Posted in ARC Reviews

eARC Review: Sisters of the Wolf

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I have a little bit of extra time on my hands this evening, so I figured I’d use it to review the second eARC I got accepted for recently. Even though the writing and the dialogue wasn’t the best in this one, I’ll 100% vouch for the fact that Sisters of the Wolf boasts a premise unlike anything I’ve seen in YA historical fiction!

Enjoy this review!

Sisters of the Wolf | Dundurn Press

In the time of the Ice Age, every day is a race for survival, and the lives of Shinoni and Keena are no exception. Keena, hailing from a clan of Neanderthals, and Shinoni, the daughter of a Cro-Magnon shaman cross paths after a Neanderthal hunter wreaks havoc on both of their lives. Alone and lost in an unforgiving wilderness, the two girls must set aside their differences and fight for their lives – and the chance to return home once more.

Best Wolf Howling GIFs | Gfycat

TW/CW: loss of loved ones, violence, death of small children, animal death, racism/xenophobia (Neanderthal discrimination against Cro-Magnons and vice versa), sexism

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Dundurn Press for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Writing historical fiction takes loads of research. Writing historical fiction set in a time before written records and where the only clues we have to what life was like is the fossil record and cave paintings…that’s another feat entirely. I guess that’s why I haven’t seen many novels set in the Ice Age before this one, if any at all. So I’d be all for giving a huge round of applause to Patricia Miller-Schroeder for taking the risk, because even though Sisters of the Wolf wasn’t without its flaws, it was unlike any piece of historical fiction I’ve ever read.

There was so much care put into the worldbuilding, and every page was evident of it. Everything from the terminology and colloquial slang used by both Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon to the wildlife that the girls encountered was clearly well-researched, making for a very immersive and well-thought-out story. As someone who spent much of my childhood tagging along with my brother’s prehistoric life videos on TV, I had a lot of fun experiencing the world that Miller-Schroeder created.

That being said, the worldbuilding was the best element of Sisters of the Wolf. The writing felt rather bland, almost devoid of any interesting prose that would have made an otherwise decent story far more engaging. It wasn’t bad, I’d say, but it was just…somewhere in the middle. And normally I’m not fond of too much pontificating and excessive purple prose, but…that was kind of what this book needed.

I also found the dialogue to be a little bit stilted and corny. It leaned into almost Disney territory at times, and I found myself cringing a little bit at the way the onomatopoeia that was written most times. This, combined with my issues with the writing, took me out of the story at times, but I managed to stay somewhat engaged throughout most of the novel.

Everything that I’ve seen Sisters of the Wolf show up on has listed it as YA, but I honestly think that it would be just as suitable for middle grade level readers. That’s not a criticism of it in any shape or form, though; both of the protagonists are 13 years old, and it’s light enough for someone in the 8-12 age range to swallow, but dark enough that it stands out from a younger demographic. It would be a great intro for a pre-teen/early teen who’s just starting to get into YA books and needs a sort of transition book, a middle ground between the two genres. I certainly needed those books when I was that age, and I’m happy that books like Sisters of the Wolf exist for kids like I was.

All in all, a bold and original historical fiction novel that was bogged down by bland prose, but made up for some of it with exceptional worldbuilding. 3 stars!

Snow Forest GIF by Living Stills - Find & Share on GIPHY

Expected release date: August 24, 2021

Sisters of the Wolf is Patricia Miller-Schroeder’s YA debut, but she is also the author of several nonfiction science books for children.

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out this week’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: February 22-28, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

The last week of February’s been a decent one, I’d say. The rest of my library haul was mostly 3-star reads, but there was still some good stuff in there. I had a lot more time to blog this week, and I had a lot of fun writing reviews and doing tags 🙂

Writing-wise, I finished up the outline for my short story, and I just started writing it last night! I’m at almost 800 words, and man, does it feel good to be actually writing again. Outline’s necessary and all, but nothing beats the real thing, does it?

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing a bit, messing around on Minecraft, watching more WandaVision (AAAAAH), starting to rewatch season 3 of Fargo, and obsessively listening to Julien Baker’s Little Oblivions since Friday morning. (I thought it came out sooner, and I usually like to sit with an album about a week before I review it, so expect…*something* next week…)

She's like a rainbow shared by ℋℰℒℰ𝒩❀ on We Heart It

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Mooncakes – Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Mooncakes (9781549303043): Walker, Suzanne, Xu, Wendy: Books

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Felix Ever After (9780062820259): Callender, Kacen: Books

Abandon – Blake Crouch (for book club) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Abandon (9781503946194): Crouch, Blake: Books

Hellboy: Odd Jobs – Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola et. al. (anthology) (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Hellboy: Odd Jobs: Christopher Golden: 9781569714409: Amazon.com: Books

A Dark and Starless Forest – Sarah Hollowell (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Hellboy: Odder Jobs – Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola et. al.

Hellboy: Odder Jobs by Christopher Golden

Sisters of the Wolf – Patricia Miller-Schroeder (eARC)

Amazon.com: Sisters of the Wolf (9781459747524): Miller-Schroeder, Patricia:  Books

Hellboy: Oddest Jobs – Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola et. al.

Hellboy: Oddest Jobs - Kindle edition by Mignola, Mike, Various,  Christopher Golden. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. – Colleen Nelson (eARC)

Amazon.com: The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. eBook: Nelson, Colleen:  Kindle Store

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: A Dark and Starless Forest

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe it’s almost March…

Last week, I got approved for not one, but three eARCs (!!!) which are all loaded up on my Kindle at present. I recently got around to reading the first of the three, and I’m SO EXCITED to see it go out into the world! A Dark and Starless Forest is just the kind of diverse dark fantasy that we all need.

Enjoy this eARC review!

A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

A Dark and Starless Forest – Sarah Hollowell

Derry is one of eight magical lost children living in the woods. Though they are not related by blood, they all possess different types of magic, and they all live under the roof of their caretaker, Frank, who helps them hone their Alchemist abilities. But when Jane, the oldest of the siblings, goes missing in the dark woods beyond their home, Derry is determined that she’s still alive. As she tries to get to the bottom of Jane’s disappearance, she and her siblings confront dark secrets about their upbringing, and that their caretaker may not be the kindly man he makes himself out to be.

Spectacular Time-Lapse GIFs of Flowers Blooming

TW/CW: Death/disappearance of loved ones (siblings), fantasy violence, body horror, frightening situations

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I was intrigued by the premise of this one, but wow, I didn’t expect to be blown away as much as I was! A Dark and Starless Forest was such a rich and dark fantasy, and a page-turner in every sense of the word.

First off, I was so glad to see all of the representation in A Dark and Starless Forest! Derry, our protagonist, is plus-sized, and among her siblings, there’s several Black and Latinx characters, a nonbinary (they/them pronouns) character, a trans girl, and several Deaf characters; and beyond that, it’s implied that most of them (if not all of them) are queer, and two of them were confirmed to be on the asexual spectrum. It was such a joy to see such a diverse and unique cast of characters as the stars of the show in this novel, and I’m sure that I’ll be recommending this one to lots of people!

What also stood out to me was the unique relationship shared by all of the siblings. Most of them aren’t related by blood (save for two sets of twins), but they’re such a tight-knit community, in tune with each other’s comings and goings no matter what. Each of the characters had such distinct personalities, and there was clearly so much care put into each and every one of them. They were all so caring towards each other, and they stuck together until the end.

Beyond the characters, I loved the dark fantasy aspect of A Dark and Starless Forest! It’s more of an urban fantasy (real-world, but with fantasy aspects woven in), but there’s no shortage of gripping suspense and creepy plot twists. Without spoiling anything, there was definitely a sensibility about it that reminded me of some of the darker X-Men storylines, and I loved seeing how the story unravelled. (I guess the X-Men parallels go beyond that – the relationship that the siblings have is certainly akin to the denizens of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Mutant and proud.) Hollowell hits a perfect balance between showing the tender side of the siblings’ magic and showing the darker, more body-horror side to it.

At its heart, A Dark and Starless Forest is a story of sibling-hood, a story of resistance and uncovering hidden truths, and a story of sticking together against all odds. It’s a beautiful found-family story, and even though the ending was more bittersweet, it made me feel so warm inside at some points.

All in all, a dark but tender story of family and magic that’s sure to enchant so many readers. 4.25 stars!

yay allison! | Tumblr
* and one nonbinary sibling

Expected release date: September 14, 2021

A Dark and Starless Forest is Sarah Hollowell’s debut novel, but her work has also been included in The (Other) F-Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce anthology.

Today’s song:

OKAY LITTLE OBLIVIONS IS SO GOOD AND I PROMISE I’LL REVIEW IT SOON

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: The Brighter the Stars

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done an eARC review in a little bit, and it was nice to see this one pop up after I’d forgotten about requesting it. It was a quick read for me, but although there was clearly a lot of care put into the worldbuilding, much of The Brighter the Stars fell flat for me.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Image result for the brighter the stars bryan prosek

The Brighter the Stars–Bryan K. Prosek

At only twelve, Jake Saunders witnessed the murder of his uncle by Romalor, the tyrant of a distant world. His death shaped him for years, eventually leading him to the Legion, the intergalactic military. For years, he has sought revenge, but only now does he have the chance to avenge his uncle. But when Diane, an ambassador to Earth and a close friend to Jake, is captured, he must find a way to rescue her–and right the wrongs of the murderous Romalor.

Image result for space gif tumblr

TW/CW: violence, loss of a loved one

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and CamCat Publishing for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Wait, so we’ve got a protagonist who witnessed the murder of his Uncle Ben in his formative years? Wait a minute…[PETER PARKER INTENSIFIES]

(Kidding, kidding…)

Image result for spiderman gif

I always feel pretty bad giving more indie books low ratings. It’s hard to put yourself out there, and especially since this one has hardly any reviews or ratings on Goodreads as of now, it did pain me a little bit to give The Brighter the Stars a lower rating. But hey, I’m supposed to give an honest review here, and to be honest, this novel really wasn’t my cup of tea, even though I’m a huge fan of sci-fi.

Let’s start off with the positives. What stood out most to me about The Brighter the Stars was the worldbuilding; the author clearly put a lot of work into making a fleshed-out, intricate world, and for the most part, he succeeded. Although there were several instances where I felt like the information was being info-dumped, the futuristic world that Prosek crafted was one that felt very lived-in.

I also liked the dynamic between Jake, Cal and Diane. They had great chemistry together as a trio, and even though Jake’s and Cal’s personalities/voices were almost indistinguishable, I liked Diane’s character.

What bothered me most about The Brighter the Stars was the writing. It was often very choppy, with long clumps of sentences that were almost the exact same length. Within at least half of the paragraphs, most of the sentences seemed to start with the same word(s); this, combined with the lack of variation for the sentence length, made for a novel that didn’t really flow. I can usually just scan the pages if the sentences have differing lengths, but even the action sequences failed to flow. Additionally, the descriptions leaned quite a lot on telling instead of showing–there’s a whole lot of “was,” “[they] felt,” “[they] knew,” etc., which also contributed to the lack of fluidity throughout the story.

There’s an interesting combination as far as genres go; The Brighter the Stars is pretty hardcore sci-fi, but there’s some clear Western influences on it. (I really don’t know much about Westerns, so take this all with a grain of salt. I guess The Mandalorian was pretty Western-inspired, soooo…) There were quite a few nods to the latter throughout, and I did kind of like the desert/saloon planet, but plot-wise, it still felt quite flat. It was fast-paced, but everything felt far too easy for Jake (ex. beating the supposedly “unbeatable” fighter in the arena, another plot point that I won’t spoil). Now, I’m all for good triumphing over evil in the end, but there seemed to be little to no struggle for Jake to get over the obstacles in his path. He was definitely more of a Gary Stu-type protagonist, which…mmm, nope.

Overall, a sci-fi that clearly took time to create a fleshed-out world, but suffered from dry, choppy writing and unrealistically skilled protagonist. 2 stars.

Image result for meh gif

Release date: November 10, 2020

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Mortal Remains

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

Due to all the academic craziness that went on in October and November, I laid off on requesting any eARCs. But now that everything’s calmed down a little bit (right before it picks back up…please have mercy on my soul, future finals…), I requested a few more. This one came in recently, so I read it on my Kindle. And while it certainly had its flaws, Mortal Remains was a darkly funny paranormal tale!

Enjoy this eARC review!

Mortal Remains by Mary Ann Fraser

Mortal Remains–Mary Ann Fraser

High schooler Lily McCrae’s worked for the family business since she’s been old enough to work–she’s part of her family’s funeral home. She loves her job, but the funeral home may be going under. What’s more, her social life (if you could call it that) is disappearing quickly–her brother Evan is too busy polishing up his college applications, and Mallory, her only friend, has elected to spend time with a different crowd. Her only solace is in her clients–but they’re all corpses.

Lily’s life is further upended when a neighbor’s house is destroyed in an explosion, seemingly killing all inhabitants inside. But in the rubble, she discovers a bunker, and inside of that bunker is a boy. His name is Adam Lassiter, and he seems to have little memory of his past life.

Thing is, the Adam that used to live in the destroyed house went missing years ago. As Lily spends more time with him, she realizes that she may have opened herself into a complicated supernatural conspiracy with Adam at the center. And she might just be falling for Adam…

Edward scissorhands GIF - Find on GIFER
🥺
Edward scissorhands GIF - Find on GIFER
Because it would be criminal of me to not put these two GIFs together…

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Sterling Children’s Books for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Again, here we have an eARC that would have been the perfect read for October…

Mortal Remains was darkly funny at best and a bit sloppy at worst, but overall, it was a decent paranormal read.

Let’s start off with the good. The strongest aspect of Mortal Remains, for me at least, was the characters. Lily was a charmingly quirky protagonist, and the perfect character to drive the story. She had a very distinct voice and personality, and I loved all of her little mannerisms and attitudes towards working at the funeral home. Bits of her backstory (namely, the bullying she suffered in her early years of high school and the names she got called) weren’t terribly authentic, but I was able to brush that part aside. (I mean, what kind of high school bully calls somebody “Ghoul girl?”) However, I will say that Lily escaped the dreaded “Not Like Other Girls” trope; she was definitely a bit degrading of Mallory and the more “basic” crowd, but she reconciled it near the end of the book, which I appreciated. So we definitely dodged a bullet in that respect.

The synopsis on Edelweiss+ compared Mortal Remains to Edward Scissorhands (one of my favorite movies), and the comparison definitely showed through in Adam. Maybe a little…too much. Adam was charming to a point, but other than his backstory, I found him a tad bit bland. I liked his little outbursts in Latin, though. For me, at least, the twist about his origins and his backstory were a tad bit too similar to Edward Scissorhands, but it was different enough that it wasn’t plagiarism. The romantic subplot between him and Lily felt veeeeeeeeeeery forced, though. That really wasn’t necessary. Not that I don’t mind a romantic subplot every once in a while, but this one didn’t work for me. (Plus, there’s no way you can ever come close to Edward and Kim.)

The writing and plot were decent; it definitely feels like a YA debut, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing–it’s a good first try. There were sizable chunks between the 40-60% mark (I read this one on my Kindle) that felt like filler, and really didn’t contribute much to the story. The plot moved quickly, which was both a blessing and a curse; it lended itself to a story that kept me fairly hooked, but Fraser had the tendency to gloss over and understate some of the more climactic moments. There were definitely portions that could have been cut out (368 pages, so not too bad), but for the most part, it was somewhat compelling.

Even though Lily is supposed to be 18, Mortal Remains still reads like a novel on the younger teen spectrum of YA. And that’s not a bad thing at all–other than some dark elements, some mild swearing, and some violence, I really think this would be a great book for an 11-12 year old to get introduced to YA. The plot’s not too complicated, but it’s a bit more mature than your average children’s or MG book. So this would be suitable for a fairly wide age range, which I can’t necessarily say for a lot of YA books that I’ve read.

Overall, a darkly humorous paranormal YA that lacked in certain plot aspects and a believable romance, but boasted a unique heroine and a simultaneously lighthearted and spooky atmosphere. 3 stars!

Black and white johnny depp edward scissorhands GIF on GIFER - by Cosius

Expected publication date: February 2, 2021

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: All These Warriors (Monsters, #2)

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

After finishing All These Monsters recently, I remembered that I’d seen the sequel floating around Edelweiss. I finished and loved book 1, so of course I had to request book 2–and I was approved for it! I read it last weekend, and while it didn’t quite pack as much of a punch as book 1, it was still a decent conclusion to the duology.

Enjoy this eARC review!

WARNING: This review contains some spoilers for book 1, All These Monsters, so tread lightly!

For my review of book 1, click here!

Amazon.com: All These Warriors (All These Monsters) eBook: Tintera, Amy:  Kindle Store

All These Warriors (Monsters, #2)–Amy Tintera

Grayson St. John is dead. Julian has revealed his true intentions. And Team Seven is in shambles.

Without any leadership, Clara, Madison, Edan and the others are stranded in scrab-infested London, harboring a dark secret–scrabs are being trained in secret facilities, and if they fall into the wrong hands, they could become an unstoppable army. Scrambling for a foothold, Team Seven must beat the odds once more, facing not only the consequences of this revelation, but the pasts that they thought they’d left behind forever.

CrissColfer RPH — Below there are 50 gifs of ballroom dancing, as...

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

All These Warriors marks the end of the Monsters duology. It’s only been a week and a half since I read book 1, but I know that it’ll have a special place in my heart, what with a mixed race/Latinx protagonist and the best kind of monster fighting in YA. All These Warriors was a bit of a disappointing sequel, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it.

With everything that built up in book 1, I expected this duology to go out with a bang–and it certainly had the potential to, but didn’t quite hit the mark. Granted, it focused more on the human aspects than the monster-fighting that I enjoyed so much in book 1, so my mind was just going “haha monsters go brrrrrrr.” And while the aforementioned aspects were still just as well-written, it still made for a sequel that didn’t live up to the first book.

Let’s start off with the good stuff: just like in book 1, Tintera stuns with her authentic characters, and all of their individual developmental paths. I loved seeing Clara grow beyond who she was before and face her past traumas. There’s a lot of focus on the toxic relationship with Julian (EW), and Tintera does a great job of making me loathe him even more than I did in book 1, which is definitely saying something.

When He Couldn't Help but Tell the Truth | 25 Downright Brutally Honest  David Rose GIFs From Schitt's Creek | POPSUGAR Entertainment Photo 2
Me every time Julian showed up

All These Monsters had a lot of promise for a riveting, fiery conclusion, but personally, it ended up being a lot of scrambling all over the place, with some galas and scattered monsters in between. There were several instances that got me excited, but that ended up going out with a whimper and not the bang that I expected. Namely, there was an AMAZING plot twist about the origins of the scrabs (which I won’t spoil, for everyone’s benefit), and I was so excited to see the motive behind it, but it just…wasn’t resolved? It just floated there for a few pages and was never expanded upon further, which made me terribly sad. That was the most notable of said instances, but I feel like there were a few more.

And the ending? It wasn’t awful or amazing for me, it was just…there. It wasn’t quite satisfying, but I wanted a little bit more. I just wished that All These Warriors was on the level of its predecessor, but…sigh…

No Luke Skywalker GIF - No LukeSkywalker - Discover & Share GIFs

All in all, a sequel that didn’t live up to the stunning gem of its predecessor, but was entertaining all the same. 3.5 stars.

Rogue One Verge Of Greatness GIF - RogueOne VergeOfGreatness - Discover &  Share GIFs

Expected release date: July 13, 2021

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: All Our Hidden Gifts

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I don’t usually read seasonally (unless it’s Spooky Season, of course), and that wasn’t the reason that I requested this eARC, but I’m happy to say that All Our Hidden Gifts was a delightful read that’s perfect for this time of year! Though it wasn’t without its flaws, it was a sweet mix of paranormal fantasy, horror, and contemporary fiction.

Enjoy this eARC review!

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O'Donoghue

All Our Hidden Gifts–Caroline O’Donoghue

Maeve’s sentenced to cleaning out the closet for her in-school suspension, but she soon learns that the job might not be as boring as she thought it was.

When mysterious tarot deck turns up the closet, Maeve pockets it, learning everything she can about it so that she can put her cards to good use. Her readings soon become the talk of her Catholic school, and soon, she has customers lining up outside of the closet. But after Lily, her former best friend, draws an unknown card, she disappears days later, causing a commotion in their tight-knit community. With the help of Lily’s sibling Roe, Maeve must find the secret of this mysterious Housekeeper card before its repercussions spread beyond Lily’s disappearance.

Art Magic GIF by littlekingdoms - Find & Share on GIPHY

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Walker Book US/Candlewick Press for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

All Our Hidden Gifts had the feel of an 2000’s horror movie for a teen audience, but in the best way possible. There’s paranormal and high school drama in equal amounts, but O’Donoghue balances out both genres for a paranormal tale that teens are sure to love.

Let’s start off with my biggest complaint. I found the pacing to be rather inconsistent, especially when compared to the synopsis on Goodreads and elsewhere. The storyline with the tarot cards turned out to have less of the spotlight than I thought, and it seemed to go far too quickly–most of it was over by the time that I’d gotten a third of the way through the novel. However, the other story elements were enough to keep the novel afloat for the remainder, so it didn’t bog down the story as much as I thought it would.

Other than that, I don’t have too many complaints. O’Donoghue’s writing was fresh and cinematic, with all manner of fascinating twists and tense scenes. Even if you’re not familiar with the tarot, the story is gripping and the perfect kind of spooky, paranormal fun that you’d want to channel right around Halloween.

I didn’t get attached to most of the characters, but they were absolutely authentic; weirdly enough, I connected a lot with Lily, even though she wasn’t present for most of the novel. There’s also a lot of LGBTQ+/POC-friendly elements to the novel, most notably in Roe, who is genderfluid. So kudos for O’Donoghue for that! There’s also a prominent Filipina character as well.

All in all, All Our Hidden Gifts lacked a bit in pacing and lovable characters, but made up for some of it with a timeless blend of paranormal fun. 3.5 stars!

pendulum gif | Tumblr

Expected release date: March 30, 2021

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Things That Grow

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Whew, I’m so glad the school week’s over! I might not be able to do Top 5 Saturday tomorrow because I’ve got some studying to do…plus, I haven’t been able to come up with anything for this week’s prompt…🤣

Either way, I recently got this eARC, and right after finishing something as long and dense as Dune, this novel was just what I needed. Darkly humorous and full of heart, Things That Grow is a lovely piece of contemporary fiction.

Enjoy this review!

Amazon.com: Things That Grow eBook: Goldstein, Meredith: Kindle Store

Things That Grow–Meredith Goldstein

Grandma Sheryl was seventeen-year-old Lori’s whole world, her anchor when her absent mother wasn’t there to care for her. So when she passes away, Lori’s world is thrown off-center–not only is her beloved grandmother gone, but in her absence, she’ll have to move back in with her mother and start her senior year in Maryland, without her old friends and the peaceful life she led.

But Grandma Sheryl left Lori and her family one final mission–a list of four gardens to travel to and spread her ashes. Along with her uncle Seth and her best friend Chris, Lori sets off on a chaotic journey that will change her life–and the way that she sees her grandmother.

The Big Lebowski (1998) - Scattering Donny's Ashes GIF | Gfycat
This is exactly the kind of darkly hysterical vibe that the book gave off

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I really haven’t read much contemporary fiction lately; it’s one that I try to read frequently, but I always end up gravitating more towards sci-fi or fantasy. But Things That Grow reminded me of what happens when the genre is executed right–it tugged at all the right heartstrings and made me crack up at the same time.

This novel certainly tackles some heavy topics, grief being the most prominent of them. I expected it to be a more somber novel, but Goldstein imbues a grimly humorous aspect that had me cracking up every few pages. It struck the perfect balance between honestly addressing grief and its consequences and having moments of being comedic and lighthearted. This is my first exposure to Goldstein’s work, but I can already see her clever writing shining through.

The other aspect that I enjoyed the most was the characters. Lori, Seth, Chris and all the rest were such distinct and lovable characters, and they all had lovely chemistry–part of what made a lot of the jokes I mentioned earlier land. They were all so authentic and well-developed, and I loved delving into their individual stories. I loved Chris and Lori’s friendship–the romance seemed a bit half-baked at its worst times, but I loved their whole backstory with his art and her stories.

That being said, Things That Grow wasn’t without its flaws, certainly. The conflict between Lori and Seth was interesting in concept, but felt very rushed and poorly executed; we only get introduced to the plot line maybe…3/4 of the way through? After that, they touch on it once or twice before it’s too-neatly resolved. That certainly left something to be desired, but it didn’t take as much away from the novel for me.

All in all, Things That Grow was a memorable contemporary novel that hit just the right balance between serious and hilarious. 4 stars!

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Release date: March 9, 2021

Today’s song:

I haven’t listened to this in years…I haven’t even seen this movie, but this cover brings back so many memories… ;_;

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Two eARC reviews? In one week? It’s more likely than you think.

Everything about this graphic novel makes me wish that I’d read it in October. Whether or not you’re familiar with Mary Shelley, Mary is a spooky delight from start to finish.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Amazon.com: Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great- Great-Granddaughter (9781644420294): Grant, Brea, Li, Yishan: Books

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaugthter–Brea Grant and Yishan Li

Family legacies are always a chore to live up to. Just ask Mary, a surly girl who comes from a long line of women writers–starting with the one and only Mary Shelley, the mother of science fiction and the author of Frankenstein. But Mary has no intention of becoming a writer, despite her mother’s persistence. But she soon discovers that there’s more than one career runs in the Shelley family; not only was Mary Shelley a masterful writer, she also had the ability to heal monsters.

For the rest of her family, it’s a curse. But for Mary, it might present some new opportunities.

When a strange, pale boy shows up on her doorstep asking for aid, Mary must put her abilities to the test. With the help of Rhonda, her best friend (and proud witch), Shirley, a ghost trapped inside a stuffed bunny, and Polly, a disgruntled harpy, Mary must master her newfound ability–and pass all her classes, while she’s at it.

Art by Yishan Li

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Ingram/Six Foot Press for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Ever since reading Frankenstein freshman year, Mary Shelley has been something of a personal hero for me. So when I saw this graphic novel pop up on Edelweiss, I knew I had to at least take a chance on it. I was afraid that they might deal with the concept sloppily, but to my delight, Mary pulled out all the stops to make a darkly funny and spooky graphic novel!

Let’s start off with the art: SO CUTE! I loved Li’s art style, and it translated well to all of the people and the various strange creatures that we encounter throughout the story. I had no idea that she had previously worked on B.P.R.D., which got me so excited, not gonna lie. The muted color scheme also meshed flawlessly with the general atmosphere with the story.

I can’t stress enough how perfect it is that Mary will be released in October. It’s the perfect Halloween graphic novel, filled with all sorts of spooky goings-on–and more than a little goth. It simultaneously manages to be a lighthearted, fun story and a poignant tale of living up to family legacies, handling both with aplomb. The cast of characters was absolutely delightful; Mary was the perfect, angsty goth without being overly whiny, and I loved Rhonda, Shirley, Adam, and the rest of the gang. I especially loved Polly. Her lines always made me snicker.

All in all, Mary was a joy to read, with a lovable cast of characters and a poignant story–perfect for SPOOKY TIME! 4 stars!

Art by Yishan Li

Expected release date: October 6, 2020

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Jelly

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has been treating you well.

This eARC was one of several that I received about a week and a half ago, and it’s definitely a unique one. A bizarre and inventive twist on both your traditional survival story and post-apocalyptic dystopia.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Jelly by Clare Rees

Jelly–Clare Rees

Martha is stranded. Stranded, that is, on the back of an enormous jellyfish. She and several other people have been, in fact, for such a long time that the concept of time has all but escaped them. And despite many attempts to escape, they may be permanently stuck.

But land is in sight, and with it may come new opportunities. Will Martha and the others be able to get to dry land–and survive the trip?

155 Jellyfish Gifs - Gif Abyss - Page 8

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and ABRAMS/Amulet Books for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

At the present moment, Jelly has quite a low Goodreads rating–about 3.31. Though I thought it was decent, I really don’t think it deserves a rating like that. Even though the execution was largely flawed, this was a novel with such an inventive premise.

First off, LOOK AT HOW GORGEOUS THE HARDCOVER EDITION IS. It’s the edition that came on my eARC as well, and it’s just…so beautiful. I love all the vibrant colors!

Before I get to the positives, however, let’s start off with my major problem with this novel–the characters. There’s a wide cast of characters stranded on the gigantic jellyfish, and while Rees does a good job of keeping track of all of them, most of them were either caricatures, or not memorable at all. We got a few characters that boasted one (1) personality trait each (ex. James was obnoxious and immature, Kate was sensitive, Lana was snarky, Dr. Jones attempts to turn everything into a learning opportunity, etc.), but the rest had nothing that distinguished them from the others. Jelly is told from the POV of Martha, but by the end of the novel, we know next to nothing about her. So that aspect took away from my enjoyment of some of the novel. And beyond that, the humor of the comic relief characters fell flat more than not.

However, other than that criticism, this was a fascinating novel! I was instantly hooked by the premise of a survival story set almost entirely on the back of a giant jellyfish. Jellyfish are such fascinating creatures, and Rees deftly weaves bits of their biology into the story without info-dumping anything.

We later learn that the reason why it’s even possible for jellyfish to grow to such a size is due to them evolving to climate change; there’s even some other marine animals that have done the same–some species of crabs (now dubbed “kriks”) have crawled out of the sea, grown huge, and terrorized the human race, which is hinted to being part of the reason why humanity is nearly extinct in Jelly. There’s some interesting worldbuilding going on here, and it’s definitely the kind of cautionary tale we need about climate change and the rising oceans. (Stop climate change or the crabs will exact their revenge on us, kids!)

All in all, while Jelly lacked authentic characters/character development, it partially made up for it with a fresh and original concept. 3 stars!

Mila kunis that 70s show GIF on GIFER - by Medal

Expected release date: May 18, 2021

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!