This August, I had a bit of a slow reading month. I’m usually able to read a lot in the summer because as a teacher, I’m off work. However, my husband and I spent over half the month travelling, and I tend to read far less when I’m away on vacation. This month, I read 6 books. A Court of Mist and Fury was quite long, so just finishing that was an accomplishment I think!
Here it is, my August Wrap-Up!
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Precious Cargo – Craig Davidson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas ⭐⭐⭐⭐ P.S. I Still LoveYou – Jenny Han ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan ⭐⭐⭐⭐
That comes in at a total of 6 books 🙂
Did I Meet My TBR Expectations?
I set a giant August TBR, which I planned to mood read from. Then, I ended up having to make an Indigo order for a textbook for one of my grad school courses. Naturally, once the order came, I was more interested in those new books than in the ones I had put on my TBR. I also didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped, but that was mostly due to travelling, not motivation, thankfully.
The Unread Shelf Project 2018 July Challenge
Over at theunreadshelf, the July challenge was to have your friends on Bookstagram choose your first read of the month. The votes were overwhelmingly for A Court of Mist and Fury. I decided to finish reading The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, which I started at the end of July, first. Then I dove straight into ACOMAF!
Notable Reads This Month
Overall, my favourite book of this month was The Princess Saves Herself in This One. I always have a soft spot in my heart for poetry books, especially ones as creative and unique as this one. Shoutout to Precious Cargo for being awesome and for being CanLit.
As for ratings, they were all pretty great!
I started grad school this week and it was also back to work (school). Things are quite busy, so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done. We’ll see!
I’m having a hard time believing it’s already August. There’s less than a month until I’m back at work!! I saw an image on Instagram this morning by @letterfolk with a quote that said:
“How is it already August…
Tomorrow is basically September.
It’s already 2019.
Happy New Year.”
That pretty much sums up how I’m feeling. Time flies! I had a fantastic reading month in July, and I’m hoping to do the same this month, before work gets going again and I start my Master’s.
So, without further ado, here’s my August TBR.
A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas How They Met – David Levithan A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer Fierce Kingdom – Gin Phillips The Boat People – Sharon Bala Precious Cargo – Craig Davidson Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (I accidentally put Library of Souls, book 3, in the photo, but I haven’t read book 2 yet) Lion – Saroo Brierley P.S. I Still Love You – Jenny Han The Fledgling – Jane Langton (The Hall Family Chronicles #4) The Fragile Flag – Jane Langton (The Hall Family Chronicles #5) The Time Bike – Jane Langton (The Hall Family Chronicles #6) A Dance with Dragons – George R. R. Martin
How I chose
I decided to go for a huge stack so that I could mood read from it this month. Mood reading worked really well for me last month, even though I didn’t officially choose a TBR. I also wanted to diversify my list a bit more and read some Canadian Literature (CanLit).
Where I’m at, and what I’m looking forward to!
I started reading The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo on the last day of July, and I’m almost done. Andrew and I are heading to Seattle to see the Jays-Mariners series today, so I don’t know how much reading I’ll get done, but we’ll see!
I think I’m most excited to read the CanLit (The Boat People, Precious Cargo) and the diverse reads (A Thousand Splendid Suns, Lion) on this list.
My classic choice for the month
Since March, I’ve attempted to read one classic per month. This month I’ve chosen Tarzan of the Apes! Should be fun!
Even though it’s a purposely big TBR for mood reading…
I still think I have a pretty good chance of finishing these because I’m still off work for summer!
Time to finish my packing and choose my weekend book list!
This July, I had my second best reading month of 2018 (and probably ever). In January, my best reading month, I read 23 books. This month, I read 21 hard copy books, and 1 audiobook!
Goodreads tells me that I’ve read 86 books so far this year. That’s 78% of my total target of 110 books for the year. Last year, my target was 100 books and I read 105, which is why I set my target at 110 this year. It’s looking like I’m going to smash everything out of the park! However, I am starting grad school in September so I have literally zero expectations for the last four months of this year.
So, here it is, my July Wrap-Up!
Crossroads and the Dominion of Four – C. Toni Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Vile Village – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Marrow Thieves – Cherie Dimaline ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Hostile Hospital – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Carnivorous Carnival – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Slippery Slope – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Grim Grotto – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Penultimate Peril – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The End – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The End of Oz – Danielle Paige ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Legendary – Stephanie Garber ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stars Above – Marissa Meyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Ten Thousand Skies Above You – Claudia Gray ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Diamond in the Window – Jane Langton ⭐⭐⭐ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hero at the Fall – Alwyn Hamilton ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Crazy Rich Asians (audiobook) – Kevin Kwan ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Swing in the Summerhouse – Jane Langton ⭐⭐⭐ The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware ⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Astonishing Stereoscope – Jane Langton ⭐⭐⭐
Again, that’s a total of 22 books!
Did I Meet My TBR Expectations?
I actually didn’t set a TBR this month. From March – June this year I really slumped, so I decided just to mood read for July. I have to say, it went pretty well for me! But I’m definitely getting back on the TBR train for August. That will be my next post!
The Unread Shelf Project 2018 July Challenge
Over at theunreadshelf, the July challenge was called “Finish That Series.” I have a ton of unfinished series on my unread shelf, so I took that challenge to heart. The result was that only three books that I read this month were not a part of a series!
Notable Reads This Month
Overall, my favourite books of this month were Hero at the Fall, Legendary, and The Marrow Thieves. Shoutout to The MarrowThieves for being awesome CanLit. I met Cherie Dimaline because she did an author talk at my work, and she’s rad. Plus, shoutout to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Childrenfor being really unique and creative, because I loved reading about Riggs’ project with the found photos that inspired the story.
As for ratings, this month was quite high!
I’m off work for August just like I was for July, so I’m setting myself an ambitious TBR. I’m also planning to continue catching up on reviews, so look out for those on here!
This is not a spoiler-free review. I REPEAT, this is NOT a spoiler-free review. In order for me to properly voice my thoughts about this book, I have to tell you something that happens almost at the end of All the Bright Places.
But first, with that out of the way, here’s the usual review run-up.
First, the synopsis of All the Bright Places, pulled from Amazon:
“Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .”
Next, the cover, which I like:
It does a great job of illustrating some of the most beautiful aspects of the story without really giving anything away.
Finally, here’s my review of All the Bright Places!
To start, this is a really great YA book. In general, I quite enjoyed it. The characters are unique, relatable, and realistic. Their struggles feel real, gritty, and personal. And the love story is as warm and fuzzy as it is heartbreaking.
The plot is quirky and adorable. It takes you on a romp through some of the most odd and wacky places in Indiana as part of a school project that Violet and Finch have to do. The family dynamics are interesting and dynamic.
Also, in writing a novel with mental illness at its very core, Jennifer Niven does a good job.
There is one particular quote which I find quite poignant. It is from Finch’s point of view, when he is at a suicide support group. TW: mental illness, self harm, suicide, labels, harsh language: “I want to get away from the stigma they all clearly feel just because they have an illness of the mind as opposed to, say, an illness of the lungs or blood. I want to get away from all the labels. ‘I’m OCD,’ ‘I’m depressed,’ ‘I’m a cutter,’ they say, like these are the things that define them. One poor bastard is ADHD, OCD, BPD, bipolar, and on top of it all has some sort of anxiety disorder. I don’t even know what BPD stands for. I’m the only one here who is just Theodore Finch” (285).
There is SO much to unpack in this quote. First, something I’m always talking and thinking about is stigma. Finch wants to get away from that, which is completely normal and understandable. But it’s also important to challenge it. Finch also wants to get away from labels. I agree that it’s harmful to label yourself as your illness. Anxiety is not who I am. I prefer to say that I have an anxiety disorder, and not say that I’m an anxious person. Mostly because I’m not always an anxious person. But also because our mental illnesses do not define us.
However, it is likely that Finch has bipolar disorder, and it is not officially diagnosed. His school counsellor is starting to go down that road. I wonder if Finch could understand his diagnosis and had been given a label earlier, if things could be different for him. Maybe that’s the point of the story. There’s definitely more to unpack here, but I’ll save that for my mental health blog, Lexical Abandon.
So, like I said, I think Niven does a pretty fantastic job writing about mental illness in All the Bright Places.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Finch dies by suicide.
And the most important part of my point in this case is the wording. My wording, not Niven’s.
Her wording was committed suicide. Which I vehemently disagree with. Again, I’m going to say more about this on my personal blog, Lexical Abandon. However, it deserves talking about here as well. Saying that a person committed suicide gives their passing the connotation of a crime. Which it is not. It is unfortunate. And terribly, terribly sad. It is heartbreaking. It’s a tragedy that hurts other people. But it is not a crime. And most times, it is not even a choice.
People who die by suicide are not criminals. They are not inherently bad. They’ve just lost the battle with a disorder, just like people who die from cancer or heart attack have lost the battle with a disease. I would argue that people who die by suicide are closer to victims than they are criminals.
Every time I encounter the phrase “commit/committed/commits suicide,” I challenge it. Vocally. And I invite you to as well.
The thing that I find most interesting is that in her afterword, Niven uses “died by suicide,” not “committed.” I wonder why she chose the other wording in the actual story. I wonder if perhaps she thought it would be more realistic for a teenager to not know the right wording. I don’t know.
Let’s work to end the stigma, and help people who suffer with various mental disorders and who experience suicidal ideation or thoughts of suicide.
With that said…
Overall, I give All the Bright Places 4/5 stars. It’s a page-turner (not in the sense that the actual plot is incredibly exciting, it just keeps you hooked). Further, it deals quite well with issues surrounding mental illness until the end. And it pulled at my heartstrings all the way through.
This month, the @theunreadshelf project’s theme is “Finish That Series.” I’ve taken it to heart. I started the month by finishing up the entirety of my first-ever read-through of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Then on my road trip to Calgary to see my dad and step-mom, I read 5 books, all of them sequels or parts of series. A Thousand Skies Above You, the book I’m reviewing in this post, is the second book in Claudia Gray’s Firebird series.
Here’s the synopsis of the book, pulled from Amazon:
“In this sequel to A Thousand Pieces of You by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, Marguerite races through various dimensions to save the boy she loves.
Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross through to alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurt the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked, and his consciousness is scattered across multiple dimensions.
The hunt for each splinter of Paul’s soul sends Marguerite racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris, where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each dimension brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with every trial she faces, she begins to question the one constant she’s found between the worlds: their love for each other.”
And here’s the cover, which is just dazzling:
I read the first book in the Firebird series before I started book blogging. Funnily enough, it was during last summer’s road trip to Calgary! But the cover is just as gorgeous for the first book as the second, so I figured I’d share a photo of that one here too:
Finally, here’s my review of Ten Thousand Skies Above You!
This book leaves right where A Thousand Pieces of You left off, in the thick of the action. And the excitement never lets up, making this a page-turner from cover to cover.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story itself, as well as getting to know many of my favourite characters from the first book, like Theo, Paul, and Marguerite’s parents. And of course, Marguerite herself. It was so interesting to see how each character was different (or the same) in different aspects of their personalities across universes. Which brings me to my favourite part of the book – its theme.
Ten Thousand Skies Above You gets right at what it means to be human, to be who you are, to be you. What is it that makes you who you are? Circumstances? Upbringing? The people who surround you? Marguerite, throughout this story, struggles with this idea as she encounters her friends and family in different dimensions. What is a soul? Are people inherently either good or bad? How can you reconcile differences across dimensions? Are people meant to find each other no matter what? I don’t know the answers, but exploring them through this book was awesome.
Overall, 5/5 stars!
I highly recommend this story of love, loss, determination, and existential exploration.
This past weekend, I participated in the 24in48 Readathon. I posted about what the readathon is and how I was heading into it on Friday, before it started. If you’re interested in more details about the readathon, you can check out that post.
Here’s a little reminder of my TBR stack for the weekend.
I never intended to read all of them, because that would have been impossible, but I wanted to have a lot to choose from so I could mood read as I went.
So, how did it go?!
This is a wrap-up post, so of course it’s all about how the weekend went. Obviously, the overarching goal of the readathon is to read 24 out of 48 hours. Spoiler alert, I didn’t read for that long. But it was still an awesome weekend! So let’s get into it.
Duration and Quantity
In total from Friday at 9pm to Sunday at 9pm, I read for 17 hours and 27 minutes! During that time, I read 3.5 books. Here’s my stack, basking in this morning’s sun:
I was pretty happy with how long I managed to spend reading. I did the 24in48 Readathon for the first time in January, and I read for 13 hours. So I bested that time by 4.5 hours this go around!
A breakdown of the order of operations
I started the 24in48 weekend off by finishing the last 3/4 of Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I was only intending to read a chapter at a time, as I tend to do with classics, but I really got into it about halfway through and just kept going. I loved it, and there will be a review up soon!
Then I found myself inspired by a newfound Bookstagram friend and fellow ‘thonner, Kasturi (@bruadarachreads) to start Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which serendipitously also happened to be in his TBR stack. I finished that one on Saturday night and wanted something a bit lighter. So, I started with the children’s series and began The Diamond in the Window.
After finishing the children’s book on Sunday morning, I found myself really wanting to finish the Rebel of the Sands series, so I grabbed Hero at the Fall from my stack. I ended the ‘thon at 9pm Sunday having read almost exactly half of it.
Things that weren’t so great
I’ll start with these, so I can end the post on a more positive note.
First, I felt super sick on Sunday, so that was probably the low point of the readathon for me. It was also really hot in the apartment, so I was pretty uncomfortable all around. I was literally sitting on my chair on top of a towel, soaking through my clothes and feeling crappy. It made it hard to focus on reading, and I ended up watching a lot of rugby instead.
Also, I didn’t meet the 24-hour target. I hadn’t really been expecting to anyway, but I’m a super competitive person. I also didn’t win any door prizes, sad face. Again, not unexpected.
Finally, the 7s Rugby World Cup was a good and a bad thing. Going into this weekend, I was incredibly excited to have the weekend absolutely full of two of my most favourite things: reading and rugby. But looking back, I think I would have preferred having the two on separate weekends. I stopped reading completely to watch each of Canada’s games, which was fine and in the plan.
However, I had all the other games on in the background, and it meant that I wasn’t entirely focused on either rugby or reading. I think I would have finished more books if I hadn’t been watching rugby in the background, because I would have read faster. Oh well, it is what it is! I have no control over scheduling for either of these events, obviously. And I still really enjoyed both watching hours and hours of amazing rugby and reading for hours and hours. Which brings me to the great stuff!
Things that were awesome
First, I read 3.5 books in a weekend! In the summer, I generally try to read a book a day (unless I’ve got events or things going on) because I have so much free time. So to read almost double that was a great accomplishment for me.
I also got to make connections with a couple of awesome people through the readathon, Kaitlin (@bookedandready) and Kasturi (who I mentioned above). I have been virtual friends with Kaitlin through Bookstagram for a while now, and I discovered that she was also doing the readathon. Kasturi found me somehow on Bookstagram shortly before the ‘thon, and we decided to share in the experience together as well, with Kaitlin! It was totally organic and fantastic. We supported each other throughout the weekend, tagging each other in posts and stories, and generally motivating each other to keep going.
Last, I had a serendipitous reading moment. I posted about it on Bookstagram already, but it needs to be shared here too! On Saturday night, I finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and it was past my bedtime, but I really wanted to start the first few pages of a new book anyway. As I outlined above, I started The Diamond in the Window. As it turns out, both authors chose a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem for their epigraphs.
Also, Emerson features heavily in both books! How cool is that? I love book magic like this.
So that’s a wrap on 24in48 for 2018!
The next 24in48 Readathon is scheduled for January 26-27, 2019. I can’t wait!
The 24in48 Readathon is a competition/challenge that occurs twice a year. It started in 2015, but I heard about it for the first time back in January, which is when I participated for the first time.
How does 24in28 work?
The basic premise is a challenge to read for a full 24 hours out of a 48-hour period. Officially, the readathon starts at 12:00 AM on Saturday, and ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday, EST. For me, that means official time starts at 9:00 PM on Friday, and ends at 8:59 PM on Sunday, as I’m on PST.
You can track your reading however you want, usually with a timer on your phone or another type of timing device. There’s no way for the hosts of the readathon to really check if you actually read the whole 24 hours, but us bibliophiles tend to be pretty honest characters, in my humble, rose-coloured glasses opinion.
That’s a question many people have asked me, including my husband and friends.
My main answer is because it’s fun! I love an excuse to read all weekend long without feeling guilty for not doing anything else. Although I will be doing other things – I’ve got plans to meet a friend who’s in Vancouver for a visit with her baby, and the hubs and I have a standing weekend pitch & putt date. It’s good to take breaks and move your body!
The reason you need to time yourself (other than the excitement of a challenge, of course) is that if you manage to read for a full 24 hours, you’re eligible for prizes! Us bibliophiles also really love giveaways, including books, bookish merch, and credits to book stores. They also do photo challenges using the hashtag #24in48, which is super fun and helps you to stay engaged with the readathon all weekend long.
Another thing that I find helps me stay engaged with the readathon is to set a TBR. I choose a huge one, just like I do for my monthly TBRS. This helps me stay motivated, and it also gives me a lot of options to mood read from in the event that I get bored or that I am not enjoying a particular book. I do not expect to finish all these books.
So, without further ado, here’s my July 2018 24in24 Readathon TBR!
A photo, first:
Here’s the list:
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
The Hall Family Chronicles, Books 1-6 (entire series) – Jane Langton
The Diamond in the Window
The Swing in the Summerhouse
The Astonishing Stereoscope
The Fragile Flag
The Time Bike
Hero at the Fall – Alwyn Hamilton
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
P.S. I Still Love You – Jenny Han
A Court of Mist and Fury – Stephanie J. Maas
A Dance With Dragons – George R. R. Martin
Last, I’m going to give you a few explanations as to the choices I made in building this stack, as I chose it with a lot of intention and purpose.
My Classics Challenge
This was inspired by Whitney of The Unread Shelf Project 2018. She’s been the inspiration for a lot of my reading goals this year, and you’ll see another aspect of that later in this post.
Whitney suggested as a challenge during one month this year (March I think?) to choose a book that’s been on your unread shelf for a really long time with the target of finishing it by the end of the month, and to give it away if you don’t. So, I’ve been trying do this with my classics, because historically I struggle to read them. My goal is to read one per month, and if I don’t finish, I have to give it away. I set a page per day target to help keep me on track. This month’s classic is Northanger Abbey, which I’m already about 1/3 of the way through. I decided to add it to my TBR for the readathon to motivate me to finish it.
The Unread Shelf Project July Challenge: Finish That Series
Something that has helped me determine my TBR for July, and for the 24in28 readathon, is Whitney’s challenge for July, “Finish That Series.” I have a lot of unfinished series. I read 5 books that were part of series on my vacation to Calgary, and now I’ve added a bunch more to this TBR.
I read Traitor to the Throne (review upcoming) in Calgary, and this weekend I hope to finish the trilogy with Hero at the Fall. I’ve been majorly putting off finishing Game of Thrones, so that’s on there too. I read A Court of Thorns and Roses earlier this year and didn’t think it was that amazing, but I’ve heard the series gets way better as you go, so I picked A Court of Mist and Fury too.
I read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before last summer (incidentally, on my vacation to Calgary) and bought the sequel quite soon after but never got around to it. Now is the time! A bit of fluff as a spacer between some of my heavier choices.
I chose Miss Peregrine’s because I own the series but haven’t started it. Similarly, I chose The Hall Family Chronicles because I read at least the first two books when I was 13 or 14, and then never finished the series, and that cannot stand!
That’s it for now!
Let me know if you’re participating in the readathon in the comments. Make sure you sign up at the website I linked above to make sure you’re eligible for prizes! I’d love to hear what you’re planning to read!
I am really bad at keeping track of when sequels or “next-in-series” books are coming out. So when I got back into the swing of things on Bookstagram and realized that Legendary had come out over a month ago, I smacked myself. And then I promptly went out to get it, once I’d realized that I actually could, within the bounds of my book-buying ban.
As per my husband’s suggestion, I’m trying very hard to only bring one book into our home for every five that I read. I started tracking in June. So, when I realized Legendary was out, I checked my list and discovered that I had read enough books to buy it! Easy decision. I liked Caraval, but I wasn’t over the moon about it. But everyone who felt the same way about it as I did were seriously loving on Legendary, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
I didn’t regret it! But let’s not get to that until I cover the usual bases of my reviews.
Here’s the synopsis of the book, pulled from Amazon:
“A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more―and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about―maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval… the games have only just begun.”
The cover of Legendary is just as gorgeous as the first book in the series:
I was going to be drawn to this book regardless of the cover because it’s a sequel, but it’s nice that it’s super pretty!
Finally, here’s my review of Legendary!
When I reviewed Caraval, I said that the writing felt scattered, and that I didn’t really like the main character, Scarlett, much, because I found her really over-dramatic.
The most major difference in the writing style of Legendary is the narrative perspective. This time, the story centres around a new narrator, Scarlett’s sister Donatella (Tella)! Given that she is an entirely different person, I liked her personality a lot more than Scarlett’s. This made the book way more enjoyable to read.
Second, I think that the “scattered” feeling I talked about for Caraval is gone for Legendary. Perhaps that can be chalked up to writing experience? As far as I know, Caraval was Garber’s first novel.
In addition to being a major improvement on Caraval, Legendary itself is just a really good book. Just like its predecessor, the plot is exciting and always keeps you guessing. The magic of this series is so unique and interesting, and the dangers get even more real in this second instalment. I read it in a single day, and loved every page.
Other Awesome Stuff
I think I said this about Caraval too, but the design of this book, inside and out, is just gorgeous. There are section dividers for each day of Caraval (I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler), and the chapter dividers are also beautiful. I’ve already mentioned how much I love the cover. I think what steals the show though, is the map at the beginning of the book! It’s absolutely beautiful!
Overall, 5/5 stars!
I highly recommend this magical tale of love, sacrifice, and mystery.
I am so excited to have the chance to read these two paperback ARCs of Crossroads and the Himalayan Crystals (book one of the trilogy) and Crossroads and the Dominion of Four (book two of the trilogy) in exchange for honest reviews. These were my sixth and seventh ARCs, and I’m hoping my eighth will be the third and last book in the series! To be clear, my opinions are all my own.
Book One: Crossroads and the Himalayan Crystals
Here’s the cover of the book! I love the colour.
Here’s the synopsis of the book, pulled from Amazon:
“An ordinary school day in Middlefield turns into a mystical tale filled with endless adventures of magic, fairies, flying horses, and danger. A modern-day saga of four young teens who find themselves trapped in another realm-“The Otherworld”-where they must abide by an evil druid’s bidding or risk endangering the lives of their loved ones and the magical beings they have befriended.”
And here’s my review of Crossroads and the Himalayan Crystals!
The Crossroads series has a fun premise, with multiple realms and a quartet of protagonists who get hurled into a new realm by their biology teacher.
I enjoyed the characters and the setting, both of which were unique and interesting. I especially loved the descriptions of all the different places the main characters went in the Otherworld. They were so cool and imaginative! The book was easy to read, and the plot moved at a good pace.
I think the biggest selling point of this book is how unique the magic is. I read a fair amount of fantasy. This series has druids and fairies, but I find the qualities of magic and the variety of powers and how to access them really creative. Not going to give too much away, but all the characters have very different powers. Plus, they tend to discover new ones as they go along, which makes the story that much more interesting!
What I found difficult with this first instalment of the series was that there was a lot of description and dialogue that I found unnecessary. I found myself thinking, “I totally could have imagined that in my head, it didn’t need to be told to me” fairly often, to the point where it got a bit annoying. I think this book and Graham’s future writing would benefit from a bit more leaving things to be crafted by the readers’ minds.
That being said, I did enjoy this book and I think that for a younger audience, the extra description could be helpful. And I did enjoy the story!
Overall, 3/5 stars!
I would definitely recommend this book to younger readers, in the realm of the 8-12 category, and for younger teens.
Book Two: Crossroads and the Dominion of Four
Here’s the cover of the second book!
Here’s the synopsis of the book, pulled from Amazon:
“At first glance, Jake, Shayna, Seneca, and Conner seem like average teens. Maybe even like some kids you know. But theyre special. They know that magic, spells, and prophecies are real. In Crossroads and the Dominion of Four, author C. Toni Graham continues the tale introduced in Crossroads and the Himalayan Crystals. The teens have accepted their fate as defenders of the Otherworld. The realms mythical beings have chosen sides in a deadly magical war, but its not always clear to whom they pledge their allegiance. Jake, Shayna, Conner and Seneca must use their new magical abilities to battle treacherous creatures and face life-altering crossroads. Only a powerful druid and her loyal minions stand in their way to fulfilling their destiny of becoming the prophesized Dominion of Four.
The Crossroads series brings together creatures and humans as they fight for the common goal of returning harmony to the Otherworld and rid the realm of evil forever. Teen readers and fans of action-packed fantasy genres will enjoy this thrilling saga.”
And here’s my review of Crossroads and the Dominion of Four!
I enjoyed this book much more than the first. I found that the description issue was better than in the first book. Also, the plot, setting, and characters stayed fun and intriguing. I also found that the characters developed a lot more in this book. That’s something that’s important to me in general as a reader.
Again, I really loved the unique magic in this book like I did in the first one. It got even better in this book, but I really don’t want to give it away! The book also uses a really fun plot device toward the middle of the book which totally threw me off. Once I’d figured it out I really liked it, though! Totally adds to my opinion of the awesome creativity in the writing!
Fair warning, this book ends on a bit more of a cliffhanger than the first book did. So, be ready to want the third and final book right away like I do!
Overall, 4/5 stars!
I would definitely also recommend this book to younger readers, even more highly than the first. Again, I’d say in the realm of the 8-12 category, and for younger teens.
Finally, if you’re an author looking for a review for your new work…
I would love to write one for you! Seeing a review request in my inbox is so exciting!
In June, I finally started coming out of the most epic slump I think I’ve ever had. I set myself a huge and hopeful TBR for June, and didn’t come close to reading everything on it. I ended up reading 5 books. However, it was much better than May, in which I read one adult novel, one children’s book, and three graphic novels. And I’ve now gotten myself past the halfway mark of my 2018 Goodreads Challenge of 110 books. As of June 30, I was at 62 books.
So, here it is, my June Wrap-Up!
I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Crossroads and the Dominion of Four – C. Toni Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It – Lauren Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Ersatz Elevator – Lemony Snicket ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A total of five books, meaning I’m finally back on the upswing!
Did I Meet My TBR Expectations?
I once again didn’t read everything I had planned to. I didn’t get around to posting a June TBR here on the blog, but I did post a photo of it on Bookstagram, so here it is:
I put 12 books on my TBR and ended up reading 6 of them, so it was pretty good! Apparently I finished the first Crossroads book early in June and not in May as I previously thought. I’m still enjoying setting a huge TBR to see if I can meet a big goal, and to have lots of choices to mood read from.
Notable Reads This Month
Overall, my favourite book of this month was I Am Malala. It was so inspiring and taught me a lot about the culture, history, and geography of places I didn’t really know much about.
This month was pretty great in terms of ratings, too!
Now that June is over, it’s now my teacher summer, so I plan to spend lots of time blogging and even more time reading! See you soon, and