The Diviners – By Libbra Bray

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Goodreads Synopsis: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

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There is so much hype for this book, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was getting into.

The Diviners starts out really well, the setup for the main plot is spooky and forces you to keep reading the next page.  Then you get to the main story, and the world-building is amazing.  Every time I picked up this book I felt like I had been whisked away to the 1920’s and it was magical. This book really gave me a love for the time period.  The slang, the descriptions of clothes and drinks, everything was so well done. I also liked that this book didn’t brush over the racism and sexism of the time.

The characters are really great as well. When I was reading reviews for the book I saw that a lot of people didn’t really like Evie, but I loved her.  She can be selfish a lot, but I felt that flaw made her real.  I loved her zest for life, her love of partying and having a good time. I felt like a lot of people in the book wanted to change that part of her, but I wasn’t sure I wanted her to change. Though of course I did like that she came to terms with how selfish she was, and wanted to make a change for the better.

Mabel, was a pretty great character for the most part. I liked her backstory of coming from a family that cared more about rallies and ideals than her, it made me sympathize a lot with her.  There were sometimes however that I thought she was boring as hell. She really needed to relax more and have fun with Evie.  I loved Theta’s character, I wanted to hear more of her story. Maybe she’ll play a bigger part in the second book?  Jericho was super boring, it felt like he did nothing the entire time.  Sam also felt like he only came in and out of the story when he was needed. Memphis was the only male character that actually felt real, and I can’t wait to see what happens with him in the next book.

There were some things I did dislike.  The romance between Evie and Jericho felt like it came out of nowhere. Not only was it rude of Evie to start up things with him, considering she knew how much Mabel liked him. But also Evie and Jericho had zero chemistry, it felt so forced. I honestly didn’t think a love interest had to be included, and I was disappointed when it was. Though Evie and Theta could have made an adorable couple.

Towards the end I started to feel like the book was a little long, and I just wanted to get to the conclusion.  The Diviners definitely could have been a 100 pages shorter. Also once I got to the ending, I felt like it was a little too easy for them.  It’s one those ending where I’m really not sure how to feel about it.

That all said I gave The Diviners four stars on Goodreads and I already have the second book ready and waiting for me to read it.

The Blue Castle – By L.M. Montgomery

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Goodreads Synopsis: Valancy Stirling is 29, unmarried, and has never been in love. Living with her overbearing mother and meddlesome aunt, she finds her only consolation in the “forbidden” books of John Foster and her daydreams of the Blue Castle–a place where all her dreams come true and she can be who she truly wants to be. After getting shocking news from the doctor, she rebels against her family and discovers a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams. 

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Since L.M. Montgomery was a Victorian era writer I was interested to see how her works have aged, and was pleasantly surprised by this story.

The Blue Castle is about a woman whose lived her whole life doing exactly what her family and society tells her to do. She takes care of her mother and aunt, who are both rude and at times emotionally abusive to her. But after being told by a doctor that she’s going to die within a year she realizes that she has to take control of her life and do the things that make her happy.

I loved this story. Valancy’s rebellion against her family was exactly what she needed to do, and I enjoyed watching her character grow throughout the story.  I have always loved Montgomery’s writing, the prose and the way she describes woods and land and places is just stunning.  I was also pleased by this strangely feminist (for it’s time) story.  Montgomery does not believe her family knows what’s best for Valancy, especially since they’ve never taken the time to actually get to know her.  There’s no moral at the end of this story either.  Valancy’s path takes her to happiness, even if she had to hurt some people along the way.  I also loved that Montgomery showed the blatant hypocrisy shown by Valancy’s family.

All in all I enjoyed this story and would read it again. I gave it four stars on Goodreads.

The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi – By Maria Turtschaninoff

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Goodreads Synopsis: Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Thirteen-year-old novice Maresi arrived at the Abbey four years ago, during the hunger winter, and now lives a happy life under the protection of the Mother. Maresi spends her days reading in the Knowledge House, caring for the younger novices, and contentedly waiting for the moment when she will be called to serve one of the Houses of the Abbey.

This idyllic existence is threatened by the arrival of Jai, a girl whose dark past has followed her into the Abbey’s sacred spaces. In order to protect her new sister and her own way of life, Maresi must emerge from the safety of her books and her childish world and become one who acts.

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I picked this book up on a whim, just because I liked the cover, and it was such a good choice!  You know that feeling when you just accidentally stumble on a gem of a book and feel in your heart that the book gods are smiling on you? Yeah that’s the feeling I have right now. 😀

The Red Abbey Chronicles toes the line between middle grade and YA, our main character is after all only 13.  Maresi is a delightful character, and I fell in love with her right away. Actually I fell in love with everything right away.  The way the story is written is simple and easy to read. The world of the Abbey is magical. Maresi’s connection to her fellow novices was beautiful. I loved how they all worked together so well.  And this book has the added bonus of having amazing food descriptions!

If you’re looking for a fast read, with powerful female leads, this book is for you. I gave it four stars on Goodreads and I can’t wait to read the next book in this duology.

We Are Okay – By Nina LaCour

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Goodreads Synopsis: Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. 

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We Are Okay is one of my favorite types of stories. I love books about relationships, books with beautiful writing, and books were all the emotions of the characters feel as real as my own.

The story follows Marin whose going through some hard times in life, she’s moved away from her home to go to school and she hasn’t talked to anyone she used to know.  Right away I felt like I could sympathize with her because I’ve known what it feels like to just want to run away and never look back.  As I read more I found the rest of the characters to be understandable and relatable as well. Mabel is such a great friend, and I loved how she never gives up on Marin, even when she’s hurt and angry at Marin.  The character of the grandfather was also adorable, sweet and the plot twist with him and Marin was heartbreaking.   I was sucked into the story from page 1. And even though I was able to guess some of the ending, I was never pulled out of the story by my guessing.

I throughly enjoyed reading We Are Okay.  I gave it four stars on Goodreads, and I totally recommend it to you all.

Has anyone else read We Are Okay? I’d love to discuss it in the comments! 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One – By Amanda Lovelace

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Goodreads Synopsis: “Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

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repeat after me:
you owe
no one
your forgiveness.

– except maybe yourself.

Yes, this book did live up to every bit of the hype. The Princess Saves Herself in This One was an emotional read for me. I didn’t expect it to be so much about surviving abuse and death and grief.  At times it was hard to read, but I loved it from page one.  The rawness spoke to me so deeply.  Sick & Bone was one of my favorite of the poems in this collection.

I loved this book so much, and I’m not sure what else there is to say about it. It’s beautiful, it’s full of truth, it’s a roar of defiance and self-love.  Definitely read it, buy it, give it your best friends.  I gave this book four stars on Goodreads.

A Clash Of Kings by George R. R. Martin

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Goodreads Synopsis: Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

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Second book in the series read! Only 5 more to go. 🙂

How does one review a book like this? There’s just so much that happens, so many characters, so many surprises and twists. I just don’t even know where to start.

The stakes are definitely getting higher in this next book. We now how have five different people fighting for the throne in King’s Landing. Robb in the North, Renly and Stannis (brothers of Robert) Joffery Baratheon/Lannister and of course the Mother of Dragons. One thing I can say about this book is I’m a much bigger fan of Daenerys in the books than in the TV show. I like being able to see into her head, see her self-doubts, her mind that’s still so young. I love that she struggles. I always felt in the TV show that she never really struggled and that was annoying.

Tryion still remains my favorite character. His wit and intelligence made his chapters go by fast, and they were always funny as well.  Although an interesting change between the TV show and the book is the difference in his mistress’ character. Shae is much more badass in the TV show, she’s intelligent and doesn’t put up with anybodies shit.  Shae in the book feels less like this and more just happy to be with Tryion because he’s rich.  I did like Shae in the show.

At this point I still haven’t decided who I want to win the Iron Throne. Robb could be a good king if he wasn’t so young. Stannis is a jerk and although he would be a fair king, would he make a good king? Renly is too self-centered to do any good. Joffery needs to die asap. And Daenerys doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into, she’s had no training to be queen, and yet she has a strong sense of justice.

In the end I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.  Who were you rooting for in the second book?