The Trouble with TBRs…

Each month, I try to choose four or five books that I’m definitely interested in reading. Sometimes I stick to my list… but, more often than not, I don’t. 😬 What I’m starting to realize is that I need a more flexible TBR, or maybe even no TBR at all.

Why is what I’m doing now not working for me?
It can be hard to know exactly what I’m going to want to read in any given month. And I change my mind a lot. πŸ˜… If I’ve pre-ordered a book that I’m really excited to read, I might choose that over something I’d initially planned on reading. Or, if I’m in the mood for a certain type of book, like a fantasy or contemporary, I might pick something different based on that. Sometimes I fall into reading slumps. When this happens, I don’t usually dislike the book, but it feels like the right read at the wrong time, if that makes sense. πŸ€” I’ve been receiving more eARCs lately, too, and it can be hard to squeeze them into an already-full TBR.

What am I going to try instead?
Beginning this month, I’m going to set aside my TBR and focus on asking myself, “What do I feel like reading now?” after I finish a book. This means that I won’t really be posting monthly TBRs anymore, but I’ll still write reviews and post a wrap-up at the end of each month. This will give me the flexibility I need without changing my blogging habits too much. 😊

Other Updates:

  • I’ll be announcing my fall-themed giveaway on my Instagram account tomorrow, so be sure to keep an eye out for that post! I can’t tell you too much, but it will include two recently-published books (and one of them is signed!), a book sleeve, a candle, some tea, and a few other mystery goodies. You won’t want to miss it! πŸ˜ƒπŸ“šπŸ‚
  • I want to switch things up every now and then and post something that’s not a review. So, this means you’ll be seeing more posts about bookish merch, bookstagram, and maybe some personal stuff here and there.
  • I just started reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, and I’m hoping to have a review up within the next week, depending on how long it takes me to read it. (That’s another thing. No more feeling bad for being a slow(-ish) reader! That’s one of my goals for this month. πŸ˜€)

Do TBRs work for you? Do you usually stick to them, or do you end up reading other books instead? Are there are posts you would especially like to see, as I work on varying my content a little more? Let me know! ❀

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

AEORHaving spent months gazing longingly at photos of ARCs and reading other bookstagrammers’ glowing praise, I was thrilled to finally get my hands on Margaret Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens. Often described as the “perfect fall read,” it truly is, with lush, magical scenery and an adventure reminiscent of a fairy tale. I probably could have read it in a day or two, but it was such a pleasure that I tried to make it last as long as possible, delaying the inevitable end. ❀ I found myself wishing for more books with these characters, but according to Rogerson, this book was written as a standalone. (If she changes her mind, though, I’ll take any glimpse of Whimsy and the fairylands that I can get! πŸ˜ƒ)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! πŸ™‚

What I Liked: I love the world Rogerson has created, from the peculiar town of Whimsy to the alluring and dangerous fairylands. Fans of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series may find the fairy courts in this book — spring, summer, fall, and winter — reminiscent of those described in her trilogy. But I found the depiction of the fair ones to be more dangerous and haunting. While they are, in some ways, similar to fey found in other YA books, Rogerson shows that their legendary beauty is built on a lie, and their love of mischief and trickery runs deep. I found Isobel to be a likeable, realistic protagonist, with conflicted emotions and a soul-deep sense of duty to her family. And where do I begin with Rook? In some ways, he fits the archetype of the rude, stubborn love interest who eventually grows to love his equally-stubborn companion. But it was such a delight to see his interactions with Isobel change and deepen. He’s definitely book boyfriend material. πŸ˜‰

What I Disliked: There were parts of the book that felt a little predictable. It’s not difficult to imagine how it ends before it even happens. But again, much like a fairy tale, that predictability comes with the story: a handsome fairy prince whisks a lovely human girl away, and during their journey, they fall in love. I still thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it went about telling that story. While the concept is something we’ve seen before, the writing is sharp and engaging. I also had a few lingering questions at the end of the book, but despite wanting answers, I can appreciate it when an author leaves some details to the reader’s imagination.

Overall, I think this was a strong debut, and it really is a wonderful book to curl up with this fall. Make some tea, grab a cozy blanket, and lose yourself in the forests with Isobel and Rook. You won’t regret it! πŸ˜ŠπŸ‚

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

About the Author: Margaret Rogerson

October TBR

It was hard to choose just five books for this month’s TBR. There are so many new and upcoming releases that I’m excited to read. And there are also longtime favorites that I’m interested in rereading. (*cough* A Discovery of Witches… *cough*) But I think the books I’ve chosen will certainly make October (even more) magical! πŸ˜€β­οΈ

Here are the books I’m planning to read this month…

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
I had every intention of reading this book in September, but I’m sure it will be a great October read! πŸ˜ŠπŸŽƒ You can find more of my thoughts, as well as a short synopsis, in my September TBR post.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge*
U.S. Publication Date: October 17th, 2017 (It appears that this book was published in the U.K. on September 21st, so I’ve linked the Book Depository listing in case you want to go ahead and order it. Also, I think the U.K. cover is beautiful! 😍)

Another perfect almost-Halloween read, this book promises a paranormal adventure that takes place in the early part of the English Civil War. The premise is fascinating, and seriously, what family secret is crazier than having the ability to be possessed by ghosts? I’m looking forward to reading this and seeing where Kate’s journey leads.
Here’s a synopsis:

Kate is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, and as such, she shares their unique hereditary gift: the capacity to be possessed by ghosts. Reluctant to accept her appointed destiny as vessel for a coterie of her ancestors, she escapes. As she flees the pursuing Fellmottes across war-torn England, she accumulates a motley crew of her own allies, including outcasts, misfits, criminals, and one extremely angry dead bear. This new dark historical fantasy is sure to satisfy readers of Frances Hardinge who are eager for more.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
I can never resist a good retelling, especially one that describes a villain’s origin story. This book promises complex characters, lush landscapes, and… blood. Definitely blood. Something tells me this story won’t exactly have a happy ending… and I couldn’t be more excited about that. 😈

Here’s a synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins — sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
I received this book in the July Tricksters box from FairyLoot, but I still haven’t read it! πŸ˜… Which is ridiculous, because the story sounds amazing. A mystery set within a fantastical world, a young woman with powers that she may not fully understand, a race against time — and a serial killer… It was a no-brainer to choose this book as an October read.
Here’s a synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel, and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that — illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed… until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca. Their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
I hadn’t heard much about this book before I purchased it. Honestly, I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and stayed for the magic. ✨ I love the idea of hidden societies, especially ones in which magic thrives. And I also love characters who aren’t quite what they seem, and I think Sydney falls into that category. I’m looking forward to entering this strange and intriguing world!
Here’s a synopsis:

The Unseen World of wealthy and powerful magicians in New York City prides itself on remaining invisible. Every twenty years, vying for power and standing during the Turning, the heads of magical houses elect a champion — a family member or a magician-for-hire — and begin a series of duels.

But the Turning has come early, after only thirteen years, and Ian Merlin, the heir to the most powerful house in the Unseen World, has been elected to become the champion of his father’s chief rival, House Prospero.

Enter Sydney: an unknown magician from a candidate house, an outsider easily dismissed among the established wealth and power of the Unseen World. What they will soon learn is that Sydney is a formidable duelist with power that hasn’t been seen in decades, and she has a score to settle…

What are you planning to read this month? Anything spooky? πŸ‘» Let me know!

September Wrap-Up

I ended up reading five books this month, which, for me, is AWESOME. πŸ˜€ Not gonna lie, I’m super proud of myself. Even though I sort of abandoned my TBR, it was nice to just read whatever sounded good at the time. Sometimes not having a plan can be the best plan! (And trust me, as an obsessive planner, it’s killing me a little to admit that. πŸ˜‚) Here are my ratings for this month’s reads:

Did I read everything on my September TBR?
Nope! I got through two of the books I’d planned on reading. I didn’t end up reading Of Fire and Stars or An Enchantment of Ravens.

Did I read anything not on my September TBR?
Yep! I Hate Everyone But You, Warcross, and There’s Someone Inside Your House.

What was my favorite read of the month?
The Hazel Wood, hands down. This is still my favorite read of 2017, and I’m not sure if anything will be able to knock it out of that #1 spot. I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH, OKAY? ❀

What was my least favorite read of the month?
I really wanted to like There’s Someone Inside Your House more than I did. But unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me. 😦

What was your favorite/least favorite read of September? Let me know! πŸ™‚

Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

TSIYHI don’t know why, but even though I can’t make it through a horror movie without covering my eyes, I’m weirdly intrigued by scary stories. For a long time, I listened to a podcast called Lore, which will soon be a TV show on Amazon. (I didn’t stop listening for any particular reason, other than the fact that I’m just terrible at keeping up with podcasts. πŸ˜…) I’ve read several books about the paranormal, and when Lorraine Warren — a paranormal investigator made more famous by the popular Conjuring films — visited my college campus to talk to students about cases that she and her late husband, Ed, worked on, I jumped at the chance to go. Maybe it’s a visual thing. Whatever it is, though, it’s what inspired me to pre-order Stephanie Perkins’ There’s Someone Inside Your House. Known for Anna and the French Kiss and its two sequels — Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After — Perkins has only written YA contemporary romance up to this point, so I was eager to see what her first YA horror novel would be like.

This book wasn’t on my September TBR, but if you want to read a short synopsis, click here. πŸ™‚

Also, there are very minor spoilers in this review. If you have not yet read this book and want to remain totally in the dark (mwahaha… πŸ˜‰), stop reading now!

What I Liked: When it comes to horror, I’m freaked out by everything, whether it’s gore or thrills. 😱 Lucky for me, this book had both! But I think the most terrifying thing was the mind-fuckery, for lack of a better term. Right from the get-go, we learn that the killer likes to go into people’s houses and move things around. Mostly small, innocuous items, but — as we see later — also larger objects. The idea of someone entering a home and familiarizing themselves with another person’s belongings has a certain wrongness to it, and the moments throughout the book where characters begin to question their own actions and sanity as a result of the misplaced items… 😨 It’s times like these when I’m glad I live in a small apartment! While I appreciated the psychological scares, I did have some trouble with the believability and logistics of some of them. (I’ll discuss this more later.) I liked Makani as a protagonist, and — possibly even more so — I liked Alex and Darby. I think Perkins did a great job of establishing their individual personalities and quirks. I also really appreciated the representation among the characters, and it wasn’t heavy-handed. This book was a quick read, too; I finished it in a little more than twenty-four hours. If you’re looking for a fast, creepy Halloween read, this book is worth checking out. πŸŽƒπŸ‘»

What I Disliked: There are a few things I struggled with as I read the book and even after I had finished it.

  • I’m not sure I was a huge fan of the killer’s identity being revealed so early in the book. True, it happened after the halfway point, so it wasn’t too early. But even so, I think I went into this expecting to have to wait until the end, or that, if they were unmasked sooner, there would be some sort of game-changing twist. There really wasn’t, though. πŸ™ I also didn’t find the killer’s motivation to be very satisfying.
  • Some parts of the book were more believable than others. When the killer moved objects around, sometimes his victim had just left the room, only to return a minute later. How did they manage it so quickly, without being seen or heard? Even though they’re later described as “quiet” and even slight in build, they’re not a ninja. As much as I liked the idea of the killer messing with his victims’ minds before finally striking, I just had a difficult time figuring out how they accomplished what they did without being caught. πŸ€” (Also, we find out how they got into the grocery store (with a stolen key) and one victim’s house (through a basement window), but how did they get into the other victims’ houses? Was it always through a window? Did they have other stolen — or even duplicate — keys? How did they seem to know each house inside and out? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.)
  • I didn’t think the romance plot was necessary, but I can see it from both sides. For Makani and Ollie, it’s a distraction from what’s going on around them, and depending on your point of view, that can be good or bad. Personally, while I can understand wanting comfort and support during a frightening period of time, I know I wouldn’t be feeling sexy vibes while random classmates are getting stabbed and dismembered… But I appreciate that they both communicated their desires, had consensual sex, and seemed to genuinely care for one another. There’s a reason so many people like Anna and the French Kiss — Perkins knows how to write a good romance. I just didn’t think this book needed it.
  • Finally, I thought the ending was way too abrupt. We didn’t get any closure whatsoever, and although not everything in life — or literature — has a clear, satisfying conclusion, I expected to see an epilogue that caught up with everyone in the aftermath that surely followed. I knew it wouldn’t be a happy ending — or at least not a completely happy ending — but it still would have been an ending. I honestly found this to be the most disappointing thing about the book. ☹️

Overall, I think this was a fun, fast-paced read. But if you’re a big horror fan and you’re looking for maximum blood and terror — or at least a killer that strikes a little more fear in the hearts of readers — it may be best to look elsewhere… Although there were parts of this book I liked — and clearly I was invested enough to not DNF it — I think it could have been much better executed. (No pun intended!)

Rating: ⭐ ⭐

About the Author: Stephanie Perkins
More Books by This Author:
Anna and the French Kiss
Lola and the Boy Next Door
Isla and the Happily Ever After

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

WCAfter reading a book that wasn’t on this month’s TBR, I figured WHY NOT KEEP GOING?Β πŸ˜‚ I just finished Warcross by Marie Lu, and it was a terrific sci-fi adventure with compelling, flawed characters and heart-stopping twists and turns. Even someone like me, who’s not an avid gamer, could appreciate the incredible detail that went into creating the game at the heart of the book and describing its rules and complexities. And HOLY CRAP THAT ENDING. 😱 (But don’t worry. This is a spoiler-free review!)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! πŸ™‚

What I Liked: I think what really hooked me when I read about this book was that Emika was described as a teenage hacker who also worked as a bounty hunter. I mean, you had me at hacker, but a bounty hunter, too?! So badass. Not to mention her rainbow-dyed hair. 😁🌈 I found her to be a relatable character with a great deal of emotional depth. She’s brilliant at what she does, but I did like that by the end of the book, she found herself stuck in a hard place. Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing protagonists succeed and find happiness. But I also love the realism of seeing them struggle and grow through tough situations. I really liked Emika’s teammates and how her relationship with them changed as the story progressed. I’m hoping to see more of Asher — and learn more about him — in the next book. It was great to see disability representation in this book, and that’s something I would be happy to see more often. And finally, the game of Warcross itself was described in a way that didn’t leave me feeling confused or unsure of how and why things were happening. I feel like I was given just enough information — not too little and not too much.

What I Disliked: I had already read some reviews critiquing the predictability of the plot, and yes, there were definitely moments when my suspicions turned out to be true. But I will say, I think the twists in this book — even if you already know they’re coming — are well-crafted. I didn’t like Hideo much, from the beginning all the way to the end. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I disliked him, but I felt sort of “meh” about him. πŸ™ I found his backstory to be interesting, but I never felt as emotionally attached to or invested in him as I did with Emika. And this is a really small thing, but I wanted to see more of the Dark World. I’m hoping we get to explore more of it in the next book, because I’m fascinated by what we’ve seen so far. The Pirate’s Den, the Emerald Emporium, the circus imagery and secret codes and passageways… Honestly, I could read an entire book about it.

Overall, this was a fun read that I couldn’t put down! (Seriously, I chose to keep reading even while my husband watched Pacific Rim, and that movie is the BEST.) I would definitely recommend this book to gamers and non-gamers alike. πŸ˜€

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

About the Author: Marie Lu
More Books by This Author:
Legend
Prodigy
Champion
The Young Elites

The Rose Society
The Midnight Star

Review: I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

IHEBYSo, yet again, I decided to read something that wasn’t on this month’s TBR… πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ˜‚ It took me a while to finish Wicked Like a Wildfire, and after I did, the idea of jumping right into another fantasy book just didn’t seem appealing. Instead, I picked up Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin’s I Hate Everyone But You. It sounded like a fun, quirky coming-of-age book, and the structure — a story told entirely through emails and texts — really appealed to me.

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! πŸ™‚

What I Liked: I loved Ava and Gen. I wanted to hang out with them and be BFFs 4 LYFE (as Ava might say). ❀ I think Dunn and Raskin did an incredible job of creating two believable — and relatable — characters who are hilarious, but also struggling to figure out who they are now that they’re in college. We never get a clear physical description of either one, but I think this allows the reader to imagine Ava and Gen for themselves, or to even think about their own friends and consider who might be more like Ava and more like Gen. There were parts of this book that made me stop and think, Wow. I swear this is word-for-word a conversation I’ve had with [INSERT FRIEND’S NAME HERE]. I think that’s a big part of what makes this book so enjoyable — it all feels real. It captures the joyful, frustrating, and mortifying things about being eighteen and suddenly realizing that you don’t actually know half as much as you thought you did. And I think the use of emails and texts helped the authors to more easily explore subjects that many people often find difficult to discuss, including mental illness, sexuality, and discovering your own identity.

What I Disliked: (Spoiler: Nothing. But I have some thoughts and ~feelings~, so read on! 😁) I think the only times I felt frustrated with this book were when I was feeling frustrated with Ava or Gen. But that’s how you should feel as a reader. I was genuinely invested in their individual stories, as well as their friendship, so of course I found myself saying, “Ava. AVA. Just break up with Jake. Just do it. He’s the worsssssst,” or, “C’mon, Gen! Stop shutting down. She’s just saying this because she cares about you!” That’s honestly the only anywhere-close-to-negative thing I have to say about this book. Get ready to have lots of feels, especially if you’re someone who also felt confused and pushed out of your comfort zone when you were a college freshman. I’ve seen a few reviews that criticized the book’s lack of substance, but I think there’s plenty here for a reader to enjoy. And it was very refreshing to have a queer protagonist who’s just beginning to really explore what that means for her, along with a protagonist who struggles with a mental illness and isn’t somehow magically cured by the end of the book. So, basically: No dislikes! This was a delight. ❀

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
About the Authors: Gaby and Allison

Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin have a YouTube channel and show called Just Between Us. As their website describes, it’s “an LA-based odd couple comedy channel from co-dependent besties Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn. Tune in on Mondays for a show on a couch. You will learn nothing. Tune in on Thursdays for an original sketch. You will also learn nothing.” Check it out! πŸ˜ƒ

My next read — since I’ve totally gone off the TBR rails, lololol — will be Marie Lu’s Warcross. This is another recent release, and I’ve seen tons of hype for this book. And have I mentioned that the hardback is stunning? (The U.S. edition is a beautiful turquoise hue, but the U.K. edition IS A RAINBOW. 😍🌈)

Review: Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana PopoviΔ‡

WLAWIt’s been a while since I’ve written a review, but I’m back! Some of you may know that I’ve been taking a small break from bookstagram, but I’m still reading. Just a little more slowly than usual…Β πŸ˜…

Wicked Like a WildfireΒ was a cover buy, but I’m always intrigued by magical mysteries and strange new worlds. Before I get into what I liked and disliked, I will say that I think Lana PopoviΔ‡ has created a fantastic, memorable world, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel! (From what I’ve read, it looks like this series is going to be a duology.)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis in my September TBR post! πŸ™‚

What I Liked: I found the story to be fascinating, and I think PopoviΔ‡ did an incredible job of describing both the real and surreal worlds depicted in this book. The magic, while familiar in some regards, felt like something I haven’t really seen before — the ability to manipulate beauty, in many forms and with varying degrees of strength and effect. My favorite relationship in the book was the one between Iris and Malina. Their closeness — and even their moments of distance — seemed so real, and I found myself hoping that they would both pull through in the end. The synopsis promised surprises and twists, and let me tell you — this book delivered. Saying anything more would likely lead to something a little too spoiler-y, so I’ll leave it at that. But if you like books that keep you on your toes until the very end, I think this would be a fun read.

What I Disliked: I’m usually a big fan of detailed, vivid language. But it seemed like this book had too much of it. There were passages that were undeniably beautiful — descriptions that utilized grand and intricate imagery woven with simile — that I found myself having to reread several times in order to fully discern the meaning. As the book continued, I became more and more tempted to skim, which is a feeling I hate. πŸ™Β As far as relationships go, I really wanted to love Iris and Luka. But something just felt… I don’t know. Forced? And I definitely wasn’t a fan of Fjolar. Iris’s attraction to him felt forced in a different way, and from the moment he first appeared, I sort of knew something was going to be off about him. (And if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that their second encounter on the beach is… troubling. As we learn later, it’s part of who he is, but still. This scene pretty much sealed the I’m-never-going-to-like-this-guy deal for me. πŸ˜‘)

This book left off on a HUGE cliffhanger, and although there were some things I struggled with, I’m excited to see how Iris and Malina’s stories come to a close!

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

About the Author: Lana Popović

Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

HazelWood

Have you ever read a book and realized it’s the kind of book you’ve been wanting to read your whole life? It sounds a little crazy, I know. And it’s hard to explain. But this is exactly how I felt while reading Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood. With sinister twists, stunningly beautiful prose, and worlds both mystifying and merciless, it’s a story that stays with you long after it’s over.

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis in my September TBR post!

What I Liked: I noticed that parts of this book read like poetry. It has some of the strongest, most vivid imagery I’ve ever read, which has the chilling effect of both sating your appetite and leaving you starving for more. We see more of some characters than others, and even though not everyone’s story is told, it’s clear that each of them has their own. Alice was by far the most complex character. Watching her struggle with her anger, her lifelong questions, and her mother’s sudden disappearance gives the reader an opportunity to see the girl she is and watch as she becomes something else entirely. While some of the plot points are expected — we know from the beginning that Alice will find her way to the Hazel Wood — the journey is intensely rewarding and full of wicked surprises. If you’re not a fan of sugar-sweet fairy tales full of happily-ever-afters, look no further — because the fairy tales in this book will devour you whole. Black-eyed princesses, doors carved from blood, wide-eyed brides who move like clockwork… And just when you think you know what to expect, you find yourself spun around and running in a completely new direction.

What I Disliked: There was very little I disliked about this book. There were times when I felt pulled out of the story, particularly during some of Alice and Ellery’s conversations. I liked the dialogue, and their relationship was interesting. But I think there were times where I couldn’t quite understand Alice’s anger or frustration. (Looking back, I’m not sure I was meant to.) There were also a few small things I would have liked more clarification on towards the end. (I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll leave it at that.) But overall, I think this was an incredibly strong debut, and it may be the best book I’ve read so far this year!

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

About the Author: Melissa Albert

While reading this book, I was reminded of a few poetry collections, so I’ll list those here, in case you’d like to check them out:

**Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me an uncorrected proof to read and review. I can’t wait to read the finished copy! πŸ™‚ If you’re interested in reading this book, you can pre-order it now, and it will be released on January 30th, 2018.

September TBR

It’s hard to believe that it’s already September, but I’m so excited to read the books I’ve picked for this month’s TBR. (I’ve already begun reading one. I just couldn’t wait!) Each of these books has a magical story — as well as a stunning cover — and they all feel like perfect almost-fall reads. πŸ˜ŠπŸ‚

Here are the books I’m planning to read this month…

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
I was thrilled to receive an uncorrected proof of this book, because I knew I would love it. Dark fairy tales, family secrets, a secluded estate, a strange, hidden world… It’s dynamic and heart-wrenching and terrifying. I can’t put it down! ❀
Here’s a synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away — by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began — and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
This was a cover buy that quickly turned into an I-can’t-wait-to-read-this-story buy. I love magical mysteries, and this one sounds like a wicked, wild ride. (As the title might suggest. πŸ˜‰) Who can resist a book about powerful sisters, an ancient curse, and finding truth in a life that isn’t what it seems?
Here’s a synopsis:

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family are born with a gleam — a unique way of manipulating beauty through magic. Seventeen-year-old Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscopic visions into glasswork; her twin sister, Malina, interprets moods as music; and their cold, distant mother, Jasmina, bakes scenery into decadent treats at her confectionery in Old Town Cattaro, Montenegro.

Jasmina forbids Iris and Malina to share their gleams with anyone, and above all, she forbids them to fall in love — being discovered could shatter the quiet lives they’ve built in their tucked-away seaside town. But Iris and Malina are tired of abiding by their mother’s rules and rebel in secret whenever they can.

Yet when a mysterious white-haired woman attacks their mother and leaves her hovering between life and death, the sisters unearth an ancient curse that haunts their line — a wicked bargain that masquerades as a blessing and binds the twins’ fates — and hearts — to a force larger than life. To save each other, they must untangle a thousand years of lies and reveal their own hurtful secrets. But even the deepest sacrifice might not be enough.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
While this story might sound familiar, it has some intriguing twists — including a love story between two fiery princesses. (No pun intended. πŸ˜„) It sounds like there will be lots of political intrigue, mystery, and secret magic that might become not-so-secret. And it helps that everyone I’ve talked to about it has loved it!
Here’s a synopsis:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.

But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire — a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation — and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought — and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms — and each other.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
One of the most anticipated reads of this fall, this book sounds fantastic. A talented painter is whisked away by a fairy prince and forced to overcome magical obstacles, all while falling for the one person she shouldn’t. Another book that I’ve heard incredible things about, I’m eager to get my hands on this one. ❀
Here’s a synopsis:

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron — Rook, the autumn prince — she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes — a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love — and that love violates the fair folk’s ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

I’m keeping this month’s TBR at four books. But since I’m nearly finished with The Hazel Wood, I might finish all of these sooner than I think! πŸ˜… So, here are a couple of books I might read if that happens:

What’s on your September TBR? Comment below and let’s chat!