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Book Review: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Book Review: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

The premise and cover of Olympus, Texas immediately grabbed my attention, but I wasn’t expecting anything earth-shattering. I figured I was in for an interesting story that would hopefully keep me engaged but which I would most likely forget about soon after. I was incredibly mistaken. It’s closing in on mid-June, and I can unequivocally say this is the best book I’ve read so far this year. And I started off the year with The Labyrinth of the Spirits, which blew my mind. I can’t believe I found this book even more impactful. Not only was the story excellent and the characters impeccably crafted, this book was a masterclass on the psychology of fictional beings who have been around for millennia without being this thoroughly exposed and explained. I feel like an entire college class could be taught on the Greek pantheon using Olympus, Texas as a textbook. It’s incredible, and it changed the way I think about stories I’ve known for decades.

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Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the very first Gaiman book I ever read. I’ve sense read nearly everything he’s written, and have discovered that my favorite way to ingest his stories is via audio when he reads the books himself. His voice is divine, and I’ve found that listening to him tell his own stories adds to the magic for me. So what better way to revisit the novel that first charmed me into reading his work than by trying it on audio? It was the right decision. I was once again transported into this nameless boy’s childhood adventures, and Gaiman’s voice merely added to the charm of the tale.

“Words save our lives, sometimes.”

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Book Review: Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff


Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am completely blown away by this trilogy. Finding a series that I love all the way through is rare for me. And I just found one to add to that very exclusive list. There’s a bloody beauty to Mia’s story. A vulgar elegance, if you will. The world Kristoff created here managed to be both stark and lush in equal measures, and something about that dichotomy resonated strongly with me. As did Mia. Her heartache, her rage and fear and determination, all felt honest. I found her and her journey utterly captivating.

“I am a daughter of the dark between the stars. I am the thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. i am the vengeance of every orphaned daughter, every murdered mother, every bastard son. I am the war you cannot win.”

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Book Review: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Book Review: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker


We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

We Begin at the End has been on my radar since my co-blogger Emma read it and loved it last year. Petrik and TS decided to pick it up as well, even though it’s not something within their usual genre wheelhouses. Again, they loved it. But they warned me that it was heartbreaking and, since I had been going through a particularly rough patch in my life, I held off until I felt like I was emotionally strong enough to handle it. I’m so glad I did, because I can say without a single qualm that it will be only my list of favorite books read in 2021, but the heart-wrenching emotion of it would have kept it from the same list last year. It really pays to wait until the right moment to read this type of book, and I’m glad I had friends to caution me in that regard.

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Book Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1) by Jay Kristoff


Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t quite figure out why I waited so long to read this book. This might be in part due to the fact that it’s labeled, quite wrongly in my opinion, as young adult. The only thing young adult about this book is the fact that young adults serve as the main characters. Whatever the case may be, I’m incredibly glad I finally decided to read Nevernight, and that it turned into a blog wide reading/rereading/rehashing event. I was utterly captivated by this bloody, beautiful, snarky story and the equally bloody, beautiful, snarky cast.

“Never flinch” A cold whisper in her ear. “Never fear. And never, ever forget.”

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Book Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #4) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Book Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #4) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

For years, I thought The Shadow of the Wind was a standalone novel. When I learned that wasn’t the case, I ignored that information for more years. I thought The Shadow of the Wind was pretty nearly perfect on its own, and didn’t need expanded upon. I’ve read some marvelous books that should have been left alone, that had further books tacked on later that didn’t measure up to the first, and somehow manage to tarnish that first book. I didn’t want that to happen to my magical experience with The Shadow of the Wind, so I just ignored the rest of the series for a long time. But then, I found a gorgeous copy of The Labyrinth of the Spirits, the last of the quartet, on sale. I had to buy it for the cover alone, because it just captivated me. But I still didn’t think I intended to read it, or the two books between it and that first novel I had so loved.

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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: 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: 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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Book Review: Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive, #4) by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive, #4) by Brandon Sanderson


Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

Rhythm of War is hands down my favorite book of the year, and I’ve read some truly incredible books over the course of 2020. At the moment, it’s also my favorite fantasy book I’ve ever read. That title has been held by The Name of the Wind for over a decade, but in Rhythm of War Sanderson has usurped it.

Humans are a poem. A song.
For ones so soft, they are somehow strong.
For ones so varied, they are somehow intense.
For ones so lost, they are somehow determined.
For ones so confused, they are somehow brilliant.
For ones so tarnished, they are somehow bright.
Radiant.

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