Book Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Dear Bookworms,

It Ends with Us: A Novel
By Colleen Hoover

All the feels this week guys, all the feels. So I blindly chose this read to fulfill my reading challenge prompt of “A Goodreads choice awards winner”. I perused Goodreads lists, as one would, and the cover caught my eye. I saw that it was a romance, which I don’t tend to gravitate towards regularly (my experience with romance novels consists of 50 Shades of Grey) but it obviously was well liked being a Goodreads winner and all so I just went with it.

It was not what I was expecting AT. ALL. In all the best/worst ways.

Lily Bloom grew up watching her father beat her mother. She hated him for it and even hated her mother at times for staying all those years. She finds a kindred spirit in Atlas Corrigan, abused and hurt by his own family and now living in the abandoned house behind Lilys. The two connect over their shared history of violence and soon develop a deep and unwavering bond, her first love, until Lilys dad almost kills him.

Lily finishes highschool, then college, and settles herself into a life in Boston, Atlas left firmly in the past. Her father has since died, and on the night of his funeral, meets a handsome neurosurgeon, Ryle Kincaid, fighting his own inner demons. Through chance and circumstance, the two find themselves embroiled in a steamy romance. When things start to get serious with Ryle, Lily runs into Atlas again in Boston, opening a floodgate of emotions.

Ok, so let me just say, this is not your typical romance. Or maybe it is? I don’t know, I don’t read much of it, but it was not what I was expecting at all. Here I was thinking it would be a “who’s-she-gonna-choose-insert-steamy-love-scenes-swoon-the-end” type of book. While yes, there are some great love scenes (let me emphasize the GREAT) but there was a depth and heaviness to the book that left me shook. There are some graphic depictions of domestic violence and rape which while unsettling was neither overly done nor gratuitous. It was necessary and raw. It was a well written insight into the mind and emotions of victims of domestic violence which really gave me such a better understanding of the cycle.

5 star rating for It Ends With Us- don’t let its categorization of “romance” scare you away, it was so much more, and so much deeper than I was thinking it would be!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!


Book Review: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Dear Bookworms,

Another killer read from Ruth Ware! (check out my review of her debit novel, In a Dark Dark Wood here!)

When a text comes through to Isa Wilde in the middle of the night, three simple words, her entire life is turned upside-down.

“ I need you”

A human body was discovered on the marsh and with it, long ago buried truths are coming to light. With these words, Isa is whisked, both literally and figuratively, back to the idyllic town of her youth where she spent one fateful semester at a boarding school. Something terrible happened, leaving Isa and her three friends to pick up the pieces. This twisty turny thriller leaves you wondering who is lying, who is telling the truth, and unsure of who can be trusted.

What a wild ride! First of all, I want to highlight the fact that I listened to his one on audiobook and the reader, Imogene Church was, in a word, phenomenal. She brought so much life and feeling into Wares words it just added that extra layer of personality and suspense to the story. And speaking of words, Ware is a master with them. Rich with imagery, her words paint such a robust and full scene from beginning to end. Every detail, feeling, nuance is captured so perfectly and vividly. In true thriller fashion, Ware has a way of parceling out her information to the readers just enough to fill our heads will all sorts of theories, only to have them dashed and second guessed with the next chapter.

Solid read, one I highly recommend to all my fans of a good thriller. Ware has secured her place on my auto buy list and will gladly gobble up anything she puts out!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!


Book Review: The Apothecary's Poison by CJ Archer

Dear Bookworms,

Back this week with book 3 in the Glass & Steele Series and OH. MY. GOD. So many feels right now guys! That ending?! How can you end it on such a cliffhanger and why was I silly enough to not order the next in the series BEFORE I was on the last few chapters?! Rookie mistake...

A local doctor has been murdered, poisoned in fact, shortly after Matt and India paid him a visit to inquire about a recent "miracle" that had occurred and was reported on in the local papers. As Matt and India were some of the last people to see Dr. Hale alive, they are suspects in his murder. In an effort to help clear their names, the two embark on their own investigation to find the real killer. As they discover that he was murdered with an elixir infused with magic, the two investigate the apothecary's guild, customers, and business partners alike. Suspects are piling up, and Matt and India find themselves in increasingly dangerous situations as someone tries to get them to back off the investigation. The two must race the clock (quite literally as Matt has yet to locate the mysterious Chronos to fix his life giving watch) and locate the real killer before they are taken in by Scotland Year or worse, murdered by the real killer. 

Holy geez guys. This series continues to grow and expand in ways that leave me an insane reading machine, tearing through chapters with abandon. The Matt/India relationship is literally KILLING ME. I will seriously spontaneously combust if this next book doesn't have them communicating their feelings. And fracking Miss Glass! Can you please just give India your blessing already and cut it out with the "you have to marry into society crap"?! You're killin me smalls! They compliment each other so well and their loyalty and devotion to one another is so apparent. Stupid high society London....

I enjoy watching these two work cases together and I can see the beginning to a great segue into a career for the two of them together. They are both smart and clever, balancing out each others shortcomings and drawing on each others strengths to make a pretty dynamic duo. As far as the plot, the plethora of suspects kept my wheels turning and there was no lack of action in this book. Our main characters were placed in plenty of heart stopping (some quite literally) situations which left me sweaty and anxious. You know that's some good writing when you feel physical symptoms after an intense scene.

I suppose I will now be forced to stalk my mailbox as I anxiously await the delivery of book 4! With that shocking cliff hanger I would suggest just going ahead and buying the next one before you start this one! 

Until next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

 

Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Dear Bookworms,

I think this one may just make it onto my year end list of best books!

Beartown: A Novel
By Fredrik Backman

In the small forest town of Beartown, hockey is king. This rural Swedish town lives and breaths the sport; adults and kids alike. With a formidable team lead by a truly remarkable star, Kevin, the town thinks it may actually have a shot at winning the finals and putting themselves on the map nationally. With a national win, the sponsorship’s would roll in, breathing new life into Beartown, a truly life changing dream. After an incredible win in the semi-finals, a celebratory party gets out of hand leaving one teen girl the victim of a horrible crime, and the alleged perpetrator is none other than the towns hero, Kevin. Lines are drawn and sides are taken as the town battles within itself. Some will go to any lengths to protect their star, the team, and by extension, the towns promise of growth and success.

You guys, please, READ. THIS. BOOK.

This was a heavy read and I for sure am having to move on to some more light hearted fantasy or something after this because my god. Backman does a phenomenal job of really setting up the plot in this novel. The entire first half is character development and set up; which may sound like too much but trust me, Backman keeps it engaging. The reader gets a real grasp on the various characters (there are quite a few), fleshing them out in such a way as to where you can see out of their lens as they each learn of “the incident” (it’s honestly not really a huge shocker and is foreshadowed numerous times so I’ll just say it, SPOILER, the young girl was raped) and their subsequent reactions. The town as a whole, its past, history, and culture which is so entrenched in the hockey lifestyle, gives the reader such an in depth look at how a sexual assault by the towns hero could be handled in the way it eventually was. So many relevant themes were woven into this story, victim shamming, rape culture, toxic masculinity, all very eloquently portrayed and executed. 

This story could be one of millions of girls/women’s stories. In fact, at the time that I was reading this book, the Kavanaugh hearing was taking place. I could not (still can not) open up my Facebook, Twitter, online news articles without running into a wall of commentary so eerily similar to the arguments in the book. “Why did she wait so long to report it?” “She was drinking, and went with him upstairs, what did she think would happen?” “She’s just confused”. It was angering and disheartening but so relevant and timely. 

Fantastic read that I cannot recommend enough. I plan on reading the companion novel, Us Against You (after I read a few fantasy books- I need a break after such a heavy read in-conjunction with an also heavy news cycle). 

Heatwrentching and deep, this is a must read for all.

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Essence of an Age by Lydia Redwine

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

While I am not a poetry connoisseur by any means, I will say I really enjoyed this one!

Essence of an Age is a collection of poetry relating to growing up. That conflicting and emotional time in which one sheds their innocence to move on into the world of adulthood. It is evident that this collection is deeply personal to the writer; it is raw, heartfelt, and sometimes dark but always bears a relatable honesty that is striking and memorable.

A short read, at only 9,400 words it is one you will remember. Here are a few of my favorite passages:

“Her softness is powerful, like the whispering winds sending warnings down chimneys”


“The princess and the dragon. The prince climbs through the window, and sees the princess with the dragon. A thousand questions drop from his mind, like his jaw to the floor. “Why is she laughing?” “Why is it that the princess and the dragon are best friends?” He forgets to ask: Why was the princess locked up in the first place?”

Definitely check this one out if you are fans of poetry- or if you’re like me and new to the poetry scene- you guys give it a try too!

Hop over to Lydias website and check her out!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco


The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Dear Bookworms,

I chose this read to satisfy my "true crime" prompt on my 2018 reading challenge. 

The late 1800's was a time of immense progress and innovation, and nothing embodied that sense of change and growth quite like Chicago at the behest of The World's Fair. A feat of architectural and scientific genius, it put the young architect, Daniel Burham on the map as one of the most well known architects of his time, possibly in history. While Chicago grew by leaps and bounds another, more sinister force was at work. HH Holmes, the handsome young doctor, put down roots in Chicago and used its booming population as a hunting ground to satisfy his deepest fantasies; torture, murder, and human dissection. Two men, one city, during the turn of the century making Chicago (in)famous for two very different reasons.  

I'll just start off with the negatives here. I didn't realize there would be SO MUCH about Burnham and the planning, building, and running of The Worlds Fair. While some parts were interesting and engaging, on the whole, it was dull, lengthy, and not so much fun to read. I had assumed the book would primarily focus on the life and crimes of HH Holmes (known as Americas first serial killer) which was a far more fascinating story in my opinion. If you are a fan of non-fiction- the Burnham story-line may be the thing for you, but for me, I could have done without. 

That being said, I gobbled up all the chapters about HH Holmes. It was a really comprehensive look into his life and day to day goings on. His level of psychopathy was chilling while at the same time fascinating. I would have much preferred the book to solely focus on his story line. 

Overall I would still consider this a good read and recommend it to all my fans of true crime and nonfiction alike. 

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Mapmakers Apprentice by C.J. Archer

Dear Bookworms,

*Insert dramatic fangirl squeal and flailing here*

Utterly obsessed with this series and cannot read them fast enough!

Book two in the Glass & Steele series picks up right after book one. At the request of Commissioner Munro, Matt and India have been tasked with finding the whereabouts of a missing mapmakers apprentice (also the Commissioners illegitimate son). The young man, Daniel, recently showed exceptional skill and aptitude at his trade as a mapmaker, and had recently commissioned the sale of a custom map to an unknown buyer, something practically unheard of for a young apprentice of only a few weeks. Matt and India begin to suspect that magic is in play when they begin to investigate. Daniel was a magical mapmaker and all signs point to his magic being a main factor in his disappearance. Matt's health is still failing, and the crew continue to look for clues as to the whereabouts of the mysterious Chronos. Can they find the missing boy before it's too late? And can any headway be made into fixing Matts timepiece as it continues to dwindle in power?

Another amazing read by C.J. Archer! This one was filled with the same interesting and complex plot line, action packed adventure, and deepening bonds between characters. I really enjoyed learning about another guilds (Mapmakers Guild) relationship with magic and how it can be harnessed and utilized. The sleuthing pair, Matt and India, continue to develop their budding relationship in an almost maddening game of "will they wont they". I can only hope the agony of waiting will be worth it because these two are meant to be! (I have a sneaking suspicious it's going to be GLORIOUS! Hence me tearing through the series so quickly). This one definitely kept me guessing and my heart racing, the entire book! Again, the supporting characters, Cyclops, Willie, and Duke were crucial elements of such an enjoyable read as were their loyalty and burgeoning relationships with India. 

Moving on to the next in the series now, stayed tuned for more!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Merlin Saga 3 The Raging Fires by T.A. Barron

Dear Bookworms,

Back again with the next installment of the Merlin Saga!

When the long sleeping dragon, Wings of Fire, is awakened and threatens to destroy the entire land of Fincarya, Merlin is tasked with defeating him to restore peace and order. Merlin is still developing and learning his skills and talents with magic and an ancient prophecy predicts his demise if he faces the dragon in battle. Filled with trepidation, Merlin sets off to locate the dragon and defend the land he now calls home.

Along the way Merlin encounter other lethal foes, fiercely determined to provide him with a disadvantage against the dragon, and some worse, kill him outright. Merlin must face not only formidable foes, but an inner struggle with his own mortality and magic. Can Merlin defeat Wings of Fire and save Fincayra, or will the dragon be the death of both Merlin and the land?

Another captivating read from Mr. T.A. Barron! This one takes us on so many twists and turns in Merlins quest to defeat Wings of Fire (because of course it does, does ANYTHING ever go straightforward and smooth for Merlin?).

There was plenty of trickery, sabotage, and deceit to keep me guessing. One thing I really have come to expect and love with these books is the vast array of unusual and exciting new characters, and this one was no different.

The deer people were fascinating to read about (I hope to see more of them in the future). Barron has a way of writing these characters that leaves me longing to roam the lands of Fincayra to meet and befriend them; to maybe be given a piece of magical antler and dash across the meadows and leap up mountains myself as a deer. *sigh* For now I suppose I will be content to be swept up in the words and pages of his books. 

Great continuation of the series, can't wait to jump into book 4!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Watchmakers Daughter by C.J. Archer

Dear Bookworms, 

Thoughts on this book in a word? OBSESSED!

This one has been on my TBR since Christmas and once I finally got to it this week, I DEVOURED IT! 

After India Steele's fiance stole her inheritance and promptly dumped her, she is desperate. It isn't easy for a woman alone in 1890's London and things are about to be a whole lot worse as she's kicked out of her rented room for her inability to pay. A gifted watchmaker/repairer like her father before her, India fortuitously meets the enigmatic Matthew Glass. Mr. Glass not only offers India a paying job for a weeks time, but provides her with lodgings while he is in London from America looking for a mysterious watchmaker he met five years prior who has all but vanished. Mr. Glass's obsession with finding this watchmaker seems odd at first, but when India spies Mr. Glass' watch emitting a strange green light that seems to seep into his veins when he appears tired and ill, rejuvenating him, she begins to wonder if there is more to his story then he is letting on.

 Using her connections from her previous work as her fathers assistant in his watch shop, India and Matthew make their rounds to all the watchmakers in London to inquire about this mysterious man who Matthew is desperate to find. When her once fellow colleagues begin to shun her, and some worse, seem to fear her, India isn't sure what to think. When rumors swirl of a dangerous American outlaw on the loose in London, India thinks she may have made a bargain with a very dangerous man indeed. 

Stellar read guys! A superbly well written novel that was the perfect blend of mystery and fantasy. C.J Archer did a phenomenal job of playing her cards close to her chest with this one; I found myself rooting for India and Mr. Glass from page one even despite his shady past and uncertain agenda. The supporting characters were so well written and likable I found myself not even caring that we (the reader) weren't too sure of their past or intentions either. The plot was well paced and interesting. There were quite a few moments of heart pounding action ranging from intense fight scenes to steamy lust. I'll just go ahead and let you all know now that I have a major literary crush on Matthew Glass.... I'm not even gonna lie.....as far as fictional characters go he's swoon worthy. 

I am jumping into the next in the series, The Mapmaker Apprentice now and can't wait to follow along in India and Matthews next adventure!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

 

 

Book Review: Skylark and Wallcreeper by Anne O'Brien Carelli

Dear Bookworms,

Skylark and Wallcreeper
By Anne O'Brien Carelli

I was provided a copy of this weeks read in exchange for an honest review.

After helping her grandmother Collette evacuate her nursing home in NY and get set up in a temporary shelter in Brooklyn, 12 year old Lily begins to unravel a complicated past that her grandmother has long ago chose to not talk about. Having grown up in Southern France during the time of the German occupation during WWII, Collette joins the Resistance, a secret network of individuals whose aim was to hinder the German cause and advance in the war. When Lily looses a special pen her grandmother brought from the nursing home, Lily sets off on a journey that sheds light on a side of her grandmother she never knew. Alternating chapters between Collettes time in the Resistance in the 1940s, and Lily in the present as she connects the clues to figure out more about her grandmothers past. This one pen bridges the gap of generations, and brings two long lost friends together again.

What an absolutely lovely read! These two stories were woven so seamlessly together, culminating in something truly heartwarming. With a female heavy cast of MC’s, this book was empowering and fun for all ages, kids and adults alike. Both Lily and Collette were tenacious and brave, taking risks in order to work towards a goal bigger than themselves. They were selfless and intelligent with spunk for days. These are two girls you would want to be friends with, and certainly people you would want in your corner. For all my fans of historical fictions, hands down you will want to check this one out. Similar feel to an Alan Grantz novel (who you all know I LOVE) with it’s fearless characters and action driven plot line.

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!



Book Review: The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine

Dear Bookworms,

Another stellar read from Redwine! 

I'll admit, while she had me absolutely enthralled with both The Wish Granter and The Shadow Queen, I came into this read thinking I wouldn't really love it as much only because I don't really have a strong connection with the fairytale it's based on, The Prince and the Pauper and The False Prince. 

But boy was I wrong.... Redwine BLEW. ME. AWAY.

After spending 10 years training at an elite boarding school, and graduating top of his class, Prince Javan of Akram is set upon by assassins intent on killing him before he reaches home while a boy who strikes an uncanny resemblance to Javan is instilled in his place back at the palace. Thrown into the formidable prison, Maqbara, after confronting the impostor, Javan has but one hope to be granted audience with his father and out the impostor; win the deadly gladiator style tournament hosted twice at year in Maqbara. Finding an unlikely ally in Sajda, stoic and cold slave of the ruthless warden, the two work together to try and keep Javan alive long enough to gain audience with the king. Sajda is hiding her own deadly secrets and in a place as dangerous as Maqbara, everyday is a fight to stay alive. 

Absolutely blown away once again by Redwine! Girl can write! The Traitor Prince was full of all the same elements I have come to know and love from one of her fairy-tale retelling's; the well crafted characters, heart pumping action scenes, heartbreaking loss, and incredibly detailed writing style. Her words comes alive on the pages and the breath she has breathed into her characters is something rare indeed. Can not sing her praises enough! I am eagerly and impatiently awaiting the next Ravenspire novel. 

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Mustard Seed by Laila Ibrahim

Dear Bookworms,

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. I'm not normally a huge fan of historical fiction but this book has captured my heart for life. 

Mustard Seed
By Laila Ibrahim

Mustard Seed is the companion novel to Yellow Crocus (read that review here!), picking back up in the lives of Lisbeth and Mattie some 10 years after the first book ended. It's the tumultuous first years after the Civil War and Lisbeth is summoned back home to Virginia to be at her dying fathers bedside. Accompanied by her two children, Lisbeth returns to the family and life she escaped so long ago. Their place in society was dismantled when Lisbeth left, and the Civil War did them no favors, so it comes as no surprise to Lisbeth that the resentment and anger still radiate from both her mother and brother. 

In the years following the Civil War, Mattie Freedman has written to her niece in the hopes of bringing her from the plantation to Oberlin, OH to begin a new, free life. When her requests go unanswered, Mattie decides to travel back to Virginia to fetch her in person. Her grown children, Jordan and Samuel (a college educated teacher and lawyer respectively) accompany her, back into the heart of the dying Confederacy, and a life they thought they left behind forever. 

The south remains a dangerous place for people like the Freedmans and when they find themselves the victims of violence and forced servitude, Lisbeth must use her position, privilege, and wits to help them.

Absolutely brilliant read. Full of heart and hope, this book (in addition to Yellow Crocus) will be one that remains at the top of my favorites list. It serves as a great reminder that even when the world is ugly and unjust and your fight seems so big (which unfortunately is all too relatable some 200 years later in American history) that a simple deed of kindness, however small, can blossom and spread, edging out the dark. While revolutionaries and figures like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Malala Yousafzai certainly deserve the recognition and accolades they receive, it is the small, unnoticed deeds that can also move the tides in the direction of change. 

"We don't get to pick how big our good gets to be, but each of us picks if we gonna do some good right where we are."

These characters are fierce, brave, and loyal in the face of societal norms and decades of bred hate and fear. They give me hope, even in another time and place, that things can change, and small acts of kindness can snowball into big.

I'll be thinking about this book for years to come.

Until next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

 

 

Book Review: Would You Rather by Katie Heaney

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

This memoir takes the reader through the process of coming out. It is told in a funny, relatable voice (as a married, straight woman, I know relatable isn't the first word that may come to mind about another young woman's sexual preference discovery but oddly enough, it was). Katie is funny and witty, weaving her journey together through stories from college and young adulthood which coalesce into this kind of "ah-ha" scenario where everything just sort of clicks and makes sense.

I saw a lot of myself in Katie, the OCD bed making tendencies (because really, what kind of heathen gets into an unmade bed at the end of the day?!), her boyband infatuations (just trade One Direction for O-Town at that was me circa 2000), and her preference to sit at home and order take out versus people. While our stories are obviously not the same (whose really is when it comes down to it), it was something that I could connect with, and I think many people can connect with, regardless of the particulars of your journey into adulthood.  

A truly engaging memoir, Katie has a new fan. I would gladly read anything written in that lighthearted and thoughtful voice. 

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

 

 

Book Review: The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

The Language of Spells
By Garret Weyr

In a world where most people have long forgotten about dragons and magic, 11 year old Maggie sees it all around her. Grisha is one of the last dragons left in Vienna, having been imprisoned for most of his life in a teapot (evil sorcerers really are the worst), he now spends his days giving tours of an old castle, and his nights being...well... generally lonely.

When these two unlikely characters meet one night in a hotel bar (Maggie's upbringing is eccentric to say the least- her parents are into the arts- need I say more?) a deep friendship blooms. The two embark on a journey together to find out what ever became of the worlds mighty dragons; but to find the answer, Maggie may just have to give up the thing she holds most dear, magic is tricky like that. 

This was an exceptional read! Bursting with magic and whimsy, it is one I would gleefully recommend to my big and little readers alike. We should all be more like Maggie; kind, honest, willing to do anything for a friend, and perhaps most importantly, sees things that most people find unimportant or overlook.

This book reminds me that sometimes we need to slow down our fast paced lives and bring ourselves back to the basics, to really see the world. True magic is found in all the cracks and hidden places of life that are often discarded and overlooked; but if we really try, beneath it all, we can see all the wonder the world has to offer, and that can truly be the most beautiful part. 

"People expect that the magical will be extraordinary, but it's often easy to overlook" 

A beautifully written story for lovers of magic of all ages, I highly recommend this one! It was fun and magical with some lovely underlying themes. 

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Dear Bookworms,

Please excuse me while I finish ugly crying as I write this review. 

Yellow Crocus
By Laila Ibrahim

Elizabeth Wainwright is born into privilege on a plantation in Virginia in the 1830's. As is customary at the time, a slave wet nurse, Mattie, is brought in to tend to the infant. So begins the lifelong bond between plantation mistress and slave. The love between the two is strong but when Mattie feels that her family back in the fields is threatened, she has to make terrifying and life changing decisions. As Elizabeth grows up she questions the plantation life and her place within it. She too must decide how she will continue to live, and what more the world may hold for her. 

This novel was absolutely phenomenal (be prepared to see it on my year end list of favorite books- I can already tell it will have made the cut!) Although a story of two very different women born into very different lives, they each faced a life forced upon them by fortune of circumstance.

The blossoming bond these two developed was beautifully written and honest; the love shared, pure. Elizabeth's growth throughout the novel from innocent child who viewed her world through rose colored glasses to the eye opening experience that lead her to truly see her life on the plantation for what it was, was both earth shattering and relieving.

My heart broke for Mattie and the inner struggles she faced with wanting to keep her children safe and protected. As a mother myself I related to this on a visceral level as I'm sure any mother would. This novel provided such an honest look at such a dark park of our countries history that was neither gratuitous or overdone; it was raw and honest. It gave hope and light and left me eager for more of Mattie and Elizabeth's story (which thankfully there IS a sequel!!)

Do yourself a favor and add this one to your reading list, I promise you will not regret it!

Happy Reading!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE

Book Review: Merlin 2 The Seven Songs by T.A Barron

Dear Bookworms,

Back again with the second book in the Lost Years of Merlin series!

(Didn't read the first review? Find it here!)

Book two picks up shortly after book one. Merlin has been tasked with restoring the land of Fincayra with the magical Flowering Harp; travelling the lands and with the pluck of a chord, Merlin is able to bring the once decaying and blight stricken land alive again. During his travels he realizes he cannot fully complete his task while his mind strays to thoughts of his mother. He thinks that if he can just bring his mother to Fincayra, he can continue his mission to restore the lands, and all will be well. When Merlin brings his mother to Fincayra only to have her fall deathly ill, he has but one month to bring her the cure. The cure can only be found by discovering the Seven Souls of Wisdom, and traveling to the other world to defeat the mighty Ogre Balor and only then requesting the antidote from the great  Dagda himself. With time of the essence, Merlin sets out with the help of his ever loyal friend Rhia and an unlikely Jester on a mission wrought with danger in an attempt to save his mother. 

Another magical read! While the hubris of youth definitely makes Merlin a frustrating character this go around (seriously, was I ever this much of an ass when I was a teenager?! I'd like to think not *cough cough*) his struggle is relatable to all of us who have navigated the confusing years of adolescences, if at much higher stakes.

Once again Merlin must use his wits and cunning to navigate and understand the Seven Souls of Wisdom; which are essentially lessons and parables of life. Rhia, as ever, was the perfect balance to Merlin's temper and impulsiveness, and a startling revelation about her left me literally speechless (No spoilers!).

Shim of course was a delight to read again, and all the new characters along the way were the perfect addition to this growing cast of much loved characters. This series continues to be a growing favorite with it's action, magic, and underlying themes of good vs evil. Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended!  

Until next week my bookish friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King

Dear Bookworms,

I love a good Stephen King novel, and while I had heard that his son had made a foray into the writing sphere, I had yet to read any of his novels. I was eager to read this one not just to knock off a 2018 reading challenge item (a book by two authors) but to also try out an Owen King novel.

What if one day, when women around the world fell asleep, they became ensconced in a cocoon like substance, unable to be awoken? This becomes a reality when what quickly becomes dubbed 'the Aurora virus" sweeps the globe. In the small Appalachian town of Dulling, North Carolina not only are it's residents succumbing to the sleeping virus, but a strange women has appeared from seemingly out of nowhere; one who can sleep and wake at will, one who knows things she shouldn't, and has an uncanny ability to have animals do her bidding. As the town scrambles for answers while the female population slowly succumbs to the virus, the sleeping women must forge their own way in a new world where they all end up once they fall asleep. Can the men of Dulling save their women from the other side, and more importantly, do the women want to be saved?

Sleeping Beauties: A Novel
By Stephen King, Owen King

While I really enjoyed the entire premise of this novel and the array of complex and interesting characters, it was a tad too long for me. It could easily have been trimmed by a hundred pages or so and had the same effect, not loosing anything in the plot. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this read to any of my thriller/strange/Stephen King lovers as it delivered on substance. 

As you can imagine, a world run by men quickly devolves into chaos and violence while the women not only survive in this strange new world beyond their cocooned bodies, but they thrive. They work together, problem solve, and build lives while the men pick off the weak and attempt to domineer those left. The men devolve into their baser instincts, the women flourish.

In addition to the action and drama that follows such an interesting conflict, there are some really potent underlying themes as they relate to women's rights and the societal disparity between men and women in a number of arenas, the often unjust and punitive nature of the prison system which often continues to victimize versus rehabilitate it's occupants, and police brutality/implicit bias that occurs between those with power and those without.  

Definitely a solid read, one that I would encourage you all to check out! 

Until next weeks friends...sleep easy....

XOXO,

Coco

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEW HERE!

Book Review: All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

Dear Bookworms, 

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Fairy-tale retelling alert! We all know how much I dig this genre, and this one was no disappointment. All the Ever Afters is a re-imagined tale of the classic Cinderella story whose main focus is Agnes, or as you may know her from the more well known version, the evil stepmother. 

Agnes is a young child when she is forced from her home into servitude as a laundresses apprentice after her mother dies and her father realizes he has too many mouths to feed. Young Agnes' life is hard, but through hard work, determination, and wit, she slowly works her way up the social ladder. Over the next two decades she learns to read and write, bears children, learns to brew ale, runs her own alehouse, and eventually becomes nursemaid to a young child, affectionately named Ella. When circumstance leads her to marry Ella's father (a nobleman), Agnes struggles to love this breathtaking (if daydreamy) beauty. Agnes beginnings as a servant make it nearly impossible to coddle the young child as everyone else seems to do, but nevertheless she raises her to the best of her ability. Ella and Agnes' relationship is strained at times, but weathers the storm of parental loss and teenage growing pains to transform into something whole and meaningful.

I can't tell you guys how much I adored this book, not only was the story line perfect, but the writing was lyrical and captivating and art in and of itself. 

Part of the reason I really enjoy these types of retelling's is that the reader is privy to a deeper dive into characters lives that are otherwise left very one dimensional in the traditional versions. These secondary characters are made whole, given life experiences, and the reader gains insight into the reasoning behind decisions they made and the grim realities they have faced. 

Agnes was a superbly well written character. Her ingenuity and adaptability really highlighted how much of a survivor she was; in a time period where women were not afford options and possibilities, she really had to work within her circumstances to better her life. Using her wit and perseverance, Agnes was able to take the hard hands dealt to her and not only survive, but thrive. No matter how many times she was knocked down, she got back up, and got back up stronger. 

Seeing her relationship with Ella through this new lens really gave perspective into a different sort of reality. Not everything is so black and white, good and evil. Sometimes we are just different people, with different upbringings, and different world views struggling with relationships because we really just can't see where the fault lies (likely with us as much as with them). It shows just how much the baggage of our past can really impact our relationships if we let it, and that ultimately in the end, it can be overcame, if only we try.

I thought Ella was a really unique interpretation of Cinderella. She came off as not just an entitled aristocrat but someone who also perhaps was on the autism spectrum; her fixation on dresses and linens, self soothing with organizing and repetition, difficulty relating to and forming relationships with others, and her constant desire to be in solitude/her own world. It was a really interesting take on the classic heroine and refreshing to read a different sort of character. 

Overall, highly recommend this one. It was an enchanting read that kept me enthralled from page one!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Merlin the Lost Years by T.A Barron

Dear Bookworms,

Y'all I have found a new series to totally fangirl about AND it's being made into a movie later this year....squeal!

Always a lover of magic, an entire series based on the beginning years of perhaps the most celebrated and well known sorcerer of all time, Merlin, was bound to peak my interest. 

Having washed up on the shores of ancient Wales five years prior, young Emrys has no recollection of his life before. He lives humbly with his healer mother (well, she claims to be his mother, but how can he really be certain with absolutely no memories of this woman who claims to have raised him?), and although outcasts, they are at least tolerated. 

After a terrible accident leaves him with a permanent injury, Emrys takes to the sea in an attempt to find his true home, answers about where he came from, and what this frightening power building within him means. His journey takes him to the magical land of Fincayra, a bridge between Earth and the otherworld. Emrys soon finds his journey of self discovery is entangled with the evil spirit Rhita Gawr who's powers are slowly destroying Fincayra and everything good within it. Can Emrys discover his past while at the same time protecting the future of a land in which he feels a deep connection?

This book blew me away! It was humbling to read a tale of one of the most formidable sorcerers in literature as an awkward, fumbling teenager. It's a great reminder that we all come from somewhere; we all go through that awkward stage of childhood and adolescence where we are unsure of ourselves, must determine our strengths and weaknesses, have our character tested, and make hard decisions. It's not only the large moments in life, but the small ones too; the ones we make day in and day out that ultimately determine the people we end up becoming. We have choices to make every day. Choices to fight, to concede, to preserve, to overcome. No one is born great, they become great through those series of choices. It is not always brawn and muscle which win but cunning and wit. 

The entire cast of supporting characters was phenomenal, making the book really that much more special and enjoyable. From the Druma girl Emrys befriends, Rhia who really serves as the catalyst for the entire conflict against Rhita Gawr, to the loveable pint sized troll, Shim (my favorite character for sure). Even Trouble, the pest of a Merlin hawk who really didn't take no for an answer when befriending Emrys. Everyone served such an important role not just in the progression of the plot but also in the development of Emrys as a character. 

As the first of 12 books in the series, I will absolutely be continuing on to see how else Emrys (now Merlin) continues to grow and evolve into the ever powerful sorcerer he is destined to become. 

Who's coming with to see the movie?!   

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE

 

 

Book Review: The Rebecca Pendragon Trilogy by Gary Green

Dear Bookworms,

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Twelve year old Rebecca's life is forever changed when her single mother dies in a car accident and she is sent to live in a small rural town in Minnesota with her Grandmother. Having barely settled into her new routine, Rebecca's world is rocked once more with the revelation that magic is real and she is tangled in a nasty feud with the god Pan, who was subsequently responsible for her mothers "accident". With the help of gnomes, fairies, and a dragon or two, Rebecca must train for the eventual fight against Pan who aims to rid the world of humanity. Can Rebecca save both magic and human kind alike? Or will Pan destroy the world as she knows it?

While this book has a pretty awesome plot foundation and a fun group of main and supporting characters, I felt it seemed rushed and predictable at times. This book could have easily been a proper YA trilogy with a tad more natural build up with some plot and character development. It was somewhat simplistic for my taste which lent itself to a more elementary grade level read but contained a few scenes which are more high-school age level (mention of suicide/sex/underage drinking etc) which was confusing to me as the reader as to who the intended audience was? The writing and plot was too watered down and simplistic for an older age group, but some subject matter was not appropriate for the younger age group. 

This wasn't a terrible read, like I said, it has good bones and some likable characters, but I would have enjoyed it more with some more finesse and buildup to the finale with some more subtle character development along the way. 

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!