Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The King of Bones and Ashes

JD Horn
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018

I received an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Reading this book could not have come at a more perfect time for me! I was craving something really autumn-y and early winter-y and witches were on my mind quite a bit. I requested this book way before I realized how badly I wanted a good witch story but I'm so glad I did because it really filled the gap I was looking for. Something I do want to mention before I go further-- I'm pretty sure this is a companion series and not a spinoff series to JD Horn's Witching Savannah series. That one has actually been on my TBR for a while and now I'm more keen than ever to pick it up.

Since it is a companion series there's little to no info-dump world building and I loved that. The reader is immediately thrust into the world and the lives of these witches and not even given that much information on how magic even works or what it can do, but because it plays by pretty familiar "witch-rules" it's pretty unnecessary. The author takes advantage of the pop culture idea of a witch and both plays into that magic system and works their own as they go. The politics between the different groups was also not spelled out for readers, as it shouldn't be, and is unravelled naturally and well. The subtle world building works so well here, also, because it is more urban fantasy than  straight-up paranormal story.

As I tend to say with every review-- it is the characters that make or break a book for me-- and I have to lean towards... they make the book for me. There are several narrators and the one I loved most was Alice. For me she was both the most interesting and most promising in terms of storytelling. The other narrators were good... but there were so many of them! I don't have an issue with multiple narrators (and in fact, I loved all the female power these women narrators had!) but sometimes I had a hard time connecting with them or figuring out why they were really important, or at least important enough to warned POV chapters. That being said, every narrator had a very clear and defined voice that I truly appreciated, as sometimes authors can get bogged down telling the story and not defining character voices. Something I find incredibly interesting is that I often loved the side characters and connected with them more than the main characters (looking at you Lucy, the real MVP of this book) and felt like sometimes they were even more three dimensional than those whose minds we got to peek into. One last note on characters: the diversity among them was so great! It's so lovely to read about women from all types of walks of life, from race to sexuality to class, without feeling like they were forced in there as token's for the white hero.

While the plot was nice and tight, something I always appreciate, it wasn't the driving force of the novel for me. I never forgot what it was, mostly because it was a pretty basic plot, but I was also never quite invested in it the way I wish I could have been. There certainly weren't any tangents and I also appreciated that it took place over such a short period of time while keeping the stakes pretty high, but this is what really kept the book a step away from being truly amazing.
TL;DR If you're looking for something that reads like a good autumn night and features of diverse cast of women, then you've found the perfect book. With a tight plot, easy to understand magic system and world, and really well developed side characters, this one is a keeper. It has a few short falls, but nothing that couldn't be fixed in a sequel.
From the bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the first book in a fascinating trilogy following the quest of a young witch to uncover her family’s terrifying secret history…
Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.
Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.
JD Horn was raised in rural Tennessee, and has since carried a bit of its red clay in him while travelling the world, from Hollywood, to Paris, to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. He also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist. . He and his spouse, Rich, and their pets have settled (at least temporarily) outside Sisters, Oregon.
Cover linked to Goodreads; cover, description, and author bio taken from Goodreads.
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Friday, December 29, 2017

Blog Tour: Between the Blade and the Heart

Between the Blade and the Heart
Amanda Hocking
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is my first ever blog tour and I'm so honored to be on it! I thought before I reviewed the book I'd share a bit about why I wanted to participate and the other books I've read and enjoyed by Amanda Hocking. First of all, when offered the chance to participate I hadn't read the book yet but I had pretty high expectations to enjoy it. I'd seen mixed reviews but the description was really up my alley and I hadn't read a good urban fantasy in a while. Plus I've enjoyed Amanda Hocking's books in the past so I was eager to read something new of hers! A long time ago (in a bookstore far away) when I was first getting into YA I picked up Switched, the first book in the Trylle series and the only reason I never read the other two was because my friend spoiled everything (I'm not mad... any more :) ) but I really loved book one. That actually led me to reading Hollowland and Hollowmen (aka the Hollows series) which I really recommend because they're pretty good zombie apocalypse books and that's high praise since I tend to dislike both zombie books and apocalypse books. Other than that her books have more or less always sat at the top of that "I plan to read it soon" TBR pile that I never get around to. Most of them are still up there.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Practical Magic

Practical Magic
Alice Hoffman

This autumn I was in the mood for witches, witches, and more witches. But not just any kind of witches, the somewhat spooky, somewhat believable, woman-power-filled witches. Okay, cross off the spooky from this list and instead apply the idea of charming and strange and here you have this book. It's such a great relaxing read, for even though it's exciting, it's the quiet moments of family and women that build this book up and make it something work reading.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December Wrap Up

Hello! I know this post is arriving at a rather unconventional time. For one, it's a Wednesday, and for another it's not even the end of the month, not really. ALSO, you may be scratching your head wondering when the last time I did a wrap up was (spoiler alert: October 7th) and recalling that way back then I was doing bi-weekly wrap ups. Well, here begins the monthly wrap ups. I think it's very likely I'll be doing these from this point forward since it's just more economical the way things have been going. As for why this is coming out on such an odd day... well, it really has to do with the other posts I want to get out this year, which include a giveaway/blogoversary post (my blog just turned three!!!) and a year end wrap up where I can reflect on everything. With all of that I still really wanted to get this post out so I could touch base with everyone and talk about me and the blog recently.

First of all, Merry Christmas! Or Happy Hanukkah! Or Joyous Kwanza! Or just Happy Holidays! Really, seriously, I hope everyone has had a good celebration, got to enjoy some family time, maybe opened a present or two they really loved, and, most of all, read some good books. The new year is right around the corner, and while I'll talk about some new year goals in my yearly wrap up, I want to set the most important one straight now: I am rededicating myself to my blog. Lately I've let stress and anxiety and just about every other color of my mental health rainbow get in the way of doing something I love: reading and blogging and sharing bookish things with all of you. I've decided that this year, if I can't keep up (reasonably) with the blog then that's it. I'm turning in my hat as a book blogger and taking a VERY EXTENDED break until I can really get back on my feet. Don't look at it as a punishment, look at it as a way I have to force myself to go to my roots and deal with something that's clearly upsetting my life more than it should. But I don't think that's going to happen. Not to spoil anything but I have written some very badass posts lately and I'm so happy to be able to share them with everyone. They look sleek, they look sexy, they have original pictures of books in them (!!!) and you can see the first of this new brand of review here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Forgotten Book

The Forgotten Book
Mechthild Gläser
American Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn't really sure what to think of this one going in. The description on the back is reminiscent of the kinds of books I would pick up in middle school and early high school and I haven't really revisited that genre in a while so I was a tad nervous I'd go in biased and dislike it. While it definitely did carry some of the tropes that I had grown to dislike, it had actually turned many of them into more positive versions and it was a really pleasant read!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mini Reviews: Love Her Wild & The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Love Her Wild is a poetry collection I picked up at Target (did you know they had such a large selection of poetry? because I was pleasantly surprised). I've been wanting to read more of the genre and this one wasn't something I recognized but it still sounded good.

Being my first foray into poetry I didn't have very much in the way of expectations. Based on the title I guessed it would be about falling in love/being in love and getting lost/exploring the world. I was pretty close to the mark. But... I honestly can't say I liked it very much or that it was particularly memorable. It was just very bland. And paired with the stock photos every other page, which only barely seemed to connect with the poems themselves, I felt like I had wasted the money.

There were a few poems in there that really struck me and I'm hoping that this is one of those books I can just turn to every once in a while for random feelings. Otherwise I wouldn't really recommend this one.

I'm not quiet when it comes to my love for The Kingkiller Chronicles so I'm actually a tad disappointed it took me this long to get to The Slow Regard of Silent Things. This one is a tangental story that rather than tell more about Kvothe gives readers a peek into a week of Auri's life.

This book was such a treat! I loved seeing how Auri navigated her world and understanding how she thought was so powerful. It's definitely a powerful book, though it's not for everyone. It's quietly powerful but it will connect with so many people.

Not that it didn't connect with me but I think I read it at the wrong time. I read it at a very busy point in my life where I couldn't actually reflect on what was being said. Looking back I wonder why it didn't affect me more because it's also been a very hard time of my life. If you're a fan of the Kingkiller books I one hundred percent recommend this. And even if you're not, I think you may still find something very poignant about it.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Reading in the Wild

Welcome to a new feature here! I had this idea over the summer but it's taken a while to cultivate and I'm rather pleased with the result. What happened was anytime I went out and read somewhere that wasn't my room at home or my dorm room I tried to take a photo and make note of it. Without further ado: Here was the reading I did in the wild!

Noodles & Company
Crown of Midnight
August 22

My Car
Crown of Midnight
August 31

Noodles & Company
The Awakened Kingdom
September 7

Library Basement
September 20

Evin & Hannah's Room
September 26

The Library
Language of Thorns
September 26

The Train
October 15

My Car
The Slow Regard of Silent Things
October 20

The Gizmo
The King of Bones and Ashes
November 1