December Wrap Up & Mini Reviews

I’ve been in the reading zone this month, trying to complete my reading goal before the year is up and sleuthing through my tbr as best I can. While this zone was super beneficial to completing said reading goal, I’ve let the review stack pile up to the point of no return. So I’ve decided to share all the books from this month and my thoughts on a few, rather than trying to remember enough about some of the older ones to write a semi-intelligent, full-length review. Hope you all had a great Christmas and got some quiet, cozy reading time in yourselves!

sharon-mccutcheon-532782-unsplash                                      Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I read a grand total of 14 books this month which is kind of mind-blowing for me. There were some amazing books and some not so amazing books, though all leave me feeling pretty contented with my reading choices to end the year. As always, I will leave the links to each book’s Goodreads page if you are interested in finding out more.


December Reads 2018

Here is the list of books from this month and their link to Goodreads. I’ll also include my star rating of each book represented by Christmas trees because…. well, because it’s not January yet and mine is staying up as long as possible! HA!


My Thoughts

The Elven

The Elven was easily my favorite read of the year, and at a whopping 790 pages it managed to keep me entertained and wholly interested throughout. I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn’t reading it and anticipating when I’d be able to pick it up next. As far as fantasy is concerned, this amazing epic of adventures is everything you could possibly want from the genre. What really impressed me was the simplicity of the writing. The author says so much in a single, uncomplicated sentence and doesn’t resort to long, drawn out paragraphs to get a single point across. The narration is detailed, yet easily digestible and, when you think about how long the book actually is, doesn’t make the reader feel at all like they need to come up for air once in a while. All these points compounded with the fact that the book is translated from German. Awesome story, wonderful writing, and one of my fantasy favorites of all time.


The Siren                  Soundless

I enjoyed the plot and story line in each of these books, and appreciated the breezy nature of the writing. However, I was not as sold on the main characters as I would like to be when spending time reading. I’m not sure if I am just growing out of the YA genre, or if I just have less tolerance for whiny characters, but I had trouble with the narratives written for each MC and that is what drove each book from a 4 star read to a 3 star. Overall, I’m happy I was able to check them off my TBR list and did still enjoy the creative premise behind each story.


The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1)

Another fantasy gem! The Color of Magic is brilliantly creative, the world building is absolutely stunning, and the characters are SO much fun! You’ll get to follow a group of quirky characters on a journey through Discworld, meeting legends and running into dangers along the way. Everything that happens is the result of a game of chance between Fate and Lady Luck. Interested yet? I will absolutely be continuing with this series in 2019.


Eve & Adam (Eve & Adam, #1)                     Local Girls

I am a big fan of Alice Hoffman’s writing, so picking up Local Girls was bound to happen eventually. The story is powerful and evokes emotion in the reader that is shrouded in magic and so full of heart. You may find yourself teary-eyed at times but overall, this book like so many others by Hoffman gives the reader a down-to-earth look into the lives of ordinary people and what triumphs and struggles they encounter along the way.

Adam and Eve is a book that has been on my personal shelves for a long time and I’ll admit was a cover buy. I didn’t actually know what it was about until I picked it up a few days ago to give it a read, but I was super impressed with what I found. The story is YA and follows a few teenagers through a dangerous series of mysterious medical cover-ups, but has a philosophical undertone to it that is oh so appreciated in any book I’m reading. It can be quite fast-paced in some parts, and for those with interests in medicine or science (particularly molecular and cellular biology), this may be a book you’d want to consider picking up. I know I enjoyed it!


The Christmas Clock                    Matchless: A Christmas Story

My Christmas themed reads for the month….

The Christmas Clock is a cute story about a boy and his grandmother, living in small town America and each learning to cope with the effects of a life-changing disease, while others in the town are holding out for forgiveness and the promise of long lost love just in time for the holidays. It’s a sad story and honestly, not the type of book I would recommend as a cozy holiday read. This is actually a book I think I’d find on my own Grandmother’s bookshelf right next to the bowl of butterscotch candies. It’s a quick read, but not for me.

Matchless was awesome and exactly the type of book I imagine people reading next to their fireplace or Christmas tree. It’s a retelling of The Matchbox Girl and although I didn’t know much about the original story beforehand, I found myself lured into the sleepy coastal village where our story takes place. Your main character in the story is the sweetest little boy with a mother who is doing what she can to make ends meet for the both of them. Loved this little book so much.


The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)

If you haven’t read a Holly Black novel yet, please do. Anyone who craves fairy tale vibes, magical worlds, and creatures both hideous and beautiful will find EXACTLY what they are looking for in this wonderful book. Holly Black’s fairies are not always nice creatures; in fact, they are usually mischievous and deadly by nature. They can’t help it…mostly. This story is told from a human girl’s POV, a human forced to live among the fairies in their world, despite the dangers and unsavory ways she could die as a result. I am really happy The Cruel Prince is the first book in a series because I wasn’t quite ready for the story to end. For a YA genre read, this one is absolutely amazing.


That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a very Happy New Year!!!

9 Series to Finish & Start in 2019

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As 2018 wraps up and I see a whole bunch of people posting their reading goals for 2019, I’ve been thinking about my own. Do I have any, or do I just want to keep grabbing at whatever catches my attention throughout the year? I’ve decided the answer is both. Yes, I plan to grab at what entices me because reading should be an enjoyable, relaxing experience. But, I also have a project in mind that I would like to spend 2019 working towards. And that is to get at more than a few series that have been on my radar for a long time.

One of my favorite things to do is marathon a series. I feel that when I read each book, one after the other until the end, I get a better feel for the series as a whole and can rate the series as well as each individual book. Reading an entire series when the previous book is still fresh in your memory allows you to transport yourself into the world that has been carefully and (hopefully) masterfully written, immersing you in the entire experience. I LOVE it.

I will typically read the first book in a series to determine if it’s ‘for me’ and whether or not I’ll want to continue. If the series passes the test and has been completed, I’ll scramble to get my hands on the remainder and marathon the series. If the series has not been completed, I’ll hold off and wait (painfully) until the series has been completed. That way, if a few years have gone by since I started the series and I need to reread the first book to refresh, I won’t have to slog through three or four rereads to get to the good stuff. Maybe I shouldn’t say slog…I enjoyed the books for a reason. I would just prefer not to reread more than two books in the same series if I don’t have to.

Anyways, here is the list of series I will be finishing AND starting in 2019. There are nine total which I am confident is a totally realistic number for an entire year of reading. I will include Goodreads links to the first book in each series for those interested in reading more about them. Enjoy!


Series to Finish

1. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

I am a total sucker for books about assassins and all their blade swirling shenanigans. This young adult fantasy series begins with a story about an assassin who finds herself summoned to a king she hates after being imprisoned for years by said king. She is being given the option to die in prison, or fight as his champion to earn her freedom. I love what I’ve read so far and will admit that I couldn’t stop myself and made it to book four before realizing it wasn’t complete…until now! I can’t wait to continue with this amazing story and see how it ends. There are seven books total in the Throne of Glass series and five novellas. You can check out book 1 on Goodreads here>> Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)


2. The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

My husband and I both love this epic adult fantasy trilogy and are each competing for ‘next up’ with book three. The characters are amazing and the world building in each novel is outstanding. You will follow each character through rough and dangerous lands, where politics can kill and magic is no safer. Point of view switches between chapters which allows you to get well acquainted with each individual, as well as getting the inside scoop on how they feel about the characters around them. Though I haven’t finished the trilogy yet, I HIGHLY recommend these books to just about anyone who enjoys a great story that makes you chuckle here and there. The Blade Itself will get you started if you’re interested….and you definitely should be.

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)


3. Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown

You may or may not have seen the movies associated with this series like The Davinci Code but I really enjoyed both the first book in the series and the movies. (Plus they star Tom Hanks so really it’s a no brainer for this fan girl.) If you are a fan of mystery thrillers and enjoy stories that encompass religious theories about the Holy Grail and the deep secrets of the Vatican, this could absolutely be a series you’ll love. I love the types of mysteries that have ancient ties to history, and books that take you on a journey through architecturally stunning cities that you can actually go see in reality. (If you dare). There are five books in this series, starting with Angels and Demons. I am really excited to keep going with these books and find out what adventures lie ahead. Just don’t say Illuminati…

Angels and Demons (Robert Langdon, #1)


4. The Empress of Rome series by Kate Quinn

I read the first book in this series years ago and really enjoyed it, but had no idea it was part of a series which is wonderful! I never tire of reading books set in a Roman setting, especially those written about the Greco-Roman era. The story follows a slave girl and her fight for survival in the cutthroat political climate of Roman society. The book is historical fiction with a side of romance and, in my opinion, does a great job of taking the reader undercover into the daily life of the citizens and slaves of Rome. There are four books in the series with a prequel to read in between books three and four. Mistress of Rome will take you straight into a world of gladiators, politics, and love that kills.

Mistress of Rome (The Empress of Rome, #1)


5. Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson

This young adult fantasy series is about the youngest of three princesses who has been chosen to fulfill a prophesy that may very well kill her. There is political court drama, a journey through harsh terrains, and genuine character building that is done so very well. There were aspects of the first book I did not enjoy and made me want to forget the series entirely. However, there was enough about the story I truly enjoyed that has me ready to complete the series and find out how it ends. There are three full length books in the series and a handful of novellas to strengthen the story. You can begin the series with The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)


Series to Start

1. Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Assassins: check. Adult Fantasy: check. Raving reviews: check. I have heard so many great things about this trilogy and now I must have it. The series is about a young boy who is cast out of his royal family and must train to be an assassin to survive. There is a magic system that allows the boy to communicate with animals and an epic fantasy adventure I really don’t want to miss out on. And assassins….clearly I’m in the right place. The trilogy is complete so I am really looking forward to a good old fashioned marathon coming soon. Assassin’s Apprentice is where I’ll begin in my quest to devour every twist of the blade.

Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1)


2. Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab

This series seems to have been read by everyone, and no one really has anything bad to say about it. Even my husband has read it and now I will be playing catch-up. From what I’ve gathered, this young adult fantasy series is about a magician with the extremely rare ability to travel between the four parallel Londons (Black, Red, White, and Grey) that make up the book universe. Each London has it’s own political hierarchy, cast system, and deadly aspirations associated with the powers that be. I’m intrigued and am excited to get started with book one: A Darker Shade of Magic. Oh, and I forgot to mention this series is also complete which means it can be marathoned the way God intended. Happy day!

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)


3. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

This is a series I’ve been meaning to start for a very long time and now that there is a TV series that people seem to love, I feel it’s high time to get started. The story is about a woman in the 1940’s that, on a second honeymoon with her husband in the British Isles, steps through a stone that transports her to 1743 Scotland as an ‘Outlander’ where she must navigate life as a native and stay alive. It’s historical fiction and sounds amazing and I can’t wait to dive in. The books are rather large, which could be a good or bad thing though my money is on ‘good.’ There are nine books total in the series, the last of which is set to release in 2020, and the first being Outlander. There are also three novellas, and a prequel to the entire series in the works. There’s a lot of ground to cover with this series and I think I have my work cut out for me…

Outlander (Outlander, #1)

SIDE NOTE: I really want to buy the first copy in this series. They are wonderfully floppy paperbacks and I have a feeling I will enjoy this series enough to want to add them to my forever shelves. HOWEVER: since the release of the TV series, I CANNOT find these floppy paperbacks without the obnoxious “Starz series” tag on the front. ANYWHERE. So, if anyone knows where I might find copies of these paperbacks without the TV tags on them, please please please let me know! 


4. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

This is a young adult dystopian fantasy series that  follows a young girl who has survived a deadly fever that otherwise killed most of the nation she lives in. The survivors of this mysterious illness are rumored to possess other worldly gifts, magical abilities if you will. She will find out in this three book series that has a lot of great reviews and an intriguing element of mystery. I am looking forward to reading some of Marie Lu’s books, and The Young Elites will be my first.

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)


That’s all for my series of 2019. Have you read any of these? Thanks for reading!

Review: Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Bitter Orange

“Who wouldn’t want to rewrite their past, if it means it will change their future?”

Rating: FIVE Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis

From the attic of Lyntons, a dilapidated English country mansion, Frances Jellico sees them—Cara first: dark and beautiful, then Peter: striking and serious. The couple is spending the summer of 1969 in the rooms below hers while Frances is researching the architecture in the surrounding gardens. But she’s distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she finds a peephole that gives her access to her neighbors’ private lives.


My Thoughts

It’s been two days since I finished this book and I’m still not quite sure how to put into words what a wonderful read it was. Bitter Orange is a historical fiction novel that is written with an element of mystery, and characters that will suck you right into the story. Our three main characters Cara, Frances, and Peter each have a psychological depth that only deepens as the story progresses and they develop. Each has a past they would do just about anything to change or forget, and their dynamic is one of codependency on that front, but also solidarity. But what I loved most about this novel was the thrill of wondering what was going on underneath the surface and when I was going to find out. The suspense builds slowly, but not in a way that makes you all jittery like you’ve had too much coffee. It’s perfectly paced and because you know going in that something will happen, it allows you to enjoy the entire reading experience rather than spend all your time trying to predict and guess at every page turn.

Claire Fuller takes you on a literary journey that not only keeps you interested, but gets you invested in the lives of the characters. And you won’t realize you’re that mentally deep in the novel until you put the book down for a spell and see that the story is all you can think about while you’re at work, making food, visiting with friends, etc. You’ll get bits and pieces of each characters’ past as they get to know one another but from their perspective, and the funny thing about perspective is that it does not always equal truth. In fiction or life in general.

This is the type of novel you could read again in the future and discover things you missed the first time. I’ve read reviews where people suggested the use of symbolism throughout the novel. While I agree that, yes, I can definitely imagine this book being examined in AP Literature classes, I didn’t pick up on the supposedly glaring symbolism and that may be in part due to the fact that I was never really that great at identifying those elements by myself. I took the AP Lit classes in high school and greatly enjoyed dissecting the books on a philosophical level, but had I not been in those classes I never would’ve picked up on many of the suggested themes if I had read the book on my own. So, I will absolutely reread this book in the future and take it slowly in hopes of identifying the possibility of hidden themes I may have missed the first time.

Overall, this was an excellent read and I feel so lucky to have picked it up. I will absolutely be recommending it to anyone with ears, in true bookworm fashion: too often and with so much enthusiasm that if executed properly will be interpreted as slightly aggressive and pushy. No apologies.

You can find the Goodreads page for Bitter Orange here


Thanks for reading! May your books be massive and your reading time infinite.