I really like it when a book has an unfinished ending. Not everything needs to be wrapped up and tied into a neat little bow. Was that a bit too passive aggressive? Sorry
Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classics 🌻
Who can resist a floral cover? 🌺 I know we’re moving into autumn, but books with flowers on the cover are a weakness for me! 🌸And these two B&N classics have to be two of my favourites 🌼
#barnesandnoble #barnesandnobleclassics #barnesandnobleleatherboundclassics #janeausten #brontesisters #janeeyre #wutheringheights #prideandprejudice #senseandsensibility #classicbooks #classicfiction #bookstagram #floralbook #bookcovers #bookcover #booklover #bookdragon
Summary: Frances is just a normal girl working as a seamstress at a little shop in 1911 New York. A few months prior, her brother was murdered, his body found mutilated in the Hudson river. As if this wasn’t enough, her childhood sweetheart, Oliver Callahan, was so shaken by the tragedy that he distanced from her. This book begins on a seemingly ordinary day when Frances’s boss attacked her and found himself lying dead with a pair of scissors in his neck: scissors that were lying all the way across the room only moments before. In the morning, a group of girls in disguise come to tell Francis that she is deathly ill and drag her away to a sanitorium. Only its not a sanitorium at all, its a school of magic for witches like her.
Frances soon finds that the magical world isn’t all it seems. The leaders of the Haxahaven school aim to teach a generation of witches to remain quiet and demure, as women should be, always knowing their place. Meanwhile, the Sons of Saint Druon seem to offer more, or perhaps its only Finn D'Arcy with his Irish charm and eyes full of promises. To Frances the only thing that matters is finding her brothers killer but she doesn’t expect this mission to lead her into a high stakes war between rival magical factions.
Review: I enjoyed this book even more than I expected. First things first, the setting. I loved the detailed descriptions and the inclusion of historical events for context. In that regard, I also loved the attention to detail on Lena’s story and cultural background and the way Sasha Peyton Smith articulates that one can still be complacent in a racist system even if they don’t have personal prejudices. Frances accepts Lena wholeheartedly but even still, she isn’t able to grasp the gravity of the risk that Lena is taking by associating with her and partaking in her schemes. The mention of historical events like the triangle shirtwaist factory fire really served to add so much context and luster to the story.
Next up the twists! They had me reeling. Frances never knows who to trust: the good guys have a hidden agenda, the bad guys seem good and everyone seems to be using her desires against her. Through it all there was a clear emphasis on sisterhood and strength that comes from women standing up for other women and creating that support system. The power dynamics, the feminist undertones, the politics, all contributed to making this such a wonderfully interesting read.
Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for giving me this arc!
Summary: This story follows Evike, a half Jewish, half pagan girl who grows up in a pagan village which thrives due to the magical abilities the girls in the village are able to wield, given to them by their gods. This village exists deep in the forest within a nation that appears radically monotheistic (this monotheistic faith called the Patrifaith seems to resemble Christianity and the rigor with which it is enforced draws strongly from historical events such as the inquisition). Every year the woodsmen, members of a holy order which worships the Prinkepatrios and serves the King, arrive at the village to take one girl with strong magical abilities away to the king for slaughter. This year, they have come for a seer but instead the matriarch of the village gives them Evike, despite the fact that she has never displayed magical abilities of any kind. Evike soon finds that the woodsman who took her isn’t what he seems to be and that there is far more going on than she was led to believe.
Review: I’m not sure I can find the right words to explain how I felt while reading this book. I guess I’ll start with the simplest ones. I felt seen. I’ve been reading young adult literature for about 10 years now and I’ve never come across a single book that has depicted my culture in any meaningful way. This book does that and more. Ava Reid describes the historic oppression of Jewish people but she also spends a great deal of time talking about their resiliency and beauty. Even in the face of imminent harm, the Jews of the city celebrate their holidays and tell the story of Esther’s bravery.
Although the society in which Evike lives is one in which people who claim to represent Christianity use their religion to oppress those of the Jewish and pagan faiths, each ideology is given proper respect. There is no one magic system or one set of gods that grant true power. Every god grants power in their own right to those who believe and hold fast to their culture. When she leaves her village, Evike finds that each faith draws on the other. The stories she grew up on are not so different from those told to the children of the Patrifaith. Each one may have many interpretations but that doesn’t have to mean one is more correct than another. Evike finds that she does not have to choose between her mother’s gods or her fathers. By trusting in the stories of her village she finds her way to her pagan magic and by learning the language of her father and the power words hold she finds her way to Jewish magic as well. It is both parts of herself that help her save the kingdom and the people she loves.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Thank you so much to Harper Voyager and NetGalley for giving me this arc in exchange for an honest review!
When I was a kid one of my absolute favorite movies was the live action Peter Pan, the one where Peter wasn’t just funny and playful but a little sad. In that version of the story, Peter lived on his island paradise because he was afraid of the vulnerability that comes with loving someone and being tied to them. I must’ve watched that movie 1000 times and still find myself thinking about it occasionally and whispering “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do”. However, this retelling is very different. In A.C Wise’s version of the beloved tale, Pan isn’t just a little sad, he’s broken, inexplicably sinister and damaged. Neverland isn’t just another world, it’s his world, one where the only rules that mean anything are the ones that Peter sets regardless of their logic, reason, or barbarity.
Summary: In this dark and twisty take we see Wendy as an adult with a child of her own. She made her way back from neverland but the trip left scars. It’s unclear whether Wendy suffered more from her trials in Neverland itself or from the ones waiting for her back home. When she returns, John and Michael inexplicably forget their adventure but Wendy clings tight. She does so even after she is reduced to nothing more than a crazy person, institutionalized for her tall tales and abused for good measure. Wendy holds fast to neverland as the one beautiful thing in her life that gave her purpose but when she looks back on the memories of her time there the puzzle pieces don’t fit seamlessly: something is missing.
Wendy has almost given up hope on neverland entirely until the unthinkable happens: Peter comes back. However, he’s not here for her, he’s here to take her daughter Jane away from her. Wendy must now go back to the place that she once loved to save her daughter and in doing so, she finds that neverland is not what it seems and that Peter’s world looks quite different through adult eyes. There is a darkness at the heart of the island and it has nothing to do with Hook.
Review: This book was pure magic. Wendy isn’t just a girl anymore, she’s a woman who has been through hell and still remains fierce. She’s been debased and brought lower than anyone could imagine and yet she remains true to herself and sure in her abilities. I loved the care that was put into the description of the relationships between Wendy and the people in her life. Wendy and Ned appear trapped in a marriage of necessity but they make way for friendship. Wendy and Mary appear to be on the cusp of something between friendship and more until Wendy explains that she loves Mary in the way that she loves Ned but does not feel that she is fit for relationships of the romantic kind. A.C Wise seemingly portrays a world in which Wendy is stripped of her power, however it is clear that Wendy reclaims her power by choosing the people she surrounds herself with and being very clear about the role she wants them to play in her life. She’s not a passive observer in a life made for her by her brothers and her father in law, despite what these men seem to think about the matter. On the contrary, she has chosen a life and she will do anything to defend it.
This is not the childhood story we all know and love, it is so much more. Peter isn’t just a boy who won’t grow up. Everyone in neverland is free from responsibilities but the cost of that freedom isn’t immediately clear. No one ever dies in Neverland because Peter won’t allow it but there are many ways someone can die to the world; they can lose themselves or they can simply be forgotten.
The story toes the line between childhood and adulthood in such emotional and interesting ways and I loved every second of it. Thank you so much to A.C Wise for writing this and to Titan books for giving me this arc in exchange for my honest review!
Summary: This book follows Nick as he continues to discover what it means to live in a world where kids have to balance the human and the superhuman. Nick and his friends are just teenagers but are they really? Along with all that good teenagey stuff that everyone else is dealing with, Nick, Gibby, Jazzy, and Seth also have to manage some “extraordinary” things. At the end of book 1, Nick had finally found his way to the boy he loves, but having a boyfriend is new territory, let alone a boyfriend with this particular set of gifts. On top of all this, Nick has his own mysteries to uncover and they just might shake up his entire life.
Review: This entire duology was a breath of fresh air. The humor and the graceful way Klune navigates difficult topics like mental illness, sexuality, and police brutality, all contribute to how truly wonderful and different this book was. Nick has ADHD and suffers from panic attacks and chronic cluelessness, all of which make him that much more lovable and relatable. There were some moments where I thought I’d surely die of second hand embarrassment on his behalf but it was worth it. His relationship with Seth is heartwarming to say the least and the way they navigate the unchartered waters of love and adulthood together is a beautiful example to young teens. I enjoyed this book immensely.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for sending me this ARC in exchange of an honest review!
The moment I got off of the train in Spain, I could smell orange blossoms. I didn’t realize what it was right away. How did an entire city smell this good? It was only when I started my walk to the Plaza de España that I looked up and realized that the oranges, bright against the vivid blue sky, and their white and yellow blossoms, were sending their fragrance down each street. It was one of the most memorable things in Spain: the orange blossoms on the wind.
Yessss!!!😍they smell delicious!🍊🌼🌿
I was so in love! 🍊
Summary: When Eleanor Hartley was a young girl, her guardian, Mrs. Pembroke, was priming her to be a lady of society. However, all her prospects came apart when Mrs. Pembroke died and her husband, Mr. Pembroke, became her primary guardian. Overnight, Ella was relegated from lady to servant is forced to scrub the same floors on which she once stood tall. To escape the pressures of her laborous life, Ella hides in the library and reads about magic and freedom. One day, Ella finds a copy of Faust and as she cuts her finger on the pages, a woman appears to offer her a classic faustian bargain: seven wishes to change her life in exchange for her soul.
Review: First off, I was really pulled in by the premise of this book. There’s a wealth of Cinderella retellings out there, from other cultural interpretations to screen adaptations. It’s rare to see an original take. I also really appreciated the historical accuracy of the times. As a reader, I felt truly immersed in the world Hardwood was depicting, from the clothing all the way down to the gender norms and socio-political strife.
With that said, I had some issues with the way violence against women was used as a plot device. While I found the twist on “evil step-mother to evil male guardian” to be an interesting one, the constant threat of sexual assault among a cast of characters full of minors honestly left me a bit shaken. The fact that the women in Hardwood’s society were not just victims or survivors but perpetrators of the system didn’t sit right with me and I’m not sure what kind of message it sends. Lizzie, a fellow maid in the house, sends other, younger, maids to be abused by Mr. Pembrooke just to spare herself. Mrs. Fielding, covers up the operation and gets rid of every maid who falls pregnant with Mr. Pembrooke’s child as a result of the abuse, sending them away with no money and no character reference which would enable them to obtain another position. Charles’s fiance seems to have no understanding of the economic or social conditions of the country where she is born and is both physically and emotionally abusive towards Eleanor because she sees her as a threat. I’m not sure what the purpose for so much violence and hopelessness was but it may have gone over my head.
I liked the way that Hardwood emphasized Eleanor’s constant struggle for power in a situation where she seemed to have none. I found that made her a much more interesting character than the original Cinderella. I do wish that there was a more complete ending. I’d like to know what became of Eleanor and her soul.
Thank you to Harper360 and Netgalley for providing me with this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Esme is a girl born into the late 19th century, a time when the words women used were of no consequence to the men who fashioned society in their image. She spends her childhood in the “Scriptorium,” a repurposed garden shed where her father and his colleagues, the “lexicographers” are working tirelessly to collect words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. As Esme grows, she finds that there is no place in the dictionary or the Scriptorium for women and their experiences so she devotes her life to carving out such a place. She does this by enlisting the help of real women to collect words that truly describe what it means to experience the world through a woman’s eyes and collecting these words in a new dictionary: the dictionary of lost words.
Review: I find it ironic that a book written deliberately to describe the meaning of words to different people would leave me completely speechless. I picked it up this afternoon and didn’t dare to put it down until I was done. Everything about this book was perfect and every step on Esme’s journey was compelling. Esme’s definitions of simple words like sisterhood and motherhood show that even the most commonly used words gain a whole new meaning when one adds the perspective of female experience. It is for this reason that I was so interested to see Esme’s story wound around the fight for women’s suffrage. I think it’s easy to note the obvious reasons why everyone should have the right to participate in the political work of their country; however, Pip Williams reminds us that female disenfranchisement had much more subtle and devious effects. When words are the building blocks of life itself, what kind of life can a woman have if the words don’t belong to her at all?
In her author’s note at the end of the book, Pip notes that while Esme’s story was fictional, the other women who labored over the Oxford Dictionary were very much real. I’m thankful someone was finally able to give them a voice.
Thank you to Random House-Ballentine and Netgalley for providing me with this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: This book tells the story of Thea, a woman well into her years whose life goes up in flames when her husband of multiple decades cheats on her with a friend of hers and she is unceremoniously fired from her job. As often happens, when one door closes another one opens and Thea suddenly inherits a house in a small town in Scotland, from a great uncle she barely knew. While she only intended to stay at the house long enough to sort out her great uncle’s estate, she finds that this house is a fairly nice home and that the man she invited over to appraise a book collection that came with it is pretty good company. Ignoring logic and reason, Thea decides to stay, gets a job in a small bookstore and begins to find joy in little things again.
Review: I must admit the plot of this book was a bit slow but I don’t think that took away from it’s charm. I quite liked the fact that Thea is a normal person; she’s not young, beautiful, or graceful and she makes no apologies for who she is. As a person in my 20’s I’m familiar with the fact that young people tend to feel things so strongly and passionately that it emcompasses everything. This passion is at the focus of so many novels that it’s almost synonymous with the word “love”. While I do very much enjoy those tales of epic romance, this was definitely not that. This book did something I haven’t really seen much of before; it told the story of the comfortable love, the one that makes you feel safe and secure, the one that strikes when you’re past your days of apocalyptic emotion. I think in addition to finding love in Scotland, Thea found a sense of peace, much like I did while reading her story.
Thank you to Random House-Ballentine and Netgalley for providing me with this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.