I’m still alive!

Hey guys!

I’m so sorry I’ve been MIA lately! I’ve been dealing with some health stuff and have been finding it difficult to sit down and focus enough to put my reviews together. But I wanted to pop in and let you guys know what’s been going on. I have been reading quite a lot though, so I have a bunch of books waiting to be reviewed and so much I need to talk about! I’ll still be on a little bit of a hiatus for now, but I’m hoping to start getting those done very soon and get back to blogging! 😀

-Ariana

Polarthon 2020 TBR

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There’s a readathon coming up this week that sounds awesome: the Polarthon! This was created by Jade from jadeyraereads. Because of her, I’ve not only found a bunch of amazing books recently but I’ve also discovered the genre of polar fantasy. The Polarthon sounds absolutely perfect for getting started in this genre and I can’t wait to begin!

The way your TBR is created is by deciding what path to take on the map Jade has created. There are three options for prompts for the first four books and the journey ends with a polar fantasy. The readathon takes place from February 3rd to February 9th. Make sure to head over to Jade’s channel and check out her video announcement for the readathon!

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And here is the path I chose and what books I’m reading for each prompt!

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A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan

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Violet never wanted to move to Perfect.

Who wants to live in a town where everyone has to wear glasses to stop them going blind? And who wants to be neat and tidy and perfectly behaved all the time?

But Violet quickly discovers there’s something weird going on – she keeps hearing noises in the night, her mum is acting strange and her dad has disappeared.

When she meets Boy she realizes that her dad is not the only person to have been stolen away…and that the mysterious Watchers are guarding a perfectly creepy secret!

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North Child by Edith Pattou

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Rose is an unusual child, a North Child. For Rose was born facing north, and the old stories say she is destined to travel far from home on a dangerous journey. Making a pact with an enormous white bear, Rose travels on his back to a mysterious castle that holds a dark enchantment, a darker temptation, and the key to her true destiny…
A beautiful, epic story of destiny, magic and love, North Child will take you on an unforgettable adventure.

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The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

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All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.
But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.
So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.
With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

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The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell

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It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer – tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk – but Stella really, really didn’t want that to happen, just the same.

Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages . . .

When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?

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Frostheart by Jamie Littler

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Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea.

There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them… and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.

But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash.

When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he’s whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family . . . ?

Are any of you guys participating in the Polarthon? Let me know what your TBR is or just what your general February TBR is!

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The Goodreads Book Tag

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I was tagged to do this (ages ago! Sorry!) by one of my wonderful blogger buddies, Heather from The Sassy Book Geek! Please make sure to head over there too see her answers to this tag and check out her site. She is an amazing blogger, one of my absolute favorites, and I think you will all love her too! 😀

What was the last book you marked as “read”?

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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What was the last book you marked as TBR?

Play of Shadows by Sebastien de Castell

What book do you plan to read next?

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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Do you use the star rating system?

Yes, I go by half stars—actually TARDISes on here—(because I would go insane if I tried anything more specific!). Like many people, I am frustrated that Goodreads doesn’t allow half stars. It’s so hard to choose whether to round up or down for some books!

Are you doing the 2020 reading challenge?

Yes! I’m hoping to finally reach one hundred books this year—I’ve been trying for so long and I’m so determined to get there!

Do you have a wishlist?

I definitely do! I keep one on Amazon, one on Goodreads, one on Book Depository, and a physical list in my reading planner.

Which book do you plan on buying next?

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

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Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few.

Um…this is definitely more than “a few” because I’m indecisive…

When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” – Harper Lee

“It was always wise to be polite to books, whether or not they could hear you.” – Margaret Rogerson

“Dream up something wild and improbable. Something beautiful and full of monsters.” – Laini Taylor

“I’ve been doomed since the moment I watched you smack a fiend off my carriage with a crowbar.” – Margaret Rogerson

“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.” – Neil Gaiman

“Stars got tangled in her hair whenever she played in the sky.” – Laini Taylor

“I only turn girls into salamanders on Tuesdays. Luckily for you, it’s a Wednesday, which is the day I drink a goblet of orphan’s blood for supper.” – Margaret Rogerson

“That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest ones always are.” – William Ritter

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee

Who are your favorite authors?

My top five favorites are Arthur Conan Doyle, Harper Lee, Margaret Rogerson, Seanan McGuire, and Victoria Schwab.

Have you joined any groups?

I have joined a few but I’ll admit I don’t really interact with them much at all. The one I participate in the most frequently is Polls for Our Souls because I always love a good poll!

I tag:

You!

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Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you and all your loved ones have had a wonderful time this holiday season! I’ve had a chance to spend a lot of quality time with my family and it definitely was a much needed boost to my mood. I sang my 19th(!!!) Christmas Eve service with my church choir (alongside my mom in the alto section, as always!) and spent the Christmas period binge watching house reno shows, MST3K, and crazy Lifetime movies with my parents and uncle. We also celebrated my pup’s second birthday and his second Christmas with us as well! ❤ (For anyone who’s been around here for a little while, you will not be surprised at the fact that I named him Atticus!)

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Atticus!

I also wanted to update you guys on the plans for my blog in 2020! Over the last few months my posts have been pretty sporadic. I’ve been dealing with health issues, both physical and mental, and I’ve been having a hard time getting up the energy to do much of anything. Things are still rough but I’m feeling like I can start getting back into things here. Plus I’ve read a lot lately, so I have plenty of reviews to write! I’m so sorry that I sort of disappear for a little. But I am slowly starting to ease myself back into things and I am hoping to send many more posts your way this year than I did last year! ❤

I’ve also been using my Bookstagram account a lot more lately, so here’s the link in case you’re interested in connecting on there! The Quirky Book Nerd

Let me know in the comments how your holidays went or just how you’re doing! 😀

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December 2019 TBR

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Hi Everyone!

I hope you’ve all been doing well and are having a fantastic start to the holiday season! We’re finally into the colder months (my favorites!) and I am so ready to snuggle up and read lots of amazing books. I’ve been on a mission to start catching up on some popular books/series that I’ve been meaning to get to for ages and haven’t yet. So far I’ve been doing pretty well and I’m hoping to keep up the momentum this month. I’ve also done a fantastic job staying on top of new releases so I’ll be trying to continue that as well.

I apologize for my posts being a bit sparse these last couple of months. I’ve been dealing with a lot health-wise and my energy level has taken a massive and unexpected hit. I’ve have been struggling a lot with getting my writing done and I’m incredibly sorry. I am toying with the idea of taking a short hiatus later this month just to heal and recover so I can start strong in the new year with blogging!

On a more positive note, I’ve been reading quite a lot and have some wonderful books I’ve been dying to review for you guys, so I will definitely have plenty coming as I begin to ease back into the swing of things. Thank you all so much for being so supportive and patient with me, it means the world. ❤

Now, onto the books I am hoping to get to this month!

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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Scythe by Neal Schusterman

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

What are you guys planning on reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

houseofsaltandsorrowHouse of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 6th, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte

Pages: 416 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I completely and utterly fell head-over-heels in love with this book. This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it did not disappoint. It was absolutely everything I was hoping for and so much more. This might not be a completely perfect novel for everyone—or just in general, as literature is such an objective thing—but it was perfect for me. A dark retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, this novel had everything I love; suspense, intrigue, suspicious deaths, ghosts, curses, dark magic, all told in a beautifully eerie and captivating way. I was hooked from page one.

In this novel, we are transported to a manor by the sea called Highmoor where we follow a girl named Annaleigh. She was once one of twelve sisters, but death befalls sister after sister, placing the Thaumus family into a constant state of mourning. This unbelievable string of bad luck has caused the residents of their town to begin whispering about the family being cursed by the gods and they keep away from the sisters in fear.

When Annaleigh starts to experience vivid, ghostly visions of her sisters, she comes to realize that the deaths that have been written off as tragic accidents may not be accidents at all. On top of this, her sisters have been running off to go dancing at lavish balls each night, returning at dawn with their shoes completely worn through. But where are her sisters going? And who are they dancing with? Annaleigh must work to discover what is plaguing her family before more harm can come to them.

This is a hauntingly beautiful tale of a family under attack by an unknown force and the lengths Annaleigh will go to in order to protect the ones she loves. It is fast-paced and absorbing and I could not put this book down—it captivated me more than any book has in a while and it was wonderful. I am a massive lover of dark retellings that are both unique as well as faithful to the original story, and Craig completely nails this.

There is so much mystery and creepiness on every page of this story—moments that will make your heart pound and keep you riveted to each word. It is a complex and carefully woven tale filled with intriguing mystery, dark and frightening ghostly visions, and unexpected twists that constantly had me on the edge of my seat. I became so wrapped up in this story and these characters and I never wanted it to end.

All of the characters in this novel are created extremely well. Annaleigh is a very strong lead character. She’s intelligent, tough, and will do absolutely anything to protect her family no matter how confusing or out of control things appear to be. She maintains her convictions about what is truly going on at Highmoor despite facing disbelief from others. I feel like I connected with her right away—she is portrayed very clearly and is multi-dimensional.

Annaleigh’s sisters are also beautifully portrayed. I love that they feel so thoroughly fleshed out and that they are so realistic and three-dimensional. Verity is my personal favorite! And the relationships between all of them are done to perfection. They are realistic and believable, making it easy to come to care for them and to be eager to see their troubles end. Each sister’s personality is so vividly depicted and I was so glad to see that they played such a big role in the plot. Annaleigh’s love for them is so strong and the driving force of the story and the love they all share for each other is unshakable.

I actually ended up really loving the romance in this novel. This is something that I say very rarely, but Craig created such a sweet and lovely relationship that melted my heart. I was a little wary early on as a love triangle is hinted at briefly. However, it never actually happens, which I was very thankful for. There is quite a bit of insta-love here, but that is something I don’t usually mind, especially when the romance is well-constructed. Craig does one of my favorite things when it comes to romances in fantasy novels which is truly keeping it a side plot. Never once does it overpower the main plot and Annaleigh maintains her focus on her family and taking care of them.

Though I would have liked to hear more about his storyline and background, I really like Cassius a lot. Cassius is very caring and he and Annaleigh go together really well—you can definitely feel a strong connection between them. I wish he had been in even more of the story. The moments between Annaleigh and Cassius are so sweet and pure that they are a fantastic contrast to the rest of the novel. The progression of their relationship creates small breaks of light happiness among the darkness and sadness in the main storyline and that worked out beautifully. And frankly, it was just plain romantic, adorable, and enjoyable!

Now we come to my favorite part of this novel—the writing. Craig’s writing is completely and utterly beautiful. Her style is so lyrical and enchanting, bringing out a strong fairytale feeling in the narrative. At the same time, her words are haunting and emotional, flawlessly bringing out the darkness of the tale. Loss, longing, love, and hope all run throughout each page. It is a style of writing that is incredibly enjoyable to get lost in for hours.

The world-building is absolutely fantastic. Craig carefully constructs a detailed and intricate setting. Seamlessly blending the tone of the narration into the environment, she creates a vivid and entrancing experience for her readers. The setting is described so thoroughly it is very easy to place yourself there and feel it come to life around you. The atmosphere is dark and eerie—to the point where it is almost tangible—and fits perfectly with the narrative itself. It is extremely clear that Craig put a huge amount of time and effort into absolutely every aspect of this narrative. Her descriptions are so clear and detailed throughout and the way she constructs the Thaumus family’s life, traditions, and backstory is magnificent.

The only minor issue I had was with parts of the ending. Things happen very quickly and I found myself slightly confused at times. Mainly, I wish there had been a little more explanation of the religious/mythological elements—they appear to come somewhat out of the blue. I wish that those aspects of the plot had been developed a bit more and had a bigger part in the story, mainly because I was so intrigued by them. However, the ending, particularly the moments involving the main villain, was properly freaky and intense and it fit the tone of the story perfectly. And that small bit of confusion did not detract at all from my enjoyment of it.

As I’m sure you can probably tell by now, this is one of the newest additions to my list of all-time favorite novels. I connected with this story completely—it was right up my alley. The suspense, the intrigue, the characters, the world, everything was perfect. Erin A. Craig’s writing is so enchanting and beautiful and I loved getting wrapped up in it. I absolutely cannot wait to read more from her in the future! I very highly recommend checking this novel out if you haven’t already.

5.0 TARDISes

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O.W.L.s Magical Readathon 2019 TBR

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Hey everyone!

So, I know I’m extremely late getting to this AND I’ve already taken (and passed!) my N.E.W.T.s, but I feel my Hogwarts studies are incomplete. Since I didn’t find out about the O.W.L.s until it was too late, I figured I would spend the next month taking them so I can officially call myself a Mind Medic! So from November 1st to November 30th, I will be participating in my own little O.W.L.s readathon! And here is my planned TBR for the month.

Profession:

Mind Medic

Exams Required:

Ancient Runes
Arithmancy
Charms
Defense Against the Dark Arts
Herbology
Muggle Studies
Potions
Transfiguration

Ancient Runes – Retelling

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Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman

Arithmancy – Work written by more than one author

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Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Charms – Age-line: Read an adult work

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The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok

Defense Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: Title that Stars with “R”

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Recursion by Blake Crouch

Herbology – Plant on the cover

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The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

Muggle Studies – Contemporary

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Keeping Long Island by Courtney Peppernell

Potions – Next ingredient: Sequel

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Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Not Needed—Extra Credit!

Astronomy – “Star” in the title

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on the cover

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Divination – Set in the future

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Cress by Marissa Meyer

History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago

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Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The N.E.W.T.s readathon back in August went so well and I got through more books than I have in a month for a while, so I’m hoping that will be true this month as well! If you guys participated in the O.W.L.s this year, make sure to let me know in the comments how you did and what you read!

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