Fiction · microreview · Review

Microreview: Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan

Happy Easter, y’all!

I’m a little backed up in the review department here.

I’ve managed to squeeze in some reading, but I’ve been very neglectful of remembering to actually review any of the great books I’ve been reading.

I just came back from a rainy weekend getaway up in the Smokey Mountains for my birthday, and I thought I should start off Thirty Seven on a productive note, so here’s a microreview for the YA set:

 

wicked saintsI’m a really big fan of the world building in this book. The blending of politics and religion and religion and magic was interesting. I enjoyed the way Nadya interacted with multiple gods. It was a great way to reveal different facets of her personality, and a vehicle for demonstrating how her thinking changed as she evolved and became more confident in her own abilities.

The story moved well and I became attached to both Nadya and Malachiasz, but I found the ending very confusing and I’m still not sure exactly what happened, I’m hoping the next book will clear things up a bit!

If you like character driven stories full of magic, esoteric religious icons, and dark, broody (maybe?) love, you should pick up Wicked Saints, regardless of age.

I was provided with an ARC by Wednesday Books, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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book memes · Fiction

First Line Friday: Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan

First Line Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Hoarding Books. While I participate infrequently, this is one of my favorite, because nothing sets the tone for a good book quite like the first line.

The calming echo of a holy chant filtered down from the sanctuary and into the cellars. It was late afternoon, just before Vespers, a time where psalms to the gods were given up in an effortless chant.

Nadezhda Lapteva glared up at the mountain of potatoes threatening to avalanche down over the table. She twisted her knife hard against the one in her hand, narrowly missing skin as she curled the peel into a spiral.

wicked saintsI can’t believe it’s Friday and I haven’t read anything all week! It’s February 22, and this will be only the third book I’ll read this month.

These are dark times, my friends, and dark times call for gothic settings. The reviews for Wicked Saints have been really mixed, so I am going in with no expectations and hoping to enjoy the ride.

What are y’all reading this weekend?

Meta

Housekeeping Note

Hey, y’all!

As I mentioned a few months ago, I had a job change that I absolutely love, but it takes up a much larger chunk of my time, and it really cuts into my blogging/reading time.

I considered just axing this blog, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

I’ve already committed to reviewing a number of ARCs I haven’t quite gotten to yet, and I love writing reviews and peeking in on my fellow bloggers!

All this to say, I may be posting less consistently–there will be slower times at work that afford me more hobby time and also weeks that leave me no time, but I’m still here and I would love for you to stay with me.

Happy Reading!

Fiction · microreview · Review

The Ash Family, by Molly Dektar

When a young woman leaves her family—and the civilized world—to join an off-the-grid community headed by an enigmatic leader, she discovers that belonging comes with a deadly cost, in this lush and searing debut novel.

At nineteen, Berie encounters a seductive and mysterious man at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. Shut off from the people around her, she finds herself compelled by his promise of a new life. He ferries her into a place of order and chaos: the Ash Family farm. There, she joins an intentional community living off the fertile land of the mountains, bound together by high ideals and through relationships she can’t untangle. Berie—now renamed Harmony—renounces her old life and settles into her new one on the farm. She begins to make friends. And then they start to disappear.

Thrilling and profound, The Ash Family explores what we will sacrifice in the search for happiness, and the beautiful and grotesque power of the human spirit as it seeks its ultimate place of belonging.

I’m always fascinated by this type of cult novels, but there have been so many written in the last few years that in many respects, we already have a pretty good idea of we are going to get.

And this was the case with the Ash Family. There was not much to set it apart from those that came before it, but it was not a bad book.

I enjoyed the prose, and thought that the depiction of everyday life in ‘the Family’ was well done, but I was not especially taken with the protagonist, Harmony.

She is, expectedly, naive, but she doesn’t seem to grow emotionally as the novel unfolds, which I found surprising. I’m not sure if it was by design, to demonstrate the insidiousness of cults, but as a result, the ending left me feeling unsatisfied and it felt a bit unbelievable.

I received a complimentary ARC from Simon and Schuster, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Fiction · Review · Thriller

They Called Me Wyatt, by Natasha Tynes

When Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha is murdered on her birthday in College Park, Maryland, her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt’s parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.

Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar’s death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can’t explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death. Will Siwar get justice after all?

The underlying premise of the novel–that Siwar’s consciousness could become a part of Wyatt in some way–was intriguing to me. I wasn’t sure how or if it would work going in, but I have to say that I thought it was masterfully done.

This didn’t feel like a supernatural novel that was also a mystery. It was a mystery that had undertones of something supernatural. It would have been easy for this merging of consciousnesses to become very gimmicky, but the writing shows great restraint. The story and figuring out the mystery is the main focus and it worked very well.

I really enjoyed the alternating points of view the story is told from and Siwar is an intelligent, outspoken protagonist, but also young and vulnerable. She made me feel really invested in figuring out who killed her.

I was a little more ambivalent about Wyatt. I wanted him to succeed for Siwar, but he’s not really a great guy I would be rooting for otherwise. He’s singleminded in his pursuit to find out who killed Siwar, but he doesn’t treat his girlfriend very well and he doesn’t seem to really like anyone he comes across.

There was a lot of misdirection (Siwar tells you early on that she is an unreliable narrator, and I enjoyed that bit of self aware poking fun), so the end is not predictable, but I did feel like after all the buildup, the reveal was a little rushed.

I would recommend this novel to all of y’all who enjoy slow burning thrillers. It’s a quick read at 280 pages, but the pacing is even and enjoyable.

I received an ARC of They Called Me Wyatt from Natasha Tynes in exchange for an honest review. Expected date of publication is June 11, 2019.

Fiction · Five Stars · Review · Romance · Women's Fiction

The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves

As you all know by now, I am a girl who loves to judge a book by its cover.

I thought this cover was just lovely, and I also thought the story was lovely as well.

used to knowAnnika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game—and his heart—to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

I fell in love with Annika and Jonathan pretty much instantaneously. While I have no experience with autism, Annika’s struggles with anxiety resonated with me, and the tender, patient way Jonathan loved her reminds me of all the ways my husband makes me feel safe.

I learned a lot about how someone with high functioning autism navigates life, and Annika’s refusal to give up on herself is inspiring in a quiet way.

As I was reading, I found myself thinking ‘this is a beautiful love story, but shouldn’t more be happening?’ And then more happened and I wished I could take it back. Despite all the subtlety laid clues, I had lost myself in their happiness and I did not see the climax coming.

I don’t want to even marginally spoil anything for you, but the ending is what made this a five star book. This is classified as Women’s Fiction, and I think that’s correct, but there’s something here for you tenderhearted men, too.

I received an ARC of this book from St Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Expected date of publication is April 2, 2019.

 

book memes · microreview · Review

Beat the Backlist: Week Two

btbbanner_transparentbgI had posted last time that I thought my goal of reading two backlist books and one ARC was perhaps a little unrealistic.

And maybe it was, but where there’s a will (and a novella) there is a way.

 

 

I finished The Magicians yesterday afternoon, the ARC last night–which I can’t wait to review for you; it was seriously fantastic–and I finished Down Among the Sticks and Bones tonight.

beneathI thought that Down Among the Sticks and Bones was a solid read. I enjoyed it as much as Every Heart a Door Way, and I’m eager to read Beneath the Sugar Sky this week.

As I’d mentioned earlier, I wasn’t exactly impressed by The Magicians.

I felt like it had a number of problems that I struggled with. I found the first half of the book to be a little boring. I kept waiting for the cool parts to happen, but it took a while.

I also found the main characters to be pretty unlikeable. Quentin is a straight up terrible person/character. I seriously wanted to shake him. We were told over and over about how young these characters are, as if it was a suitable excuse for how they behaved, but I didn’t find it true to life. We’re talking about college age and older ‘kids’ here.

That being said, I’m not giving up on the series. I’m just not going to continue it this week. I’m hoping that the next book is better.

My goal for the coming week is going to again include two backlisters and one ARC.

I’ve been wanting to read Lament, by Maggie Stiefvater for a while, so I borrowed it from the library and it’ll be my next read. I’m on the waitlist for Vox, so if my number comes up, and I have time, I might throw it in the mix, too.

 

 

Are you trying to Beat the Backlist this year? What are you reading this week? 

 

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book memes · Fiction

First Line Friday: The Magicians, by Lev Grossman

First Line Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Hoarding Books. While I participate infrequently, this is one of my favorite, because nothing sets the tone for a good book quite like the first line.

Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.

magicians

So, I thought I’d have a review for you all by now. My goal of three books this week is looking a little too ambitious. I’m only halfway through The Magicians and I don’t have any days off this week. Boo. Hiss.

I’m pretty surprised to be saying this, but I think I may like the TV Series better than the book. This is subject to change, however. I just started Book II, and I think things are ramping up!

What are you reading this weekend? Drop me a (first) line.

 

book memes

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

TTT-BLC

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I’ve been so focused on beating the backlist that I really haven’t been focusing on what’s ahead. In no particular order, here are ten releases I cannot wait to read.

 

The Last Widow, by Karin Slaughter We have neither a cover nor a synopsis yet, but it’s a Will Trent book, so I’m ready! Expected publication: June 13th 2019 by HarperCollins

Finale, by Stephanie Garber Legendary ended on quite the cliffhanger, and I’m completely smitten with this series. Expected publication: May 7th 2019 by Flatiron Books

Wild Country (The World of the Others #2), by Anne Bishop Anne Bishop is one of my favorite authors. We’re not getting a new Black Jewels book, so this will have to do. Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by Ace

Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire This world building sounds exactly like what I want in my life. Expected publication: May 7th 2019 by Tor.com Publishing

In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire Is it cheating to have two books by the same writer? I just started this series and it’s great when I can just read them all in succession. Published January 8th 2019 by Tor.com

 

 

So, I’ve already read Miracle Creek and Never Tell, both of which were excellent. I encourage you all to read them (and my reviews!)

Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan Regicide? Yes, please! Expected publication: April 2nd 2019 by Wednesday Books

Soul of the Sword, by Julie Kagawa picks up where Shadow of the Fox left off. I loved the world building in the first book and look forward to diving in deeper this time around. Expected publication: June 25th 2019 by Inkyard Press

The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves I requested this ARC on NetGalley because I really liked the cover. (I can’t help myself sometimes!) The early reviews I’ve looked at are overwhelmingly positive, and I expect to read this one in the coming weeks. Expected publication: April 2nd 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

My TBR is never long enough. Which titles are you most looking forward to for the first half of 2019?

book memes · Fiction · microreview · Review

Beat the Backlist 2019: Week One

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I’m so pleased that I joined this challenge. It is really motivating me to spend some time reading books that aren’t ARCs and I’m also more free to read what I feel like reading, instead of what I feel obligated to read.

 

 

I surprised myself and read three backlist books this week! I feel like In the Blink of an Eye could go either way, because it was given to me as an ARC, but it was originally published in 2017, so it totally counts.

I’ve been interested in Every Heart a Doorway for a while now, but I just hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. It was on a lot of Top Ten Tuesday lists, and the subject was right in my wheelhouse.

I really liked it. I think the length was perfect and Nancy was just a darling protagonist. She provided a unique point of view and didn’t get swallowed up by the ensemble around her. The ending made my heart happy.

Unraveling Oliver is another title that’s spent a good amount of time on my TBR. I even borrowed it from the library once before, but I had too many books on my plate, and it kind of fell to the wayside.

I did not expect to read it all in one sitting, but the story flowed really well, even while being told through a mix of flashbacks and present day, from a variety of points of view. The beginning is quite violent, so be warned.

The story begins with Oliver committing this terrible act of violence and then the novel explores how Oliver came to be who he is. I saw it referred to as a whydunnit, and that’s a great way to describe this book.

I can’t say that I empathized with Oliver too much, but it was fascinating to follow all the events that shaped him.

 

 

My goal for next week is a little more modest. I want to read two backlist books and one ARC.

I’m going to continue on to the next book in the Wayward Children series and I’m going to read the Magicians. I started watching the TV adaption last week and I am hooked! I’m almost through Season Two, but sometimes I miss a detail here or there, and the book’s always better, right?

 

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