Book Review: Unwilling Key by Sarah Beth Moore (eARC)

I am so excited to have the chance to read this Kindle eARC (Electronic Advance Reader Copy) of Unwilling Key by Sarah Beth Moore in exchange for an honest review.  This is my fifth ARC. It’s also the sequel to Broken Moon, which I reviewed last year. To be clear, my opinions are all my own.

Here’s the synopsis of the book, pulled from Amazon:

Naiya Legerdemain has successfully escaped the City and saved her adoptive family. Now hiding in the underground rebel stronghold, Athens, she finds herself at loose ends – both unable to leave and unable to fulfill the mission her father left her before he died.

In place of her mission, she is expected to play her role as the resistance’s figurehead, learn to fight, train her powers and discover the true purpose of her family’s ancient line. And frankly, she couldn’t be less interested.

Even worse, she’s begun seeing things. Strange, shadowy apparitions that threaten to overthrow her already questionable sanity. The reappearance of her old enemy, the Home Guard, along with a growing unease about what Athens is and what it stands for, further undermine her grip on reality. Combined with the knowledge that human souls are fast running out, life has become very unpleasant indeed.

At her side is Tate, the brainiac beauty whom she loves to hate (and hates to love), her sweet little brother/monster Pip, the giant hulking hunter, Achilles, and the boy she’s not supposed to love: Enoch. Of course, with the addition of a new member of their party – handsome Aidan – things have gotten slightly more interesting.

Will Naiya be able to discern good from evil, friend from foe, in this newest installment of the Broken Moon series? Will she get the guy and win the day? Most importantly, will she do it all without freaking the hell out? Well, only time will tell.

The cover of the first book in the series, Broken Moon, looks like this:

And the cover of Unwilling Key is just as gorgeous!

We all know by now how much I appreciate lovely covers.

Finally, here’s my review of Unwilling Key!

To start, I loved Unwilling Key! Broken Moon‘s magical dystopian world hooked me from the start, and this continues in Unwilling Key. I love the descriptive language Sarah Beth Moore uses to depict these intricate, if battered, settings. Also, one of my favourite aspects of the setting of Unwilling Key is its dystopia – it is a world without maps, with little tether to what it once was. This episode in the series begins to reveal the geographical locations of some of the cities as places that really exist in our world today. These connections are intriguing and sometimes funny, as are the names citizens of the new cities choose for their homes, without the knowledge of what they had been before.

Even with a few more grounding details, things get even more mysterious and interesting in Unwilling Key, constantly adding questions to a never-ending list of things you want to understand, while slowly unraveling the answers through a plot that is both action and character-driven.

Other Awesome Stuff

Characters I loved in Broken Moon remain loveable, while this instalment also introduce new characters who immediately catch my attention and reel me in. Their interactions are authentic and dynamic. Also, the political conflict gets more elaborate and complicated as new cities and worlds come into play. But it remains entirely believable, especially given our world’s contemporary political climate.

Sarah Beth Moore also crafts a very strong female lead character. I think that’s one of the things I like best. This isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill “downtrodden female character discovers she has powers and immediately is able to use them to save the world” story. Naiya, the main character, has an amazing monologue. In it, she says just that, in better words (but I’ll refrain from spoiling it for you). Instead, she faces real struggle in harnessing her powers and left me feeling that she was much more deserving than most in the end.

Unwilling Key is an exciting, action-packed read and I enjoyed it from cover to cover!

Overall, 5/5 stars!

I highly recommend this dystopian sci-fi adventure story of love, resilience, and determination.

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 fact, I’ve got another ARC in my inbox right now!  Stay tuned for a review of that in the near future.

You need to get copies of Broken Moon and Unwilling Key right away!!

Happy Reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Reviews: Shades of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Shades of Magic is an adult fiction trilogy by author V. E. Schwab, who also writes as Victoria Schwab for Young Adult readers.

I read the first book in the series, A Darker Shade of Magic, in February.  Books two and three, A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light, I consumed while on vacation in Cuba in March.

Here are the synopses and covers of the three books in the Shades of Magic series!

The first book is pretty great as a standalone. However, if you read the second book, you will definitely want to read the third pretty much right away.

Book One: A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.”

Book Two: A Gathering of Shadows

“Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall…in V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows.”

Book Three: A Conjuring of Light

“As darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, the once precarious balance of power among the four Londons has reached its breaking point.

In the wake of tragedy, Kell―once assumed to be the last surviving Antari―begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Lila Bard, once a commonplace―but never common―thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry.

An ancient enemy returns to claim a city while a fallen hero tries to save a kingdom in decay. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.”

And finally, here’s my review of the Shades of Magic trilogy!

I LOVED this series.

Without giving too much away, it’s a very unique setting – there are four different Londons. Red, White, Grey, and Black. Each London has different characteristics, and special, rare magicians called Antari are able to travel between them.

The characters are lovable and unique, and their goals and challenges are full of believable, though incredible, twists and turns. It’s an exciting series that reads quickly, but that’s not all.

I think what I love most about this series is V. E. Schwab’s beautiful writing. It’s poetic, dramatic, and lyrical. Full of metaphor and imagery, the author paints an exquisite picture of a fantastic world and its people. It’s an image I can’t get out of my head, even a month after reading.

Other Great Stuff

The concept itself of these books is really awesome, as I’ve already mentioned.

I also love the physical design of these books. The whole series is really fluid and thematically well stitched together. The cover designs are gorgeous, as are the section and chapter dividers. I even loved the font more than I usually do.

Overall, 5/5 stars for all three of the Shades of Magic novels.

This is a fantastic take on magical worlds. I highly recommend it, for young and adult readers alike!

Pick it up as soon as you can and travel to a world with four Londons! Who wouldn’t love that?!

Happy Reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

Since posting about The Three-Body Problem on my Bookstagram, I’ve discovered that it’s pretty hyped.

However, before that, when my book club, #thebreakfastbookclub, chose it as our April book, I’d never heard of it.

A Little Background on The Three-Body Problem

This book is science fiction and was originally written in Chinese. Kevin Liu translated the edition I read. It is the first in a trilogy. It’s called The Remembrance of Earth’s Past, and is wildly popular in China.

Here’s the cover:

And here is the synopsis of The Three-Body Problem from Amazon:

“The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.”

Finally, here’s my review of The Three-Body Problem!

This was a tough one for me. I didn’t enjoy it very much, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t interesting.

I liked that the story was expansive, spanning the lifetime of a couple of characters and incorporating many other characters’ stories along the way.  Also, the story’s present-day time was a bit more futuristic than real-life 2018, which I found enjoyable.

The book also really made me think. The possibility of intelligent life living somewhere other than Earth is an existential one that is very absorbing.


Over My Head, in More Ways Than One

First, I didn’t understand a lot of the math and science in the book. The “Three-Body Problem” is a math problem that I understood the concept of. However, there was a lot of other science and math in the book. The text does explain it, just not in a way that made sense to me. And that made it hard to read.

Second, I have very little understanding of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which was the historical time-period around which much of the story was based. I could definitely have done some research to make this more relevant to me. However, I was already having a hard enough time reading the book because of the math and science that I didn’t want to put more effort into it.

Finally, I found the names of the characters, which were obviously all Chinese, to be very difficult to keep straight. This is a me problem, not a book problem, obviously. But it was just another thing that made this book a frustrating reading experience for me.

Overall, 2/5 stars for The Three-Body Problem.

I normally love sci-fi, but this was way too much. It is a really intriguing concept, but it fell short for me. I’d recommend it to people with a strong understanding of science and math, or a strong understanding of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Or both. Otherwise, I’d skip it.

Happy Reading!

– Paperback Patronus

The Slump is Real: SAD, Vacation, Reading, and Social Media

What is a slump?


I missed my March reading target, even though I was on vacation from work for two weeks.

No March Wrap-Up yet, on Bookstagram, or here.

I haven’t even chosen an April TBR, and it’s the 17th. Of April.

The only 2 books I’ve finished so far this month I started in March. I’ve read Furiously Happy, and The Wide Window.

I’ve also only posted 4 times on Bookstagram this month, and I normally post once daily.

What’s going on?

I’m slumping.

It’s here, the dreaded slump everyone on Bookstagram lives in fear of and talks about constantly.

A slump is different for everyone, but generally it means we’re reading and posting on Bookstagram far less often than usual. Generally, this makes the person experiencing the slump feel bad.

Unpopular Opinion: It’s fine.

Here’s an opinion that some people might not agree with: WE DO NOT NEED TO APOLOGIZE FOR SLUMPS. I see so many people posting in their stories about how they’re sorry they’re not posting as often as usual or how they’re sorry they haven’t posted in a while…

I literally don’t care. At all. In fact, you’re probably doing me a favor by not posting as often, because it’s less that I feel obligated to look at (that’s probably a story for an entirely other post).

But seriously. Don’t apologize for doing you. I certainly won’t be. This is definitely not an apology post. It’s an exploration of whim and of understanding what makes me tick and who I am as a person, reader, and Bookstagrammer. I wish I were reading more now because I love to read, not because I feel bad for not “providing a service to my followers.”

I still don’t feel that great about it.

But that’s because I have my own sets of expectations about how much I read and how much I engage with the Bookstagram world, and I’m not meeting them now.

My reading target for 2018 is 110 books. Thankfully, through participating in a few readathons in January and February, I was able to get ahead. I’m now at 47 books for the year, which means I’m almost halfway to my target while we’re only about a quarter and a bit through the year.

But if my slump were to continue for another couple of months, I’d start to worry. I need to work on my expectations of myself, I know, but at least I have some leeway at the moment.

Suspicions About What Started the Slump

As the title of this post suggests, I’ve got a lot of ideas about potential causes of this slump.


The first is SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. I wrote a post about this over on my mental health blog. I get really down in the Winter and am less productive in general. Also, I sleep more, which cuts down on my reading time. We’ve had an even rainier and greyer Winter here in Vancouver than usual, and it’s not been good for my motivation and reading habits.


The second reason is my vacation to Cuba. It was great for my reading, because we spent most of our days on the beach. However, when I got back I was a bit sick and super exhausted. I tend to get what I call “vacation hangovers” when I have to go back to my routines after being away, especially on trips that are really relaxing. My vacation hangover made me literally want to do nothing but sit on my armchair staring at my phone games.


I’m reading a book I’m not really enjoying, The Three-Body Problem.

A photo from our meeting.

It was the #thebreakfastbookclub pick for March, and I still haven’t finished it. I find that reading a book I’m not that into pretty much always puts me into a slump. However, I have serious reading FOMO and I’ve almost never DNFed a book in my life, so I have to keep going. Thankfully, I should finish it in the next couple of days, and then I’m going to pick my next book really carefully.

Social Media

This is also kind of to do with Cuba. It was also great for my Instagram addiction, because there was very little wi-fi and what we could get cost money and was incredibly slow. So it was nice to not have to worry about posting or interacting on Bookstagram, but when I got back I felt like I didn’t feel like doing it anymore.

How I’m Dealing With It

I find the best way to deal with a slump is to just ride it out. If I’m trying to force myself to read I’m not going to enjoy it. Likewise, if I’m uninspired about posting on Bookstagram, my posts aren’t going to be as successful as I want them to be.

When I notice that I’m not really enjoying a book, I do my best to choose my next read carefully, so that I know it’s something I’ll really love. I’ll choose a book by an author I already like, or one that’s super hyped and that I’m really excited to read.

I also find that making to-do lists and journaling helps me get my motivation back.

Finally, I think sometimes it’s just important to do what your body is asking for. On top of having a vacation hangover, I’m also during the heaviest training weeks for my half marathon. This is physically exhausting (and rewarding). It’s in less than three weeks! So if my body wants to sleep more and read less, that’s what I’m letting it do. For now, anyway!

Hope to see you (virtually at least) soon!

Let me know how you deal with slumps in the comments!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things is the second book by blogger The Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson.

I have been wanting to read Furiously Happy since it came out in 2016. I have no idea why I only got to it now. First, because of its seriously eye-catching cover, and then because I found out about its content. We’ll get to that in a second.

Here’s that cover:

Yes, that is a taxidermied raccoon. And yes, it belongs to Lawson.

And here is the synopsis of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things from Amazon:

“In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

As Jenny says:

“Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Furiously Happy is about “taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. It’s the difference between “surviving life” and “living life”. It’s the difference between “taking a shower” and “teaching your monkey butler how to shampoo your hair.” It’s the difference between being “sane” and being “furiously happy.”

Lawson is beloved around the world for her inimitable humor and honesty, and in Furiously Happy, she is at her snort-inducing funniest. This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. Because as Jenny’s mom says, “Maybe ‘crazy’ isn’t so bad after all.” Sometimes crazy is just right.”

Finally, here’s my review of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things!

This book was fantastic. I’m going to get that out there right away.

As the title states, it’s definitely a funny book. I don’t normally have visceral, physical reactions to books. It’s very rare that I cry while reading (the last time was Lily and the Octopus (review upcoming), but that was really a case of grief I was already sitting in and poor timing, and I can’t remember a time before that). I laugh out loud at books far less often (read: pretty much never). But I was laughing out loud at Furiously Happy. Throughout. Poolside in Cuba while people were eating a fancy à la carte meal nearby. In the hotel lobby while drunken revelers sang raucously beside me. On a bus full of half-asleep homeward-bound travelers at 12:30am. On my armchair, at home in my apartment, all by myself. Everywhere. This book is really funny.

The “horrible things” this book was about, however, were more important to me. And they were what really drew me to the book in the first place. Jenny Lawson has an anxiety disorder. She also has multiple sleep disorders, a personality disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and goes through periods of clinical depression.

Lawson talks a lot in her book about having people on Twitter to talk to about her mental illnesses and the struggles she deals with in her daily life, and how it helps her to know that there are other people out there who feel like she does. That’s the way I felt reading this book. I have an anxiety disorder and a couple of chronic health conditions, and her struggles were so relatable. She also talked about several really great coping strategies that are definitely going to be helpful to me in the future. And I think most importantly, she consistently talked about her struggles with humour and optimism, even if they were dark and scary. It gave me an enormous sense of hope, and great ideas for how to help myself and others when things are not good.

Other Great Stuff

I loved the formatting of this book. It had relatively short chapters. The chapter titles were hilarious and were inevitably explained in gut-splittingly humourous fashion. Funny images were dispersed throughout. It also had really funny footnotes. I’m a sucker for a good footnote. All around, I loved the formatting of this book almost as much as the content.

Furiously Happy.

The book’s namesake, this is an idea that Lawson first came up with on her blog. She explains it best, and that explanation is quoted in the book synopsis I posted above. However, I do love how she elaborates on it:

“In fact, I’m starting a whole movement right now. The FURIOUSLY HAPPY movement. And it’s going to be awesome because first of all, we’re all going to be VEHEMENTLY happy, and secondly because it will freak the shit out of everyone that hates you because those assholes don’t want to see you even vaguely amused, much less furiously happy, and it will make their world turn a little sideways and will probably scare the shit out of them. Which will make you even more happy. Legitimately. Then the world tips in our favor. Us: 1. Assholes: 8,000,000. That score doesn’t look as satisfying as it should because they have a bit of a head start. Except you know what? Fuck that. We’re starting from scratch. Us: 1. Assholes: 0.”

Theoretically I love this idea, and I think that the amount of laughing I did at this book suggests that my body loves it just as much as my mind does. There are many things I’m going to take away from this book, but I think I’m most excited about trying to bring the “furiously happy” mindset into my life.

Overall, 5/5 stars for Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things.

I highly recommend this book, both for those suffering from mental illness(es) and everyone else in the world, because everyone is touched by mental illness, even if not directly. And it’s just a really funny book that will brighten anyone’s day, whether you connect with the subject on a personal level or not. Guaranteed.

(Furiously) Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Volumes I-III of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel by R. H. Sin

Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel is a three-volume boxed-set of poetry books by R. H. Sin.

I love poetry. And I picked this up because someone I follow on Bookstagram posted a photo of one of the poems and I immediately fell in love. It didn’t hurt that over Boxing Week Indigo had a 50% off boxed sets sale. I love a bargain!

Here’s what the set looks like:

I love the design of the spines, but it bothers me that it’s black-white-white.

And here is the synopsis of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel from Amazon:

Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel, Vol. 1, is about reclaiming your power on the path to a healthy relationship. It is a testament to choosing to love yourself, even if it means heartbreak.”

Finally, here’s my review of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel!

I’m going to have to do sort of separate reviews for a) volume I, and b) volumes II & III.

First up, volume I!

This was an absolutely beautiful collection of poems. Some were crushing, some uplifting. I tend to judge poetry based on how many gut checks/pangs/heart drops I feel, and this book was chock-full.

It’s clear that the author has had some very difficult experiences, and he doesn’t shy away from confronting them head on with his words. I loved it.

Favourite poems from this volume:

good book.
therapy by the books.
some suggestions.

Next, volumes II & III.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think the other two volumes of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel were as amazing as the first.

A lot of it felt very preachy, as if the author (a male) is trying to tell his readers (which he assumes are women) lessons. It kind of feels like in volume I, the poet is learning heartbreaking lessons through the writing of his poetry, whereas in volumes II & III, he’s learned the lessons but feels the need to impart them on everyone else. It feels contrived and far less heartfelt.

Overall, 3/5 stars for Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel.

I would say 4 stars for volume I, and 2 for volumes II & III. Maybe just borrow the first volume from the library, because it is amazing and well worth a read.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Things She Could Never Have by Tehmina Khan

Disclaimer: I received this book as a generous gift from the author herself, Tehmina Khan, in exchange for an honest review. This gift in no way influences my opinion or review.

Things She Could Never Have by Tehmina Khan is a collection of short stories.

It came into my life at the perfect time. I’m starting to think more critically about the types of books I have on my shelves. This is especially in terms of diversity. The founder of @theunreadshelf project on Bookstagram set a February challenge of reading and talking about more diverse books. When this happened, I had just received Things She Could Never Have for review.

Here’s the beautiful cover of this book:

I love how creative it is!

And here is the synopsis of Things She Could Never Have from Amazon:

“Accomplished, sensitive, and often disturbing, these stories take us into the lives of modern Pakistanis?privileged and poor, gay, trans, and straight, men and women, in Karachi and Toronto. “Whisperings of the Devil” takes us into the mind of a mistreated maidservant’s boy who gets seduced into the role of a suicide bomber. In “To Allah We Pray,” two privileged and educated young men, one of them home from Toronto, gallivant through the streets of Karachi, finally walking into a doomed mosque.

“Things She Could Never Have” is a love story about two young trans women living in Karachi. “Born on the First of July” opens the door into the home of a Toronto girl who has left to join ISIS and the devastated family she leaves behind. “The First” will astonish many readers by its depiction of sexual encounters of young college girls in Pakistan. These and other stories link us into the complexities of a sometimes troubled and often misrepresented Muslim society.”

Finally, here’s my review of Things She Could Never Have!

Traditionally, I haven’t been a fan of short stories. Normally this is because I find they make me angry. My whole life, I’ve battled with my own preconceptions that literature shouldn’t make you angry. I am a person who likes the plot of stories to be tightly tied in a bow at the end, à la “and they both lived happily ever after.” Normally, I find that short stories purposely subvert that narrative trope, and I don’t usually enjoy it. This opinion has not changed since reading Things. However,  Tehmina Khan’s stories made me angry, sad, happy, and thoughtful, and frustrated, and I LOVED IT.

These stories are well-curated windows into worlds I have very little knowledge or understanding of. They are each about modern Pakistanis. They are set both in Karachi and Toronto. The characters encounter difficulties I have never had to even imagine, and they do it with grace and resilience. The language is poetic and illuminating. It opened my eyes to whole other perspectives and experiences. It was magical.

Other awesome stuff:

Some of the stories’ plots connect. I LOVE it when short story collections do this. In this case, it’s never overt. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I love the delicate way in which some of the narratives end up being about the same characters, in small but important ways.

Overall, 4.5/5 stars.

Some of the phrasing felt a little confusing at times. I also wanted a bit more depth in some of the stories. However, those are small things. Overall, I LOVED these incredibly heartfelt, shocking, and heartbreaking stories of love, life, and loss. It is a collection full of diverse stories. Racially, sexually, religiously, in terms of class and gender, and more. It left me wanting so much more. Plus, the author is a Canadian female POC, and she is originally from Karachi, Pakistan. I highly recommend reading this book!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a nonfiction book by author, science communicator, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

This book initially caught my eye because of the cover. Who wouldn’t love that cover?! It’s gorgeous.

At first I had no idea it was nonfiction. When I finally read the synopsis, I was even more intrigued. This book is DeGrasse Tyson’s quick-take on astrophysics for us laypeople without PhDs. The night sky has always been fascinating for me, but I’ve found learning about it a bit inaccessible. No longer!

Here’s that cover I’m raving about:

I LOVE any kind of cover with a beautiful night sky on it (see my review of The Smell of Other People’s Houses).

And here is the synopsis of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry from Amazon:

“What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.”

Finally, here’s my review of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry!

This book is fascinating. Before I get to that, though…

First of all, it definitely lives up to its name in being for people in a hurry. It’s a small and manageable size, even in hardback. Thus, it fit easily in my purse, and I totally took it to a doctor’s appointment. Plus, something I tend to love, it has fairly short chapters.

Second, it was just so interesting. Like I said, I’ve always loved the night sky. However, books about astrophysics tend to not be accessible to, as Dava Sobel says in his blurb about the book, us “non-space cadets.” I loved being able to learn so much about astrophysics in such a short amount of time.

This book is very well written, and never gets too overwhelmingly science-y, although I did get lost a couple of times.

Other awesome stuff:

I loved the chapters in this book and the narrative structure that was chronological in terms of real-time and scientific discoveries made in astrophysics. It starts with the big bang, and moves all the way through to exoplanet discoveries and “the cosmic perspective.”

Overall, 4/5 stars.

It’s an enthralling read that can be a bit too high-level at times for those of us with less background knowledge, but still provides a fantastic understand of how our universe works and our relation to it as humans.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus


Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood is a psychological thriller by author Ruth Ware.

The Girl on the Train kind of put me off psychological thrillers. I hadn’t read one for a really long time, and I was starting to get excited about them again. Since people have recently really been loving Ruth Ware, I figured this book was a good place to start.

Here’s the cover of In a Dark, Dark Wood:

Love this minimal look.

And here is the synopsis of In a Dark, Dark Wood from Amazon:

“What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.”

Finally, here’s my review of In a Dark, Dark Wood!

I really enjoyed this book.

A little beef with books like this: Number one, they’re sometimes plugged in a way that irks me. For example, Reese Witherspoon plugs this book on the front saying it’s scary.

It is not scary.

Suspenseful? Yes. Page-turner? Yes. Scary? Definitely not.

Maybe to some people that’s just semantics, but to me I was actually more nervous reading the book than I should have been, because I was anticipating it getting scary.

This also happened in a different capacity with The Girl on the Train. It was pegged as “The Next Gone Girl.” Gone Girl gave me nightmares for at least a month and I’m still messed up about it. Comparing that to The Girl on the Train.. I had it figured out about a third of the way through and found it boring. It’s not even worth making a comparison.

So stuff like that really irks me.

Don’t get me wrong, though, this book did a great job of holding back information that I wanted to know and kept me reading until I found it out.

It definitely didn’t disappoint, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting. Not only was it thrilling and mysterious, it also had a lot of character/relationship building/history that I really enjoy reading. It definitely added to the effect.

Other awesome stuff:

The characterization in In a Dark, Dark, Wood was excellent. Early on in the book, I was physically frustrated by it because I hated some of the characters so much. That’s awesome. If you can make me have a physical reaction to a character in a book, that’s good writing.

Overall, 4/5 stars.

If you’re looking for an interesting thriller but you don’t like scary books, this is for you!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus


Book Review: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story is a graphic novel by writer and illustrator Debbie Tung.

love graphic novels and comic books, but I hadn’t read any in a while, and this one reminded me why I love them so much! Before I get more into that…

Here’s the cover of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World:

How CUTE?!?! How could I not buy this? It looks like my idea of heaven.

And here is the synopsis of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story from Amazon:

“Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert.

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

Finally, here’s my review of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World!

As an introvert, this book was so relatable. I found a piece of myself on every page. It was a very comforting reading experience. The story covers many aspects of life – home, work, relationships, friends, and everything in between.

There’s really nothing more for me to say other than that the story is beautiful, and the writing is beautiful. It’s an all-around lovely graphic novel/comic book/ whatever you’d like to call it.

I’d recommend it especially for self-proclaimed or closet introverts. However, I think it is an equally important read for extroverts, who sometimes might not fully understand us introverts’ need for quiet time in such a noisy world.

Other awesome stuff:

The art is adorable! Debbie Tung has a very distinct illustrating style that I love. It’s simple, but not overly so, and there are still lots of adorable details.

Overall, 5/5 stars.

I LOVED THIS. I can’t say enough good things about it!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus