August Wrap-up & September TBR

The fall is coming! The fall is coming!

Can you believe it is already September? Where has this year gone?

I’m about to experience my first fall in Ohio…meaning I’m about to experience fall in all it’s glory for the first time in my 21 years of life. Florida doesn’t do seasons. I’m ready for the cool weather and all the beautiful colors!

As August is now over, I felt this is the perfect time for my first (ever) book wrap-up and TBR. Being relatively new to book blogging, I’m excited to give it a shot!

August Wrap-Up

Disclaimer: This post will contain my opinions and they are not meant to offend in any way.

That’s a Wrap!

I had a fantastic reading month (for me), thanks in large part to the #ReadThemAllThon hosted by Aentee at Read At Midnight. I finished 9 books and started a 10th!

The Selection by Kiera Cass: I gave it 3/5 Stars. I found it to be entertaining enough to keep me reading and finished it in a day. It was a quick read and especially good if you’re looking for something relatively light.

The Elite by Kiera Cass: I gave it 2/5 Stars. I had to force myself through this second installment. It started becoming incredibly repetitive to me and a lot less entertaining.

The One by Kiera Cass: This one got back up to a 3/5 Stars. It was still repetitive, maybe even more-so than the second book. But, I also thought this one gave me what I needed to be a conclusion (which is why I don’t plan on reading the other books in the series). I liked how it all wrapped up. I still feel as though these three books could have been put together into one book. There wasn’t a need for three.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: I gave this book 5/5 Stars. It was fantastic, one of the best fantasy novel’s I’ve read. I loved the world, and learning about the world. I loved the characters and the plot. It’s one of those books that just has everything. I would read anything set in this world.

Check out my full review!

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: It was the perfect sequel and I rated it 5/5 Stars (higher if possible). I couldn’t put this book down. It gave me everything I wanted. It had so much world building, history, character development, and conflict that I’m amazed it could all fit into one book. Erika Johansen is by far one of my favorite authors at this point and I can’t wait until November when The Fate of the Tearling comes out!

Check out my full review!

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silver: I couldn’t give this book anything other than 5/5 Stars! Silvera had my feelings and emotions running wild from page one all the way to the last page. A book that makes you feel as much as More Happy Than Not does should not be taken lightly. It is an amazing book with incredible darkness.

Check out my full review!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne: I generously gave this script a 3.5/5 Stars. I don’t consider it cannon (at all), but I think it had entertainment value. For me, many of the characters left much to be desired. In a way some of it even unraveled the original 7 books, and I didn’t like that at all. The plot was flimsy, and couldn’t be fortified well. It’s redeeming quality for me was Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius. I fell in love with him, and he’s most of the reason I finished the play. All that being said, I would still see the play live if I ever could.

Check out my full review!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: It received a 4/5 Star rating. It took me about 12 days to read this book, which is a lot longer than I expected it to take. The book was amazing, but it required concentration for me because of the dialect. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to read and understand 1740’s Scottish dialect! It did add something amazing to the book though. I felt enveloped by the setting. I loved the characters. Claire was so strong, but never forced herself or pretended to be something she was not. And the story was so unique and Gabaldon told it beautifully.

There may be a full review for this book coming.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: I deliberated so much on the rating to give this book and ended up going with 4/5 Stars. I loved it. I loved every character. Blue and the raven boys are the kind of people I would have wanted to be friends with in high school. It was such a fun, exciting, and unique read. I can’t wait to read the next one!

I have a review up on Goodreads but will probably post a full review here!

September begins!

Here is my ambitious TBR for September! Only time will tell how many of these I actually read. This month I’d really like to start writing more too!

I’ve only ever heard good things about Six of Crows and now it’s on my TBR! I’m so excited to read it and finally see what all the hype is about. Hopefully before Crooked Kingdom comes out on the 27th!

These are 3 out of 4 of the books I have yet to finish for the #ReadThemAllThon…I blame Outlander and work for being behind! I’m about halfway through The Wrath and the Dawn and am absolutely loving it! I can’t wait to read This Savage Song and A Court of Thorns and Roses…can you believe I haven’t read anything by S.J. Maas? Me neither.

Next three in by TBR pile! I am incredibly excited about them. I’ve heard so many good things about these books. I absolutely love fantasy, retellings, and magic! The Name of the Wind, And I Darken, and A Darker Shade of Magic will definitely give me all of the above.

Finally, these are the last three on the list (although it’s in no particular order that I’ll be reading). I want to read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children before the movie comes out, so it’ll probably be one of the first I read. I have heard nothing bad about the Cinder, or the Lunar Chronicles, and I finally get to start it! Plus I’ve been wanting to read more retellings. Supposedly, Captive Prince is controversial in some ways…but personally I think the premise sounds interesting and I’d like to see how it goes!

There it is! Goodbye summer, hello fall!

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Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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“You were right, Lazarus. I see my own death, and exalt in it. But before I go, I’m going to cut a wide swath here, wide as God’s ocean…”

-Kelsea, The Queen of the Tearling

Before reviewing the book, I’d like to take a moment to admire its beauty. This book is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. The hardcover version (and the paperback, which I don’t own…yet) is so simple but elegant, regal, and dark; it fits the book perfectly.

Official Synopsis:

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

Review:

5/5 Stars

 

The Queen of the Tearling is the first book I’ve read by Erika Johansen and I never expected to fall in love with it as fast or as deeply as I did. This book sat on my ‘to be read’ shelf for around 5 months before I picked it up. I hadn’t read any reviews on it, that’s not why it sat so long. I was simply intimidated by it. Not only is it a relatively thick book, but reading fantasy books always takes time and patience to learn the interworking’s of this new world you’re being thrust into. You have to focus on the detail. How is the world laid out? Who are the people? What are their beliefs and morals? What is their government like? These are only some of the questions you need to ask while reading fantasy novels. I didn’t know if I wanted to invest that kind of thought and time in a book I knew very little about, by an author I didn’t know at all. I finally picked this book up, and I am more than happy that I did.

The minute I delved into this novel I was fascinated. I was enamored with Johansen’s writing style and the way she literally dragged me into her book from the first line. A day after I finished it, I still haven’t been able to drag myself out of this world. I’m not entirely sure that I want to. Johansen has a way of writing that keeps me turning the pages even when they were filled with descriptions of characters, places, or the world as it is in the novel. Since finishing this book I have read goodreads reviews and watched a few different booktube (youtube) review videos, many seem to think it moved too slowly or that is was superficial. I thought it was incredibly well written. It moved at the perfect speed for this book, I never felt that it was moving unbelievably fast or slow. I know how easy it is to have fantasy novels move too slowly and be overloaded with descriptions. Johansen described enough to give me the world, but not enough to remove my own imagination from it.  

Johansen displays incredible talent and brilliant way with words and characters from beginning to end. There were many characters in this book, it could be difficult to remember them all. That being said, there was only one incident throughout the entire 434 page book that I had to take a moment to actively remember who a person was. Her characterization of not only her main character, Kelsea Raleigh, but also the more involved minor characters was fantastic. Each character has his or her own developed personality. She writes her characters to be believable. Many authors write perfection into their main female characters, sometimes without meaning to, I enjoyed how Johansen made sure to interweave Kelsea’s real flaws. Kelsea has real flaws that caused her real problems which helped to make her that much more believable.

About 90 percent of the book is written from Kelsea’s point of view, while the other 10 percent comes from other people involved. I like the point of view changes because they give me insight into this world I wouldn’t have been able to gain from only being stuck in Kelsea’s head. I like that Johansen didn’t make meaningless point of view changes, they actually matter in developing the plot. Seeing some of the story from the eyes of the Red Queen gives me different knowledge and perspective than Kelsea could have, and it was always important information.

By far, my favorite aspect of this book is that it doesn’t contain a romantic plot or subplot. Kelsea has a really good head and she knows what is truly important. She doesn’t spend time dwelling on a crush, or finding someone attractive and then suddenly falling in love with him.  She shows her sexuality through her thoughts, but it never stems past that. She has no room in her life for romance at this point, and she knows it. She’s realistic. I don’t feel this novel lacked love or warmth by not having a romantic subplot. It just came from different sources. The warmth came from her relationship with her foster parents, and eventually other people. The love stemmed from her intense passion for the Tearling and its people. Not having a romantic plot made this novel stronger, and it gave her passion for the Tearling infinitely more meaning.

The mark of a good book, for myself at least, is that after finishing it I seem to be stuck inside of it. I have so many unanswered questions, and as much as I love that, I also hate it. I went into this book with a lot of questions and, by the end, some of them were answered while many were not and new ones arose. I have fallen into an serious book hangover because of this book, and the only antidote is to read the sequel.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Official Synopsis

January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

Review

5/5 Stars

If I’m being honest this book was on my list before I knew anything about it. Who wouldn’t be interested in a book with such a fantastic title as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? The title drew me in and before I ever held the book in my hands, I had so many questions: What is Guernsey? Or where? Why does the name of a supposed literary society include ‘Potato Peel Pie’? What is a potato peel pie? I finally found this book at Barnes & Noble about a week ago and discovered what it’s about. Being a history buff, and definitely a lover of historical fiction, I knew I had to start this book immediately.

Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows quickly became two of my favorite authors for bringing me such an amazing piece of art. I was sad to find out this was Shaffer’s first and last book because she passed away, but happy that Barrows has another work called The World According to Us. This wasn’t one of those books that began slowly for me, I didn’t need to read the first 50 pages to completely fall in love with it. I fell in love on page 1.

There’s something so unique and enticing about reading a story by way of letters written by the characters and sent to one another. This style brings you so much closer to the characters, you find out who they are based on their words and experiences rather than looking through the eyes of one or two narrators. Eventually, it got to the point that I didn’t need to look to see who the current writer was. I knew each character based on their personality and their words. Juliet Ashton was a fluent and esteemed writer, witty and excitable. Dawsey Adams formal and short-winded, but so obviously loving and selfless. I got to know every character on a deeper level than ever before.

I put off finishing this book deliberately. It’s one that I never wanted to end, I didn’t want to leave their world or their lives behind. I would read this book forever if it would have gone on that long, so when I suddenly had only 30 pages left I did everything I could to stop reading it. I needed to live with and love it for a bit longer. Finally, I couldn’t resist picking it back up and finishing it (I lasted less than a day without it). It ended just as beautifully as it began, but with added bitterness on my part.

This book deserves to be read and loved by many people. A beautifully constructed tale of life after World War II on the island of Guernsey. Budding friendships, love, and the families people made for themselves when they lost everything else. It deserves more than five stars.

Finding Passion Through Indecision

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” – Jessica Hische

Sometimes I think my entire character can be summed up by one word; indecisive. Usually people take indecision as a bad thing. You can’t make a decision and stick to it, you’re constantly changing your mind, swaying back and forth between choices. Indecision comes with a negative connotation. But, the thing many people don’t understand is that it doesn’t have to.

Senior year was hard, full of all these decisions I felt nowhere near ready to make.  I was surrounded by people who seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do down the road specializing in graduate school. I felt like I was missing something, because I had no idea what I could do for the rest of my life. What could be interesting enough to want to spend my whole life doing? Now, I can answer that question, when I was 17 and a high school senior I couldn’t come up with one possibility. So, I made a quick decision, that I was constantly going back to knowing that it wasn’t right, but at least it was something to tell people. When anyone asked it was “I’m going to be a marine biologist,” I look back and laugh at my naivety. I applied to one college because I had absolutely no clue where I actually wanted to go and it was in the opposite direction of where I had been spending my life dreaming about being. I made half-choices based on how other people would be affected, and that put me in a place I didn’t want to be. Don’t get me wrong, going to Miami for school had its positive attributes. I got to learn how to SCUBA dive, which to this day is one of the most amazing things I have gotten to experience in my 20 years. Even though I loved diving, it wasn’t enough to make me happy and eventually I got so depressed with my choices that I stopped going to classes almost completely. I stopped trying because I realized there was no way I could do that for the rest of my life. There was only darkness for me in the field of science, no excitement or light.

I was taking junior level courses as a freshman and in the beginning of my sophomore year. When I realized there was no way I was going to be able to find passion for that field I knew things had to change, so I made another quick decision. I transferred schools and changed my major to Sport’s Business, on the another hemisphere from anything science related. I had 75 credits (some from high school and the rest from college) going into the second semester of my sophomore year, I might as well have been a freshman since few of them counted. That only lasted for the one semester, I wanted to change my major again because I still hadn’t found my place. I changed schools, deciding on going to a community college where I wouldn’t be drowning in debt from my constant switching.

I could tell how much my indecisiveness was wearing on everyone around me, and how it was wearing on me. I don’t remember how I came across it, but I finally realized that I could take my passion for travel, writing, and reading and turn it into a career. I could get a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and travel anywhere in the world; learn about so many different cultures, meet different people, get out of the little box that I lived in. I could further my writing by blogging and continuing to write stories I had given up on because I felt it was pointless, I could never be an author. I have grown so much since then, I have realized that I can do anything I want. I can write and publish a book if I put my heart and soul into it. I can go to many different countries while still making money to pay back student loans and make a living.

My journey is just beginning, no matter how behind I feel I have to remind myself that I am only 20. I have so much time ahead of me to figure everything out, but I need to do the things I am passionate about. If you can’t do it with passion, then you shouldn’t be doing it at all. You have to be true to you no matter what other people say or think because your success will speak for itself. Indecision isn’t negative, indecision is that feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you that this isn’t what you were supposed to be doing. Indecision leads to self discovery…and it leads to be able to throw yourself into what you are passionate about even if you are still afraid of failure.