Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Title: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy
Rating: ★★★★

A Discovery of Witches felt like something I hadn’t read before. Sure, the witch and vampire idea is out there and has been for a while, but something felt different about that book. The same thing happened with Shadow of Night.

In Shadow of Night, Diana and Matthew timewalk back in time with the hope of finding Ashmole 782 complete. They want to find the secrets of their creation and their future. On top of that, they want to find a witch to help Diana as she finds her witch powers. They travel back to 1590 and are thrown right into the world of Elizabeth’s England.

Matthew falls back into his life as a spy and gets back together with his group of friends, known as the School of Night. Diana has to find a way to adjust to the time in nearly every way, on top of trying to find a witch with the power to teach her about her own powers. She’s living in the world that, as a historian, she could only dream of seeing.

Matthew and Diana are married before they timewalk, but they still have problems they need to work out. There are still secrets between them, and while some are insignificant, some are important. They have to work on their relationship and find ways to accept the good and the bad, as well as air those hidden secrets.

I think the cast of characters for this novel is one of my favorites in recent memories. Every single person was unique and I fell in love with several of them. The homes Matthew and Diana occupy while in Elizabethan England are rarely empty and each person that took up space in those homes was fantastic. They all added something special to the novel and I could easily read books about each and every one of them.

There’s a lot that doesn’t happen in this novel, but that doesn’t bother me. Even though not everything felt as though it held importance to the overall plot or characters, I didn’t mind reading about everything that went on. Nothing felt like filler, even though some pages were not as important as others. There are often times when things aren’t happening, but that’s okay. Harkness makes every word feel purposeful.

Shadow of Night was a fantastic novel that I made sure to really read. I slowed myself down in order to enjoy each word. This was a wonderful sequel and I am looking forward to what comes next and how Diana and Matthew’s trip to the past has changed their future.

If Shadow of Night sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Book Talk: Reasons Why

Everyone has their reasons for liking or disliking reading. Some people enjoy sitting down and losing themselves in the pages of a book while others find the idea of sitting and reading crazy. It doesn’t matter if you like to read or not…you have reasons for it.

I know a lot of people use reading as a way to escape from the real world. I’m no different. I use reading as a way to leave the world behind and find someplace else to live for a bit. There is a little difference between myself and a lot of the other readers out there.

I use reading as a way to live the lives I’ll never be able to see.

I was born with a genetic disease, Cystic Fibrosis, that makes it hard to breathe. My lungs are scarred and damaged. On a really good day, I have 75% of the lung capacity I should have. I spend at least one month out of the year in the hospital, but it’s looking like that will be increasing. I’m going to try as hard as I possibly can to live as long as I can, but I have no illusions about living into my 80s and beyond.

Reading allows me to live lives I won’t otherwise get to experience. I get to be anyone when I read. I can go anywhere. The one life I was given has been filled with challenges, but the hundreds of lives I have experienced  make up for that.

That is why I read. That is why I treasure every book I open. That is why I will never stop reading. I have never-ending gratitude for the authors who have written the books I have lived. Because those authors put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), I get to live any life I want to. When I finally get to meet some of my favorite authors, there is no amount of thanking them that can get my gratitude across.

I can’t stop reading. If I stop, I will lose those little pieces that make up who I am and who I will be. Going forward in life, I know my health will keep declining. There’s no way around that. But that doesn’t frighten me. As long as I have my books, I can keep going.

That’s why I read. Why do you read?

Review: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Title: Letters from Sky
Author: Jessica Brockmole
Rating: ★★★★★

Letters as a way of communicating are going away. People no longer wait by their mailbox with the hopes a letter will come for them. We email now, or use Facebook or Twitter. Near instant communication. We also share so much of our lives today that things that used to be private have now become basic public information. I think this is why the letter format of Letters from Skye appealed to me so much.

The entire novel is made up of letters. Every single page is filled with correspondence; letters between David and Elspeth, letters between Elspeth’s daughter Margaret and Paul…every detail of the story is given between the lines of those letters. There is only so much a letter can convey. It’s a tiny glimpse into the life of the letter’s author. The entire story isn’t told; there are details that aren’t there, days that are left blank. But what is in those letters is a love story spanning countries, oceans, continents, and decades.

Elspeth is a poet who has never ventured beyond the island she calls home. She finds inspiration in the land she grew up on, and the poems she writes leads an American to write her first fan letter. From there, a friendship builds. David and Elspeth begin a relationship of honesty and truth. They begin to depend upon each other and their friendship continues to grow until love finds its way in. Just when they think they might be able to start something amazing, David becomes involved in World War I and their letters become even more important.

The other set of letters, between Margaret and Paul, takes place during World War II. Paul is a fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force and Margaret has fallen for him. Elspeth warns her daughter of what a war can do to a relationship, but Margaret holds onto her love with Paul. After a bomb sends letters flying around the home Margaret and Elspeth share, Margret begins to question her mother and her secrets. They are the secret Elspeth has kept locked away for 20 years, even from Margaret. When Elspeth disappears, taking the letters with her, Margaret sets off on a journey to discover her mother’s story and how that is tied to Margaret’s unknown father.

David and Elspeth’s love story is powerful and real. The challenges they face, shown through these letters, are moving and brought tears to my eyes. Getting to see this love span the decades through letters is more powerful than reading a narrative would have been. Sure, there are some details that aren’t shared, but what you do read is even better. You read two people falling in love and finding a way to maintain that relationship through a war.

I imagine that reading Letters from Skye is much like hearing the story about how your grandparents fell in love. You many hear one story from you grandpa, and one from your grandma, but once you read those letters they exchanged before getting married, you finally understand it. I don’t know how to describe the feeling this book gave me, but it moved me to tears.

Letters from Skye is Brockmole’s first novel. I am hoping beyond expression that it isn’t her last. Her way of weaving a story so beautiful has made me a devoted fan from the very first page. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of historical fiction, this is a must read book.

To purchase your copy of Letter from Skye, click on one of the links below:
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Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: If I Should Die by Amy Plum

Title: If I Should Die
Author: Amy Plum
Series: Revenants series
Rating: ★★★★★

I have loved this series from the beginning. There was something so perfectly romantic about it that had me falling in love hard from the very first pages.

It’s not the most beautifully written novel, nor is the world the most inventive. But there is something about Kate and Vincent that doesn’t need the pretty words in order to weave a romantic and amazing tale. Plum made me fall in love just by writing a fantastic love story.

Vincent has just been lost; his body burned, but his soul still on Earth. Kate fears all is lost, that once again, she has lost someone she loves more than anyone else in the world. Her parents’ death brought her Vincent, but she can’t see what will come for her now.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers because this is a book you don’t want to have spoiled. You want to read every page and want to know what is coming next. Experiencing the highs and lows of this novel was just an added bonus to the wonderful journey I went on.

The other revenants play a major role in this novel. There are twists that I didn’t see coming that made my gut twist and my heart clench up. I didn’t want to stop reading. I needed to know what was coming next and how the story would end.

If I Should Die is one of my favorite endings to a series. I’m sad to see it ending, but while I wish I could keep reading about Kate and Vincent, it ended the story perfectly. Loose ends were tied up, my heart is happy, and I’m still in love.

The Revenants series is a must read for anyone who wants to be swept up in a timeless romance set in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Be prepared to fall in love from the beginning and only have that love grow as the series concludes.

If If I Should Die sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Crush by Nicole Williams

Title: Crush
Author: Nicole Williams
Series: Crash series
Rating: ★★

Crush is definitely a more adult book than the previous two and my review reflects that. For that reason, I have not included my review on the front page. Please click below to read my review.

Continue reading

Review: Clash by Nicole Williams

Title: Clash
Author: Nicole Williams
Series: Crash series
Rating: ★★★

I enjoyed Crash more than I thought I would, so I decided to give the rest of the series a try. Crash had its flaws, but it was still enjoyable and I had hopes that things would improve as the series went on.

Clash was about as enjoyable as Crash, and it still had its flaws, but it wasn’t bad. Lucy and Jude were still a little too volatile for my tastes, but they didn’t cross any of my boundaries when it comes to relationships.

Lucy and Jude are in college and testing out the long distance relationship. They spend as much time together as they can, but doubts are always there. Jude is the big man on campus and while Lucy says she trusts him, there are moments when it’s clear she doesn’t. Even if she says it’s only the people around him she doesn’t trust, she still doubts him and what he says.

Jude just wants to make Lucy happy and play football. He’s been given a second chance at a life he never thought he’d have and he’s trying to make the most of it.

The drama of the novel is the one part I found myself enjoying less. As often as I tried to remind myself that the characters where still teens, just figuring life out, I still found myself bogged down with their drama at times. I understand that some of it is necessary in order to move the story forward, but some of it felt like it was thrown in there just for something to fill the pages. Instead of having the characters talk and work issues out, drama ensues for a little while before they have that talk.

I read this book while on vacation and I think this is what the series is for. It makes for a nice summer read, while you are lounging on the deck of a cruise ship and sipping a tasty drink. It’s not really a light read, but it’s definitely not a deep one. If you’re looking for a book to just sit back and read, this would be a good choice.

If Clash sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Rating: ★★★★★

Yet another amazing Jennifer Echols book.

I know when I pick up a book by Echols; I’m going to love it. I know I’m going to get the heart swoons, the stomach fluttering, and the little smile on my face. I also know I’m going to get a great story to go along with it. Dirty Little Secret is no different.

Bailey and her sister Julie used to go out and play the music scene together. Then Julie got a record deal and Bailey was left behind. Not only were her dreams pushed to the back burner, her family wanted to keep her a secret. That is the part of the situation that hurt Bailey most. Not that her sister found success, but that Bailey had to be sacrificed for her to get it.

Sam has a band and will do anything to make it big. That is his one focus. When Bailey entered his life, he didn’t expect his focus to change. He didn’t think making it big would cost him something he hadn’t had in a while.

The romance between these two is delicious. There’s attraction and there’s annoyance. There’s lust and there’s more annoyance. The push and pull never seems childish, but more like actual adults having misunderstandings and miscommunications and being forced to work through them if they want to be together.

Ace and Charlotte could be their own story. There is so much I want to know about those two. They may be secondary characters, but they gave the novel something special.

Dirty Little Secret is yet another fantastic Echols novel with country flair. If you’re looking for a romance that will leave you smiling and get music stuck in your head, this is the book for you.

If Dirty Little Secret sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Jennifer Echols for sending me an advanced copy of the novel.

Review: Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett

Title: Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend
Author: Louise Rozett
Series: Confessions series
Rating: ★★★★★

I don’t talk about this often, because I don’t feel it is important enough to mention in reviews. However, Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend deals with this topic a lot. Depression.

I fight a daily battle with depression. I’m better now than I was two years ago, but it’s still a daily fight. Some days are good and some are bad. On those bad days, it’s hard to be able to express myself well. I have thoughts, but I can’t get them to come out the way I need them to.

Why did I feel like it was important to talk about this in my review of Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend? Because Rose is dealing with her own depression in this novel, and Rozett did such a perfect job of writing it, that it almost felt like I was reading a story about me.

Yes, Rozett wrote another great story about Rose dealing with high school, friends who seemingly have their lives together, a mother that doesn’t understand her, and a brother that doesn’t try and talk to her. On top of all that, Jamie keeps giving her mixed signals and it’s no surprise Rose isn’t quite sure if her head is screwed on straight. All of that isn’t why I loved this book so much, though.

Rose is not depressed in the “I hate life” way. She’s depressed in the “Why don’t I like anything” way. The difference between the two is one is easily identified as depression, while the other can be tricky. I’ve worked through both, and for me, not being able to understand why I don’t like anything is worse than hating everything. At least hate is an emotion.

Rozett managed to do something I haven’t found in other books. She made everything feel real. Rose’s inability to put into words how she feels or what she needs and wants is basically how I spent two years of my life. I have never read an author write depression so perfectly. This book gave me feelings; they weren’t great feelings, but they definitely weren’t bad feelings. Instead I felt all the struggle and difficulty come back full force, allowing me to connect with Rose in a much powerful way.

I am sure this book isn’t for everyone. It has its flaws, but it handles such a tricky subject perfectly. Rozett doesn’t try and make Rose feel worse than she needs to, or happier than she needs to. She makes her confused and frustrated, but she also gives her moments of breakthrough. For that reason alone, for how well Rozett wrote the depression struggle, this is a must read book for me.

If Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Burning by Elana K. Arnold

Title: Burning
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Rating: ★★★★★

Burning is not what I thought it would be. And that’s a good thing.

The idea of a forbidden romance is one of my favorite things to read. Something about having to overcome obstacles in order to be together makes me heart sing. Some of Burning is like that. Some of it is not. And the parts that don’t have to do with forbidden love are the ones that made this book for me.

Lala is a gypsy, in town in order to make money off the tourists in town for the Burning Man celebration. She plays up the idealized gypsy, telling fortunes and reading people in order to make money for her family. She’s engaged to a man her parents chose years ago and feels as though her life is not really her own.

Ben is getting ready to leave his family and his friends to go to college, leaving at the same time as the town he has called home for his entire life is being closed up and shut down. His father doesn’t have a job, his mother might not be able to support the family with hers, and his brother is talked about behind his back. Ben has the golden ticket–a full ride scholarship based on his running ability and his intelligence. Despite working hard for everything he has in life, he still doesn’t feel quite worthy enough, since it means leaving his family and friends behind.

When Ben’s friends force him to visit the gypsy camp in order to have his fortune read, the meeting of Lala and Ben has far-reaching consequences neither of them saw coming.

At first, I was worried this was going to be one of those insta-love novels, where the two characters fall in love after a day and decide to spend their life together. In a way, it is. But even more than that, it is about two people deciding to do what feels right and make the choices they want to. They have to deal with consequences of their choices and think about the future in a way they hadn’t before. For Lala, it’s about breaking free. For Ben, it’s about coming to terms with the cards he’s been dealt.

Arnold does an amazing job of writing these two people. I could feel their emotions and even though I wasn’t always a fan of their choices, I understood them, and that’s what is more important to me. These were two people, and even though we only got a little glimpse into their lives, so much was said about who these people are and the uncertainty of the future. Nothing is set in stone; action can change the future just as much as inaction.

Burning was a fantastic novel that was nothing like I expected. There’s romance, yes, but this book is about so much more than that. I applaud Arnold for writing this book the way she did. It’s an interesting read that can definitely spark new thoughts for anyone who reads it.

If Burning sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here
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Thank you to Random House Children’s Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Rating: ★★★★★

Sometimes a book comes up and smacks you in the face with how amazing it is. You think you’re ready when you read it, and that the heartbreak you know is coming won’t sneak up on you. Then you’re reading the book and before you realize what it happening, you heart is in a million pieces, those pieces have lodged themselves in your throat, and you can’t breathe because of how perfect the words you are reading are.

The Sea of Tranquility is one of those books. I was wholly unprepared for what this book did to me. I knew it wasn’t going to be lighthearted, yet parts of it were. I knew there would be a bit of love, but I didn’t understand just how perfect that love would be. I knew my heart would break, but I didn’t realize how many pieces a heart could break into until I read this book.

Nastya is trying to find her way in a new life. Everything she has ever known was taken away from her in a few short moments and she’s left to rebuild some form of life. As much as she wants to find a way to live, things are holding her back. She can’t seem to find a way to move forward without things dragging her back to a world she doesn’t know how to live in anymore.

Josh loses the people he loves until it’s just him. He shuts people out, not wanting to risk losing anyone else. If he doesn’t give himself anyone to love, he won’t have to lose anyone else. He has people in his life, but he keeps them safely locked away from any real emotional connection to keep them safe.

When these two people started an unlikely relationship, I knew the hurt was going to come. They share some secrets, but keep others. What started as a relationship of toleration slowly becomes friendship which leads to romance. These two people don’t jump right into their feelings; both know that feeling can be dangerous.

Nastya and Josh are looking for the second chances. They’re looking for a way to forge ahead in life, even though their pasts haven’t been kind. They want the chance to love and be okay. Every page is laced with that need. Even more than they want each other, they need that second chance. Millay did an amazing job in keeping the story authentic, giving just the right about of hurt coupled with a pinch of hope.

I really don’t have the words to express how much this novel moved me. Nastya and Josh were broken, and they aren’t magically fixed in this book. To expect perfection after everything that happened would have made this book felt wrong. Even though everything wasn’t wrapped up in a perfect little bow, the last words of the novel were exactly what they needed to be. I will never look at pennies, garages, or woodwork the same again.

The Sea of Tranquility is a perfect book. Read it. There’s nothing else I can say.

You want to buy this novel and read it. I know you do. So click here:
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Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.