Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | I don’t know how to feel about this book!

I don’t necessarily call myself a Leigh Bardugo fan. I read the Grisha trilogy last year and while it wasn’t the most mindblowing YA fantasy out there, it definitely had some elements that I enjoyed. I still need to read her «Six of Crows» duology, which I hope to like better than the original Grisha trilogy. 

However,  I had very high hopes for «Ninth House». Last year it was one of the most anticipated releases of all bookish community, but then it received a lot of negative reviews – I think people hyped it up more than necessary and were [unpleasanlty] surprised when it turned out to be very different from Leigh Bardugo’s previous work. 

Even after finishing this 459 pages monster and sitting on my thoughts for a week, I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not.

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A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1) by Brigid Kemmerer | Hmm… not my favorite retelling.

I knew I wasn’t going to love this book. That’s probably why I kept pushing it until the end of the month. Turns out that I don’t have many books that include shapeshifting to pass the Transfiguration exam, and this was one of the most obvious choices. 

Of course, I didn’t go into «A Curse so Dark and Lonely» expecting to dislike it. G from BookRoast, the host and creator of OWLs read-a-thon, spoke so highly of this first book in the series and Brigid Kemmerer’s writing overall that I wanted to believe that this book was going to be for me.

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House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig | An eerie retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”

I finally did it! «House of Salt and Sorrow» came out in August of last year, and I was so upset with myself for not requesting it on NetGalley (I assume it was available on NetGalley?!). Just seeing this gorgeous cover, I knew it would be something I’d like. And then I heard that it was a retelling of rather famous Brothers Grimm fairytale – “The Twelve Dancing Sisters”, which surprisingly I’ve never read! 

When I was little, the leatherbound edition of Brothers Grimm fairytales was one of my favorite books to read and play with. Maybe it didn’t have that particular fairytale? Or maybe I just never read all of them? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The «House of Salt and Sorrow» was a very enticing read. I flew through it in two days and I want more! I hope Erin A. Craig will write more eerie and atmospheric standalone fantasies in the future. Her next book «Small Favors» should come out in 2021 and I’m already excited about it!

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The Vampire of Maple Town by Kane McLoughlin | The vampire book you didn’t know you needed!

Once again I’ve proven to myself that a low Goodreads rating doesn’t mean the book is bad or that I won’t like it. With a mere 3.04, «The Vampire of Maple Town» was a very solid and magical debut novel that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves fairytales and inexperienced vampires trying to find their place in the human society.

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The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow | Sadly, Alix E. Harrow’s writing style is not for me!

I think I have to admit defeat and NOT request any future books written by Alix E. Harrow. As much as I want to love her books, and as much as I love the concepts, ideas, characters she creates, the writing style ruins everything for me. Which is so frustrating! 

It would be understandable if I wasn’t a fan of lyrical writing, but I am! In my reviews of The Bear and the Nightingale series by Katherine Arden (which is the BEST series ever!), many people mentioned how beautiful and lyrical her writing was but they couldn’t get engaged in the story, mostly because of the writing. Apparently, I have the same issue with Alix E. Harrow…

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Home Before Dark by Riley Sager | Should I read more books by Riley Sager?

Will I ever become a Riley Sager fan?

Last year I read my first Riley Sager book – «Lock Every Door» and, to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. The thriller genre is very competitive. There are so many incredible writers whose books I love and who never fail to surprise me with the crazy twists. So far I can’t say the same about Riley Sager. 

Someone who is new to the mystery / thriller genre will appreciate his books much more than I have, and will probably be surprised by the twists and turns.

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Just Like You by Nick Hornby | Literary fiction, romance or social commentary?

Nick Hornby is one of those authors I always wanted to read more. Right after finishing «About a Boy» and «Slam» almost 10 years ago I intended to read his other books, but never got around to picking them up. Seeing his new novel on NetGalley, «Just Like You», made me incredibly happy! Not only because I knew I was going to enjoy the prose, but also because “tender but also brutally funny” sounded exactly like something I’d love!

I need to warn you though that this blurb is very misleading. On one hand, it does capture the bare bones of the story, but on the other hand, it makes you believe things that are not actually in the book. It made me wonder if I would have noticed that the main characters had “nothing in common” without reading the blurb.🤷‍♀️

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The Test by Sylvain Neuvel | The most mind-blowing novella!

If you haven’t read «The Test» by Sylvain Neuvel, what are you doing with your life?! It’s incredible! Mind-blowing! Astounding! And many other positive adjectives that I can’t think of right now! 

The best way to experience this novella is to dive into the story blindly. The less you know the more surprised (and shocked!) you’ll be. The blurb for this book is very precise and I think it’s perfectly on point. How many times have we encountered long blurbs that spoiled half of the story? That’s why I tend to avoid reading them at all costs. (I’m the same with movie trailers, btw. Recent trailers are just a summarized version of movies and I don’t like watching them! 😀 )

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Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman | The descend into the Challenger Deep!

Such a powerful novel about mental illness, «Challenger Deep» explores what’s it’s like to go through the period of life when your brain tricks you into believing that your delusions and hallucinations are actually real. Written in a way that allows you to understand Caden’s struggles on a deeper level, the story was rich with fantasy elements, that helped to bring the emotions forward.

I’m currently reading «The Toll», the third book in the Arc of Scythe trilogy by the same author, and I have to say that I prefer his writing in «Challenger Deep». It reads and flows much better for me. That is not to say that there is a big difference between the two, but somehow the writing style in his dystopian series doesn’t pull me in the same way.

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Week 1 | Classics: Persuasion by Jane Austen

In my August Monthly Goals post I mentioned that one of the things I wanted to do this month was to read Classics and Non-Fiction. I’m going to try and read at least 3 (maybe 4 – one for each week) and share my thoughts with you!

This is my second Austen book. Last year I read «Pride and Prejudice» and while it wasn’t my favorite classic of all time, I really enjoyed it. «Persuasion», however, had a very boring beginning, and my mind kept wandering away from the story. 

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Traveling in time to Ancient Greece | The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

As I was reading «The Song of Achilles» I couldn’t help myself but compare this book to «Circe» also by Madeline Miller. Both of them follow a famous figure from Greek mythology, both a very heavy influenced by Ancient Greece, and both are told in a very beautiful way. While «The Song of Achilles» was a fairly quick read (in comparison to «Circe» which took me over a month), I feel like I will forget it just as quickly.

It might be due to the fact that this was an epic love story, or maybe because none of the characters in this book sparked love or even admiration in me. «Circe», on the other hand, is the book that will stay with me for a long time. I read it in July of last year and I still remember how it made me feel, I still think about it from time to time.

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Traveling to Egypt | The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

When I was in high school I discovered one of Paulo Coelho books that took me on a trip through his stories and I literally became obsesses with «Veronica Decides to Die». I lost count of how many times I read that book. Looking back at it, I wonder if I was too young to read his novels, as they always made me feel almost hypnotized by his words and the powerful messages he sends through his work. 

After many intense years of constantly re-reading the couple of Paulo Coelho books I owned, I finally decided to take a break from them, and haven’t read anything by him until now.

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North | An interesting thriller but not as captivating as I wanted it to be!

Ever since the release of «The Whisper Man» by Alex North last year, I’ve been very excited to read his debut thriller. Especially because it received so much positive feedback (and the cover definitely caught my attention). 

Guess what. I still haven’t read «The Whisper Man» but I was very lucky to get the ARC of Alex North’s new release – «The Shadow Friend» (or «The Shadow» as it’s called in the US). I’m so happy that I finally got to read at least one Alex North books!

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One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London | Great representation but poorly handled romantic relationships!

I wish I could say that I loved «One to Watch» by Kate Stayman-London… Sadly, it fell really flat for me. Maybe I should have known better and stayed away from a book inspired by the Bachelor TV show, which I’m not a big fan of. As much as I wanted to like Bea, the main character, her somewhat dubious behavior, and poorly handled relationships in the reality show context left a bad aftertaste. 

Now, don’t get me wrong! It wasn’t a total miss for me, and in fact, there were certain things that I liked a lot – for example, the plus-size women representation, the introduction of the asexual character, the lesbian friend (who was very smart about all the relationships I must say) and also seeing a fashion blogger who is not a standard 90-60-90. These were all great. But it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations.

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | A true horror story that will make your heart beat faster!

Emer! Thank you so much for reviewing this book and for making me so curious about it! I honestly don’t think that I would have picked it up if it wouldn’t be because of your review. 

That being said, I didn’t quite like it as much as Emer did [make sure to read her review as well!] but I definitely enjoyed the suspense and horror bits Silvia-Moreno Garcia included in «Mexican Gothic». I think I’ve only read 1 or 2 gothic-ish books before, so this one was definitely a lot of fun.

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