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Book Review: The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow


The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d like to thank the publisher (Orbit/Redhook) for gifting me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. While I deeply appreciate the gift, the giving of it had no impact on the thoughts and opinions expressed below.

One witch you can laugh at. Three you can burn. But what do you do with a hundred?

The Ten Thousand Doors of January was my favorite book of 2019. I adored Harrow’s way with and respect for words and stories. The tale was such an ode to both that it made my heart feel as though it would burst. I kept having to pause periodically and close the book and my eyes so I could just soak in the exquisite prose. I wasn’t sure Harrow could ever again pen something quite that beautiful. But while I didn’t quite connect to her second novel as deeply as I did her first, I needn’t have worried. The Once and Future Witches is just as lovingly and impeccably crafted as Harrow’s incredible debut.

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Book Review: Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore

Book Review: Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore


Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

Valentine is absolutely gorgeous. The writing is so vivid and transporting that I felt like I indwelled each character during their prospective chapters. It’s also one of the most tragic, heartbreaking stories I’ve read in a very long time. My heart almost physically ached during my time reading this book. But most of all, Valentine is immensely powerful. It proclaims an almost rebellious resilience in the face of heinous adversity that is fiercely and unequivocally feminist, and I felt impacted by it at a soul-deep level.

“Mercy is hard in a place like this…”

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Book Review: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Book Review: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert


City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I decided to pick up City of Girls. Historical fiction isn’t one of my go-to genres. I don’t care all that much about fashion. I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Gilbert. But something drew me to this book and I decided to give it a whirl because I was in the mood for something outside of my norm. Thankfully, I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading it. City of Girls was definitely delivered the “something different” I was craving.

“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it.”

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Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes


The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was so hesitant to pick up this book. I’ve only read one other book by Moyes, Me Before You, and was absolutely infuriated by it. Not because it was a bad book, mind you; on the contrary, it was incredibly compelling and introduced some characters for whom I came to care deeply. But I felt so emotionally manipulated by the ending that I seriously considered burning my copy. I didn’t, because I consider book burning akin to sacrilege, but in my opinion the ending that Moyes chose to go with felt like it was chosen not because it served the plot, but because it was shocking and memorable. I hated it with my entire being. I don’t believe myself to be a reader who demands happy endings, but the final scenes of Me Before You felt like a right hook when I was expecting a warm handshake or something of the sort.

“… some things are a gift, even if you don’t get to keep them.”

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Book Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)

Book Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)


A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, Veronica. You’re the sassiest, most self-confident female protagonist I’ve ever come across in a Victorian setting, and I loved every minute of your snark. This was indeed A Curious Beginning to your story. I’m already excited to visit with you again in the future, and to see what further adventures you stumble your way into further along in the series.

“I abhorred weakness of any kind but most particularly in my tea.”

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Book Review: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Book Review: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly


Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I changed what I could, and what I couldn’t, I endured.”

I’m a former history teacher, and yet I still somehow didn’t realize how large a role racism and segregation played in the Cold War. When I watched the movie inspired by this book with an American History class I was temporarily teaching, my eyes were opened to just how little I knew about the Cold War and Civil Rights eras, and how the two were so deeply entwined. I’m thankful for the information; I just wish I had realized it sooner. After having read the book as well, I have a new appreciation for the story overall, but also for the title of the book. I love anything with a dual meaning, and both the math behind these amazing advancement and the women who calculated them were indeed hidden figures.

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My Familiar Stranger (Knights of Black Swan, #1)

My Familiar Stranger (Knights of Black Swan, #1)

My Familiar Stranger by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own. First of all, the cover just was not appealing to me. It’s a chick’s face. There is wind coming from somewhere, blowing said chick’s hair across her face. She would probably benefit from a hair tie or a headband. And that’s all there is to the cover. Bland, right? Also, it sounded like a really weird blend of commonly used tropes, such as the combination of vampire hunters and inter-dimensional travel. Furthermore, it involves one of my least favorite tropes: the dreaded love triangle, or in this case, a love square.

So, if I was so opposed to various aspects of this book, why on earth did I pick it up? Because my mom told me to.

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The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Priory of the Orange Tree is among the most beautiful works of literature I’ve ever read. In an age of fantasy where grimdark is by and large the king of the genre, Priory breaks the mold by showcasing breathtaking beauty in its prose.

”We mean to reforge with love what greed has broken.”

If grimdark views the world through a filter of ashy sepia, Priory instead views the world through a filter that oversaturated each and every color, giving every inch of itself an otherworldly brightness that I’ve found in very few fantasy tales. The best comparisons I can think of in tone would be The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. In both of these books, as well as in Priory, there are terrible, nigh-apocalyptic happenings, as are found in nearly every fantasy novel that has captured the imaginations of their readers. The difference is that if you took a deep breath inside the worlds of these three books, you would fill your lungs with the heady scent of orange blossoms and lavender and life, as opposed to the heavy ashen air that would clog your throat in the worlds of their grimdark counterparts. I feel that the beauty of these worlds only increases the tension and the stakes if our heroes cannot find a way to save the day. It’s far sadder to me to watch something heartbreakingly lovely go up in smoke than it is something weathered and grimy. That’s my opinion, at least.

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Bloody Rose (The Band, #2)

Bloody Rose (The Band, #2)

Nicholas Eames
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

The world is big, the young are restless, and girls just want to have fun.

Bloody Rose made me feel all of the feelings; I want to follow Tam’s lead and sing its praises from the rooftops. Kings of the Wyld was incredibly fun, and I expected the same from its followup, but Eames managed to pull on my heartstrings with Bloody Rose in ways that his first novel did not. I picked up Bloody Rose excited to embark on an Easter egg hunt for classic rock and other pop culture references. While I found what I was looking for in spades, Eames delivered so much more than that. I read the last twenty pages or so through a veil of tears, which is the opposite of what I expected going in.

“Glory fades. Gold slips through our fingers like water, or sand. Love is the only thing worth fighting for.”

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Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher. While I am thankful for the gift, the giving of it had no impact on this review. All views below are completely my own.

Holy Sister keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first page. It’s an incredibly smart conclusion to a standout, action-packed series, with heartbreak and triumph mingled on nearly every page. I can’t remember the last time I felt so satisfied upon finishing a book.

“Some lessons must be written in scars.”

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