them that we followed. Some authors can pull this off, obviously, like Rick Riordan or Cassandra Clare, but in House of Salt and Sorrow, no character really stuck out to me. Annaleigh is our main character and the point of view we follow, and sometimes, I could feel her growing stronger but then some cliche plot point or stereotypical aspect would crush any growth or interest I was developing towards her. The sisters were the same. They were a very large part of the book yet I felt they all blurred together with only a few shining moments here and there. But, most of all, the side characters suffered. I do not even think I can mention any of there names. Even if they appeared multiple times, I honestly felt like most of them could have been cut without any loss to the story.

There was a romance in this book but…honestly, I am not even going to say much about it. All I will say is that I thought the author was going to take it one way, which would have been very refreshing to see, but then she didn’t and I was disappointed because of that.

My biggest complaint about this book was the lack of diversity. I mean, it is 2020! Maybe there was a person of colour in here, but they were not prominent enough for me to notice. The lack of diversity made me feel distant towards the book and since I realized it very early on, I had a hard time looking past that for the whole novel. It really impacted my time with it and I just wish that books published now would include something as realistic and necessary as diversity.

Overall, I would give this book 3/5 stars. It was satisfying enough but there was so much more potential for this story and world that I would have loved to see. I did like the dark mystery and fantasy vibe it had going, but I wanted more!


There is my NON-SPOILER review on House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. I hope you enjoyed! If you have read it, let me know what your thoughts were in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading 🙂

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Children of Blood and Bone Has Too Much Hype?

Amazon.com: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha ...

Before we get into today’s blog post, I wanted to announce that due to suddenly having more time in my day-to-day life, I will be posting on Mondays AND Fridays! I do not know how long this will last, but hopefully until the end of the summer. I am excited because I’ve planned content for the next month and all of posts are on topics that I am incredibly interested in and cannot wait to share!

Anyways, onto today’s post:

What inspired me to write this post is my experience reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, which I am reading for my children’s literature class. This book has a very unusual story which I will be diving into, along with my thoughts on the book and the hype it has received. I do want to say that this is not a review and it does not include spoilers. I just wanted to give an overview of my thoughts on the book without diving too deep into the story, but more of how the book community reacted to it.

You are probably asking yourself why I am only talking about Children of Blood and Bone now…and the reason is because I didn’t read about it until now and I have a lot of things to say…to say the least.

If you did not know, Children of Blood and Bone came out around this time two years ago, and even before its release, there was an immense amount of praise surrounding it. All of this hype even landed the author a three movie book deal and she has not even published three books in this series! One reason for this hype was the diversity of the book. This fantasy, young adult novel includes an all black cast as it is heavily influenced by West African mythology, which is something we (sadly) have not seen a lot of in the YA community. Especially, in the fantasy genre. I, myself, was incredibly excited for this book and the steps forward it was bringing YA stories.

This was all before it was released. Once it finally dropped into the world, the hype appeared to hold strong for most people as it was still talked about everywhere. For the months surrounding its publication, it was the young adult book I heard the most about. Tomi Adeyemi was interviewed on a lot of the podcasts that I subscribe to and her book was on every YouTube channel I watched. Yet, I still did not read it until two whole years later.

Now, I am over 400 pages into it with about 100 left to go. It has been interesting only reading this book now after already having having so many interactions with it. I was excited to finally sit down and explore this beloved story and I am surprised to say that I do not really understand the hype.

I am a huge fantasy reader, especially when it includes mythology and other cultures. As I have mentioned many times before, I am working on a story inspired by Aztec mythology so to say I was looking forward to diving into West African mythology is a bit of an understatement. Nonetheless, this book for whatever reason, is just not doing it for me. Well, actually, that is a lie. There are reasons and these are the three main ones:

  1. The characters all feel surface level to me

I do not know if it is only me, but these characters do not bring anything different to the table. They have motivations, wants, and needs, but I just cannot empathize or even sympathize with any of them. There is not one that I like more than the other, I have an indifference to them all that has not shifted once since the beginning of the story.

2. The plot line is too familiar

I know Tomi Adeyemi has publicly said this book was influenced by Sabaa Tahir’s, An Ember in the Ashes (which I am a HUGE fan of), but I see too many elements of Ember in Children of Blood and Bone that it takes me out of the book. The other parts of the plot are also just too predictable. There has not been one plot point that I was not expecting and took me by surprise, instead, I anticipate the characters’ actions and the direction of the plot without even trying.

3. The romance

I won’t explicitly spoil anything…other than it is an enemy to lover’s romance. I do like the trope but only when it is done well. In this book, I feel like one moment the characters hate each other and then on the next page, they are suddenly in love.

I know you are probably wondering why I am discussing this book when I haven’t even finished it, and the reason is that I might not finish it. Yes, I am so close to the end, but whenever I pick it up I cannot help but think of all the other books I want to be reading. You get to a point in a story where it does not seem worth it to keep going and I am far past that point. The only reason I’ve kept going is because it was assigned for school.

If this book was not so hyped up, I might like it more than I do. The writing has the nostalgic early YA feeling that I like and while the plot is predictable, I can get through around 20 pages of it at a time. I think hyping books up in the rare way Children of Blood and Bone was can have a damaging effect on the book and story itself. I think this because I know I am not the only one who felt this way towards Children of Blood and Bone. My friend in the class I have to read it for read it faster than me and noted all of the same things I did when I finally got further into the book.

That is not saying it is a bad book! I think it is important to the YA community and I am still looking forward to the movies when they premiere. Will I continue on with the series though? Probably not.

However, if you have not read it, do not take my word for it! Give it a try because there are so many people who loved the book. I just wanted to share my thoughts and reflection on Children of Blood and Bone, and the hype that circulated it even before its release.

That is all for my post today and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Movies That Earned Their Hype!

Happy Sunday!

I felt compelled to write this after watching an incredibly hyped up movie on the plane ride to Hawaii and was happy that it met my pretty high expectations. This happens a lot, with books too, and often I never find that I like it as much as I could after everyone gushes about it. However, there are some exceptions to that and here are four of them!

Avengers: Endgame

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I doubt anyone is surprised to see this on this list since I think it was one of the biggest movies of the year, if not the biggest. This was one long movie, but that is the key reason why it lived up to the monumental amount of hype surrounding it. It was the conclusion to this epic battle against Thanos and people were expecting everything to be tied up by the end of the movie. Overall, I really do think the director did a good job of doing this. The three-plus hours of the movie allowed for the large cast of characters to have their own plotlines that eventually got (somewhat) wrapped up in a (somewhat and mostly) satisfying bow. There was a lot of exposition at the start that I am not going to lie, is pretty hard for me to get through whenever I rewatch, but I believe this conclusion lived up to everyone’s hype. It also got me incredibly excited for the new Guardians of the Galaxy film as if I wasn’t ecstatic already.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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This was the movie I watched on the plane that I was curious to see how much I enjoyed compared to everyone else. I am a huge Tarantino fan, Inglorious Basterds being one of my top 5 favourite films, so I really wanted to like his new film. However, everyone I talked to about it went on and on about how amazing it was, and I’m not going to lie, I was a little skeptical. Luckily, after sitting down to watch the full two hour and forty-something minute film, I can say that it did live up to the hype! At least for me. The gritty and dark atmosphere of the 70s in Hollywood really drew me in, bringing to life this story about an actor navigating a Hollywood now unrecognizable to him with the help of his friend/stunt double. From the cinematic aspects of it, the film as beautifully shot and cut. None of the scenes felt too out of place for me, and I really enjoyed the ending of the film even if at first, I was a little disappointed. Overall, this movie survived the hype and came out strong. Who is surprised honestly?

Zombieland: Double Tap

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This might be a controversial one, but I personally really enjoyed the sequel to Zombieland and thought it definitely lived up to the hype it was receiving. Was it created just to make money since the first one did so well? Yes. Does that mean I liked it any less? Not really. I found it hilarious and entertaining, and here is an unpopular opinion, but I might like it more than the first. While it received a lot of meh opinions, it did get a lot of hype being like Frozen 2 in the sense that it has been yeeeears since the first one was released. However, I really do think it lived up to the hype.

Frozen 2

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A little bit of a flip of genre from the one above, but I have been raving about this movie to anyone who will listen ever since I saw it a couple weeks ago. I watched the first movie when it first came out way back in 2013 and liked it enough. I am a pretty big Disney fan, so the chances of disliking Frozen 2 despite my meh feelings about the first one were slim. However, Frozen 2 blew up my low expectations and left me in awe. Honestly, I would be lying if I said I did not have plans to watch it again while I am in Hawaii. It is clearly made for a more mature audience since everyone who watched the first one when it came out was young, but it is still obviously for kids too. The songs also were more mature and are now constantly stuck in my head. Obviously, there was a lot of hype for this movie since it was six years in the making, but yes, I believe it lived up to all the hype.

Those are four new releases that come out this year that I thought lived up to the hype. Let me know which movies you watched that you enjoyed just as much as everyone else because I’d love to know! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media which is all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Again, But Better by Christine Riccio – Spoiler-Filled Book Review

Happy Sunday!

Today I will be discussing ALL my thoughts about Again, But Better by Christine Riccio, not only now an author, but a very prominent figure in BookTube with over 400,000 subscribers.

Sorry for not having my usual Saturday post, but I ended up not finishing this book until mid-Saturday rather than Friday and I really wanted my next post to be a book review. I was actually reading Again, But Better for the Reading Rush, and let’s just say I am a little behind with this readathon.

Anyways, it is read and I am ready to spill all my spoilery thoughts, opinions, and ideas related to this debut contemporary, but first, here is a snapshot of the book.

After doing her first two years of college wrong, 20-year-old Shane is determined to flip things around when she goes on study abroad trip to England, not across the world, but doing a completely different major than what her parents think.

Right away, things appear to be actually working out for Shane: she becomes fast friends with her flatmates, she is finally getting to study something she is passionate about, writing, and there is a cute boy named Pilot who seems to like her. But the smooth sailing is cut short after a series of spontaneous weekend trips, advancing in her internship, and almost kissing Pilot, and things suddenly begin to feel almost as bad as they were in America. 

Can Shane flip things around herself or will college take two be as much of a flop as she feared?

CAUTION: SPOILER THOUGHTS NEARING AHEAD

Okay, I have a LOT of thoughts to share about this book on everything from the story, the characters, to the author.

First off, I have been an avid watched of Christine (PolandbananasBOOKS on YouTube) for many, many years now. I honestly don’t even know how long. Maybe five? Anyways, the point is, over the years, I have definitely gotten a good idea about who she is, what type of person she is, and I even followed her ENTIRE writing journey for this book.

Because of that, I can CONFIDENTLY confirm that Shane is LITERALLY Christine.

I am 100% the type of writer who makes their main character (at least in the first novel) a reflection of myself, but if anything, a very murky reflection. I will take bits and pieces from here and there, smashing them together with what type of character my main character needs to be. However, Christine literally took herself, maybe toned it down a bit and then gave us Shane.

CHARACTER COMPARISON:

Christine Riccio – white, blonde, socially awkward, reader, writer, enthusiastic, nerd, ENTHUSIASTIC NERD, studied abroad, Italian, blog name: FrenchWatermelons19, etc, etc

Shane Primaveri – white, blonde, socially awkward, reader, writer, enthusiastic, nerd, ENTHUSIASTIC NERD, studied abroad, Italian, YouTube channel name (2nd account): PolandBananas20, etc, etc

Hmm, something looks familiar…OH YEAH, EVERYTHING.

Now again, I’m all for putting some of yourself in your main character. We writers do it, but there is a fine line between writing a fictional character and literally selling people an autobiography disguised as a YA/NA contemporary.

That said, I didn’t hate Shane, but I was not her biggest fan. I found her very cringey and awkward dialogue with, oh, everyone, very relatable but her overly enthusiastic and childish personality just did not click with me. Apparently, I was reading from a 20-year-old’s POV, but to me (an almost 18-year-old girl), it felt more like a 15-year-old and her immaturity really annoyed me.

“I’ve never used these sugar cube things before, and I’m very amused by them. They should make sugar stars! And other shapes! Sugar octagons!” – Shane Primaveri, a 20-year-old woman

Character development was also really lacking. When a difficult situation came up, Shane or Pilot would run the other way and ignore each other…for THE ENTIRE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM. When I looked back at the book when I finished, I realized that they all arrived at the program in January and then left in April. The thing is, the first time around, Pilot, THE MAIN LOVE INTEREST, stopped speaking to Shane was back in February and then they never spoke again before they all left back to America…and then Shane did the exact same thing in the second go around. It was super repetitive and while the aspect of having a “do-over” would have provided an EXCELLENT opportunity to show how both of the characters grew over the past six years, that did not happen.

Shane and Pilot both felt very flat and basic to me. There was nothing special or interesting about either of them or any of the characters like Babe, Sahyra (Sahra?), and Atticus! (I am not even going to TALK ABOUT the names, okay?) Side characters are really the best name for these people because they all felt like they clung to the walls every time they appeared on the page in front of my eyes. I could barely see them because Shane or Pilot were jumping in my face. We barely got any dialogue from any of them, and when we did, it honestly all sounded the same to me, and the dialogue held almost no importance to the plot or anything.

That goes for a lot of this entire book – every plot point, drama, or piece of dialogue, I asked myself why it had to be in there.

LIKE THE MAGICAL ELEMENT.

When Shane and Pilot are suddenly whisked back into 2011, I was a little confused, but to be honest, intrigued. It is a very cliche plot point, but I was curious to see how the characters would react.

Let’s just say I was disappointed.

When I finished reading the book, I realized how unimportant and uninteresting the plot thread of having them being able to re-do their study abroad session was. One, because having BOTH Shane and Pilot go back in time together made it seem like they were sent back ONLY so they could live happily ever after together in love when it was so much more than that. And then two, apparently over the course of six years, neither of these characters learned ANYTHING!

Shane and Pilot return to 2011 and Shane does the same thing that Pilot did to her! She pushes him out and ignores him until he forces her to listen to him. Yeah, okay, she turned everything else in her life around. She became a better friend to Babe, Sahra (Sahyra???), and Atticus. She also pushed to the top in her writing internship, landing her own article, but when it came to Pilot, her immaturity really shone through. OH WAIT, there was no closure with her parents either. They reacted the same way and so did Shane. She only TALKED about making sure she would fix things with them.

This book was just FILLED with telling rather than showing, but this blog post is already long enough as it is.

I really thought after six years, Shane would have been more mature and ready to work things out with him and her parents right then and there because of how strong her feelings stayed after six years. Also, because she knew EXACTLY how things could, and probably would pan out if she did not patch things up.

But nope.

I really would have preferred for Shane and Pilot to have stayed in 2017 and try to work things out there after six years of going down the wrong path. It would show people that we all make mistakes in our lives, but we always have the power to change them which I think is a really positive and powerful message.

But because that did not happen, and instead, these two for WHATEVER REASON out of all the other people in the world got a re-do with their love life (and I guess professional lives too), I have NO idea what message or theme I could yank from these pages.

It was a good, fun time? A fast read?

While I did pick this book apart, it actually was a fun time and I enjoyed it as a quick, one-time read. I would not read it again, but I will definitely pick up Christine’s next book just because I know she will only improve from here. Her writing was a little juvenile and I felt like I was reading a book for pre-teens rather than adults, but I can’t judge her too hard for that because it is only her debut. She has room to grow!

I feel like if this book was not an exact replica of Christine’s college experience (minus the magic part…I think), I would have enjoyed it more! But because that’s not the case, it sadly felt like a creative rip-off. Again, I am 100% okay with taking things from our lives and writing about them, but you got to twist them a bit.

Anyways, overall, I still gave this book 3/5 stars because it was what I (kind of) wanted: an easy and fun read.


That is all for my review on Again, But Better by Christine Riccio and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as all my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel – Book Review

Happy Monday!

Today I will be giving my honest, non-spoiler thoughts on Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel which was kindly sent to me from his publicist as an ebook in exchange for this review. All of these thoughts are what I truly felt while reading the book!

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In this adult science fiction, dystopian novel, Jared Cartwright is adventuring across the wasteland of his world that was destroyed in a nuclear war. Sealed off from the last remaining flickers of human life and society, Jared has to level up beyond normal human limitations using nanites in order to survive the cruel realities of this world. On his quest of survival, Jared comes to learn that dragons really do exist when he accidentally steals a dragon egg, facing companionship of it rather than punishment by its mother. Together, Jared and his new dragon, Scarlet, tackle a new task: finding the lost dragons and restoring them to their former glory. 

Firstly, I am not a huge sci-fi fan or even dystopian for that matter. However, I did think this book was a fun step outside of my usual reading taste. I think it is good to explore, or in this case, re-explore other genres apart from the ones you constantly read. While reading this, I did remember that I don’t usually pick up sci-fi because of the science aspect of the novel. Sometimes, it is hard for me to grasp if it is poorly explained and other times, I just don’t want to read something heavily influenced by science. That is just my preference though.

The wasted world we are taken into was interesting to explore, and despite my lack of adoration for science in novels, I found the whole using nanites to survive intriguing and easy enough to grasp. Along with the “levelling up” aspect of the novel. At first, I was worried that Jared levelling up would mean he became closer to being invincible, but luckily, the author did not take that route. Instead, Jared had to rest after each level up and learn how to harness his newfound abilities. However, he could still be beaten. I hate when characters are seemingly invincible in books because that is unrealistic and completely throws me from the story. In Radioactive Evolution though, Jared is anything but invincible and while he needs a reminder from Scarlet sometimes, he realizes that too.

As for Jared and Scarlet, the two main characters in this story, I couldn’t find a way to connect to either of them. Scarlet is a dragon who often, didn’t even seem like a dragon to me. Yes, she was slowly growing at the beginning of the book, but I often found myself having to remember that she was in fact, a dragon. I did enjoy her sassy and witty personality though, and how she always called Jared out when he was acting too tough. Jared, on the other hand, just did not leap off the page enough for me so I could not feel as if I knew him. Instead, I felt disconnected from him throughout the entire novel even as we dove into his backstory.

Before I get into my overall thoughts for the actual plot in the book, I wanted to talk about the writing in this book. I thought Richard Hummel had a very simple, yet effective style of writing that allowed me to visualize each situation pretty well. It was polished and professional which is obviously, what every reader expects when they pick up a novel. This made for a quick and easy read because I was not re-reading sentences trying to figure out what was going on. However, there were quite a few formatting errors throughout this book that definitely, because of the amount, threw me out of the story. There were several times when Scarlet’s dialogue wasn’t big or bold like it usually was, and it took me a while to realize it was her speaking. There were also times when Jared’s internal thoughts that he was communicating to Scarlet were not italicized and once again, confusion pulled me from the story. Other than those simple flaws, the writing was clean and crisp.

Now for the plot.

In the beginning, I felt as if we were not getting anywhere within the story. We were wandering around, following Jared and Scarlett as they met some low-risk obstacles. However, it did pick up as expected as the story continued on. Most of the obstacles and problems our characters ran into along the way didn’t pose too much of a high-stress threat to me. My experience reading this book was easy going and rarely did I find myself worrying about what would happen next plot-wise as well as to our characters. That isn’t to say the plot wasn’t interesting though. It moved at a medium pace and while learning about the world, the plot enticed me to learn more about this post-apocalyptic world. It just didn’t bring me to the edge of my seat.

Overall, I thought this was a good adult, sci-fi story about a man and his dragon trying to survive in this wasteland and save dragons as a species as well as humankind. The story was developed well and the writing was easy to get through. While it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat if you are a fan of sci-fi I would definitely give this book a read. 3.5/5 stars

If you want to check out the book, here is a link to its Goodreads page 🙂 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42514577-radioactive-evolution

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The Harvest by KB Benson Review – Spoiler Free!

Image result for kb benson the harvest

I received an eBook copy of The Harvest by KB Benson in exchange for an honest review, and so today, that is what I am here to do. This review will contain absolutely no spoilers and is just going to be me sharing my overall thoughts and opinions about this book. Let’s get into it!

Personally, this book reminded me of a cross between To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo and the Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout and here is what it is about:

The Harvest follows two characters, Iris who is a siren disguised as a human attending high school, and Jace, a new kid in town who immediately falls for Iris. With her duty to her people in mind, Iris has no intentions to fall for Jace but soon she finds herself tumbling…hard. And before she can stop herself, it becomes too late. A question arises as her heart becomes taken, and that is when it comes down to it, will she protect her family or the boy she loves?

I had never heard of this book before going into it, but I was intrigued by the fact that it is pitched as similar to To Kill a Kingdom which I did enjoy, and also just because of I love Greek mythology. However, sadly, this book did not live up to my expectations. While the first half of this book was enjoyable enough, reading in my opinion, like fanfiction…the last half was where I really struggled. I realized once I finished the entire thing, that I could have read the first few chapters and then the last few chapters, and I would have known the same things about the plot, characters, etc as I do now.

The pacing of this book was fast which was how I was able to fly through this book despite my disappointment in it, but everything else about this book fell flat for me. The characters were the stereotypical “beautiful, mysterious girl” and “hot, surfer dude” that didn’t have anything about themselves that made them unique or interesting to read about. I found Iris and Jace’s relationship to be very “insta-lovey” because they met, I blinked, and then they were in love. Insta-love is not something I am opposed to in books, however, as there are MANY YA novels I adore with that trope in it. With The Harvest though, I just didn’t think it was as well done as other books with the same trope have achieved. On top of that, I also thought the relationship overall was weak. I didn’t really care for it and in my opinion, they had absolutely no chemistry. Jace was too whiny and Iris was too moody. Since the lack of strong characters, it was disappointing too that the other characters in this book felt so disposable and that they brought nothing to the story. We met some of Jace and Iris’s “friends”, yet we barely ever see them interact with one another or become friends even. Instead of providing anything, all of the “friends” felt like they could easily be cut out and nothing in the story would change.

As for the plot, I was hoping for some twist on the classic Siren love story, but it ended up being incredibly predictable and plain. The majority of the story was us watching Jace and Iris in school as Jace pined after her, managed to somehow win her over with some cringey dialogue and then a little bit of action happened at the end. The action that did take place in the book wasn’t visual enough for me to imagine in my head, and I found myself re-reading parts to try to picture it all. As it got to the end of the book and things started wrapping up, I grew really bored despite the fact that those were probably the most “action-filled” scenes of the story.

Overall, I did not love this book and found many flaws in the development of the story. As for the writing, I also thought that it was not the best, but since it was the author’s debut book, I decided to not get into that too much. Despite my disliking towards this book, The Harvest was not the worst book I ever read, and at first, I did find the story a fun read. In the end, I decided to give this book 2/5 stars.

That is all for this non-spoiler review for The Harvest by KB Benson and if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, give it a read for yourself and see if you like it! Anyways, that is all for this book review and I hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Anthem by Ayn Rand – Book Review

Happy Thursday!

In the next few weeks, I am going to be putting out more book reviews than usual so I thought I would reacquaint myself with them by reviewing the last book I finished…which was Anthem by Ayn Rand. Why was I reading this book you ask?? Well, it was for an essay scholarship that I shrugged to and said why not? I know there is controversy surrounding this writer, but I am going to be putting that aside for the moment and instead, focusing on the actual story of Anthem. There WILL be spoilers so if you don’t mind, then keep reading!

Anthem by Ayn Rand is described as a dystopian novel set in a world where society has erased the individuality of the word “I” and has replaced it with a collective “w”, however, our main character Equality 7-2521 dares to defy society in order to regain his individual freedom stolen from him. While at first, this book was confusing characterwise because the narrative of this story is told by “we”, “our”, “they” so I thought Equality 7-2521 and all the other strange names, were collective groups of people. However, I reached the end and realized that was not the case but in reality, society had gone as far to strip people of saying “I” so Equality was only one person. This book will get you thinking about where society has been in the past and even right now, with socialism countries and all, but it also offers you the opportunity to value your individuality that we carry so easily and effortlessly without fathoming its disappearance.

While this book is very short (105 pages), I thought Rand managed to tell a story that ended satisfactorily. Anthem begins with Equality 7-2521 standing in front of the Council with dreams of being allowed into the Home of the Scholars, however, instead, they are placed in the Home of the Street Sweepers. When they tumble into a strange hole in the ground that leads to a cave full of forbidden manuscripts, later on, they read and discover all the things their society has stolen from them: the overall thing being each person’s individuality and freedom of choice. What I found interesting about the first part of the plot, is that once Equality found the cave, his goal didn’t immediately switch to the idea of “fixing the world” that they end with. The plot switched to him realizing that with all this knowledge, he might be able to stand before the World Council of Scholars and be allowed into the Home of the Scholars. It isn’t until the Council cowers at his re-invention of lightning, does he realize that will never happen. Also, by this point, he has fallen in love with the Golden One so he doesn’t need the Home of the Scholars, right? No! He can just run into the forest with her and tell himself that when his son is born, he will be a man who knows of the word and meaning of “I” while the rest of society is a massive dependent group of “we’s”.

I enjoyed this book but I do not have any plans of re-reading it…ever. I have read a bit of Fountainhead by Ayn Rand in the past, so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into with this one and I was spot on. All of her books continuously feature male characters with women being faint characters in the background that pop up every so often with no real meaning. Also, whenever she refers to being successful, Rand will write about winning the minds of men or in Anthem towards the end when Equality is ranting about his newfound discovery of individuality, it goes a little something like this:

  • “Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have had strange new ideas in the past…” – pg. 73
  • “And man will go on. Man, not men.” – pg. 104

Yes, so this book is about regaining individual freedom BUT Equality only ever refers to men as the ones who deserve and need it. Never women or generalizing to people. I guess I understand why it is like this to a point, as Ayn Rand is a writer from the 1950s and equality (haha, how contradictory since the main character’s name is Equality) wasn’t super “in” back then. (Wow, that sounded dumb when I re-read it and really sad.) But still! Jane Austen wrote female characters who were strong, independent, and intelligent, not just flimsy things meant to aid the men in the book. So actually, I take that back! I do not understand Ayn Rand’s words at all!

One thing I really wanted to touch on is Equality 7-2521 as a character. Since Equality is unable to have personal likes and dislikes and whatnot, they felt like a bland structure that every author takes to tailor their characters to. However, we do see them having conflicting thoughts to society in the beginning, and that only continues to grow throughout the story until Equality seizes the word “I” for himself. Equality was not likable or unlikable…so I do not have too much to say. They were not the smartest at times, for example, when they brought the “box of lightning” to the World Council of Scholars! Like what are you doing? They know this existed at one point AS YOU READ IN THE FORBIDDEN MANUSCRIPTS, so why are you showing them that you broke all of their laws? Whatever, it’s fine. It’s fine. One thing I did not like about Equality aka Prometheus though was how Rand revealed that the Golden One aka Gaea was PREGNANT. I hope that a few years passed since they met before she got pregnant because um…SHE WAS 17 WHEN THEY MET. Also, I think he was 21 so one, ILLEGAL and two, SHE IS ONLY 17. So yes, really hoping it was like a “five years later” thing at the least.

For me, this was a 3-star read because while I had my problems with it, the story was interesting and there wasn’t a point in the book where I looked at the ceiling with desperation for it to be over. If you enjoy books influenced heavily by philosophical elements, meaning you are fans of Camu, Sartre, or other philosophy writers, I would think about checking Ayn Rand out.

Anyways, that is all for this review and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – Spoiler Review

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Helloooo. First off, welcome 2019! This is my first blog post of the new year so yay! I hope 2019 is being kind to you so far and I hope it will be a great year to come. Anyways, today I will be sharing my spoilery thoughts, opinions, and comments on the fantasy book Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. If you haven’t read the book I will be providing a quick synopsis of the book and a snapshot of my overall, non-spoiler thoughts before I dive into the deep stuff so check that out below!

Wintersong takes place in the past in a small town in Germany where our main character, Liesel’s sister is kidnapped by the Goblin King; a monster she thought was only a story from her childhood but is now a nightmare come to life. She ventures to the Underground, the land of the goblins, to save her sister and return to the world above intact but like all adventures, it is never that easy.

Overall, I…did not like this book. It was slowly paced for the most part and our main character, Liesel, was not a POV I enjoyed. She was easily manipulated, whiny, and not too intelligent, making it difficult for me to care about whether she died in the Underground or not. I gave it a 2.5/5 stars because of that, but if you want to hear my SPOILER thoughts on it, keep reading!

——————————————————-Spoilers Ahead——————————————————–

Let’s start with the overall story. Reading the back of this book, I was so excited to jump into this story of an evil Goblin King who steals our main character’s sister, drawing her into the Underground to save her sister before it is too late. However, while I was hopeful while reading the first 100 pages (even though they were some slowly paced 100 pages), I soon realized I shouldn’t be. Honestly, I don’t know how I kept reading and didn’t DNF this book. Anyways, back to the point. Liesel (our MC) ventures down to the Underground just before page 100 to save her sister and within a few pages of her being down there…she finds her sister who is fine, a little delusional, but for the most part completely fine. Okay, okay, Liesel apparently has to burn some of her music to find her sister but honestly, that’s a small price to pay for the life of someone she loves. Once Liesel finds her sister, Kathe, they kind of just chill down in the Underground for a few days, right under the Goblin King’s nose. The Goblin King is someone from Liesel’s childhood actually, so that plays into the plot when she gives herself up to him so her sister can safely return to the world above only a ten or twenty pages after Liesel finds her…which was weird to me because it was TOO EASY. Also, we only get a few glimpses into how the Goblin King is evil…most of those glimpses composed of malicious grins and his dark black eyes. Anyways, after this, the entire rest of the book follows Liesel moaning about how the Goblin King isn’t letting her pursue her music just like in the world above (even though that’s not true…he plays the violin all the time and wants her to write her own music/play music), about how ugly she is compared to her sister, and realizing she is madly in love with her captor and the man who stole her sister. But it’s okay because he’s HER Goblin King.

Everything in this book just happened so fast. Kathe getting kidnapped, Liesel finding her, Liesel freeing her, Liesel marrying the Goblin King, and then we had this looooong stretch of Liesel and the Goblin King just hanging around, and then Liesel escaping back into her world. Any action happened in a span of 2-5 pages, and then whatever else we read afterward was fluff and not necessary. There were a few good lines I tabbed, but overall, I was not impressed.

One thing that isn’t big but also really is because it contradicts the character S. Jae-Jones has built Liesel up to be, is when Liesel discovers her brother is dead…or has been dead for a long time and a changeling (I still do NOT understand what those things are honestly) has been acting in his place. Or at least, I think that’s what happened…honestly, lots of confusion occurred here for me. So, the whole beginning of the book it is conveyed that Liesel loves Josef more than anything, and protects him more than she protects Kathe. She gives up her own undying passion for music so her brother can pursue it instead, and grieves for him when she is in the Underground. AND THEN SHE FINDS OUT HE IS DEAD, CRIES A LITTLE BIT AND WE BARELY SEE HER THINK ABOUT IT AGAIN. Like honestly, she finds out the person she loves most has died, and kind of forgets about it because the Goblin King she loves so very, very much is there and he makes her a woman named Elisabeth, not a girl named Liesel. Yeah, I was weirded out too. This just annoyed me because we are made to think she cares about Josef so much, but her reaction to his death is really anticlimactic. I have a younger brother who is literally my life, and if he died…boy, objects would be thrown against walls, my heart would be breaking and my cheeks would be streams of tears.

Let’s discuss the Underground, the land of the goblins, which are ruled by a single Goblin King whose past we learn LITERALLY nothing about. Maybe it and he will be explained in the second book (which ha, surprise, surprise, I’m not picking up), but I still think it’d have been smart to introduce some backstory of him in this book to make him seem less, well, less FLAT AND BORING. I can’t tell you anything about this Goblin King accept he’s not as hot as Hans (who honestly, was such an UNNECESSARY character in this book. Will talk about more though…) but still pretty cute, and he plays the violin. Anyways, we also learn nothing about the Underground. I have no idea what it looks like. The only places down there described to us are Liesel’s room and the room in between her room and the Goblin King’s…that’s all I remember and can kind of picture in my head. So yeah, the Underground to me is composed of two, sometimes three (when Liesel wakes up in the Goblin King’s bed), rooms.

Okay, I need to talk about Hans. 1) Why is he in this book? That’s it. That is my only question actually. Like why, WHY, is he a character? He is introduced as the man promised to Kathe who honestly, couldn’t care less about him, but Liesel is secretly in love with him. Until Liesel is suddenly living a life right after her sister is taken where Kathe never existed in her family, and because of that, Liesel is pursuing music or something (I thought Josef was the reason she had to set aside her dream but I guess not?). In this weird life, she kisses Hans and I realizes she doesn’t love him. Anyways, why bring him in then? It would have been perfectly FINE to not set up the idea of Kathe being engaged to someone because it made no difference to the story, the Goblin King still took her, and it also would have been perfectly FINE if Liesel wasn’t in love with anyone before going to the Underground and realizing she kind of loves him instead. He served no purpose at all and was a waste of space in this book. Maybe he serves a purpose in the second book which then everything I said now would be kind of invalid (also not though because Jae-Jones could have just had Hans engaged to Kathe and that’s it), but STILL.

Anyways, this book had 400-something pages filled with a lot of nothing…oh wait, sorry, filled with a lot of contradicting or useless characters, slow and boring plot, and a flat world. However, I really did like the writing. It was lyrical and beautiful…my favourite type of writing! I apologize for being kind of harsh but this is just my opinion. There were a few lines in the book and even a few scenes I enjoyed in this book overall, again, those were just because of the writing. Overall, I gave this book 2.5/5 stars. Why did I not DNF this book if I hated it so much? Well, I really, really wanted to like it and I just hoped it would get better. It took until page 300ish for me to realize that wasn’t going to happen though.

Anyways, that is all for my spoilery review on Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones, and I hope you enjoyed! If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts on it because I am really curious. From what I’ve read on Goodreads, people either loved it or hated it. Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Best Books of 2018

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2018 was a good reading year quantity wise. However, as I am writing this, I don’t know if I’ve hit my Goodreads goal of 75 books but I am really, really close and still have time (I’ve read 70 so far). While I read lots of books, a lot of them were re-reads or just books that were pretty good but not AMAZING. So, when it came to compiling a list of my favourites, I realized this was going to be short and sweet. That’s okay though because I did re-read a lot of my most favourite books (I’m not counting those in this post though) and there were a few new reads that I did really enjoy. Anyways, here are my favourite books of 2018.

Stephen King: On Writing by Stephen King

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This is a non-fiction book on Stephen King’s writing journey and life. I read this in January and absolutely loved it. It was stuffed to the seams with wisdom and advice that I seethed over, and it all helped to improve me as a writer. I definitely plan on re-reading it in the new year, but this was definitely a favourite out of the whole year for me. It was also definitely my most favourite writing book…probably that I’ve ever read! 5/5 stars

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

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I know, I know. I’ve raved about this book more than a few times, but for good reason because it made it onto my favourites list! This is a contemporary-fantasy, as I like to genereize it, that follows the POV of two sisters, Evelyn, and Philippa who along with their brother, Jamie, have just returned from a fantasy land called the Woodlands where they lived for several years in an attempt to flee from the devastation of World War II. Now they are back to reality, all struggling to find their place in it, but some are struggling more than others. When Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must find her sister and along the way, discover the pain of assimilating into the ordinary she felt. I read this book in the summertime and fell in love with its rainy, English atmosphere and raw characters. I actually have an in-depth review if you want to read it right here, but it was just amazing. 5/5 stars

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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This was another book I discovered in the summertime during the BookTubeAThon and oh my- it was amazing. Neal Shusterman creates such a realistic world with characters I can actually imagine meeting and speaking with, bringing the story to life that much more. Scythe takes place in a futuristic world where humans have conquered everything from ageing, disease to death. However, to keep the population from exploding, there are scythes who glean people at random to do so. Our two main characters are Rowan and Citra, both who are chosen to be the apprentices to the same scythe but this is something neither of them thought they wanted. I love this story and these characters, and just talking about it makes me want to re-read it…which I may do. 5/5 stars

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

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While I had my issues with this book (which will be discussed in my upcoming review), I did absolutely adore this book. I had been anticipating it for so long, and I also know it was supposed to be very open-ended because it is setting us up for the Wicked Powers, another series in the Shadow World. But anyways, this was the third and final installment in my favourite trilogy, The Dark Artifices, following my most favourite characters in my most favourite world. Was it everything I hoped for? Honestly, not really haha, but then again, it kept me interesting, surprised me, and ultimately, I loved it so yes, one of the best books of 2018 hands down. 5/5 stars

There you have it! I only have 4 books on this list because the other books were either re-reads or only 4-star-reads. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like them, they just weren’t the best books of 2018 for me. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed and don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading!

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth – Book Review

 

On October 23rd, The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth hit shelves and I am so excited for you to all read it! If you have heard absolutely nothing about this lovely book, I am going to be sharing my non-spoiler thoughts on it and hopefully, by the end, you will want to pick it up too!


The Light Between Worlds is a YA magical realism story following three siblings who during the bombing of London in 1940, are somehow transported to a magical kingdom called the Woodlands. This is seemingly a place of nature and beauty, but the Woodlands is facing a battle of their own. The siblings vow to help them as much as they can in this war, and in return, are promised to be sent home afterward as if no time has passed at all.

Six years later, it is time for the siblings to finally go home and instantly, they are met with a brand new battle of their very own: their internal struggles as they try to adjust to life away from the Woodlands and back into a reality untouched by magic. It is easier for the two oldest siblings, Jamie and Philippa, but Evelyn struggles with making this world home again.

When Evelyn disappears one day, Philippa must return to England after studying in America to unravel the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, and the darkness Evelyn fell into while she was away.

This book is haunting and whimsical, transporting me into the world of the Woodlands and London post World War II. I found myself losing track of time while reading it, always discovering myself pages ahead of where I originally thought. It takes place in 1940s-50s England and this atmosphere created is the definition of coziness: rainy, grey, and chilly. It was the perfect book to snuggle up with on an autumn day with some hot tea and a blanket. This world really does take you by surprise with how vivid it is. I could imagine the trees of the forests standing tall in the Woodlands and the gardens outside the school Evelyn retreated to whenever memories of the Woodlands attacked.

While this book has fantasy elements in it like the magic of the Woodlands, this book is less about fantasy and more about finding yourself and coping with reality. It is very character-based, following the story and relationship of two sisters, Evelyn and Philippa, both who are strong women but also have their own demons to face. We learn how they both cope with these struggles in two very different ways that were not at all healthy. This made for a realistic aspect of the novel because often, people cannot find the best ways to deal with loss or the feeling of not belonging. Instead, they resort to other methods and that was a heavy theme woven into this book.

The other characters in this book played a big part in the theme of not always choosing the healthiest ways to manage what you are feeling, which is a reality, especially in the modern world today. Evelyn juggled with her emotions and desires this entire book, knowing she belonged in the Woodlands but sometimes, something, or someone, held her back from listening to that. It was never something the other person did knowingly, like Tom. I recognized that his main role in the novel was to help portray the idea that often, a person’s problems cannot be solved by anyone other than themselves. A person is not a project: a jumbled mess of broken bits needed to be fixed, but an art piece that is slowly coming together on its own time.

Lately, mental illness has been something I’ve become more aware of and I noticed this book represented eating disorders and also depression. These were the reasons the characters had coping mechanisms, as one cannot leave a magical world and return to an ordinary one without fault. Nothing is graphic, but it is good to keep in mind when reading it in case you are easily triggered. On Laura E. Weymouth’s website, she goes into more detail about these triggers so make sure you check that out here.

Overall, this book was a cozy fantasy that I can see myself picking for the third time in the future. I highly recommend it for fans of Narnia because it is very similar to that story-wise, however, it is different because Narnia is for younger readers while this novel is for young adults. After my second read, I have decided to give The Light Between Worlds a 4.5/5 stars because it was a beautiful and gripping read that held my interest every time.

 

Those are my non-spoiler thoughts on The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth and I hope you enjoyed! Make sure to let me know if you decide to pick this book up and what your thoughts are on it! Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts all linked down below. Thanks 🙂

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