Wednesday, April 8, 2020

April 2020: To Be Read


I tried with all of my might (a whole 8 days obviously) to avoid creating a TBR for this month. I told myself that I would strictly mood read, or even stick to the one blog tour book I have to read this month as my only "for-sure" read. But alas, the call to go through familiar motions was a comfort too loud to ignore. 

As always, keep an eye on my Instagram at the end of the month for the 'April Giveaway' announcement! (You will have your choice of any book, or books, worth up to $25 on Book Depository).

Here are the 8 books (+ blog tour read) I have planned for April: 

Here are my picks categorized by relevant reading challenges (read my 2020 goals here!):

The Nerd Daily Reading Challenge (link here):
  • (#1) Author starting with "A": All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
  • (#6) Recommended by us: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
  • (#9) Written by two authors: Aurora Rising by J. Kristoff and A. Kaufman
  • (#16) Protagonist starting with "H": Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
  • (#24) An award-winning book: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • (#51) Written by your favourite author: Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

PopSugar Reading Challenge (link here):
  • "A book about with a pink cover": Ms. Marvel - No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
  • "A book recommended by your favorite blog, vlog, podcast, or online book club": The Went Left by Monica Hesse

Beat the Backlist Challenge (link here):
  • Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Contemporary Book Club 
Save My Sanity Book Club
  • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Blog Tour (Fantastic Flying Book Club):
  • They Went Left by Monica Hasse

What are you all reading for April?
Send me the links to your posts below!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

March 2020: Wrap-Up


The fact that I even read anything at all this month is wonder, truly. My mind has been so anxiety-riddled with everything that's going on in the world that I can't seem to focus on anything for longer than 2.5 min. I'm sure it's been the same for a lot of you out there, but I truly hope you were able to find solace and comfort in some great books!

I miraculously, and through sheer force to be honest, read (6) books this month:

  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin | Mar 3-10 | ★★★ 
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman | Mar 9-11 | ★★★★★
  • A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler | Mar 11-14 | ★★ | REVIEW
  • The Deep by Alma Katsu | Mar 13-15 | ★★★★ | REVIEW
  • The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell | Mar 14-18 | ★★★
  • The Tenant by Katrine Engberg | Feb 21-24 | ★★★★

  • --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The Nerd Daily (link here)
    • (#39) A book gift to you: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    • (#43) A standablone: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
    • (#49) Set in a foreign country: The Tenant by Katrine Engberg
    • (#52) Based on or inspired by a true story: The Deep by Alma Katsu

    Popsugar (link here)
    • 'A book with a made-up language': The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
    • 'Your favourite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge' (2019 - 'A book about a family'): The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

    Blog Tour (read review here)
    • The Deep by Alma Katsu

    What did you all read in March?
    Let me know down below!

    Friday, March 27, 2020

    REVIEW: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

    Title: A Good Neighborhood
    Author: Therese Anne Fowler
    Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction
    Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry
    Release Date: March 10, 2020
    Acquired: Hardcopy sent via publisher
    Goodreads: ADD

    In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door―an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.

    Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he's made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn't want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie's yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.

    Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don't see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.

    It's never easy to review a book that had good intentions; a book that set out to cast a huge spotlight on a still largely ignored social injustice. Fowler attempted that with A Good Neighborhood, and while her writing was purposeful, it lacked so much of what was needed for such a heavy topic.

    The Whitman family has recently moved into their rebuilt home in the sprawling and coveted neighborhood of Oak Knoll, North Carolina, much to the annoyance and frustration of next-door neighbor, and professor of ecology, Valerie Alston-Holt, but to the extreme pleasure of her 18-year-old son, Xavier. Pleasure because the Whitman family includes 18-year-old Juniper, who Xavier immediately falls for. As their romance blooms innocently in the background, the forefront is filled with the legal clashing of Valerie and Brad Whitman, after Valerie opens a civil case against Brad for the destruction of some beloved greenery in her backyard. Disturbing secrets are leaked and relationships are tested in this narrative that strives to go beyond surface-level issues, and straight into those that are begging for more awareness.

    The author took the time to add a disclaimer at the start of the book, letting her readers know that she, a white woman, would be writing about black characters within, and assured us that she took the appropriate measures to ensure accuracy regarding their experiences. I appreciated her efforts, but I sadly found that she missed the mark with this novel. The writing was great, and her message, an extremely important one. Overall, I just felt like she lacked realistic emotion and subtleties during moments, and dialogue, where her black characters were suffering the most unspeakable injustices. It was a quick and addictive read nonetheless, I just wish more care was taken with the subject matter and those involved.

    Read if you like:

    American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
    Othello by William Shakespeare
    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    Key themes: 
    racism, prejudice, family, relationships, power struggle, young love


    credit: Goodreads author page

    CLICK HERE to read about Therese on her author page.


    Wednesday, March 18, 2020

    REVIEW: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

    Title: Sorcery of Thorns
    Author: Margaret Rogerson
    Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
    Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry
    Release Date: June 4, 2019
    Acquired: Purchased for my collection
    Goodreads: ADD

    All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

    Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

    As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

    I will never deny you, book about books. Come to me in all of your forms and genres, and I will read you until the end of my days. Sorcery of Thorns was a book about books that weren't quite books, and that's where the disastrous adventure begins. In the vein of A Curse So Dark and Lonely, it was a narrative that handed us a heroine who at first seemed unlikely, but quickly became the embodiment of strength and resilience.

    Elisabeth is a Great Library apprentice, which holds responsibilities that she has prepped almost her entire life for, and, after recent events, one that she definitely didn't: saving her entire kingdom from complete destruction. When one of the more dangerous "books" (or grimoires) escapes from the library, transforming into the living embodiment of the books' contents, Elisabeth is the only one to notice. After discovering her director murdered, she is then the one who destroys it. Her act of extreme bravery backfires when she is accused of the murder, and sent away to face trial by the 'Magisterium'. Her escort turns out to be Nathanial, a witty sorcerer she had a chance encounter with previously, and his mysterious and sly servant, Silas. With more attacks on the rise, can she trust this pair to help clear her name and expose the real culprit, or is she being led to her ultimate end?

    I read this on the heels of another kingdom-saving narrative, so it was impossible not to initially compare the two. Though Sorcery of Thorns was quick to set itself apart with it's darker atmosphere, and complex characters. As a rogue standalone fantasy, it was dense in some areas, but rightly so, as to ensure a fully-fleshed story; a story that needed to end where, and how, it ended. Nathaniel was appropriately troubled, and Silas, magnificently flawed yet so compulsively likable—I could read an entire book about him, to be honest. I would have loved to read more of a backstory on Elisabeth, more moments from her youth and growing up as a 'true child of the library,' subsequently lending more belief to what we eventually discover about her.

    My brain literally couldn't comprehend that there wasn't a book two, I was in spectacular awe of Rogerson's ability to write such an emotionally charged last chapter, and just leave it to simmer in our hearts; ignore the pressures of turning fantastic into a drawn out 3-5 book ordeal (not that I would have been against that, just saying). Regardless, Sorcery of Thorns is a book that is easily imagined, filled with cavernous castles, well-explained magic, and characters that are incredibly easy to become obsessed with. 

    Read if you like:

    A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
    The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
    Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

    Key themes: 
    magic, sorcery, betrayal, romance, friendship, heroism



    CLICK HERE to read about Margaret on her author page.


    Monday, March 16, 2020

    BLOG TOUR: The Deep by Alma Katsu

    Title: The Deep
    Author: Alma Katsu
    Genre: Historical Fiction-Horror
    Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
    Release Date: March 10, 2020
    Acquired: Egalley approved via Netgalley
    Goodreads: ADD

    From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world's most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic.

    Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the Titanic from the moment they set sail. The Titanic's passengers expected to enjoy an experience befitting the much-heralded ship's maiden voyage, but instead, amid mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, find themselves in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone. While some of the guests and crew shrug off strange occurrences, several--including maid Annie Hebbley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim--are convinced there's something more sinister going on. And then disaster strikes.

    Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together by going to work as a nurse on the sixth sailing of the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship to support British forces fighting World War I. When she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier, she is at first thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the tragic night four years earlier. But soon his presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past--as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.

    Featuring an ensemble cast of characters and effortlessly combining the supernatural with the height of historical disaster, The Deep is an exploration of love and destiny, desire and innocence, and, above all, a quest to understand how our choices can lead us inexorably toward our doom.

    What an incredibly brilliant idea for a narrative. The titanic, on it's own, was such an incredible feat of modern engineering, and it's ultimate demise, such a timeless tragedy. Katsu created with The Deep, something that can also be considered timeless, in it's melding of history with horror; factual, and non-factual character depictions with the added allure of the paranormal.

    Annie Hebbley survived the infamous sinking of the Titanic in 1912, and after a brief stint in an asylum, where she attempted to ignore it's grip on her mind, she registers for a nurse aid position aboard the newly minted Brittanic (a sister ship to the Titanic, and an ocean-bound hospital liner for those injured in the first world war). Simultaneously, we experience both Annie's timeline on the Titanic, and her present-day on the Britannic in 1916. Annie's time spent on the first ship was defined by more than just it's tragic end, as a specific group of guests convince her that mysterious instances aboard are the work of paranormal entities. Years later, on her second sailing, Annie comes face to face with one those guests, one that she had thought she'd lost forever, both physically and emotionally. The impossibility of it brings back both dark memories, and a sinister threat that they thought they left behind.

    Even while I was reading The Deep, my mind strayed to the author's backlist titles that I would have the pleasure of reading once I was done. Katsu's writing, for me, was true storytelling. It was immersive, and deliciously mysterious, it brought to mind the narratives of the greats like Christie, and Conan Doyle. I'll admit that, alike the aforementioned authors, the joy was in the writing itself, and not so much the genre it was promising. The 'horror' aspect was minimal, and served mostly as a decorative background for the in-depth character explorations that took the forefront. I became so heartrendingly attached to so many of the backstories, and present stories, in this narrative—I could read an entire book on Caroline Fletcher or Madelaine Astor. 

    I can't wait to become completely entranced by Katsu's future work!

    Favourite Quotes

    "His fingers dart around the edges of a cigarette he twirls in his hand, and she can think is ease. She has never felt that. She is more like the cigarette itself, passed from hand to mouth to earth, sucked dry and then forgotten. Or perhaps she is the smoke, blown into the air, made invisible at the meeting of the lips."

    "The living are often anchors for the dead. The old newspaperman Stead's words come back to him, how the dead want to lay down their troubles and escape to the next world but it's the living, unable to let go, who keep them here. Love and desperation like heavy chains lash them to the earth."

    Read if you like:
    Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
    The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey
    Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

    Key themes: 
    occultism, spiritualism, death, trauma, tragedy, love, destiny



    CLICK HERE to read about Alma on her author page.
    A huge thank-you to FFBC Tours for allowing me to participate in the tour, and for G.P. Putnam's Sons for approving an egalley via Netgalley to review!

    Click here to view the tour schedule, and enter for your chance to win a copy of the book!