A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – A Review

Hi! Let’s skip the introduction. I’ve a review for you for the second book in the Wayfarers series today!

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  • Publication date: 2016
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Genre: Sci-fi

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in a new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

I didn’t realise this book wasn’t following the exact same characters as book one and I must admit, at the start I was bummed out. Just when I really fell in love with the crew of the Wayfarer, I had to leave them? Ahhh… My disappointment didn’t last for long, though.

I think I still love the first book a tad bit more, but this one is so close behind it’s incredible. Once again, even though it’s not necessarily a happy story, it’s one that is cosy and inviting. Chambers really lets us get to know Lovelace and Pepper and shows us what it is that make them tick, while still building onto the already rich world set up in the first book. We learn so much so effortlessly. And yes, there is a plot to it, but it takes the back burner while we really delve deep into the characters and their lives.

Lovey is a character I found incredibly fascinating in the first book, as she’s a sentient AI, with a personality and feelings, and I appreciated the way Chambers approached the subject. Lovey/Sidra really grows into herself throughout the book, and I was very invested in her journey.

Similarly, Pepper’s story is also really well done, and follows the character from childhood to when we know her, which inadvertently shows off more of the galaxy, laws, customs and all the good world building stuff that’s super intriguing.

Overall, A Closed and Common Orbit is a fantastic, engaging and warm story that I’m sure non sci-fi fans would also enjoy!

Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be back with a review for the 3rd and 4th book soon!

Take care!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – A Review

Hi there! We’re nearing a year of the pandemic in Ireland and I’ve gotten so fed up and uninspired, hence the lack of posts. Thankfully, I’m reading a fair bit, still. I thought to try and combat the bad feelings, I’ll post about a book I’ve read recently and LOVED, and spread the good vibes instead. Also – a new book in this series is out tomorrow (and I’m currently in the middle of it)! What better time to do this?

If you couldn’t tell from the title, this is for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Let’s go!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • Publication date: 2014
  • Published: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Genre: Sci-fi

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants. Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years…if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

I wish I could give this book all the stars in the world! 2021 barely started and I know for sure that this book will end up in my top 10 reads.

I loved every second of this book, every character and all that happened in it. I shed a tear at the end. If that doesn’t describe my feelings enough, I don’t know how to do it better.

I’ve read Chambers before, although only one book, so I knew I liked her style, or what I’ve seen of it. But this was something else. She managed to write the cosiest, warmest sci-fi book I’ve ever read. Found family trope is my absolute favourite, and it’s a big part of this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but there’s something about it that makes it a great comfort read.

It’s definitely a more character than plot driven story. Chambers describes different species and their culture with such ease you believe they really exist. She mentiones their struggles, differences, politics and by it creates such vivid, multidimensional (no pun intended), real characters that feel both human and alien. They’re effortlessly diverse. I fell a bit in love with every crew member of the Wayfarer and I cared about them so deeply, and this might be weird to say but they almost felt like friends.

I was not once bored, not once disappointed. There’s nothing I would change about this book. I think it’s a story that would be approachable for non sci-fi readers, because it’s about so much more than space, aliens etc. You don’t have to like and understand these things, because they’re not the main focus. Anything that is alien to the reader, Chambers describes beautifully, and all the other aspects of it focus on the relationships and lives of the characters, which is something all readers look for regardless of the genre.

I’m so glad I finally picked up the series, it was a really special read. I would definitely recommend it to everyone who enjoys beautiful writing and well crafted characters.

Have you read this one? Let me know what you thought, I’d love to know!

As always, thank you so much for reading! Talk soon.

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman – A Review

Hi! Happy Tuesday. It’s review time!

I usually post reviews ARC reviews on the publication date but it does make a bit more sense to post them before, to give people time to decide whether the book is for them or not, right? From now on I might try to aim to post a week in advance. So, here we are.

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman
  • Publication date: February 9th 2021
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Genre: Sci-fi

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own.

The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After reading and loving Schusterman’s Scythe trilogy, I was very excited to pick up this new release by him. Sci-fi is my jam and alternate realities a buzzword that alone makes me want to read a book, and with the pleasant previous experience with the author – I thought it was a recipe for a success.

I did like the general idea and premise for the book. Although I know nothing about football, nor do I have a clue how the game works, other than people slamming into each other, the sport part of the story didn’t put me off. I understood as much as I needed – Ash, the main character, gets slammed into an alternate reality during a game and things become quite messed up very fast. Sounds good.

The book was a breeze to get through. I liked the writing, the tone and the humour. Ashley was a fine protagonist, someone who’s point of view I enjoyed for most of the book. He wasn’t my favourite – that spot is dedicated to the Edwards, but I didn’t dislike him by any means. So why is the book a 3 star?

Now, I’m going to start by saying I think what Schusterman tried to do was valid and it’s needed in YA, but the way it was done just didn’t bring anything new to the table or have any particular merit in my eyes. The alternate realities bring up discussions about racism, sexism and homophobia, to describe it broadly. Yes, those issues are valid ones to talk about in YA literature and by all means should be discussed more and more, but maybe in a way that sounds less rehearsed and preachy. After all, Ash is a white, straight male in the first reality. His school is diverse racially and so is his friend circle, but he admits on many occasions how ignorant he’s been in the past and how his Black best friend called him out in those times. Ash admits that he has a lot to learn, yet we don’t see him learning much. I think the book misses the point completely and brings up issues and discussions without being willing to delve into all of them with the depth they deserve.

That being said, I didn’t dislike the book. I just think that it could’ve done more and done it better.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read this one yet? Or is it on your radar?

Thank you for reading! Talk to you soon.

January 2021 Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! How are you all doing? I honestly cannot believe the first month of 2021 is behind us. Where did the time go?

As always, it is time for a wrap up. This past month I have read… 9 books. It’s a pretty decent start to the year, if I do say so myself. Of course, part of me is asking, but why not 10? But let’s ignore that part completely.

This is how my reading went in January with the stats being as follows:

  • Number of books read: 9
  • Number of pages read: 3651
  • Average star rating: 3.5
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 50
  • Books read: 2
  • Physical TBR: 46

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Sadly, although I expected to love this one, I didn’t. I found it needlessly confusing, the pacing all over the place and the characters underdeveloped. Too bad, because I did like the premise and Seanan McGuire’s writing.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Full review here.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan

Full review here.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Very solid ending to a very solid story. I think what N.K. Jemisin created in this series is super fresh and intricate. The finale didn’t disappoint, although I think book 1 is still my favourite.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

This one blew me away. I didn’t think Ms Kuang would go THERE… but she did! If you know, you know. If you haven’t picked up The Poppy War yet – do it! If you like morally grey characters, good magic systems and violent, brutal fantasy books – it’s for you.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

A full review to come, but know this – this book has my whole heart. I loved it! It deserves ALL THE STARS in the world.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman

I’ve a review for this scheduled very soon, too (as it’s releasing soon) so I’ll talk about what worked for me and what didn’t, and why I’m giving it such a middle of the road rating.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo

Sadly, I thought this one was quite forgettable. I found the story, characters and the world building… lacking. It definitely had lots of potential, I picked it up because it sounded intriguing – but not one part of the story grabbed me. I wish it was longer – with the world more immersive and the characters fleshed out. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Touch by Claire North

I like Clare North, but this is not my favourite book by her. It’s not my least favourite, either. Touch lies right in the middle, with a interesting, nuanced premise, very Claire Northesque writing (which is a compliment) and a satisfying ending that makes you forgive the confusion and pacing of the middle of the book. What can I say – it was fun! It was no Harry August, but it was fun.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

And that is it for my wrap up. Have you read any of these? How did your month go? And on a different note – do you like the new look of the blog?

I’ll talk to you very soon. Thank you for reading!

Most Anticipated Releases of The First Quarter of 2021

Hi! Happy Saturday!

I realise this post is about 3 weeks too late, but better late than never, right? A few of these books are out already, but I am still very excited to read them. Let’s go!

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Release date: January 12

I will read EVERYTHING Angie Thomas decides to write. I absolutely love THUG and am dying to read about Maverick’s teen years. I’ll be getting my hands on this one as soon as my self imposed book buying ban ends (read: as soon as I’m not as broke as I am currently).

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Release date: January 12

I’ll be honest with you… I haven’t read past the first book in this series. The premise of it is very intriguing, though, and I liked Every Heart a Doorway, so I might do a mini readathon in February and fly the rest of the books since I own them all on Kindle…

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

Release date: January 14

I loved The Hazel Wood and The Night Country and I just need this book right now in my hands! Is food really that important, or do I just order it?

The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick

Release date: January 21

I got very very lucky and approved for an ARC of this literally THE DAY it came out. So I’ll be starting it very shortly (possibly tomorrow) and I couldn’t be more excited. It has magic, con artists (if you don’t know that yet, it’s one of my buzz words!) and LGBTQA+ rep.

If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier

Release Date: January 26

First and foremost – I really enjoy this cover trend! Whether it’s flowers emerging from an actual face, or this kind of a deal with the picture of the face being ripped and the botanicals underneath. *chef’s kiss* All I know here is that this one is a mystery with a podcast and big Sadie vibes, so of course I’m on board.

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

Release date: January 26

Another January 26 release that I am DYING to read. We Could Be Heroes follows two characters with superpowers (another buzzword… maybe I should make a blog post about those?), and they come together, discover a threat and have to work together overcome it. I think. I’m not sure I’m understanding the synopsis, but either way it sounds right up my alley – it’s a weird sci-fi, and honestly sometimes that’s ALL I want to read!

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Release date: February 1

I love fantasy – it surprises no one. The Gilded Ones is meant to be a fantastic one, so of course it’s on my radar. All the people who were fortunate to get an early copy are raving about it. They say it’s great and full of representation, but also violent and graphic. That ticks most of the boxes for me. I am not sure about the plot, other than that it revolves around a girl who is being tested to become a member of her village, and fails the test, because her blood is gold and not red. I don’t need to know more, I’m sold already.

The Project by Courtney Summers

Release date: February 8

Another cover that is just… indescribably beautiful. And it so happens to be my most anticipated book of the year (I think, but maybe don’t quote me on it). If I had this book now, I would drop everything to read it. I fucking loved Sadie and Courtney Summers’ writing in it, and this one is also a mystery AND had to do with cults. Sign me up, I’m ready, I NEED IT!

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman

Release date: February 11

So, I have compiled this list in late December. I loved Schusterman’s Scythe trilogy, and got approved for this on NetGalley. I also finished it today. It’s about a guy who plays football, and after being hit on the field, the world around him changes and the reality is not quite how he remembers it. I’ll be posting a review for this one soon, and you’ll see if it deserved the spot on this list or not!

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab

Release date: March 2

Lots of sequels on this list! This one is a MG paranormal fantasy series by Victoria Schwab. I’ve enjoyed the first two books, centering about Cassidy, who can see ghosts, and her parents, who host a TV show all about them, as they travel from one city to another, exploring their haunted past. This one should be a lot of fun.

The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody

Release date: March 30

This cover gives me big Nevermoor vibes! So does the title. I am a sucker for a good magical middle grade fantasy. Amanda Foody is a writing goddess, and we need new books that kids can read instead of picking up HP. And by kids, I mean me. I’m kids.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Release date: March 30

On the same day, by another writing goddess – Leigh Bardugo, we have Rule of Wolves. I need more Nikolai Lantsov in my life. I loved King of Scars and I expect to love this one just as much. And look how gorgeous it is!

And that is all. Of course, these are not ALL of the books on my radar, just the ones I’m looking forward to the most. Any of these on your list?

Thank you for reading, as always, I’ll talk to you soon. I hope you’re staying safe!

Wench by Maxine Kaplan – A Review

Hello, my dears! I hope you’re doing well. I’m here to talk about a book that came out today – Wench by Maxine Kaplan. Happy book birthday, Wench.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan
  • Publication date: January 19th 2020
  • Publisher: Abrams
  • Genre: Fantasy

A funny, fiercely feminist YA epic fantasy—following the adventures of a tavern wench

 

Tanya has worked at her tavern since she was able to see over the bar. She broke up her first fight at 11. By the time she was a teenager she knew everything about the place, and she could run it with her eyes closed. She’d never let anyone—whether it be a drunkard or a captain of the queen’s guard—take advantage of her. But when her guardian dies, she might lose it all: the bar, her home, her purpose in life. So she heads out on a quest to petition the queen to keep the tavern in her name—dodging unscrupulous guards, a band of thieves, and a powerful, enchanted feather that seems drawn to her. Fast-paced, magical, and unapologetically feminist, Wench is epic fantasy like you’ve never seen it before.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I got approved for this one a few months ago and was very excited to pick it up. A funny epic fantasy about a tavern wench that was, I quote, “unapologetically feminist”? Sign me up! What happened, you ask? The blurb lied…

There are many things I didn’t like about Wench. While the blurb promised so much, I didn’t find the book funny, nor particularly feminist. It was a fantasy, sure, but I wouldn’t call it epic… in any meaning of the word.

The biggest issue I had was the world building and magic system – two key elements that really shape any fantasy story. While the author clearly knew what her world was like, she didn’t educate the reader at all. There is no explanation of the world, kingdom name, basic geography, or politics. Things get mentioned every now and then in an offhand way, as if the reader should already know it all. I’m not sure if the author chose this method not to fall into the trap of “telling instead of showing”, but honestly I’d rather be told. I would appreciate a full scope of the world instead of having to guess things and piece them together.

I had the same issue with the magic system. Only the very basic info was given to us – nothing beyond the fact that magic is possible but creates “junkoff”. Can everyone do magic? Is it learned? Are you born with it? What can it actually do? No clue. It’s a fantasy novel – explain the main elements, please.

If those two were done better (I’m not even saying done right), it could’ve been a 3 star. But on top of all of this the cast of characters was just too big and hence they weren’t really developed at all. The relationships felt forced, I kept forgetting who was meant to be who because their personalities bled into one… I have nothing good to say about Tanya, or any other characters whose names I already forgot.

I think the efforts were definitely there, and people who care more about the plot in a vaguely fantastical setting would enjoy it a lot more than me. Ultimately Wench didn’t work for me, sadly, as I looked forward to what seemed like a new and fresh fantasy.

⭐⭐

Can anyone explain star rating is not a thing on the WordPress app while it is in the browser?

Anyway… thank you for reading. Don’t let my bad review stop you from reading the book if it sounds interesting to you.

Talk soon!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – A Review

Hi! It’s time for the first review of 2021.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the lovely briefcase I got right before Christmas in a charity shop for… 5.50! It’s probably the best deal and purchase I made in all my nearly 28 years on this Earth. Also, before I move onto the review, let’s do a little self promo – if you like this photo, I have an instagram account full of them! I would be over the moon if you considered following me there. My handle is the same – imfullybooked!

Okay, now it’s review time!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
  • Publication date: August 6th 2019
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling/Horror

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Oh boy, did this book take me on a rollercoaster!

I’m not sure how to articulate my feelings towards House of Salt and Sorrows. On one hand, I was sure it would be a 5 star read until about 35% in, and then after partial redemption about 65% in. And on the other hand… everything that happened in between those times was just so disjointed from the rest of the story and hence jarring, and I can’t with good conscience give it anything more than 3 stars.

The story grabbed me from the start. I didn’t know what to expect, I had no clue what it was really about, other than 12 sisters who kept dying one by one, and I genuinely didn’t know it was a retelling (nor do I know the original story). It would probably be wiser for me to read the blurb beyond the first 2 sentences, but I like going into things blindly. The book opens with a funeral, which really set up the atmosphere, and the elements of mystery and possible supernatural elements had me super intriguing. It really seemed like my cup of tea. Until…

I am not sure what happened around 35% in. The atmosphere and pacing changed. The overall mood of the story changed. What started out dark and moody, turned into fluffy adventure and love story. Spooky supernatural elements disappeared. It really had me confused – I wasn’t sure what I was reading anymore. The feel I got from it at the start of atmospheric, ghosty mystery changed. And then when I was losing hope, it changed again! And again.

I would definitely enjoy it a lot more has it stayed with one mood, and didn’t jump around so much, undecided what it actually was. I think some of the ideas were fantastic. As was a lot of the execution. I loved all of the Thaumas sisters and I really cared about them all. But what grabbed me at the start just didn’t carry through the book. Twists and turns are great, but when they keep the same tone. The book is marketed as a YA horror, but a lot of it doesn’t read like horror at all. It made the ending feel super disjointed. I feel like the author tried to do too much in 400 pages. It’s a shame.

I’ll be picking the authors other book once it comes out, as I think she’s a skilled writer. Hopefully that one will work for me more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you agree with me, or did you love it? Let me know down below.

Thank you so much for reading, and apologies for the shameless promo at the start.

Until the next one!

2020 Reading Stats

Hi, everyone.

It’s been a while. I tend to say it in every post, but it really HAS been a while. The last months of the year have been a big struggle in every aspect of life, though I’m sure I’m not the only person who experienced that, and I got way too overwhelmed to read and post.

This might not be a post for everyone. We’ll be looking at all my reading stats from last year. At the end of 2019 I also posted all my favourites, least favourites, most surprising and disappointing books, but since we’re already 11 days into the new year, I will include some of the info here instead of posting separately.

Okay, let’s get to it!

In 2020 I’ve read… 92 books. It’s the most I’ve read in a single year probably ever. I’ve been a reader most of my life, but I’ve also been a library user until I got a job and was able to afford books – so, my choices were fewer.

Here’s a look at the stats in my bullet journal.

The total number of pages I read is 35 692! That includes the 7 DNFs from the year, most of which I gave until around 40% in before I put them down.

I have read 27 physical books, 30 audio books and 35 ebooks. Out of those 35 ebooks 12 were ARCs. I also DNFed 2 ARCs and read 2 physical review copies. My reading slowed down in October, as you can see, and the only thing that saved me were audio books. Anyone who says audio books don’t count as reading… you’re wrong!

My most read genre was unsurprisingly fantasy. It accounted for 47% of all the books I read. Other genres I read multiple books of were sci-fi, contemporary, mystery and horror. I even managed 3 non-fiction, which is usually not my genre of choice. A discovery I made this year that surprised me is that I like horror books. I am not a horror movie fan, but the few books I read in the genre I really enjoyed!

As for star ratings – my overall rating for the year is 3.78 stars, which is quite high in my opinion. Although the numbers don’t reflect this I feel like from September onwards I wasn’t reading many books I really enjoyed, and it’s probably because I felt very slumpish and unmotivated. In reality, all my favourite, least favourite, most surprising and disappointing books were mixed evenly throughout the year.

Favourites

Least Favourite

Most Surprising

Most Disappointing

Now, that last one definitely has some controversial titles.

To wrap it all up before I head away – I’ve had a really good year number wise, fairly good year rating wise, although quite a disappointing one when it comes to some big books I was very excited to read. Here’s to doing better in 2021!

How many books have you read in 2020? Did you have a good reading year? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus – A Review #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour

Hi! It’s my stop on TheWriteReads tour for The Cousins by Karen M. McManus (as you can tell by the title)! This one releases in December, so keep an eye out for it – it’s a fun one!

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
  • Publication date: December 1st 2020
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Genre: Mystery

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Thank you to the publisher and Dave at TheWriteReads for a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Every Karen M. McManus book surprises me, and I think by now I should know and expect to enjoy them. I liked and flew through her other books, and The Cousins was no different.

The story follows 3 estranged cousins: Milly, Aubrey and Jonah, who are invited to spend a summer at their grandmother’s resort. The catch is, she disowned her own children 24 years ago and has not kept in contact with either of them since. So, why is she reaching out now?

I was pretty hooked on the premise from the get go. I really enjoy family mysteries, the more twisted ones, the better, so I was looking forward to reading it – although I kept my expectations low, because YA mysteries tend to be too predictable for me. The story really took off from the first few chapters (as it’s told from alternating POVs of the 3 cousins), though it didn’t capture me fully until the halfway point.
I enjoyed all three of the cousins’ perspectives and how different they and their circumstances were. Once the flashbacks were introduced, I started caring a lot more about the past events, though, and I wish the story focused more on the Story children, and not the grandkids. Truth be told, the mystery worked either way.

I think Karen M. McManus is really good at pacing her stories and giving the readers just enough info to keep them interested and engaged. Like with her other books, I didn’t once get bored and want to put the book down to take a break. I had fun reading it start to finish, although it wasn’t perfect by any means.

I could’ve done without the romance, but I say it every time. I know parts of it put things in motion when it comes to plot, but I think I’d enjoy it more if literally anything else happened.
Although I didn’t fully figure out where the story was going, I had a pretty good inkling how it’ll end, and the finale didn’t surprise me. It’s not always detrimental for me to be shocked by the reveal to enjoy a story, as long as the rest of the book makes up for it, and I’ll happily admit it did. I think as far as YA mysteries go, this one turned out pretty impressive.

Next time Karen M. McManus comes out with another book, I’ll try not to doubt her. She’s proven to write continuously fun and engaging stories.

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Make sure to follow TheWriteReads on Twitter and check out all the fantastic reviews from other bloggers, as this tour is a huge one.

Thank you for reading!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – A Review

Hi! How are you? I thought after a downer of the last review (which was for Addie LaRue), I’ll post one I absolutely loved – just to balance it out. So here it is – The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – a book that has been out for nearly a month and is not getting the praise it deserves!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Publication date: October 13th 2020
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Limited
  • Genre: Historical fantasy

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box. But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive. There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Alix E. Harrow did it again! And now I’m forever convinced I will read everything she ever writes, although I was quite sure of that after reading her debut novel.

The Once and Future Witches had me enchanted from the first page. Set in the late 1800s at the brink of the suffragette movement, it’s a story of three estranged sisters, Agnes, Bella and Juniper, who are brought back together in strange circumstances. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric and feminist tale of sisterly bonds, witchery and women’s rights.

Harrow’s writing is impeccable. It’s just the right amount of flowery, without being lofty and overdone. Considering it’s only her second book, it’s very impressive as she seems to have found her style and voice already.

I love all three sisters equally. It’s not often I get attached to every character in the story, I usually have my favourites, but it’s really hard to pick a favourite out of Agnes, Bella and Juniper. All three sisters are vastly different and fascinating in their own way. Most of the secondary characters are female, too, and together they make for a greatly diverse and strong ensemble.

Give me anything witchy and I’ll read it. I have a soft spot for magic of any kind and witchy stories. The Once and Future Witches is so much more, though. It’s about women who are fed up of being silenced, objectified, judged, harassed… you name it. It’s feminist in the best way – inclusive of ALL, no matter their race, sexuality or biological sex (although Harrow acknowledges how it was perceived in the past, and for some until this day). The family dynamics and sisterly bond between the three protagonists was just the cherry on top.

I don’t understand why so many people are sleeping on this book. I deserves more hype – it’s absolutely fantastic. All the stars for The Once and Future Witches!!!

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Have you read The Once and Future Witches yet? Is it on your radar? If not, you definitely should pick it up – trust me!

As always, thank you for reading!