Top 10 Tuesday – November 28th, 2017

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is the top ten books on your winter TBR. Boy, was this a hard list to narrow down! I am feeling quite self-conscious about the size of my TBR pile! There are so many books on my list that I’m eager to read but I didn’t manage to get to this year, as well as plenty of 2018 ARCs to get started on. So here is a bit of my game plan for winter and the new year!

Keeping Long Island by Courtney Peppernell

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Kayden is about to start her final year at college. And while she’s always been a good listener, she’s never been good at sharing. At the suggestion of her therapist, she finds a safe place for her secrets between the pages of a daily journal. Just when Kayden thinks things are finally back on track, her life takes an unexpected turn – a mysterious letter from someone named Alex.
Courtney Peppernell, the best-selling author of Pillow Thoughts, brings a world of intrigue, exploration, and the struggle for identity to life in Keeping Long Island. Kayden must make a choice – is she brave enough to share her secrets with Alex, or will the weight of her fears destroy everything she has been fighting for?

The Crooked Castle by Sarah Jean Horwitz

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Shortly after saving the faeries of Skemantis, magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III and his faerie companion, Grit, head out to see the world. They soon come across a mysteriously magical flying circus. As they get to know the outlandish world of Rinka Tinka’s Roving Wonder Show, it becomes clear there’s something not quite normal about this circus or its inventor—and that recent airship disasters plaguing nearby Driftside City may have a sinister explanation. 
Fans of the Wildwood trilogy and Lockwood & Co. series will love the thrills and chills of The Crooked Castle as it takes readers up in the air with a flying circus, under the sea to the evil Unseelie kingdom, through a terrifying magical snowstorm, and on a chase with the menacing Wild Hunt.

The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

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Macy’s school officially classifies her as “disturbed,” but Macy isn’t interested in how others define her. She’s got more pressing problems: her mom can’t move off the couch, her dad’s in prison, her brother’s been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn’t speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms—complete with gritty characters and outrageous endeavors. With an honesty that’s both hilarious and fearsome, slowly Macy reveals why she acts out, why she can’t tell her incarcerated father that her mom’s cheating on him, and why her best friend needs protection . . . the kind of protection that involves Macy’s machete.

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller

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Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend, Zenobia, for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago. 
Elizabeth and Zenobia is a wonderfully compelling middle-grade story about friendship, courage, and the power of the imagination.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned
Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren — an enigmatic artist and single mother — who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.  
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

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Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family’s specialty for generations.
Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood. 
Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

The Elizas by Sara Shepard

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When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness. 
Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?
The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

Blink by Sasha Dawn

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When Chatham begins to understand more about a crime she witnessed a decade ago, she disappears . . . in a blink. Finding her means more than simply saving her. It could also be the key to the town’s longest unsolved mystery. Joshua’s in love with Chatham and he’s determined to find her and untangle the web of lies and mystery surrounding her. But who is Chatham really and what is her connection to the crime that was committed so long ago?

What books are on your winter TBR? What 2018 books are you most looking forward to picking up? Let me know in the comments!

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October 2017 TBR

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Happy October, everyone!

Or maybe I should be calling this ARC-tober—I’ll be catching up on quite a few review books this month! I haven’t made a TBR for a few months, mainly because I’ve been so terrible at sticking to them recently. However, I really want to push myself to keep to this list as much as possible this month…so we’ll see how that goes! 😛

October TBR

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

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I have three months to write the last book of my life. Three months to confess the details of that day, and how it changed everything for me.  
My name is Helena Ross. I’ve written fifteen romance novels, ten of which have become international bestsellers. But this one isn’t a romance, no Happily Ever After in place. This novel holds only the truth, which I have run away from for four years. The truth, which I have hidden from the police, from my loved ones, from the world.
This final book? 
It’s my confession.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

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Time flies when you’re plundering history.
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Artemis by Andy Weir

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Jazz Bashara is a criminal.
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.
Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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Libby Day was just seven years old when her older brother massacred her family while she hid in a cupboard. Her evidence helped put him away. Ever since then she has been drifting, surviving for over 20 years on the proceeds of the ‘Libby Day fund’. But now the money is running out and Libby is desperate. When she is offered $500 to do a guest appearance, she feels she has to accept. But this is no ordinary gathering. The Kill Club is a group of true-crime obsessives who share information on notorious murders, and they think her brother Ben is innocent.
Ben was a social misfit, ground down by the small-town farming community in which he lived. But he did have a girlfriend – a brooding heavy metal fan called Diondra. Through her, Ben became involved with drugs and the dark arts. When the town suddenly turned against him, his thoughts turned black. But was he capable of murder? Libby must delve into her family’s past to uncover the truth – no matter how painful…

Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

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Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.
Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.
The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never be able to find joy in the present.

The Splendid Baron Submarine by Eric Bower

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Waldo “W.B.” Baron is back with another amazing adventure in another incredible invention! Pirate treasure? A clandestine meeting? A terribly rude monkey with personal boundary and hygiene issues? Two of those things sound like a dream come true to W.B, whose clever inventor parents are hired―by the Vice President!―to go on a super secret and intensely important treasure hunt to repay a national debt. If only it weren’t for that lousy, rude monkey, it would be the beginning of a perfect adventure. But at least it isn’t squirrels…
The treasure hunt gives the Baron family the opportunity to use their exceptional steam-powered submarine, freshly biggened and ready for adventure! But things are seldom straightforward for the eccentric Baron family, and this treasure hunt is no exception. W.B.’s trademark bad luck has him suffering monstrous marine misfortune and marauding monkey misery. 
Can the Baron family embark on their newest adventure without the eggy and depressing Aunt Dorcas? Will the Barons find the treasure they seek? Will they save the country from financial ruin? Where does the monkey fit in, anyway? Do we like asking questions? Not really, but inside you’ll meet someone who likes asking questions and then answering them (despite his claims to the contrary, he really does like it).

Oh, did we mention the pirate’s curse?

Spin the Golden Light Bulb by Jackie Yeager

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It’s the year 2071 and eleven year-old Kia Krumpet is determined to build her 67 inventions, but she won’t have the opportunity to unless she earns a spot at PIPS, the Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School. Kia, who has trouble making friends at school, has dreamed of winning the Piedmont Challenge and attending PIPS ever since she learned that her Grandma Kitty won the very first Piedmont Challenge. After she and four of her classmates are selected to compete for a spot at PIPS, they travel by aero-bus to Camp Piedmont to solve a task against forty-nine other state teams to earn their place at the best inventor’s school in the country.

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

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In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent rather than pay to speak, and her defiant and unexpected silence threatens to unravel the very fabric of society.
Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks (“Sorry” is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford. 
But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech – rather than say anything at all – she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. 
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost by Lucy Banks

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Kester Lanner didn’t know what to expect when he followed his mother s dying request to contact the mysterious Dr. Ribero, but he wasn’t expecting to find his long lost father. Nor was he expecting to join the family business: catching supernatural spirits.
Kester is intrigued despite his fear, and finds himself drawn into an ancient ghost story that will test the entire agency.He soon becomes enmeshed in a struggle with the spirit, who is so malevolent and haunting that his first real case might just be his last.

Recent Reads

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire – 5/5 stars (Full Review)

Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff – 2/5 stars (Full Review)

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell – 5/5 stars (Full Review)

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – 3/5 stars (Full Review)

The Chaos of Longing by K.Y. Robinson – 2.5/5 stars (Full Review)

The Timekeepers by Jenn Bregman – 1/5 stars (Full Review)

Remember, Remember by Anna Elliot – 3.5/5 stars (Full Review)

Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun – 4.5/5 stars (Full Review)

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis – 5/5 stars

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis – 5/5 stars

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan – 5/5 stars

What books are you guys planning to read this month? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

downamongthesticksandbonesDown Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Wayward Children

Date Published: June 13th, 2017

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 189 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted. 

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

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This is a spoiler-free review.

I absolutely adored this novel, which is why it has taken me so long to write up this review—I’m having so much trouble trying to find the right words to express how much I loved it. The first novel in this series, Every Heart a Doorway, was an already amazing start, but this sequel completely surpassed it in my opinion. Once again, McGuire brings us another captivating modern fairytale that is very dark in tone, and has a very beautiful yet bittersweet plot line. She has a gift for mixing together the perfect amount of relatable reality with the peculiar, the sinister, and the bizarre.

Much like the previous installment, McGuire focuses in on the stark contrast between fantasy and reality—how easy and freeing it can be to escape into fantasy, and the pains of suddenly being forced back into the real world. It tackles the subject of self-discovery and breaking away from the labels that society and even the people who are supposed to have our best interests at heart put on us. Even with the fantastical elements, at its core, this story is a highly relatable depiction of what every single one of us has gone through or will go through in our lives—the universal idea of finding oneself and being accepted.

Unlike the first novel, we get a chance to fully dive into one of those fantasy worlds from which the wayward children come back, making this an incredibly unique and utterly captivating story. It honestly could work perfectly as a standalone, but is definitely most interesting in the context of the rest of the series. I didn’t think I could love these books or Seanan McGuire’s writing any more than I did already, but this novel completely proved me wrong.

In this novel, we jump back in time to explore the experiences of two previous side characters—twins Jacqueline and Jillian—in their formative years, both with their family and during their time in the Moors, their alternate world. The two girls are brought up in the strictly regimented lives of their parents, who wish to mold them into what they perceive as the perfect children. Jacqueline is placed in the role of her mother’s perfect daughter—always wearing dresses, never getting her clothes soiled, and faultlessly polite. On the other side, Jillian becomes her father’s idea of the perfect daughter—an adventurous tom-boy who plays sports with the boys and is never afraid to get dirty.

In their youngest years, they play along in their assigned roles without question. But as they grow and experience life, the twins begin to wonder why—why their personalities are being dictated for them and why they can’t break away. Just as they are beginning to figure out what they truly want in life, the door to their other world appears. Soon, they are walking separate paths and coming into their own—learning that there are no set rules for how to be a girl. But in this eerie and twisted world, the sisters veer away from each other in more ways than they ever could have predicted.

The main aspect of this novel that I adored was getting the chance to see the background of these two characters—whom we’ve already come to care about—and actually delving deeply into the intriguing and frightening world of the Moors, in which they find themselves living for a time. Unlike the first novel, this one deals primarily with Jack and Jill’s time in their alternate world, rather than with the result of spending so long living there. It was wonderful to really explore the details of one of these fantasies that is only hinted at previously. McGuire has already proved her immense talent for the creative and unique, but she is able to take it to a whole new level with this particular story.

McGuire does another spectacular job creating vivid and multi-dimensional characters in this novel, despite the limitations of its length. Jack and Jill evolve a great deal throughout the course of the narrative. Having this extra time to experience these two characters helped flesh out their personalities even more than the previous novel did. Though none of us have had lives quite like theirs’, the struggle to find oneself in a society that is obsessed with labeling is a common theme that any reader can connect with.

Jack and Jill’s parents are horribly selfish, yet a hugely important element of the novel. Their parts in forcing the two girls into the lives and personalities that they would like them to have is an essential trigger for Jack and Jill finally realizing and becoming who they are truly meant to be. It is their strictness that sends them looking for answers and toward the door that has just opened for them. All of their efforts to mold the perfect daughters only drives the twins more toward independence and the ability to discover themselves.

The writing, as in the first novel, is once again pure magic. Seanan McGuire’s talent at crafting these beautiful and unique little vignettes is boundless. Her writing is fluid and simple, but her words contain a great amount of depth. This novel is slightly slower-paced than its predecessor, but that does not make it any less compulsively readable. For me, I loved the fact that I could take my time and really get wrapped up in the world. Even though I am always left dying for more, the narrative as a whole is a solid, complete, and fulfilling story.

The term that continuously returns to my mind when reading or thinking about these stories is “fractured fairytales”. They are enchanting and magical, as any fairytale is, yet also broken and sharp. They take you on a journey beyond the boundaries of the natural world, to the furthest reaches of your imagination, and then cut into you with their menacing undertones and unsettling twists. Instead of being sparkling and refreshing, they are murky and rough around the edges.

Everything about this novel is darkly beautiful, enchanting, heartbreaking, and bittersweet—there wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t love with all my heart. McGuire expertly unfolds another haunting, gritty, and whimsical modern day fairytale that is sure to captivate readers. It is such a short story, but it packs a huge punch in a small amount of time, and the length never inhibits the reader’s ability to become enveloped by this world. Though I don’t want it to be over just yet, I am still absolutely dying to get my hands on the final book in this trilogy.

5.0 TARDISes

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Review: Remember, Remember by Anna Elliott

rememberrememberRemember, Remember by Anna Elliot

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries

Date Published: April 21st, 2017

Publisher: Wilton Press

Pages: 357 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A lovely American actress awakens in London on a cold morning in 1897 – lying face down on the concrete pavement outside the British Museum. She has no memories. She does not even know who she is, although she has a vague recollection of the name Sherlock Holmes. What she believes is that she has may have just killed someone, and that someone is definitely trying to kill her. As she searches for clues to her true identity, she will learn that she is not the only target. Unless she can defeat her evil adversaries, the people most dear to her will die.

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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’ll admit I went into this book a little bit hesitant. It’s no secret that I love retellings or novels that use classic characters in modern day literature—these are some of my favorite types of novels. However, the hesitation I experience comes from my love of the original stories and characters themselves. I’m always a stickler when it comes to keeping true to the most essential and definitive aspects, even while the author is forming his or her own unique story. And I am especially picky when it comes to my all-time favorites. This particular novel, I’m pleased to say, does a reasonably good job paying homage to the incredibly well-loved characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless tales of the great Sherlock Holmes.

In this novel, we read from the perspective of the main character, Lucy James, a young woman who wakes up on the steps of the British Museum with amnesia. Once woken up, she realizes she has lost all of her memories, including her name. All she knows is that she was hit in the head and that someone is most likely out to kill her—and that she may in fact be a killer herself. This, along with the vague recollection of the name Sherlock Holmes, is all she has to go on as she attempts to remember who she is, where she’s from, and why she is running for her life. Her enemies are ruthless and willing to take down anyone who gets in their way. Navigating dangerous circumstances and forging new alliances, Lucy takes on her adversaries and works to prevent them from carrying out their nefarious scheme.

Despite my original wariness, I ended up enjoying this story quite a bit. I found the plot to be fast-paced and easy to get wrapped up in right from page one. Though this is actually the third book in the Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries series, it functions extremely well as a standalone. The overall mystery of the story is not completely unpredictable or surprising, but it still made for a very fun and action-packed read.

The portrayal of the various characters, overall, is fairly well done, but also the area from which the majority of my issues with the novel stem. The characters that were original creations of Anna Elliot were by far the strongest. Lucy is a great protagonist—she is a strong, highly intelligent, and independent heroine. The only major issue with her characterization is that there isn’t much development over the course of the story or depiction of flaws. One of the reasons a character such as Sherlock Holmes is so interesting is the mixture of his tremendous intellect and cleverness with flaws that make him human. While Lucy is a likeable character that is still easy to connect with, she seems just a bit too perfect at times.

As for Elliot’s versions of Holmes and Watson, I had somewhat mixed feelings. While her portrayal of Watson, in my opinion, is quite accurate, I felt a little bit lukewarm about her portrayal of Holmes. We don’t really get to see all that much of him, and even though there are certain times that truly reflect the classic great detective, there are some moments and plot points that I felt strayed a little too far. Though it was a little hard for me to imagine at first, I believe she did a decent job of gauging the way Holmes would treat a daughter had he had one in the original stories. However, there were times—such as his offering Lucy dating advice—that just didn’t feel authentic.

I had one odd problem with one of the character’s names. I was reading from an advanced review copy, so this is probably the cause of my confusion, but I could not figure out Lucy’s love interest’s first name. It kept jumping back and forth between John and Jack every few pages, sometimes even within the same page. Again, I assume this was caused by the uncorrected proof, and it has absolutely no bearing on my rating of the novel. However, I’m still not certain what his name actually was meant to be.

Elliot’s writing style is solid and easy to become absorbed in. She gives Lucy a strong narrative voice, which caused the plot to both flow well and pack a punch. Her world building of 1897 London is vivid and skilled, making it a very high point of the novel. She unravels the mystery at a steady pace, showing her talent for creating a storyline that hooks her readers and keeps them wanting more.

In the first part of the novel, Elliot does a great job of presenting Lucy’s slow gathering of clues pertaining to her life. The transition between the two halves of the novel—where Lucy suddenly regains her memories—is a bit rough. We are thrown rather quickly into her rapid and high-stakes lifestyle. However, this still does not hurt the plot progression overall, and though it was a little bumpy, I found myself falling into this new twist fairly easily. In general, Elliot keeps the plot as a whole straightforward enough to follow, and just unpredictable enough to create a exciting mystery.

Overall, I found this novel to be a pretty enjoyable and fast-paced read that was quite easy to become swept up in. This wound up being a very fun story, and an inventive take on some very timeless classics. While I would have liked to see a bit more development in Lucy and the various other significant characters in the novel, they were still portrayed well in general. Despite its few flaws, this is a good addition to the ever-expanding world of Sherlock Holmes novels. I am definitely planning to go back and read the first two novels of this series, and will eagerly await and further installments.

3.5 TARDISes

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Top 5 Wednesday – September 27th, 2017

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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 books you’ve picked up because you’ve heard of them in the online book community. Though I stayed somewhat on top of popular releases before blogging, my knowledge (and my purchasing of books!) has increased a great deal since joining the book blogging community. I have found so many incredible novels through various sources like Booktube and my fellow book blogging friends, so this was a tough list to narrow down. However, I think I’ve finally picked out the books that have impacted me the most since joining this wonderful community! 🙂

5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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This is one of my most recent discoveries due to the book blogging community, and this trilogy has quickly risen to the top of my favorites list. I can’t recall specifically where I saw this novel for the first time, but I read numerous reviews from many of the blogs I follow and was immediately convinced to pick it up. This book, as well as its sequel, are beautifully written, somewhat dark modern fairytales and I absolutely adore them!

Click here to check out my full review!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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I discovered this book—and the rest of the series—through Booktube. I am a complete sucker for unique retellings, and this promised to be one. Every channel I watched had incredibly positive reviews of the whole Lunar Chronicles series, though it was Catriona from Little Book Owl who first brought Cinder to my attention. I’m still in the process of finishing up the series, but it is already high on my favorites list.

Click here to check out my full review!

3. Alice by Christina Henry

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This novel was recommended to me by my good friend and fellow blogger, Heather, from The Sassy Book Geek. We have an extremely similar taste in books, and both particularly love dark retellings such as this one. I have never once been disappointed by any of her recommendations, and I have her to thank for bringing this amazing novel and its author into my life.

Click here to check out Heather’s full review!

2. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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I’m fairly certain that I first discovered this novel through the blogging community, but I also saw it everywhere in the Booktube community as well. Again, all the reviewers I found constantly raved about this book and, being a fan of World War II historical fiction as well as science fiction, I knew I had to give it a read. I read this in a buddy read with my good friend and fellow blogger, Anna from My Bookish Dream, and it was fantastic!

Click here to check out my full review and click here to check out Anna’s full review!

1. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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I first discovered Vicious—as well as Victoria Schwab in general—through Booktube and continued to see it pop up all over the blogging community. Every review I saw or read raved about how amazing this novel and Schawb’s writing were, so I knew I had to give it a try. I ended up reading it for the first time with my friend and fellow blogger, Heather from The Sassy Book Geek, and absolutely adored it!

Click here to check out my full review and click here to check out Heather’s full review!

What books have you guys discovered since joining the online book community and where did you discover them? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases of Fall 2017

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Hey Everyone!

It’s been WAY too long since I’ve seen you guys! I apologize for my unplanned hiatus. I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch with depression and have found it hard to motivate myself to do much of anything. On top of that, my grandmother, whom I was extremely close to, just passed away. But I really want to push myself to get back into blogging regularly. Reading and writing have always been very helpful for me when I’m feeling down.

Anyway, I’m going to try easing myself back into blogging (be patient with me!), and I figured I would start off with my most anticipated releases for my favorite season, Fall! Thank you all so much for sticking by me even with the lack of posting. I truly appreciate every single one of you! 🙂 ❤

Invictus by Ryan Graudin (September 26th, 2017)

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Time flies when you’re plundering history.
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems. 
In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano (October 24th, 2017)

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A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.
Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.
Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.
But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.
With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

Renegades by Marissa Meyer (November 7th, 2017)

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From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.
Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.
Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (November 7th, 2017)

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In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi (November 14th, 2017)

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A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.
Our story begins on a frosty night…
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.
But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.

What books are you guys looking forward to this Fall? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Paper Wishes by Spencer Hoshino

paperwishesPaper Wishes by Spencer Hoshino

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: The Magical Girl Series

Date Published: February 14th, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Pages: 212 pages

Source: Author

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

Synopsis: There is a belief that with each origami star folded, a falling star is saved. After folding 365 stars while mourning the loss of her mother, Vilvian makes a wish that will change her life forever.

Enter Nox Bright, the handsome and mysterious guy who has been haunting Vilvian’s dreams. She can barely believe it when he walks into her homeroom near the end of the school year. Has she gone crazy or is it possible that wishes really do come true?

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

This is a spoiler-free review.

The young adult contemporary romance genre is the genre I am pickiest about. Typically, I gravitate more toward fantasy, mystery, and science fiction novels. I sometimes get really in the mood to read them, but they are always starkly either a hit or a miss for me. They can be either weighed down by the same types of tropes or feel like the same story as all the others with little originality. Very rarely do I find novels in this category that really pull me in and are enjoyable to read—with a few exceptions, of course. I am happy to say that Paper Wishes, for me, is one of those very few exceptions.

In this novel, we follow a girl named Vilvian, who is trying to recover after the recent passing of her mother. She had been keeping to herself, drifting away from her friends, and living more in her dream world, where she has delightful dreams about falling in love with a handsome mystery man.

As the story begins, she is gradually coming out of hiding. Slowly, we begin to meet the most important people in her life as she allows them back into her world, which is finally stretching beyond the closed door of her bedroom. But she is still in mourning, and during the process of healing she folds three hundred and sixty-five origami stars and makes her wish, as the fable dictates. Little does she know this cultural tradition will end up changing her life in a seemingly impossible way.

Paper Wishes is an utterly sweet and charming novel. The tone of the novel has a good balance between serious depth and light warmth. The addition of Japanese culture references and the backstory of the paper stars made for an even more intriguing read. Addressing the topics of overcoming grief, finding a family and support system, and falling in love for the first time, this novel is incredibly easy to connect with. And with the hint of fantasy in the plot, it makes for quite a unique read. Who wouldn’t want to have their best dream come to life?

The characterization in this novel was excellent. Hoshino really brings each character to life, giving them three-dimensional personalities that both flesh out the plot itself and allow the reader to effortlessly relate to them. Each one felt highly realistic and were nicely woven into the plot. One could say that there is a bit of insta-love between Vilvian and Nox, but at the same time, their story is a quite exceptional one. To me, Ann felt a bit pushed into the story just to create some conflict, but I think that was due to her having a more minimal part and less portrayal compared to the main characters.

Vilvian’s grieving process feels true to life, and her dream world is a widely used form of escaping from the stresses of the world. Nox figuratively—and later literally—represents the strength she has deep inside her that causes her to push on from one day to the next. He is both a tangible and intangible source of love, protection, and encouragement—a sign to Vilvian that things can and will get better, despite how bleak the circumstance appears to be.

Hoshino’s writing style is absolutely wonderful to read and get lost in. It flows beautifully and makes it very easy to become swept up into the story. Her descriptions are spot on and build the world up right around the reader. The text is deceptively simple—it is a fairly straightforward story, but there is so much depth and meaning behind the words. The bittersweet tone of the novel shines through clearly as Hoshino demonstrates her perceptibly talented word-crafting.

Overall, this is a beautiful and adorable novel, and one that is a fantastic light summer read. Despite my feelings about contemporary romance novels in general, I ended up having quite an enjoyable time with this one. This is the perfect sort of quick pick-me-up type read if you are looking for a sweet and heart-warming tale. It is so much fun to fall in to, and is impossible to get through without a smile. Hoshino has used her great talent for words to create a lovely and truly magical story that will work its way into the hearts of readers of any age.

4.0 TARDISes

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