Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #248: Locations I want to see more of

Today's Topic: 
Ten Fantastic Settings I’d Like 
to See More Of In YA

Happy Tuesday! This week I'm talking about fantasy locations I'd love to see more of in YA books. I'm used to reading about totally fictionalized worlds, but there are quite a few that already exist (and some more abstract) that I'd love to see in more books! Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what films six of these came from (the rest were just art)! 

Asgard | Mount Olympus | El Dorado
Neverland | Wonderland | Underground
Shangri-La | Prehistoric Anywhere | Camelot | Atlantis

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, July 22, 2019

ARC Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 416
Add to Goodreads

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

My absolute favorite kind of book to read is a weird, spooky fantasy retelling and let me tell you, this book was right up my alley! I really didn't know much about the fairytale this book is based on, but the cover and description immediately caught my attention.

Annaleigh's family has terrible luck. In fact, many people believe their family is cursed by the gods. Her mother died years ago followed by four of her older sisters who have died one by one and left her family in a state of perpetual mourning. After the latest tragic death, Annaleigh worries that they haven't been as accidental as previously believed and decides to take matters into her own hands.

I. Loved. Annaleigh. It isn't often that I find a main character that I absolutely adore, but Annaleigh is amazing! She is smart and brave and resilient and loves her sisters with a passion. Speaking of her sisters, there are a ton of them. Eight sisters is a lot to keep up with and I will definitely admit that I still couldn't name more than a few of them, even after finishing the book, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story.

This wouldn't be a good YA retelling without a fantastic romance! At first there is a hint of a love triangle between Annaleigh, her childhood friend, and a boy she meets in town, but thankfully it is quickly resolved. And it's a good thing because the romance is so wonderfully swoon-worthy, I couldn't get enough! There was a moment when I thought that things had happened a bit too quickly, but when I realized how much time had passed in the story, I quickly changed my tune. Everything about the romance is perfect and I would love more of these characters!

Of course, this story is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, so there has to be dancing and there is a ton of it. House of Salt and Sorrows has no shortage of magic and gods, ball gowns and dancing, but Erin A. Craig has put a whole new creepy spin on it and I loved it! The villain is not who you'd guess and the reveals are incredibly well written. This book will seriously have you second guessing everything you've read by the end. There are so many twists and turns I'm surprised I didn't end up with whiplash!

And speaking of creepiness, let's talk about the atmosphere! This author knows how to take a reader and plant them right in the middle of a new world. I felt like I could see the cliffs and feel the salt on my skin while reading this book. The world was so easy to picture, I felt like I could see myself in it without even trying. I cannot wait to see what beautiful, gothic world Emily A. Craig comes up with next!

In case it wasn't obvious, this was an amazing read! I was so invested in this mystery and the characters I couldn't put this book down. House of Salt and Sorrows is a unique, spooky YA retelling that I can see myself reading multiple times. If you're a fan of dark fantasy or retellings, definitely give this a try!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Weekly Recap: 7/14 - 7/20


Hi everyone! This has been another super productive week! I caught up almost completely on candle orders and am excited to be bringing some changes to the shop! Keep an eye on my Instagram if you care about that sort of thing. I also got quite a bit of reading done (and a lot of listening). I found and binged two seasons of Schitt's Creek and was super excited when a new season of Queer Eye dropped! On Saturday I did one of my longest recent runs and was super proud of myself for it!

I also decided to bring back an indie read-a-thon challenge later this year that I'm really excited about! I'm still ironing out the details, but I'm currently looking for a few people who enjoy reading and promoting indie books to help out by reviewing some books (some of them free) and maybe even hosting a challenge! If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, please comment or send me a Twitter message!


Nothing new this week!




The topic was auto-buy authors for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday second chance review of Ten
On Thursday I went back down the TBR Hole
On Saturday I asked if you would read that ugly book


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, July 20, 2019

Would you read that ugly book?

I will totally admit that I judge books based on their covers. When I'm browsing the shelves or looking through my library's app, I definitely give priority to books that are eye catching. The chances of me picking up a book with an ugly cover are usually slim to none, so today I decided to do something different. I'm picking out some of the ugliest books I could find, actually taking time to read the blurbs, and then deciding if I'd give them a chance.

When sixteen-year-old Cynda goes to stay with her father and his second wife, Susan, at their remote bed-and-breakfast inn in Maine, everything starts off well despite legends about ghosts and a murder at the inn. But Cynda feels like a visitor in Dad's new life, an outsider. Then intense, handsome stranger Vincent Morthanos arrives at the inn and seems to return Cynda's interest. At first she is blind to the subtle, insistent signs that Vincent is not what he seems-that he is, in fact, a vampire. Can Cynda free herself-and her family-from Vincent's power before it's too late? Full-bodied characterizations and page-turning suspense ensure that this eerie, riveting novel will appeal to middle school fans of mystery and horror. (Goodreads)

Um... Hm. So the fact that this was published in the 90s makes a little more sense, but this book seems yikes in a few ways. Not least of which, is that guy on the cover supposed to be the handsome stranger? Also, this is listed as YA and the synopsis makes it seem like YA, but it's intended for middle schoolers. Isn't YA for teens? Aren't teens in high school? How out of touch am I?? No, I wouldn't pick this one up.

"I could see the star it was red and it was coming towards earth at a rapid speed. My life flashed before me …Was it the end of my life as I knew it?"

Scarlet can remember her life before the new world order took over but now she is on the run with four kids from 4 different parts of the world and she has no idea who to trust and who to turn to. Will she survive the final battle between good and evil? (Goodreads)

What is this cover?? Who approved this? Actually looking at the synopsis for this book is proving difficult because my eyes keep going back to all of the weird happening. Is that a Norse temple? Are those hot pink leaves? What is going on? What on this cover looks like anything to do with the new world order and the battle between good and evil? Noooooope.

Calla is the alpha female of a shape-shifting wolf pack. She is destined to marry Ren Laroche, the pack's alpha male. Together, they would rule their pack together, guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But then, Calla saves a beautiful human boy, who captures her heart. Calla begins to question everything - her fate, her existence, and her world and the orders the Keepers have asked her to follow. She will have to make a choice. But will she follow her heart if it means losing everything, including her own life? (Goodreads)

I feel like this book got a better cover at some point. Right? It had to have. Despite how awful the cover is, I think this is one I'd actually consider reading. I'm not usually into shifters, but I am really into the forbidden romance trop, so this does sound like something I might enjoy.

John can have any girl he wants. Jennifer's never been kissed. Everybody thinks he's perfect. She's got issues with pride and jealousy. They were best friends-once. Now, they're playing Romeo and Juliet. Virgin lips Jennifer must have her first kiss on stage with John, the guy every girl in school wants. The pressure and tension build along with each staged kiss. Both are shocked when feelings bloom. Can either tell which kisses are real and which are for show? (Goodreads)

I just want to point out that this book was published in the 2010s. It doesn't get the 90s free pass. I would not give this book a second glance if I passed it on the shelf. The synopsis ALMOST sounds interesting, but good grief, who left "virgin lips Jennifer" in that paragraph? I just. No please.

One vow. One curse. One thousand moons.

While Princess Aowyn's six brothers are favored by their father, Aowyn is the jewel in her mother's crown. When the Queen dies, Aowyn takes a vow to protect her brothers and father from the hungry eyes of the queen's handmaiden, Ciatlllait - who is more than she seems.

In order to save her family, Aowyn risks a dangerous deal with the dark creature Sylas Mortas. But magic comes with a price: and Aowyn soon realizes the one she has paid is too steep.

Only true love can reverse the spell...but it will take one thousand moons.

Set in a Celtic world, "Moonlight" is the story of faith and true love woven through a breathtaking retelling of the classic folktale "The Swan Princess". (Goodreads)

This isn't the worst cover on the list, but it isn't good. I wouldn't pick it up if I saw it at Barnes & Noble. Honestly the author's name font is making me cringe. That being said, the story does sound pretty good - we all know I love a good retelling! The one (non-cover) thing that really gives me pause is the fact that "Ciatlllait" is apparently not a typo.

The moral of the story is, I think, get a good blurb writer. I have no doubt that some of these might actually be decent, but between the cover and the synopsis I would never pick most of them up.

Finally, I leave you with these two works of art that I won't even share the blurbs for because they're too ugly:


Do you pick up ugly books?
How do you choose your next read?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Down the TBR Hole #15

Hi everyone! I'm back again with another edition of Down the TBR hole. I feel like I need to CONSTANTLY be cutting down my TBR because there are just so many great books coming out! Seriously, I think I add at least a few more every week. Hopefully this time I'll be able to let a few go.

The Down the TBR Hole meme was started by Lost In a Story and it is the most perfect tool for cleaning off shelves that I've come across. Here's how it works:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?



I literally couldn't tell you how this ended up on my TBR list. This is so far from what I would usually read that I'm not sure what I was thinking. Maybe someone hacked my account. VERDICT: PASS


I'm just going to come right out and say I added this when I was binging Glee and saw that Chris Colfer was the author. No shame. I have avoided it because this series is HUGE. Seriously, the first book alone is almost 500 pages and there are 6 of them. It's also middle grade and I don't tend to enjoy those much. I think I'll have to pass on this for now, but I might pick it up for my niece. VERDICT: PASS


So. I added this one while I was watching Pretty Little Liars because I was intrigued by how the author would handle the relationship dynamic. I feel like there was probably a HUGE backlash over this book on Twitter but I wasn't really on Twitter pre-2015, so I missed it. I think I'm going to have to let this one go. VERDICT: PASS


Why have I put off reading this book for so long? I actually have a physical copy of this and it sounds SO far up my alley, but I've avoided it for some reason. As someone who would definitely buy one of those silo condos just in case the world ends, I really need to pick this up soon! VERDICT: KEEP


And here's one I added when zombies were still the big thing. I had recently read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Enclave series, so this was an obvious addition to my TBR. Sadly, I am very much over zombies at this point, so I'm going to have to say no to Patient Zero. VERDICT: PASS

What reading phases have you grown out of?
Do you enjoy middle grade fiction?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Second Chance Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Ten
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 296
Add to Goodreads

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie are looking forward to two days of boys, booze, and fun-filled luxury. But what starts out as fun turns twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. And things only get worse from there.

With a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the outside world . . . so when a mysterious killer begins picking them off one by one, there’s no escape. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on one another, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine? 

I first attempted to read Ten way back in 2015 and I hated it. I ended up DNFing at 34% and cited the romance and teen drama as the cause. I even said the book made me feel like I was growing out of YA! I'm not really sure what I was going through on that particular day, but I was recently in the mood for a mystery/thriller and decided to give this one another try.

Ten is a retelling of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I'm familiar with this story because I've seen the BBC miniseries by the same name multiple times. (It's fantastic - watch it!) This retelling follows the script closely, so if you know the story then you probably have a very good idea of how things will end up, but that doesn't mean you'll have any idea who the killer will be! I was second guessing almost until the reveal, although I admit I guessed correctly near the end.

Meg is the main character of this iteration and she, along with her friend Minnie, have found themselves on a remote island at a party with eight other teens that they know to varying degrees. Of course, there is a romance. I still don't love the way the romance is written, but I do understand the need for it and I did like what it added to the plot. Many of the other characters are honestly interchangeable, but I really wasn't reading this for compelling characters - I was reading it for a murder mystery.

As I've already said, there isn't anything incredibly new in this retelling, but man was it was entertaining! The atmosphere Gretchen McNeil created on the island was fantastically creepy and, while I wouldn't call this horror, it had a good amount of scares.

I am absolutely glad I gave this book a second chance and it has made me consider doing the same with other DNFd books. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this the first time. If you enjoy a good murder mystery, this is a book you shouldn't miss! Even if you know the story already, this is a fresh enough take to be enjoyable.