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!

The Book of Speculation

We carry our families like anchors, rooting us in storms, making sure we never drift from where and who we are. We carry our families within us the way we carry our breath underwater, keeping us afloat, keeping us alive. I’ve been lifting anchors since eighteen. I’ve been holding my breath since before I was born.

Simon Watson is cursed. His sister is cursed. His whole family is cursed. He just doesn’t know it. Until a strange book shows up on his doorstep and leads Simon down the rabbit hole of circus life and family history. In a small coastal town, Simon is watching his parents’ home slowly fall into the sea. His sister is off somewhere with a circus and his employment at the local library is about to end.

60228268908__F64DBF3B-B010-4F80-8B68-52F58860BE49With unemployment comes free time that Simon fills with pages and pages of his family’s strange history. Amongst the stories of mermaids and wild boys, he find an unusual commonality. The women in his family are dying…always on July 24th. When Simon’s sister, Enola, announces she’s coming home, Simon searches the pages of the old book for a clue as to how to save her from meeting the same fate the other women in their family have.

You guys know that The Night Circus is one of my all-time favorite books. Seriously, I will rave about it for hours if you let me. So when I picked up The Book of Speculation, I was curious if I would enjoy it as much as I did The Night Circus. In short, no. But not because Erika Swyler isn’t a fantastic novelist. More because comparing the two is like apples and oranges. The Book of Speculation alternates between past and present as it intwines two stories of family, magic, and the curses that follow us.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I had a few moments where I wished Swyler would just get to the point. You could see the pieces of the puzzle fitting together but she just wouldn’t put in the last piece. And honestly, I’m so glad she waited. The ending of this book was so satisfying, and while it could have been shorter, the journey to it was so enjoyable! I highly recommend picking up The Book of Speculation if you’re looking for a novel with a touch of magic to it.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Time’s a funny thing and our memories even stranger. Returning home can bring up so many memories, some quite believable, others like something from a dream. When a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home, he learns that nothing is as he remembered.

C315E9FD-A3DF-4A48-A1DB-F88299221642True to Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is imaginative, magical, scary, and adventurous all in one. Drawn into a world where otherworldly creatures can cause issues and fairy rings are a safe haven, Gaiman tells a tale like no other. And like most of his novels, I find myself equally satisfied with his story and scratching my head at the same time.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of his shorter novels and therefore, easy to complete. But in the end, I want to go back and read it again to possibly catch something I may have missed the first time around. His poetic way with words are reminiscent of listening to the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland speak. Confusing at times, yet beautiful nonetheless.

Year One

It hit without warning. An illness that is dropping humans like flies. It’s ruthless and causing fear in everyone that sees its effects. But some are immune and some…well, some are just different. The Uncanny. Beings with special traits and abilities that are being blamed for the illness that has managed to kill 2 billion people in what feels like the blink of an eye. But despite all the cruelty that bares itself in the chaos that ensues, there is still goodness in humanity. A group of survivors have banded together to try and make a place for themselves in what’s left of the world. But comes next after the end of the world?

CF2D84E8-0BD9-49E6-81A2-A82D8999E601I have to admit, I’m not a Nora Roberts fan. I’ve never been drawn to her other works but when I heard about Year One I had to pick it up. And I’m glad I did! The storyline alone is something that piqued my interest. What can I say? I love a good survivalist, apocalyptic novel. And let’s face it, with what’s going on in the world today, this was strangely eerie to read. But Roberts also brings to life a multitude of characters that shouldn’t blend together as easily as hers do.

While I enjoyed the overall story and the characters involved, I had a bit of a problem with the way Roberts writes. Now, again, I’ve never read any of her other stuff, so maybe this is just how she writes. But it was almost like driving down a pothole-ridden road. Her words would be going along smoothly but then would get rough and jagged. Sentences seemed broken up with random unnecessary commas. Still, Year One was a book I couldn’t put down and I highly recommend it if you’re into the “end of the world” era of stories.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Rhen is a monster. No, literally, a monster. Cursed by a less than pleasant enchantress, Rhen is cursed to become a monster again and again until he can find a woman to love him. Left with only his loyal commander, he ventures forth to worlds other than his own to find some girl unwitting enough to get tangled up with the likes of him.

33F69FA9-EB27-4383-9431-96B96FEAFE30Harper is in her own mess. Her mother is slowly dying of cancer. Her father has borrowed money from the worst possible person, and in return, her brother is now doing dirty work in order to pay back the loan. But one night, as she stands lookout for her brother, she is taken to another place and finds herself being courted by an arrogant prince.

Brigid Kemmer is a magician. That’s all there is to say. She has a way of telling a story that sucks you in. Really, I couldn’t put this book down. Jumping between the viewpoint of the two main characters, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is one of the few epic fantasy romances that is sure to stand out. With characters that you can’t help but fall in love with (no pun intended) and a storyline that has no end of thickening plots and twists, this is one for the ages. And I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel!

And The Mountains Echoed

Abdullah and Pari are two young children living in Afghanistan in a little poverty-ridden town. Their father makes a choice and the two siblings are never the same. Follow the choices of one man through the decades and how far-reaching our choices, and our family, can be.

828913B5-2F1E-44D8-A19B-5AFF3BC1A90BAfghani culture is not something I claim to understand, let alone the ins and outs of family in that part of the world. But And The Mountains Echoed give just a glimpse of the way things are (were?) in Afghanistan. I’ll be honest, most of the time I had a difficult time following Hosseini’s plot through all the time warps. This book was hard to read from an emotional standpoint as well. If you’re expecting a happy feel good novel, I highly recommend that you move on. Hosseini drags you down into the darkest depths of emotion and doesn’t let go.

While at times it seemed that certain parts of the story didn’t fit together, Hosseini is able to tie up everything towards the end of the book. This definitely would not have been a book I’d just pick up off the shelf but it’s a beautiful work of fiction. Hosseini is almost poetic with his writing, bring to life the harsh reality of Afghanistan and the not so glamorous side of life in the middle east.