Reading for Pleasure vs Reading for Self-Improvement

I am the kind of person who loves to motivate people to read. When I meet someone who says “Oh, I don’t read”, my standard response is “That’s because you haven’t found the right book yet.” And then I spend the rest of the conversation trying to find books that I think would suit them.

This is exactly what I was doing with my lab mate. I asked him what kind of books he liked to read, and he told me he really liked reading books that are thought-provoking and about changing one’s habits to become a more successful individual.

And I had to pause there.

See, these are the kinds of books that I typically avoid. I’ve seen them around a lot but every time I think about reading it, I just run away to my fiction corner and cuddle with the latest fantasy/thriller/horror/sci-fi book. I’m serious: I actively try to avoid self-improvement books.


For one thing, I do a lot of reading for school that is heavy on literature. As someone who reads scientific papers all day, I use my personal reading time for something lighter, something that isn’t going to be directly applicable to my real life. And it’s not like fiction can’t be deep and thought-provoking; books like Sing, Unburied, Sing or Little Fires Everywhere are not light and fluffy at all! But while they are stimulating, there is no need for me to work on myself and try to implement any changes proposed in the book.

The other reason I don’t like reading books that fall into the self-help/motivational category is because they really don’t motivate me. I know I’m flawed and there are definitely things I want to improve (a lot of things, if I’m being honest) but whenever I read a book that is supposed to “fix” my bad habits, I end up feeling bad for having the habits in the first place. Instead of motivating me, it brings me down. It also tends to make me feel overwhelmed. There are so many different things I need to do, and I have to do them everyday and actively focus on it … and when I already have so much going on in my life, it just feels like one more added stress.

I know a lot of people who love these books and find them inspirational. They swear by the tenets of the books and how it has helped them become more effective and better and whatnot. And that’s great! I’m happy that others have found these books helpful! But I’m going to stick to my fictional novels for now. I like that they give me the opportunity to relax, to forget my problems in my real-life and jump into the problems of the characters in the book.

Have any of you read these self-help/motivational books? What did you think of them? Did they work? And what is your take on reading for pleasure vs reading for improvement? 


The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Thank you to Edelweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

When I first began reading this book, I had no idea it had any ghostly underpinnings. Naturally, that just made me more excited to read it! I have been in a bit of a book slump for the past few weeks so I’ve been desperately searching for that story that will propel me back into reading – and this one was it! Here is my review:

35533431Summary (Goodreads): Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . .

Review: Let me start right away by saying this book gets 5/5 stars from me. I loved it that much. I’m struggling so much to find the right words to describe my emotions … but I’m going to try anyways.

I really liked that this story alternated between 2 different points in time. Some chapters were from 1950 and others were from 2014. The chapters from the 1950s were my favourite because every time the story switched to this time point, it was one of the 4 roommates who got to speak. This allowed the reader to connect with all of the girls and understand them – and their secrets. I thought the author did a fantastic job at this. I felt empathy for every single girl and could really feel their bond towards each other. I was also able to appreciate them as unique entities and could feel the pain of bearing the burden of their secrets. The chapters from 2014 were exclusively from Fiona’s perspective, as she searches for the truth. I will be honest, in the beginning, I wasn’t very drawn to Fiona. But as the story progressed and the different time points began to intersect, everything made sense and I grew to love every chapter, regardless of who was speaking.

I also really loved the mystery behind it all. I’m not going to say too much on it because I don’t want to ruin anything but there are 2 “main mysteries” that are the focus in this novel. Both of them made sense and were resolved beautifully, with no holes in reasoning. I loved the way the pieces fell together, and the emotions that were brought to the surface as Fiona tried to make sense of it all. Through the investigations, the novel raises difficult subject matter and does it in a very respectful way. I know I usually tell you what these are but for the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I’m going to stay silent.

The most surprising part of the novel was the ghostly element. I really wasn’t expecting it from this book but it was absolutely fantastic. It gave a very Gothic and haunting atmosphere to the story! I almost never get scared or feel shivers when reading a book with ghosts in it… but this book did it for me. My heart would race and I would turn on all the lights in my room because the mood was captured so perfectly. And in the case of this book, the ghost story aspect really enhanced the mystery! It added something more to the story, that set it apart and also gave it more …. substance. It reinforced the main message of the story: not all secrets stay in the past.

I have to say that this book was literally perfect for me. It had great characters, great writing, dual storylines that converged beautifully, and tons of mystery to it. The supernatural elements to the tale were just the cherry on top. I am so glad I got to read this book and I cannot wait to read more by this author!

Happy reading ~

After Alice by Gregory Macguire

The first book I ever read by Gregory Maguire was Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and it was fantastic. It was a different take on the classic Cinderella story and it was the first time I ever read a retelling. You could say that this is what got me into this genre in the first place. With After Alice, I had the awesome opportunity to buddy read this book with a bunch of bookish friends from my bookstagram account! Every week, we would meet up online to discuss the novel. As someone who hasn’t really analyzed a book since high school, it was nice to get back into that style of reading in an informal setting. Anyways, I’ve been blabbering for too long, let me get onto my review:

Summary (Goodreads):  When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice.

Review: I actually read this book in 2 formats: physical book and audiobook. I was a bit worried that switching between these two would affect my perception of the story, but I am happy to say that it did not. But let’s get on to my actual feelings about this book.

This was not my favourite book by Gregory Maguire. In fact, I didn’t really like this book at all. I think that the problem I faced with this novel was that it was trying to do too much and accomplishing very little in the process.

This book is all about what happens after Alice goes to Wonderland, and the author decided to look at this in 2 ways: through Ada’s perspective as she goes searching for Alice, and through the perspective of Alice’s sister, Lydia, who is stuck in England and must find her there. The concept was great; we get a full picture of the effects of Alice’s disappearance. But the way the story was told just didn’t work for me.

For one thing, the sections with Lydia didn’t really interest me. I felt like Maguire made her character very unlikable and didn’t give her many strengths. I wish she had had some positives to her because it seemed really unfair that she shouldn’t have something to make her seem better. I also found that the descriptions of life in England, while interesting and historically accurate, were boring. I didn’t really want to read about decorum and debate about societal views and morals. I just wanted to go to Wonderland.

Now, when it came to Ada’s time in Wonderland, I was very intrigued. Ada is a very different character from Alice; she’s much more logical and mature, almost like an adult than a child. Seeing Wonderland through her eyes, and watching how she changes and finds her identity was amazing. I just wish there were more of it. Every time the story took me out of Ada’s chapter and into Lydia’s, I would groan on the inside. Ada’s journey was far more interesting and I liked her practical character very much.

There was also the introduction of another character named Siam. I really liked how the author was able to develop his story even without giving him a voice. But if I’m honest, his character was unnecessary. Siam barely got a chance in the spotlight and including him made me want to read more from his perspective – and left me feeling disappointed when he didn’t really get the chance to do so.

I also had a problem with the language. Now, I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp of the English language… but this book had my head spinning and not in a nice way. The overly flowery and descriptive language made it hard to get through the book and I would find my attention slipping away. Even if you are personifying the Victorian era, there is no need for the writing to be so difficult to understand, especially when there really isn’t anything meaningful being said. My biggest problem with the wording and language style of this book is that the author was deliberately using wordy language in an attempt to sound more impressive – but when you make your way through all that mess, you realize it’s really nothing that impressive at all. I did not like this at all; it felt like the experience was being cheapened for me.

My final thoughts about this book was that it could have been so much better. It was such an interesting concept but the author overcomplicated it by trying to put too many themes and characters in and not fully developing them. There was also the unnecessary language that had the opposite effect of seeming witty. While I enjoyed reading this in a buddy setting and I liked the revelations that we discovered as a group, this is not a book that I enjoyed. I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars, rounded to 2.

Happy reading ~


Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

I really wanted to read this book because I heard that it was being made into a movie. I’m a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan so I was excited to watch it … but before watching, I wanted to read the novel and see how it was. I love spy-ish movies and stories so it was a no-brainer for me to choose this as my next read. Here’s my review:

15803037Summary (Goodreads): In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.

Spies have long relied on the “honey trap,” whereby vulnerable men and women are intimately compromised. Dominika learns these techniques of “sexpionage” in Russia’s secret “Sparrow School,” hidden outside of Moscow. As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and—inevitably—forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate’s game reaches a deadly crossroads. Soon one of them begins a dangerous double existence in a life-and-death operation that consumes intelligence agencies from Moscow to Washington, DC.

Review: I was surprised at how long it took me to read this book! It looked fairly short but it had super tiny font – so consider yourself warned!

This is a very detailed book. I had always figured that espionage would be very meticulous and intricate, but I had no idea how much until I read this book. The author has carefully researched and outlined every small thing in this story. I really appreciated this attention to detail because it created a lot of depth and gave the reader a very full picture of what it means to be part of the espionage world. It also gives the reader an understanding of politics and the different mind games that can take place, which is where all the fun happens! At times, this level of detail could be overwhelming; it is one of the reasons why it took me so long to finish this book. However, now that I have completed it, I can see no better way of telling this story.

The characters in this novel were very unique. Dominika is fiery, egotistical, and able to adapt to every situation. She is so smart and I really empathized with her feelings of being used as a pawn; she wanted to be so much more, knew she could be so much more, and I loved that about her. However, I didn’t like that the author made her very impulsive and moody. It just didn’t fit with the image of a spy that the author kept pushing forward. I liked that she had spunk but her outbursts were a little shocking to me, and seemed incompatible with the rest of her character. I also didn’t really like Luke. There didn’t seem to be too much of substance there. While I liked that Dominika was the driving force behind this novel, I wish that Luke had been a worthy match for her strong character.

The story’s pacing is a little weird. I can’t really classify it as fast or slow; its tempo changed as it progressed, ramping up and down as needed based on the events that were about to unfold. There were times when I wish things would progress faster … but it made sense why it didn’t.

The writing style was something else I am struggling to characterize. I think that it worked for telling this kind of story. It was a cold and calculated voice that distanced the reader from the characters. I can see why a lot of people would find it off-putting but it reminded me a lot of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Hypnotist so I didn’t really mind it too much. I thought it was really cool how each chapter ended with recipes of a dish that was described in that chapter; it wasn’t strictly necessary but it was an interesting tidbit.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I would give this a 3.5/5 stars. I think it took me time to start to really get into the novel; at first, I felt bogged down by all the details. Once I got used to the details and the writing style, I found myself caught up in the political intrigue. I definitely want to continue reading the rest of the books in the series, especially since this one ended on a cliffhanger. But before that, I’m going to go and check out the movie!

Happy reading ~

What Makes a 5-Star Rating: How I Rate My Reads

To a lot of people, rating seems like a very easy thing to do. You either like something or you don’t. But for me, rating a book is a very complicated thing. I consider various different factors before making my rating. Even then, I find that using a 5-star system doesn’t necessarily capture my overall feel for the book.

Here are some of the things I consider when rating a book:


Plot is one of the most important things for me. I need to love the story! Depending on the genre, I’m looking for different things in the plot. But the key things I want are originality and proper pacing. With so many books out there, it can be hard for an author to come up with something completely new. For me, originality doesn’t just refer to the story line; it also refers to the author’s voice or their perspective. I want something intriguing, something that makes me look at a concept in a different way. The way the author presents this idea is super important because if it’s done well, I will find myself sucked in to the story.

Which brings me to the idea of pacing. A good book is paced to match the story. The last thing I want is to read a really great book that is too fast-paced to allow me to appreciate the characters or world that is being created. I also don’t want to read a book that moves too slowly and has nothing happening in it, especially if the story premise gives me the impression that it is filled with action. When the pace is set to match the events that are unfolding, it makes it easy for me to envision myself inside this novel, beside the character who is going on this adventure. Too many times, authors try to pack in everything they can into the story without considering how it will affect the pacing of the story.


I cannot stress how important this is for the way I rate a book. I have to love the characters. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the main character has to be good. I love devious or sinister main characters. Nearly any character that is different from the norm will be one I like.

The most important factor is believability (yeah I know, it isn’t a real word, but you get the point). I need to feel that the actions/feelings of the character are realistic, or else I won’t be able to connect with them.

I also like characters that are resilient and intelligent enough to figure things out on their own. I really hate the “special snowflake” effect … but I’m not going to get too into that since it will just end with me ranting.

The interactions between the different characters is also really important because it builds the secondary characters’ personalities.


THIS!!!! I can’t tell you how many times I read a book that has a great plot and great characters but absolutely no world-building. I need to know what makes the world/setting in this book different or similar to the real world. This is especially important for fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction novels; the story LITERALLY takes place in a different setting and if it isn’t explained, I’m not going to understand what’s going on. I think this is the hardest part of writing a story because it requires a lot of thinking and research… but it is one of the most necessary parts.

So there you have it. These are the 3 areas I focus on when I’m reading and rating a book.

But I want to know about your preferences! What makes a 5-star book for you? Are there other areas that you focus on? Do you take the cover into consideration? Let me know in the comments below!!!!



Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims

Thank you to the publishers and Edeleweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

The title was too intriguing to ignore. I saw this and thought it was the funniest thing ever. I’m not a mother, but I know I’ve driven my mom crazy over the years. This would be the perfect way for me to get a glimpse into her world, albeit with a ton of humor! Here is my review:

Summary (Edelweiss): Boy Child Peter, Girl Child Jane and Daddy have exciting adventures with Mommy. Daddy likes gadgets. Peter and Jane like starting fires, trying to kill each other and driving Mommy to drink.

It is Mommy’s 39th birthday. She is staring down the barrel at a future of people asking if she wants to come to their yoga class, and book clubs, where everyone is wearing statement scarves and they are all ‘tiddly’ after a glass of Pinot Grigio. But Mommy does not want to go quietly into that good night of women with sensible haircuts who ‘live for their children’, boasting about Boy Child and Girl Child’s achievements. Instead, she clutches a large glass of wine, muttering FML over and over, and then remembers the gem of an idea she’s had…

Review: Just like the summary suggests, this is a lighthearted read. If you like Bridget Jones’s Diary or anything by Sophie Kinsella, you will probably enjoy this book. I thought it was funny and cute, and I enjoyed the break from my usual reads.

But this wasn’t my favourite book out there.

I was entertained as I read about Ellen, our MC, struggling to be the “ideal” mother. The author was very witty in her descriptions of everyday life. The story definitely got sweary at times, but that didn’t bother me too much. However, there was nothing that pulled me to the book. I found I got bored at times, especially in the middle. Maybe it’s because I can’t relate to the MC since I don’t have children and haven’t experienced everything that is mentioned in the book. But that hasn’t really been a problem before. I also found some of Ellen’s actions questionable and irritating. But then again, this novel is told as a diary and we’ve all done imperfect things in life, right?

Overall, I think this was a funny story, but it wasn’t remarkable. It didn’t keep me wanting more. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars and would recommend it for anyone looking for a lighthearted read.

Happy reading ~

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I stayed away from this thriller for a while. It had a lot of hype and that scared me right away; this is what happened with so many other books in this genre and they all disappointed me. I really didn’t want this one to not meet my expectations so I tried to avoid it … but then the temptation to see if it was worth all the hype was too great. Here is my review:

34848682Summary (Goodreads): Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.


Review: Unfortunately, this novel failed to impress me. It didn’t live up to the hype. But it wasn’t a bad thriller, either.

We have this character, Anna, who is agoraphobic. That in itself has me intrigued. Agoraphobia is quite common and there are many therapeutic and pharmaceutical approaches for it. But then the author decides to also make Anna drunk. And that straight-up reminded me of Girl on the Train. As if the story wasn’t similar enough in terms of the idea of a woman who spies on others through a window! I really didn’t like that the author added the drinking element to the story because it wasn’t necessary; Anna was already an unreliable narrator because of her agoraphobia and the medications she was on. It just seemed like overkill to me.

I also found that the plot was a bit predictable. While I hadn’t completely pegged the ending, I had my suspicions, and a lot of the revelations were ones I had already guessed. I wish Anna had been a little quicker in coming to certain conclusions, but I will be fair and give her the benefit of the doubt; after all, she was drunk so maybe that’s why it took her longer to put the clues together.

A lot of people on Goodreads have been calling this a “popcorn” book and I have to agree. The story is interesting enough that it keeps you flipping the pages and you’re entertained. However, it wasn’t the best thriller I had ever read, and it was too predictable for me. I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3, because I liked the pacing and writing style and think it is a decent job for a debut author in a genre where it’s hard to stand out.

Happy reading ~

Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich

I recently participated in a blog tour for this book and it was such a great experience! I loved the experience of live-tweeting and hosting a giveaway, and it’s something I want to continue to do!

But now, it is time for my own review of this book!

36572385Synopsis (Goodreads): You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.

Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.

As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.

Review: I think the premise for this book was great. However, I think it failed in execution.

As soon as I started reading this book, I felt out of sorts. This novel throws you right into the action … but with very little background. It almost felt like I was reading the second book in a series, and not the first. I kept waiting for there to be an explanation or some kind of recounting of events to explain how things got to be to the present time in the book, but it didn’t really happen. The few things that were explained were glossed over, which was disappointing. I love reading about the world authors create, but this novel really didn’t do that. No context = tons of confusion!

The novel looks like it is going to be full of action … and while there is some of that, it is mostly about the bond between Ember and Solanine. I actually liked the way the author told this. As an older sister, I could really connect with the sisters in this story and how they struggled to trust each other. The emotional interactions between the siblings was done quite well. However, apart from their bond, I didn’t really feel like the sisters had any well-developed interactions with any of the other characters in the book. Told in alternating perspectives, we read about how each sister learns to forgive themselves and move on from their guilt through the help of various other characters. But it was all so one-dimensional; I never got a feel for the other characters and the interactions were just too rushed for them to have any significance or value.

One of the characters that completely baffled me was Nightshade, who is part of the resistance (and no, this resistance is also not really explained). For someone who is supposed to be a leader, she didn’t do much of it. Nor did she have any plans. She did nothing and was swayed by her own emotions. I think this issue could have been resolved if the author had built the character better and had a more concrete backstory that was explained.

There are a lot of instances of self-harm and abuse in this novel, which may bother some readers. At first, I appreciated the author mentioning these things in the story, as it highlights how easy it is to get into destructive behaviour patterns. However, it became too frequent of an occurrence, and began to feel like the author was including these instances just for the sake of having something to write about.

Before the halfway point of the book, not much was happening. It was very focused on the sisters trying to communicate. After the halfway point, the plot started to move fairly quickly. But the lack of explanation about the way this dystopian world was set up meant I had a lot of questions and very few answers. There was a lot of redundancy in the action events themselves, with characters getting caught, then escaping, then getting caught again. It just got boring very quickly.

Overall, I think that the concept behind this novel was good but the execution was lacking. There needed to be a lot more world-building and explanations for how things work. Characters also needed to be more developed. There needs to be the right balance between theme/plot and setting/world-building, and this novel did not have that. However, since I liked the sisterly bond aspect, I’m bumping my rating up to a 2/5 stars.

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Half Moon Bay by Alice Laplante

I received this novel as an advance copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I read this premise and immediately thought “This book is the one for me”. I was so excited for this book … and then I read it. And I didn’t like it. Here’s why:

36495890Summary (Goodreads): Jane loses everything when her teenage daughter is killed in a senseless accident. Jane is devastated, but sometime later, she makes one tiny stab at a new life: she moves from San Francisco to the tiny seaside town of Half Moon Bay. She is inconsolable, and yet, as the months go by, she is able to cobble together some version of a job, of friends, of the possibility of peace.

And then, children begin to disappear. And soon, Jane sees her own pain reflected in all the parents in the town. She wonders if she will be able to live through the aching loss, the fear all around her. But as the disappearances continue, she begins to see that what her neighbors are wondering is if it is Jane herself who has unleashed the horror of loss.

Review: There were two issues for me with this book: 1) Jane’s character; and 2) the writing style.

Jane is a mother who is shrouded in grief, for obvious reasons. While I could empathize with Jane, I wasn’t able to connect with her or like her. I think this may have been because of the other personality traits the author tried to attribute to her, namely her ability to be easily manipulated. Personally, I prefer characters who have a bit more of a backbone to them, and the fact that Jane’s malleable character leads to so many future problems for her just annoyed me. This may not seem like a huge problem for a lot of readers, but it was a big reason why I couldn’t enjoy this book.

I also didn’t like the writing style. It just felt like I was in Jane’s head the entire time, following her stream of consciousness. And I didn’t really like it, especially since Jane has a very … foggy mind. I felt disoriented and since her thoughts constantly strayed to various different areas, it was hard for me to stay focused and keep up with the actual story line. This definitely hampered my reading experience and made this less enjoyable.

I think that the story here was interesting. However, I didn’t like the main character and I didn’t like the writing style, which meant that I couldn’t enjoy the book. It almost made the DNF pile – except I’ve been trying really hard to not DNF any books this year. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

If you didn’t already know, I’m obsessed with anything related to Every Heart A Doorway. It was the first book I read by Seanan McGuire, and it blew my mind. Every chance I get to jump back into that whimsical and twisted world, I take it. I’ve been anxiously anticipating this book, and it was such a great read! Here’s my review:

27366528Summary (Goodreads): Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Review: I’m aware that this is a very short summary of the book … but really, if any more detail was given, then the story would be ruined. Let me begin by saying that I highly recommend you to read Every Heart A Doorway before reading this one; while it may be marketed as a standalone, there are too many references and details to the original book for that to work. Reading Every Heart A Doorway will really give you a glimpse into the whimsical mayhem that is this world – or rather, worlds.

If you’ve read the other books that are part of this series, then you will most likely enjoy this one. It features a diverse group of characters, all from different worlds that come together to help Rini, a stranger who literally fell into their lives. I love all of the characters in this book; they are vibrant, and unique, and beautifully created. There is nothing I love more than good characters – and these ones are great! I enjoyed reading about the ways they interacted, how they learned to respect the differences that made each person unique, and how much they embraced their own uniqueness. Not only are the characters diverse because of their experiences in their different “worlds”, they have diverse ethnic background, gender identities, and abilities. I love that this book focused on body image and identity, highlighting the difficulties and assumptions that come with these issues as well as ways in which to feel positive about these issues. It’s important for an author to talk about real-life issues and the way that Seanan McGuire does it is phenomenal; underneath all the whimsical magic of the story lies important messages that everyone needs to hear.

I also love the setting. It is gorgeous and magical and open to every possible thing you can imagine. This book series is amazing because of the beautiful way the author describes everything – and I’m not going to say any more on this because I want you to experience it for yourselves!

The great thing about this book is that it is really short, but leaves plenty of avenues to explore and discover. I love the sense of adventure in this book and how things make no sense and yet are still logical. It was perfect and I cannot wait to see what else the author has in store for this series!

I really cannot rave more about this book. I love this series so much because it is so out of the norm. I have no idea how the author comes up with these crazy ideas … but I hope it never stops! I love that these books have deeper meanings and themes underneath the surface and features a diverse host of characters. For all those reasons, I’m giving this 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~