BOOK REVIEW: Meagan Spooner “Sherwood”

81L5mq55HsLTitle: Sherwood

Author: Meagan Spooner

Genre: Action/Re-telling

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

This is Meagan Spooner’s second fairy tale re-telling and I have to say, she hit the nail on the head. This was so sweet!

Maybe “sweet” is the wrong word to describe this gender-bent Robin Hood imagining. But it was! I’ve seen some complaints about this so I’m going to clear a few things up.

This book follows Maid Marian, who’s betrothed to Robin of Locksley until he dies tragically fighting in the Crusades. In this telling, Robin is a nobleman and hasn’t yet become the famed thief. One of Robin’s men is accused of stealing, however, and Marian disguises herself as a man to save him from what she believes is an unjust punishment. Under cover of dark, no one knows who she is; but rumors spread that the hooded figure is Robin’s ghost.

So the legend begins, and Marian is forced to keep up the charade in order to save her friends. Before she knows it, she’s teaming up with a band of thieves to intercept food and supplies in order to save the overtaxed people of their land from starvation. Thus, taking from the rich to give to the poor. *eyebrow waggle*

I love the idea that the legend we all know was a hooded woman. Marian is told to be skilled with the bow, fighting, basically better than her fiance, Robin, at just about everything. It’s not that the original Robin Hood died, so Marian took his place. No, Marian is the original Robin Hood, in her own right. There are some who might not like this, but I found it very clever.

Sherwood has action, strong ladies, humor, heart, and a surprisingly sweet romance. The end was utterly fabulous; so ingenious that I could have cried.

My complaints though, are that this book is definitely slow to start. It takes a bit to get into it, and I admit that it’s a bit longer than necessary. However, I believe that the positives far outweighed the negatives, which is why these things don’t affect my rating nearly as much as it would have had this been any other book.

I thought Marian was a good character; she was compassionate and did her best for those she loved, and even for those she hardly knew. She fought for the hungry, hurting people of Nottingham and to great risks to help them.

Marian was flawed, too. She acted before thinking sometimes, but in these moments she acknowledged her mistakes and often did her best to right any wrongs. I loved the representation of a character that struggles with anxiety. This wasn’t stated outright, but Marian battles feelings of fear and the loss of Robin and is sometimes forced to pause and fight with her mind before continuing.

All in all, another strong read from the author of Hunted. Will absolutely continue to read Spooner’s retellings.

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ARC REVIEW: Christine Lynn Herman “The Devouring Gray”

51oeEQFtk7L._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Devouring Gray

Author: Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Release Date: April 2, 2019

 

What a strange book. Not in a bad way necessarily, but with some definite haunting, atmospheric vibes.

The premise is intriguing: Violet, our MC, moves to a new town called Four Paths where she discovers herself to be the descendant of one of the four founders. What’s more, the founders possessed special abilities that allowed them to keep a vicious beast prisoner in a mysterious place called the Gray.

So down the line, the children of Four Paths’ founders are tasked with protecting the town and keeping the monster imprisoned. Except now the founder families are struggling to contain the Gray and its beast, and the town’s death count is rising fast.

I’d compare this book to How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, another story in which a girl moves to a town where she’s the descendant of the man responsible for witch trials in their city. I also saw that another reviewer compared this to a CW show, and I think feel like that’s the perfect way to describe it. It’s just got the feel of a supernatural teen drama.

There’s nothing wrong with CW shows, per se! And if you like them, I’m sure you’ll find The Devouring Gray entertaining.

The way the author introduced each of the characters was very deliberate, and I appreciated the time she took to help us get to know the cast instead of just throwing a bunch of names out there. All of the founder children were complex and fascinating, shocking us with secrets and causing us to feel their pain along with them.

It took me a bit to understand what was happening and for the author to explain what exactly the Gray was. As I’m writing this review, I still don’t know if I quite understand it, but I get the gist. The magic system here was interesting; Herman kept it fresh and original.

The Grey itself and the beast within were both rightfully creepy. I’m home alone and reading some of these scenes caused me to actually shudder, and I had to continue the book with my back to the wall. Don’t judge me.

Overall, I think many people will enjoy this. The Devouring Gray was too weak for my taste, but I bet you Herman has many more stories to tell; I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

An e-arc of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Pre-order here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author: Goodreads | Website | Instagram | Twitter

BOOK REVIEW: Jenna Fischer “The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide”

51lpLheLJeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide

Author: Jenna Fischer

Genre: Memoir/How-To/Self-Help

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

While I’m not an aspiring actor and therefore not the intended audience of this book, I still found it incredibly interesting.

Less memoir and more “how to make it as an actor”, there were still plenty of really cool tid-bits and stories from the filming of The Office and some of Jenna’s other projects. I immediately watched the Casino Night episode upon completion since I now have some of the “behind the scenes” knowledge.

So while this might appeal to fans of Pam and The Office for some special insights and stories, I also found this read informative. This is the perfect book for someone who is looking to become an actor, and would highly recommend that every wanna-be check this book out. Fischer shares some great pointers and advice, making this both a fun and educational read.

In conclusion: this book is meant for aspiring actors, but can also be enjoyed by some die-hard fans of The Office. I happened to find it highly entertaining!

PS: if you listen to the audiobook, the foreword (written by Steve Carell) is read by Rainn Wilson and is hilarious. If nothing else, listen to it for that reason.

ARC REVIEW: Christine Riccio “Again, But Better”

81kW7J18kvLTitle: Again, But Better

Author: Christine Riccio

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 2/5 stars

Release Date: May 7, 2019

 

Oh boy. Where to begin.

I don’t mind Christine Riccio. I’ve watched her Booktube videos and I think she can be very funny sometimes. I wanted to read this because I was curious to see how someone who is forced to be critical about the books she reviews would write a book of her own. She can be insightful sometimes, so I hoped that Riccio would learn from other author’s mistakes and publish a good debut.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Let’s start with the things I liked: Again, But Better has a great setting. Stories in Europe are great, and I love being able to live vicariously through the characters since I’ve never been able to experience any of these great locations. Riccio infuses lots of fun, nerdy things and makes references to shows, movies, books: Lost, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Vampire Academy, etc. Some of the dialogue was also very clever and sharp, and I appreciated some of the banter between characters, particularly Shane and Pilot.

Which brings me to things I didn’t like. You see I mentioned a character named “Pilot” above? That’s his actual, given name. One of Shane’s roommates is named Babe. Again, not a nickname. And there wasn’t even a cool story as to why they had these strange, unique names? Oh, and then there was the guy that Babe had a crush on, “Chad”, who’s your stereotypical jerk who says “yo” a lot.

While I did enjoy some of the dialogue and banter, there were other parts that felt clunky and awkward. Some of Riccio’s phrasing was weird to me and didn’t make for a flowing, easy read. I had to reread a few paragraphs to understand what exactly was being said.

I’m not even going to get into the odd subplot with the spirit guide? This didn’t add to the story and frankly, made this book so much more cringe-y.

I feel I would have liked this book more had the characters acted their age. These were supposed to be college students studying abroad in Europe, but they read like 14 year old brats. I hoped this would feel less like YA given the age of the characters, yet there was really no change in the way they spoke or acted.

I do hope that Riccio takes some of the criticism of her debut novel and uses that to improve, because I’d love to see her succeed. Again, But Better just wasn’t imaginative or polished enough.

An e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Well, Hello There…

My bad.

I haven’t updated my blog in quite some time. To most people, this hasn’t made a single difference to them, so go about your business! Don’t mind me! I’m just gonna live in my bubble and pretend y’all missed me.

There’s been a lot going on in my personal life. Well, a lot and a little. You know how it is, when life just feels overwhelming enough to crush you, so you do nothing and just watched everything crumble around you.

That’s been me for the last few months. I’ve just sort of… let life happen, while I sit in bed, watching Netflix thinking, “Huh, everything sucks.”

I’m trying to fight it, but it sucks. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s crippling self-doubt, maybe it’s all three combined, but for whatever reason, I’ve stagnated as a person. I see things in myself that I hate, that I want to change, that I wish for all that is good I could change, but to no avail. At least not yet.

I’m trying to fight the voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough. I want to be better. I want to be healthy, mentally and physically.

Hah, you thought this blog post was gonna be about books.

If you came here disappointed to find another post about mental health, I’m sorry! It’s just that this is the thing that I’m struggling with the most at this point in my life. Reading does help though, so I’ll also continue to post and talk about books.

So this is me, promising to try and be better, and not just about posting on my blog. I want to be a better wife, sister, daughter, friend, person.

BOOK REVIEW: Kaitlyn Deann “The Brand of Anem”

41xtnkquoclTitle: The Brand of Anem

Author: Kaitlyn Deann

Genre: Dystopian/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

A brand is a divine marking that results out of intimacy and is considered beautiful… unless you’re unwedded.

Margaret James is the Duchess of Deneb and the daughter of the highest political figure in their city: Judge Mark James. She is expected to follow the rules without fail and to never, ever falter to her flesh. She has been pledged to the chief officer, William Lach. But there is one problem with this arrangement…

Margaret James shares a brand with Carson Owens.

Carson belongs to the infamous Owens family and to the Middle Class, which means it’s impossible for him to marry the woman he loves. Despite the rules, the two of them bound themselves together as young teenagers, and now they will do everything in their power to hide the brand given to them by Anem, the goddess of souls. If caught, they will suffer dire consequences.

Getting caught is inevitable.

The first in a series of novellas to follow, The Brand of Anem is a wild ride from start to finish.

Described by the author as an afternoon read, this book, while short, packs a punch. Deann manages to fit a lot of information in a limited number of words, and the story flows in an easy, simple way. We’re introduced to the characters and are immediately swept up in their lives and their forbidden love.

The Brand of Anem poses a lot of interesting questions about right and wrong, morality, sin and love. This will leave the reader with both a wonderful story and hopefully an engaged mind.

I found the world building fascinating and I’m excited to see the author develop on this in the next books. There was the obvious air of mystery regarding the Owens family and their history, and what lies in store for Carson and Margaret. The cliffhanger of this book was devestating and if I don’t get the next installment soon, I’m gonna lose my mind. (Trying to remain professional but on the inside, I’m screaming and using lots of exclamation points. Take that however you’d like.)

Definitely can’t wait to find out what happens next, and I highly recommend this special read!

Kaitlyn Deann: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

The Brand of Anem: Amazon | Goodreads

Mental Health Update

Good morning, readers! It’s been a little while since I’ve updated my blog, so I thought I’d follow up with some real talk for a bit.

The diagnosis is in: I’m depressed. This diagnosis has actually been in for a while now, but I ignored it the first time. It went a little something like this:

Doctor: “Miss, you’re depressed.”

Me on the outside: “Oh, okay.”

Me on the inside: “Psh, yeah alright, are we done here?” 

I’ve always been scared of it. Depression. If I’m being honest, I knew I was depressed. I had known for a few years, but hearing the words spoken out loud was daunting. I never believed that I had a problem because my issues were nowhere near as bad as other people’s. I never believed that I had a problem because I had a great life: family and friends that love me, a comfortable life, endless opportunities. There was no reason for me to be depressed; how dare I?

What I’m slowly realizing is that it’s not necessarily depression based on circumstances, although things have been rough lately (see; recent miscarriage + life just sucks sometimes?). I finally decided after these recent events that I wanted to find out what was wrong with me once and for all. I decided to seek help.

It took a lot. Months, actually. I decided I was going to talk to my doctor about it back in October, and guess when I finally made the appointment? December. It took me 3 months to make a stupid phone call.

Anyway, I’m set to have my first counseling session soon, and I am not excited. Talking about my feelings with a stranger does not sound appealing to me in the slightest. There’s a 99% chance I’m going to cry in front of said stranger. This is not going to be an easy journey.

However, I owe this to myself. I deserve to feel good and healthy in all ways. I deserve to resolve my mental health, no matter what I’ve been conditioned to believe about depression. My depression has effected my marriage, my physical health, my friendships, my schooling, my energy, my motivation. It has made it difficult to get out of bed, leave the house, lose weight. If I want the other aspects of my life to flourish again, I have to make my mental health a priority.

Like I said, I have a difficult road ahead, but I’ve taken the first steps toward recovery; and those are the most important. It took me about 4 years too long, but better late than never, right? I’ll try to share updates on my journey as this new year progresses and I hopefully begin to see improvements. I have high hopes for 2019 and the things I will accomplish, so look out world!

BOOK REVIEW: Colleen Hoover “It Ends With Us”

817vqET828LTitle: It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Ouch, this book hurt.

First of all, I almost didn’t read this. My first experience reading Colleen Hoover was November 9, which I despised. I hated it so much that I DNF’d it. I won’t get into it here, but I’ll just say: gross, controlling male MC. No, thank you.

Yet I decided to give Hoover another chance. I saw that It Ends With Us was a Goodreads Choice Awards winner, so I figured there had to be something good about it. The audiobook was available, so the stars were aligned. I read the book.

Holy crap, it hurt so much.

It’s difficult to talk about what this book is about without giving away too much; let’s just say that one of the heavier topics is domestic abuse. This wasn’t at all what I expected, but in the best way possible. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and so so difficult.

The main character, Lily, faces a few different abusive men in her life, the first of which was her father. Given her circumstances, it’s made her sure that if she ever found herself in a relationship with a man like that, she would never stand for it. She would never go back to him. She would be different.

Yet when she finds herself in a relationship with a man who does hurt her, she finds it’s so much harder when you’re the victim. She justifies it, makes excuses, and tries to write it off. He’s different, he’s not like her father.

When some new information comes to light about her current abuser, I was afraid that Hoover would make it seem like it was okay to stay. Encourage it even. In the end, though, I felt that the topic was dealt with really well. With such a sensitive subject, this book could have easily gone off-course; thankfully it didn’t.

I’m so glad that I gave Hoover another shot and hope to read a few more of her books. Comment your recommendations below!

BOOK REVIEW: Taylor Jenkins Reid “Evidence of the Affair”

41Cfcwc9hcLTitle: Evidence of the Affair

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

For a short story, I’ll be writing a short review (which tends to be my type of review anyway; who wants to read a book about a book?).

This is a story told in letters written between Carrie and David. Their spouses are cheating on them with each other’s spouses. Messy stuff.

It begins with Carrie writing to David to inform him that his wife is having an affair with her husband. She knows this because she’s found some letters addressed to her husband from David’s wife. Carrie asks David if he can look for letters from her husband among his wife’s things because she just wants to know why, and asks if he wants to see his wife’s letters.

So begins the correspondence between the two as they cope with the pain of betrayal and ask each other for advice. What will they do? Will they try to work things out? Will they confront their spouses?

It’s a very easy read, and the end is both satisfying and yet not enough. It makes me wish there had been just a little bit more, or maybe even, dare I say it, a sequel? In such a short amount of time, Reid made me fall in love with Carrie and David. I cared for them both and wanted to see them happy.

I’ve had varying experiences reading Reid’s work, but I can say that this was a win for me.

BOOK REVIEW: Maggie O’Farrell “I Am, I Am, I Am”

81CDbgRQIrLTitle: I Am, I Am, I Am

Author: Maggie O’Farrell

Genre: Memoir

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

A book about 17 near-death experiences, what could possibly go wrong?

This book was both incredibly interesting and anxiety-inducing. I finished this book with an intense fear of the world and the people in it. There are so many horrible humans who are out to hurt others. The earth itself is full of hazards and animals and things that will kill you. I mean, you can’t read this book and not think about all the ways that you could have died already in your own life. All the near death experiences that you’ve had. It makes you feel so very mortal.

There were parts that made my skin crawl, chapters that made it difficult to breathe, whole segments that made your own heart beat faster for the narrator. There were some parts that dragged, but it was ultimately amazing.

One chapter in particularly shook me to my core, but it’s not exactly a near-death experience. It talked about the author’s several miscarriages, and reading it so close to my own miscarriage was definitely a punch to the gut. It was strangely healing, but definitely hard to read.

O’Farrell’s writing was absolutely beautiful. She conveyed emotions flawlessly and made me feel everything that she had been feeling. It was such a roller coaster of a book, but I would say it was a rewarding one.