Book Review: Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco ★★★

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“The only way to influence another’s fate is by destroying them. It’s the only thing that can be done permanently and by an action within your control. To try to protect someone is to try to intervene in the actions of the world against them but that’s something you can’t face alone or entirely because if fate has bullets for them you can only take one.” 

This was a really interesting book! I was excited to read it ever since I started following Rae on Instagram. She seems like such a cool lady, with her beautiful horse and cow rustling and reading Faulkner in woods. Her debut novel was very much what I was hoping it would be and, despite some flaws, turned out to be a solid 3.5 star read! I would warn you, though, that this novel is extremely violent, not just to people (cause who cares about them?), but also to animals, so keep that in mind before picking it up.

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Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ★★★★

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“All my life,” she said, “I have been told ‘go’ and ‘come.’ I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.”

Ayyy another 4 star book!! I am loving this streak!

This book has been on my radar for a long time now, since it came out just about, and I was so excited to finally get around to reading it. And for a bargain price of $5, no less! It is a beautiful hardcover copy with deckled edges, so I was very very happy about that. And, to top it all off, the book was freaking awesome! I loved the writing here, the story, the mythology. It was very well done and definitely a 4 star read for me.

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Book Review: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows ★★★★

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“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”

Whew! Well if that ain’t the longest title of all time 😆. Keeping that straight is going to be the most difficult part of the review!

So, I really liked this book! It was not quite what I was expecting to read (in a good way) and I enjoyed the unusual format, as well. Overall, it was very enjoyable, informative, and I loved the tone (parts of it were surprisingly hilarious!).

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Book Review: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas ★★★★★

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“But just remember that this fear of yours? It means you have something worth fighting for – something you care so greatly for that losing it is the worst thing you can imagine.” 

Guys. I cannot even form words. This was amazing. There was SO much to digest! I needed a while. After some thought, I do think I’d give it 4.5 stars for some minor plot devices and choices, but omg it was a brilliant book. I still don’t even know if I can coherently discuss my thoughts about it. I am sure it will be pretty all over the place, but what can you do 🤷‍♀️. When something is this magnificent you just start talking about it okay?!? Spoilers below, so beware!

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Book Review: The Lost Sisters by Holly Black ★★★★

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“I never thought it would come to anything bad for anyone but me.”

This was such a pleasant surprise!!!! I had no idea that this novella even existed and then I just stumbled across it on accident. Of course, I downloaded and read it right away (it’s only about 50 pages, after all). Anything to fill the void left by The Cruel Prince! And it was good! I loved this little story, which is crafted as a letter from Taryn to Jude, because it offers so much more insight into Taryn’s character and gives the reader a new perspective to consider during the events of The Cruel Prince.

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Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ★★★★

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“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”

Oooo guys. I loved this book! It was honestly gorgeous in every way. I know, I know. I’m pretty late to the game here, but I gotta be straight with ya; I did not expect this book to be so good! It has been sitting on my shelf for years and I just never got around to reading it. I kept putting it off do to my rather lackluster attitude toward circus books (I blame Water for Elephants for that 👎). But, I quickly discovered that the circus here is more of a magic show, complete with real magicians and illusionists. Did you ever see the movies The Prestige or The Illusionist? It’s more like that, which is so much cooler!! I cannot stress enough that, if like me, you foolishly neglected to read this book, you need to do so right now!

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Book Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson ★★

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“My time in camp with Kaden had become awkward several times, or perhaps I was just more self-conscious now.

I had known he cared about me. It was hardly a secret. It was the reason I was still alive, but I hadn’t quite grasped how much he cared. And in spite of myself, I knew in my own way, I cared about him too. Not Kaden the assassin, but the Kaden I had known back in Terravin, the one who had caught my attention the minute he walked through the tavern door. The one who was calm and had mysterious, but kind, eyes.

I remembered dancing with him at the festival, his arms pulling me closer, and the way he struggled with his thoughts, holding them back. He didn’t hold back the night he was drunk. The fireshine had loosened his lips and he laid it all out quite blatantly. Slurred and sloshy but clear. He loved me. This from a barbarian who was sent to kill me.”

Okay, I am sure you guys think I am a huge cynic now who hates love stories or something, yada yada yada, but come on!! This book is marketed as a high fantasy adventure novel complete with badass female characters and assassins, and THIS is the crap we are given?!

The Dude just does not abide.

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Book Review: The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon ★★★★

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“Perhaps her mind would go on flexing psychic muscles that no longer existed; would be betrayed and mocked by a phantom self as the amputee is by a phantom limb. Someday she might replace whatever of her had gone away by some prosthetic device, a dress of a certain color, a phrase in a letter, another lover.” 

I finally got around to reading this book and I am so glad I did! Don’t you just love the feeling of finally being able to move a book from your TBR pile to your read shelf? Mmm it’s a good one. That being said, this was a bit of a difficult book to review. While only being about 150 pages, this little novel was chock full of dense language, insane conspiracies, crazy characters, and nonsensical dialogue. So, basically, it had all of the characteristics that I love about a satirical, postmodern, meta social commentary, parody fest. Woo!

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Book Review: Hex on the Beach by Gina LaManna ★

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“Slipping under the covers, I replayed the day’s events in my head, from Gus’s announcement that Leonard had been found dead, to the strange incident with Harpin and ensuing rescue by Aarik. My last thoughts before drifting off to sleep centered around Ranger X’s softer side. The one I’d seen at his cabin, and I wondered what I’d have to do to see the gentle side of him once more. To see the man who’d rubbed salve on my neck with a touch so gentle it made my heart flutter, who fed me bread though I was certain it was the only food he’d had left. The man who riled me up to the point of boiling then cooled me down with a single smile – that brief, fleeting smile was the last thing I saw before slipping into my dreams.” 

Unfortunately, the above quote exemplifies why I hold such distaste for this novel. It is positively vapid in most parts. None of the characters can hold the story, which really has no plot, and the entire thing needed about a hundred more pages of narrative and probably 6 more rounds of edits. It was not good and sadly it was clear that it was a self-published novel. I give it 1.5 stars for the potential it had.

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Book Review: Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoevsky ★★★

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“Efimov, who had more than probably married her because she had a thousand roubles, sat back and folded his arms after the money was spent, and, as if glad of an excuse, declared to all and sundry that marriage was the death of talent, that he could not work in a stuffy room face to face with a starving family, that these surroundings were not conducive to inspiration and that is was clear that he was destined for this kind of misfortune. It seems that he himself had come to believe in the truth of what he was saying and was only too pleased to find another line of defense. The unhappy, ruined genius was searching for an inner cause on which to put the blame for his misfortune and disaster.” 

Being a huge fan of Dostoevsky, and Russian literature in general, I was very excited when I came across an unassuming little copy of Netochka Nezvanova (which translates, sadly, to Nameless Nobody) in a used bookstore. I had really never heard about this book, so I did some research on it before I read it. It was a good thing too, because it turns out that the book is actually unfinished. This was Dostoevsky’s first attempt at a novel, as well, which is so important in terms of his growth and development as an author, and on his themes. There are about 180ish pages here of Netochka’s story, but Dostoevsky was arrested and exiled to Siberia before he could finish it. Then, upon his release, he abandoned the work altogether and focused on his other novels, the famous ones we have all heard of. While this may not be his strongest novel by any means, there are sparks of brilliance throughout that speak to his later books, and I found it enjoyable and fascinating as a whole.

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