Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno || Perfect Magical Reading For Summer 2018

“On the island of By-The-Sea you could always smell two things: salt and magic.”

Summer of Salt

Release date: June 5th 2018

A stunning, haunting read that took my breath away.

Summer of Salt is the magical, whimsical story of falling in love, two twins, and a summer unlike any before. It focuses on the comings-and-goings on By-The-Sea, on birds-that-might-not-be-birds, on the magic and darkness that lurks just beneath the island’s peaceful waves. With inspiration from one of Edgar Allen Poe’s gorgeous poems, this book casts a spell over you that lasts even after the final page. While not without its flaws, it was a really enjoyable read.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Georgina and Mary Fernweh are twins, from a family of – don’t say it! – witches. Mary’s power, the ability to float several inches off the ground, manifested years ago, but Georgina, our narrator, has always seemed ordinary and distinctly un-magical. But the twins’ eighteenth birthday is soon, and every woman in their family develops their powers before their eighteenth birthday. Georgina can only hope that her powers will live up to her expectations – if they manifest at all.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when diving into this novel. The magical-family premise made it sound like the synopsis for ‘Wild Beauty’; in the first chapter, I was reminded distinctly of Shea Ernshaw’s ‘The Wicked Deep’ by the witchy seaside setting and the vivid descriptions. However, as I delved in deeper, I saw that this book is clearly its own unique tale. Continue reading “Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno || Perfect Magical Reading For Summer 2018”

Greeks, Goat-Girls, Gangs, and George Orwell: April 2018 Reading Wrap-Up

What do New England murder gangs, space ships, Chaol Westfall, magical circuses, Achilles, and Jack the Ripper all have in common?

No, they’re not my new fashion inspirations. No, they haven’t taken over the world yet. (Subjectively). And no, I am not Jack the Ripper reborn in a magical circus member’s body, conveniently named after a character from a Sarah J Maas book, and I’m not floating through space with my resurrected buddy Achilles (who happens to be part of the same gang).

You’ve guessed it; they’re all components of books I’ve read this month. And I have a lot to say about them―from the amazing to the bad to the meh it was okay.

In this post, there’ll be: books I ate, life gossip, physical copies I bought, and general life thoughts.


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT REVIEW


So without further ado, here are the 22 books I read in April:

BOOKS I ATE THIS MONTH

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi ☆☆☆☆

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi What it’s about: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Mini-review: Overall a fun, interesting read that incorporated some great new elements I’ve never seen before in books. It’s a sold fantasy read, although some of the plot points and romance felt a little jaded. You can read my full review here.

Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco ☆☆☆☆

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco What it’s about: A feminist, historical retelling of the real events of Jack The Ripper’s killing spree throughout London, with a strong MC and a sassy love interest that wears a lot of fancy clothes.

Mini-review: An enjoyable read, with just the right amount of gore and intrigue to keep me guessing. The full review for this is already posted on this blog. 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco ☆☆☆

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri ManiscalcoWhat it’s about: Audrey Rose’s adventures continue in a Hungarian boarding school where she can compete for a place in the school’s forensic training program. But she wasn’t counting on the mysterious deaths that suddenly appear – stakes shoved through hearts, mysterious puncture wounds on cadavers’ necks.

Mini-review: Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one as much as the first, because I feel that the characters didn’t develop much, and the plot was a little slow, so I got bored pretty quickly and this took longer to finish than it should have. It had a lot of potential, but it didn’t deliver as well as I’d expected. Hopefully the next book in the series will be more to my taste.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw ☆☆☆☆

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw What it’s about: In the small seaside town of Sparrow, there is a witches’ curse – one born of revenge and magic and broken hearts, hundreds of years ago. Penny Talbot is just trying to survive the summer, when a clueless stranger wanders into town. Right before the killing season starts.

Mini-review: Haunting, chilling, and atmospheric, with beautiful prose and a gloriously witchy setting that sticks in your mind long after you’ve read the book. Full review here.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt ☆☆☆☆☆

The Secret History by Donna TarttWhat it’s about: In this dark, twisty, compelling tale, a group of New England college students discover a new way of thinking that’s worlds away from their peers. Under the influence of their Homer-loving Classics professor, the morally questionable students’  lives are changed forever.

Mini-review: This is definitely a very dark novel, which is part of why I loved it so much. The writing is phenomenal, the characters are all horrible people but strangely lovable, and the dark-academia theme is one that really appealed to me personally. It’s much less action-based, though, if you like that sort of thing, and if you’re looking for kind, relatable characters, this book probably won’t be your thing.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli ☆☆☆☆

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli What it’s about: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly-gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But he’s falling in love with a mysterious boy called Blue, and being blackmailed for it, too.

Mini-review: This was such an adorable romance story, and the first Becky Albertalli book I ever read! The writing style is simple and hilarious, and the book was so compelling that it broke me out of my reading slump. It also contains some really important messages – and the film came out recently, which I can’t wait to see!

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli ☆☆☆☆

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky AlbertalliWhat it’s about: Leah, Simon’s best friend from Simon Vs, has been bisexual for a while, and has never come out to her friends, even openly gay Simon. She realises she’s falling in love, with possibly the most awkward person ever – but with her sarcastic sense of humour and killer attitude, she won’t let that get to her. Right?

Mini-review: So adorable. This book gets all the stars for cuteness. My full review is here on this blog.

Continue reading “Greeks, Goat-Girls, Gangs, and George Orwell: April 2018 Reading Wrap-Up”

Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli → Reviewing Relatable Teens

I’m caught up in the music―just totally lost to it. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so weightless.”

☆☆☆☆

Leah is one of my favourite people on this planet.

I am so glad I read this book. I was super late reading Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, the first book in this series (and also now the movie Love, Simon. But you knew that.)That book was already great, but I was a little dubious about this sequel, because it seemed like everything had been tied up and done with in the first. I wasn’t sure if it would be good when I first went into it.

Spoiler: It wasn’t just good. It was amazing. I put down this book at sometime past midnight and stared up at the ceiling, just grinning, feeling like my heart had been replaced with a bunch of pure rainbows and honey-hued sunshine and sparkles.

So what made it so good?

Continue reading “Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli → Reviewing Relatable Teens”

10 Ways To Make Your Reading Experience More Enchanting • Cookies and Stardust

Reading is so great for many reasons, but one of the best is that you can take books anywhere. So why not take advantage of that, and make the most of your page-turning time? Of course, you don’t absolutely need to have the most wonderful, whimsical experience every single time you read a book — but it’s fun, right?

Don’t you want to feel magical? I do.


you may also like:

Ace of Shades review (with Six of Crows comparison)


Let’s all be enchanting mythical creatures together. So without further ado, here are:

TEN WAYS TO MAKE YOUR READING EXPERIENCE MORE ENJOYABLE

*cue drum roll*

1. under a star-filled sky

I don’t care if you’re a fully grown adult. Sneak out of your house in the middle of the night, after everyone’s gone to sleep, and read under the stars. Bring a warm jumper (sweater, if you’re not British) and maybe a cup of hot tea. Bring a torch — bring fairy lights, even, if it makes you feel more magical.

Or listen to an audiobook, and look up at the stars. If they’re not there, imagine they are; you’re a reader, after all, you can use your imagination. And just think that out there, someone, somewhere, is looking at them too.

Isn’t that weird?

2. surrounded by little lights

Things you will need: a bunch of candles, a blanket, some kind of reading material, and maybe cookies (if you don’t like cookies, get something else… I can’t imagine not eating cookies, so I’m going to leave that up to you.)

Light a bunch of candles at once, preferably ones that smell similar. Make sure to leave the window open. Turn off the electrical lights. Snuggle up in your blanket like it’s a nest.

3. just listen

Audiobooks are so great! Enchanting things you can do while audiobooking include making flower chains (I’m still a six year old at heart), drawing/making art (if that’s your thing), baking cookies (do you see a trend in my suggestions?) and looking at pictures of your internet crush. Go pick some flowers, or something. I don’t know. Am I a fairy yet?

4. working out

Working out is great for your health, and – just kidding, since when would include exercise in one of my posts? Unless, maybe, the exercise consists of holding up a realllllyyy heavy hardback. My arms are so strong from holding up those beautiful covers.

5. with natural background noise

Go to somewhere that sounds gorgeous. Really good places are the beach, and forests, and even little coffee shops on rainy afternoons. Your house works too, if you have a loud cat, or if you happen to live next to an opera house (I don’t.)

Alternatively, listen to one of those nature soundtracks on YouTube that are meant to be calming/soothing.

6. turn into a literal fairy

Continue reading “10 Ways To Make Your Reading Experience More Enchanting • Cookies and Stardust”

Book Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody (and is it really like Six of Crows?)

Recently, Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (author of Daughter of the Burning City) has received a lot of interest. Left, right, up, down, and centre, it’s being compared to what I think is one of today’s best YA fantasy novels: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

 

Break the rules before they broke you.

 

★★★.75/☆☆☆☆☆

◁ SYNOPSIS 

30238163Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

My rating for this book was initially 3.75 stars, but something in me wanted to rate it lower.

This is a comparisons post, not a full review.

My full review for this book — and this book alone, based solely on its own merits and not in comparison to Six of Crows and its pitching — can be found on my Goodreads, here.

Q&A Time!

Is it like Six of Crows?

The burning, burning question. This is the #1 reason why I picked up this book, in fact. If you’re a diehard SoC fan like I am, this might be one of the questions on your mind.

Yes — and no. Ace of Shades does share some similarities with the infamous tale of a bunch of  murderous teenagers culled from the bottom of the Barrel, but it is also a completely different story in its own right.

What do you mean?

Continue reading “Book Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody (and is it really like Six of Crows?)”

Book Review: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

☆☆☆☆//★★★★★

◁ SYNOPSIS: ▷

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

“I despise having put you in unnecessary danger.”
“We are stalking Jack the Ripper,” I pointed out. “I’m already putting us in danger.”

— a short one-quote summary of this book
The best part about reading books that have some kind of mystery element incorporated is the guessing. You analyse so many tiny sentences, trying to put together the clues strewn through the novel, and if you’ve read enough similar books before — or if you’re just good at guessing — then you figure it out, and you have to read to the end just to see if you were right.

But if you’re reading a really good story, you won’t be able to guess, or if you do think you’ve figured it out, you’ll keep second-guessing yourself (see what I did there? No? Sorry. Pretend that didn’t happen) and at some point you’re convinced the author just likes messing with your head.

Stalking Jack The Ripper was a pretty good read — not only because it dealt with the mystery quite well, (even though I guessed it in the end! AHA where’s my medal? My throne?) but it was also good at delivering in other aspects. The characters were memorable and relatively fleshed out, the scenes were well-written, the pacing was enough to keep you turning the page, even if a little slow, and the heroine was interesting and unique.

There’s a lot of gore that I was not expecting. Especially in the form of photographs. i opened the book to the first photo and my mouth fell open, like oh okay it’s That Kind Of Book. You’d think that with all the time I spend reading about assassins and brutal mass murders and evil magic that I’d be beyond shock. Nope. There’s science in this and it is cold and brutal and kinda gross.

Speaking of cold and brutal, can we talk for a moment about Thomas Cresswell, the love interest? He’s a character that was actually quite refreshing to read about. I’m excited to see more from him in the sequel. Most of the time, boys in YA books don’t win my heart just from their look. But Thomas Cresswell is a sassy little piece of (sometimes) emotionless cloudfluff that i’d like to protect with all my heart thank you very much

Cool detachment was a switch he flipped while working out problems.

oops there goes my grammar but you know there are some characters that you love enough that capitalisation doesn’t matter anymore because they’re just that great? anyways i love thomas because i can see myself in him. i, too, am an emotionless robot (jk but it’s a cool concept!)

One thing I was pleasantly surprised about is Audrey Rose’s reaction to other girls. At first, it seems like she looks down on them for enjoying petticoats and tea parties, but then we meet her cousin and see her interacting with others of her own gender. Unlike many other “”””feminist”””” MCs in YA literature (I use this term with finger quotes, because real feminism is supporting other women) Audrey doesn’t think every other girl is shallow and vapid and that she’s the exception. She recognises that these other women all have intelligence and wit while also realising that the restraints society has placed on them are holding them back.

There was more strength held underneath my muslin layers and well-perfumed skin than in half the men in London combined.

I need to talk about this, though. If you’ve read The Infernal Devices, you’ll notice a link between the antagonists from both series.
There are also references to literature that was popular in the time this was set, if you’re into that kind of thing. (Am I intellectual yet for noticing? Don’t answer that.) Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. It’s clear Audrey Rose is influenced by the famous books of that time (haha same girl):

Perhaps whatever evil lived in him had its own handwriting.

(possibly a J&H reference?)

Overall, a fun, quick read with some dark themes and relevant conversation topics. Don’t read it if you hate smart STEM heroines and sassy boys with canes and brutal murders in London.

I used grammar and things during this review! Someone give me a gold star. Or, if you’d rather, you can check out my other social media below:

TumblrInstagramWe Heart It

hugs and kisses,

me, a little brown fairy

xoxo

RESTORE ME by Tahereh Mafi, A Book Review: Is It Like The Original Trilogy?

◁ SYNOPSIS ▷

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

 

How I wish I’d ripped this heart from my chest long ago.

— Juliette Ferrars

34992929

Rating: ★★★★ — possibly 3.9, but that’s really precise; my mixed feelings about Restore Me made it so difficult to rate!
I was a huge fan of the original Shatter Me trilogy, which I read around a year ago. There was so much I loved so much about it — Aaron and Juliette’s relationship, the character development, even the style of writing (which a lot of people seemed to really hate, but improved much more over time). That means that I went into this with huuuge expectations, which probably isn’t fair to anyone.

Up until the last chapter, this was a 3.5 stars book for me. Why? So many people have fallen over fawning over how great it is; other think that Mafi is, well, all about the money.

But I have my own reasons.

The Good ✔

▵The emotion in this book is really well portrayed. The characters feel things so vividly that you feel them too, and you want to laugh and cry along with them; that’s always something I look for in books. It’s like the original trilogy in that way.

▵The plot leaves a lot of room for guesswork — so you never know what’s coming next. If you’re like me and read a lot of books, you know that some tropes are awfully predictable — love triangles, chosen ones, imminent doom. But in this book, you don’t know who wants to help Juliette or who wants her dead. While Mafi tells us some characters’ motivations, she leaves a lot of mystery. It’s even more suspenseful and dramatic than the original trilogy in this way.

▵In Restore Me, the worldbuilding is so much better than the previous trilogy — which was something that a lot of people had complaints about. We finally get to discover the rest of the world and how everything got so messy! Every dystopian world needs its backstory, and we finally got it in full.

▵Representation was something that was really important here! We have lots of diversity — people of colour (Nazeera could kill me in the comfort of my own home and i would thank her), trans characters (although it really could have been introduced in a nicer way), and even a depiction of a panic attack where it isn’t implied that the sufferer is weak or stupid for experiencing it or needing medicine. There was definitely room for improvement, but you go, Mafi! Diversity is so much better these days.

HOLY GUACAMOLE THAT ENDING. I got to the the final page and I flipped it over and stared at it.

Three seconds later, my internal monologue:
a) wtf
b) that IS NOT THE END
c) WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO ME


▵There are some things that you can easily guess are going to happen in a book. I happen to have read a lot of similar books in this genre, and I predicted the ~major~ plot twist: (spoiler on my goodreads review). However, when it played out, the author managed to make it suspenseful and interesting and overall really damn heartbreaking, so there’s that. Mafi’s writing technique has improved so much over the years, and to be perfectly honest, I’m quite proud :’)

▵Kenji Kishmoto is still a thing — a sassy lil thing — and that forever makes my heart bloom (!!!) with love.

▵ Character development is always something we support in this house, yes sirree, and there was plenty of that to go around here.

▵ I loved the fact that there were excerpts from Juliette’s old journals. Contrasted with the way that she thinks now, they were really haunting and thought-invoking — and reminded me that sometime soon, I have to do a Shatter Me reread.

The Negatives

▵I‘m not sure I have a heart.

▵Some of the actions the characters chose were a little bit… not clever. For example, Juliette refuses to take on some of castle’s advice, because she wants to prove that she can do it on her own. I understand that Mafi is trying to prove that Juliette is strong and fierce — but she’s also a seventeen-year-old who spent her life locked up in an asylum, and the logical thing to do when you’re under so much pressure is to ask for help from the people who’ve been planning this for years.

▵Miscommunication between the characters. While I was reading this, I was just shaking my head, whispering, “I love you, you idiot, but just TALK TO HER!”

▵The plot was kind of super slow. There are no major kickass, hold-your-breath scenes in this book unless you count the very last few pages. This is very much a character-based book — which means there was a lot of talking and kissing (more than kissing, wink wink) and worrying, but not a lot of doing.

▵(personal preference) The writing style was a little eh. It was good enough to keep the story flowing, but there was nothing remarkable, and I didn’t really like how a lot of sentences ended with —

▵I, for one, am sick of seeing girl-on-girl hate over a boy. I expected more from Mafi, especially since I can’t recall seeing this before in her books. Can we leave this behind in YA novels? Please? It’s a really old trope and whenever I read it, I do two things. first, I wonder if I’m nine years old again, reading The Vampire Biaries for the first time; then I realise it’s 2018 and my eyes roll out of my head.

But, overall, I liked it. It wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve read all year, but it was enjoyable!

It’s a good set-up for the second half of the trilogy. I just wish more had happened.
(Pssst. Also. After that ending I REALLY can’t wait to read the next one. I need to know what happens.)

In some ways, it’s different. In a lot of ways, it’s better. Either way, I’d recommend that Shatter Me fans pick this up — because the ending will give you so many emotions that you’ll wonder if you’re even still alive.

“Because I,” I say, pointing at myself, “am a monster.”
Kenji looks confused. “And how is that news to anyone?”

If you liked this, please check out my Goodreads, where my grammar flies out the window and I laugh and cry over books daily. I have shelves and shelves full of books like this one, as well as my personal favourites and recommendations.

Thank you for reading my first ever book blog post! More to come, including a review of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Obsidio. I’m still recovering from that, but it’ll be available to read online soon!

hugs and kisses, 

a little brown fairy ♥