Book Review – House of Salt and Sorrows

“We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.”

Title: House of Salt and Sorrows

Author: Erin A. Craig

Publisher: Delacourte

Publication date: August 6th, 2019

403 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Review

Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.

Erin A. Craig, House of Salt and Sorrows

In a retelling of 12 Dancing Princesses, Annaleigh is one of eight sisters left after four died tragically. The family has suffered so much loss, and Annaleigh can’t help but wonder if it’s too much loss to just be attributed to bad circumstances or coincidence. She starts to think the most recent death was a murder, so she starts investigates. The more she finds out, the more she realizes she has no idea what is happening in Highmoor – and everything and everyone is in question. Will Annaleigh figure out what’s happening before more death comes to call?

House of Salt and Sorrows is seriously dreamy and magical. Whereas it is a serious story with death and terrible things happening, you can’t not notice the fairytale feel and magical essence to the writing. I was able to read this book in one sitting, it captured and held my attention throughout. There was even a bit of a mystery element to it as you tried to figure out who is bringing the darkness down on the family – and I totally didn’t see the ending coming until it was there.

Annaleigh was a good narrator, she is a middle sister and is somewhere in the middle between oblivious and too suspicious, if that makes sense. Her older sister seems completely oblivious to everything happening around them, but one of her younger sisters seems too involved in the mystery – even seeing visions and ghosts. I think it was a good decision to make someone in the middle be the narrator, and then experience the whole spectrum from the outside.

I very much enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows, and goodness just look at that cover?! Absolutely amazing. I loved that it was a standalone and the whole story was wrapped up in one book. If you’re looking for retellings with magical qualities, or a ghost story go check out House of Salt and Sorrows!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – By the Book

Title: By the Book

Author: Amanda Sellet

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: May 12th, 2020

384 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself.

Review

**Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers, Netgalley, and Amanda Sellet for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

By the Book is a Young Adult Contemporary read that follows Mary, a sophomore just starting at a new high school. She had been going to school in a small, experimental school so she has no experience with “typical” high school life, and at this point has no friends. She’s the second youngest out of 5 children, and she knows everything there is to know about classic literature. Mary is timid and quiet, but can have some sass to her. She meets a group of girls to befriend, and they start classifying the guys in their schools as some of the villains in European literature, but no one is worse than Alex Ritter. He is a senior and a huge player who will hit on any girls around…. or is he?

The story line is sweet and has a fun group of friends. It’s also interesting to see the family dynamic with 5 kids who are all literature and theater inclined. The love story is sweet, a kind of enemies to lovers in a PG rated way.
I loved the LGBTQIA aspects and the nod given to other characters who aren’t hetero.

Frankly, Mary is my least favorite character in the book. I just think she came across as very flat, whereas other characters were given a lot of dimension. There was mention of her feeling slighted and ignored in a huge family, but there was never anything done or said about it. I wanted her to have more life in the book than she did.

Overall, I felt this book was sweet but could have gone deeper with the MC.

eARC Review – Dark Skies

Title: Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2)

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication date: May 5th, 2020

464 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

Review

**Thank you to Tor Teen, Netgalley, and Danielle L. Jensen for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

WOW I am just blown away. I want to start by saying that even though this is the second book, you do NOT need to read the first book to understand what is happening. I have not read Dark Shores but still feel that the world building and characters were enough to support this book. After reading Dark Skies, I am even more excited to read Dark Shores!

Dark Skies follows Lydia and Killian, worlds apart but forced together to try and respectively save the people they care about. The Gods seem to be up to their ears in problems, and it’s being taken out on the humans that have faith in them. Worlds are coming apart at the seems, and these two are so caught up in it that there is no telling how this will end up.

I adore the characters. Lydia and Killian are so different, yet so similar in so many ways. They are both such tragic humans, bent on saving each other, their loved ones, and the world – even when they can’t do it all. This doesn’t mean they don’t spend the whole book trying to in spite of that! The side characters are okay. there are definitely some interesting characters but Lydia and Killian really steal the show.

The magic system is super interesting, with Gods “marking” certain humans with powers at some point in their lives. Each God has different reasons for marking and different types of people to give marks too. Also, the Gods are only as powerful as their people’s faith in them, which I think is a very interesting subplot and calls into question the inherent “all powerful” archetype for deities.

Overall, if you love YA Fantasy and magic and Gods interfering in humans lives, PLEASE read this book because you will not regret it.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Chain of Gold

“The most interesting women are always the most whispered about.”

Title: Chain of Gold (The Last Hour #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

624 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Chain of Gold is the first novel in a new trilogy that stars the Shadowhunters of Edwardian London.

Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.

Review

We don’t always love people who deserve it.

cassandra clare, chain of gold

I spent a good amount of time DYING for this book to come out because I mean, look at it. I had just caught up in the Shadowhunter world (the main books, not the novella collections) and was READY for more and especially more Will and Tessa!!! But… I ended up being kind of disappointed with this book.

Let’s start here. The action was great as it always is. I love the Shadowhunter world and the characters. There is just something about returning to this world that makes me happy. I felt like this trilogy started off very differently than the others mainly because there was very little Downworlder involvement like in the other books, virtually no vampires, werewolves, faeries, or warlocks (save Magnus and Tessa of course). This was strictly Shadowhunter plot, and I didn’t mind this at all. There certainly was plenty of intrigue, and I love the juxtaposition of 20th century treatment of women and Shadowhunter bad-assery.

Cordelia and James were my favorite characters, except when James was being a total dillweed, but we’ll give him a pass because I believe we will find out it’s not entirely his fault. Lucy is perfectly lovely and I really enjoyed her side expeditions with the Blackthorn boy/ghost. Also, I am here for the LGBTQIA characters, the further CC gets into her series’ the more she incorporate human rights issues, modern day sexual identity issues, and just current societal issues and I think it’s great.

However. And there are a few howevers here. I had several issues with the overall book. First – it was slow. I slogged through the first, say, 400 pages. Sure there was stuff happening, but it had a weird flow and I couldn’t get into it. Second – there are too. many. characters. I STILL don’t have everyone straight. I spent the whole time trying to remember who was related to who, because there were 6 “main characters” and like 20 other side characters who were also important. I couldn’t do it. It’s way too much. Third. I hate Grace Blackthorn. I don’t like reading about her, and I want her to leave the book entirely!

I don’t hate this book, don’t get me wrong. I have high hopes for the next book, and OF COURSE I will continue to read. I just almost expected… better? It’s truly possible I overhyped this in my head and for the first time I don’t have the next book to dive into immediately.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Flame in the Mist

“To me, you are magic.” 

Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication date: May 16th, 2017

392 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Review

The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.

renee ahdieh, flame in the mist

Flame in the Mist is a seriously awesome, Japan inspired fantasy where Mariko, the MC, is on her way to be wed to the Emperor’s son when her caravan is overtaken and everyone is killed… but her. She must pretend to be a boy to sneak into the Black Clan, the group of vigilantes responsible for this atrocious crime. She expected to get in, find out why she was attacked, and bring them to justice. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the most dangerous man in the Black Clan, and to actually enjoy her time there being acknowledged for her abilities.

I listened to Flame in the Mist on audiobook, and I really loved the audio version. Mariko was a great character, and I am always drawn to the “girl poses as boy” trope. The world building is truly fantastic and on audio it makes you feel like you’re in the forest and a part of the battle, which I attribute mostly to Ahdieh’s writing style. There is political intrigue aplenty, for those of you who enjoy that aspect of books (myself included). I finished the book still not knowing exactly who was on what side, which is exactly how I like it.

One thing that stunned me was the romance between Mariko and the member of the Black Clan. Don’t get me wrong, you could definitely see it was building to a romance, but her first kiss with him was so unexpected and terribly timed, that I didn’t understand it at all. I felt it could have been approached better, and less hastily.

Flame in the Mist is followed by Smoke in the Sun, and definitely ended on a cliffhanger that I need resolution to ASAP. Hoping to read the next one this month or next!

Happy reading, folks!

April Wrap Up!

Hello again, friends!! It is already the last day of April and I lament the end of this month that was almost completely spent indoors, whether at work or at home. I have never been a huge outdoors person, but my body is desperately missing the ability to go places and just hang out. I also seem to be going through a bout of insomnia, which the internet says could be due to a lack of natural light… but the weather’s been so bad here that I haven’t been able to spend time outside! I am yearning to take a chair outside and read but nooooope not fun in almost daily rain.

Anyway, that’s how my month has been going. I’ve been reading, but it’s been a struggle and I haven’t wanted to read anything I planned to read. (Spoiler alert I did not read everything on my April TBR!) I did however manage to read 18 books this month, but 6 of them were very short, fluffy, Kindle Unlimited books – because it’s what I needed in my life at that time.

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – 4/5 stars
  2. Magic For Liars, Sarah Gailey – 3.5/5 stars
  3. Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #1), Laini Taylor – 5/5 stars
  4. House of Salt and Sorrows, Erin A. Craig – 4/5 stars
  5. Well Met, Jen DeLuca – 5/5 stars

NETGALLEY EARC’S

TBH I really only wanted to read books on my phone/iPad this month for some reason… I wasn’t interested in physical books at all! So strange for me, because it’s normally always the opposite! Oh well, it was good for my Netgalley ratio!

  1. The Girl with the Whispering Shadow (The Crowns of Croswald #2), D. E. Night – 4/5 stars
  2. Chasing Lucky, Jenn Bennett – 5/5 stars
  3. What Lies Between Us, John Marrs – 4/5 stars
  4. By the Book, Amanda Sellet – 3.5/5 stars
  5. A Taste of Sage, Yaffa S. Santos – 4/5 stars
  6. The Circus Rose, Betsey Cornwell – 4/5 stars

EARC FROM AUTHORS

  1. Last Memoria (Memoria Duology #1), Rachel Emma Shaw – 5/5 stars

KINDLE UNLIMITED

  1. Love at First Fight (Geeks Gone Wild #1), Maggie Dallen – 4/5 stars
  2. My Virtual Prince Charming (Geeks Gone Wild #2), Maggie Dallen – 4/5 stars
  3. Once Upon a Comic-Con (Geeks Gone Wild #3), Maggie Dallen – 3.5/5 stars
  4. Playing the Enemy (The Trouble with Tomboys #1), Maggie Dallen – 4/5 stars
  5. Play to Win (The Trouble with Tomboys #2), Stephanie Street – 4/5 stars
  6. Playing the Field (The Trouble with Tomboys #3), Christina Benjamin – 3.5/5 stars

So that’s that! All 18 books I read this month! I have also revamped my plans for my TBR moving forward, but I’ll leave that for tomorrow’s post!

Happy reading folks!

April Haul!

Holy cow, how is it already the end of April?! Time in quarantine is really flying now! I hope all you lovelies are getting through quarantine and isolation in the best way you can. I certainly find it hard to hold on some days, but I’ve taken to trying to create a routine and doing a bit of cleaning every day to get my house in order. It’s really a long time coming, you would understand if you could see my house! Of course, I’m doing some reading as well, just not as much or exactly which books I wanted to.

So without further ado, my whole haul is below. I treated myself a bit to an extra BOTM book and bought two backlist sequels that I’ve had my eye on in order to support a local bookstore. I will likely cut back again next month and resume my ban!

SUBSCRIPTION BOXES

  1. Beach Read, Emily Henry – Book of the Month
  2. The Guest List, Lucy Foley – Book of the Month
  3. Ruthless Gods, Emily A. Duncan – Owlcrate Special Edition (thanks fiance!)

THE IVY BOOKSHOP

  1. A Heart So Fierce and Broken, Brigid Kemmerer
  2. These Divided Shores, Sara Raasch

My Owlcrate monthly book box has not arrived yet, thanks COVID, so that will be added in next month’s haul!

Let me know in the comments what books you hauled this month!

Happy reading, folks!