Friday, October 4, 2019

Coral, or, The One with Some Mermaid Stuff But Not Enough Mermaid Stuff



by Sara Ella

Pages: 384
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: November 12th, 2019

Cover Comments: This cover is so cute and may have been part of the reason I picked this book up. The front of Coral, the human and mermaid silhouettes, it all works.

First Lines: 
"She's not sick. She's not.

               Goodreads 丨 Amazon
There is more than one way to drown.

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.


First, I really appreciate what the author is trying to do with Coral. Mental illness needs to be discussed more often, especially in YA, and the way that Coral is set up, with the different POVs and the mermaid aspects is ambitious and has potential. However, I don’t think it was executed well, which is a shame.

There are some problems with the writing here, large and small. First, I never connected with the characters. They seemed entirely defined by the people around them, their surroundings, or their mental illness. The writer left tons of things unexplained throughout the book, with no hints or nudges that it’s a mystery, leaving me to wonder if she just didn’t think about it. For instance, Merrick hates his father, even jumping to the conclusion that his father beat up his little sister readily at one point - why? We don’t really know. Merrick’s POV never refers to some event that happened in the past, hinting that it will be explained, or even show Merrick’s dad being anything worse than a little distant. The characters’ reasons for their actions didn’t really make sense except to move the plot forward. And plot? What plot? I don’t actually care if books are plot-driven or character-driven, but this was neither.

The overall tone of the book is dark, but Coral’s sections earlier on in the book especially doesn’t really match the tone of the writing. It’s like the author was trying to make it fun and whimsical, like the Little Mermaid movie, but it’s just jarring in a novel that’s largely about mental health, suicide, and death. I felt like every page, Coral’s inner monologue would reference something about the sea, i.e.:

“ graceful as a manta ray's glide”
“The intrusiveness of his gaze wrapped Coral's nerves in jellyfish tentacles.”
“The earthquake inside her bones rivaled a shifting seabed.”

A little heavy-handed. Coral’s POV also referred to her as “the little mermaid” about six times too many. I was most intrigued by the mermaid aspect of the book, so it was disappointing when those sections were the most annoying. Some of my gripes make sense later on in the book, but I still think it’s lazy writing not to flesh out this portion of the book, or at least hint at later revelations about it.

The story kind of gets turned upside down right near the end, and I had a big problem with it. Nothing made sense throughout most of the book about Coral’s life, Brooke’s history, or how their POV’s connect with Merrick. This gets resolved near the end with this dramatic reveal, and I honestly felt cheated by it. I’ve seen books do a plot twist like this well, but it simply made me mad in Coral. It seemed to me that the author just misled readers by changing details so that there’s no way they would guess the twist, which means it came out of nowhere, with no breadcumbs that could be followed from earlier on in the story.

I don’t want to complain about this book forever, so I’ll quickly list the other negatives:
- I didn’t connect with the romance and thought it was unnecessary.
- There were huge sections of the book that jump forward in time or leave out details (to service the twist at the end, I think).
- Side characters that could have been explored and fleshed-out were only given a cursory glance. I would have loved to know more about the grandmother and what exactly happened between her and - - Coral to strain their relationship.
- The mermaid/underwater portion of the book is heavily emphasized (cover and all) but was not really a major part of the novel.

Again, I respect what the author was trying to do here, but I really struggled to even finish this book, much less enjoy it.

*Thanks to Netgalley and the author for the chance to read Coral before its publication date.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Throwback Titles (5): The Summer I Turned Pretty, or, The One with All the Summer Nostalgia

Throwback Titles are books that I've been meaning to read for a very, very long time, but have just now gotten around to it. In other words, it's that book you picked up in middle school that may have been a little bit above your reading level, and also happened to have 14 sequels. And what do you, a rational adult do now that you've realized that you stopped a mere five books from finishing the series? Continue, of course.

That's most of my stories, but I consider a throwback title to be any book 5 or more years old. Let's clear these babies out of to-be-reads and remind people of their favorite 2005 novel! I'll be posting a throwback title every Thursday (naturally). Please join in the fun by adding to the linky below and adding my graphic (or one of yours, as long as it links back here) above to your post!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

5821978 The Summer I Turned Pretty

by Jenny Han

Pages: 276
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 5th, 2009

Cover Comments: Nothing to write home about, but I don't mind this cover that much. I love Belly's gaze and appearance, but the boys look kind of strange. I love the sun peeking out over the left side, and the font change of "pretty".

First Lines: 
"We'd been driving for about seven thousand years.
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer—they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.


I was a little surprised that I loved this book so much. From the outset, it seems like typical YA summer fare: a pretty girl is torn between two guys and also: beach stuff! But The Summer I Turned Pretty was so much more than that. In fact, while the romance aspects of the book took up a lot of time and words, I didn't feel like it was the meat of the story.

What I found so compelling was the perfect portrait that Han paints of the magic of summer when you're an adolescent/teen. This book brought back perfectly the feeling I got when I returned to the same "summer place" feeling completely different every year. There's this hope at that age that you can change completely over a year, and the people you only see during the summer months will notice and everything else will change too. That never quite happened for me, but it does for Belly.

I also loved the setting of a small beach town imbued with years' worth of Belly's memories. I'm not always a big fan of flashbacks, but they fit perfectly in this book and added to the complexity of the current summer.

Lastly, the other big plot point concerning Susannah (Conrad and Jeremiah's mom) was very touchingly done and while obvious to me from the beginning, made for some interesting moments closer to the end.

I'm not so sure that the end was the one I wanted or focused on the right things (I'm a summer nostalgia junkie I suppose), but I'm excited to continue the series.

In a nutshell: a wonderful book full of perfect and bittersweet summer snapshots.


4/5 snapshot summers

Five October Releases I'm Screaming Over

It's the start of October, and you know what that means! Here are my most anticipated October releases (in no particular order). Covers link to Goodreads!

42288081. sy475 1) Rebel by Marie Lu

Eden Wing has been living in his brother’s shadow for years. Even though he’s a top student at his academy in Ross City, Antarctica, and a brilliant inventor, most people know him only as Daniel Wing’s little brother.

A decade ago, Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. But Day is no longer the same young man who was once a national hero. These days he’d rather hide out from the world and leave his past behind. All that matters to him now is keeping Eden safe―even if that also means giving up June, the great love of Daniel’s life.

As the two brothers struggle to accept who they’ve each become since their time in the Republic, a new danger creeps into the distance that’s grown between them. Eden soon finds himself drawn so far into Ross City’s dark side, even his legendary brother can’t save him. At least not on his own . . .

Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Why I'm excited: I finished Marie Lu's Legend series all up in my feels but satisfied with the way everything ended. Still, I cannot resist diving back into this world. I already picked up my preorder of this book and started reading - I hope it does the previous books justice!

2) Angel Mage by Garth Nix

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara. A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, 
summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. 
They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Why I'm excited: I will always be interested in anything Garth Nix writes, since he wrote one of my all time favorite series, the Abhorsen series. This looks like an original take on angels, and I have no doubt Nix will knock it out of the park again.

3) The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life

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Have you ever been walking home from work and unexpectedly took a different path just to learn more about your neighborhood? Or have you been on a vacation and walked around a new city just to take it all in? Then chances are, you’re a flaneur and you didn’t even know it! Originally used to describe well-to-do French men who would stroll city streets in the nineteenth century, flaneur has evolved to generally mean someone who wanders with intention. Even if you’ve already embraced being a flaneur, did you know that flaneuring has benefits beyond satisfying your craving for wanderlust?

In The Art of Flaneuring, discover the many ways flaneuring can spark creativity, support a more mindful mentality, and improve your overall well-being, including:

-How flaneuring your mundane daily routine can boost your mental health
-Why flaneuring isn’t just for jet-setters—you can flaneur anywhere!
-How to manage your stress at the office by doing fun flaneur-inspired activities
-How to use flaneuring to connect on a deeper level with your friends and partner
-And so much more!

With this practical and engaging guide, you can learn how to channel your inner flaneur and cultivate a more creative, fulfilling, and mindful everyday life.

Release Date: October 22nd, 2019

Why I'm excited: I received an eARC of The Art of Flaneuring through Netgalley (review here), and really enjoyed it. Flaneuring (walking without a purpose, closely observing surroundings) is something that I've always craved but never quite knew how to describe it or achieve it. Owen does a fantastic job here and has suggestions for all types of flaneurs, even the ones who can't be physically active.

4) The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh


In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Why I'm excited: I'm a sucker for anything set in New Orleans, and this looks enticingly dark and romantic. This seems like a great seasonal read for October!

5) Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely    member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Why I'm excited: I'm not sure how this is possibly true, but I've never read anything by Leigh Bardugo! Everything she writes sounds amazing, I just haven't gotten around to it. Possibly because I'm compulsively following my Goodreads TBR in order of date added, meaning all those books I wanted to read in 2010. I love books set in college though, and secret societies, and I've been obsessed with Yale since Gilmore Girls, so this should be a slam dunk for me.

That's it for me! Feel free to comment below if you're excited for any of these releases as well, or whether you're pumped for one that I missed!

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life, or, The One Making Walking Fun Again

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The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life

by Erika Owen

Pages: 192
Publisher: Tiller Press
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2019
Cover Comments: I LOVE this cover. The colors, the mixture of fonts, the wandering road, it's all lovely.
First Lines: 
"You know those feelings that often have a German word associated with them - words that you have not chance of pronouncing correctly?
               Goodreads 丨 Amazon
A fun and practical guide to cultivating a more mindful and fulfilling everyday life by tapping into your inner flaneur—perfect for fans of Marie Kondo and The Little Book of Hygge.

Have you ever been walking home from work and unexpectedly took a different path just to learn more about your neighborhood? Or have you been on a vacation and walked around a new city just to take it all in? Then chances are, you’re a flaneur and you didn’t even know it! Originally used to describe well-to-do French men who would stroll city streets in the nineteenth century, flaneur has evolved to generally mean someone who wanders with intention. Even if you’ve already embraced being a flaneur, did you know that flaneuring has benefits beyond satisfying your craving for wanderlust?

In The Art of Flaneuring, discover the many ways flaneuring can spark creativity, support a more mindful mentality, and improve your overall well-being, including:

-How flaneuring your mundane daily routine can boost your mental health
-Why flaneuring isn’t just for jet-setters—you can flaneur anywhere!
-How to manage your stress at the office by doing fun flaneur-inspired activities
-How to use flaneuring to connect on a deeper level with your friends and partner
-And so much more!

With this practical and engaging guide, you can learn how to channel your inner flaneur and cultivate a more creative, fulfilling, and mindful everyday life.



"Flanuering" is a word I had encountered before and immediately loved. As the subtitle indicates, it's a sort of wandering without a set destination. I think we've all done this at one time or another - especially as children. Flaneuring reminds me of how I used to wander the woods behind my house for hours, just poking into things, and the magical feeling of "discovering" an old barn or neighbors I never knew were on the other side of the wood. It's one of those nostalgic feelings that I've always thought of recapturing.

The Art of Flaneuring is just the book I needed for that. It goes through a short history of the original French flaneurs, and then dives right into how one can incorporate flanuering into your daily routine. I thought the recommendations were great, and there was pretty much something for everyone. I did get the feeling that flanuering would work best in a large walkable city, like New York (where I think the author lives), and many recommendations assume a city like that a little. However, there really is something for everyone, including recommendations for people who can't walk.

I would highly recommend The Art of Flaneuring for anyone who gets that wanderlust feeling at home. This book seems styled in the tradition of The Little Book of Hygge or The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - small, well-designed, and focusing on a small change that can make a big difference in day-to-day life.


*Thanks to Netgalley and the author for the chance to read The Art of Flanuering before its publication date.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Sky in the Deep, or, The One with Viking smooches


Sky in the Deep

by Adrienne Young

Pages: 340

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: April 24th, 2018

Cover Comments: Great detail on this cover, with the axe and the braids in Eelyn's hair. That axe looks pretty puny though, tbh.

Synopsis: Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.



“We find things, just as we lose things. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.” 

I picked up Sky in the Deep after getting approved to read The Girl the Sea Gave Back on Netgalley, which I had not realized was a sequel/companion novel (oopsies). It was already on my list though, and I remember hearing tons about this book last year, around the time Tricia Levenseller's Warrior in the Wild was making waves too. Female warriors are a trend I can get behind. While I think Sky in the Deep has been a tad overhyped, I loved the rich story, layered characters, and general badassery to be found in this novel.

The yays and nays, in no particular order:


1) Vikings!

Although they aren't called Vikings per se, the worldbuilding of the Aska and Riki clans are very much Viking-esque. I like the vaguely nordic field to the landscape, with the fjord and mountains. Plus axes and braided hair! I don't really know anything about Vikings as it turns out!

2) Slow-build romance

I really liked the romance portrayed in Sky in the Deep, and appreciated that it wasn't completely obvious from the first meeting of the two love interests. It's born of learning about one another and considerable breaking down of pre-conceived notions.

3) Complicated family loyalties

As revealed in the book synopsis, Eelyn discovers (very early on) that her brother is alive after many years of thinking him dead. Not only that, he's been living with the Aska's sworn enemies, the Riki. After spending time with her brother and some of the Riki, Eelyn's feelings toward her brother and the enemy clan grow ever more complicated. It was interesting to see Eelyn work through all these emotions and change her way of thinking over the course of the book.


1) Pacing

I feel like I should have flown through this book, but I felt like I was slogging through the middle portion. Not that it wasn't good or didn't advance the plot, I just wasn't racing through like I would expect to with a book like this.

2) Enemy treatment

I'm not sure this is even a real negative, but I thought it was interesting how the book treats enemy clans. The Riki start out as a enemies, but Eelyn's brother complicates things there, which added an interesting dimension. However, another set of enemies that show up later in the book are portrayed as wholly evil with no dimension at all. It struck me as odd after fleshing out the Riki as much as Sky in the Deep did.

A great debut by Adrienne Young; while the middle portion can be slow to get through, the characters, setting, and romance all make it well worth a read.

4 stars


Monday, September 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Noms & Drinks

Top Ten Tuesdays is a bookish meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! There's a prompt every week, and you respond with 10 things, or 2 or 5 or 15. Me being me, I will never not do exactly ten. *straightens laptop on table*

This week, the prompt is Favorite Things to Eat/Drink While Reading. Reading, eating, and drinking are most of my favorite things in one sentence so let's get started!

In no particular order:


This is a no-brainer, I think. There's nothing like a warm cup of coffee at home or a latte at the local coffee shop along with my book to make me feel like I'm on Gilmore Girls. Plus, it extends my reading stints!

Red Wine

Again with the comfy vibes - wine is great for when I went to unwind and relax with a nice chill book. I actively avoid wine if I anticipate a sad event happening in the book though, cause it sure does loosen up the tear ducts.


Popcorn is great for those times that you're so into a really intense book that you'd rather just pop some popcorn than bother with doing that whole "making sustenance" thing. And it's not a food that you have to look at to eat (tell me I'm not the only one whose stuck a fork into their cheek when too entranced in something to check).


While I generally prefer coffee over tea, it's nice to change it up sometimes, and tea gives the same cozy vibes as coffee, without the caffeine effects.

Hot Chocolate with marshmallows

I LOVE hot chocolate in the winter time, and it makes such a cozy scene with a book! I'm very into hygge if you couldn't tell. If you don't put marshmallows in your hot chocolate, don't even talk to me.


I view reading as a lovely luxury, and cupcakes fall into the same category. Maybe it's just my town, but there's almost always a bake shop near the bookstores in town. Coincidence? I think not.


Ideal reading food when slightly hungry - berries are delicious and easy to pop in your mouth between plot twists.


Especially anything in a straw or rope format. Beware of sugar crystals on your precious book pages though!!


Morning time reading is made better by a nice smoothie with (reusable or paper preferably) straw! 


Preferably while reading Harry Potter, but any book is acceptable.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

My 5 Most Anticipated August Releases

It's the start of August, and you know what that means! Here are my most anticipated August releases (in no particular order). Covers link to Goodreads!

1) Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Why I'm excited: First of all, it has been well-documented that I LOVE seasonal reads, so the idea of seasonal best friends reunited ever September 1 has me over the moon. And it's a graphic novel! I really enjoyed Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park (review here), and I love the artwork on this cover, so I'm guessing I'll love the contents as well.

2) Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Why I'm excited: I discovered K.A. Tucker when her ebook Anathema, the start of a paranormal series, was offered for free. I really enjoyed that book, although I haven't finished the series yet and I'm excited to see how the author fares with contemporary fiction. I'm intrigued by the environment and main character this story promises - a female, high-powered executive in a male-dominated field. I also don't see a ton of books about this age group (not "new adult" but not middle-aged or family/children-oriented yet either), so I'm excited to dig in!

3) Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst

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The long-awaited sequel to Of Fire and Stars—in which Mare and Denna travel to a new and dangerous kingdom where Denna must be trained to tame her magic by a mysterious queen who is not all she seems. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce.

Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

But just after Mare and Denna arrive in Zumorda, an attack on a border town changes everything. Mare’s diplomatic mission is now urgent: She must quickly broker an alliance with the Zumordan queen to protect her homeland. However, the queen has no interest in allying with other kingdoms—it’s Denna’s untamed but powerful magic that catches her eye. The queen offers to teach Denna herself, and both girls know it would be dangerous to refuse.

As Denna’s powers grow stronger, Mare does her best to be the ambassador her kingdom needs. Her knowledge of Zumorda and its people grows, and so too do her suspicions about the queen’s intentions. With rising tensions and unexpected betrayals putting Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerging on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

Release Date: August 13th, 2019

Why I'm excited: I found Coulthurst's debut, Of Fire and Stars (review here) a little meh, but really enjoyed the author's writing. While it ended nicely (read: no cliffhangers), I was intrigued to see where Mare and would head to next. This new storyline looks super good, and I have high hopes that Coulthurst's writing has only developed since her debut.

4) House of Salt and Shadows by Erin A. Craig

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.

Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Why I'm excited: This is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I love the setting of a manor by the sea, and the mystery sounds very intriguing. I haven't read the original fairy tale, so I don't know how it might deviate, but this sounds like it will take an original turn to the tale.

5) Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

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For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Why I'm excited: While I thought from the title and cover that this book would be about mermaids, my disappoint that it is not subsided once I read the synopsis. I love sister relationships, ill-fated marriages, and political intrigue as much as the next gal, so I think this will be a good read!

That's it for me! Feel free to comment below if you're excited for any of these releases as well, or whether you're pumped for one that I missed!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

100 Days of Sunlight, or, the One with My Life Story plus More Cute Stuff and Some Blindness

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100 Days of Sunlight

by Abbie Emmons

Pages: 311
Publisher: Self-published by author
Publication Date: August 7th, 2019
Cover Comments: Major props to the author for designing this cover herself. It's adorable and has so many clues pointing to plot lines in the novel.
First Lines: 
"The black pickup truck flies through the red light, heading straight for us.
               Goodreads 丨 Amazon
When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down. 

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.

100 Days of Sunlight is a poignant and heartfelt novel by author Abbie Emmons. If you like sweet contemporary romance and strong family themes then you’ll love this touching story of hope, healing, and getting back up when life knocks you down.



100 Days of Sunlight is a cute book that made me smile and feel the sunshine a little extra on my skin. I’ve been on a string of really good contemporary novels lately (shoutout to my girl Kasie West), and I was sure that 100 Days would continue that streak. I loved the story as described through the synopsis, and I always like to support people in the blog/vlog community. However, I have a lot of qualms about the story, characters, and writing that took away from my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

I’m a little convinced that Abbie Emmons has been stalking me, or my high school self anyway. In high school, I was homeschooled, Christian, bookish, lived with other relatives instead of my parents from a young age, and ran a blog in my spare time. I should have related a lot to the main character, Tessa, but the sentence above pretty much describes everything we know about Tessa, besides the recent turn of events that rendered her blind. I never got a sense for who she was as a person. Her character was mainly defined by her reactions to Weston. We got tiny insights into her personality when she’s talking with her online friends through chat, but there were so many missed opportunities to go beneath the surface. I felt like more could have been explored concerning Tessa’s parents and her feelings about them, her relationship with her grandparents, even her faith and how it is affected by this period in her life, but everything stayed surface-level. Also, I cringe when I read books about homeschooled teens who don’t have deep friendships with other teens face-to-face. I’m all for connecting with friends over the internet, but sometimes you actually need to be with friends, physically, and I don’t care for the stereotype perpetuated here that homeschoolers don’t have friends outside of the digital world. Also that Christian teens don't have "inappropriate" thoughts about boys.

The story gave a little more depth to Weston, mainly through his flashbacks to his injury. Weston’s story about how his disability began and how he coped with it was the part of the book where I began to be more pulled in - I wanted to know what happened and how he got to be the lil ray of sunshine that he was. Prior to the flashbacks, I thought Weston was annoying and creepy (how about not stalking someone to their home and then refusing to leave when asked, yeah?), but hearing more about his life, his friendship with Rudy, and his ADORABLE three little brothers was really interesting. However, at a certain point, his sections started to become more of a motivational speech (literally at one point) that teetered on the edge of being sanctimonious. This became even more evident when he monologues about how he needs to “save” Tessa, and show her how to stand up to Life, which is where his character got some points shaved off the cute guy total.

Getting past my initial dislike of the idea that Weston has decided to swoop in uninvited to show Tessa how to live, I really liked the way the book is divided into five senses - smell, hearing, taste, touch, and sight. I really think this book would make a great rom-com movie. The way Weston tries to make Tessa happy through showing her how to experience things through the senses she still has is truly sweet, and makes for some adorable moments. This is where the story really grew on me, namely when Weston and Tessa watch Tessa’s favorite movie - I’m leaving this intentionally vague so you can enjoy the sweetness yourself first. The only thing that spoiled the romance aspect of the book was a consent issue that made me uncomfy. I don't want to spoil anything, but you'll know it when you see it.

I thought that the obstacle to Tessa and Weston being together was pretty artificial. I didn’t buy that Weston would be afraid of Tessa knowing about his disability and wish that this point had been built to more. Finally, there were some aspects of the writing that I found a bit juvenile and irritating, like Tessa’s poetry (unless it was intentionally cringe-y, because I too wrote poetry like that in high school…), and the tendency of the author to emphasize things by doing this: I am blind.
b l i n d.

In a nutshell, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a short, cute contemporary romance in the style of Me Before You or Five Feet Apart. I loved reading about Weston’s little brothers, Weston’s relationship with his best friend Rudy, and sweet portions of Tessa and Weston’s romance. I know that Abbie Emmons is a young indie author and that this is her debut novel, so I have high hopes that her next offerings will be more fleshed out and enjoyable. 100 Days of Sunlight is a great start.


*Thanks to Netgalley and the author for the chance to read 100 Days of Sunglight before its publication date.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer (Reads)

One of my favorite things in this world is what I call seasonal reading (is this a real thing outside of my head? Not sure). I love to pick a book that reflects what it's like outside. It makes me feel more connected to the world outside and the world inside the book. So, I'm rounding up my favorite summer reads for your seasonal pleasure. Enjoy!

In no particular order...

1) Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

35068742One of the more adorable novels I've read, Love, Life & the List follows Abby and her best friend Cooper as they spend the summer following a list Abby's come up with that will give her more emotional depth for her to channel into her art. There are more feels than I bargained for in this book though - in the best way. I loved Abby and Cooper's friendship and the complexity of Abby's relationship with her mom, who sometimes spends weeks never leaving the house. Add a sarcastic grandpa and I'm in love. This book makes me remember all the meandering summers you have before the "real world" gets ya - time to discover yourself and dive into the things and people you love.

2) The Secret Life of Bees

37435. sy475 The Secret Life of Bees perfectly captures the feeling and atmosphere of summer in the south. The intense heat and humidity coupled with the sweetness of honey and bees, the hard social realities paired with the strength of Southern women - it all comes together poetically in this historical novel based in the 60's. It will make you laugh, cry, and want to become a beekeeper. This is up there as one of my favorite novels ever, and it's perfect for this time of year.

3) Stay by Deb Caletti

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This book wrecked me. Stay covers an abusive relationship, leaving out none of the details. What's striking about the book is that it jumps between present day, when the main character Clara knows that her ex-boyfriend Christian was abusive, and the beginnings of their relationship, when she didn't see the signs. The setting is a beach town, but this isn't your typical light beach read. This is more of beach during a thunderstorm with waves crashing against the sharp rocks type of mood - still beautiful, but dangerous.

4) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

6584189. sy475 The Summer I Turned Pretty perfectly captures the feeling of hope and possibility that summer can bring. Maybe this will be the summer that I learn to surf, take a long road trip, or hey, turn pretty! This book is total wish fulfillment for so many girls - I know I thought that every time I went back to school or saw someone I hadn't seen in a year I wondered - do I seem different? Can I reinvent myself now? Belly is experiencing that throughout the novel during her summer on Cousins Beach. This is the quintessential beach read - light and romantic.

5) Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

7306337While I haven't actually gotten around to reading this one for whatever reason, the cover and description have always intrigued me. Main character Anna is attempting to deal with the death of her boyfriend Matt. It's complicated, though - Matt is her best friend Frankie's older brother, and no one knew they were together. Anna grieves alone while Frankie attempts a twenty-boy summer: with twenty days in Zanzibar Bay, if they meet one boy a day, they're bound to find true love. This book promises to be bittersweet, but if it's anything like Sarah Ockler's other books, ultimately worth it.

6) The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

35068700Another book that I've only admired so far, but Beatriz Williams' writing is always well-researched and interesting. The Summer Wives is a historical fiction set in the summers of 1951 and 1969 on the New England coast. I love the idea of a New England summer since I've only experienced beaches in Georgia, Florida and Hawaii - I feel like New England is a completely different vibe (and obviously was in the 50's!). The novel follows Miranda from 1951 to her return to the same island town in 1969. I really want to fit this one in to read this summer, it looks amazing!

7) Summer Days and Summer Nights, anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins

25063781And just in case you can't settle on just one or two stories - the perfect anthology for the summer! I've read the winter anthology My True Love Gave to Me, also edited by Stephanie Perkins, which seems to be the pair to this one. There are so many great authors contributing to this one - Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E. Smith, Libba Bray, Veronica Roth, and the list goes on.

See my summer reading list on Goodreads for these and other summer reads!