Wednesday, December 2, 2020

my favorite holiday reads

It's time for a well-deserved holiday season! Snuggle up with one of my favorite holiday reads (covers link to Goodreads):

1) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens. It was first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation resulting from a supernatural visit by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain, a period when there was strong nostalgia for old Christmas traditions together with the introduction of new customs, such as Christmas trees and greeting cards. Dickens' sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.

It's a classic for a reason! This short and sweet story is great for a quick plot that you'll almost certainly be familiar with, and could double as an easy way to make your reading goal for the year, at just under 100 pages.

2) Let it Snow (anthology)

The weather outside is frightful, but these stories are delightful! When a huge blizzard (that doesn't show signs of stopping) hits, Gracetown is completely snowed in. But even though it's cold outside, things are heating up inside, proving that the holiday season is magical when it comes to love. In three wonderfully (and hilariously!) interconnected tales, YA stars John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson create a must-have collection that captures all the spirit of the holiday season.

This Christmas anthology features three inter-connected stories by some of the superstars of YA. Netflix even adapted the stories for film last year, so this is a nice pairing: read the book, then watch the movie with a nice mug of hot cocoa for the perfect winter night.

3) Ex-mas by Kate Brian

Seventeen-year-old Lila Beckwith's parents just left for vacation, and Lila's all set to throw the holiday party of the season. But when her Christmas-obsessed little brother, Cooper, discovers that global warming is melting the North Pole, he and his best friend, Tyler, take off on a runaway mission to save Santa.

Lila has to get Cooper safely home before her parents get back on Christmas Eve. But the only person who can help her is Tyler's older brother, Beau, a.k.a. Lila's musician, anti-everything ex-boyfriend.

It'll take more than a Christmas miracle for Lila and Beau to overcome their differences and find their fugitive brothers. But could a journey destined for disaster help these polar opposites fall in love...all over again?

A super cute and fluffy read, this book follows two exes who band together on Christmas Eve to track down their brothers. It involves road trips, hate-to-love relationships, and adorable siblings.

4) Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

"I've left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don't, put the book back on the shelf, please."

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a cosmic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

This is one of the more adorable books I've read, possibly ever. Who wouldn't love to meet someone through a book and ensuing scavenger hunt in New York City?? This is another one that Netflix has snapped up for a movie as well.

5) My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories (anthology)

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Another super cute anthology, and this one is a bit more inclusive, with stories featuring Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, and New Year's. With twelve stories, there are some that I didn't love, but some of the standouts made up for it, like the stories from Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, and Laini Taylor.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

december tbr

2020 is FINALLY ending, and I'm trying to go out on a high note with this rather ambitious TBR. These are all books I've already started, so fingers crossed that I can make it!!

1) The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish: to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she'll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in eighteenth-century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.
As Nannerl's hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.
In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

2) Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Hello and welcome to my book. Inside you will find:
The smell of honeysuckle Heartbreak A French-kissing rabbit A haunted house Death A vagina singing sad old songs Young geraniums in an ancient castle Birth A dog who appears in dreams as a spiritual guide Divorce Electromagnetic energy fields Emotional horniness The ghost of a sea captain And more

I hope you enjoy these little weirds.


Jenny Slate

3) Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

If you could change your story, would you?

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”

What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

4) A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.

5) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the best-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves behind his family to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman, who intrigues both men. As Napoleon’s army invades, Tolstoy vividly follows characters from diverse backgrounds—peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers—as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving—and human—figures in world literature.

Monday, November 30, 2020

fable by adrienne young - the one where there really should be pirates but sadly there are none


by Adrienne Young

Pages: 357
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September 1st, 2020

Cover Comments: 
This bighead cover is mostly redeemed by the cool ship graphic in Fable's eye.

First Lines: 
"That bastard was leaving me again.

               GoodreadsδΈ¨ Amazon
For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn't who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they're going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.


I’ve now read Sky in the Deep, The Girl the Sea Gave Back, and Fable, and I am disappointed to say that Adrienne Young is very hit or miss for me. Sky in the Deep was great; The Girl the Sea Gave Back was my least favorite Young novel, and Fable hits somewhere in the middle. I was attracted to Fable for the same reasons as many others: a sea-faring adventure is usually fun and the idea of traveling the oceans during the time of quarantine is very enticing. However, sailing is pretty much all that happens in this book until the last quarter. Would a pirate battle have been too much to ask? Fable is a pretty standard YA main character. She’s capable, with a troubled past and a stubborn streak, and she has a special gift that she tries (poorly) not to reveal. She’s basically on her own, with a father who left her alone on an island and a mother who died years before. The other characters are similar trope-y types, especially the brooding and mercurial West. The single coolest part of this story happens pretty far into the book, and involves a map being revealed under mysterious circumstances, and a bit of a treasure hunt. This is where I began to be pulled into the story, only to immediately be thrown off by a relationship taking a turn with no indication that it was going that way (the Fable/West kiss, COMPLETELY out of nowhere). I liked the direction, but the lack of build-up made the moment rather lackluster. Finally, the story ended with a twist, but unfortunately, it was one that I wasn’t particularly interested in. I’ll read the sequel because I am a completionist, but I wasn’t blown away by this first installment. I would recommend Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller for a similar vibe that is better executed. 


*Thanks to Wednesday Books and the author for the chance to read Fable before its publication date.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

What I Read: July 2020

July is over (somehow) and it was a great reading month for me. I had several books that kept me on the edge of my seat and others that I've finally finished after reading for a few months (looking at you, GOT). Here's my list of what I read in July: 

73063371) Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer. 

Finished: July 3rd
While the title makes this book seem like a pretty shallow and basic summer read, the content is much more. More than anything, it's a novel about grieving and the process of moving on, and it was very beautiful. Full review to come.

2) All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

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Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Finished: July 3rd
I was a little disappointed by this one. The set-up was great: a kingdom with different types of magic set up on various islands, with a threat looming and some believable family drama. However, I was never pulled in by the story or the characters. The end did set up an interesting sequel, with the revelation of backstory that was intriguing to me. Full review to come.

3) One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

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Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.
Finished: July 12th
I flew through this book. The premise of Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars is very accurate. I was interested in every characters' POV, which is rare for me. The mystery was exciting and twisty, and I didn't figure out most of the reveals. Such a fun book.

4) Fable by Adrienne Young

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn't who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they're going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. 

Finished: July 17th
I've read all of Adrienne Young's books, with some mixed feelings. I really liked Sky in the Deep and was disappointed by The Girl the Sea Gave Back. Fable sits somewhere in the middle of the two. I think something about Young's pacing throws me off. It's a consistent pace, but still just feels slow, but like certain elements come out of nowhere. I spent most of the book trying to figure out if the main love interest was even eligible or a possibility, only to have a plot event occur very abruptly with no lead-up. It felt like that happened throughout: lots of time spent on a story thread, without actually building up tension, somehow. Full review to come.

5) No Exit by Taylor Adams

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.

Finished: July 17th
I flew through this one so quickly. I was utterly gripped after maybe the 15% mark. The plot progressed much quicker than I expected and stayed at a sprinting pace. I saw some reviews mentioning frustration with the main character's obvious mistakes, but I found it very relatable and realistic. The part I did find unrealistic was Darby's huge store of courage and her willingness to sacrifice everything for a child she doesn't know. I don't mind that kind of unrealism though. Highly recommend this for thriller fans.

6) Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ...and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

Finished: July 25
I have been slightly avoiding GOT for a while. I'm a huge fantasy fan, but it's become difficult for me to finish these 800+ page books on the regular. However, I don't think that'll be a problem with GOT. While I did take a long time with this first installment, I'm now fully invested in the characters and interested to see how everything goes. I watched the first season of the tv show while I was reading the first book, and it helped bring some things to life for me while providing much needed background.

7) One of Us Is Next by Karen McManus

Come on, Bayview, you know you've missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one's been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it's not an app, though—it's a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe's the first target. If you choose not to play, it's a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it's that they can't count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon's gone, but someone's determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there's a whole new set of rules.

Finished: July 27th
After reading One of Us Is Lying, I was really intrigued to start this sequel. It was a very quick read, just like the first, but I was less interested in the characters and felt like the stakes were much lower this time around. In the first, all the characters were hiding major secrets and then suspected of murder. This sequel just doesn't have that level of suspense. I did like getting to know Maeve better and the romance that develops with her.

8) The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

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Pulitzer Prize winner Sylvia Plath’s complete poetic works, edited and introduced by Ted Hughes.

By the time of her death on 11, February 1963, Sylvia Plath had written a large bulk of poetry. To my knowledge, she never scrapped any of her poetic efforts. With one or two exceptions, she brought every piece she worked on to some final form acceptable to her, rejecting at most the odd verse, or a false head or a false tail. Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.

Finished: July 30
I've been reading this collection for a while now. I think I made a tactical error in trying to read Sylvia Plath's entire collection of poetry though. As someone who doesn't regularly read poetry, many of them went over my head and the sheer volume of them was a bit overwhelming. Definitely some gems in there though!

What did you read last month?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

6 of my most anticipated July releases

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

527220791) The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders -- Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

Release Date: July 21st, 2020
Why I'm excited: I loved Donoghue's Room and Wonder, so add an Irish setting, and I'm so there it's insane. I am also a sucker for that cover 😍

2) Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

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A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming...human or demon. Princess or monster.

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: I'm intrigued by this story's roots in Persian mythology. And again... I am a fickle fool and that cover instantly caught my eye. I love how the white snake is so integrated into the background that you don't even notice it at first!!

3) Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford

When the elite St. Paul's School recently came under state investigation after extensive reports of sexual abuse on campus, Lacy Crawford thought she'd put behind her the assault she'd suffered at St. Paul's decades before, when she was fifteen. Still, when detectives asked for victims to come forward, she sent a note.

Her criminal case file reopened, she saw for the first time evidence that corroborated her memories. Here were depictions of the naΓ―ve, hard-working girl she'd been, a chorister and debater, the daughter of a priest; of the two senior athletes who assaulted her and were allowed to graduate with awards; and of the faculty, doctors, and priests who had known about Crawford's assault and gone to great lengths to bury it.

Now a wife, mother, and writer living on the other side of the country, Crawford learned that police had uncovered astonishing proof of an institutional silencing years before, and that unnamed powers were still trying to block her case. The slander, innuendo, and lack of adult concern that Crawford had experienced as a student hadn't been imagined as the effects of trauma, after all: these were the actions of a school that prized its reputation above anything, even a child.

This revelation launched Crawford on an extraordinary inquiry into the ways gender, privilege, and power shaped her experience as a girl at the gates of America's elite. Her investigation looks beyond the sprawling playing fields and soaring chapel towers of crucibles of power like St. Paul's, whose reckoning is still to come. And it runs deep into the channels of shame and guilt, witness and silencing, that dictate who can speak and who is heard in American society.

An insightful, mature, beautifully written memoir, Notes on a Silencing is an arresting coming-of-age story that wrestles with an essential question for our time: what telling of a survivor's story will finally force a remedy?

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: This looks like a really powerful memoir on a very important subject. 

4) Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

It's 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl's display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella's mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all--and in the process, they learn that there's more to Cinderella's story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they've been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: I love when a fairy tale gets flipped on its head! The artwork on this cover is gorgeous as well.

5) The Book of Dragons by Various Authors

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Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Kate Elliott, Ken Liu, Todd McCaffrey, Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, and other modern masters of fantasy and science fiction put their unique spin on the greatest of mythical beasts—the dragon—in never-before-seen works written exclusively for this fantasy anthology compiled by award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan and with art by Rovina Cai!

Here there be dragons . . .

From China to Europe, Africa to North America, dragons have long captured our imagination in myth and legend. Whether they are rampaging beasts awaiting a brave hero to slay or benevolent sages who have much to teach humanity, dragons are intrinsically connected to stories of creation, adventure, and struggle beloved for generations.

Bringing together nearly thirty stories and poems from some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers working today— Garth Nix, Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Ann Leckie & Rachel Swirsky, Daniel Abraham, Peter S. Beagle, Beth Cato, Zen Cho, C. S. E Cooney, Aliette de Bodard, Kate Elliott, Theodora Goss, Ellen Klages, Ken Liu, Patricia A McKillip, K. J. Parker, Kelly Robson, Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, Elle Katharine White, Jane Yolen, Kelly Barnhill, Brooke Bolander, Sarah Gailey, and J. Y. Yang—and illustrated by award-nominated artist Rovina Cai with black-and-white line drawings specific to each entry throughout, this extraordinary collection vividly breathes fire and life into one of our most captivating and feared magical creatures as never before and is sure to become a treasured keepsake for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales.

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Why I'm excited: Um, DRAGONS. That's all I need, but I'll also read anything Garth Nix writes! I also love a good anthology, and this one is illustrated!

4) Crossings by Alex Landragin

On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence. The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations. With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.

Release Date: July 28th, 2020
Why I'm excited: This seems like a super interesting historical fiction novel, with a unique premise - it can be read straight through as you would usually, or with an alternate reading path, like the one described in the synopsis. As a girl who loves "choose your own adventure" novels to this day, this intrigues me. Also, a Parisian setting is something that will always get 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!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Every Other Weekend, or, The One Where My Sarcastic Sense of Humor is Satiated


Every Other Weekend

by Abigail Johnson

Pages: 512
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020

Cover Comments: 
I love this cover! The adjoining balconies are perfect and spot-on for the story. This does give me the feeling that the book is just a rom-com, but I'm okay with it.

First Lines: 
"The pigeons blanketing the parking lot took flight into the setting sun when we pulled up to Dad's apartment.

               GoodreadsδΈ¨ Amazon
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.


Every Other Weekend is a poignant story at times heartbreaking and at times laugh-out-loud funny. There’s the joy and terror of new love alongside the portrait of two families, broken in very different ways. This is an important story for many reasons - almost too many reasons to fit into one book, which is where my main criticism comes in. But I’ll start with the positives!

The romance featured in the novel was built on slow-building, genuine friendship. I love seeing this and wish it were more common in YA novels. These two really went on a journey throughout the book, ending up with a deep understanding of one another. I enjoyed their dynamic, the “in between” sections where the two text, and the barriers that they had to break down in one another to become close. I also personally love sarcastic, "fake mean" flirting hahaha, so this was right up my alley.

It’s hard to say who had the worse family situation in Every Other Weekend: Jolene has an abusive mother and an absent father, and Adam’s entire family, while sweet, are immersed in grief and anger. The issues just within the two families were quite enough to unpack in one book. However, the story adds on more and more until it’s too much to keep straight, much less delve into in any sort of satisfying detail. Not counting the core family dynamics at play here, this one novel explores:

  1. A side character who is in a co-dependent, mentally abusive relationship
  2. A main character who emotionally cheats for months
  3. A relationship between Jolene’s mom and a new man that just feels sinister
  4. A relationship between Jolene’s dad and his girlfriend that has history and emotional drama concerning Jolene
  5. A side character related to Adam and his family with some emotional baggage to resolve
  6. A sexual assault

Because there was so much going on, it was hard to really get into any of these storylines. Of particular concern to me was the sexual assault storyline. It’s an extremely important topic, but is only introduced close to the end of the book, and is used as a plot point to move the storyline towards a resolution. As such, it made me uncomfortable and felt like a passing nod to a serious issue rather than a deeper exploration. Many of the other extraneous storylines could have been cut too, to make room for more coverage of the main storylines. Other beats dragged out for way too long, like Adam’s extreme anger and attitude towards his dad. 

The resolution of the story was good though - no neat bows on the storyline, but things end in a place that makes sense and that I enjoyed reading. All in all, I liked Every Other Weekend and would recommend it for its sweet and unrushed romance and examination of some really complicated family dynamics. Cut 100 pages and it would have been golden!


*Thanks to Inkyard Press and the author for the chance to read Every Other Weekend before its publication date.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Foul is Fair, or, Just Read Macbeth Instead


Foul is Fair

by Hannah Capin

Pages: 336
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020

Cover Comments: Not a huge fan of this cover. I don't know what they're going for here. The paperback cover on Amazon is much better for me.

First Lines: 
"Sweet sixteen is when the claws come out.

               GoodreadsδΈ¨ Amazon
Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.


I really wanted to like this book. A novel about a girl taking revenge against her assaulters, inspired by Macbeth sounds utterly engrossing. And it definitely should have been. The storyline itself is interesting, and if I were to describe the way the novel unfolds from beginning to end to a friend, it would sound incredibly intriguing, thrilling, and interesting. However, reading the book itself was a slog and the well-crafted plot couldn’t make up for the so-so writing and lack of characterization.

I get the writing style that the author was going for here - sparse and startling, without much description or dwelling on the thoughts and emotions of the characters. I’ve seen this style pulled off well before, but it just didn’t work for me for this book. There were phrases and sentences that stuck out to me as being very striking and well-written, but it felt like there was no flow to the writing, just short staccato bursts of dialogue and bare-bones descriptions.

My biggest gripe with Foul is Fair and the one-dimensional characters. Every character in this book could be described with two adjectives, and it would cover their character from beginning to end. Jade/Elle is vengeful and sharp-edged. Mack is sweet but complacent with his friends’ crimes. Jade’s four friends (Mads, Jenny, Summer and Lilia) are completely interchangeable. There is no growth or development, even in the case of one character who theoretically underwent a huge transformation. I could get over the fact that none of these characters would exist in the real world, but at least make them fully-formed in this revenge fantasy setting.

Lastly, there are a couple things I didn't care for in the way the book handles sexual assault/rape. First, the crime is never reported, even though Jade tells her parents. Second, Jade looks down on the therapy that's offered after her assault, deeming it for the weak. Lastly, the phrase "they picked the wrong girl" is a refrain in this book, and it rubs me the wrong way. It gives me the sense that Jade is shaming other victims of sexual assault that didn't murder their assaulters.

All that being said, if you’re just in the mood for a manically plotted revenge fantasy and don’t give a hoot about well-crafted characterization, feel free to enjoy this wild ride. I've also heard good things about the authors' debut book, The Dead Queens Club.

*Thanks to Wednesday Books and the author for the chance to read Foul is Fair before its publication date, and participate in the blog tour.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Foul is Fair Blog Tour & Excerpt

A couple months ago, I was asked to be in the blog tour for Hannah Capin's new book, Foul is Fair (you may know of Capin from her last novel, Dead Queens Club). I was super excited to dig into this novel, a revenge fantasy where Jade, the protagonist, rains down hell on the boys who made her live it; inspired by Macbeth. I'm glad to see the topic of sexual assault being broached more and more in literature, and it's definitely something that needs to be talked about. I'll post my full review on Friday, but check out the excerpt below to see if this might be up your alley!

TW: The primary thematic material of Foul is Fair centers on sexual assault (not depicted), rape culture, and violence. Additionally, the book includes an abusive relationship, a suicide attempt, and a brief scene with transphobic bullying. For a more detailed description of sensitive content, please visit

"Sweet sixteen is when the claws come out.

We’re all flash tonight. Jenny and Summer and Mads and me. Vodka and heels we could never quite walk in before, but tonight we can. Short skirts—the shortest. Glitter and high- light. Matte and shine. Long hair and whitest-white teeth.

I’ve never been blond before but tonight my hair is plati- num. Mads bleached it too fast but I don’t care because tonight’s the only night that matters. And my eyes are jade-green to- night instead of brown, and Summer swears the contacts Jenny bought are going to melt into my eyes and I’ll never see again, but I don’t care about that, either.

Tonight I’m sixteen.

Tonight Jenny and Summer and Mads and me, we’re four sirens, like the ones in those stories. The ones who sing and make men die.

Tonight we’re walking up the driveway to our best party ever. Not the parties like we always go to, with the dull-duller- dullest Hancock Park girls we’ve always known and the dull-duller-dullest wine coolers we always drink and the same bad choice in boys.

Tonight we’re going to a St Andrew’s Prep party. Crashing it, technically.

But nobody turns away girls like us.

We smile at the door. They let us in. Our teeth flash. Our claws glimmer. Mads laughs so shrill-bright it’s almost a scream. Everyone looks. We all grab hands and laugh together and then everyone, every charmed St Andrew’s Prepper is cheering for us and I know they see it—

for just a second—

—our fangs and our claws.

The first thing I do is cut my hair.

But it isn’t like in the movies, those crying girls with mas- cara streaks and kindergarten safety scissors, pink and dull, looking into toothpaste specks on medicine cabinet mirrors.

I’m not crying. I don’t fucking cry.

I wash my makeup off first. I use the remover I stole from Summer, oily Clinique in a clear bottle with a green cap. Three minutes later I’m fresh-faced, wholesome, girl-next-door, and you’d almost never know my lips are still poison when I look the way a good girl is supposed to look instead of like that little whore with the jade-green eyes.

The contact lenses go straight into the trash.

Then I take the knife, the good long knife from the wed- ding silver my sister hid in the attic so she wouldn’t have to think about the stupid man who never deserved her anyway. The marriage was a joke but the knife is perfectly, wickedly beautiful: silver from handle to blade and so sharp you bleed a little just looking at it. No one had ever touched it until I did, and when I opened the box and lifted the knife off the dark red velvet, I could see one slice of my reflection looking back from the blade, and I smiled.

I pull my hair tight, the long hair that’s been mine since those endless backyard days with Jenny and Summer and Mads. Always black, until Mads bleached it too fast, but splin- tering platinum blond for the St Andrew’s party on my sweet sixteen. Ghost-bright hair from Mads and jade-green eyes from Jenny and contour from Summer, almost magic, sculpt- ing me into a brand-new girl for a brand-new year.

My hair is thick, but I’ve never been one to flinch. I stare myself straight in the eyes and slash once— Hard.

And that’s it. Short hair.

I dye it back to black, darker than before, with the cheap box dye I made Jenny steal from the drugstore. Mads revved her Mustang, crooked across two parking spots at three in the morning, and I said:

Get me a color that knows what the fuck it’s doing.

Jenny ran back out barefoot in her baby-pink baby-doll dress and flung herself into the back seat across Summer’s lap, and Mads was out of the lot and onto the road, singing through six red lights, and everything was still slow and foggy and almost like a dream, but when Jenny threw the box onto my knees I could see it diamond-clear. Hard black Cleopatra bangs on the front and the label, spelled out plain: #010112 REVENGE. So I said it out loud:


And Mads gunned the engine harder and Summer and Jenny shrieked war-cries from the back seat and they grabbed my hand, all three of them, and we clung together so tight I could feel blood under my broken claws.

REVENGE, they said back to me. REVENGE, REVENGE,


So in the bathroom, an hour later and alone, I dye my hair revenge-black, and I feel dark wings growing out of my back, and I smile into the mirror at the girl with ink-stained fingers and a silver sword.

Then I cut my broken nails to the quick. Then I go to bed.

In the morning I put on my darkest lipstick before it’s even breakfast time, and I go to Nailed It with a coffee so hot it burns my throat. The beautiful old lady with the crooked smile gives me new nails as long as the ones they broke off last night, and stronger.

She looks at the bruises on my neck and the scratches across my face, but she doesn’t say anything.

So I point at my hair, and I say, This color. Know what it’s called?

She shakes her head: No.


She says, Good girl. Kill him."