Book Review: Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Dear Bookworms,

Us Against You brings us back to Beartown. (Didn’t catch that review, find it here!) The Beartown hockey club is all but dead having lost most of it’s team to their rival Hed, and along with it, the sponsors. With some sly maneuvering from a local politician involving a new sponsorship, a new coach, and the recruitment of a questionable talent, Peter Anderson just might be able to save hockey in Beartown. Building the team around Amat, Benji, Bobo, and the new recruit, Vidar, it looks like Beartown stands a fighting chance against Hed this year. Tensions mount between the two teams, and as a result, the two towns. Escalating violence goes from nuisance to deadly leaving the two towns wondering when hockey got so complicated and if can ever be the same again.

Blown away by Backman, the man can write! Another deeply moving novel that gives an introspective look into a proud hockey town. While Beartown focused more on the story of Maya, Us Against You gives us a more in depth look at Benji and The Pack. Each and every character was so expertly developed that they felt like actual people, people that I felt I knew deeply and wholly. I was once again awed by how Backman can not only capture his characters personalities with such a nuanced depth but how each of those characters fits in with the whole; The whole of their family units and the even the broader scope of within the town. Good characterization builds not only a complete picture of a person but how that person interacts with everything/everyone within its setting, and Backman is a master of it. This book had far more twists and turns than I was anticipating and I found myself flying through the pages like a madwoman long past my bedtime. Add this on your must read ASAP- it’s one that will stick with you, I promise.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

2018 Year in Review

Dear Bookworm,

Another year another (56) book (s)! And for the first time EVER, I actually completed my book reading challenge. I always read enough books, I just always get sidetracked with a new series or get stuck in a thriller binge and get off track from my prompts but this year I actually did it! Behold!

So my favorite reads of the year? In no particular order, here’s my top 5!

1) The Hate U Give:

Timely and relevant, this book sheds a light on the issues of police brutality and racial disparities within the criminal justice system. Starr Carters strong voice as the MC and her journey of self discovery is deserving of every bit of the hype it’s received this year.

2) Yellow Crocus/Mustard Seed:

This historical fiction follows the lives of two women born in the deep south pre-civil war. Although their lives and upbringings couldn’t be more different with one a privileged plantation owners daughter, the other a field hand/wet nurse, the way their lives entwined and the bond they forged was beautiful and at times, heartbreaking to read.

3) Ravenspire Series:

(The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, and The Traitor Prince) Set in the fantasy world of Ravenspire, these books are takes on classic fairytales of old. I read all three in the series this year (all independent of one another and can be read alone or in conjunction with each other) and loved them each! This world is rich and imaginative and I am eagerly awaiting the next to be published this year, The Blood Spell.

4) Glass and Steele Series:

This historical fantasy takes place in the early 1920’s London. It features a robust character set and is filled with magic, intrigue, and mystery. There are seven in the series (so far?) and I have torn through the first 5 with zeal. A wonderful series to get lost in!

5) BearTown:

A small hockey town is rocked with allegations of a brutal crime at a highschool party. So many important themes and issues tackled in this book it’s a relevant read. This story could be one of millions of girls/women’s stories and delves deep into the cultural norms that cultivate these behaviors in boys and also how crimes of sexual assault are investigated and prosecuted (or not).

BONUS FAVORITE

I’m including Rupi Kaurs two books of poetry, Milk and Honey & The Sun and Her Flowers as a favorite this year too. Very short books of poetry and prose, I found them each captivating! Simple and heartfelt with illustrations to accompany the passages, I have a new found love of poetry after reading these!

What did you all love in 2018? Drop me a comment with your favorites!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Dear Bookworms,

Rupi Kaur is my favorite.

After binging on Milk and Honey of course I ran to Amazon for her second book of poetry immediately. Lucky for me, the kindle version was free for Prime members!

Broken into 5 parts; Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, Blooming; Rupi takes the reader through various depictions of love, in all it’s many forms and stages. Her writing is not only beautiful but deeply thought provoking. She has an uncanny ability to portray so much depth in such simple sentences. Her illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to her words in that same simple yet powerful way that I have come to expect and love.

Take a look at a few of my favorites:

over the past week i've heard from so many of my trans readers and friends who are dismayed and heartbroken over this administration's plans to erase trans and non binary identities out of legal and policy existence. taking away the few protections that were hard-fought and won. within this administration (and most global regimes) there has been a shockingly criminal disregard toward trans. non binary. and intersex lives. this week the administration is "considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth". this is a criminal disregard for the lived realities of our trans and non binary siblings. in the words of my brilliant friend @prabhdeepsk "using genetic testing for any form of social identity verification & having civil rights protections is another form of legitimating and furthering eugenics to me." why does any of this matter? because our myopic and exclusionary visions as a society have served to marginalize and remove our trans. non binary. and intersex siblings from every single fabric of society. 2017 was the deadliest year on record for transgender communities and 2018 is outpacing it. trans communities are in danger not only because of hate and gendered violence but because law enforcement and policy makers ignore trans identity. in fact law enforcement often doesn't even acknowledge trans lives as trans. in many countries repressive heads of states dehumanize endanger and legitimize attacks on trans lives. by every global and domestic metric : trans. non binary. and intersex lives are marginalized beyond comprehension. and the danger is even more apparent for trans and non binary folks of color and queer folks. in the weeks months and years to come we need to do more as a global collective to combat this avalanche of hate. here are some actionable steps: contribute directly to trans peoples in need. contribute to trans organizations. vote!!!! vote out transphobic politicians. have difficult conversations with our families and educate. don't let people's jokes and jabs about trans and queer folks slide. listen to our trans & non binary friends. check in with them. amplify their voices.

These are just a few of the many many gems that resonated with me in this book. It was all deep and moving, quick snippets of inspiration that I can’t recommend enough!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco





Book Review: That Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Dear Bookworms,

I know this book has gotten a lot of hype this year and let me tell you…

The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas

It has earned every last ounce of hype, and then some.

Starr Carter lives two lives. There is the Starr who lives in the gang riddled neighborhood of Garden Heights, whose dad is an ex-con who used to run the streets as a gang lord. And there is the Starr who attends the prestigious, private, predominately white prep school across town. Starr tenuously keeps these two worlds separate, until the day when her best friend is shot and killed by police after a routine traffic stop.

First things first, I listened to this one on audiobook read by the immensely talented Bonnie Turpin (she did Yellow Crocus & Mustard Seed), she is definitely on my short list of favorite audiobook readers!

I can’t really adequately put into words how much I enjoyed this book. It was so relevant and timely; a story that is all too real and heartbreaking and sheds a much needed light on the issues of police brutality, implicit bias, and white privilege. Perpetrators aren’t always the blatant racists, but can be found in even the most well meaning of people. It is an insidious problem within our culture, one that people of color face on a daily basis, and one that we (i.e white people) need to be more cognizant of and willing to work within our communities to address.

Starr straddles this thin line between worlds, always keeping them separate and disconnected from one another; watching her break down these internal partitions around the different versions of her life was both liberating and enlightening. The entire book from beginning to end is addicting. I laughed (Harry Potter houses are actually gangs theory) and cried (no spoilers!) and will be recommending this read to everyone I know. It will also most certainly be on my year end wrap up!

10/10 recommend this one!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: The Convents Secret by CJ Archer

Dear Bookworms,

Back with book 5 in the Glass and Steele series and ya’ll, I could serious read these characters and this world for the rest of my life and not be bored.

India and Matt are running out of time. They have to find the healing magician in order to fix Matts watch, or he will die. It continues to become weaker and soon enough, it will cease to work at all. When clues point them to a local convent, Matt and India investigate. The nuns are tight lipped, but they are able to discover that twenty years ago, two infants and the Mother Superior went missing. With the convent actively thwarting their attempts at digging up information, an old enemy intent on taking Matt out, and a family matter that threatens India and Matts happiness together, the sleuthing duo have no shortage of problems to solve and people to be wary of.

First and foremost, thank you Jesus we FINALLY have some real feelings sharing between Matt and India. That plot line was literally making me crazy. THEY BELONG TOGETHER PEOPLE! But wouldn’t you know it, OF COURSE, something threatens their happiness and ability to be together. Honestly, I don’t know whats worse, India not being honest with Matt about her feelings in books one through four, or finally bearing their hearts and love to each other only to have his pesky family drama interfere.

It’s infuriating.

And I can’t get enough!

I like that we get some more fleshing out of some of our beloved secondary characters, most notably, Willie. Having such a diverse kind of character in this time period and setting was unexpected, but books need more of it! We got to see a more vulnerable side to Willie which really gave her much more depth as a character. As with the rest of the books in this series, there was plenty of heart stopping action to keep your adrenaline spiked. I’m not ashamed to admit I gasped, out loud, on more than one occasion in a public setting.

Book 6 has been ordered and on the way (thanks Amazon!), can’t wait to dive into it!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Dear Bookworms,

Y’all this book rocked my world. We all know I am a huge fan of a thriller, and Ruth Ware has climbed my list of must read thriller authors. Her stories are always insanely addicting and full of surprises and The Death of Mrs. Westaway was no different.

Hal (Harriette) Westaway has had a rough go of things since her mothers untimely death 2 years prior. Barely making ends meet, the 21 year old can hardly keep food on the table working her job as a tarot card reader at the local pier, let alone pay off the loan shark she has become indebted to. It seems almost too good to be true when she receives a summons to meet with a lawyer to discuss an inheritance left from her recently deceased grandmother. Only, Hal doesn’t have any family. Her mothers birth certificate lists completely different parents to the one who’s will she is in. Her mothers past wasn’t something talked about, her father a one night stand, it’s always just been Hal and her mother. Even though she quickly realizes a mistake has been made, Hal is desperate for money. With some trepidation, Hal decides to travel to Trepassen House and accept “her” claim. It isn’t long after arriving to the funeral, Hal realizes something is very off about this family, and her place in it’s inheritance.

So I listened to this one on audiobook and, YAY, it was read by Imogen Church who I am absolutely obsessed with. (She read Wares, The Lying Game also, check out that review here!) This story had all the elements needed for a really riveting read; interesting characters with compelling backstories, deceit, lies, murder, and the ever satisfying (if heart stopping) discovery of truths. The dreary setting of Trepassen house with it’s cold, dark facade really lend itself to the overall mysterious and spooky tone of the book.

Another read by Ware that I was absolutely unable to put down (stop listening too?)! Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this one ASAP!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Magicians Diary by CJ Archer

Dear Bookworms,

Continuing on with the Glass and Steele Saga with book 4 and I’m just over here like:

This series has proved to be utterly addicting y’all.

Book 4 picks up right where three left off. Indian and Matt have finally flushed out Chronos who, coincidentally is India’s (thought to be dead) grandfather! With one piece of the two parts magic required to fix Matthews life saving watch, the two track down any and all leads to find the rumored diary containing the spell needed by a doctor magician to restore Matthews watch, and in turn his health. The diary was lost when the doctor magician was murdered over two decades ago, but India and Matt are relentless in their quest. It is obvious they are getting close when Chronos is viciously attacked and the heads of prominent guilds insist they stop their search.

Spellbinding read! (See what I did there guys?) Once again India and Matt use their wits and powers of deception to sniff out clues and long buried truths as Matts clocks magic dwindles. There is that same sense of adventure and mystery that I have come to expect with this series. There may have been audible gasps and frantic page turning during my reading.

Just when I think I can’t possibly be surprised anymore, Archer totally throws a well placed curveball of a truth bomb totally changing the name of the game! That ending?! Absolutely did not see that coming. Well played Archer, well played. There continues to be this back and forth romantically with India and Matt and honestly it’s making me want to smack some sense into India but I’m hoping book 5 can have her open up some more as far as her feelings and fears are concerned. I am convinced Archer enjoys torturing us readers at this point because I just can’t take it with the romantic tension between those two anymore.

Our tried and true sidekicks were an enjoyable bonus to the story, including the blooming relationship between Cyclops and Catherine. How cute are they?! I’m intrigued on Willies plotline and hope more is revealed in the next book. What is she up to?!

On to the next in the series! Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!













Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Dear Bookworms,

I picked this one up on a whim (as I do with most of the really amazing books I discover) while trying to find one for my 2018 Goodreads challenge prompt of “ A book by a writer of a different ethnicity from you”.

Milk and Honey
By Rupi Kaur

A short book of poetry and prose covering a wide array of topics personal to the author including abuse, love, heartbreak, and feminism. Her debut novel, I found it absolutely riveting. The subject matter is pretty mature so I would say adults or older teens only for this one. I actually listened to the audiobook version of this one and it was read by the author, Rupi Kaur, who was absolutely hypnotizing. It was short, just over an hour, but it was powerful and packed with big ideas. It was a read that left me thinking long after it had ended.

I would like to share with you guys a couple of my favorite entries:

View this post on Instagram

🌞💛

A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on

View this post on Instagram

🌻🌻🌻

A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on

Write here…


Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco


READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!




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!