Book Review

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + Mythology + Fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

A SWEET STORY.

This was my Book of the Month YA pick for September!

I thought this was a nice read, and I thought the writing was gorgeous. It was very whimsical and had a magical fairy-tale vibe to it that I enjoyed. What I struggled with was the pacing. This book is slooooow. Everything happens in slow motion and the story takes a bit to pick up and get going.

The concept of all of these magical doors to other worlds across Earth was stellar. I loved that idea and wish I could have explored even more of the worlds! We only got a taste of a few and I thought they would play a deeper part in the story as a whole. It was all very dream-like and I loved the bits of magic that were added in to help January along her way. Being a word-worker sounds like the coolest job ever.

There’s a big focus on reconnecting a lost family and this was the solid bones of the novel. I found this moving and was hoping that January was going to get her happy ending. I wasn’t sure how part of the story was going to weave into the mix, but after the small plot twist it all started making sense. I appreciated her tenacity to find her parents and have them in her life again.

I wish the villain had a bigger back-story. I definitely thought he was interesting and it took me a bit to catch on to what he was trying to accomplish. I felt he played a good role and added a bit of creepiness to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses, nights spent together with pretty much no detail (I barely realized that it was implied they did have sex)
  • Violence: beating of an animal, having someone wrongly sent to an asylum, psychological abuse/manipulation, gun violence, colonialism
  • Trigger warnings: throughout the book are multiple instances of racism and sexism

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Expected Release Date: October 22nd 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment Weekly) My Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

Thank you to Gallery Books and Goodreads for the ARC. This was my first ever Goodreads win! All opinions are my own.

YES, I READ THIS IN ONE SITTING.

Why you ask? Because Christina Lauren can do that to me.

I thought this was a great read, not my favorite by them, but still a solid quick book.

I liked most of the story line. The first love romance that happens on vacation and then is dramatically cut short and they are apart for years. The insta-young love happening here actually worked out well for me in this context. I am wary of second-chance romance stories and loved how this one was done.

What I didn’t love was the movie that Tate was filming during the second half of this book. It was fine and dandy and everything, but was taking up a lot of space in the story. Reading lines, doing scenes, etc. It made that feel like it was almost more important than Sam and Tate’s story. It also took away from Sam’s background. I never got to know much about him and wanted to connect deeper with his character.

Sam was precious though. I really did enjoy them re-connecting. They actually tried to communicate with each other and Tate had a chance to learn what actually happened between them. The very ending was the perfect Hallmark movie moment that I was SO HERE FOR. It was tender and sweet. Exactly how I expect and want CL books to end. HAPPY ENDINGS ALWAYS.

Leading up to the ending was a bit abrupt and rushed. I think there were a lot of unresolved Daddy issues that were NEVER resolved. Tate, for whatever reason, didn’t call out her Dad or stand up to him when she had multiple chances to do so. It left this line open ended, and trust me, her Dad deserved it. UGH.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a handful of detailed love scenes (I didn’t find them as vulgar as I’ve seen before, but they are definitely adult scenes)
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouse

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Science fiction
Length: 336 pages
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

THE AUDIO BOOKS ARE AMAZING.

I love how quick to listen (and I’m sure read) these books are. The full cast brings all of these characters to life and makes it a very enjoyable read.

This story is so trippy! It’s a sci-fi and dystopian kinda book. Waking Gods starts 10 years after the first book and now that we have the layout of the giants and aliens it makes this book a lot more engaging. There’s so much technical mojo about genetics, and science in general that can be a lot to listen to. Once that’s all understood, it makes the story even wilder. I didn’t see the reasoning about why the aliens were on Earth and thought it was awesome.

I have really connected with all of these characters and was DEVASTATED to lose a few of them. Listening to their stories and getting to know them on many levels really forged my connections with them. I’m invested and cheering in their corner.

The action is top notch and with the unique style it’s written in (multiple dossiers that are interviews, new casts, etc.) makes things that much more intense. I feel like I’m listening to a movie as characters witness the full scale devastation these aliens robots were causing around the world. This totally rattled me and I hope there’s nothing actually like this out there. Because NOOOOPE.

Overall audience notes:

  • Science fiction
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: torture, physical, giants machines committing mass murder
  • Trigger warnings: suicide ideation, mentions of off-screen rape, torture

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: July 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

NOT AS THRILLING AS I HAD HYPED IN MY MIND.

I think I overthought this book. It seemed really creepy, but I wasn’t AS creeped out as I expected (and trust me, I am a wimp about the scary stuff).

This was definitely a unique premise! I don’t plan on living in any apartment any time soon after reading this. I thought it was well crafted and kept me in the dark long enough to want to keep reading. It was great writing and kept me intrigued. I thought more action would happen before so late in the book, but it didn’t drag it down too much.

I liked Jules as an MC. I thought she had some good qualities and wasn’t that annoying girl in a thriller, ya know? I wanted her to figure everything out and get the heck out of dodge. Jules was crazy brave, and her in those last few scenes? YES. I could picture that in a movie and thought it was absolute thriller gold.

I never got freaked out until around page 315 (out of 371). There was a lot more talk about all of the things happening at the Bartholomew, but not a lot of showing yet. The deeper the story wove, and the more Jules got to be involved, the better everything became. The atmosphere was full of a dark edge.

I love the way the chapters wove together. The flashes back and forth were perfectly timed and made me read even faster. I didn’t see the ending coming at all! It was truly unique to the handful of thrillers I have read (which isn’t a lot, but was excited it was totally different). When it leaned one way I was like ehhhhh, then when it turned a different way I was like WHAAA, okay that blows my mind.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult thriller/mystery
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, one love scene (a little detailed)
  • Violence: torture, medical experimentation, murder, physical, arson
  • Trigger warnings: a lot of mentions of suicide: one throughout about an off screen character (jumping from building), suicide by overdose and arson (Chapter 22), suicide by jumping (Chapter 55), suicide by gun shot (Chapter 56)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction +fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh, begins to give way. But before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series features wry humor and a cast of unforgettable characters facing off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

READ EVERY LAST DANG PAGE OF THIS BOOK.

Or you might feel like throwing it across the room. Like me. Then I read it all. Then I got the ending I was demanding from my bookish soul.

This was a great finale! Definitely the best book of the series by far.

I loved watching all of the story lines come together. Seeing all of the characters align. It all was beautifully woven and closed the ending as it should be. I wasn’t left with questions or concerns. I closed the book at peace. That’s a good ending. There was even a double crossing betrayer that I had no idea was coming. It was a twist that added an edge.

ABIGAIL AND CHARLIE ARE SO DANG CUTE. Absolutely precious. This was the first time I wish they had some more screen time. I was smitten with Charlie and their interactions. They were a great, simple, no drama relationship that added the touch of romance to round out this series.

Jackaby and Abigail are once again a dynamic duo. Jenny became team member number three and I loved having her around more! The banter and dynamics between everyone always make me smile and really appreciate their friendships. I was so happy that Jackaby got the ending he deserved. It made a lot of sense and I figured it would have to move in that direction to bring closure.

This is one of those books that handles the addition of literally every magical creature from fairytales and folklore well. They’re SO MANY CREATURES. I love learning more about them and the way they each added their own touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy/paranormal mystery
  • Language: one word (witch)
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, magic, swords, murder, animal attacks, vampire attacks, physical

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 409 pages
Author: Josie Silver
Publisher: Broadyway Books
Expected Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

INFINITELY BETTER AS IT WENT ON.

So close.

This was another so close to DNF. I have unfortunately hit a streak of these, but luckily I am still giving them a chance! I started this as an audio book while owning a copy. I did NOT like the audio. I have no concrete reasons, couldn’t connect with the narrator, hated the MC and there was too much language for me to listen comfortably.

So I turned it off and instead tried reading the book. I read it over a month in short spans when I didn’t have to pick up my next book immediately. Did this help? YUP. Game changer.

Laurie really annoyed me at first with her inability to chill about Jack. I couldn’t handle the crazed enthusiasm to find this ONE GUY after seeing him ONE TIME. Then her continual pining for him while he was dating her best friend really bothered me.

Finally, finally. Laurie grew up a bit. Accepted the fate in her hands at present and went about her life. They all did. And from there I saw a growth in friendships, relationships, work, family, many areas! It was terribly difficult to watch the struggles, pain, and hardships that these three had to fight through. The story really blossomed and I was falling hard for Laurie, Jack, and Sarah.

By the end, the story had wrapped around my heart and held it in a tight grip as the movie-like ending rolled on the page. IT WAS SO PRECIOUS. And while cheesy was exactly what this book called for and made me hand over four stars. Why four? I personally could not handle the unnecessary use of language. It was flagrant, out of place and I didn’t like it. Also, since it took so long for me to go give this story a chance I knocked it down a bit.

If you’re like me and curious about this book, I would definitely give a try! Reese Witherspoon picked this book for a reason!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction romance
  • Language: a lot of strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, love scenes (ranging from fade-to-black to mildly descriptive)
  • Violence: car wreck, physical, emotional
  • Trigger warnings: cheating (by way of kisses), cheating (emotionally attached to someone while with someone else, yes, I do count this as a form of cheating)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 13th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds. 

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

WELL. THE SECOND HALF WAS MUCH BETTER.

I truly almost DNF this. I only kept reading because everyone else seemed to enjoy it and I was trying to figure out what I was missing. I did NOT like the MC, Cassie. She was quite full of herself, and I personally didn’t like how much she hated love. It came off as short-sighted and unwilling to be open-minded.

I also struggled with the writing style. Most of the time things were being TOLD to me and not SHOWN. I wanted more dialogue and interactions with characters, especially with Owen. Speaking of Owen, one large, annoying fact: I didn’t know his name until 49% way through the book. WHAT. I was so sick of him being called rookie. And I was so grateful when that bit was *mostly* over. I really couldn’t stand her co-workers at the fire department either. I feel like everything was laid on thick. Their crude jokes, misogynistic remarks and hazing really rubbed me the wrong way. Hallelujah that drifted off as the book went on.

Enter the second half of the book.

What a difference. I thought the writing picked up speed and that there was more showing vs. telling. While the relationship between Cassie and Owen was a touch insta-love, it was done well. It still wasn’t immediate which let me warm-up to them. I thought Owen was sweet, cute, and full of feelings. I liked their interactions and how Cassie had to learn to trust and rely on someone again.

There was additional drama thrown in from her Mom being present in the book. It was pretty obvious what that side plot line was and it didn’t make me feel one way or another. I did like that Cassie and her Mom got to connect again and to learn forgiveness. That was a big part of this book, forgiveness is more than saying sorry…(please someone name that movie)! I like how it wove into the story.

Cassie did win me over by the end of the book. I thought the growth she went through actually played a part in her actions and decisions. She didn’t say she was going to be different and then wasn’t, Cassie actually put into action the type of woman she wanted to be. The ending was super cutesy and all the heart eyes. Made me smile at least.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, one love scene (little detailed, mostly fade to black)
  • Violence: massive fires, physical, see Trigger section for more
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault (unwanted touching – Chapter 2), inappropriate workplace jokes, sexism, misogynism, harassment, hazing, suicide attempt (by drug overdose – Chapter 28), addiction to painkillers, a description of past rape (mostly vague, chapter 28)

Instagram || Goodreads