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Category: Celeste’s Reviews

Book Review: A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1) by Naomi Novik

Book Review: A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1) by Naomi Novik


A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The synopsis for A Deadly Education filled me with so much excitement when I first read it a year ago. And yet I put of reading it for months after its release, because I was scared. The reason for that fear? In a word: Uprooted. While I didn’t loathe it with every fiber of my being like my co-blogger Petrik did, I very much did not understand the love for that book. So many people adore it. And I desperately wanted to share in that adoration, I really did. On paper, it should have absolutely worked for me. Rich setting, interesting magic, a fairytale retelling that flips its source material on its head. It should have become an instant new favorite for me. And yet, it didn’t. I struggled my way through it. So you can see why I’d be scared to try A Deadly Education, right? I have a huge weakness for magic schools, but I wondered if maybe Novik’s writing just wasn’t for me.

I am excited to report that my fears proved themselves to be unfounded. I took to this book immediately and loved every single page. Whatever my disconnect was with Uprooted, Novik’s a gifted author with a talent for immersive writing, and I’m already counting down the days until The Graduate, the second book in the Scholomance series, is published.

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Book Review: Why She Wrote by Hannah K. Chapman and Lauren Burke, Illustrated by Kaley Bales

Book Review: Why She Wrote by Hannah K. Chapman and Lauren Burke, Illustrated by Kaley Bales


Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers by Lauren Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Chronicle Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why She Wrote is not a book I would have stumbled upon without NetGalley, and I would have been missing out. This collection of graphic biographies takes 18 women who wrote and, in sets of three, seeks to illuminate their lives and motivations just the tiniest bit. I really like the way this is presented. Each author gets a page-long bio, followed by a short comic answering the titular question of why she wrote, and finished off with a list of published works and important facts. It reminded me of Rejected Princesses, though I can see where it would have even more in common with Monster, She Wrote, which I have yet to read.

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Book Review: The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek

Book Review: The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek


The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jeopardy was a huge part of my childhood. It seemed like every time I visited my grandparents, which was everyday, Jeopardy was on. It’s how I learned to embrace my huge thirst for and retention of useless trivia. Because it’s not totally useless if it could potentially help you win on Jeopardy one day, right? It’s why the only team I joined in school was Quiz Bowl, and why Quiz Bowl captain was one of my favorite things to list on college applications. It’s part of the bond I share with the aforementioned grandparents, who are two of my favorite people on the planet. And Alex Trebek has been the face of it all for my entire life. News of his passing hit my family hard, as he felt more like a friend than a celebrity. He is mourned and will be deeply missed by legions, myself and those I love most among them.

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Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley


The Guest List by Lucy Foley
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Mysteries are one of those hit-or-miss genres for me. Sometimes I’m able to guess the big twist or outcome or both within the first 100 pages, and then lose my patience with the rest of the narrative and the cast for not getting there faster. Sometimes the author includes wild twists for the sake of sensationalism that come out of left and field couldn’t have been predicted. Both types of mystery novels drive me a little crazy. The Guest List was neither of those. Told in a way that leaves you guessing without the sensationalism and populated with an interesting group of characters, I was invested through the final pages.

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Book Review: The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo


The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an audio copy of this book from the publisher, Macmillan Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“I was never truly awake until I began to dream of other worlds.”

The Lives of Saints is a fascinating collection of short stories about, well, the lives of saints, that I’m sure will add greatly to the world building of Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Incredibly reminiscent of books about the lives of Catholic saints, but with more of a fairytale feel, I found the collection charming. I loved the combination of religious and fantastical. The stories are formulaic in the best sense of the word. A collection like this in the real world is supposed to be for spiritual edification first and entertainment second, so I can only assume that’s the feel that Bardugo was going for. However, these were far from dry, and were without a doubt entertaining.

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Book Review: The Captive by Fiona King Foster

Book Review: The Captive by Fiona King Foster


The Captive by Fiona King Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, Ecco, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Captive is a compelling, intriguing thriller. The plot moves along quickly. Rustic noir isn’t a subgenre I’ve come across before, and that mixed with the slightly dystopian setting kept me interested. The writing was solid. Unfortunately, it left me dissatisfied.

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Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton


The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Devil and the Dark Water is a wonderful spin on a nautical mystery in the style of Sherlock Holmes. Featuring a stellar cast, a rich and atmospheric setting, chilling brushes with the supernatural and a grippingly paced plot, this was everything one could possibly hope for from a mystery novel. I found it incredibly clever, satisfyingly twisty and deliciously suspenseful. And it had an ending I didn’t see coming. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more.

“Questions are swords and answers are shields… I’m begging you, armor yourself.”

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Book Review: Escaping Dreamland by Charlie Lovett

Book Review: Escaping Dreamland by Charlie Lovett


Escaping Dreamland by Charlie Lovett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an audio copy of this book from the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This time of year, all I want to do is cozy up with a book that’s going to suck me in and keep me distracted from the cold. And there’s nothing cozier in my opinion than a literary mystery. Any time a book or an author takes centerstage in a plot, I’m excited. That excitement often leaves me disappointed, as I tend to expect too much of these books for some reason. But sometimes I get my hands on a book that delivers. Escaping Dreamland is one such book. This is the first Charlie Lovett novel I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be my last.

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Book Review: The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy, #1) by Nora Roberts

Book Review: The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy, #1) by Nora Roberts


The Awakening by Nora Roberts
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I know of no medicine better than a Nora Roberts book. Whenever I’m feeling down or overwhelmed or just in need of something comforting, her books are always a welcoming escape. The Awakening, the first installment in her newest series, is no exception. If the rest of the Dragon Heart Legacy is as great as The Awakening, it promises to be one of her best.

“You have to look to find. You have to ask to have the answers. You have to awaken to become.”

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Book Review: The Orchard by David Hopen

Book Review: The Orchard by David Hopen


The Orchard by David Hopen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, Ecco, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“…some find God while trying to lose Him…others lose God while trying to find Him.”

I have a terrible weakness for dark academia novels, which I didn’t even realize was a thing until very recently. I read the O.G. of the genre, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, first the first time at the beginning of this year. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it, but it immediately became an instant favorite. I also adore any book that delves deep into religion or philosophy or, even better, the intersection of both. David Hopen managed to combine both the academic setting and the religious contemplation that I love so much in his debut(!!) novel, The Orchard.

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