Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on MUSE OF NIGHTMARES by Laini Taylor

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is MUSE OF NIGHTMARES by Laini Taylor.  I fell in love with Laini Taylor’s writing style when I read Strange the Dreamer, the first book in this incredible series.  It was one of my favorite reads from last year and the first book ended on such a shocking note that I’ve been dying to get my hands on the second book ever since.  It sucks that we have to wait until October but I just know it’s going to be worth the wait!

 

MUSE OF NIGHTMARES by Laini Taylor

Publication Date:   October 2, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

The highly anticipated, thrilling sequel to the New York Timesbestseller, Strange the Dreamer, from National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Timesbestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

March Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge Sign Up & Goals Post

 

Even though I’m already taking part in a backlist challenge, I had a poor showing in February and only finished 3 of my backlisted books.  I decided to take part in the March 2018 Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by  Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer because I think it will be a great way to jumpstart my backlist reading again.

 

The rules are simple: for the entire month of March, you focus on reading/listening to books in your TBR pile released before March 1, 2018. They can be eBooks, physical books or audiobooks. Let’s clean off those shelves and finish those series and trilogies!

RULES

  • Link-up! This is open to everyone. If you do not have a blog then link a shelf entitled Take Control 2018 from your Goodreads account. It is a good idea to friend me if your shelves are private.
  • Create a Goals/Updates/Results post (can be combined) It can also be a shelf created on Goodreads. Be sure to friend Kimberly so she can see it.
  • Begins midnight March 1st, 2018 and ends March 31, 2018, at 11:59 pm.
  • Read/listen to books from your TBR pile.
  • ALL books/audios must have been published before March 1,  2018. I don’t care where you got them, so old ARCS count.
  • Post a review to Goodreads, or your blog then add the URL link it to the Rafflecopter for an entry. ( These can be a mini review. Just one or two sentences)
  • You can combine events, challenges etc.
  • Page count must be over 100 pages to qualify.
  • The rafflecopter will only allow you to enter up to two books daily, so update as soon as you finish a book.
  • Use hashtag #TakeControlTBR
  • Twitter Party March 11th @ 2:30 pm (CST)  Come chat about books you have read and win prizes.
  • Earn extra entries for participating in the Twitter Party
  • Rafflecopter will close on April 2, 2018, at midnight and a winner will be chosen within 72 hours. Open internationally as long as Book Depository ships to you. Prize: New 2018 release valued at up to 20 US dollars or 1 Audiobook Credit from Audiobooks.com. I will do pre-orders as well. (may request eBook copy from Amazon or B&N)

 

TENTATIVE READING LIST

I hope I’m not being over ambitious, but I’m setting a goal of 10 backlist books to read this month.  I’ve come up with a tentative reading list, but this is subject to change since I’m such a mood reader.  As of this moment, I’m in the mood to read the following titles, all published prior to March 1, 2018, per the rules:

  1. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
  2. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
  3. Tarnished City by Vic James
  4. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  5. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  6. Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  7. Nemesis by Anna Banks
  8. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
  9. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  10. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

 

Wishing the best of luck to all who are taking part in the challenge!  Let’s take control of those TBRs!

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books I Could Re-Read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Top Ten Books I Could Re-Read Forever.  This is going to have a few repeats from my discussion post last week where I talked about books I love to pick up when I’m in  a reading slump.  Books I could re-read forever would definitely fit into that category.  I’d definitely say my list is a mix of old favorites when I was in school and newer favorites that I’ve read since I started blogging, so there’s a blend of the fresh and new and the nostalgic.  There are magical reads, dramatic reads, and yes, I know you’ll be shocked, but even a romance or two! And yes, I also snuck a few series in there as well, one of which, The Winternight Trilogy, still has a book that hasn’t even come out yet but I can already tell it’s destined to be a favorite series of mine.  🙂

 

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Top 10 Books I Could Re-Read Forever

 

1. THE SHADES OF MAGIC TRILOGY by V.E. Schwab

 

 

 

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

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2. THE WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY by Katherine Arden

 

 

 

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

3.  THE HARRY POTTER SERIES by J.K. Rowling

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

4. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

6. THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

7. SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

8. THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer

 

 

 

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

9. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C. S. Lewis

 

(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

 

10. THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER by A.A. Milne

 


(Find out what it’s about…)

* * * * *

Question:  What are some books that you could re-read forever?

Review: MORE THAN WE CAN TELL by Brigid Kemmerer

Review:  MORE THAN WE CAN TELL by Brigid KemmererMore Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Also by this author: Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost, #1)
four-half-stars
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Although set in the same universe as her popular book Letters to the Lost, Brigid Kemmerer’s latest novel More Than We Can Tell is a standalone story that follows two teens who are each carrying around a heavy burden of secrets.  Eighteen-year-old Rev Fletcher was raised by an abusive father until he was removed from his home at age 7 and placed with foster parents who eventually adopted him as their own.  Even though he now lives in a loving and supportive environment, Rev is still occasionally haunted by the horrors of his past and by the fear that he will somehow grow up to be like his father.  Rev lives a normal life and gets by most days without dwelling on his fears too much, but when an unexpected letter arrives from his father, all of those fears rise to the surface and threaten to pull Rev under.  He doesn’t know what to do and doesn’t want to upset his adoptive parents, so he keeps the letter a secret even though it is eating him up inside that his father has somehow managed to find him after all these years.

Rev is not the only one in More Than We Can Tell living under the burden of secrets and fears.  High school junior Emma Blue is also battling some demons of her own.  Emma is a gamer and a gifted coder, so gifted in fact, that she has designed an entire video game from scratch.  Coding and designing video games are what Emma wants to pursue as a career, but her father, who actually designs video games for a living, is never around to support her, while her mother, who is a doctor, thinks all of this gaming is just a waste of time.  Because she feels they don’t really support her, Emma works on her video game in secret and doesn’t even try to show her parents what she is doing or how good at it she really is.  Things get messy, however, when an online troll starts sending her threatening messages through her game.  The comments escalate to the point where Emma is basically being sexually harassed through the internet, but because Emma fears her parents will just tell her to delete the game she has worked so hard on, Emma decides to shoulder the burden of this harassment herself and doesn’t tell anyone what is going on even though she is actually afraid of the troll by this point.

Rev and Emma meet by chance one night while Emma is out walking her dog, and the two of them hit it off immediately and are able to open up to one another in ways that they don’t feel like they can with anyone else.  Will their new found friendship turn into something more?  Can they help each other deal with the secrets that are wearing them down?

 

Wow, where to even start with this book?  Honestly, I loved pretty much everything about it.  It’s filled with wonderfully complex characters, relevant themes, beautiful relationships, and so much more.  It made me laugh at times, and it also made me tear up a few times, and I’m a sucker for a book that grabs all of my emotions like that.

I fell in love with both Rev and Emma right away, for very different reasons.  Rev was just such a beautiful soul and it hurt my heart to watch him struggle with the memories of what his awful father did to him.  It especially got to me that he was so worried that he would turn out just like him, when everything about his personality screamed that he would be the exact opposite.  I hated the way his father kept getting into his head and dragging him down, but at the same time, I could easily understand how it kept happening.

I loved Emma because of her independence.  I didn’t necessarily agree with her keeping things from her parents, but at the same time, I admired her strength and her determination not to give up on her dream of designing games for a living.  My inner geek also loved that she was so passionate about STEM and that she was a pretty badass gamer as well.

The relationships in More Than We Can Tell were beautifully written as well.  Rev’s loving relationship with his adoptive parents, Geoff and Kristin, was especially moving to read about, knowing how awful his life had been prior to coming into their home.  I teared up several times just watching them love and support him even when he, at times, tried to push them away.  My love for this relationship also extended out to them all for inviting another troubled teen into their home.  Even though he wasn’t exactly central to the overall storyline, I loved the character of Matthew for many of the same reasons I loved Rev and so it was lovely to see him find a home, even if it’s only temporary, with a family as great as Rev’s  (On a side note:  I would love to see another book set in this universe that follows Matthew.)

The friendship between Declan and Rev was probably my favorite part of the entire book. I’ve actually not read Letters to the Lost yet, but I’ve heard this friendship plays a role in that book as well, so I fully intend to go back and read that.  These young men are about as close to brothers as they could possibly be.  I enjoyed the ease of their banter, which is just so funny at times, but most importantly, I loved that Declan always seems to just “get” Rev.  He’s tuned in to what Rev needs, even if Rev doesn’t know it himself.  There’s one scene where Rev loses it at school and throws a punch at Declan.  Instead of getting mad about it, Declan shows up at Rev’s house right after school and, to paraphrase, says “Come on.  If you need to punch it out, let’s go find you a better target than my face” and takes him to work through his frustrations on an actual punching bag.  That’s friendship right there.

The growing relationship between Emma and Rev is lovely too.  I loved their little meetups on the lawn outside the church and how easily their conversations flowed from the silly and casual to the more serious things that were on their minds.  Kemmerer does a beautiful job here of advancing their relationship from strangers to acquaintances to friends to maybe a little something more without it feeling like insta-love.

I could go on and on about all the things I adored about More Than We Can Tell but I’m going to close by saying that in addition to the beautifully drawn characters and relationships, what really pulled me into this story were all of its themes.  This is a story about love, family, friendship, forgiveness, and trust.  It also serves as an important reminder to give your family a chance to have your back and that you don’t always have to shoulder your own burdens.

 

I can’t think of a single issue I had with More Than We Can Tell. It’s just a wonderfully crafted story on every level.

 

Brigid Kemmer’s More Than We Can Tell is a beautifully written and moving story that will grab you by the emotions and won’t let go.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll fall in love with Rev and his family and friends.  I look forward to reading Letters to the Lost soon because I’m ready for more from the universe.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

four-half-stars

About Brigid Kemmerer

BRIGID KEMMERER is the author of LETTERS TO THE LOST (Bloomsbury; April 4, 2017), a dark, contemporary Young Adult romance; THICKER THAN WATER (Kensington, December 29, 2015), a New Adult paranormal mystery with elements of romance; and the YALSA-nominated Elemental series of five Young Adult novels and three e-novellas which Kirkus Reviews calls “refreshingly human paranormal romance” and School Library Journal describes as “a new take on the supernatural genre.” She lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and four sons.

Weekly Recap #41: Week of 2/18 – 2/24

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

So, for those who read last week’s post, you know I mentioned I’ve been experiencing some pretty awful headaches the past few weeks. Well, I went to the doctor to see if I could get some answers as to a possible cause.  After hearing me describe what I was feeling, she decided to send me for a head CT.  That of course freaked me out because it brings to mind so many worst case scenarios and so I scheduled the CT for Thursday afternoon because I didn’t want to wait any longer than necessary.  I got the results yesterday afternoon and the scan thankfully came back normal, although that means I still don’t have any answers to what is causing my head pain, which the doctor diagnosed as migraines with auras.  She gave me a prescription that she says should help with the pain, so we’ll see how that goes and then I think next up will be some bloodwork and/or a neurological consult if the headaches continue.

Thankfully I didn’t experience any headaches this week so I was able to get plenty of reading done again this week in between watching Olympic events on TV.  I finished 4 books and am starting a 5th tonight.  I also watched the U.S. men win the curling gold medal today and although I still can’t say that I 100% understand that sport, it was fascinating to watch.

Now that I’ve finished reading and reviewing most of my March 6th ARCs, I’m starting the first book of the Grishaverse trilogy in hopes of squeezing in one more book from my backlist before the end of the month.   It hasn’t been a great backlist month because of all of those ARCs but I did finally finish that massive Springsteen autobiography that I’ve been sitting on since October 2016.

I had planned to go see Black Panther this weekend too, but the hubby has been in bed all afternoon and says he doesn’t feel well. so I think those plans are probably on hold until next weekend unless he starts feeling a lot better very soon.  I keep hearing great things about the movie so I’m tempted to go without him but I’ll try to be patient and wait, lol.

I think that’s it for me for now.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

     
  

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

       
      
    

 STACKING THE SHELVES

 

 
 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Review: THE WICKED DEEP

Review:  THE WICKED DEEPThe Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
three-stars
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

I’ve always been drawn to books that feature witches, so as soon as I saw its alluring synopsis promising “Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials,” Shea Ernshaw’s debut novel, The Wicked Deep, quickly became one of my most anticipated reads of 2018.  So, did it live up to expectations?  Well, yes and no.  The Wicked Deep is an atmospheric and engaging read — I read it easily in about a day.  That said, however, it was also the kind of read that had me yelling at the characters as I was reading because I just couldn’t believe some of the things I was reading.  I’ll try to elaborate on that without giving away any major spoilers…

Set in the cursed town of Sparrow, Oregon, The Wicked Deep is a story of revenge.  Two centuries ago, beautiful sisters Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan moved to Sparrow.  They were disliked immediately because of the way the townsmen fawned all over them and eventually they were accused of being witches and drowned in the town’s harbor.  Every summer since the drowning, on the anniversary of their deaths, the spirits of the three sisters wait for teenage girls to enter the water and then they inhabit their bodies until the summer solstice.  Their goal?  Revenge.  Like sirens, the sisters use the bodies they’ve stolen to then lure unsuspecting teenage boys into the harbor where they drown them.  No one ever knows whose bodies have been taken over and once the summer solstice comes, the spirits go back to the bottom of the sea and those who were inhabited have no recollection of what has happened. Everyone in Sparrow seems to just accept that this is their fate and they have even gone so far as to morbidly exploit the curse, even referring to it as “Swan Season.”  The curse has made Sparrow quite the tourist attraction and people come from miles around to see if what they have heard is true.  The town throws ‘Swan’ parties and then just passively waits for the ritual to play out each year, with no hope of ever stopping it.

Things change this year, however.  A young man named Bo arrives in town on the same night the Swan sisters are set to return.  Bo meets 17-year-old Penny Talbot, a local who like most others, has just accepted this as her way of life.  Penny fills him in on the curse and warns him that as a teen boy, he’s likely to be a potential target.  The two of them start to bond and, instead of passively riding out the ritual like she does every other year, Penny becomes determined to keep Bo from falling victim to the sisters.  While Penny is busy trying to keep Bo safe, seeds of discord are being sown in the town and some of the boys decide it’s time to end this curse once and for all.  Someone comes up with the idea that perhaps if they can figure out which girls are inhabited by the spirits, they can kill those girls and thus prevent the spirits from returning to the sea, thus breaking the curse.  This leads to a modern day witch hunt with the girls now in just as much danger as the boys.

Can the townspeople stop the curse?  Can they even justify taking the lives of three innocent girls to possibly stop the curse?  Can Penny protect Bo from the curse?  Why did Bo conveniently show up in town that night anyway?  So many questions….

I absolutely loved the atmosphere that Ernshaw creates in her novel.  It’s an enchanting recipe of quaint small town quirkiness combined with the haunting and creepy vibe that this two-hundred year old curse casts over everything.  Small details like the sisters using song to lure teen girls into the water to steal their bodies just added to the overall sensory experience of reading.  If I was rating on atmosphere only, this would be five stars for sure.

The legend of the Swan sisters was fascinating as well.  I really liked how Ernshaw allowed more and more details about their story to unfold as we’re watching the curse play out in real time.  The Swan sisters were actually interesting enough that I would have loved an entire book devoted just to them, but Ernshaw does a nice job of seamlessly weaving together the past and the present to show us how the curse began and why the sisters are so bent on seeking revenge against the people of Sparrow.

Out of all the characters, Bo was probably the character who intrigued me the most.  He was so mysterious and it felt like he was hiding something when he first arrived, especially the way he claimed to not be a tourist yet conveniently showed up on the first night of “Swan Season.”  I felt like I was watching him most closely while I was reading, trying to figure out if he had ulterior motives for arriving in Sparrow when he did.

Okay, so let me reiterate that I enjoyed reading The Wicked Deep.  As I’ve already mentioned, I read it in a day and literally could not put it down until I knew how it was going to end.  That said, there were some things about the story itself that just drove me crazy and had me yelling at the characters (a lot!) while I was reading…

 

  1. I could not understand, for the life of me, how an entire town of people could continue living in a place where they know the same thing is going to happen every year. You know young men are going to drown and yet even if you are the parent of said young men, you’re cool with staying in this town?  I couldn’t get past this because I just can’t fathom staying in a place like this.  It should be a deserted ghost town.

 

  1. Speaking of being a tourist haven – Even if you have accepted your fate as some kind of “collective guilt,” why would you exploit this tragedy by bringing more people to your town? Are they hoping to lure in other families so that maybe non-local kids drown instead of their own?
  1. The teenagers’ cavalier attitude toward the entire curse. Again, you know as a teen girl in a small town, you have a very high chance of being one of the three who are “chosen” by the sisters and that if chosen, they, using your body, will murder young men.  And you know as a teenage boy, that you stand a pretty good chance of being lured out to a watery grave.  So why the heck do these idiots have a huge party down on the beach the first night of “Swan Season” every year and  dare each other to drunkenly wade out into the water to see what happens?

 

Aside from not understanding why the people of Sparrow do what they do, I also guessed what was supposed to be a huge plot twist very early on, so that was a little disappointing. I will say it’s a great twist though, a total game changer, so if you don’t guess it early on, it will blow your mind when you get there.

One other area where I felt things were a bit lacking was in the area of character development.  You’ll notice that aside from Bo, I didn’t really mention any other characters and that’s because I didn’t really feel all that invested in any of them.  It felt like they were just there to advance the plot regarding the curse.  Penny probably had the most development out of any of them but I still didn’t really feel any connection to her.  Since I’m one who likes to connect with the characters, I’m reading about, this was a little disappointing.

While in many ways The Wicked Deep lived up to expectations – it’s one of the most atmospheric books I’ve read in a while and I definitely enjoyed the unique premise of the cursed town and the three sisters’ quest for revenge, the book fell a bit flat for me in other ways just because I couldn’t get past the unrealistic behavior of the people in the town and didn’t feel much of a connection to the characters. I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a haunting and creepy witch-themed read.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

three-stars

About Shea Ernshaw

Shea Ernshaw is an Oregon native and YA author. She often writes late, late, late into the night, enjoys dark woods, scary stories and moonlight on lakes. She drinks loads of tea and believes sunrises are where unicorns hide.

She lives with her two cats, a dog, a husband, and a stack of books beside her bed she still needs to read.

Her debut THE WICKED DEEP will be published by Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse in 2018.

Discussion Post: Books Guaranteed to Pull Me Out of a Reading Slump

It has happened to us all at some point.  One minute you’re on a roll, reading one incredible book after another, and then boom, it hits…the dreaded reading slump.  As soon as the slump hits, you try book after book from your TBR pile, but nothing seems to satisfy and instead of being the wonderful hobby that you love so much, reading suddenly becomes a chore.

I’ve been fairly lucky on this front and (knock on wood!) have only fallen into a reading slump a few times in my life so far and most of those were in college when I was required to read a lot of books for my English major that didn’t necessarily appeal to me.  But man, when those slumps do hit, they just make me so depressed.  Seriously, is there anything worse for a book lover than to suddenly not enjoy reading anymore?

Usually switching to a different genre for a while is enough to help me bust through my slumps, which is how I’ve developed such eclectic tastes in books over the years, but every once in a while, changing genres is not enough.  Sometimes I just have to set aside my entire TBR pile and go back and revisit some cherished old favorites that always remind me why I fell in love with reading in the first place and give me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track with my reading.  

 

So what are my go-to slump busting reads?

 

CHILDHOOD FAVORITES

 

There’s nothing like taking a moment to go back and rediscover those favorite characters and settings from my childhood.  I’m a huge fan of doing this, especially now that my son is old enough to read my childhood favorites.  I’ve been trying to instill a love of reading in him so it has been wonderful for us to read and enjoy my childhood favorites together. He gets to discover these wonderful characters for the first time and I get to take a stroll down memory lane.

 

BOOKS THAT RESONATE

 

 

These are books that no matter how many years have passed since I first read them, I still think about them.  They taught me lessons that have stuck with me to this day and they are books that are guaranteed to make me think.  These are books that I remain passionate about no matter how many times I re-read them.

 

BOOKS THAT MAKE ME CRY

 

I don’t know about other readers, but sometimes I think my reading slumps are caused by other things that are going on in my life at the time.  It’s not necessarily the books I’m reading, it’s just me.  Whether it’s work stress, family drama, or whatever, just something gets all bottled up inside and when that happens, I feel like I need an emotional release and so I will reach for a book that I know will give me that good cry.

 

BOOKS THAT MAKE ME LAUGH

 

 

On a similar note, maybe a good cry isn’t what I need. Maybe it’s a good laugh.  I don’t read a lot of funny books so this can sometimes be a challenge, but there are a few silly books out there that I love to pull out when I need some laughs.  I know Pride and Prejudice is technically more of a romance than anything else, but the banter between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, not to mention the silly antics of Mrs. Bennett, is always good for a laugh.  And I’ve all but abandoned the Stephanie Plum series for now, as I mentioned in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, but let me tell you, if I hit another major reading slump, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab a book or two from that series.  If the misadventures of Grandma Mazur and Lula don’t bust a reading slump, nothing will, lol.

 

HARRY POTTER

 

   

Yes, this series is in a category all by itself.  I didn’t read it until I was an adult so I can’t consider it a childhood favorite. But in a lot of ways, it covers all of the other topics above and then some.  There’s just something about picking up one of these books that feels like coming home. Whenever I read them, I not only fall in love with the characters and the story all over again, but I also think about how many other readers this series has captivated over the years.  This is the series that made so many people fall in love with reading, and I get caught up in that spell and all is right with the world again (at least as far as my love of reading anyway, lol).

 

 

So, what about you?  What kind of books do you turn to when you’re trying to pull yourself out of a reading slump?

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee.  One of my absolute favorite reads of 2017 was The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.  It was laugh-out-loud hilarious and was brimming with lovable characters.  Felicity Montague, with her razor sharp wit and her unwavering desire to become a doctor during a time where that was just unheard of, quickly became one of my favorites.  I’m over the moon to know that she’s now going to have her own book in this series and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.  I predict this will be one of my favorite 2018 reads!

 

THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee

Publication Date:   October 2, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor.

A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh; and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money to make the trip.

Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Book Series I’ve Decided to Quit

Created at canva.com

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading.  I tweaked this topic a bit because even after I made a list of ten books I was pretty sure I no longer wanted to read, I still kept rethinking my decision.  (In case you haven’t heard, we Libras can be an indecisive bunch, haha!).  I could, however, pretty easily come up with 10 series that I’m not interested in continuing (or in some cases, even starting) at this point.

 

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Top Ten Book Series I’ve Decided to Quit

 

  • FIFTY SHADES by E.L. James – In this case, it’s not so much quitting a series as it is deciding not to even start it.  I bought a copy of the first book back in my pre-blogging days when the hype was so high for this series.  Everyone I knew was telling me I needed to read it.  The more I heard about it, the less interested I was until I finally sold the book the last time we had a yard sale, lol.

 

  • OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon – I liked the first book in this series well enough, but I started reading the series right about the time I got completely burnt out on reading romance so the chrmistry of Claire and Jamie just didn’t do much for me.  I do keep this one in the back of my mind in case I ever do get solidly back into reading romance.

 

  • THE NEOPOLITAN NOVELS by Elena Ferrante – My Brilliant Friend, the first book in this series, was actually one of my most anticipated reads for 2016.  With its post-war Italian setting and its focus on the friendship of two school-age girls, I thought it just sounded like such a wonderful read.  Unfortunately, it took me nearly 3 weeks to slog through the first 40% of the book and I completely lost interest in finishing it or in continuing the series.

 

  • STEPHANIE PLUM by Janet Evanovich – I think with this series, it’s a case of too much of a good thing.  I actually really love the series and all of the characters, but I got as far as book 12 and just had no interest in continuing because at a certain point, the books all start to sound the same. I could see myself revisiting this at some point, but for now, we’re on a break.

 

  • SOOKIE STACKHOUSE by Charlaine Harris  – Another good series that I just lost interest in because it started to get too predictable.  I noticed that I was starting to rate each book lower and lower so I decided it was time to stop reading.

 

 

  • THE WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS by Maggie Stiefvater – I’m not entirely sure why this series is no longer of interest.  I think maybe because I had such a mixed reaction to All the Crooked Saints, which was my first Stiefvater read.  I’m still interested in reading The Raven Cycle so maybe if I like that one, I’ll reconsider this one, but for now, it’s coming off my list.

 

  • RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard – I spent so much time yelling at Mare when I read the first two books of this series.  I know I’m the unpopular opinion when it comes to this series, but I just don’t think I can take a third book of her trying to decide what’s more important, boys or saving her people…

 

  • MISS PEREGRINE’S PECULIAR CHILDREN – I read the first book and thought it was pretty good, but then just lost interest in continuing with the second book.  My sister read the second book recently and said she thought it was a disappointing read even though she loved the first book.  She and I have similar taste so my gut says not to continue.

 

  • GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson and now David Lagercrantz – I read and loved all of the books in this series that were written by the original author, Stieg Larsson.  When he passed away and David Lagercrantz took over the writing duties, I decided I wasn’t interested in continuing the series.  It just didn’t feel right to have a different author at the helm of Lisbeth’s story.

 

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Question:  Do you think I should give any of these series a second chance?  What series have you decided to quit?

Review: DAUGHTERS OF THE STORM by Kim Wilkins

Review:  DAUGHTERS OF THE STORM by Kim WilkinsDaughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins
three-half-stars
Series: Blood and Gold #1
Published by Del Rey Books on March 6th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

The first novel in an exciting new fantasy series by Kim Wilkins, Daughters of the Storm follows the story of five very different royal sisters who must put aside their differences and come together to save their kingdom.

These sisters are so different from one another, at times, it’s hard to believe that they share the same blood.  There’s Bluebell, the eldest, a fierce warrior who has been trained by her father to rule the kingdom of Thyrsland someday.  She is feared by all and actually rumored to be unkillable in battle.  Then there’s Ash, a gentler soul than Bluebell.  Ash is studying to be a healer but has discovered she has the ability to see the future.  As she struggles to learn more about and control this ability, she becomes more and more torn about whether being a seer is a gift or a curse.  The third sister is Rose, and Rose is ruled by her passion.  Her father married her off to the ruler of a neighboring kingdom, as a way to form an alliance and keep the peace.  Rose, however, does not love her husband and is willing to risk peaceful relations between the kingdoms by pursuing a forbidden love.  And finally, there are the twins Willow and Ivy, who have been living with a distant relative for a while and left to their own devices. For Willow, being left to her own devices translates to her joining a new religion and behaving as though she’s a brainwashed member of a cult.  For Ivy, it means being vain and flirtatious and trying to bed any man she desires.

When their father, the King, is stricken by a mysterious illness that appears to have magical roots, the sisters, led by Bluebell who appears to be the most devoted to their father, come together in a desperate attempt to save his life and their kingdom.  Not only do they need to track down a powerful witch who can cure the King, but they must also do so while not letting word get out that the King is near death. They have enough trouble on their hands trying to keep their treacherous stepbrother from stealing the throne; the last thing they need is to alert the rest of the King’s enemies that he is vulnerable should they wish to mount an attack.

 

What an exciting and fast-paced read this was!  I originally picked it up because I liked the idea of these sisters who would normally have little to do with one another being forced to come together to save their father.  But in many ways, it was so much more than that.  Not only are these sisters different from each other, but they also differ in their devotion to their father.  Bluebell, even though she would become ruler of the kingdom if her father were to die and is clearly ready to rule, is desperate to save his life at all costs.  Ash appears to be similarly devoted, but the younger three seem almost indifferent as to whether they save him or not.  They are annoyed they have been summoned from their lives to be a part of this rescue mission.  That was quite unexpected and added a layer of depth to the story I wasn’t expecting going into it and I wanted to know more about why each of them felt the way they did.

I got my opportunity to learn much more about each sister too as the story is presented to us from the alternating points of view of all five sisters, not to mention a few chapters from the stepbrother’s point of view as well.  At first I thought so many POVs would be too confusing and would bog down my reading experience, but Wilkins does a great job of incorporating each POV in a way that wasn’t confusing while still advancing the overall plot. I think the sisters being so different probably helped with that.  I never got one mixed up with another.  I also really loved getting inside of each sister’s head because wow, they are each holding on to some secrets that if they got out, could easily bring down their kingdom whether their father lives or not.

I also really liked the complicated family dynamic with the Queen as stepmother to the five sisters instead of their birth mother.  In many ways the Queen sets most of the drama into motion because of her assumption that Bluebell and the girls hate her and will expel her from the castle if their father dies.  Because of this fear, instead of sending word out to the girls first when their father falls ill, she summons her son instead. She wants him there in case they try to throw her out.  This just opens up a whole can of worms as Bluebell finds out elsewhere that her father is ill and thus immediately suspects that her stepmother and stepbrother are up to something.  Getting on Bluebell’s bad side from the get go probably wasn’t the smartest move.

As far as the sisters themselves, my reaction was a bit mixed.  Bluebell and Ash were, by far, my favorites. I admired the fierceness of Bluebell and the fact that people truly were scared to death of her.  I chuckled a few times throughout when people referred to her as Princess and then practically fell over themselves apologizing after receiving a death glare from her.  It becomes clear that it’s well known throughout the kingdom that she hates the term Princess and wishes only to be addressed as My Lord.  I found Ash to be equally as interesting as Bluebell, and I liked that they did appear to be pretty close unlike the other sisters. I also enjoyed the subplot involving Ash’s seer abilities that ran alongside the main storyline of the book.  It was fascinating to watch her learn more about and control her abilities, which are apparently a bit more than being able to see the future, to help on their quest to save their father, and I liked the self-sacrificing side of Ash that comes out whenever she thinks her abilities may cause others to be hurt.

Strangely enough, in many ways, however, the most interesting character was the stepbrother, Wylm. I think what I liked about him was that he was such a complicated character and kept me guessing throughout the story as to how much of a villain he really was.  At first I was okay with him, but then I hated him.  Then a bit later, something else happened and I thought “Hmmm, maybe he does have some redeeming qualities” and so on.  If you enjoy complicated characters, he’s definitely the one to keep your eyes on.

 

I didn’t have a lot of issues with this book, but I did have a couple.  The first of which is the name Bluebell.  I know it’s shallow and nitpicky to get hung up on a character’s name, but I just found it distracting, especially every time she was referred to as Bluebell the Fierce.  It’s hard to think of a character as a fierce warrior with a name like that.  So yeah, shallow nitpick from me because I loved everything about Bluebell except her name, but there it is.

The other issue I had was that I didn’t like the other three sisters at all.  Aside from the drama they added to the plot with their secrets and their willingness to betray one another and their kingdom, I just didn’t find them nearly as compelling as Bluebell and Ash. I’m wondering if they’ll play more important roles in later novels in the series, but for this one, most of the time they just felt like background noise to me.

 

Even with the couple of issues I had, I still thought Daughters of the Storm was an exciting read and I look forward to seeing where Wilkins takes the story next.  If you’re into strong female characters, with a side of secrets, lies, and betrayal, this is a fantasy world you’ll want to immerse yourself in.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Five very different sisters team up against their stepbrother to save their kingdom in this Norse-flavored fantasy epic–the start of a new series in the tradition of Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, and Robin Hobb.

FIVE ROYAL SISTERS. ONE CROWN.

They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift–or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.

three-half-stars

About Kim Wilkins

Kim Wilkins was born in London, and grew up at the seaside north of Brisbane, Australia. She has degrees in literature and creative writing, and teaches at the University of Queensland and in the community. Her first novel, The Infernal, a supernatural thriller was published in 1997. Since then, she has published across many genres and for many different age groups. Her latest books, contemporary epic women’s fiction, are published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman. Kim has won many awards and is published all over the world. She lives in Brisbane with a bunch of lovable people and pets.