Sunday, October 18, 2020

Weekly Recap: 10/11 - 10/17

  


HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi, everyone! It's Fraterfest time! If you guys don't know about this super spooky readathon (it's only as spooky as you want it to be though), you should definitely check it out. I have shocked myself by actually reading for this one. Even though I sign up for them, I usually suck at readathons. Hurray me! In other news, I made peanut butter cookies this week and accidentally ate almost all of them... At least peanut butter and eggs are healthy? Right? 


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing this week!


THIS WEEK I READ

  


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Wednesday book review of The Year of the Witching


UPCOMING REVIEWS



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Book Review: The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Title: The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1)
Author: Evan Winter
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 544
Add to Goodreads

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He's going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn't get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He'll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.


I bought The Rage of Dragons earlier this year and patiently waited to find myself in the mood to read a 500+ page adult fantasy about a man obsessed with revenge. Alas, that mood has struck and I devoured this book and immediately preordered the next! It was THAT good.

The Rage of Dragons begins in Tau's small village (after a brief, dragon-filled prologue). We meet Tau and learn that he has no desire to fight in an army, that he has a plan to get out of it. Although this was only the beginning of the book, I sympathized with Tau immediately because of my own vaguely similar experiences.

I've seen a lot of criticism for Tau as an impulsive hothead, which he is, but his rage is understandable. His actions don't always make sense, but then I remember that he's a teenager who is grieving and I can forgive it. My favorite thing about this story is that, once the revenge plot begins, Tau isn't handed his power or strength - he works for it every step of the way. He's knocked down several pegs multiple times, but he always gets back up and tries harder.

The world building is another place where this book shines. I've never read a fantasy inspired by African cultures and it's rare to read one that's inspired by a pre-medieval world. This was a truly unique world and the magical system was so good! Admittedly, I was confused from time to time, trying to understand how the Guardians worked and how the Gifted used their power, but not enough to detract from my enjoyment.

Fair warning, this book is extremely violent and quite dark. The majority of it is combat training and actual combat, but I was enthralled from page one. Perhaps because of the almost constant action, this was one of the quicker adult fantasy books I've read. The writing definitely kept me hooked! I am counting down the days until book two arrives in my mailbox. If you're in the mood for an action-packed adult fantasy, pick this one up! 


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Weekly Recap: 10/4 - 10/10

 


HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi, everyone! It's been a couple weeks since I've done a recap, but let's dive right in. I'll be including all the books I've received and read since then, so please don't judge me - it's like three week's worth, okay?? My husband and I have discovered that, although our Disney annual pass is worth a lot less these days, Epcot seems relatively safe. The crowds are very low and Disney is surprisingly serious about their mask and cleaning policies. I was definitely judging people for going out a couple months ago, but it seems to me that if everyone is wearing a mask, it has to be reasonably safe. Honestly, we just can't take not doing ANYTHING anymore. And so, we've taken to visiting Epcot once a week to literally just walk around. It's better than sitting on our couch. Judge away!

In my reading life I'm finding that I'm skewing more towards adult fantasy these days, which is a surprise. Not to say I'm not still reading YA because I totally am! Just that I'm reading more adult than I had before. I guess that's a good thing, considering I'm old. I recently finished The Rage of Dragons which was AMAZING! I can't wait to share my review of that one. Now I'm reading the first Mistborn book after one of my best bookish friends wouldn't shut up about it (I know that's YA). What other adult fantasies do I need to read?  


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  
  


THIS WEEK I READ

   


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Wednesday book review of The Year of the Witching


UPCOMING REVIEWS



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Book Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Title: The Year of the Witching
Author: Alexis Henderson
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Ace

Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads


A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.


Earlier this summer I read The Year of the Witching and immediately became obsessed! Imagine my dismay when I found this review sitting in my drafts! How will everyone know how incredible this book is if I don't yell about it? 

The Year of the Witching is what I'd hoped Agnes At the End of the World would be - a dark and terrifying cult fantasy with an incredible, feminist heroine and amazing world building. First of all, Immanuelle is a fascinating main character. Her backstory is heart-wrenching and she was highly relatable, but not in a Mary Sue kind of way. Simply put, I loved her. I also loved the Prophet's son, Ezra, and their unlikely relationship. The Prophet, by the way, it a truly disgusting and creepy villain. 

Speaking of creepy, the absolute best thing about this story is the atmosphere. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but this one certainly sets the mood. It's dark and tense and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The scares in this book are slow and unsettling and I could not get enough of it. The world building is so good, I felt like I was right in the middle of Bethel. 

There was truly nothing I didn't love about The Year of the Witching other than that it ended too soon. I'm really hoping for a sequel, but I can't wait to read whatever she writes next in any case. Alexis Henderson is definitely on my auto-buy list!


Thursday, October 1, 2020

2020 Retellings Challenge Third Quarter Update


Hi, bookworms! Welcome to the (very late) second quarter update and link-up of the 2020 Retellings Reading Challenge! I hope you've all made some great progress and read some amazing retellings so far this year! As a reminder, this challenge is still open to join! To get started, I'll share my progress for this quarter:


WHAT I'VE READ

 

This quarter I read a bit less than I'd like in the way of retellings, but I really enjoyed what I did read! First was Midnight Sun, which I'm calling a retelling because it's literally Twilight retold. You can find my review here! Next was Into the Heartless Wood, a genderbent Beauty and the Beast retelling that was INCREDIBLE! Review will be posted closer to the release date but trust me, it was amazing.


GOODREADS GROUP UPDATES

In case you missed it, we also have a group on Goodreads where we discuss books we've been reading, share suggestions to fill bingo spaces, and do a group read each month. You can join the group HERE if you haven't already! Here's what we read in August and September:

 

Each month the group nominates a bingo topic to group read, then we nominate books based on that topic. Finally, we vote on which book to read and discuss throughout the month. For August, we voted to read The Guinevere Deception to fill the King Arthur retelling space. Cinderella Is Dead was our September read and filled the Own Voices retelling space. In October we are reading The Raven's Tale as our spooky month Edgar Allen Poe retelling!


LINK-UP

Now it's your turn! Link up to your reviews for the challenge to get an extra entry in the year-end giveaway! As a reminder, you can also get extra entries for getting bingo or filling your bingo card completely. Do NOT share your quarterly updates in this link-up! This is for reviews only. Instead, share links to your updates in the comments! 


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #282: Books I can't believe I read


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books I Can't
Believe I Read


Happy Tuesday! Today I decided to do a different topic because I just don't remember quotes at all. I'm going way, way back to the oldest reads on my Goodreads list and sharing books I know I would NEVER pick up today! Who even was I?  



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

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #281: Fall 2020 TBR


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books On 
My Fall 2020 TBR


Happy Tuesday! Today it's another round of my favorite Top Ten topic - my upcoming TBR list! There are SO many amazing books coming out this year including some series enders I can't wait to read. This week I'm also including a bonus book that doesn't have a full cover yet, but I'm excited to read it anyway. 




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

Monday, September 21, 2020

Mini Thriller Reviews: Kimberly Belle, Ruth Ware, & Alyssa Cole

Title: The Marriage Lie
Author: Kimberly Belle
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Mira
Pages: 334
Add to Goodreads

Amazon | Bookshop.org

Even the perfect marriage has its dark side…

Iris and Will's marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris's happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane.

Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core. 

The Marriage Lie kicks off when Iris receives the horrible news that her husband was onboard a plane that crashed, only he shouldn't have been. This sets Iris down an obsessive path of finding out exactly why her husband was on that plane and not the one he was supposed to have boarded. She can't accept that he lied to her, although all the evidence points to it.

Although this was a quick read that successfully built suspense, it was also fairly predictable. My favorite thing in a book is a great twist and, while the author did set one up, I guessed it pretty early on. That's not to say this wasn't an enjoyable read, because I still had a great time on the journey! Thankfully, there were still some reveals I didn't see comins! Iris was a sympathetic character who I quickly identified with and other supporting characters were equally well written. This was my first Kimberly Belle read, but I definitely plan to read more by her!




Title: Dear Wife
Author: Kimberly Belle
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Park Row
Pages: 336
Add to Goodreads

Amazon | Bookshop.org

Beth Murphy is on the run...

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning--one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing...

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she's taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine's carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that's certain is that someone is lying and the truth won't stay buried for long.

My second Kimberly Belle read of my thriller binge was Dear Wife. This time the story follows Beth, a woman who has escaped an abusive husband and is on the run. Meanwhile, Sabine's husband is desperately searching for his missing wife. This book definitely kept me guessing! This was hard to read at times, having known someone who survived a very abusive relationship, but I feel like Beth's character was well written and I loved watching her outsmart her abusive partner.

Like I didn't figure this one out right away, which made it much more enjoyable. There was a sense of unease and waiting for the other shoe to drop from the beginning. Still, it wasn't a perfect mystery. Some things were a bit unbelievable and the entire premise was over the top. It did drag a bit in the middle, but overall I definitely enjoyed it and plan to read more of this author in the future!




Title: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Scout Press
Pages: 337
Add to Goodreads
Amazon | Bookshop.org

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time. 

The Turn of the Key was not my first Ruth Ware book, although it was the first one I've thoroughly enjoyed! The protagonist of this story is Rowan, a nanny who has taken a job working for a rich family at a house that can't seem to keep one employed. She's told about supposed supernatural occurrences, but doesn't believe them or care if they're true. As soon as she moves into the house things begin to spiral and a feeling of dread begins and doesn't let up until the end.

This is probably the most genuinely creepy thriller I've read recently because there was no real way to be sure whether Rowan was really seeing and hearing what she thought she was. Everything seems to be just a bit off from the start and I quickly blew through this book to figure out exactly how a child ended up dead, landing Rowan in prison.

Rowan wasn't a perfect character, but she was a sympathetic one. The children though... yikes. What a bunch of little nightmares! I did really enjoy the way this story was written, although the letter format didn't quite fit all the time. I can't wait to try another Ruth Ware book and hope it's just as good!




Title: When No One Is Watching
Author: Alyssa Cole
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads
Amazon | Bookshop.org

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

I've seen a LOT of people compare this book to Get Out and, while I can see the comparison, it really didn't hit the same high for me. I went into When No One Is Watching expecting a thriller, but what I got was more of a suspenseful romance novel. There are often side romances in thrillers, but in this book the romance definitely overtook the mystery.

Speaking of mystery, it really didn't pick up until very late in the book. Much of this story reads like contemporary romance, but when the thrills did happen, they were definitely suspenseful! Things did get a bit over the top by the end, but it was enjoyable and made for a quick last few pages. And let's be honest, I'm here for over the top, weird stories. While contemporary romance isn't my genre, I'll be picking up Alyssa Cole's next thriller if she does publish another!




Title: One By One
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Publisher: Scout Press
Pages: 384
Add to Goodreads
Amazon | Bookshop.org

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

I found out about One By One when I saw the gorgeous Waterstone's exclusive edition. Luckily, I didn't preorder it because this did not turn out to be the book for me. It follows a large group of executives from an app called Snoop. The very concept of Snoop was really bizarre and I can't imagine anyone actually using it, but I digress.

This book suffered from a few things. One of them was the very large cast that really wasn't fleshed out enough to keep them separate. It also really dragged once the avalanche happened with all the characters stuck together. There was a lot of talking, a lot of sleeping, and eating, but not much suspense. The villain also really didn't make any sense to me, although I've seen a lot of people calling it predictable.

This wasn't a bad book, it just didn't live up to the high I just came off of with The Turn of the Key. I want more of that from Ruth Ware and less of whatever this is.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Weekly Recap: 9/6 - 9/12



HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi, everyone! Three posts in a week! Who even am I anymore? This week has been blissfully uneventful. My husband and I went to look at RVs although I doubt there is one in our near future. It would be such a fun thing to have though! I also made my first trip to Barnes & Noble in quite awhile where I snagged the exclusive, gorgeous copy of Cemetery Boys! I also received my Fairyloot edition of Songs of Wraith and Ruin, which is so pretty!

In non-bookish news I got a new console table to store candle supplies and work on. There was initially the idea of insulating the garage and moving out there to work, but the costs just kept adding up and I quickly changed plans. At least now I can set up a bit more efficiently, which I definitely need because the orders keep rolling in! Quarantine has been surprisingly good for business. Now if only I could find all the time I need to get ahead on it! 


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

   


THIS WEEK I READ

 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Wednesday book review of Midnight Sun
On Friday I shared my Fraterfest TBR list


UPCOMING REVIEWS

Thriller mini reviews!


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!