2020 Could Use a Miracle

“It is known that those who join the Wretches shed their old skin, forgetting what came before. But sometimes, in the darkness, I remember.”

The Court of Miracles, Kester Grant

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Knopf Books in exchange for an honest review.

★★★★

The Court of Miracles was fantastic! I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, especially at the start. Even though I didn’t go into reading this as a Les Mis fan, I felt I had to at least watch the movie to compare. The Court of Miracles is a re-telling that captured the spirit of the revolution with the perspective of a lesser-known character at the forefront… plus magic 🙂

The beginning of the book started off slow, but was totally worth the wait. Time sort of skips along as the book goes on and Nina develops her many gifts along the way. Her fierce protection of Cosette is a true suspense-builder and so sincere. Kester’s system of characters is so descriptive and magical, yet not overly complex.

I felt so invested in Nina’s journey that I’m still thinking about the story even though I finished the book a few weeks ago. I could tell that the author did a lot of research in order to create such an imaginative world.

I can’t wait for the sequel and really couldn’t recommend this book more. Let me know what you guys think of it as well! I’m curious to hear your opinions once it’s released.

Shorefall Sure Fell Short

“All things have a value. Sometimes the value is paid in coin. Other times, it is paid in time and sweat. And finally, sometimes it is paid in blood.

Humanity seems most eager to use this latter currency. And we never note how much of it we’re spending, unless it happens to be our own.”

Robert Jackson Bennett, Foundryside

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review.

★★

I was SO excited to get this ARC for two reasons. One, because it would give me a reason to read Foundryside (it had been gathering dust on my bookshelf), and two, the fabulous cover.

Unfortunately, I found Shorefall to be seriously lacking. The digressive plot seemed to scope further backward into the self-referential, while the characters seemed stagnant in this ever-widening world. I could be biased because Foundryside was a chore to read, and thus totally against it from the start. Then again, it’s also because Foundryside’s most redeeming quality was the friendship developing between Sancia and Clef, which was missing in Shorefall.

Where the first book had some interesting world and character building, this one had none. The characters were dull and uninspiring and it made the book near impossible to finish. The magical system so unique and fun but the author described it at SUCH length in this book that I’m thoroughly burnt out on it.

Shorefall is bloated in length and in plot, but will I read the 3rd installment of the Founders Trilogy? Probably. Something in me is hoping for another glimmer of Foundryside.

The Age of Escapism

“To me, a witch is a woman that is capable of letting her intuition take hold of her actions, that communes with her environment, that isn’t afraid of facing challenges.”

– Paul Coelho

A special thanks to NetGalley and Redhook Publishing for a free digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

★★★★

Set in the late 1800’s, independent teen, Annis, is due to marry – and she want nothing to do with it. She comes from a long line of witches, including a mother who uses her powers to try to force Annis into marriage and an aunt who takes her under her magical wing. The Age of Witches is a beautifully written tale of female and family struggles that was a delightful escape to read.

What I liked:
○ Strong female characters!
○ Immersive and direct writing style.
○ Concept – witches, women, magic – what’s not to like?
○ Once the pace picked up, I was hooked.
○ History was well-presented.
○ If there were to be a sequel, I’d definitely read it 🙂

What I didn’t like:
○ Like a lot of reviewers, I found the pacing of the book to be very slow.
○ The dialogue was cheesy and predictable at times.
○ More for fans of historical fiction/romance than magical realism or paranormal fantasy.

⅓ of 2020 Behind Us, I’ll Give It 3 Stars

“Humans are strange. They value punishment because they think it means their actions are important—that they are important… it’s vanity.”

-Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs

Considering that it’s ​13 of the way through the year and I am ​13 through my annual reading challenge, I thought I’d give an update. You’d think I’d have all the time in the world and be reading my life away… and I do, but I’m not.

Lately I’ve been slowly chipping away Foundryside, a steampunk sci-fi fantasy by Robert Jackson Bennett (​13 of the way through!). I decided to crack it open after NetGalley and Random House Publishing sent me an advanced reading copy of it’s sequel, Shorefall. Oddly enough, I’ve had a used copy of Foundryside sitting on my bookshelf for months, and I’m glad I did.

Stay tuned for my review – its a little too soon for me to form an opinion yet. What I will say is that, regardless of it previously gathering dust on my shelf, I am very pleased (so far) with Bennett’s world-building and magic system. (And how cool is that cover?)

Working from home has been a challenge in itself so I’ve given myself reading “assignments” to complete as a distraction. Turns out, assignments and deadlines make things a lot less fun! My introverted, book-loving self has found quite a bit of enjoyment in this quarantine. Despite this, I’m really not a deadline person. Being creative in the kitchen, organizing, and watching A LOT of bad TV has filled my spare time.

It’s been hard not to try to distract myself during this weird time. I’m one of the lucky ones. Working from home, healthy, and content with not going anywhere or seeing anyone for weeks on end. Still, I’ve been letting my mind wander freely away from reality. Away from the news, from how much I miss my family, from the lack of socializing. Distractions like reading and writing are helpful and keep my mental health on track.

Why do I make myself feel guilty for not reading my allotted daily chapters? Who knows! Since I’ve been taking it easy in every other way, I’ve decided to do the same for my reading. Books are my passion and my all-around favorite thing and I must find enjoyment in them again before my brain turns into a lumpy potato.

Maybe this week I’ll read another 13 of Foundryside, or maybe not. All I know is that I aim to finish it… eventually. Again, stay tuned for my review and a further update about what I have in store for the next 13 of 2020.

Grand Disaster

“On an ancient ley line, deep within Vermont’s dark forests, lives a mysterious and frightening secret…
A forbidden door to a world beyond human perception.
And three hunters are about to become the hunted.”

From Goodreads
Grand Masquerade: A Supernatural Suspense Novel by Stephen Perkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


★★
The Grand Masquerade is an intriguing suspense novel that, at first, was very entertaining.

What I liked:
○ The cover!
○ The introductory events. The book started off like an episode of X-files. You’re thrown into an eerie landscape with an ominous cloud of the supernatural hanging over each paragraph.
○The setting. The author sets up each chapter with its own detailed sights, sounds, smells. You can really picture what the character what experiencing.

What I didn’t like:
○ The flowery language. While the descriptors were often interesting, it felt as if it was dragging on and on.
○The character development. Each character had the same manner of speaking (again, too many adjectives) and it was hard to tell them apart.
○The plot. The author drew me in in the beginning, but I found the story to be less and less believable as it went on.

All in all, this book was not what I thought it was and was hard to get through.

Thank you to NetGalley and Star Born Publishing for the advanced reading copy.



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Escapism in the Time of COVID-19

“It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death: ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.”

Gabriel García Márquez

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


★★★★★
Like cholera (or coronavirus), Márquez has shown us that lovesickness is a plague of its own. Though I preferred One Hundred Years of Soluitude, Love in the Time of Cholera is a superbly powerful love story. A copy of the book was given to me years ago and the recommendation to finally read it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. It has helped to beguile some of the time I’m stuck indoors and I’m pleased to have spent part of it in Márquez’s world of longing and magic.

There is so much to be said for this classic. For now, a few of my favorite passages:

“He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”

“She was a ghost in a strange house that overnight had become immense and solitary and through which she wandered without purpose, asking herself in anguish which of them was deader: the man who had died or the woman he had left behind.”

“She would defend herself, saying that love, no matter what else it might be, was a natural talent. She would say: You are either born knowing how, or you never know.”

“Always remember that the most important thing in a good marriage is not happiness, but stability.”





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About Carly :)

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Carly is a twenty-something book reviewer from Michigan with a passion for finding adventure in your local library. Focusing mainly on fantasy, she also enjoys YA, paranormal, supernatural, graphic novels and anything mystical, magical or esoteric.

While a home full of books of the ever-popular Instagram aesthetic is pleasing to the eye, Carly prefers the atmosphere of the library. The #bookstagram community can be intimidating to those who can’t afford a plethora of rainbow-shelved tomes, nor is it very green-friendly. Library cards are accessible to all and Carly is pleased to share her #libraryreads and reviews.

You can find her reviews here on her blog, as well as Goodreads, with features on her Instagram.