Thursday, September 22, 2022

A Dark and Starless Forest - Sarah Hollowell

 

Title: A Dark and Starless Forest 
Author: Sarah Hollowell 
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 5 stars 

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When her siblings start to go missing, a girl must confront the dark thing that lives in the forest—and the growing darkness in herself—in this debut YA contemporary fantasy for fans of Wilder Girls.

Derry and her eight siblings live in an isolated house by the lake, separated from the rest of the world by an eerie and menacing forest. Frank, the man who raised them after their families abandoned them, says it’s for their own good. After all, the world isn’t safe for people with magic. And Derry feels safe—most of the time.

Until the night her eldest sister disappears. Jane and Derry swore to each other that they’d never go into the forest, not after their last trip ended in blood, but Derry is sure she saw Jane walk into the trees. When another sibling goes missing and Frank’s true colors start to show, feeling safe is no longer an option. Derry will risk anything to protect the family she has left. Even if that means returning to the forest that has started calling to Derry in her missing siblings’ voices.

As Derry spends more time amidst the trees, her magic grows more powerful . . . and so does the darkness inside her, the viciousness she wants to pretend doesn’t exist. But saving her siblings from the forest and from Frank might mean embracing the darkness. And that just might be the most dangerous thing of all.
 

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Reader friends, let me tell you - this is one hell of a book.  I've been having trouble not telling everyone exactly what happened because one of the characters is JUST OVERWHELMING.  

I will try my best to keep this review spoiler free. 

The writing is good, it was good enough to help the story flow well and keep me hooked.  The story itself was fantastic - I found the plot worthy of being read. The sisters, their home, their world were all well written and well developed.  The big moments throughout the story were weaved into the smaller day to day things very well.  

I liked all the characters except Frank.  You'll see why if you read the book.  He has a motivation for why he does what he does, but the girls also have a motivation for why they do what they do - and it all evens out in the end.  Each of the girls was well written and well developed, and had their own personalities, their own things that made them who they are, their own reason for being, and their own powers that really drove home who they are as "alchemists."  (Franks word.  The girls later reclaim the word witch, and that really suits them.) 

The way this book shows that each girl has their own power is awesome - with the flowers, and the FLOWERS (You'll see.  Derry is amazing.) The flowers glow when each girl is tested on their abilities, and that helps Frank learn things, which weaves together everything else that happens in this book to Frank and to the girls. Each thing we see, from the flowers, to the hidden trail, to the deep dive into Franks private room, all weave more detail into this book and help us learn so much about what has happened and what will happen. 

The forest being written as this almost living breathing thing in the book was great.  The forest was its own character that felt so alive, and that really helped the girls in the end.  That added more dimension again because it was such an integral part of everything that happened in this story - without the forest and what it can do there is no story and no past for the characters. 

Basically, I found the whole book a little shocking, and wholly amazing. 



If you have not read this book yet and like horror fantasy, I highly recommend reading this book as soon as you can. And then coming back here and telling me what you thought about it.  

If you've already read it, drop some thoughts about it in the comments! 

Monday, September 5, 2022

The Comfort of Reading

 


Hi Friends.

There's always so much going on in the world.  People are dying, warring, fighting, and it feels like things are not getting better sometimes. There are many things we should keep up with in the world, but at the same time, we need to take a break.  We need to refresh ourselves through whatever works for us. For me, and for most of you reading this post, there is a deep comfort in reading. 

You can pick up your hardcover or paperback and feel the cover in your hands.  You can flip the pages and feel that fond feeling you get when touching a book. Or, if you're like me, you can pick up a kindle and read books that way as well. Turn it on, open whatever book you want, and read through it with the press of your finger. 

If you are an audio listener, also like me, you also turn to whatever platform you use for audiobooks. You can pick out a book, and let the narrator take you away while you listen to the words as they surround you. 

It's coming on autumn here in the northern hemisphere, which means it's spooky season. It's cover up under a blanket with a cup of hot coffee or tea and a book season.  I find that to be a comfort personally.  I love the feeling of starting a new story, and finding out where it's going to go.  I love the feeling of laughing out loud at some fabulous rom-com. I love entering a new fantasy world filled with swords, or magic, or dragons, or all three of those things. 

This is what brings me comfort.  I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't feel comforted by words and reading.  As a young kid, I dragged my parents into my bedroom and made them listen to me read when I nailed my first picture book. That was great.  As a middle grade reader I lost myself in The Babysitters Club books.  I devoured book after book after book about the adventures of Mallory, Kristy, and all their friends. 

When I was a teenager I got solidly into the Sweet Valley High books, and also developed a deep love of classics.  I am totally dating myself here, friends. Yes, I was, in fact, a teenager during the 90's.  That's the 1990's.  


Seriously though, I'm grateful for books, and I love that they welcome any and all people. Anyone can pick up a book by Tahira Mafi, or Leigh Bardugo, or the romance likings of Talia Hibbert and Abby Jimenez.  You can pick up any book that sounds appealing to you and read it and find an amazing comfort and feeling of joy in that book. 

As the publishing world changes again, and again, and again, I will simply continue to remember my love of books and the comfort they bring me, and will continue to fight so that all people who want to tell their stories with the world have the chance to do that.



Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Feeling of Falling in Love - Mason Deaver

 


Title: The Feeling of Falling in Love 
Author: Mason Deaver 
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 4.5 Stars 

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From the bestselling author of I Wish You All the Best, comes a new kind of love story, about the bad decisions we sometimes make... and the people who help get us back on the right path.

Perfect for fans of Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and What If It's Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli.

Just days before spring break, Neil Kearney is set to fly across the country with his childhood friend (and current friend-with-benefits) Josh, to attend his brother's wedding—until Josh tells Neil that he's in love with him and Neil doesn't return the sentiment.

With Josh still attending the wedding, Neil needs to find a new date to bring along. And, almost against his will, roommate Wyatt is drafted.

At first, Wyatt (correctly) thinks Neil is acting like a jerk. But when they get to LA, Wyatt sees a little more of where it's coming from. Slowly, Neil and Wyatt begin to understand one another… and maybe, just maybe, fall in love for the first time…

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This was an absolutely adorable and yet sometimes heartbreaking novel.  I loved everything about it. 

The characters in this book were so so well written, even including Neil's transphobic and homophobic grandparents.  Like, I couldn't stand his grandparents, but yes, they were well written and I believed their characters and wanted to swear at them a lot and kick them in the kneecaps.Wyatt, Neil, Josh, Michael, Neil's mom - they were all very well written, and very believable.  It was great to see that.  

I loved that Neil went through some really great changes throughout this book, as did Wyatt and Josh.  Neil is a trans boy who has had, um, some sort of issues with the way he treats people.  He's not really kind when we first meet him.  When was at home with his mother he snuck out of the house so many times, and would take the car and get into 18+ clubs where he would just sit and hang out.  His mother got tired of this and sent him to a boarding school in N. Carolina.  Anyway, no more spoilers (I hope) but this is where he met Wyatt and also became, ahem, more than friends with Josh.

It was truly heartwarming to watch Wyatt learn about themselves as well.  Wyatt learns that it's okay to be who you are and they start dipping into learning more about themselves and their gender identity.  The author explores this learning with great care. 

Josh even learns and grows and realizes that yes, he was in love with Neil, but Neil wasn't really the person he was supposed to be with. He learns to look into himself and find out what he really wants in a boyfriend/partner.  

This whole book was also filled with humor and heart.  There were so many funny moments, and tropes that will make your little queer (or straight ally) heart very happy. Mason Deaver weaved in so much fun in this book, which is fair because you need fun on a cross country week long trip, amiright?! 

I personally feel like the book can be described fairly well with the following two pics: 



If you have read this book, let me know what you thought of it, and if you haven't GO DO IT NOW!












Sunday, August 28, 2022

Part of Your World - Abby Jimenez


Title: Part of Your World
Author: Abby Jimenez
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 Stars 

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After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

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This book was the cute romcom i needed.  I absolutely loved every moment of this book. 

The characters were so fun (Except Jessica and Gabby - you'll see what I mean if you read it.)  I LOVED Alexis and Daniel.  They were both fantastic characters and they were so well developed and well written. Alexis started out not really being very self aware, but she grew so much throughout the book. It was great to see everything she learned about herself, her family, her ex, Daniel, and what she really wanted from life. It was wonderful to see her realize her family and her ex sucked and that some of the people she spent time with were not good people.  She realized a lot about herself that helped her change and grow into someone who actually wanted to help people and do good things. Daniel was able to look at who he was as well and learn that he was worth more than what he believed. He learned to be confident in his abilities and learn that he had value. 

I feel like the whole story was very well written and well developed. And in true Abby Jimenez fashion this book was absolutely hilarious. There were obviously some down moments (life isn't always funny, after all) but there were so many moments were I literally laughed my ass off.  Not only was the story well written but the characters were as well.  Also, there was clearly some GREAT chemistry between Alexis and Daniel - more than she ever had with Neil. 

The plot, like all romances, had the usual meet cute, romantic buildup, and the big event that made them wonder if they should really be together - and all those things worked so well together.  It was wonderful to watch these characters fall in love, and realize that they actually were in love, and fight for that love through some pretty shitty obstacles. Abby Jimenez did a really great job of writing characters that were well developed and who grew and learned about themselves throughout the course of the book.  They learned what they were willing to do, and Alexis learned that it was okay for her to stand up for herself and what she wanted instead of being bullied around by her dad.  

I will give a warning - this book covers the topics of both emotional and physical abuse.  If you feel like you can't read a book that has those topics in it, I would suggest skipping this book.  I appreciate that the author weaved those topics in with such sensitivity.  Getting out of an abusive situation can be hard, and it was great to see that both the characters who were abused were able to get the help they needed and to get away from their abusers.  If you are in that type of situation, please don't be afraid to get help.  It's not always easy but there are people out there who want to and will help in any way they can. 

This is definitely a book I'd recommend to all people who love rom-coms.  It's adorable and sweet.  If you've already read the book, drop me a comment and let me know what you thought of it! 













Thursday, August 18, 2022

Bout of Books - A Review

 


Hi Reader Friends - I hope you're having a delightfully bookish week.  I've been reading a lot this week, go figure.  AND here's what I've accomplished so far for that dear old friend called Bout of Books 


I finished 3 books that were already in progress: 

- Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur 
- Inconvenient Wife by Natasha Boyd 

I am having a massive fibro brain fart right now, and can't remember what the third book was that I finished!  Anyway, after completing those books, I started: 

- Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt
- Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez 
- Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor 

So far, I've listened to 1.5 hours of audio and read over 300 pages, so I feel like it's been a pretty bang up week.  

If you're doing Bout of Books, how has everything been going for you?  If you're not doing Bout of Books - WHY NOT.  Ok, I'm slightly joking - but for penance you have to tell me the top 5 books you've read so far this year. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Bout of Books 35


 

Hey reader friends!  GUESS WHAT?!  It's almost time for Bout of Books 35.  Yep, I said 35.  

Bout of Books 35 starts next Monday August 15 - and I'm totally joining in, of course!  

If you've never heard of Bout of Books, here's a little description of it from their blog: 

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 15th and runs through Sunday, August 21st in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 35 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I hope you'll consider joining in - it's very, very fun! 

I have no list prepared for what I want to read - but when I make up a BoB TBR I'll keep you in the loop, reader friends! 






Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Romance Review Roundup

 


Hi reader friends!  Welcome to a mini romance book review.  I have three reviews for you for some very fun rom-com's you've got to read!  


Title: Sweet Talk
Author: Cara Bastone 
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 Stars 

Sweet Talk was a sweet cute book similar to Call me Maybe in the sense that the two main characters don't know who the other is in real life until the end of the book.  I should rephrase that - She knows who he is.  He has no idea who she is until the end of the book. And that's part of the fun!  

Both Eliot and the lady (whose name I forgot because it's not revealed until the end of the book) are both insomniacs. One night she accidentally drunk texts Eliot, which leads to the two of them getting to know each other via text message.  Their messages and conversations are filled with humor and candidness that makes it obvious they are interested in each other and have a good romantic connection. 

I loved the phone only contact they had that gave them a chance to develop a connection and get to know each other in a different way that worked for them.  I liked that she saw him dancing before they actually met face to face, and had the chance to see him and how he interacted with other people in a public setting.  I loved really the entire cute aspect of the book, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet cute rom-com to read.



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Title: The Break Up Artist
Author: Erin Clark and Laura Lovely
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 Stars 

Zelda had a little wine drinking adventure with her best friend one night, and they ended up hanging up posters all over town advertising an anonymous break up service ran by Zelda.  She made up an email address and people who wanted an impersonal letter written to the person they wanted to dump would email her - and she'd send said letter to the dumpee.  Great idea, right?  I don't think so, but it did lead to Zelda meeting a man. I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved that Zelda had a sweet romance, but I hated that she built her little outside of work hobby on breaking couples up. There's some stuff we find out part way through the book that makes you see why her little side hobby is devastating for people.  

Anyway, I loved that this book featured a disabled MC, and that it showed that disabled people are just like everyone else.  Things you can learn from this book:

* Wheelchair users are not different from the rest of us.  They can do a lot for themselves, and if they need help, they will let you know.
* Wheelchairs are an extension of a wheelchair users body - don't touch them unless you have permission!

Overall, this was a fun one time read. 



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Title: Call Me Maybe 
Author: Cara Bastone
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4 Stars

This was THE CUTEST book!  I loved it so much   It definitely is my favorite out of the three in this post.  

Vera, frazzled and upset because her website keeps crashing, calls customer service and meets Kal, customer service rep extraordinaire!  They spend the next several days talking on the phone A LOT regarding her website.  During their chats, they order each other food, laugh about silly things that happened to them throughout their days, and generally flirt with each other in a very adorable way.  

I loved the way that Kal and Vera talked to each other.  They had this instant chemistry, even through just conversations. They both just had this vibe that fit with the other person.  

There was a lot of comedy throughout this book - tons of cute one liners, and the two MC's jabbing at each other a bit.  I felt like that added to the overall fun vibe this book had. It just fit with this book and really added a lot to what was going on. 

Watching the characters develop feelings for each other and then finally meeting in real life was so fun! I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves rom-coms.

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If you've read any of these books let me know what you thought of them in the comments!