Book Reviews: “The Last Mrs. Parrish” and “Emotions Revealed”

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I did a book review because my reading was all over the place in April. 😆 I was reading a non-fiction book as well as a fiction book and kept on switching between books in a series and standalone book. But I’ve finished the Outlands Pentalogy series (review coming next week) and my non-fiction book so hopefully my reading will be less complicated now. Anyway, let’s get into it.

"The Last Mrs. Parrish" by Liv Constantine

The first book in today’s post is “The Last Mrs. Parrish” by Liv Constantine. My mom’s friend lent this to her and my mom recommended I read it as well. I paused my series to read this book to return it to my mom’s friend promptly. This is an adult thriller that follows Amber who tries to insert herself into the lives of the Parrish’s and break up their marriage.

The writing of this book flows so well. I found myself reading the book so quickly. So I have to give it to the Constantine sisters because this was so easy to read. I will say it dragged a bit in the middle before the twist was revealed and then I was hooked again.

The first half of the novel was narrated by Amber. And while she’s a quite unlikeable character I couldn’t help but root her. I was also swayed by Amber’s opinion and I didn’t like Daphne Parrish all that much at first. But then halfway through it switched to Daphne’s perspective and all my thoughts and feelings changed. I won’t say much else as to not ruin the surprise.

I will say that it’s more of a drama than a thriller. When I read a thriller I expect something like murder or missing person. Neither of those things is present in the novel. There is tension and suspense and some nasty things that happen but I wouldn’t say it’s like a classic thriller.

Overall I enjoyed the book and thought the ending was good. If someone asked me for a thriller recommendation I wouldn’t say this one. But if you like drama or reading about outrageously rich people then I would recommend this book. I gave it 4/5 stars.

"Emotions Revealed" by Paul Ekamn

The second book is non-fiction, which is a genre I don’t read very often. I was given “Emotions Revealed” by Paul Ekman as a gift a couple of years ago. The subtitle mentioned being able to read emotions to improve communication and emotional lives. As someone who studied communication in school, I am quite interested in non-verbal communication so I thought I would enjoy this book.

Overall I was a little underwhelmed by the novel. This book focuses more on the psychology of emotions which was interesting but just not what I was expecting. There was some explanation of how to improve communication but it was only a small portion of the novel. I guess what I was hoping for and what the actual focus of the book was different.

The writing was quite formulaic in the bulk of the novel. Each chapter would cover a different emotion and would run through the same things for each emotion. I often struggle with non-fiction books but I find the lack that narrative element that drives me to continue reading the book and this book suffered from that. As well the writing was quite academic at times. It hasn’t been that long since I was in university so I’m pretty comfortable with academic writing, but it does make the book less accessible.

Overall the book wasn’t bad, just not my cup of tea. I’m not as into psychology and it didn’t have the prose to be able to keep my attention regardless of the subject. If you’re interested in psychology and emotions then you’ll probably love this book. But if that’s not your cup of tea then I would skip this book. I gave it 3/5 stars.

That’s my book reviews for today! Like I mentioned, I’ll be posting another review next week of the Outlands Pentalogy so stay tuned for that! And like with all my book reviews, let me know in the comments what you’re currently reading and if you have any recommendations for me!

xoxo

Lea

Book Review: “Debutantes” & “The Giver of Stars”

Hey guys! Today I’m sharing two standalone novels that I’ve read this month. This has been a really good reading month for me, both in terms of the number of books and the quality of books. I’ve already hit four books this month, and there is a good chance I’ll finish one more before the month is done. But anyway, today I have two different historical fiction books. I’ve been reading lots of fantasy lately, so it was nice to read another genre. Let’s get into it.

Debutantes, Debutantes by Cora Harrison, Cora Harrison, book, book review, historical fiction, YA historical fiction

The first book we have is Debutantes by Cora Harrison. I’ve had this on my bookshelf for many years, it was purchased sometime when I was in high school. The novel follows four sisters who live with their father and great-aunt in an old mansion in 1920s England. The oldest sister is hoping to have her debut season but may not be able to because of the family’s difficult financial season. On top of this, the sisters find out a mystery that could change their lives. This is a young adult historical fiction.

This book gave me such Downton Abbey vibes. From the big old house to the older, sassy relative, to the friendly staff, and the book is set in the same time period. It’s also similar in the sense where there are some difficult situations, things always end well. The book is PG, with very little romance. It’s more about the sisters and their relationships with each other.

I think I would have liked the novel if I was 10 years younger. The story is pretty cute but very surface-level. There is so much discussion on fashion, which I would have loved as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes and fashion. But it becomes excessive when every outfit is described in detail.

The mystery is also pretty obvious. I guessed it almost right away so there was no suspense for me. I enjoyed reading it and seeing the clues, but I wasn’t left guessing what was going to happen.

Overall I give this book 3/5 stars. I don’t think it’s bad. I just think it could have been better. I would recommend this book to 13-year-olds who are interested in history. But if you’re looking for Bridgerton level romance, this isn’t it. Also just wanted to note that there is a sequel but I won’t be reading it. I felt like the end of the first novel was satisfying enough that I didn’t need to read the second.

book, book review, historical fiction, Jojo Moyes, The Giver of Stars, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, Reese's Book Club

The second book I have to review today is The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. The novel follows Alice, who moves from England to Kentucky to follow her new husband. There she joins a group of women who run a travelling library in rural Kentucky in the 1930s. This is a historical fiction novel.

Wow, I loved this novel. It’s a very easy read. It’s paced very well and I found myself wanting to read to find out what happens to the women. I didn’t know much about this area, so it was easy to learn because one of the main point-of-views is from Alice who is also an outsider.

I think that Moyes did an amazing job of balancing the line between critiquing and showing the beauty of rural Kentucky. There are many issues that Moyes highlights such as the way women are treated, how people of colour of treated and the atrocities the mining company is allowed to commit for the sake of money. But Moyers also highlights the community aspect of small towns and also the physical beauty of the mountains. It also highlighted a little-known topic of the Packhorse Libraries that ran in the 1930s under Eleanor Roosevelt.

I loved the cast of characters in this novel. Each character was unique and added something to the story. It featured powerful women who were trying to make a difference in their community, which is something I love to read. It also talks a lot about the love and power of reading. As an avid reader, it’s fun to read about characters who also love reading.

I will say that the story is slightly predictable in the sense that I had a feeling what the ending was going to be. But how the story got to the ending was a complete surprise so I wasn’t bored while reading. If you want a book that will give you a happy, satisfying ending, this book perfectly fits the bill.

Overall I give this book 5/5 stars. Five-star books for me are books that I wouldn’t change a thing and feel comfortable recommending to anyone. And this book is that exactly. I think this book is an easy, comfortable read that I think would have a broad appeal to many people even though it’s such a niche topic. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel so I think it deserved five stars.

I will note that if you go on Goodreads or Google the book you’ll notice that there has been some controversy with this novel, with claims of plagiarism. Just wanted to bring this up because I know that this might matter to some people. I haven’t read the other book, so I cannot confirm if the allegations are true. I would recommend doing your own research before making a decision.

And those are my two book reviews for today. I’m currently in the middle of a series so it might be a bit before I have another book review. As always, please let me know your thoughts if you’ve read either of these novels. And let me know if you have any recommendations for me, I’d love to check them out!

xoxo

Lea

Book Review: A Touch of Death

Hey guys! I’m back with another book review! Today I will be sharing my thoughts on “A Touch of Death” by Rebecca Crunden. Rebecca was kind enough to send me this book but all my thoughts in this review are my own. Okay, let’s get into it.

A Touch of Death, "A Touch of Death" by Rebecca Crunden, Outlands Pentalogy, Rebecca Crunden, dystopian, dystopian novel

The story follows Catherine and Nate who live easy lives because their parents are favourites of the King. Catherine and Nate contract a mysterious illness while visiting the mountains and run away, afraid of arrest and execution. This is a new adult dystopian novel and the first in a five-book series.

I was confused at first because the synopsis on the back of the book is more of a backstory. You can read the synopsis here if you want. The synopsis mentions a two-year period when Nate is gone and I thought that’s where the novel would start. But it skips this section. So I was confused at first but once I realized the synopsis was the backstory was I able to move on. This might also be confusion on my part. I can be a scattered brain at times.

It took me about 100 pages to get into the novel, which I find is fairly common with sci-fi and fantasy novels. On top of trying to introduce the characters, these genres have to build a world. So it can be a lot to grasp at first. But after those 100 pages, I settled in and got really into the novel. I think it’s also interesting because there aren’t chapters in the book. The book is divided into six parts. But within the parts, they are paragraph breaks so there are places to pause my reading. I found the lack of chapters meant that the book flowed easily and I found myself just wanting to continue to read.

Something I found interesting is that one of the main characters dies pretty early on but is continually mentioned throughout the novel. It was interesting to learn about a character who’s dead through memories of the other characters. Usually, when a character dies that’s it, they’re done. But this character was continually mentioned. This makes me believe for some reason that this character isn’t dead. I’m curious to see if my guess is true.

This novel includes some unrequited love. I don’t want to give too many details as to not spoil the plot. But it’s you’re looking for something spicy, this isn’t it. There is plenty of discussion of sex and marriage and but the furthest this novel goes is kissing. I didn’t mind because I found the plot to be very interesting. Unlike other dystopian novels where the main character is from the poorer part of society (Hunger Games, The Selection) this focuses on those who are from the top of society. Catherine slowly learns what her society is truly like. It gives me similar vibes to the television adaption of Brave New World.

Throughout the novel, Catherine and Nate travel across the kingdom. I wish there was a map included in the novel. I did find one on Rebecca’s website, which I will have pulled up when I read the rest of the series. But I think it would have helped me to have it included in the novel.

Overall I give the book 4.5/5 stars. I think it’s a refreshing take on the dystopian genre and isn’t like anything I’ve read in that genre. I’m excited to read the rest of the books in the series. It loses half a point because I was pretty confused in the beginning because of the synopsis, but once I realized what was going on I was into it.

I have ordered the second book and if I like it then I’ll probably stick with it and finish the series. I like to consider series as a whole, so I’ll probably review the rest of the books together in one post. So stay tuned for that!

xoxo

Lea

UPDATE: Just wanted to mention that the cover I have is an old version, and that the cover has been updated since I received the book.

Book Review 017: Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom + King of Scars

Hey guys! Today I am sharing my thoughts on the rest of the Grishaverse, with the Six of Crows duology and King of Scars. If you haven’t read my review on Shadow and Bone I would recommend checking that one out before this on. I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible or mark any that I do include but keep in mind that the books build on the plot of past novels. Especially King of Scars since it includes characters from past series. Anyway, let’s get into it.

books, six of crows, crooked kingdom, king of scars, grishaverse, leigh bardugo, ya fantasy, ya books

So first we have Six of Crows duology, which includes the books Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. This duology is set within the same universe as Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy but in the country of Ketteram instead of Ravka. Ketterdam is loosely based on 17th century Amsterdam – which is cool because I’ve been to Amsterdam! The story follows six characters: Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper and Wylan. They are offered the opportunity to do an impossible heist that will make them insanely rich if they complete it. This is a young adult fantasy novel.

First I was impressed that Bardugo was able to add another layer to her world. I know some readers were shocked by the differences between Ravka and Ketterdam but it’s pretty historically accurate in the sense that Russia was late to modernize while Amsterdam was ahead. Unlike Shadow and Bone which was from the first-person perspective, this duology was a third-person multi-perspective, which just means that the narrative changed each chapter. I think this was perfect for the heist plotline, since often during a heist many things are happening simultaneously.

Bardugo’s writing has improved. I think the multi-perspective helped speed up the novel. In her previous novels, I had issues with pacing, but that wasn’t present in this duology. There were also so many twists and turns in the novel. Some I guessed but others were complete surprises. I wanted to keep on reading to find out what was going to happen.

I loved the characters in this series as well. Nina is my favourite because I relate to her so much. She physically looks like me (yay curvy, plus-sized rep!) but also her personality as well. She’s described as being loud and bold and fond of sweets – and if that isn’t a good description of me I don’t know what is. But I like the rest of the characters as well.

The second book Crooked Kingdom continues the story after Six of Crows. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t like it as much as Six of Crows. Unlike the first novel which has a strong plot and storyline, the second book was a little less clear. I wasn’t sure where the book was going and therefore wasn’t as excited to read the book.

But by the second book, I had developed a strong emotional bond with the characters so at the end there were many tears shed by me. I liked Kaz and Inej’s relationship because it’s unlike most relationships you read in YA novels. They have both been through some shit, to say the least, and have been traumatized because of it. But it was cute to see them come together and grow.

Overall I have the duology 5/5 stars! (Woo first five-star books of 2020!). I think the first book is stronger but as a pair I think it’s an effective story. The world-building was amazing, the characters were well developed and I had only minor issues with the writing.

And since I was already reading Bardugo’s books I decided to start her next duology. The first book is King of Scars. The sequel Rule of Wolves is set to come out at the end of March. King of Scars follows Nikolai and Zoya (characters from Shadow and Bone) and Nina. I won’t give any other details because I don’t want to spoil the books.

It was nice reading this book because I was able to return to the point-of-views of characters I already knew. There is something nice returning to characters and a world that you’re familiar with. The first half of the novel was a nice return and then the second half it was like the whole universe got turned on its head. I was super impressed that Bardugo was able to add a new layer to her world. Sometimes it can be hard to continue making a series unique and new but Bardugo did it with this book.

I will say that my only complaint was that Nina’s plotline wasn’t very intertwined with the rest. In the beginning, it was a little boring. I can only guess that it will connect in the future and that’s why it’s included. But it wasn’t until the last third that I was really into her storyline.

The ending was also insane. I think fans of the series will like the ending. It made me excited for the next novel.

Overall I give King of Scars 4.5/5 stars. I will re-evaluate my thoughts once I read book two. This might be a while because I’m going to wait until the novel comes out in paperback since I want my series to match. But overall I like it, just wished that Nina’s plotline was a little more interesting and better connected.

I thought I would tact on my thoughts of the series overall so far since the tv show is coming out soon and I’m sure people would want to read it before then. Even though I didn’t like Shadow and Bone as much, I would recommend reading it first. Bardugo does a great job of explaining the world in that series but it drops off by the later series because she assumes people have read everything. I think you would be confused if you read Six of Crows before Shadow and Bone. And read both before reading King of Scars. If you want to watch the tv show make sure to read Shadow and Bone as well because that’s what most of the first season is going to focus on. I think it would be nice to read Six of Crows as well, but the show is mainly going to focus on events that happen before that series.

And that is it for today’s book review. Let me know if you guys have read any books within the Grishaverse and what your thoughts were on the books. And as with all my book posts, let me know if you have any recommendations for me down below.

xoxo

Lea

Book Review 016: Wuthering Heights

Hey guys! I’m back today with another book review! I usually prefer to book a couple of stand-alone books in one post. But since I’m in the middle of reading a series, it’ll be awhile before I have another book to include. So I just decided to write a review for Wuthering Heights now. So let’s get into it.

book, book review, classic book, classic novel, emily bronte, wuthering heights, wuthering heights by emily bronte, gothic romance

For those of you who don’t know anything about this book, Wuthering Heights is considered a classic gothic romance. First published in 1847 by Emily Bronte, it’s a pretty popular novel. I’ve heard it referenced many times but I never knew what it was about. The story follows two families through two generations in the north of England. The story is narrated by their maid Nelly and the main antagonist is Heathcliff. I don’t want to give too many other details because I don’t want to spoil the story.

The beginning of the novel is quite confusing for the reader because the book starts in the present and then goes to the past. A lot of the characters in the past and present have very similar names and there are some juniors and seniors so it’s hard to remember who is who. I started using Sparknotes to help me understand what was going on. I would read a chapter and then read the Sparknotes summary to make sure I caught everything. I was pretty good at understanding everything, but every once in a while I would miss something important and Sparknotes would point it out to me.

This novel is famous for the poetic language, especially the description of the landscapes. If you enjoy that sort of thing, then you’ll love this book. For me, I found that it more often put me to sleep, especially since I mainly read at night when I’m already tired. This isn’t a thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. If anything sometimes it was tough to get through.

This isn’t a happy book. There is a lot of negativity, with everyone hating someone. There were a lot of sicknesses, death and physical abuse. I would recommend googling the trigger warnings before reading this book because it’s a little dark – I mean there’s a reason why it’s a gothic novel.

I generally preferred the second half of the novel compared to the first half because it was with the second generation. I just found the characters to be more tolerable. I also wasn’t very fond of the narrator, Nelly. She was quite biased and that would affect the reader’s perception of characters. I was pretty good at seeing through it, but just something to keep in mind. Also if you’re hoping for a redemption arc, you’re not going to find that in this novel. The bad characters are bad through and through.

I did enjoy the ending. I felt like order was finally restored and it was satisfying. This was a difficult book to get through, so I felt very proud of myself once I finished it.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. I can see the value in this novel. A lot of the things I disliked about it are personal preferences than actual flaws. So if you normally read popular fiction then you probably will dislike this novel. But if you enjoy reading classics then check this one out. I’m a little hesitant to read more classics since I haven’t loved the two I’ve read so far, but I have a whole collection of them that I should read so except more.

As with all my book posts, let me know in the comments what you’re currently reading and if you have any recommendations for me!

xoxo

Lea

Book Review 015: Shadow and Bone Trilogy

Hey guys! Today we have another book review! I just finished the Shadow and Bone trilogy and wanted to share my thoughts with you guys. So let’s get into it.

books, book, shadow and bone, siege and storm, ruin and rising, shadow and bone trilogy, leigh bardugo

The Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo consist of three books: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising. They are set in the fictional country of Ravka, which is loosely based on 19th century Russia. Ravka has been torn apart into two by the Shadow Fold, a large swath of land that is covered in complete darkness. Alina discovers that she can control light and is taken away to be trained at the royal court. Alina becomes a member of the Grisha, a magical elite who is ruled by the Darkling. Alina quickly learns that many secrets are being hidden about the world and herself. This series is YA fantasy.

I found the series started strong. I was hooked because I found the world so interesting. It can be a little confusing at first remembering all the elements to the magic system, but Bardugo does a good job of consistently reminding the reader what everything is so I found I eventually got it. I was a little unsure of where the series was going by the end of the first book, but I was excited to see where the series would go.

I found the first half of Storm and Seige to be quite boring until I got to know the character Sturmhond, who is one of my favourites in the series. I liked the latter half of the second book because it involved quite a bit of political intrigue. I’ve mentioned this in past reviews but I prefer it over war and battles.

The third book was just a series of unfortunate events for the characters. Nothing seemed to be going right and many side characters were killed off. I know there are some mixed opinions on the ending of the series. It’s not a happy ending and there were sacrifices made. I’m pretty indifferent to the ending. I think it wrapped up things nicely but also left the door open for sequel series.

Something that did bug me is Alina’s main love interest, Mal. I thought he was a pretty boring love interest, there was nothing that made me go ‘wow’ about him. I found the emotional connection between the two of them to be lacking. They were childhood friends and it felt like their connection was in the past, there wasn’t much special that happened during the series. I much preferred the antagonist, the Darkling. I found there was more depth to him and wanted more scenes with him in it. Also wanted to note that there was a lack of diversity in the main characters as well.

Overall I give this series 4/5 stars and I felt like every book was on the same level. I liked the world and the overarching storyline. Had some pacing issues, there were some boring bits. Wasn’t a fan of the romantic interest as well. But this series had made me excited to read Six of Crows, which everyone says is better anyway.

So have you guys read this book? If you have please let me know your thoughts in the comments down below. And as always let me know if you have any book recommendations for me. 🙂

xoxo

Lea

Book Review 014

Hey guys! Today I am finally posting the reviews for the books I read in December. I know we’re halfway through January, but I just had other posts I wanted to get up first. If you ever want to be more up to date on what I’m reading then follow my TikTok account (@leaveittolea). I’m better at posting my reviews more promptly there and I do monthly wrap-ups as well. Okay let’s get into it, we have three books today.

book, the hate u give, angie thomas

If you’ve read my 2020 book list, then you already know that I love “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. This is my top book of 2020. It might have surprised some of you because I loved Throne of Glass, but this book is perfect. The novel follows Starr, a black girl who witnesses her best friend be shot by a police officer and follows the repercussions of this event. This is a young adult contemporary novel.

I purchased this novel in the summer following the Black Lives Matter movement. I wanted to read more books by black authors to help me understand their perspective and educate myself. I think this book allowed me to step into Starr’s shoes and I learned more about the black community. I think everyone should read this book because it does an amazing job of talking about racism and police brutality in a simple and approachable way.

This book has an amazing cast of characters that are all unique, well developed and add something to the story. Starr has a large family and I love the interactions between her and her family. I also liked the relationships Starr had with her white boyfriend Chris and friend Hailey. I think they show how to be a good and bad ally.

I thought the book was well-paced and balanced between intensity and break. The only downside I had was that it’s pretty rooted in 2017 with its references to social media and pop culture. Therefore it could feel dated but at the same time, it’s a good snapshot of what life was like and how people felt at that time. I grew up during this time so I related to it easily.

I give this book 5/5 stars. There isn’t anything I would change. As I said, I would recommend this book to everyone and I’m interested in reading more by Angie Thomas.

book, in a holidaze, christina lauren

The next book I read was “In a Holidaze” by Christina Lauren. Sorry that I’m reviewing a Christmas book after the holidays, but you can always add this to your list for next year. This book is a Groundhog Day meets Hallmark Christmas movie. The novel follows Maelyn who must re-live her Christmas holiday at her family friend’s cabin. Maelyn must figure out her feeling for her two family friends and save the beloved cabin her family stay at. This book is an adult romance novel.

The main character Maelyn (or Mae for short) wasn’t my favourite. I just didn’t like the way she reacted to what was happening. I found her to be controlling and sometimes annoying. But despite my lack of fondness for Mae, I like the romance she has with Andrew. The scenes between the two of them gave me butterflies. 🦋💕 I also liked the rest of the characters. There are four families who all come together so it’s a large and fun cast. Benny was my favourite character. I also liked the discussion of being a big kid but also an adult because I related to that.

I like how the holiday spirit was sprinkled in. It wasn’t as cheesy and holiday packed as a Christmas movie but it satiated my Christmas spirit wishes. But it was better than your cheesy Hallmark movie in the sense that they kissed before the end and the relationship was more developed. I will say that the groundhog day plotline was mediocre, I’ve read it done better before (aka Before I Fall).

I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. I would consider reading more by Christina Lauren though, I’ve heard really good things about some of their other novels.

book, the here and now, ann brashares

The final book I read in 2020 was “The Here And Now” by Ann Brashares (the same author who wrote Sister of the Travelling Pants). This was a book that’s been on my shelf for a while. I do try and alternate between newer and older, and I do want to get through my bookshelf more in 2021. Anyway, this book is about Prenna who travels from the future to the present because her time is falling apart due to climate change. Prenna follows all the rules set out by her community until she meets Ethan who helps her change the present and future. This is a young adult science fiction novel.

I thought the concept was interesting. There is a whole group of people who ‘immigrated’ into the past with all these rules. I must say reading about a plague hits a little too close to home during a pandemic. This book is an eco-dystopian, which is where climate change destroys the world. This was my first time reading one and it was interesting but not necessarily my all-time favourite genre.

There was one major twist that I did not see coming, and I’m unsure if that’s because I was oblivious or if the writing wasn’t good. It wasn’t set up well and I was just surprised. The ending wasn’t some huge change as well, it was a relatively small ending. I know a lot of people on Goodreads didn’t like that but I didn’t mind.

*SPOILERS* What I didn’t like was that Prenna and Ethan didn’t end up together in the end. Yes, there was a logical explanation but it didn’t satisfy me. Maybe it’s because I’m a hopeless romantic, but I do prefer it when the couples end up together. Because I didn’t get the satisfying ending the romance felt pointless and therefore I think it could have been excluded. Brashares could have easily made the relationship platonic and still have the same ending. So that kind of pissed me off.

Overall I gave the book 3/5 stars. It was an interesting concept and it was easy to read. If anyone is looking for an eco-dystopian novel then I would recommend this. But the ending annoyed me and therefore it lost some points.

And those are my book reviews! I’m currently the Shadow and Bone trilogy and I’m on book three so expect a review for that series pretty soon! Let me know in the comments what book you’re currently reading and if you have any recommendations. 😊

xoxo

Lea

Ranking the books I read in 2020

Hey guys! Today I am ranking all the books I’ve read in 2020. I won’t be doing in-depth reviews for them but linking to the reviews instead. I will be explaining the position of each book and if I recommend it. We’ll be starting at the worst and ending at the best. Okay, let’s get into it!

2 Star Books

20. I have only one two-star book this year and it’s The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White. I would not recommend this book to anyone, it wasn’t worth it. The book was confusing and the main character was annoying. I also predicted everything that was going to happen. If you are interested in ancient deities there are books that do a better job.

3 Star Books

19. Just above the worst book I’ve read is Frankenstein. I was just bored while reading this book. I would recommend it if you’re interested and if you enjoy classics, but if you’re looking for a spooky book then pass.

18. The biggest disappointment was Where the Crawdads Sing. It’s not a bad book. There was just a lot of hype around it and it wasn’t what I had expected. If you enjoy nature writing then you will love it.

17. The Woman in the Window was mediocre, which is why it got 3 stars. It was interesting reading about an agoraphobe during a pandemic. But there are way better thrillers out there.

16. Another disappointment was The Siren. I love Kiera Cass and this just wasn’t as good as her other books. The story was so original but the main character was annoying.

15. Up next is Sapiens. I was excited to learn a lot but it turned out I already knew a lot of what Harari discussed in this book. If you’re interested in history but don’t know a lot about the subject then I would recommend it.

14. Right in the middle of the pack is Hunger Journeys. I enjoyed reading from a Dutch perspective during World War 2. The book lost points for lack of character development and a rushed ending.

13. 2020 was the year of sequels/prequels to popular books from my teenage years. Midnight Sun reignited mine (and half of the internet’s) obsession with Twilight. There were many issues with the book but it was fun to revisit the world.

3.5 Stars books

12. I read Voyager and Drums of Autumn (Outlander books 3 & 4) this year. I don’t have a review for them because I’m waiting until I finish the series. But I wanted this to be a master list so that’s why I’m including them. If you ever want my thoughts on Outlander just let me know.

11. My first time reading a stand-alone dystopian novel was with Restoring Harmony. I enjoyed the world that was built but found the main character to be one dimensional. A pretty quick and easy read.

10. Mad Love really surprised me. I thought it was going to be a fun and easy YA romance but there was a lot of magical realism and darker themes thrown in. It was a surprising but interesting read.

9. I loved the Hunger Games when I was younger, and The Ballad of Songbirbs and Snakes cemented my love for it now. It was unnecessarily long at points, but I love the morally grey character of Coriolanus Snow and enjoyed reading his backstory.

8. Gimme a Call would probably be my favourite book if I was younger. I loved the concept and it was fun to read a book set in the late 2000s. I couldn’t handle all the second-hand embarrassment though.

4 Star books

7. The only book I reread (by accident) was The Truth About Forever. I know not everyone likes Sarah Dessen, but I love her books and thoroughly enjoyed the predictability of this one.

6. I love a good historical romance and The Lacey Chronicles did not disappoint. It incorporated some of the negative aspects of history but still had the happy ending I wanted.

5. I’m not a big non-fiction reader, but Educated was amazing. I still periodically think and reflect on what I’ve read in this book. That’s a sign of a good book.

4. The Blood and Ash series isn’t over yet so the rating may change. But so far I’m giving it a 4.25. Really excited to see where this series goes.

4.5 Star books

3. I loved Handmaid’s Tale, and The Testaments was a great sequel to the novel. Atwood created some complex characters and also made this book more readable than the last. I also found the ending to be super satisfying as well.

5 Star books

2. Listen, I think we all know I absolutely love the Throne of Glass series. Not only is it an amazing series that felt like an epic journey, but it also introduced me to the booktok community which I enjoy so much.

1 The final book is The Hate U Give. I just finished it last night so I don’t have a review yet but this book is amazing. I have zero complaints and I think everyone should read this book.

And those are all the books I’ve read this year. I have read 31 books this year (and hopefully I can read a couple more before the new year). I’m so happy that I got back into reading this year – one of the few good things about the pandemic for me. Please let me know in the comments what some of your favourite books that you’ve read this year!

xoxo

Lea

Book Review 013: Blood and Ash Series

Hey guys! Today I will be reviewing the first two books in the Blood and Ash series. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a series that isn’t complete, but I got convinced by my favourite booktoker (@literarylibra) to read it so here we are. I decided to post my review of the series so far because I know it’s pretty popular right now. So once I’ll probably write a review for each book and then once the series is over (whenever that will be) I’ll do a full wrap-up. Okay, let’s get into it.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout is a pretty prolific author, but this is her first fantasy series. The book follows Poppy, who was chosen to be the Maiden and usher in a new era for her kingdom. While waiting for her Ascension, where she receives immortality, she must hide away from other people. Everything changes when she receives a new guard, Hawke, who makes her question everything. At the same time, unrest is rising in the kingdom and Poppy’s life is about to be changed forever.

I loved the plot and the characters in the novel but had issues with the writing. I found the first 50 pages to be confusing with all the world-building going out. Since the novel is from Poppy’s perspective, there was quite a bit at monologuing in the beginning, which I found annoying. Like there would be paragraphs of thoughts during a conversation. I found around the middle of the book it was also starting to get repetitive. Poppy would have a conversation with someone and then repeat the conversation in her head after. By the end of the novel, the writing finally improved and the plot engaged me again.

I found the world while confusing at the beginning to be very interested. I like the world of the Ascended and it’s quite different from any other vampire book I’ve ever read. There are quite a few plot twists, some I predicted and others I didn’t predict. And the ending was amazing and made me excited to read the next book.

I like Poppy as a character. She’s quite naive, but it’s somewhat understandable given her situation. I also love Hawke. I found the banter between the two was overall good, but sometimes it would happen at times which I thought didn’t make sense.

This book is pretty spicy – aka there are some great sex scenes in the book. Within the first 50 pages, there was a great spicy scene. I thought they were well written and also nicely spaced out.

Now, this doesn’t have to do with the author, but whoever did the typesetting of this book did a horrible job. There were sentence breaks and punctuation that was all over the place. I found it to be very distracting. I’m not sure if that’s because I bought these books off of Amazon or it’s that the publisher but something to just note because it bugged me.

Overall I gave this book a 4/5. The writing issues took away some of my enjoyment of the novel, but the plot and characters were strong enough to keep me going.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Now I’m not going to give a plot summary because it’s going to spoil the first book. But I liked this book more than the first one.

I found that there was less writing issues and more character issues. I liked Poppy in the first book but found her annoying in the first half of this book. She was not letting people explain their point of view and that’s just something that bugs me. I hate when characters don’t let people explain! Poppy also has a habit of saying she hates people when she clearly doesn’t and I find that to be quite childish. By the second half of the novel she grows out of this and I like the book more once she does.

I love the other characters that JLA introduces and develops like Alastair, Vonetta and Kieran. I love the friendship between Kieran and Poppy, I enjoy reading the banter between the two of them.

Poppy feels a lot of guilt throughout the novel. There is a discussion of ignorance and being willfully ignorant and therefore being apart of the problem. While Poppy’s situation is fictional, the concept of ignorance and willful ignorance can be applied to what’s happening in the world today with racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. I love fantasy books that touch on important subjects.

Also, the spiciness just increased in this novel. If you aren’t into reading erotic fiction then maybe pass on this series because it’s got some great sex scenes.

I gave this novel a 4.5/5. The writing had improved but I still had some issues with the character development. But I am still very excited for the rest of the series and would recommend it to any fantasy lovers.

So those are my thoughts on the Blood and Ash series. Let me know if you’ve read the series in the comments below. And if you have any book recommendations or books you would like to see my review please leave them in the comments as well.

xoxo

Lea

Book Lover Gift Guide

Hey guys! Today is the last part of my gift guide series, and we are finishing strong with book lovers. If you guys follow my blog, you will know that my love of reading has come back stronger than ever this year. So I thought it was only fitting to do a book lover gift guide. I understand that buying books for someone can be hard. You might not know what books they already own or what they like to read. I’m here to help you out. I will be giving both book recommendations and a list of things that aren’t books that any book lover would love.

First, if you can take a look at their bookshelf. That way you don’t get a book they already have. Another option is looking at their wish list, whether it is on Goodreads or Amazon. If it’s on their wish list, a good chance is that they want to read it. A safe option is to buy them a gift card to a bookstore, that way they can pick out what books they want. But if you have an idea of what they like, then I would recommend getting a recent book launch. If the book came out recently then they are probably less likely to own it. All the books that I will be featuring on my list are all books that have come out this year and have good reviews. I haven’t read any of them so I can’t personally vouch if they are good books. But I have planning to post the best and worst books I’ve read this year sometime in mid-December, so you can also wait and check out that post. Okay, let’s get into the books.

Also just a note, I will be linking the Goodreads page for all the books for two reasons. First that way you can review the description of the book and some reviews to help you decide what to pick. Second I know most of you guys aren’t Canadian so it didn’t make sense to link to Indigo (our book store). So just order the books wherever you shop for books – but I recommend trying to buy from local stores if possible this holiday season 🙂

Mystery and Thriller

  1. Guest List by Lucy Foley. My mom has this book and I’ll probably read it eventually as well. This is a murder mystery set during a wedding on a small island off the coast of Ireland.
  2. One by One by Ruth Ware. A suspenseful thriller set at a mountain chalet. Perfect to read during winter – and I’m sure you’ll be excited to go to a chalet after reading this haha.
  3. The Searcher by Tana French. Another book set in Ireland, this one follows a retired detective who helps a boy find his missing brother.

Historical Fiction

  1. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi. My mom read this book and loved it – she passed it along for me to read. The story follows Lakshmi who runs away from an arranged marriage and becomes a famous henna artist. This book is set in 1950s Jaipur.
  2. The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Hamel. Based on a true story of a woman who uses forgery to help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis.
  3. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. I have heard so many good things about this book and I have it on my wish list. The story follows two twins, one who moves away and secretly passes for white. It’s set in the Deep South from the 1950s to 1990s.

Fantasy and Sci-fi

  1. Crescent City by Sarah J Maas. This is Sarah J Maas’s newest series and it’s one of Goodread’s top fantasy books of the year.
  2. The House in the Cerulean Sea. This book is highly rated and is described as a heartwarming tale about finding your family but make it ✨ fantasy ✨. It has great LGBT representation as well.
  3. The City We Became by N.K. Jeminsin. This is the first book is a new series by Jeminsin, that follows five people must come together and defend the city of New York.
  4. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. I have heard SO many good things about this book and want to read it. It’s about a girl who haves a deal that she lives forever but is forgotten by everyone she meets, that is until someone does remember her name.
  5. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini. For anyone Eragon fans, check out Paolini’s new adult sci-fi that is a first-contact-with-aliens tale.

Romance

  1. One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London. Bea, who is a plus-sized fashion blogger, gest to be the next star on Main Squeeze (a fictional version of the Bachelor/Bachelorette).
  2. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. This is a fake-dating-to-lovers between a Black, bi-sexual PhD student and a Muslim Pakistani-British ex-rugby player. Great diversity but also a super cute and fun book.
  3. Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner. This sapphic romance is between Jo and her assistant Emma after they are photographed together on the red carpet.

Non-Fiction

  1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This was on top of the bestseller list for weeks. It’s about female empowerment and finding your true self.
  2. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forget by Mikki Kendall. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory, but this is a book about intersectionality and feminism.
  3. A Promised Land by Barack Obama. This is Obama’s first memoir, starting at his political education through his first time as president.
  4. The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek. This autobiography is of Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy!
  5. Extraordinary Canadians by Peter Mansbridge with Mark Bulgutch. I had to include at least one Canadian book on this list. This book is a collection of stories of Canadians who embody kindness, compassion, courage and freedom.

Cookbooks

  1. Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten. I looked at this book in store. This is perfect for someone pretty new to cooking because it goes through all the basics. Comfort food is also perfect for this time of year and also with everything that is going on in the world.
  2. Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski. If you know anyone who is a Queer Eye fan you have to get them this book. And even if they aren’t, there are some cool dishes in this book. They’re all elevated by simple to do.
  3. Outlander Kitchen: To the New World and Back Again: The Second Official Outlander Companion Cookbook by Theresa Carle-Sanders. If you know anyone in your life who is an Outlander fan and like to cook, get them this book. It’s full of recipes inspired by the places they go and the people in the books. They decided to do a second cookbook since the first one was so successful. If I hadn’t already bought my mom a cookbook for Christmas I would get her this one (I’ll probably get it for her birthday).

YA Novels

I could probably do a whole post on YA books but here are a few.

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? The sequel also came out this year, so you can always give them both books as well.
  2. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. I have seen this all over booktok. It’s about a trans boy who summons a ghost to help him prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family.
  3. Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. A spin on the classic Cinderella story, it’s been summarized as black queer girls overthrowing the patriarchy.
  4. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. This is the perfect book for anyone who is a fan of City of Bones. This is a contemporary fantasy that puts a twist on King Arthur but with Southern Black Girl Magic.
  5. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. This one follows the story of Cordelia Carstairs, so anyone who’s favourite series is The Infernal Devices then will love this book.

Other Gifts

  1. Getting someone to store their book is always a good idea. If they have a small space a cart is a good idea. If they have more space then a bookshelf can be a good idea.
  2. If you have a friend that you always borrow books from, get them a library stamp or library embosser. This way the person can make their books and feel better about giving them out. There are so many cute customizable ones on Etsy.
  3. Getting someone book-themed art. It could be a print of their favourite book cover, it could be a college of classics, a stack of banned books, a book genre poster, or maybe some fanart or the map from their favourite series.
  4. If you know someone who loves to read in the bath, getting them a bath tray will help them not drop the book in the water.
  5. A book subscription service. There are so many out there, but most will send a book with some goodies every single month. The goodies range from merch to coffee or treats. I would recommend Googling it to find the best ones in your country.

And there you go guys! My super long list of recommendations for the book lover in your life. Let me know if you have any recommendations, whether it be books or book-related items in the comments down below!

xoxo

Lea