House of Salt and Sorrows – a Snapshot Review

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

My Rating: ##/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.98/5

Published August 6th, 2019

This is not a full and comprehensive review, but merely a summary of my thoughts on the book.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:

#/5 – There is no character development.  The characters remain exactly the same throughout the story, and they seem insubstantial to start with.  I don’t remember anything about Annaleigh, other than she was the MC.  The attempt at romance was feeble.  The entire book could’ve been written without any kind of romance as it added absolutely nothing of value to the story.  I skipped through most of the romantic scenes towards the end.

WORLD BUILDING:

#####/5 – Yes.  Yes. YES!  A million times yes!  Can someone take this world and write a really good fantasy series about it?!  The atmosphere, the landscape, the setting – everything about this world is magnificent.  I love the dark gloomy islands, surrounded by storms and rough seas.  I love that you can taste the salt and hear the waves crash against rocks and feel the strength of the wind.  I would’ve loved a map though.

WRITING STYLE:

###/5 – The writing style starts strong, but trickles away as the story unfolds.  There are gaps in time towards the end, that have nothing to do with the sequence of events.  I don’t know if this was done on purpose to illustrate the confusion the characters are experiencing – I got the feeling the writer just needed to quickly conclude the book.  It was either a genius move or utter laziness.

PLOT:

##/5 – Again, it starts strong.  You are gripped and sucked into their world of grieving and dancing.  There is a sense of appreciation for the retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Edge of your seat events unfold, but then it just gets bizarre and confusing.  Towards the end, I dreaded picking it up and finishing it because it was just not making any sense!!!  The theme of the book changes at 80%.  Yes 80%, where the story should reach its climax and start concluding, you are introduced to all these new settings, characters, and histories – it left me feeling “What just happened????”.

VILLAIN & CONCLUSION:

#/5 – Which one? Each one is more forgettable than the previous one.  The ending is laughable, confusing and bland.  What happened to Verity? Why couldn’t anyone see Cassius?? Who is the Weeping Woman???

The Confession – First 5-hashtag read of 2020!

The Confession by Jessie Burton

My Rating: #####/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.09/5

Published September 24th, 2019

“Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .”Goodreads

I was gifted a copy of The Confession by Pan Macmillan SA. This is an unpaid review.

At one point in your life; if you haven’t already, you will read a book that steals your heart, breaks into a million pieces and leaves you broken. This is not that book. This book is the opposite of that. The Confession rips your heart out of your chest, shatters it, leaves you aching and in anguish and then slowly and lovingly puts it back together. Jessie Burton uses Rose Simmons and Constance Holden to wrap their arms around you while you cry for their pain, comforts you with their confessions and helps you put your heart back together whilst piecing together their journeys into a story so beautiful it leaves you breathless.

Trigger Warnings:
• Child abandonment
• Abortion

“I don’t tell people about the yearning. The wonder. I tell them, You can’t miss what you never had!

Rose has always wanted to know about her mother, but her dad has never wanted to talk about Elise. As a little girl, Rose made up stories about her mother; who Elise was, where she came from, why she left… or how Elise died. But as an adult, having grown up without a mother leaves you incomplete. Having grown not knowing one single thing about your mother, leaves you completely incomplete. Rose is unhappy, lost and with no sense of self-awareness – it’s heartbreaking.

“Self-consciousness in a woman’s life is a plague of locusts!”

On a trip visiting her father, he finally provides some information about Elise. A woman named Constance Holden. As Rose tries to contact Constance to find out about her mother, her world is upended most unexpectedly. Who is Constance Holden? Does she have any answers? Does she still have contact with Elise?

“In both books, Holden seemed preoccupied with mothers and daughters, love, the nature and conditions of emotional punishments, and missed opportunity.”

This book is dazzlingly written; it’s like picking up a piece of poetry and seeing each anapest clearly and feeling the rhythm of each verse in your soul – without anyone having to explain it to you. Burton takes what she describes in her quote above about emotional punishment and missed opportunities and crafts a story of self-discovery and redemption. But it’s not for the faint of heart. If you loved books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, you will adore this powerful novel about secrets, story-telling, motherhood, and friendships.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | LOOT

The Beautiful – a Snapshot Review

The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renée Ahdieh

My Rating: ##/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.65/5

Published October 8th, 2019

This is not a full and comprehensive review, but merely a summary of my thoughts on the book.

PLOT:
#/5 – The plot is very limited and, in some instances, non-existent. Some chapters could’ve been stand-alone(s), as they add no value to the movement of the story.

STRUCTURE:
###/5 – The structure is well-thought-out, but the pace is so slow, that I lost interest 30% in. I was ready to DNF at 40%. I pushed through as I was one of the first people to jump up and down about this book.

WORLD-BUILDING:
##/5 – Here is a city that has so much rich history and culture. The potential is limitless. If you think of New Orleans, you see vibrant colors and celebration, you hear music, you feel curious and intrigued by mystery and a little frightened of all the rumors and legends. All of this could’ve been a beautiful backdrop to a fast-paced, well-loved and complex story (helloooo The Originals ? ? ? ! ! ! !), but it was mentioned ONCE. There is ONE Mardi Gras carnival scene.

THEME:
#/5 – The theme is unclear, and you are not even sure if there are actual vampires until much later in the book

CHARACTERS:
###/5 – As with We Hunt the Flame, the characters are why I wanted to finish the book. The characters are well rounded. There are characters that you want to fall in love with and there are characters that you want to love-to-hate and hate-to-love. The characters are relatable and interesting.

DIALOGUE:
#/5 – Most of the dialogue are thoughts and memories. Very little is spoken between characters and when done, feels disjointed and has you wondering: “what did I miss??”.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January – A Goodreads Choice 2019 Nominee

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

My Rating: ####/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.16/5

Published September 10th, 2019

“When I was seven, I found a door. I suspect I should capitalize that word, so you understand I’m not talking about your garden- or common-variety door that leads reliably to a white-tiled kitchen or a bedroom closet.
When I was seven, I found a Door. There – look how tall and proud the word stands on the page now, the belly of that D like a black archway leading into white nothing. When you see that word, I imagine a little prickle of familiarity makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You don’t know a thing about me; you can’t see me sitting at this yellow-wood desk, the salt-sweet breeze riffling these pages like a reader looking for her bookmark. You can’t see the scars that twist and knot across my skin. You don’t even know my name…”
– The Blue Door, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

I was gifted a copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Must Read Books YA SA and Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is an unpaid review.

One of my favorite books from 2018 was The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. When I read the synopsis for The Ten Thousand Doors of January I felt the sentimental longing to go back to Anthony Peardew’s mansion, meet Laura for the first time and discover the story of The Keeper of Lost Things all over again. I had to know if TTTDoJ was going to leave the same wistful affection in my heart.

“But you still know about Doors, don’t you? Because there are ten thousand stories about ten thousand Doors, and we know them as well as we know our names.”

January Scaller is an orphan of sorts. She doesn’t belong anywhere; she doesn’t come from anywhere and she doesn’t know what the future holds. She feels ignored and alone and out of place. When January discovers a strange book that talks about Doors (with a capital D), other worlds, love, and adventure, how can she not read it? With each turn of the page, January’s whole life changes and she discovers there is one door that she will never be able to enter – the door before The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

“But I was done with the fanciful nonsense. No more doors or Doors, no more dreams of silver seas and whitewashed cities. No more stories. I imagined this was just one those lessons implicit in the process of growing up, which everyone learns eventually.”

I get a lump in my throat just telling you about January’s story and this book. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. Alix E. Harrow transports you into a world so magical and so full of adventure, you feel a little like the son or daughter of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, meets The Keeper of Lost Things.

Alix E. Harrow delivers the twists and turns of this magical, fantastical plot with elegance and confidence. Narration in sections of TTTDoJ nods to the narration at the start and end of The Age of Adeline (2015) and these were truly my favorite part(s) of the book. The narrator imprints on you that time weighs heavily on all the characters and for good reason.

“She became something else entirely, something so radiant and wild and fierce that a single world could not contain her, and she was obligated to find others.”

Every chapter is named for the Door discovered in the chapter and gives insight on what to expect throughout the chapter. Will it be a wonderfully lovely Door or a worrisome Door to be wary of? There is the Unlocked Door, the Door to Anywhere, the Door of Blood and Silver, the Burning Door and the Door in the Mist.

January’s Doors is going to stay with me for a long while still…

“…not every story is made for telling. Sometimes just by telling a story you’re stealing it, stealing a little of the mystery away from it.”

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | LOOT | READERS WAREHOUSE

The Finalists Have Been Announced – Goodreads Choice Awards Final Round

The final round for the 11th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards dates are from 19th of November to the 2nd of December, followed by the Winners announcement on the 10th of December.

Herewith the top contenders and my predictions. Let me know if you’ve read any of them and if you think they deserve to be in the final round?

Best Fiction:

Normal People or The Testaments

Did you know that Normal People by Sally Rooney has over 123,000 ratings on GoodReads?

It has also been nominated for the Booker Prize for Longlist (2018), the Costa Book Award for Novel (2018), the Dylan Thomas Prize for Longlist (2019), and the Women’s Prize for Fiction for Longlist (2019).

Best Mystery & Thriller:

The Silent Patient or An Anonymous Girl

Did you know The Silent Patient is Alex Michaelides’s first novel, but that he wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike.

Best Historical Fiction:

Daisy Jones & The Six or City of Girls

Best Fantasy:

Fire & Blood or The Winter of The Witch

Uhm, Mr Martin, when will you be finished with book 8 of A Song of Ice and Fire….mmmm????

Best Humor:

Life Will Be The Death Of Me:…And You Too! or Dear Girls

I listened to Dear Girls on Audible, and it was fantastic!

Best History and Biography:

Midnight in Chernobyl and Say Nothing

Say Nothing has also been nominated for the National Book Award for Nonfiction (2019), the Kirkus Prize Nominee for Nonfiction (2019) and The Orwell Prize for Political Writing (2019).

Best Graphic Novels:

Pumpkin Heads or Heartstopper VOL. 2

There is a lovely blog-post at Ruby Rae Reads on all the Graphic Novels she’s read this year – it features Heartstopper Vol. 1 and Pumpkin Heads.

Best Debut Novel:

The Silent Patient or My Sister The Serial Killer

My Sister the Serial Killer has also been nominated for the Booker Prize for Longlist (2019), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller (2018), and the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019).

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction:

The Wicked King or Queen Of Air And Darkness

It’s Queen of Nothing release day – have you ordered your copy yet?
Amazon | Book Depository | Loot

Best Middle Grade & Children’s:

Diary Of An Awesome Friendly Kid or New Kid

New Kid has also been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019).


Are you ready to cast your final vote?

The Guardian of Lies – A perfect read for the upcoming holidays.

The Guardian of Lies by Kate Furnivall

My Rating: ###/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.85/5

Published August 22nd, 2019

Fans of Tom Clancy and Kate Quinn – this one is for you.

“Eloïse Caussade is a courageous young Frenchwoman, raised on a bull farm near Arles in the Camargue. She idolizes her older brother, André, and when he leaves to become an Intelligence Officer working for the CIA in Paris to help protect France, she soon follows him. Having exchanged the strict confines of her father’s farm for a life of freedom in Paris, her world comes alive. 

But everything changes when André is injured – a direct result of Eloise’s actions. Unable to work, André returns to his father’s farm, but Eloïse’s sense of guilt and responsibility for his injuries sets her on the trail of the person who attempted to kill him.” – Goodreads 

I was gifted a copy of The Guardian of Lies by Must Read Books SA and Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is an unpaid review.

What an enjoyable story. This story has all the right ingredients for an intensely satisfying and captivating spy meets historical fiction tale. The writing is fast-paced, the dynamics between the characters are intense and interesting and just the right amount of romance is present so that everyone will enjoy it. I often found myself trying to predict the outcome, but just when I thought I knew who “the bad guys” were, Furnivall introduced a new twist and kept me on the edge of my seat. 

Most Historical Fiction novels are based in WWII (which I absolutely love), so it was refreshing to read a story set in post-war France where new history was being made. In this story, we are introduced to the start of the Cold War, Joseph Stalin, the creation of nuclear weapons and The Space Race. 

My absolute favorite thing about this book is the Southern France setting. The region of Camargue is some of the most natural and most protected regions in all of Europe, so I can just imagine how beautiful it was 65 years ago with The Mediterranean Sea on one side and full, luscious marsh plains in-land. 

Murder, lies, spies and secret agents, loyalty, betrayal, more secrets, more lies, fear, guilt, courage, and French wine – this book has it all!

Vote for the Best Books of the Year! – Goodreads Choice Awards Opening Round

I am an absolute Goodreads Choice Awards junkie.  I love going through the list of nominees and winners to see which books I’ve read and which books I need to add to my #tbr ASAP… because #fomo.

The opening round for the 11th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards dates are from 5th to November 10th, followed by the Semifinal round, the Final round and Winners announcement on the 10th of December.

There are 20 categories, with 15 books per category.  You are can submit a “write-in vote” if there is a book not nominated, that you feel deserves to be there.  Rules and eligibility for “write-in votes” here.

Categories are:

  1. Best Fiction
  2. Mystery & Thriller
  3. Historical Fiction (my favorite)
  4. Fantasy
  5. Romance
  6. Science Fiction
  7. Horror
  8. Humor
  9. Nonfiction
  10. Memoir & Autobiography
  11. History & Biography
  12. Science & Technology
  13. Food & Cookbooks
  14. Graphic Novels & Comics
  15. Poetry
  16. Debut Novel
  17. Young Adult Fiction
  18. Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction
  19. Middle Grade & Children’s
  20. Picture Books

Some of the 2019 well known book nominees include The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks.

So far I have voted for Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, Dear Girls by Ali Wong, A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer and Dead Voices by Katherine Arden.  AND I have added about 20 new books to my ever-chaotic #tbr-pile *facepalm.

Don’t delay!  Go cast your votes book-peeps!!