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6/08/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Reviews, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Publication date: June 20th 2020
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 1984835920
ISBN13: 9781984835925

When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.

Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists—including her family and friends—are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.

Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne—if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.

With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?

I’m starting to write this review on the very same day that I finished this book, and holy shit. My mind is everywhere. I feel exceptionally (exceptionalish?) late to this book, since it came out last summer, and was apart of my July 2020 Owlcrate, but I’ve been slowly working my way through my backlog. When I saw a post on Bookstagram about it, and realized it sounded a bit like Across the Universe by Beth Revis—one of my favorite series of all time—it immediately jumped to the next spot on my reading list.

Let’s talk about the not-so-great part first. When Andra awakes, she finds a barren world, and a boy. That boy speaks English but the words are shortened and changed (for example, any of our words that end in -ly now end with -ish, and “marah” roughly translates to “Am I right?” and “evens” is “okay,” etc). It’s fairly simple to figure out, but it was painstaking in the beginning. I often read before bed and my eyes were crossing in the first 60-70 pages from trying to figure out the words. Thankfully, I found myself eventually able to do it without much thought. Side note, I love the lighthearted insult, “You spoon.” That’s a great one, lol. Once I was past the initial difficulty, I began to really appreciate the effort that it must’ve taken to create the language.

When Andra awakens, she finds herself on a dying world. Much of the book takes place under the bio’dome known as Eerensed, a city that is the last oasis left on the new planet. I can’t say too much about the setting without spoiling a good portion of the book, but I can say that the author did an amazing job of creating not only the barren world surrounding Eerensed but the city itself is no place I’d like to live. It’s crowded, claustrophobic, and unsafe. There’s multiple underground organizations bent on ridding the world of Andra and any other goddesses. And as we find out in the beginning, they already have gotten rid of others like her.

There’s multiple twists in this book that, quite frankly, I never saw coming. Obviously, to keep it spoiler-free, I can’t mention them, however it was these twists that really kept me reading. The plot is interesting on its own, don’t get me wrong. I just love a good twist and this book has at least three of them.

The next book, which is the conclusion (sad face), titled Devil in the Device comes out in August and you can’t bet your booty I’m picking it up. I’m actually quite sad that it won’t be out for another two and a half months because I just need to know what happens now. I highly recommend this book whether or not you’re a sci-fi fan but especially if you’re a fan of futuristic settings, space travel, and tech in books. It’s easily one of my favorite reads so far of 2021.

Currently Listening To: Ways to Disappear - Palisades

6/06/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Retellings, Reviews

Release date: May 4th 2021
Publisher: Flatiron Books
ISBN: 125077358X
ISBN13: 9781250773586

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

This was my May Book of the Month pick, after hearing about it from my friend Stacia on Instagram, instantly drawn to it because I had quite recently heard of Ariadne. I wasn’t particularly familiar with Ariadne’s story (honestly, I never went through that Greek mythology phase when I was a teenager) but I knew she was a figure within Greek mythology. Being that these myths favored men heavily and women were subjected to punishment for those men’s crimes (now, I do know the story of Medusa!), I was super excited to learn of a feminist retelling! So often, the stories of mythology just graze the surface, rarely explaining the excitement, the fear, the sadness, the joy the protagonists face on their journeys.

This is Jennifer Saint’s debut novel, and it’s an absolutely stunning one at that. I fell in love almost immediately with her beautiful lyrical writing, which carried through the novel, growing even better as the characters of Ariadne and Phaedra developed. I felt completely transported into the world of Ancient Greece, in all of its danger and beauty.

Can you call a plot unique if it’s a retelling? Again, I’ve never been familiar with Ariadne’s—nor Phaedra’s—story so each new turn, new betrayal, new twist, I felt entirely surprised. I grew quickly to despise Theseus, and to pity Ariadne. But I soon realized she didn’t need my pity at all. Despite all that is thrown at her, she never wavers in her commitment to do what’s right. I could really take a lesson about that from her, I think.

Naxos was an enchanting setting but I admit, at first, I was fearful that it would be Ariadne’s doom. As it grows and she learns its secrets, however, I found myself wanting to live there too, away from the harsh world. In the forest, where it’s lush and green, on the beach where she meets Dionysus, in the palace she lives in on Naxos. I was mesmerized by the rich detail and stunning descriptions.

Given that the story is well-known, I should’ve expected a less than happy ending but the book’s ending left me speechless. I can’t say I saw it coming, and I didn’t want to look up Ariadne’s story before reading, not wanting to be spoiled (can an ancient story be spoiled?) or lose the surprise. I greatly appreciate, however, that it was not changed for the sake of literature. There are few books where a main character dying wouldn’t cause me to immediately throw it out (looking at you, Veronica Roth) and this is one of them.

Knowing more now about Ariadne, I find myself totally in love with this book. I loved every second of it, and can’t wait be read from Jennifer Saint!

I have to say before I wrap this post up, that the very same day that I finished this book, Jennifer announced her next book is going to be Elektra and I know immediately what I’ll be picking up next spring!

Currently Listening To: Graveyard (Acoustic) - Halsey

5/25/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Adult Fiction, Historical, Reviews

Publication date: March 2nd 2021
Publisher: Park Row
ISBN: 0778311015 (US hardcover)
ISBN13: 9780778311010 (US hardcover)

Summary: Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

When this book came up as a selection for Book of the Month in March, it was an instant pick for me. Apothecaries, murders, and London? Sign me right the hell up. Not to mention that cover; absolutely gorgeous.

For me, this book was a quick read, both because of its length and the immediate investment I had in the fate of the characters, particularly Nella and Eliza. One thing I noticed quite glaringly is I cared little for Caroline or her involvement, while at the time understanding her purpose in the story. Something about her simply just… needled me. It seemed she loved to blame her bitterness on others rather than coming to terms with her responsibility in the matter. That, however, is my largest complaint about the story.

The London setting was richly atmospheric, especially Past London. I almost felt as though I was the one walking the cobbled streets. Even as Caroline’s present-day London vacation began with her stumbling around the Thames at low tide, I found myself planted firmly within the story. Nella’s shop, tucked away in a back alley, is illicit in her times but an incredible mystery in present day that I wish would’ve been explored more thoroughly in a way we could’ve seen.

The plot itself is fascinating and though I don’t know if this was the author’s intent, sounds strikingly similar to the murders carried out by Giulia Tofana in 1600s Italy. If you don’t know that tale, look it up immediately. I loved the way the story wove its way between the past and present, unraveling pieces of the mystery for the reader that Caroline would never get to know. There is a moment that connects the present and past together so perfectly, and it’s a moment I wish I could touch on without being spoilery, but it was the moment that cemented this book as one of my favorites (so far) of 2021.

Though I found the ending to be missing something very small—SPOILER which is that Nella’s fate should’ve been clearer—I absolutely loved this book. I would love to learn more of Nella’s past, whether in another book or short story, but one could only wish, right? This was Sarah Penner’s debut and it made me so eager to get to read more from her!

Currently Listening To: Euphoria - Angels & Airwaves Currently Reading: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

5/18/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Classics, Reviews, Special Editions

Special quote inserts are throughout the books

The Secret GardenBefore 2017, it was rare I ever went out of my way to get a collector’s or special edition of any book. A book is a book, after all, but thanks to Instagram, I found myself enamored with special editions. When OwlCrate began to do their own editions for the monthly boxes, I realized how special they were. Fast forward to now, my shelves are full of them. I would buy special editions of every one of my favorite books now, lol. My latest acquisitions are the Books-A-Million Seasons (Spring) editions of Emma by Jane Austen and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The jackets of those books are laser-cut with stunning artwork; for Emma, it features who else but Emma at its center, surrounded by trees, flowers, and picnic baskets, to name a few things, and for The Secret Garden, Mary discovering the garden is beautifully set against a magenta case. I was worried about the laser-cut being fragile but the publisher thought of this, including a removable plastic cover on top.

The books are quite solid, weighing almost two pounds each, which surprised me, given the length of The Secret Garden but as they say, I really do like big books! When I was taking the photos for this post, it took a while to figure out how to hold them and it was impossible for me to hold both up at the same time. Just a blogger things ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

One of my favorite things about these editions is that they’re numbered. Personally, it’s never been a huge thing if a book is numbered; it doesn’t affect my reading nor my collector experience. But it’s an added touch to these editions, as the back card explains they’re each limited to 10,000 copies and individually numbered. On the front endpapers, you can write your name or add your personal library stamp in a special spot provided.

There's something satisfying about the number 8,848 My Emma is number 3,075

Everything a collector could possibly desire is packed into these special editions. There’s a ribbon bookmark or under the info card, they included a laser-cut bookmark which gorgeously compliments the books. The one included with my copy of Emma was surprisingly a little burnt but I didn’t actually notice it at first and it probably should be expected, given that they use a whole laser to cut paper, lol. At first, the editions do seem expensive, priced at $34.99, and if you’re not a collector, they probably are, but the quality is superior for what you get out of these very special books. They’re meant to be put on display and are on par with the popularity of custom editions that so many companies seem to be doing these days. There are two other books in the Spring edition I did not pick up: The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. If you’d like to order a copy of either of these Books-A-Million exclusive editions, click here for Emma and here for The Secret Garden.

Books-A-Million also has Summer editions available for purchase and preorders are open for Fall editions! I’m for sure going to need The Wonderland Collection and Dracula. I mean, I’m absolutely obsessed with the latter. To see more pictures of these beautiful editions, head over to my Instagram.

Currently Listening To: Die For You - Starset