Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

Immediately upon its publication in Ireland, Claire-Louise Bennett’s debut began to attract attention well beyond the expectations of the tiny Irish press that published it. A deceptively slender volume, it captures with utterly mesmerizing virtuosity the interior reality of its unnamed protagonist, a young woman living a singular and mostly solitary existence on the outskirts of a small coastal village. Sidestepping the usual conventions of narrative, it focuses on the details of her daily experience—from the best way to eat porridge or bananas to an encounter with cows—rendered sometimes in story-length, story-like stretches of narrative, sometimes in fragments no longer than a page, but always suffused with the hypersaturated, almost synesthetic intensity of the physical world that we remember from childhood. The effect is of character refracted and ventriloquized by environment, catching as it bounces her longings, frustrations, and disappointments—the ending of an affair, or the ambivalent beginning with a new lover. As the narrator’s persona emerges in all its eccentricity, sometimes painfully and often hilariously, we cannot help but see mirrored there our own fraught desires and limitations, and our own fugitive desire, despite everything, to be known.

Shimmering and unusual, Pond demands to be devoured in a single sitting that will linger long after the last page.

Read below for my spoiler-free review.

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Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

Read below for my spoiler-free review.

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The Wicked King by Holly Black


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You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Read below for my spoiler-free review.

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My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn

“I’m here to take you to live with your father. In Tokyo, Japan! Happy birthday!”

In the Land of the Rising Sun, where high culture meets high kitsch, and fashion and technology are at the forefront of the First World’s future, the foreign-born teen elite attend ICS-the International Collegiate School of Tokyo. Their accents are fluid. Their homes are ridiculously posh. Their sports games often involve a (private) plane trip to another country. They miss school because of jet lag and visa issues. When they get in trouble, they seek diplomatic immunity.

Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Um, yes, please! Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn’t exist. In an effort to please her new family, Elle falls in with the Ex-Brats, a troupe of uber-cool international kids who spend money like it’s air. But when she starts to crush on a boy named Ryuu, who’s frozen out by the Brats and despised by her new family, her already tenuous living situation just might implode.

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life is about learning what it is to be a family, and finding the inner strength to be yourself, even in the most extreme circumstances.

Read below for my spoiler free review. I received this book to review from Net Galley, but all opinions remain my own.

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Reading Update

Hello everyone! I’ve been settled at school for about a month now so I figured that it was time to post a little update.

Living in Boston definitely has its perks for finding books. I recently got a library card at the Boston Public Library, which is not only aesthetically beautiful but has hundreds and hundreds more books than my library back in Vegas. I’ve recently checked out Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, and Twisted Palace by Erin Watt.

PictureI also went to the Boston Teen Author Festival (BTAF) where I may have *accidentally* spent like $80 on books. Oops. I got to see some great authors like Heidi Hielig, Mary Pearson, Sasha Alsberg, S. Jae-Jones, Holly Black (!!!) and a lot of other cool people that I don’t have room to name. Unfortunately I had to leave before the signing, but I did get to see some pretty interesting panels.

So, what have I finished this month? Well I am kind of ashamed to say that I hardcore binged the Paper Princess series by Erin Watt. For those of you who don’t know, Erin Watt is the pen name of two erotica authors. Let’s just say this series is as cheesy as Riverdale and as explicit as Game of Thrones, which makes for some super-addicting soap-opera-esque trashy fiction. I highly recommend for anyone who’s looking for something with high entertainment value at the cost of style, and realism, and subtlety, and brain cells…

29283884I’ve also read Year One by Nora Roberts (4 stars, but huge cliffhanger) and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (3.5 stars, also huge cliffhanger). I might be reviewing these in the future. I listened to Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (4 stars), and am currently listening to Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker through Kobo Books. Right now I’m reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but so far it isn’t living up to the hype. Reagan at Peruse Project highly recommended it, so I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt even though I’m almost done.

That’s it for now! In October I plan to attend another book festival. I’m also going to NYC with my roomie, and I’m incredibly excited to visit the Strand while I’m there.

ALSO. OCTOBER IS THE HEART OF BOOK RELEASE SEASON. WE’RE GETTING A MUSE OF NIGHTMARES AND KINGDOM OF ASH THIS MONTH. PREPARE YOURSELVES!!!

Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King

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  • My rating: 2/5 stars
  • Genre: mystery, contemporary
  • 362 pages
  • TW: domestic abuse/violence, alcoholism
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon

Single mother Maisey Addington has always fallen short of her own mother’s expectations—never married, a bit adrift, wasting her high IQ on dead-end jobs. The only thing Maisey’s sure she’s gotten right is her relationship with her twelve-year-old daughter, Elle…until a phone call blows apart the precarious balance of their lives. Maisey’s mother is in a coma, and her aging father faces charges of abuse and neglect.

Back at her childhood home, Maisey must make a heartrending life-or-death decision. Her confused father has destroyed family records, including her mother’s final wishes. Searching for answers, Maisey uncovers one unspeakable secret after another when she stumbles upon a shattering truth: a twin sister named Marley.

Maisey’s obsession with solving the mystery of her sister forces her to examine her darkest memories and triggers a custody battle with Elle’s father. Will Maisey’s love for her daughter be strong enough to break a cycle of abuse and create a new beginning for them all?

Read below for my spoiler free review.

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Reading shouldn’t be an obligation… (a discussion)

We all have that book (or…several books) that we’ve been wanting to read forever. Perhaps they’ve been sitting on our shelves for ages, or we’ve been meaning to borrow it from the library for a while now.

While TBRs are, of course, inevitable, lately I’ve been wondering if they’re contributing to this sort of obligation I’ve been developing towards reading. Reading has always been my greatest love, and my greatest escape, but recently it’s started to feel like a bit of a chore. I used to devour books, sometimes having to find a new one each day. Now, I find myself counting pages and growing impatient. There are many things that might be adding to this frustration: my reading goal, my desire to produce reviews at a consistent pace, my growing list of books I “need” to read…a lot of it stems from the pressure I put on myself to cycle through books. I’m beginning to wonder if this is affecting my reading, because now it seems like I read for quantity instead of enjoying a book to the fullest. Some of this might come from the label I’ve given myself: “reader”. As a reader, I must enjoy books, I must read a certain amount, then I must review them–or that part of my identity is false, it’s fabricated. I know this is not the case, but sometimes I can’t help feeling that way, especially since I’ve started blogging. I wanted this to be a cathartic experience, but sometimes it can be stressful because I feel that, to be a successful reader and book blogger, I can’t stop reading or posting–ever. 

Now I’ve realized: I need to give myself a little room to breathe. I’m not going to guilt myself over being 7 books behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. I’m not going to feel bad when it takes a couple weeks to read a book that would normally take me a couple days. It’s not healthy, and it’s not promoting this love that I’ve held for books my whole life. So, the books that have been sitting on my shelf can hold tight for a little bit, because I’ll get to them when I can. I want to crave reading like I used to, I want it to be a true release–not something I feel guilty about when I don’t feel like doing it.

41qhpu2riblWriting this down makes me realize that I have every right to focus on other aspects of my life and spend my free time doing other things. I think I’m going to relax my pace on my blog, and probably books as well. I won’t force myself to do it; I’m going to read when I feel the need and write when I feel the need. For anyone who’s read this far…I sincerely appreciate you tolerating my ramblings.
I’m going to start this new direction in my reading with something I recently picked up: Florence Welch’s Useless Magic. It’s a poetry book, which is a genre I’ve never really explored. It has a beautiful aesthetic with thick, creamy pages and gorgeous photographs. I’m going to take my time savoring it, and see if I can get a little of the reading bug to manifest itself meanwhile.

Happy reading,

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Some of my art

Hi everyone! I’d thought I’d share something a little different today. While this is obviously a book blog, and reading is my favorite hobby, I also dabble in drawing and painting. Recently I’ve started creating digital pieces through Photoshop, and I wanted to start documenting my journey with that as well. I don’t draw as much as I’d like to, but I want to share something once a week, or maybe more frequently. Here are a couple paintings that I’ve recently finished:


I have a more diverse portfolio of my art (including watercolor, ink, colored pencils, etc) on my Instagram @lwrendraws.

My current goals for my art are to first develop my technique for digital illustrations. I’ve been experimenting with different methodology to see what works best for me, and I think I’m starting to get a hang of all the different tools available. More importantly, though, I’m trying to develop a recognizable style. While working on technique is great, it usually produces some unoriginal images because I’m copying exactly from reference. Although using references is a healthy practice, even for professional artists, I’d like to start adding my own twists and style to the image.

(For those of you wondering, I work in the newest version of Photoshop. I use a Wacom Intuos tablet, which you can find here)

Thank you all for taking a look at my art 🙂

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Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.

Read below for my spoiler-free review. (Thanks to Netgalley for sending me this ARC. This is an honest review and all opinions are my own) Continue reading