Down the TBR Hole #7

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This was created by Lia from Lost in a Story. I’m going to attempt to do this post every week as the rules say, but since I have such a massive TBR, I’m going to be picking out 20 books instead of 10. So, let’s see how this goes! 

This time around, I didn’t clear out too much, but I thought it would still be fun to share my TBR with you guys! It’s been so long since I did one of these, so my TBR shelf has gotten ever more out of control. I’m hoping to get back to doing these regularly because it’s definitely in desperate need of a clear out.

The Rules:

Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
Read the synopses of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Current “To Read” Shelf: 1741

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thenightmysisterwentmissingThe Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci

I vaguely remember picking this up somewhere because it was really cheap and sounded intriguing. I’ve never heard anyone talk about this one, so I’m not quite sure what to expect with it. That being said, I do think I still have enough of an interest in it to keep it on my TBR. It’s an extremely short novel and I think I can probably breeze through it.

Judgment: KEEP

lifeisbutadreamLife is But a Dream by Brian James

This is another one I found randomly and have been very interested in for years but I just haven’t gotten to yet. I don’t ever hear about this one either, but it does sound good. I’ve been cutting down on the amount of books I read about mental illness for personal reasons, but this is one of the few I do want to keep on my list for now.

Judgment: KEEP

witchandwizardWitch & Wizard by James Patterson

I’ve had this book—and series as a whole—on my radar for ages but I kept putting it off for some reason. I never seemed to be in the mood for it whenever I thought about picking it up. Between that and the fact that I am now well out of the age range for this one, realistically, I’m probably never actually going to get around to it. I’m going to let this book go.

Judgment: GO

gonegonegoneGone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

I had an incredibly hard time making up my mind about this book. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not likely to be something I read anytime soon and I have too many books on my TBR to keep something I feel that way about. I’m sure this is a great read, but I need to pass my copy off to a better home.

Judgment: GO

flawedFlawed by Kate Avelynn

I don’t actually remember adding this one to my TBR and when I came across it while making this post, I realized I had absolutely no clue what it was about. It also definitely isn’t something I want to read anymore.

Judgment: GO

dreamsleevesDreamsleeves by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Despite how long it’s been since I discovered and added this book, my desire to pick it up is still pretty strong. It sounds like such a sad but heartwarming story with a very unique concept. I definitely want to try my best to get to this one at some point.

Judgment: KEEP

nerveNerve by Jeanne Ryan

I remember hearing tons about this when it first came out and it was exactly the kind of novel I was enjoying reading at the time. But I remember my enthusiasm about it dying down somewhat quickly. This also seems like something I would have been a lot more interested in when I was younger anyway. So this one is going off my TBR.

Judgment: GO

crazyCrazy by Amy Reed

As I mentioned earlier, I am cutting down on the amount of mental illness books on my TBR. I read one other book by Amy Reed years ago and I really enjoyed it, so I added some of her other books to my list. However, though I do think she is a good author, I’m not feeling any inclination to read this one anymore.

Judgment: GO

thissideofparadiseThis Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I am for sure going to keep this one. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors of all time, and I seriously need to read more of his work. I swear, I will get to this some day!

Judgment: KEEP

thecuriouscaseofbenjaminbuttonThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Same reasons as I stated above!

Judgment: KEEP

carrieCarrie by Stephen King

I’ve said before in these posts that almost anything by Stephen King is an automatic keeper and this is no exception. I am a massive fan of his and it’s crazy that I still haven’t gotten around to this one yet. But I am planning to try and work some more of his novels into my reading in the near future and this is toward the top of the list.

Judgment: KEEP

ihuntkillersI Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I’ve heard lots of great things about this novel—and the entire series—particularly from some friends of mine who I know I have very similar tastes to. And I am still extremely interested in this story. I will admit, I don’t know if I will be getting to this one really soon, but I am definitely going to keep it on my TBR.

Judgment: KEEP

thehoundofthebaskervillesThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle is another one of my all-time favorite authors, so any work of his is something I want to read. I’m hoping to get back into this particular series this year and finally finish it. I’ve really missed these stories and I can’t wait to continue on with them.

Judgment: KEEP

thewatchthatendsthenightThe Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

A combination of a novel in verse with a story about the Titanic? This is a definite keeper! Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been so interested in learning about the Titanic and I also enjoy reading historical fiction about it. It sounds like this will be such a beautiful and poignant way of approaching the topic. I’m still very eager to read it.

Judgment: KEEP

thestoryofbeautifulgirlThe Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

This is another one of those books that I just randomly found and I know I was also very drawn in by the wonderful cover. It is likely going to be a very heavy and emotional read, but I’m still so interested in the story. I’m keeping this one on my list.

Judgment: KEEP

shadowandboneShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I have been thinking a lot lately about how few series I have read—or at least completed—in my life and I want to change that. This year, I am dedicating myself to expanding that part of my literary experience and Leigh Bardugo’s novels are ones I have at the top of my list. I’m especially eager to get to Six of Crows, but I really want to read this trilogy first, so this should be a book on my monthly TBR very soon.

Judgment: KEEP

lucyintheskyLucy in the Sky by Anonymous

I remember reading Go Ask Alice—which is a book similar to this one—for school many years ago and I enjoyed it a lot. I have a couple of these novels in my collection and, though I don’t think I will like them quite as much as I did when I was younger, I believe they will still be good reads. It might be a while before I get around to this one, but I definitely want to keep it on my list for now.

Judgment: KEEP

readyplayeroneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

I am absolutely, 100% determined to read this novel this year. I’ve been meaning to get around to it for ages and I’m sure I will absolutely love it. I think I put this off because I know it will probably be a bit of a slower read for me. But I’m going to try my best to make time for it sometime in the next few months.

Judgment: KEEP

carnivalofsoulsCarnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

I have to be honest, this was mainly a cover buy, which is a somewhat rare thing for me. I was also interested in the story, but I don’t remember ever being fully sold on it. It’s another one that I also feel I’ve outgrown. My tastes have changed so much in the last few years and I just know I’m never going to get around to this book.

Judgment: GO

milesfromordinaryMiles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

This is one other mental illness story that still makes it onto my list (I feel like I’ve made a ton of exceptions in this post!). I read another novel by Carol Lynch Williams years ago and it became one of my all-time favorites. This also seems like it will be a very quick read, so I believe I will in fact pick this up one day.

Judgment: KEEP

Getting Rid Of: 6/20

TBR Total: 1735

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Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases of Winter 2018-2019

mostanticipatedreleasesofwinter2018-2019

I’ve been having a bit of a hectic winter so far, so I’m running a bit late with this post. However, I wanted to make sure to get this out because I’m really looking forward to these next few months book-wise. There are so many awesome-sounding releases coming out very soon and it was incredibly difficult to narrow down my list to just five. But here are the novels that I am most looking forward to this winter.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (February 12th, 2019)

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Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.
Eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy Ren also has a secret, a promise he must fulfill to his dead master: to find his master’s severed finger and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.
As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths wrack the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.
Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger pulls us into a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. But anchoring this dazzling and propulsive novel is the intimate coming of age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible.

Lovely War by Julie Berry (March 5th, 2019)

lovelywar

A sweeping, multi-layered romance with a divine twist, by the Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa, set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II.
It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep—and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.
Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.
Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (March 5th, 2019)

onceandfuture

I’ve been chased my whole life. As an illegal immigrant in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.
Now I’m done hiding.
My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.
When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.
No pressure.

Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare (March 5th, 2019)

callmeevie

In this propulsive, twist-filled, and haunting psychological suspense debut perfect for fans of Sharp Objects and Room, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played on the night her life changed forever.
For the past two weeks, seventeen-year-old Kate Bennet has lived against her will in an isolated cabin in a remote beach town–brought there by a mysterious man named Bill. Part captor, part benefactor, Bill calls her Evie and tells her he’s hiding her to protect her. That she did something terrible one night back home in Melbourne–something so unspeakable that he had no choice but to take her away. The trouble is, Kate can’t remember the night in question.
The fragments of Kate’s shattered memories of her old life seem happy: good friends, a big house in the suburbs, a devoted boyfriend. Bill says he’ll help her fill in the blanks–but his story isn’t adding up. And as she tries to reconcile the girl she thought she’d been with the devastating consequences Bill claims she’s responsible for, Kate will unearth secrets about herself and those closest to her that could change everything.
A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind, Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth, even from ourselves.

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (March 19th, 2019)

sherwood

Robin of Locksley is dead. 
When news comes that he’s fallen in battle at the King’s side in the Holy Land, Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on. Betrothed to Robin, she was free to be herself, to flout the stifling rules of traditional society and share an equal voice with her beloved when it came to caring for the people of her land.
Now Marian is alone, with no voice of her own. The people of Locksley, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, are doomed to live in poverty or else face death by hanging. The dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sherriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley, and Marian’s fiancé. Society demands that she accept her fate, and watch helplessly as her people starve.
When Marian dons Robin’s green cloak, and takes up his sword and bow, she never intended that anyone should mistake her for Robin, returned from the Holy Land as a vigilante. She never intended that the masked, cloaked figure she created should stand as a beacon of hope and justice to peasant and noble alike. She never intended to become a legend.
But all of Nottingham is crying out for a savior. So Marian must choose to make her own fate and become her own hero…
Robin Hood.

What upcoming releases are you looking forward to the most this winter? I’d love to hear about your reading plans for the next few months, so make sure to let me know about them in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday – January 16th, 2019

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey and is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is the top five most disappointing reads of 2018. My reading year overall ended up being fairly average. There were a few novels that stood out and became new favorites as well as some that I really just didn’t enjoy. However, I would say most of them ended up being around 3 to 3.5 stars. That being said, there were still some books that landed at those rating or right below them that were still disappointing, as I had expected to enjoy them more than I did. So here are the top five books that fell a bit flat for me.

5. The Elizas by Sara Shepard

theelizas

This was definitely the least disappointing on this list and I did quite enjoy the story as a whole. However, there were parts of it that brought my rating down lower than I thought it would be. The number one thing that caused this was that it was a lot less complex and dark than I usually like my thrillers to be. I believe this was due mainly to the fact that it was a young adult novel and not the adult thrillers that I tend to read the most. There were parts of the narrative that also felt very repetitive and choppy, so it was harder to connect with the writing and really get into the story. The tension would build only to suddenly stop without triggering any satisfyingly major event. And I really disliked the romance. In the end, I did give this novel 3.5 stars, but I had expected to like it a lot more than I did.

If you want to check out my full review of The Elizas, click here!

4. Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una McCormack

royalblood

I am a huge fan of Doctor Who and I always enjoy reading the book series as well. These novels are not the best literature, but they’re typically tons of fun. When I review these books, I do tend to evaluate them in a much different way than other books due to the style of the series. The premise of this one sounded particularly interesting and I was really eager to pick it up. However, there were so many issues with it that I just couldn’t ignore. It was a surprisingly challenging read because of the massive amount of typos and grammatical errors in the actual text itself. The plot was confusing and lacking the mystery it promised, and it really didn’t live up to its potential. The writing was also not the best, lacking detail and a good narrator. I ended up rating this one 2.5 stars.

If you want to check out my full review of Doctor Who: Royal Blood, click here!

3. The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie

thetoythief

I read this back in October but I haven’t yet written my full review. This is another premise that had so much potential, but it unfortunately did not live up to. It sounded like it would be a really creepy and intriguing story and I am a huge horror fan, so I was excited for this. But it wasn’t what I was expecting and was definitely not for me. The author’s descriptions—particularly of the main monster in the story—were so vague and I was completely unable to picture much of anything. There were some interesting aspects of the plot, but mainly it was quite uneventful and severely lacking in creepiness. And I absolutely hated the narrator. I know that she wasn’t supposed to be particularly likable, but she was not unlikable in a good way either. The writing as a whole was just really crude and disgusting a lot of the time—that’s something I cannot stand. I ended up giving this novel 2 stars.

2. The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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This was another book that I did not rate particularly poorly. However, it was still one of the more disappointing reads. At the beginning of the year, I fell completely in love with her first collection of poetry in this series and I was highly anticipating this follow-up. Though I did enjoy it, I felt it was really not on par with her previous work. She focused on many issues that are very topical and frequently addressed in poetry these days. But there was just not as much of a personally emotional connection to it. The first collection was truly a story of her life and this one didn’t quite feel the same. I ended up rating this 3 stars.

If you want to check out my full review of The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, click here!

1. All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

allrightsreserved

And now we come to, by far, the most disappointing read of my reading year. I have been wanting to read this book since it came out and I finally got around to it. I had such high hopes for it as the plot sounded incredibly intriguing and unique—I may have hyped it up a bit too much in my mind. The story was quite repetitive and slow, and it felt a bit too similar to many other dystopian novels that I’ve read. I could not stand the main character and the story is told in first person so there was no escaping her. She made so many selfish and poor choices without caring about the consequences to her loved ones and others. So many people suffered because of her and she never seemed to even understand the rebellion she started and what she was fighting for. I ended up rating this one 2 stars. I’ll have a full review coming out in the near future.

So, what was your reading year like? What ended up being some of the most disappointing reads? Some of the best reads? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

song of the dead coverSong of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Reign of the Fallen #2

Date Published: January 22nd, 2019

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 416 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The Dead must stay buried.

Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia’s waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task.

Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can’t help being mesmerized by the new magic–and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once.

Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria’s mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won’t be enough to save their fates.

In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before.

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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, however, it may contain spoilers for the previous novel, Reign of the Fallen.

Song of the Dead was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it definitely did not disappoint. I read the first novel in this series at the beginning of last year and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I adored it—though fantasy is by far my favorite genre, certain aspects of the story are a bit out of my usual comfort zone. However, I was hooked right from the start and fell in love with every aspect. It proved to be incredibly refreshing in a genre that can sometimes get to be a bit repetitive, and it truly distinguished itself from the rest. These books are such addicting reads.

This sequel continued to be more of the same and Marsh constantly impressed me with her talent and creativity. It is a journey both physically and emotionally and it carried the reader right along with it. The themes of strength and courage, sadness and resilience, and the tremendous power of love run through this narrative once again. From the beautifully detailed world to the extremely lovable and diverse cast of characters, it is a tale that is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming and is sure to stick with you well after turning the final page.

Returning to this world was such a joy and getting to see these characters and their relationships continue to evolve from the last novel was great. So much more dimension is added to an already multifaceted plot. We reconnect with the familiar, but the plot is entirely new and absorbing. Every moment is full of a certain magic with darker and more sinister undercurrents woven throughout. Marsh’s interpretation of necromancy is unique in many ways, which only adds to the intrigue of the narrative. And of course, the animal companions—by far one of the best parts of the story!

Again, the characters ended up being my favorite part of the novel. Marsh approaches diversity in the best way. There is a great deal of representation—particularly LGBT representation—and it makes this novel a fantastic addition to the ever-expanding collection of literature involving these important topics. These elements are not dwelled on or magnified in a way that draws a huge amount of attention. The characters just are who they are, no matter their gender, race, or sexuality. And, as they should be, their differences are completely natural and accepted, both by each other and the reader.

Odessa is an even stronger heroine than in the previous installment and her growth as a character is huge. We see her confronting the painful events in her life, learning and maturing. Her strengths, as well as her flaws, are clearly depicted, which in turn causes her to become an even more multi-dimensional character who is easy to understand and connect with. In fact, this is true of every character. Marsh devotes plenty of time and effort to fleshing them out, making them and their stories incredibly compelling. The romance between Odessa and Meredy begins to really play out and I felt it was executed well—I enjoyed it, and that’s not something I say very often! I thought I would never love anyone quite as much as Evander, who will always be one of my biggest book crushes, but I ended up liking where things went.

Overall, I absolutely love Marsh’s writing and she has quickly become one of my favorite authors. She is always so descriptive and vivid, pulling you into the unique world she has created and building it up around you. Her storytelling style is action-packed and fast-paced but never lacking in detail. She is also an absolute master at creating realistic and relatable characters. I will genuinely read anything and everything she writes. Part of me hates to see this series end, but it concluded in an extremely satisfying way. Once again, my reading coincided with some experiences of great loss in my personal life and again it turned out to be very cathartic, the themes of hurting and healing being especially relatable. This story and these characters will stay with me for a very long time.

4.5 TARDISes

Author Bio:

sarahglennmarshSarah Glenn Marsh has been an avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life; she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys painting, ghost hunting, traveling, and all things nerdy.

She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and their menagerie: four rescued greyhounds, a bird, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deep and Reign of the Fallen.

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Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

inanabsentdreamIn an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Wayward Children #4

Date Published: January 8th, 2019

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 208 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well. 

For anyone . . .

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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.

Just when I think this series cannot possibly get any better, Seanan McGuire does it again. In an Absent Dream is most definitely my favorite installment in the series thus far. Like the other novels in this series, it has taken me months to write a review for it as it is so difficult to find the rights words to do justice to this beautiful piece of literature. This is once again a modern fairytale—a fractured fairytale—that transports the reader into a vividly depicted and enrapturing world. The very exquisite yet bittersweet plot line is filled with a perfect blend of relatable reality and the peculiar, dark, and bizarre elements that make up this unique and captivating series.

This novel is quite reminiscent of the second novel, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, in that it is a prequel following one of the main characters of the series through their door. We follow Katherine Lundy—later a therapist at Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children—beginning when, as a young child, she finds her door. Lundy finds difficulty fitting in and lacks friends in the real world. With books as her only company, she enjoys becoming lost in her imagination, though this comes with the disappointment of knowing any life she could have would never match up. Then, her door appears and she is swept up into the world of the Goblin Market.

The Goblin Market has only three rules: ask for nothing, names have power, and always give fair value. It is a world that revolves around fairness and respect for others. One must always provide fair value for all goods and services or face punishment until all debts are repaid. Here, Lundy discovers herself, what she wants out of life, and a place where she truly fits, something with which she struggles in the real world. However, things are not as straightforward as they seem and she is faced with making a seemingly impossible choice that approaches faster each day.

The world McGuire creates in this novel is easily one of her best. The world she constructs is so rich in detail and she builds it up around the reader. It is as if we could actually step through that door and wander through the Goblin Market. The characters were wonderful—well-constructed and multidimensional—and so easy to fall in love with. Despite the fantastical elements of the plot, McGuire always manages to build characters that are extremely easy to relate to. Lundy is portrayed so well and getting to know her over the course of the book is a unique and enjoyable experience. And Lundy’s relationships with Moon and the Archivist are so beautiful.

As always, the writing is magnificent. I feel that McGuire’s narrative voice and writing style hit the mark particularly well for the type of story she is telling here. It is warm and inviting with a poignant undercurrent of sadness, longing, and even a bit of danger and foreboding. Her words not only convey the tone of the novel, but they also weave an intricate tale that feels seasoned as if it has been passed down through generations. Every emotion is so tangible and it is incredibly easy to connect with the characters—their triumphs, their struggles, everything roots the reader in their lives.

The narrative jumps around quite a bit, with gaps in time that we do not get to see as readers and I was unsure at first how I felt about this. There are intriguing adventures that are only vaguely referenced and part of me longed to experience them. However, this style grew on me quite a lot and I learned to appreciate how this type of progression contributed to the overall message of the story. In this way, the relentless march of time becomes one of the primary themes and it is an absolutely crucial element of the plot.

Refraining from portraying certain major events in Lundy’s life at the Goblin Market further highlights the struggle she goes through and the huge choice that looms over her. She essentially leads a double life, in conflict over her loyalties to her newfound friends and her family—the comforts of home and the excitement and possibility that lies before her behind her door. Getting to see her connection to both environments and the stark contrast between them highlights her inner turmoil.

I am sure it is quite clear by now that I absolutely adored this novel. I still feel that there is so much more to say, but that I have done my best to put my thoughts into words that capture the beauty of this work. McGuire knows all the right ways to anchor her readers in her unique worlds and tell a story that inspires, enchants, and pulls at one’s heartstrings. Each one is even more impactful than the previous. Every novel McGuire writes is truly a piece of art, and this fourth installment once again proves to be an absolute masterpiece. I never want this series to end.

5.0 TARDISes

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Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

beneaththesugarskyBeneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Wayward Children #3

Date Published: January 9th, 2018

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 174 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

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This is a spoiler-free review, but may contain some spoilers for Every Heart a Doorway.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is yet another novel that is pure magic and further cements this series into my all-time favorites list. McGuire presents readers with an exquisitely crafted tale that dabbles in friendship, darkness, and nonsense and takes us on a captivating and powerful journey. Though the worlds are as fantastical as always, the multi-dimensional characters and relatable themes make this story incredibly easy to become absorbed in. McGuire expertly creates something that readers can easily relate to and builds up the world around them so that one is fully immersed in the enchantment of this fractured fairytale.

While this novel does return to the setting of the first, the story is structured in a much different way. We are taken from Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children and travel through a variety of portal worlds that we have only heard of thus far. It is an adventure unlike any other with a beautiful and diverse cast of characters—both old and new. It is a wholly unique tale that combines fantasy with reality and celebrates our differences and the qualities that make us human. And, above all, it is about love, belonging, and the camaraderie that can form between an unlikely group of young heroes.

In this novel, we follow four kids from the School for Wayward Children—Cora, Nadya, Christopher, and Kade—and their unexpected guest, Rini. Every single character in this novel is absolutely brilliant and the friendship that binds them together, even more so. They fully accept each other for who they are and treat each other with equal amounts of respect. McGuire’s characters are always so lovable and I adore every second I get to spend with them. Time and time again, she is able to create fully fleshed out characters very quickly and fluidly, as these stories are quite short.

All of the novels in this series feature a huge amount of diversity and this one, in particular, demonstrates this extremely well. McGuire takes things such as sexuality, race, disabilities, gender identity, and size and folds them into the story. She does not highlight these qualities in a way where they clearly stand out compared to the rest of the plot. Instead, she treats them as pure, natural facts about her characters—it is just a part of who they are and that is all that matters. She does not make a big deal out of it, instead, showing how important it is to see people for who they are. We are all exactly who we were meant to be and nothing that makes us who we are is abnormal or should be a cause for discrimination. We are all equal. That is how she treats her characters and this is one of the many reasons why I love this series.

Through all the magic and nonsense and impossibilities, the humanity radiates from behind it all. It ties us so closely to the characters—the struggles and environments—despite the fantastical nature of the storyline. Adding in issues that run rampant in our society and take a toll on people—particularly younger people—allows readers to relate to each character and the obstacles they face. This also provides insight into the many problems that plague us and how everyone’s story is different. Every moment, this novel reminds us how important it is to be open-minded and, above all, that even though life carries each and everyone one of us through a unique journey, we all share one similarity that links us. We are still human.

The worlds that McGuire creates are utterly enchanting and easy to become a part of. They are so vividly described and I could always form a clear picture in my mind. For the first time, we are taken into multiple worlds, which was absolutely fascinating. In such a short period of time, she meticulously constructs them and seamlessly fits them into the adventure of the characters. These glimpses have left me dying to see more of each character’s individual world and hear their full backstories.

As always, McGuire’s writing is skillful and beautiful. The emotions that she evokes throughout the novel are palpable and her worlds are painstakingly created to the point of absolute solidity. She has the perfect voice for telling these types of narratives that are styled very much like modern fairytales. This voice of hers breathes life into every page, every element of the narrative itself.

The novel is imaginative—sugary sweet as the cover of the book with an undercurrent of sadness and longing. She fills it with adventure and magic while also weaving in the struggles people face in reality. Insecurities, fears, desire for acceptance—these and many more topics can be seen as the base for this story. This is what makes her stories feel so real—like we as readers could simply step through a door and instantly find ourselves exploring these breathtakingly beautiful worlds. They are each built up around us in such a detailed, multi-dimensional way that it is almost impossible for them and the characters to not take up residence in one’s mind. McGuire truly is an artist. If you have not begun this series yet, I highly urge you to give it a try.

5.0 TARDISes

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Top 20 Book Quotes of 2018

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Hi Everyone!

Since we are nearing the end of the year, it is time to start reflecting back on the reading that we did in 2018. I plan to have some more posts on the topic but for now, I thought I would start off with a short and simple one. Today’s post is my top twenty favorite quotes from books that I read this year!

The sun still rises and sets, like it always has. It seems cruel that it wouldn’t stop, just for a little while, to show how much darker the world is without them in it.” 

― Sarah Glenn Marsh, Reign of the Fallen

But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.” 

― Madeline Miller, Circe

There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door.” 

― Seanan McGuire, Beneath the Sugar Sky

Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” 

― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.” 

― Amie Kaufman, Illuminae

That’s why people shouldn’t get too hung up on labels. Sometimes I think that’s part of what we do wrong. We try to make things make sense, even when they’re never going to.” 

― Seanan McGuire, Beneath the Sugar Sky

My behavior is nonetheless, deplorable. Unfortunately, I’m quite prone to such bouts of deplorability–take for instance, my fondness for reading books at the dinner table.

― Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire

They are beyond me.These humans.With their brief lives and their tiny dreams and their hopes that seem as fragile as glass.Until you see them by starlight, that is.” 

― Amie Kaufman, Illuminae

 Ah, life—the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.” 

― Amanda Lovelace, The Princess Saves Herself in This One

Adults can still tumble down rabbit holes and into enchanted wardrobes, but it happens less and less with every year they live. Maybe this is a natural consequence of living in a world where being careful is a necessary survival trait, where logic wears away the potential for something bigger and better than the obvious.” 

― Seanan McGuire, Beneath the Sugar Sky

Almost all grown adults walk around full of regret over a good-bye they wish they’d been able to go back and say better.” 

― Fredrik Backman, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.” 

― Madeline Miller, Circe

Humans, Amelia knew, would do anything for belief. They would proselytize from the highest mountain for belief. They would collect like-minded people and form mobs for belief. They would kill one another for belief.” 

― Christina Henry, The Mermaid

Our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. That is the nature of hope.

― Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire

There are many good things in the world, and each of them happens for the first time only once, and never again.

― Seanan McGuire, In an Absent Dream

She had been able to find a doorway and disappear into an adventure, instead of living in a world that told her, day after day after grinding, demoralizing day, that adventures were only for boys; that girls had better things to worry about, like making sure those same boys had a safe harbor to come home to.

― Seanan McGuire, In an Absent Dream

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more, nor less.” 

― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Let’s build bookshelves together and fill them with our story.

― Cyrus Parker, DROPKICKromance

Chemistry between people is the strangest science of all.” 

― Bridgett Devoue, Soft Thorns

The truth is, men make terrible pigs.” 

― Madeline Miller, Circe

What are some of your favorite book quotes from your 2018 reading? Share them with me down in the comments!

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