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.

2020 Anticipation

Hey friends! It’s a new year and you know what that means…NEW BOOKS!!! 2020 is shaping up to be a great literary year and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these amazing books. So below are a list of books being released this year that I’m most looking forward to…and will probably be the reason my TBR list is a hundred pages long.

Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 10.48.19 AM

 

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers (February 11th)

Juliet LaCompte is passionately in love…with a married man. Her mother, a witch, attempts to place a curse on the two lovers but instead binds them together. Born again and again, Juliet is fated to follow her lover across time and continents, each time dying tragically only to live it all over again. But this time is different. This time, something shifts and Juliet begins to remember her past and grow powers of her own that may finally end her mother’s curse.

 

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd (April 21st) Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 11.06.30 AM

In the first century, Ana is the daughter of a wealthy family and as such is expected to marry an elderly widower. But a chance meeting with an eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything. The Book of Longings documents Ana’s marriage to Jesus, her relationship with her adopted brother, Judas, and many others as they both deal with the Roman occupation of Israel. In the midst of some of the most important moments in human history, Ana decides her own fate and finds the potential inside herself.

 

Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 11.23.16 AMHighfire by Eoin Colfer (January 28th)

He once flew the skies and burned angry mobs – now the only thing he’s burning are the Marlboros he smokes as he binges Netflix in the bayou and everyone knows him as Vern. But he has survived, the last of his kind, the last dragon. His glory days seem to be over, or are they? Young swamp rat, Squib, is just trying to help his momma but winds up taking the worst possible job. When he sees the wrong thing, his life is spared by…a dragon? Rather than being burnt to a crisp in order to keep Vern’s secret, Squib makes a pact with him; acting as a gopher for the aging dragon in exchange for protection from the people after him. But there’s about to be a fiery reckoning.

 

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (March 3rd) Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 11.41.45 AM

Bryce lived a perfect life, a good job and partying all night, until a demon murdered her closest friends. Finding herself at the center of the investigation, she will do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths. Hunt is a fallen angel, currently enslaved to the Archangels he’d tried to overthrow, and now works to assassinate his employer’s enemies. But when he’s offered the deal of a lifetime: help Bryce find the murderer and freedom is his, it’s a chance he can’t pass up. Bryce and Hunt team up but soon begin to discover a dark power that could destroy everything.

 

Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 11.49.06 AMThe Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu (March 3rd)

Nannerl has one wish – to be remembered forever. Though she thrills audiences with her musical talents, she is a woman 18th century Europe which means her dream of becoming a talented composer are all but non-existent to her. And as her dream grows dimmer, the talents of her younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to strengthen. While Nannerl becomes overshadowed by her sibling, a mysterious stranger appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her every wish come true, but at what cost?

 

The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson (February 25th) Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 12.08.01 PM

The first day Winston Churchill was in office as prime minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Churchill was now tasked with persuading President Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally, all while keeping his country together. In a story of political hazard, Larson depicts Churchill’s leadership, home life, and eloquence in cinematic detail.

 

 

 

I’m super excited for all of these books and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg on 2020 releases! Needless to say, my TBR list is growing at a rapid pace. What books are you most looking forward to reading this year?

Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven

*taps microphone* Is this thing on?

Hey guys, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been on and even posted a review. But here I am! I promise, I didn’t die or anything. Just life kind of got super busy in a good way.

Anyways, I’d been seeing recommendations and reviews floating around about Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven. Things like “Adults who grew up on Harry Potter will love this!” Well, you know me. I absolutely adore Harry Potter, and pretty much any book with magic is going to pique my interest. So I bought it, and while it took me a while to read it (my own fault), it’s worth it!

97F0E024-3574-4043-98C5-9E8B13E1B01FHarley Merlin is an Empath and an orphan and working for a casino. But this night, her world gets turned upside down as she deals with a gargoyle attack and the introduction of one Wade Crowley. In the same night, she finds out she’s a magical with some interesting powers. But before she can even begin to get acquainted with this new person she’s become, she finds herself in the middle of an investigation. One involving the gargoyles, the coven, and her family that she’d lost long ago.

Bella Forrest does a wondrous job of creating characters both full of snarkiness, sarcasm, and just enough insecurity to be relatable. Forrest established a world all her own, and while I can see some similarities between Harley Merlin’s magical realm and Harry Potter’s, there’s not enough there to feel like it’s a copycat story. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Forrest’s magical works!

If you’re looking for something a little fantastical with a strong female lead and touches of humor throughout, I highly recommend picking this one up and getting enraptured with it as much as I have.

Review: Project Duchess

Fletcher Pryde, Duke of Greycourt, has not had the happiest of childhoods and it shows. He is cold, wealthy, and carries a reputation he didn’t ask for. But when his mother is widowed yet again, the winds of fate may change for Grey and the life he envisioned for himself.

517CefsaNLL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Beatrice is not your average woman. Having dealt with the inappropriate affections of her uncle, she has no interest in being with a man. Let alone a man like Greycourt. His arrogance is off-putting and getting to know him is not easy. But when Grey’s mother turns Beatrice into one of her ‘projects’, he can’t help but involved. However, family secrets run deep on both sides and as they get to know one another, uncovering those secrets could cost them much more than they bargained for.

I absolutely love historical romance. It’s one of my favorite genres to read. But I’ve never had the pleasure of reading any of Sabrina Jeffries’s books, and I just may have to start bingeing them all! Project Duchess is the first in a new series for Jeffries. Telling the story of a family wrought with tragedy and an underlying mystery they’re desperate to solve, it was easy to get sucked into the intrigue and intimacy this book provided. The characters, while seemingly your typical romance characters, were easy to enjoy and I wanted to know more about them.

However, what is up with evil uncles??? It seems like the biggest villains in this book were the uncles who mistreated their relations. It was a bit annoying that it seemed to always come back to how uncle so-and-so did this. It also seemed as if the ending was a bit rushed. The writing became sloppy and amateur at best. But Jeffries did manage to leave a cliffhanger that makes the reader want to pick up the next book in the series.

While probably not my favorite romance novel, Project Duchess was an enjoyable and easy read. If you’re looking for a romance series to get into, this may be the one for you. Look for Project Duchess on shelves June 25th!

Review: Three Dark Crowns

A47B1A61-FCE9-4353-B78F-7ECBD9009857Three sisters. Three queens. One crown.

Life for Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella is anything but normal. They are gifted girls, each with a special power. Katharine has the gift of poison, able to withstand ingesting any poison she comes in contact with as well as mixing intricate potions to dispatch her enemies. Arsinoe is a naturalist, a gift that allows her to make plants bloom and call animals to her. Mirabella is an elemental with the ability to control the weather as well as the elements. But only one of them can take the throne.

In a novel filled with rituals and long-standing traditions, Kendare Blake weaves a dark tale of magic, romance, and evil. The three sisters are unique characters on their own. However, I felt a bit inundated with the other characters (i.e., the priestesses, the council, etc.). It became intricate and at times hard to follow. There were also places where I questioned why the characters would make that decision. Nothing leading up to it seemed to make sense and nothing after made sense either. As if it was spur of the moment and simply to move the story along.

Blake of course left Three Dark Crowns with a cliffhanger, and one I definitely wasn’t expecting. With a significant twist in the story (saved for the last page), Blake left me wanting more and curious to see how the triplets would continue in a world that seems set against them killing one another. All in all, a decent read but probably one I wouldn’t pick up again. However, that could all change with the sequel to this one, One Dark Throne.

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six

It’s the late sixties in Los Angeles and Daisy Jones is living the life. Sneaking into clubs, sleeping with rockstars, and yes doing drugs. But amidst it all, she just wants to sing. When she hits her twenties, her voice is finally garnering some attention, and so are her looks.

39DB3A87-6022-4ABB-8506-BB1AA38BC418Billy Dunne and his band, The Six, are trying to break into the rock n’ roll scene. In the process, Billy struggles with his sobriety and balancing his rockstar lifestyle with the family he’s building. Along the way, a producer introduces Daisy to Billy and suddenly a legend is born.

Ok, so I love music. Like, really really love it. My husband used to be a bassist in a band for years. So when I heard about Daisy Jones & The Six I desperately wanted to read it. It took me forever to find a copy because everyone kept selling out of them!

I could not put this book down! I loved every minute of the story. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes from a unique perspective which sucks you in. My only complaint would be that I wish I could hear the songs mentioned in the book. The multiple characters that make up the story are easy to like, although you may question some of their decisions. But that’s rock n’ roll, right? Daisy Jones & The Six is sure to make a splash for all book lovers.