Review: Echo North

A young woman. A white wolf. A curse. Echo, a woman facially scarred by a wolf when she was younger, waits for her father to return from the city. Left with her stepmother who despises her, Echo frets as time drags on and still her father has not returned. So, she does what any daughter would do and sets out on her own to find him and bring him back. But what she finds was nothing that she expected. Forced to make a deal with a monster in order to save her father’s life, Echo finds herself in a world of magic and mystery and a fight to save her captor.

Echo North is an intricate retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Filled with beautiful prose and a wondrous world of magic, Joanna Ruth Meyer had me hooked from the beginning. Echo is a character easy to love and discovering her familial relationships felt almost like Cinderella. While I found the writing to be exquisite, I did find my interest slipping a bit when explanations of the world grew long. But that was easily overlooked.

If you want a book that keeps you on your toes but will also warm your heart, Echo North is the book for you. Plot twist upon plot twist kept me guessing what would happen next. The comfort of a familiar story was ever present. But not so much that I felt bored. And of course, what would a fairytale be without romance? This book had everything!

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Do you have those books that just sit around and never get read? Maybe they’re gathering dust on a shelf or taking up room in a pile on the floor? Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of those books.

Karou is seventeen years old, living in Prague, and fills her sketchbooks with drawings of monsters. Monsters that just happen to be her family. When a heart-stoppingly beautiful stranger shows up, so do black handprints at all the portals Karou would use to visit her monster family. And when those portals are destroyed, Karou is forced to confront the mysterious man. But when she does, a whole other life opens up for her and she must decide what steps to take next to save her family.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t really expecting much from this book. I’d seen it a few times on TikTok but kind of just ignored it for the most part. It’d been sitting in my floor TBR pile for months and I never had the urge to pick it up. I’m still not sure I’m glad I picked it up. Laini Taylor’s writing is immaculate, filled with beautiful prose and characters I want to spend time with. But the storyline, so far as this one novel, seemed like a slow burn for a good portion of the book. It wasn’t until the last five chapters that things started to really pick up. And of course it ends on a cliffhanger!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone definitely piqued my interest and I’m so curious to see the rest of Karou’s adventure in the next book. I think after using this novel to world and character build, the next one should move a little quicker.

Review: When We Caught Fire

1871. Chicago.

Emmeline Carter is engaged to the most eligible bachelor in the city. But on the night of her engagement party, she can’t stop thinking about the boy who’d stolen her heart as a child, Anders Magnuson. Her best friend, Fiona Byrne, has been in awe of her friend’s rise through Chicago’s society. With Emmeline soon to be married, Fiona is now free to let Anders now how she feels about him. That is, until Emmeline wants one last fling with her childhood sweetheart before she ties the knot.

In When We Caught Fire Anna Godbersen weaves a world of glamour contrasted from the lowly upbringings of her characters. She captures the anxiousness of a city waiting for something to happen. Each character has their own personality that shines through. However, I found myself getting bored with the overall story. The first 3/5 of the book are setting up the characters. And while they all clearly their own person, I couldn’t fall in love with any of them. I was thoroughly annoyed with Emmeline and her constant back and forth. Fiona and her perpetual need to please her friend was grating and kept her from following her heart. Anders and his tough guy attitude seemed pointless.

Overall, I thought the story would be…more. But instead, I was disappointed with the way the book flowed and the lack of story development. Basically, this could have been a short story of a maximum of fifteen pages. Instead, it read more like a college student trying to meet the word count requirement for a paper.

I’d really like to read more of Anna Godbersen’s works as her writing style is impeccable. I just found this book flat and uninteresting when it could have been fantastic.

Review: King of the South

Livingston has lived through a war, the loss of his parents, and now his best friend. Rainey has lost her brother and suddenly found that her family is penniless. The only way to save them? Find a suitable husband within sixty days so she can use her dowry to pay her family’s debts. Here’s the catch, Livingston is the executor of her dowry. Livingston, who she has grown up with, who she argues with constantly, who makes her feel things she’s never felt before. But Livingston is the biggest womanizer she’s ever met. How can she find a husband with her longtime friend distracting her?

King of the South by Calia Read is filled with southern charm and sass. From the sweltering heat in Charleston to the Spanish moss in Savannah, it’s hard not to feel at home with the characters. Read pulls you into a south that’s been troubled with war and is just trying to recover. While the story may be familiar, Read makes it her own with interesting characters and subtle twists.

While I thoroughly enjoyed reading King of the South, I found Calia Read’s writing a bit confusing at time. There were some inconsistencies that pulled me out of the flow of the story. However, I still found myself wanting to continue and finish the story, hoping these characters would find their happily ever after. If you’re looking for a book that’s filled with that southern charm and some romance…and some sass…definitely pick up King of the South.

Review: The Black Witch

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last great mage. The spitting image in every way, except one. Elloren has no magic. In a society that prides themselves on the magic abilities of others, Elloren is granted the opportunity to attend the prestigious Verpax University. But while Elloren tries her hardest to focus on her learning, there are other forces at work. Along the way, she must learn to free her mind of the teachings of her childhood and learn to think for herself for once.

blackwitchFirst, let me say that I enjoyed this book. The story was lovely. However, I found it hard to fall into the story fully. The writing at the beginning of the book seemed disjointed. I was never completely able to relate to the characters even though I enjoyed their adventures. I also found a few typing errors in the book, which always throws me off.

That being said, Laurie Forest definitely kept me hanging towards the end of the book and I find myself excited for the next installment of The Black Witch Chronicles.

Review: The Gilded Wolves

In 1889, Paris sits on the brink of industrial breakthrough, but in the process has stirred up ancient secrets that now threaten the very existence of civilization. But no one has more to lose than Severin, a treasure hunter and wealthy hotelier, who now must help the very organization he loathes in order to save humanity. The Gilded Wolves brings together a group of miscreants with their own dark pasts in an attempt to keep the world in one piece.

IMG-3327I’m not gonna lie. It took me quite a while to get through this book. Part of that could be because life just got really busy, things got turned upside down (hi, pandemic), or that I just lost interest. But about halfway through The Gilded Wolves I had to put it down. It just wasn’t holding my interest and I felt like I couldn’t follow what was going on. Thankfully, I picked it back up and I’m so glad I did! This book is phenomenal and totally didn’t end the way I expected.

Roshani Chokshi is a magician with words! Bringing the stories of multiple individuals together in one novel and intricately weaving them together is not an easy task. But she did it flawlessly. Severin, Laila, Tristan, Enrique, and Zofia are characters that I found wanting to know more about while simultaneously feeling like they were my own friends. I loved every moment of their adventure and wanted more. By the grace of the writing gods, Chokshi is working on releasing a sequel this September.

If you’re looking for a book with a healthy mix of history, magic, romance, and adventure, then this is definitely a book worth picking up!

Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

So my friend and I have been doing a “book club” for a few years now. I put that in quotations because it’s literally just the two of us and we really only read as we can rather than trying to be finished with a book at a specific time. But the past few books we’ve chosen have been….dreary to say the least. If you’ve been following along, we’ve recently read And The Mountains Echoed and The Book of Speculation. Now both of these books were beautifully written and the stories in them were amazing. But neither of them were what you would call “happy endings”. And well, with the state of the world, I’ve been looking for books with a more cheery disposition.

With that in mind, we chose to read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine for our next book club read.

Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 4.37.29 PMEleanor Oliphant is trying her best. But with a horrible lack of appropriate social skills and a past that haunts her shadows, it’s not going well. Until she meets Raymond, average, unkempt Raymond. Suddenly her world is turned on its head and Eleanor sees all that her life could be. But she’ll have to face the voices of her past to move on with her life.

Touted as a romantic comedy, I was expecting humor and moments of sweetness. While I won’t deny that there were some very “awww” worthy moments, the humor was subtle. So subtle in fact that I don’t think I cracked a smile once during this whole book. Don’t get me wrong though! Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is well worth the read. Telling a story of a woman shedding the darkness of her past and trying to find a way in the world is all this book is about. And it’s very well written! Gail Honeyman does a fantastic job of pulling at your heartstrings but lacks the skill of romance.

Eleanor Oliphant is definitely a book that will stick with you for the weeks to come. But please don’t go into it expecting a comedy of love and laughter. You will be sorely disappointed.

Review | Of Blood and Bone

It’s been years since the Doom wreaked havoc on the world. And as the remaining population finds a way to survive, Lana and Simon are enjoying their growing family as their time grows short with their daughter. The One is quickly coming of age and will head on her own path to fight the dark that threatens to swallow the world. But even if she’s the chosen one, things won’t be easy.

Screen Shot 2020-02-25 at 9.48.31 AMAfter reading Year One, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. I wanted to catch up with all my favorite characters and see where the story went. But I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed with Of Blood and Bone. While the story did move along, the writing seemed very disjointed, as if Nora Roberts wasn’t quite sure how to fill in the time between the first book and whatever comes after this one. For me, there was an overuse of commas which broke up the flow and seemed unnecessary in some cases.

I couldn’t connect with any of the new characters and felt like this one fell flat. There was less detail in Of Blood and Bone than there was in Year One. It was almost as if Roberts just got tired of writing. I was unimpressed. However, you guys know me, and I’m someone compelled to finish out a series that I’ve started regardless of if there’s been a bad book in the lineup. So I’ll be picking up The Rise of Magicks here in a few weeks and hope that the story picks back up. All in all, Of Blood and Bone wasn’t a bad read but it definitely didn’t meet my expectations after the first book.

The Dragon Republic

The war is over…or so Rin thinks. But she still has yet to avenge the betrayal of her homeland. However, in order to do so, she must join forces with the Dragon Warlord whose only plan is to unseat the Empress and create a new republic. But the more time Rin spends with the Dragon Warlord and the Empress, the more she realizes they’re not all they seem.

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 9.41.56 AMI have to be honest, this is not a book I would have picked up had I been browsing the shelves at my local bookstore. Harper Collins sent me a copy of this book (Thank you!!!) and I’m so glad they did. The Dragon Republic is the second book in The Poppy War series. And I haven’t read the first one! So I was a bit lost to the storyline when I first started reading it but it didn’t take me long to fill in the blanks. While I’m sure I missed out on some pretty important details by not reading the first one, jumping in and reading The Dragon Republic was not difficult to do and I soon forgot that it was a sequel.

R.F. Kuang fills this book with laughable banter (probably my favorite part of the book). But for the most part, I felt that the story was quite dry. Enjoyable at times, but it seemed as if there wasn’t a clear flow for the story at all. I’d find myself zoning out during the particularly dense areas and jumping back in when the action came back. Overall, it was a decent book. Not my personal cup of tea but well worth the read.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken

Rhen’s curse is broken. Harper and her brother are stuck in Emberfall. And Grey is no where to be found. But Rhen faces trouble as the rumors of another heir circulate throughout his kingdom. Not only that, but the unknown prince also seems to be a magesmith. After Lilith’s hold on Rhen, he fears anything with magic…even his own brother. But fate will not be ignored and Emberfall is the stage for everything to fall into place.

9BEB35AA-1289-4AEE-ACB5-E329C4A4EE97So it’s rare for me to enjoy the second book in a series more than the first but…holy cow! Brigid Kemmerer does not disappoint!! A Heart So Fierce and Broken is the perfect sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I started reading it, expecting (hoping?) for it to follow more of Rhen and Harper’s adventures as they settle into this new life. But I was surprised to find that instead, we follow Grey and his path to help save his country.

Once again, I couldn’t put this one down. Kemmerer has a talent for creating stories that draw you in, characters you want to learn more about, and man does she know how to leave it on a cliffhanger??? I don’t know how long I have to wait for the next book in The Cursebreaker Series but I’m not happy about it. I’m hooked you guys and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Emberfall!