Anna’s April Wrap Up

I read some truly great books in April! I don’t have a negative thing to say about any of them.

If I Had Your Face-Follows the interconnected lives of four women. Largely about the impossible beauty standards of women, especially in Korean culture.

Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders– The story of two women and lovers who were murdered and the fight for justice around their deaths. A scary realization that even our national parks aren’t a safe place to be a woman.

Sea of Tranquility – Emily St.John Mandel’s newest book is just as amazing as everyone is saying it is. You won’t know what’s truly going on until the end, and I loved the touch of scifi. 

Audiobooks:

A Far Wilder Magic– Cozy magic with just enough small town politics and romance. My second Alison Saft book of the year. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

The Push– the best thriller I’ve read this year. This will make you terrified to be a parent.

Alexis’ October Wrap Up

Alexis. wearing a gray sweater, stands in front of a bookshelf while holding a stack of books.

🎃 𝐎𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝗪𝐫𝐚𝐩 𝐔𝐩! 🎃⁣

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⁣

Kingdom of the Cursed ⁣by Kerri Maniscalco

I’ve already written my review, but this second book in the trilogy was passionate and electrifying. It was great to see Emilia’s character arc, and Wrath’s, as well. Is it a perfect book? No. However, this was a thrilling sequel that completely sucked me in!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⁣

Kingdom of the Wicked (re-read) by Kerri Maniscalco ⁣

Vow of Thieves ⁣by Mary E. Pearson

Vow of Thieves is the sequel to the Dance of Thieves duology. I loved the more fast-action plot, as compared to the slow pace of the first book. Overall, I just enjoyed this one much more than the first, despite the fact that Kazi and Jase, the main characters, are separated from each other during the majority of it. It added more tension!

Six Crimson Cranes ⁣by Elizabeth Lim

This book is an East Asian inspired fairytale retelling. It follows a cursed princess named Shiori who attempts to break the curse cast on her six brothers; their stepmother turned them into cranes. I loved Shiori’s character arc, and I enjoyed the worldbuilding. I do wish the romance was more developed, and I wanted more dragons! But this was a great read overall.

⭐⭐⭐✨⁣

Vespertine ⁣by Margaret Rogerson

Vespertine follows Artemisia, a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on. When a revenant, an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic, is woken up, it attaches itself to Artemisia. While this was a cool concept, I wasn’t feeling the book overall. It was missing the charm and humor of Rogerson’s other books. In the acknowledgments, Rogerson mentions that she wrote it while depressed and under Covid lockdown, and unfortunately, you can feel that heaviness really come through. The extra half star was for Artemisia’s character, who I thought was a unique main character; but ultimately, I didn’t connect with this story as much as I wanted to.

⭐⭐⭐⁣

Dance of Thieves ⁣by Mary E. Pearson

The first in the duology, Dance of Thieves had the potential to be a 5-star read; however, long sections of this book dragged on with extraneous detail. After some insta-love, Kazi and Jase go back and forth between enemies and lovers constantly, and it gave me whiplash. The writing is 5-star worthy, and while there were moments I loved, I found myself skipping large chunks of paragraphs just to finish the book.

⭐⭐✨⁣

Sky in the Deep ⁣by Adrienne Young

The story follows warrior Eelyn in a Viking-inspired world. When she discovers her brother, Iri, is actually still alive, she is stolen by Fiske, the same man who saved Iri. But Fiske, and now Iri, belong to an enemy clan, and Eelyn can’t wait to escape to go back home to her father.

Maybe because I heard glowing reviews of this one, but the writing just felt very bland to me. The character development and romance didn’t have a great arc, and while I loved the world and the vibes, I found myself detached from the story. However, I highly recommend reading Fable by Young if you haven’t already.

⁣October felt like a very long month. I read a wide variety of books, with my reviews across the board, and I’m looking forward to some great reads this month!

Alexis’ September Wrap Up

An orange basket full of books sits on the forest floor.

Alexis: September wrap up time!

Once again, I had a great reading month. And I actually managed to read 3 5-star books!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

I loved all of these! For the Wolf is a slow-moving, atmospheric new adult fantasy read with plenty of creepy woods, earthy magic, and romance.

Forestborn is about a shifter named Rora, who goes on a quest with her brother and her best friend, Finley’s, brother in order to cure Finley from a magical illness. Rora is a fantastic main character, and Becker’s writing is lovely. I loved the worldbuilding and the quest storyline.

Defy the Night has dual POVs: Tessa, an apothecary who is illegally distributing medicine to cure the poor from a ravaging sickness, and Corrick, the crowned prince and King’s Justice. It’s a classic fantasy with great pacing, well-rounded characters you want to root for, and a well-written romance.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

ACOWAR (re-read) by Sarah J. Maas 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Lakesedge is a lyrical, atmospheric fantasy with dark magic, a run-down estate, and creepy, atmospheric vibes.

A Court of Wings and Ruin is the third book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I already own the other two, and figured I was due for a re-read (plus it was nice to have 700 pages to read to distract me from the fact that I was in the hospital).

⭐⭐⭐.5

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Small Favors is a hodgepodge of YA fantasy, historical fantasy, and thriller. When monsters are rumored to have returned to the woods outside of Amity Falls, Ellerie struggles to help her family survive. This is a well-written, chaotic thriller, but ultimately the story is too drawn-out to be a 4-star read.

⭐⭐:

Much Ado About You by Samantha Young

What We Devour by Linsey Miller

Much Ado About You is a rom-com that follows Evie, a thirty-something who spontaneously decides to work in a bookshop in England. While I liked all of the Shakespeare references, the writing was just way too cheesy for me.

What We Devour is a unique book with a grim, bloody magic system in a corrupt world. While I loved the beginning, I had a hard time connecting with the characters, and I often had no clue what was going on with the repetitive plot. There is some great ace rep, as Lorena, the main character, is asexual. But unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with this book as much as I wanted to. 

I’m looking forward to some great fall and Halloween themed reads in October!

Alexis’ August Wrap Up

A kindle sits on top of a paperback copy of Raybearer on a desk. A lit white pumpkin candle sits behind it, next to a cup of pens and office supplies and a pink water bottle.

Alexis:

Well, I read seven books in August! This has definitely been a good reading year for me; I actually surpassed my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books this year in August, too.

I re-read two books this month: A Court of Mist and Fury and Raybearer. Both were still 5-star reads, and I’m happy that I bought copies of both of them to add to my personal library.

I read one 4-star book: The Crown of Gilded Bones. While I haven’t given star ratings to the other books in the Blood and Ash series, I enjoyed the additional worldbuilding and Poppy’s character arc, and it definitely felt like a 4-star read.

I read two 3-star books: Realm Breaker, Tweet Cute, and Last Summer at the Golden Hotel.

Realm Breaker is a high fantasy read. I found the prologue to be confusing, and I had a hard time getting into the beginning of the story. While I loved some of the characters, there were a lot of POVs, the world and worldbuilding felt kind of generic, and I just wasn’t blown away when I finished reading it.

I actually read Tweet Cute on my Kindle while traveling. It’s a YA rom-com, which definitely isn’t my usual genre. This was a fun read, with a LOT of cheese puns. It bounces back and forth between the POVs of Pepper and Jack. I enjoyed reading about Pepper’s love of baking, and I enjoyed reading about an app that Jack created called Weazel. However, the main plotline of this book is a Twitter feud, and I found that it got a little annoying and boring for me. But if you like fluffy reads and drama, then I think you might enjoy it.

I also read Last Summer at the Golden Hotel while traveling. It mentioned Dirty Dancing, one of my favorite movies, so I had to pick it up! Turns out the only similarity is the setting. This book is wholly about family drama. Two different families own the Golden Hotel, and we get to see from a ton of different POVs (which usually isn’t my thing; it keeps me from connecting to the characters, and this was no different). While this book was definitely interesting, I think it dragged on a little too long, and had some melodramatic parts. It also focused a lot on the difference between generations, which I also wasn’t a huge fan of. (Maybe I need to stick to my favorite genre from now on!)

And finally, I read one 2-star book: Ariadne. I already wrote a review on it, so you can check that out here!

Anna’s August Wrap Up

I didn’t read as much as I normally do this month, but that’s okay! I was busy going to the beach and filling my weekends with other end of summer experiences. 

I finally read Hamnet this month, and loved it as much as everyone else did! It’s a lyrical written story about grief and Shakespeare’s (fictionalized) family. This is exactly what I’m looking for in literary fiction- beautiful writing and expertly written characters. Maggie O’Farrell clearly did her research on the Shakespeare family, but she also tells an original story that stands on its own. Hamnet is also the first book that made me cry in years.  

I liked the descriptions of food and NYC in Sweetbitter, but overall it was too slow & way overwritten. My favorite thing about this book is what I learned about working in the restaurant/food industry, specifically fine dining. If you can get through Tess’s overly naive and heady descriptions of her life after randomly moving to New York City, you’ll learn about the inner-workings  and politics of running a famous restaurant. Seriously, this girl doesn’t know anything about New York City (or life) when she gets there. Yet somehow she’s likable, sexy, and a protegee at her job? What saved this book for me, as someone who lived there for a year and worked in two unforgiving industries (publishing & retail), is the love/hate descriptions of working your butt off living in New York City. 

The Perfect Nanny was the most underwhelming thriller I’ve read all year. Translated from French, this book has a lot of half-baked ideas and proclamations about motherhood, race, and class. All these ideas and themes were underdeveloped. 

But the biggest problem I had with The Perfect Nanny is that it’s a thriller, and yet there was no surprise or twist. At the very beginning of the book, we learn that a French couple’s nanny, Louise, has killed their two children. Spoiler alert, she did. And there’s no nuance to why she did it. I also didn’t find Louise’s character very believable. There’s not nearly enough to justify her mental breakdown at the end.

I love a good campus novel with a mystery and vapid teenage girls, and The Divines didn’t disappoint. This one has surprisingly low/poor reviews on Goodreads. Maybe people don’t like it because it’s slow-paced and the characters are extremely dislikable. Although that description also fits the much-loved The Secret History by Donna Tartt French, and I thought The Divines was better. What I really liked about this book was how the reader learns about Joe’s experiences and trauma at boarding school affected her adult life. This book also takes an interesting look at how memories can change over years and how people remember the same events differently. 

I also read Moonflower Murders (not pictured), the second book in the Susan Ryeland series by Anthony Horowitz, which was just as good as the first! I don’t want to spoil anything from book one, Magpie Murders, but these books have some of the most masterful plotting I’ve ever read. They’re also both murder mysteries within a muder mystery. I really hope there will be a book three! 

With August ending, I can’t wait to officially kick off my fall reading in September!