Photo Review – Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Blanca and Roja

by Anna-Marie McLemore

Summary: The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

Source: I received a signed hardcover in an Uppercase box

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Review:

Blanca and Roja was a beautiful YA magical realism fairy tale retelling.

I know that’s a mouthful, but I have to mention the magical realism aspect because it’s what tends to turn off some readers because they can be frustratingly vague with the “rules” of magic. If magical realism is not your thing, just stop now while you ahead because this book, like many others in that category, will frustrate you. It provides no answers to why the magical things may happen.

Personally, I love magical realism, so I’d compare this book to those of Moira Fowley-Doyle and Emily Henry. If you’re a fan of their stories, you’ll likely love this one, too.

It was also a fairy tale retelling, taking the basic premises of Snow White and Rose Red and Swan Lake and  creating a beautifully written tale set in the real world with some bits of magic and weirdness.

I enjoyed the story and not knowing what would happen to the two sisters. Who would become a swan? Would they betray each other? (And what is this bear doing here?)

I think I would’ve preferred the story had it just been from the POV of the two sisters. The additional POVs of Yearling and Page did not really add to the story and kind of felt too similar to the other POVs. The story was beautifully written, it’s just that all of the point of views melded together a bit. Roja and Blanca had different personalities and I think they would’ve seemed more distinct with just the two of them.

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Star 3

Fox and Wit Reading Challenge – A book about siblings

2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge – a book about family

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Photo Review – The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

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The Killer Inside Me

by Jim Thompson

Summary: Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou’s known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers–the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between–as the nicest guy around. He may not be the brightest or the most interesting man in town, but nevertheless, he’s the kind of officer you’re happy to have keeping your streets safe. The sort of man you might even wish your daughter would end up with someday.

But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks a monster the likes of which few have seen. An urge that has already claimed multiple lives, and cost Lou his brother Mike, a self-sacrificing construction worker who fell to his death on the job in what was anything but an accident. A murder that Lou is determined to avenge–and if innocent people have to die in the process, well, that’s perfectly all right with him.

In The Killer Inside Me, Thompson goes where few novelists have dared to go, giving us a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer years before Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, in the novel that will forever be known as the master performance of one of the greatest crime novelists of all time.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I’m torn between being intrigued by the story and being disappointed. To be fair, the book was published in 1952. For the time, it was quite dark and probably shocking and violent. Still, it’s 2019. Fiction novels, true crime, television,  and movies are more violent and shocking and grotesque than ever. Dexter was a successful TV show for 8 something seasons and was all from the POV of a psychopath. The Ted Bundy Tapes aired on Netflix and was widely watched just in the past few weeks. This book was just not nearly as dark as I expected.

Maybe as a horror fan myself, I’m just desensitized when it comes to dark fiction and perhaps it’s why I felt this was pretty watered down. I simply disagree with the quote on the front.

If this was my first time reading from the POV of a killer, I think this book would be quite shocking. The lack of empathy and general indifference that the main character showed was displayed well and was quite creepy. I didn’t like the “aw-shucks” kind of character that Lou was, so it made it hard to really get into the book. I was expecting a much more in depth look inside of his mind and I didn’t think he was as scary as he could have been.

To fully appreciate this book, I think you have to remember the time period in which it was written.

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Star 3

2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – book recommended by a celebrity I admire – Stephen King

 

Wreck This Journal – Pages 188-189: W

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Wreck This Journal

Pages 188-189

Collect the Letter “W” Here

 

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I decided to write in a bunch of book titles that begin with or have a word starting with W.

  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • War and Peace
  • A Walk to Remember
  • Wintersong
  • Wonder
  • Water for Elephants
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • Warm Bodies
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
  • The Winner’s Curse
  • The Woman in Black
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • White Oleander
  • White Fang
  • Wild
  • Wuthering Heights
  • World War Z
  • Winter
  • The Winds of Winter
  • The Call of the Wild
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Watership Down
  • We Were Liars

 

 

Photo Review – The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli

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The Last Namsara (Iskari #1)

by Kristen Ciccarelli

Summary: In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy

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Review:

I enjoyed The Last Namsara and liked that it was a YA fantasy about dragons. Asha was a fierce character who slayed dragons and wasn’t afraid to break laws and tell the old stories to gain an advantage. She was more stubborn about other things, which made her somewhat realistic.

I enjoyed the political plot, but I wished that Asha was not so reluctant to involve herself in the schemes of everyone else. It made her seem clueless and selfish, and therefore much more of a teenager, which is fine because it’s YA, it’s just frustrating as an adult reader.

I was not a fan of the insta-love. I felt that the original slave love story was sufficient enough to serve as a warning and Asha’s brother’s story was enough of an example that the book could have avoided throwing Asha into a relationship of her own. It didn’t advance the plot much more other than make Asha appear more selfish and clueless.

I rated the book three stars because I was bouncing between loving it and disliking it all at the same time. It was fun and I love dragons. YA fantasy has been so hit or miss for me throughout the past year or so, and sometimes I feel that I’m not quite fair, but then I’ll read a YA that floors me and regret throwing so many 4 stars out to books that just didn’t quite grip me.

If you love YA fantasy and dragons, you’ll enjoy this one and I highly recommend it.

If YA or YA fantasy isn’t really your cup of tea, this isn’t the book that will blow your mind.

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Star 3

2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – book about an extinct or imaginary creature (dragons)

Fox and Wit Reading Challenge – A book with a sword on the cover

Photo Review – Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

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Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1)

by Elise Kova

Summary: A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all–the Crown Prince Aldrik–she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

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Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

Review:

I’ve heard so many great things about Air Awakens and it’s been on my TBR for awhile. It’s come highly recommended and was one of the suggestions in a facebook book group when I asked about really good YA fantasy when I was tired of the same old woe-is-me-now-I’m-magical-or-important YA heroines. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, as are all the covers to the series. They are very eye catching.

I enjoyed the plot, premise, and overall magic structure of the world. I thought the story was interesting, compelling, and I definitely considered purchasing the sequels when I finished to see what would happen to the characters as the series progressed. However, I’m only rating the book 3 stars because it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped and was ultimately not very well executed or well written compared to what I expected. To be quite honest, it was unpolished and a bit simplistic, which probably wouldn’t have mattered to me 5 years ago, but nevertheless matters to me now. I just can’t ignore the awkward dialogue, starry eyed main character who gapes and hems and haws about everything, or the plain common girl with suitors lined up everywhere and has no idea she is desirable trope. The same group of people who recommended this book also raved about The Remnant Chronicles, which was an absolutely amazing YA fantasy series and one that I found to be really well written, so I’m kind of disappointed overall.

For the price and the fact that it’s also a part of Kindle Unlimited, it was great, but it just doesn’t feel right to rate the book any higher than 3 when I’m pretty stingy with 5 star ratings and have rated some amazing books 4 stars this year. This book just doesn’t belong among those other books. With a better editor and some fine polishing, the story could be absolutely spectacular and I did enjoy it and consider whether to buy the rest or just let it go. I definitely recommend it if you aren’t as picky when it comes to the writing level of your books, if you don’t delve much into adult fantasy, and prefer YA.

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Star 3

Fox and Wit Reading Challenge – A book about a prince

2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge – a two word title

Wreck This Journal – Pages 186-187: Dirty Surface

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Wreck This Journal

pages 186-187

Rub This Page On A Dirty Surface

 

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“Dust webbed the window and the show trays. Dust darkened the toiling fingers… Dust slept on dull coils of bronze and silver…”

James Joyce

“Weariness seemed to settle on him like a coating of dust.”

Maria V. Snyder

“Dust floats through the feeble beam of  the flashlight.”

Anthony Doerr

“I am dust and may story ends here.”

Hanif Kureishi

Photo Review – Pet Sematary by Stephen King

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Pet Sematary

By Stephen King

Summary: When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic and rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Yet despite Ludlow’s tranquility, there’s an undercurrent of danger that exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift pet cemetery out back in the nearby woods. Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself…

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I enjoyed Pet Sematary and I’m glad I finally read the book. The movie has always been a good one to watch, but like most Stephen King stories, the book was so much more in-depth. In the movie, the creepy thing was the cat and the kid. In the book, it was human nature and the otherworldly pull of the Sematary.

I loved how the book was about death and the way people cope with it. Early on, it was clear the Louis and his wife had very different views on death. Louis took a clinic approach as a doctor and his wife, having been traumatized at a young age, avoided the topic nearly altogether. At first, the book was innocent enough, delving into the subject with examples like the injured student, the family cat, and the elderly neighbor. When death struck a lot closer to home, Louis could no longer cope normally or recognize his own grieving process that he was so clearly able to recognize in others. The pull of the Sematary took him further away from reality.

I highly recommend the book and feel that watching the movie just isn’t quite enough to truly grasp what makes this book so horrifying. I also enjoyed the author’s introduction where he talked about how the events paralleled his own life and how it’s the book that scares him the most. I can see why.

Hopefully the 2019 movie will touch upon some of the themes a little more, but we’ll see.

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Star 4

2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – Book becoming a movie in 2019