This Ends in Roots and Bones: Reviewing For the Wolf (Book 1 of the Wilderwood series) by Hannah Whitten

Hi everyone! So, I’m a bit of a fast reader. When I get invested in a book, I have a hard time setting it aside. I get to a point in the book when I think to myself, “Whatever, I can finish it today.” Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I haven’t decided. I have, however, decided I needed to share this one with you all. Let’s talk about For the Wolf.

From the moment she was born, Red had a destiny to fulfill. As the Second Daughter, she was to be sacrificed to the Wolf who lives in the dangerous Wilderwood in the hopes that he will release the Five Kings. She is almost thankful to go in order to avoid hurting anyone with a magic that she doesn’t understand. She quickly learns that the Wolf is not a wolf, but a man trying to keep a dangerous power at bay. Red must learn to use her powers to defeat the dark magic that lies in the Wilderwood before it reaches and destroys her world and everything she loves.

Hannah Whitten cleverly combines elements of classic fairy tales in her own elaborate world to create this unputdownable fantasy. I saw slivers of tales like Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White all sprinkled throughout this story, but with a rather adult spin on them. The character shine on their own, though, with each defying their roles in epic ways. This novel is also a little sexy in the best ways. I don’t want to go on for too long because I don’t want to give away too much. If you are looking for a captivating fantasy novel, then I would highly suggest picking up For the Wolf as you will be transported into a magical but dark world that you won’t want to leave from.

One Match can Light up an Empire: Reviewing Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Hello everyone! Yet again, I find myself finishing a book at an ungodly hour and feeling the need to blog about it immediately after when I should just go to bed. This one, for me, couldn’t wait. I wanted to kick off Pride Month with an LGBTQ+ book review for all of you. I am in the process of moving right now (among other life events) so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read this month. But nothing will ever truly get between me and my need to read every book I get my hands on. So, let’s discuss Winter’s Orbit.

Prince Kiem has built a reputation for himself as the “playboy prince of Iskat,” which puts him in the bad graces of the Emperor, his grandmother. His carefree life is turned upside down when the Emperor calls on him to enter a political marriage with the recently widowed Count Jainan. Neither wants to be married, but it is the only way to settle the disharmony rising up between their home planets. The couple soon find themselves wrapped up in a conspiracy that spreads across the galaxy and must work together to prevent a possible war.

Everina Maxwell does an excellent job balancing a compelling plot and slow burn romance in this exciting sci-fi novel. The pacing was steady and allows for the reader to fully absorb the vast galaxy that Maxwell carefully crafts. The romance between Kiem and Jainan is sweet, awkward, and passionate in all of the best ways. It is definitely more of a character driven novel overall, which I appreciate in this instance. With sci-fi novels, it sometimes feels as though I either get to know the setting or the characters well but rarely both. In this instance, I felt as though both were equally fleshed out through the writing. I am absolutely going to recommend this novel if you are looking for a sci-fi adventure with romance to read this summer.

Intimacy is About Truth: Reviewing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. This review is a bit of a departure for me as this book is typically within my favorite genre, but sometimes you just need to embrace the impulse. Many of you are probably aware that this book has become a darling on BookTok so I will now offer my review of it. Let’s get into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Monique Grant is stuck. Between her stagnant writing career and divorce, she is looking for something pull her out of her slump. Out of the blue, she is approached by the glamorous and enigmatic Evelyn Hugo to write her biography. Together, the two women explore Evelyn’s complicated love life and storied career in Hollywood. It becomes clear to Monique that her and Evelyn’s stories are tied in ways she couldn’t imagine and that this woman will change her life forever.

This was a suprising novel to me for many reasons. First of all, I was expecting something rather explicing and scandalous. Reid, however, takes an honest and emotional look at the complicated lives of celebrities. Evelyn Hugo is a fascinating character to study who is as multi-faceted as a gem. While Monique is mostly in the background, she does bridge the gap between the Golden Age of Hollywood and the world of modern fame. Most importantly, this novel has wonderful LGBTQ+ representation as it explores the complicated lives of those forced to hide their love from the public eye. I was truly captivated by this book. In my opinion, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo defies expectations, which is essential to the overall theme of the book.

Our Kingdom, Our Throne: Reviewing Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! It is allergy season, which means I won’t be able to breathe properly for the next couple of days. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good book (and a spicy one at that). Before I even begin this review, I want to give a heads up that this is a very adult book. If you are under the age of 18, please keep scrolling. I won’t be going into graphic detail, but this book does indeed have rather graphic detail. Now that my PSA is done, let’s get a little spicy and a little mythical with Neon Gods.

Persephone Dimitrou has always been the good girl, Demeter’s obedient daughter. She has always done her best to keep out of the spotlight in the turbulent high society of Olympus. She is thrust into the spotlight when Zeus, the most powerful and dangerous man in Olympus, proposes to her out of nowhere. Fearing for her safety, she flees across the River Styx and right into the arms of Hades, who isn’t supposed to even exist. Wanting to escape her life in Olympus, Persephone and Hades strike a deal with each other to get revenge on Zeus. Soon, the two begin to fall for each other and realize that there is nothing they won’t do to be together, even if it means destroying Olympus itself.

If you are looking for a faithful retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades, then this might not be the novel for you. Katee Robert does take some creative liberties with Greek mythology in general and, while it initially deterred me a bit, I quickly realized that I actually liked the restructuring that Robert does. Most importantly, I really liked the way that she portrayed Hades and Persephone. I liked the way that their relationship developed into love and trust. It was genuinely sweet. This genuine relationship, plus the spicy love scenes, made them a fantastic couple. I also appreciated that they had healthy communication, which you don’t get much of in adult romance books. If you are looking for something dark, sexy, and rather sweet, (and you are an adult) then definitely read Neon Gods.

Side note: Katee Robert just released the second book in this series that is a retelling of Eros and Psyche. I was initially iffy about the premise but I think I will be giving it a shot now.

I was quiet, but I was not blind: Reviewing Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and staying warm. I have always hated snow, personally. This is my second “retelling” novel I am reviewing and I have a third in my TBR list. Funny enough, this particular book was actually a gift from my aunt. Most people assume that, when you are a woman in a literary field, you must love Jane Austen. As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, I am not a die hard Jane Austen fan but I would like to be one day, admittedly. So, let’s talk about the often forgotten Bennet sister, Mary. (Note: I will leave a content warning at the very bottom of this post. It is also somewhat of a spoiler but I wanted to include it regardless.)

As the middle child of the Bennet family, Mary is often forgotten. Unlike her sisters, she is not renowned for her beauty or charm. Mary, though, is painfully aware that it is convention that she find a husband in order to have a secure life. In her despair, however, she finds solace through writing her own fictional novels. As tragedy and scandal strike the Bennet family, Mary must learn to come into her own as a woman in a time of strict social boundaries.

I am a bit biased towards this book as I deeply related to Mary as a bookish woman in her twenties. Chen’s overall take on the Bennett family shows in a more realistic light, creating and taking away sympathy. Mary is well fleshed out as a protagonist as she tries to figure out where she wants to be in life. The novel is honest in its depiction of women trying to navigate their ways in a time where options were limited. It is even rather heart- breaking in its truthfulness. Chen does not diminish any of the hope that Austen initially created. She simply shows a different side of the romantic notions which endeared us to Pride and Prejudice. Mary B is a fully fleshed out portrait of the lesser known Bennett sister’s journey of self – discovery and I highly recommend this to any Austen fan.

Content Warning: The novel does contain a graphic scene involving the loss of an infant and further discussion of the topic.

Borne ceaselessly back into the past…: Reviewing Nick by Michael Farris Smith

Hello everyone! January is becoming a bit of a drag and fiction has become a much needed escape in this dreary month. I naturally gravitated towards Nick because The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels. I have read it countless times since I was in high school, jokingly calling my friends “old sport.” Eventually, I’d love to do an in-depth analysis of The Great Gatsby but I will start by reviewing the unofficial prequel.

Before meeting the enigmatic Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway was caught up in the horrors of World War 1. In an attempt to escape his nightmares, Nick embarks on a journey from across Europe and America. On his journey of self-discovery, Nick gets caught up in whirlwind romance in Paris and a scandalous mystery in New Orleans which forever changes his life.

I really wanted to like this novel going into it. I truly enjoyed the first half when Nick is in Paris. Farris Smith delves into the trauma of war and how Nick is forced to cope with little to no help. The second half in New Orleans kind of lost me. Nick was kind of displaced more and more as the novel went on, becoming a passive and messy presence in the corner. Writing any sort of tie – in to a classic novel is certainly a tricky undertaking so I am going to give Farris Smith where credit is due because I did enjoy his unique and melodic writing style. I honestly cannot recommend this novel, nor am I saying to avoid. Instead, I would suggest just reading The Great Gatsby.

Be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price: Reviewing The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! As always, I hope you are doing well. I am on a serious reading kick right now. Maybe it’s because I have stumbled across a bunch of YouTube videos of people reading up to 100 books in year. I wish I could be that productive but we will settle on a few for now. This is not my first time reviewing a book by V.E. Schwab and you are welcome to read my reviews of her other novels. Let’s add another to the list then, shall we?

In a moment of desperation, Addie LaRue made a deal with a devil. She will live forever but she will never be remembered. For three hundred years, Addie has survived and traveled with the devil at her heals. Everything changes when she meets Henry, who remembers her. Now, Addie seeks to uncover the truth of her curse and to try to undo it at all costs.

If you want a slow burn romance, then this is the novel for you. V.E. Schwab always takes great care when it comes to fantastical details while still keeping a focus on the relationships between the characters. The magical realism made this novel all the more enjoyable. While romance is normally not my jam, the relationship between Henry and Addie was endearing as they were both fleshed out on their own. When they came together, their relationship was endearing. The book is fairly long but the pacing is steady, with most of the chapters being between one to five pages long. It is certainly reminiscent of a fairy tale, which made the novel all the more appealing. Overall, this is another winner from Schwab when I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Something Severed and Something Joined: Reviewing The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Hi (again) everyone! Wow, another book review so soon after the last one. I’m not sure how that happened but, sometimes, determination wins. There’s nothing that gets me quite like the drive to finish a book when I have other things that need to be done. You know that whole struggle. This book has been sitting with me for a while now and I have wanted to finish it so badly. I have also wanted to discuss it so let’s talk about The Essex Serpent.

After the untimely death of her husband, Cora Seaborne decides to journey to the Essex coast. While there, she begins to hear rumors that the legendary and fearsome Essex Serpent has returned. Cora become determined to find proof of the creature’s existence with the help of the skeptical vicar, William Ransome. As the two search for the truth behind the legend, they find themselves drawn closer together and, soon, Cora must make a difficult choice as her past catches up with her.

For a while, I have been looking for a good historical fiction novel and this one definitely fit the bill. Perry’s writing is an ode to authors like the Brontes. It is a loving ode to Victorian era literature while also subverting many of the tropes. The novel certainly carries feminist undertones and rebels against how Victorian society is normally depicted while also being historically accurate. The novel is about human connection overall, which I greatly appreciated. I was pleasantly surprised by The Essex Serpent and would definitely recommend as a slow burn read for the cold weather.

Most things aren’t. Most events haven’t: Reviewing It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Hi everyone! We have officially left 2020 in the rearview and 2021 is ahead, uncertain but hopeful. I wasn’t expecting to get a book review out this soon, but I fell into one of those wonderful reading spells where you just don’t want to put down the book. In this case, the book is another one based off of my favorite podcast, Welcome to Night Vale. You can check out my review of the first novel inspired by the podcast, which has the same title. Now, let’s get into It Devours!

As an outsider, Nilanjana navigates her strange new home of Night Vale with logic and reasoning. Working with fellow outsider and Night Vale’s most handsome scientist, Carlos, she is sent to investigate the giant sinkholes appearing around the town. This leads Nilanjana to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, where she meets and develops feelings for one of its members, Darryl. The two must question their beliefs as they realize that there is something darker beneath the surface that could mean the end for Night Vale.

As for anything related to Welcome to Night Vale, I really didn’t know what to expect with this novel. I did, however, love the way it expanded on the already bizarre world of Night Vale. It was equals parts profound, bizarre, and romantic as the novel explored complicated topics like religion and science. There was also plenty of tension and action that made this such a compelling read. I love how Fink and Cranor put so much care into their world building. It’s somehow realistic among the trademark weirdness that one would expect. Any Night Vale fan in guaranteed to love this novel and, if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you may still be able to appreciate what the novel is saying.

A kingdom, or this?: Reviewing Captive Prince (Book 1 in the Captive Prince trilogy) by C.S. Pascat

Hello everybody! I’m back and in an incredibly pessimistic mood, which is why I needed to escape into fiction again. I have read this book previously, but in the form of an e-book so I feel like I couldn’t properly absorb what was happening. I don’t know if anyone else feels that way about e-books, or if it just me. The Barnes and Nobles by me re-opened recently and this was my celebratory purchase. Time to talk about the Captive Prince.

Damen had everything as the legendary warrior prince, until his brother took the throne. He strips Damen of his identity and sends him off to Vere to be a pleasure slave, which has long been an enemy to his home country of Akeilos. While there, Damen learns that he will serve Prince Laurent, who is just as beautiful as he is deadly and cunning. Damen quickly learns of the danger that lies beneath the glamor of the Veretian court, meaning he has to hide his identity and make unlikely allies, or he faces a deadly end.

I realize that this book is rather controversial in its subject matter and not because of the Male/Male romance. For those of you who are not familiar with this novel, it does contain graphic sexual violence within the context of a society where slavery is commonplace. Maybe this does not shock me as much because I studied Rome and this reminded me quite a bit of Rome. Obviously, this isn’t to justify it and we have a main character, Damen, who is in the same mindset of the reader. This book is more about politics than anything, which I thought was the most interesting aspect. It actually has a very Game of Thrones feel to it where every character is trying to navigate through complicated politics in which they are trapped. Nothing can be done simply and that is what makes the novel so interesting. Again, I understand any reservations anyone else might have about the subject matter, but I personally enjoyed it. It was just steamy enough without being gratuitous and it leaves you wanting more. It felt like a reworking of some of the worst tropes that tend to pop up in erotic fiction. It certainly doesn’t feel like mom fiction or fan fiction. Pascat is very mature in the way she handles touchier subjects, while also bringing in some inclusivity in the LGBTQ+ genre of literature. Captive Prince is a unique take on a genre that has often been disregarded for so long.

Warning: The novel does contain moments of torture, graphic sexual violence (including assaults on underage characters), and mentions of blood and gore.