Monthly Wrap Ups

January Wrap Up

This month I have been incredibly fortunate to read some really great reads!

  1. To Best the Boys by Mary Weber5 stars: This book hit in me all the feels! The story follows Rhen Tellur a 17 year old female scientist who disguises herself as a boy to prove that she can win a scholarship to the prestigious all male university.
  2. Bored to Death by Amanda Linehan3.5 stars: What happens when you can live forever? You get bored. This is a fun read that follows a century old vampire named Victoria and her friends as they defeat boredom by hunting down Victoria’s maker, Dr. Ivy, who now feeds off of vampires he turned in order to defy the laws of vampirism and immortality.
  3. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young5 stars: What a terrific book! If you love The Stepford Wives, you need to read this. The girls of Innovation Academy are trained to obedient and subservient girls to men at all times. But what happens when the brain washing starts to wear off? This book is incredibly chilling since it’s not that far-fetched.
  4. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen5 stars: This psychological thriller messed with my mind the entire time. There were plenty of times that I was looking over my shoulder to see if Dr. Shields was spying on me. So so good!
  5. Ragnarok Unwound by Kristin Jacques3.5 stars: If you love Norse mythology, this is perfect for you! This is a great adventure that follows Ikepela Ives, a mortal who has the ability to not only see fates but change them as well! The caveat, she needs to save the world before the apocalypse. No big deal, right?!
  6. Killing Adam by Earik Beann – 4 stars: Calling all sci-fi fans! This book makes me reminiscent of iRobot meets Total Recall. Adam is an AI that controls the brain functions for the majority of society. Jimmy Mahoney suffered a brain injury to where he can’t have the altered reality chips inserted in his brain, so he’s the only one who can take down Adam. I really enjoyed not only the plot but the pace of this story as well.
  7. Poseidon’s Academy by Sarah A. Vogler4 stars: What would happen if Harry Potter and Percy Jackson were to cross paths? This story would be the prodigy. This was such a fun read. I love mythology and when you mix it with magic, it is a treasure waiting to be discovered. I really loved watching the story of Hailey, prophesized Zeus, and her destiny unfold.
  8. Finding Grace by K. L. Slater4.5 stars: I think every parent’s fear is if their child disappeared while walking home alone. I don’t have a child, but my heart was absolutely pounding. All the twists and turns kept me guessing.  
  9. They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes4 stars: This was a great read. This murder mystery follows the tragic death of Siwar, a 25-year old female college student from Jordan, but the kicker is that her consciousness has resettled into a speech delayed three-year old boy named Wyatt. Siwar was my spirit animal. From a young age, she pushes the envelope to fight against the conservative Jordanian expectations of women. She also curses like a sailor, which, so do I.
  10. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig5 stars: I could not put this down! This gothic retelling of The 12 Dancing Princesses was creepy as sh•t! I loved every minute of it.
YA

Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (ARC)



House of Salt and Sorrows

Author: Erin A. Craig

Publication Date: 06 Aug 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 416

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Thank you NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing me a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Get swept away in Erin A. Craig’s mesmerizing House of Salt and Sorrows. As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family. Be careful who you dance with. . . .

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

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

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

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family–before it claims her next. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.

My Thoughts:

This book transforms the fairytale of the twelve dancing princesses into a dark, sinister ghost story that makes you weary of falling asleep with the lights off.

 The story begins with Annaleigh Thaumus returning yet another family member, her fourth eldest sister Eulalie, to the Salt. Annaleigh has already lost her eldest three sisters and her mother as well. Eulalie’s body was discovered at the base of the cliff’s edge, and with everyone assuming that the Thaumus family is cursed, the majority of people assume that Eulalie committed suicide. Everyone except Annaleigh. Annaleigh’s young stepmother, Morella, the new Duchess of the Salaana islands decides, at the funeral, that she is done with mourning and uses it as a platform to announce that she is pregnant with a son.

Now at this point, I was asking myself how in the world did this woman know that she was pregnant with a son. She told Annaleigh that she was probably around 3 months pregnant, maybe more, so the gender of the baby should not be known at this point. Also, Morella decided to take a time of remembrance to focus on herself. I understand why the daughters were hesitant to like Morella because that was incredibly disrespectful behavior.

Following the funeral, Morella decided that Highmoor would no longer be in mourning, which was uncharacteristic for the people of the Salaan islands since the mourning period for the death of a relative was a minimum of one year. While Annaleigh was hesitant to oblige, her sisters were eager to go to balls and dance the night away. While the first ball to honor the triplet’s birthday was unsuccessful, the girls discover Pontus’ magical door, which allows them to travel to distance kingdoms where no one has heard of the Thaumus curse.

I enjoyed watching the development of Annaleigh’s character because I saw her as the voice of reason. Annaleigh was the first to accept Morella as a friend and give her a chance when her sisters viewed her as a gold digger. Annaleigh also was able to connect with Verity, her youngest sister, in a way that the other sisters could not since they presumed her to be filled with childish notions. Verity confides in Annaleigh that she sees her dead sisters after Annaleigh discovers her journal is covered in drawings of their rotting corpses.

Without giving away the plot, this story was an absolute page turner for me. Erin weaves this magical tale that is horrifying, heartbreaking, but most importantly, hopeful. The nuances in which she develops the characters made me fall in love with them; making it even more heartbreaking as the terror continued to unfold. Erin did warn us to be careful who you dance with, but were you paying attention?

Rating: 5 stars

Adult Fiction

Book Review: They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes (ARC)

Dying was not the worst part. It was was what came after dying.

They Called Me Wyatt

Author: Natasha Tynes

Publication Date: 11 June 2019

Genre: Adult, Mystery/Thriller – has sci-fi elements

Pages: 280

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Thank you to Natasha Tynes for providing a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

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?

My Thoughts:

This novel is broken into two parts. The first part of the story mainly focuses on Siwar’s narrative. Siwar plunged to her death on her 25th birthday after being pushed off a building. Unfortunately for her, her consciousness survives but relocates itself into a speech delayed three-year-old boy named Wyatt. Siwar still has the thought processes of a 25-year-old woman but are ultimately useless in a toddler’s body that is uncapable of responding in the manner she wants. I definitely found it entertaining to watch a 25-year-old Siwar get so utterly frustrated trying to communicate with Wyatt’s parents Krista and Noah. If my life went from independence and pursuing my dream career to watching one hour of either Sesame Street or Barney every day, I’d be fussing and cussing just as much as Siwar.

I think Natasha did a wonderful job with the progression of the flashbacks that start to piece together Siwar’s story starting from her preteen years in Jordan. Siwar was always fiercely independent and set on pushing back against the archaic and conservative expectations of females in Jordanian society. As we see more of Siwar’s background, I felt myself empathasizing with her story. I could not blame her for wanting to get away from so many rules that dictated her existence just because she was a female.

However, as the plot continues during part one, we start to get glimpses of just how manipulative Siwar is. When she tries to communicate to Wyatt’s parents, Krista and Noah, and she doesn’t get the response she wants, she has full blown temper tantrums. Since she’s an adult trapped inside of a child with a mission to find out how she was murdered, she doesn’t particularly care if she hurts their feelings. While I understood her frustration, you could see that Wyatt’s behavioral issues were also tearing apart Krista and Noah’s already fragile marriage.

Book one ends with Wyatt going in for a procedure to correct his urinary tract, so he is sedated for the operation, which means both Siwar and Wyatt are silenced. Turn the page to book two, and now we have a 25-year-old Wyatt and wondering if Siwar is alive or dead (well passed on would probably be more appropriate since she technically is dead).

Surprise – Siwar is still with Wyatt, but now she’s no longer in control of Wyatt’s consciousness. She’s the dull whispers in the background that only become vivid when Wyatt is either inebriated or under the influence of Valium. Because Siwar can still peer into Wyatt’s consciousness, he has become obsessed with solving her cold case but has no clue why this need is consuming him.

Book two was a bit slower for me. I plowed through book one because I was fascinating in learning Siwar’s story through her own memories that are implanted in Wyatt. I also have a strong preference for Siwar’s narrative over Wyatt’s because I found her independent attitude refreshing while not being obtrusive. During book two, I grew more and more frustrated with Wyatt repeatedly wasting away in a drunken or medicinal stupor just so we could get back to Siwar and her truth. In hindsight, I realize that like Siwar, I didn’t necessarily care about Wyatt and the consequences associated with seeking justice for Siwar because the plot wasn’t about Wyatt. Right? Or was it?

Overall, the is a great debut novel from Natasha Tynes. She does a wonderful job of assessing America from an outsider’s perspective while also giving a glimpse into Jordanian society, which most Americans probably are not privy to. The plot has a great pace. There are definitely interesting twists and turns as we learn more about the relationships that Siwar had as well as the man Wyatt has grown to become. The ending definitely took me by surprise.

Rating: 4 stars

Uncategorized

You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream – C.S. Lewis

After contemplating all the ways that I would fail as a blogger, I finally decided to cast those fears aside and take a plunge. I love reading books and writing reviews that capture my experiences of those books, but I what I really wanted a place of my own to facilitate additional conversation and connect with other readers in a way that consumer review sites does not really allow for.

I’m not perfect, so this blog will not be perfect. I am taking one step at a time in this new adventure. I anticipate that I will fall down so to speak and make mistakes along the way, but I am always eager to learn and improve.

I look forward to connecting with others in all things books, and I cannot wait to contribute to this amazing community.