Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Book Review: Nevermoor and Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend



Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1)

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #2)


Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart - an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests - or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.
Writing
Oh man. I couldn't love the writing in these books any harder.  They both got 5 star ratings from me on Goodreads and I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.  The author's style is whimsical and magical and just perfect for filling the Harry Potter void in your heart. I picked these up because of all the recommendations that compare it to good old HP (particularly Lauren and the Books on YouTube) and I was absolutely thrilled when the writing lived up to the hype.

Entertainment Value
Again, Harry Potter feels left and right. Don't get me wrong, this is its own distinct story and is certainly not derivative of JK Rowling's work.  I love that Townsend has her own unique style and voice, and the story stands on its own.  But the magical whimsy of the Harry Potter universe is felt here. Townsend's magic system of Wunder is, I would say, less traditional than others I've read.  I appreciate that she's developed her own thing and steers clear of witches and wizards to make something fully and uniquely her own.

Overall
I never ever read middle grade, so this was a stretch for me.  That said, I'm so glad I ventured out of my comfort zone for this series. I can't rave about it enough and I plan to force it down the throats of all my Reader Friends on every occasion I get.

**I read both of these books via my local public library before immediately purchasing copies for myself and my nephew**




Friday, February 1, 2019

What I Read in January 2019


January was a pretty slow month for me - I didn't read just a ton of books.  I'm definitely behind on my Goodreads challenge, but for now I'm not stressing over it.  I've read when I felt like reading and that's what I want for my reading life.  I've picked up cross-stitch as a fun new hobby and did Yoga With Adriene's yearly 30 day yoga challenge, although this year wasn't as successful as others have been due to a shoulder issue.  It was also my birthday month, and I spent a full week celebrating with my family and various friends.

On to the books!  Here's what I read:

It's All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot (a reread that I was somewhat disappointed in this time around)

Courage, Dear Heart by Rebecca K. Reynolds

On Being 40(ish) edited by Lindsey Mead

Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women by Sarah Bargiela

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton

Your Idea Starts Here by Carolyn Eckert

Women Talking by Miriam Toews (not released until April, so look for the review closer to time)

And that's it for the month of January.  Not my best month, but not a terrible month either. I'm reading several books at the moment and hope that February will have a few more on the list.  What did you read in January?

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Audiobook Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Last year I listened to and loved Big Little Lies (and watched and loved the TV show), so this year I made it a priority early on to get to Moriarty's latest book about nine strangers who are thrown together at a health spa with, shall we say, questionable health practices. It's one that's better to go into with as little information as possible, so I'll leave the summary at that.  

I can't say I enjoyed this one as much as Big Little Lies, which I found myself listening to compulsively, but I also didn't struggle to finish it.  I think it's a little bit longer than it needs to be - we could have done without quite so much back story on every single character, but then again, characterization is what Moriarty is best at.  

With twelve (I think?) points of view, there is a lot of jumping around in people's heads that can be a little bit overwhelming at times.  I'd find myself just starting to connect to a character when we'd jump to another character's point of view.  That may have been intentional, but I didn't love it.

I did enjoy the narrator quite a bit.  I appreciate that they had an Australian reader read an Australian set novel and I quite like the narrator's voice and intonation.  

Overall, I think if you're a fan of the author's this one is probably one you'll want to read, but be prepared for it to be long at times and to drag a bit in places.  I kept expecting it to get off the ground and the pace to pick up and it just never quite does.  That said, I loved the narration and didn't find myself avoiding it, even though I also didn't go to it as readily as I have others.

*Checked this one out from my local public library*

Monday, January 21, 2019

Book Review: The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton

From Goodreads:
For the twelve daughters of King Alberto, Queen Laurelia's death is a disaster beyond losing a mother. The king decides his daughters must be kept safe at all costs, and for the girls, those costs include their lessons, their possessions, and most importantly, their freedom.

But the sisters, especially the eldest, Princess Frida, will not bend to this fate. She still has one possession her father cannot take: the power of her imagination. And so, with little but wits and ingenuity to rely on, Frida and her sisters begin their fight to be allowed to live on their own terms.

The Restless Girls is a sparkling whirl of a fairy tale--one that doesn't need a prince to save the day, and instead is full of brave, resourceful, clever young women.

Writing
What a stunning read!  I was enchanted by this retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses, even reading a NetGalley copy without illustrations. I can only imagine how Angela Barrett's gorgeous drawing enhance the reading experience - but I plan on purchasing a finished copy so I will soon find out.  Burton does an excellent job of presenting a tale of female ingenuity, courage, and daring without making the book feel like a life lesson. I loved her style and characterization of the princesses, especially Frida.

Entertainment Value
Loved the experience and I can't wait to read it to my niece.  This will appeal to a large audience, adults as well as children.  It can be read in one sitting by an adult, but I feel like it would also make the perfect bedtime read aloud with a child, especially since it contains so much meat for discussion.

Overall
I highly recommend it and can't wait to purchase myself a copy so I can enjoy it with the illustrations as well!

*Review copy provided by NetGalley*

Friday, January 18, 2019

Book Review: Courage, Dear Heart by Rebecca K. Reynolds

From Goodreads:
Our world is chaotic and often feels dark and devoid of hope.

And it’s not just the headlines we see every day. Our relationships are broken. A loved one’s health is failing. We’re disoriented and restless and wrestling with fear. These things are the reality of living in a fallen world. But our God is over that world. He is present in the midst of the daily ache of life. He loves us in the midst of that ache.

In a series of eleven letters, Rebecca Reynolds writes to the lonely, the weary, the restless and afraid - anyone who feels the ache of our broken world and their broken life, and provides perspective and hope to find where God is in the midst of it.
Writing
This is just beautifully done.  I loved the style of addressing each chapter to a different category of sufferer and writing the chapters in the form of letters.  They are very personal and intimate and give you both a glimpse of the author and a reflection of yourself.  I could find pieces of myself in each letter and I think the author did a great job of shining a light in dark places that Christian authors may avoid at times.

Entertainment Value
Again, I just adored this book. My go to is to read a chapter of whatever Christian non-fiction I'm reading at the time each night, but I couldn't limit myself on this one to just one chapter.  I had to keep going.  I'm glad I had it on my Kindle and was able to highlight relevant portions because this is a book that begs for annotations.  I plan to get a print copy to reread and annotate further.

Overall
It's Christian non-fiction, which will limit the interest range for some, but for those who read the genre this one is a must-add to your TBR.

**A short note**
I've been gone from this blog for over a year and have probably lost a good deal of my readership.  HOWEVER, the blogging bug has finally struck me again and I'm planning (hoping) on being back around and posting my reviews here, whether or not anyone actually reads them.  I miss having that record of what I thought and how I enjoyed each book, so basically, hello again, Reader Friends, and hopefully this time I'll be sticking around!