The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

There have been so many fantasy novels that have been coming out recently that I’m struggling to decide where to start! I’ve seen so many Instagram posts about this book, and it has such a beautiful cover that I had to select this one! Here is my review:

Summary (Goodreads): When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern King35098412dom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Review: This was an interesting book, but definitely more on the generic side of this genre.

What I loved the most about this book was the world-building. The descriptions of the setting was gorgeous and I loved that the author took the time to develop an interesting talent system. I wish there had been more emphasis on Maevan culture, as I was curious to juxtapose Maevana with Valenia; the differences that were mentioned sounded more like personality traits rather than actual cultural variations. I wanted to learn more about magic in Maevana, especially since that is kind of what makes a fantasy story, well, fantasy!

I didn’t love Brienna’s character too much because she didn’t really have much of a personality. On the plus side, she wasn’t stupid; she could put together clues and formulate plans. But I can’t really say if there was anything more to her.

I really liked the first half of the story, when Brienna was in school with her friends and trying to get scouted for her talent. It was the only semi-unique thing about the story. However, the rest of the novel was a bit … boring. Nothing really happens for the longest time. She just travels, and then waits around to meet other people, and then continues to do ordinary-ish stuff until it’s time for the real action to take place. At least if there had been more instances of magic or understanding of the Maevan culture, I wouldn’t have been as bored. But there wasn’t.

The ending of this novel was really simplistic. Everything was over and resolved far too quickly for me to be satisfied. It was just blah for me, which was disappointing since it was the scene I was most excited to read. It just didn’t work.

Lastly, I didn’t like the romance in this book. This is a personal pet peeve I have: I don’t like relationships between students and teachers. It feels weird and wrong to me, and I just can’t find it within myself to think of it as sweet or cute. Maybe others won’t be as bothered, but I certainly was!

Overall, this was an okay novel. It had some beautiful descriptions, but the story was generic, the characters didn’t have as much personality as I would have liked, and the ending was just too easy. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~



Negative Reviews: Spread Them or Nahh?

We’ve all been in this position: you read a book and you don’t like it. At all. And that’s fine because everyone is entitled to their opinions.

But should you spread the negative review out?

When I read a book that I don’t like, I don’t hesitate to state my opinion. I write my review on my blog, and I make sure to explain why I didn’t like this book. And this explanation is really important to me; I want to make sure people who read my blog post understand what made this novel not work. I do all of this in an effort to show people my perspective so that (hopefully) they can have a better picture of whether this novel works for them or not.

But by writing this review, I also have to admit that I may be turning people off of the book. And this makes me feel really guilty. Being an author and publishing your book is no small feat: a lot of hard work, dedication, and soul goes into that novel. This is the author on a plate. And by posting my review, I just pooped on it. Is it fair for me to dissuade other people through my negative review? It’s something that haunts me every time I post the words “I didn’t like this book.”

My other concern when writing a negative review is … do I post it on other platforms? I have a bookstagram account and a Twitter that is solely for books. When I write a review, I make a post or a tweet encouraging others to read it. But so far, I have refrained from doing it with negative reviews.


Because I don’t want my opinion to spread too far. This blog, which I am working on nurturing and growing, has a relatively small reach. The chances of hundreds or thousands of people seeing my post are minimal when I keep it on my blog – not to mention, the author will probably not see it. I don’t want to hurt their feelings by posting a negative review that someone on Twitter or Instagram can then tag them in. Like I said, they poured their heart into this and I don’t want to be the one to break their heart.

So now, I’m throwing this question out to the book reading and blogging community: what do you do when you have a negative opinion about a book? Do you shout it out to the world or do you keep it to yourself?

Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich [BLOG TOUR +GIVEAWAY+]

I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour! It’s my very first time and it has been such a fun experience, live-tweeting and working with the amazing host Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch!


Book Information:

Title: Crimson Ash
Author: Haley Sulich
Publisher: Write Plan
Publication date: 10 May 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Synopsis: 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.


A soon-to-be City of Graven resident appears in the middle of the room and frantically whips her head around in the dark. It’s common for people to panic. They aren’t gifted with night-vision eyes like us because they weren’t created in a laboratory. In case any of them decide to attack a soldier, we have the advantage of sight.

Once all the future civilians pack into the room with the soldiers, the Commander enters the coordinates for the City of Graven into a keypad. The moment she finishes, an electric current begins to charge the air. Sweat drips into the scrape on my cheek where a bullet grazed my face.

Not a muscle of mine twitches.

Seconds pass before the familiar flash of light and feeling of nothingness wraps around my body while we travel. Then I land on the flat roof of a building.

The new City of Graven residents turn in a circle. Their hands tremble and mouths gape open with an emotion I fail to understand. Mountains—invisible to their mundane vision in the dark—cut jagged lines into the horizon. Skyscrapers rise higher than the one we stand on. The glo-wood trees below lie evenly spaced where streets once were, and they bathe every glass structure in a pale luminescence.

This is the last city on Earth that gleams at night. Everything else died when the Devil’s Dream wiped out most of the human race. Nobody could locate the origin of the virus because it spread too quickly, taking down the strongest and even remotest civilizations. That’s why soldiers search the Earth for survivors. But this fragile society can’t function if people refuse to participate, which is why we give the Choice.

As we wait silently, the clanging of metal emanates from the nearby stairwell. A man in his late thirties appears from below. Mordecai Graven greets his new citizens while soldiers descend the stairs to the individual Alters lining the walls.

I follow the group and step in front of an Alter. Type the code to my cell.


Pushing my palm against the Alter, I feel the faint current racing through my fingers toward my chest. A flash of light. Floating.

Then I arrive in my ten-by-ten foot room. Three concrete walls and a thick sheet of glass surround me. My night vision stains everything blue.

Soldiers live in the dark.

I shed my black gear and dump it into the laundry chute before grabbing a pair of fresh clothes from the concrete shelf. Without my armoured gloves covering my hands, my heavily scarred fingers are a stark contrast to the dark clothing.

Entering the bathroom, I clean my dagger before placing my hands in the dink. Only one temperature of water ever sputters from the faucet. Boiling liquid flows over my fingers as I rinse away the dried blood. My skin blisters and turns raw.

Soldiers don’t feel pain.

Translucent liquid from the automatic curative cream dispenser on the wall begins to repair the damaged nerve cells of my hands and the wound from the bullet graze. The skin scars over, speeding up a process that should take weeks. I touch my hand to the unbroken skin on my cheek.

It’s no longer a bleeding gash.

After taking a quick shower in thirty-three-degree water—just above the freezing point to make us immune to temperature differences—I dress and lie on my bare mattress, staring at the labyrinth of cracks on the ceiling.

Links To The Book

Goodreads – ash
Amazon —
Barnes & Noble — haley-
IndieBound —

Click here to enter the giveaway for a signed physical ARC of Crimson Ash!

Be sure to check out all of the other blogs participating in this book tour!


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10 March (Saturday)

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

So far, my experiences with Clare Mackintosh’s books have been positive. I absolutely loved I Let You Go, her debut novel. I See You, while not as intense of a thriller as her debut, was still a very good read. I went into this book with high expectations, wondering how twisted the story would get. Here is my review:

35839475Summary (Goodreads): The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

Review: This is a book that is leaving me more than a little conflicted. It had its positive and negative moments, and I think a lot of it can be attributed to the way the author went about telling the story.

When I first began to read this book, I was a little disappointed. It started off like many other thrillers. Anna was a character that came off as very one-dimensional; while I could empathize with her grief, that seemed to be all that constituted her personality. From the start, she was obsessed with proving that there was more to her parent’s deaths than just suicide …. but I had read this type of story so many times that I just didn’t feel any interest. With the addition of an unknown person’s perspective in the mix, I thought I had pretty much figured out the story.

For about 200 pages, everything I guessed was on the nose.


Almost 100 pages before the end of the book, the major twist happened. And I really liked the twist. It shifts the paradigms and it makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about a person. I don’t want to say any more because I want this to be spoiler-free, but it was definitely surprising and I really liked it.

But here’s the real question: was the twist good enough to redeem the earlier part of the book? For this, I don’t really have a good answer. On the one hand, the twist saved this story from being a disappointment for me. It made me sit up and gripped me and made me invested in the story. But to get to this point, I had to slog through the novel. Now, after finishing the novel, I can understand why the author went about telling the story this way: by making the reader believe that this would be just like every other thriller, she managed to deliver the most epic shock factor. But even though I got the thrills, I still didn’t really care about Anna’s characters. Other side characters were also not as well-developed as I would like, and the introduction of the retired police officer was really not too necessary as he didn’t add too much to the story.

To sum it up, this was probably my least favourite book by Clare Mackintosh. That being said, it’s still quite good and better than most of the generic thrillers out there. I’m going to give this a 3/5 stars because I was definitely caught off-guard … but the twists weren’t enough to redeem the entire book for me. I will 100% read more by this author, though; she is definitely talented and knows how to spin a good tale!

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

Ignite by Tracy Lawson – The Resistance #3

I received this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and I received no incentives. 

I’ve been continuing this series through audio books and it’s been a really great experience. I love the narrative style and the way all of the voices are changed to suit the different characters. It took me longer to get through this book compared to the other novels in this series, but that in no way means this was less interesting. If anything, I think this is my favourite book in the series. Here’s why:

30356956Summary (Goodreads): Nationwide food shortages have sparked civil unrest, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s hold on the people is slipping. The Resistance’s efforts to hasten the OCSD’s demise have resulted in disaster, with Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher taking the blame for the ill-fated mission in OP-439.

Both teens struggle to survive the circumstances that force them into the national spotlight—and this time, they’re on opposite sides. On the run and exiled from the Resistance members in BG-098, Tommy makes his way to a Resistance safe house in the capital.

The OCSD is preparing to monitor all under-eighteens with the Cerberean Link, a device that protects them against hunger and sickness and can even locate them if they’re lost. Tommy’s now living in close quarters with Atari, an operative who’s been assigned to sabotage the Link. But does Atari plan to use it for his own purposes?

Through it all, Tommy refuses to believe Careen’s loyalties have shifted away from the Resistance, and he’s willing to assume any risk to reconnect with her. Will they be able to trust each other when it matters most?

 Review: Apart from the first book that started me on this journey, this has got to be my next favourite book in this series. I was surprised that this series was not a trilogy, but after reading this book, I have to admit that this was a good decision; there is just too much to this story for it to be condensed into a trilogy.

I loved that the author didn’t shy away from describing brutality and torture, despite this being a YA novel. Many times, authors leave it up to the imagination, but not with this book! It made everything seem so much more real and horrifying, and I felt so much more invested in the story. Again, the author portrays things in such a realistic way that it scares me; the events in this book could easily become reality!

I was also really happy to see that the characters became more developed in this novel. There were still instances of insta-love but there were more struggles. The protagonists really grew up, and the interactions between all of the other characters were also more complex. The story has gotten to a point where the reader now has to question who can be trusted – and I love it!

The plot became more divided in this book as the characters took on different roles and responsibilities within the Resistance. Everything was well-developed and the crossing-over of the different story lines was done really well, keeping things compact.

Overall, this novel was really well done. I loved the depth of the interactions and the complexity of the plot and characters. This was the strongest book so far in the series, and I can’t wait to see how the adventure continues! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

When I found out that this novel was inspired by the Slender Man attack, I was immediately interested. I know that sounds like there is something seriously wrong with me, but I wanted to know how the author would describe it in a fictional setting. This story takes place after the incident and the premise was just too interesting to pass up. Here is my review:


Summary (Goodreads): How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender?
At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels.
Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear…

Review: I have very mixed feelings about this book. Do I think this is a very unique thriller? Yes, 100%. Did I love it? Not entirely.

If you haven’t heard about the Slender Man trials, then let me give you a little recap: a couple of years ago, there was a lot of hype about this creepy character named Slender Man. 2 girls became so obsessed with it that they stabbed another girl, claiming that Slender Man told them to do it. This was the premise that sparked the idea for this book, but the author took it further than just the incident: in this novel, we read about the victim’s life in the future.

The novel started off great. I loved reading from Alice’s perspective. She is damaged, she is paranoid, but she is strong and refuses to be a victim. The author painted a very realistic depiction of a survivor and I wanted to get to know her. However, as the story progressed, I found I didn’t really like Alice as much as I had hoped. For one thing, she’s a blabbermouth. For someone who should trust nobody, she trusts EVERYBODY. Every other chapter involves her meeting a character, deciding to trust them with her life story, and then divulging every little detail, including things that could be used against her. I wanted to shake her and yell at her for this. YOU ARE BEING STALKED BY A PSYCHO!!! DON’T GO AROUND TRUSTING PEOPLE!!! She even ignores the advice of her dead father, who explicitly told her to not trust anybody. It was something that really bothered me with this story.

That being said, I did like the way the story developed. There were a lot of twists and turns and a lot of mysteries explored. I like that things unfolded in their own time; instead of having the reader try to tease things apart, the author let everything come out gradually. It gave the story a good flow and allowed me to just enjoy the story as it came to me. I liked the identity reveal of Mister Tender and the way things led up to the climax.

But it was the climactic point that failed me. Mainly because there wasn’t one. After all this build up, after all the violence, it ended very easily. It was just too simple after all of the tension that was evoked previously, and I just couldn’t feel satisfied by it.

Despite some of the negative aspects of this story, I think that it gives a lot of food for thought about sensationalism and victim fetishism. The story is about how everyone is obsessed with getting to know Alice, understanding her and seeing how she lives her day after her horrific incident. In a way, the reader is a part of that: I am drawn to the grisliness of her story, I’m fascinated by her character and how she behaves. It’s easy to see how I could become another “fan” of Mister Tender… except I would never stoop to that level of depravity and violence. In a sense, this theme of sensationalism also touches on issues with privacy. With the internet, there really is no such thing as having privacy and through Alice’s struggles, we see how hard it can be to remain anonymous. This novel also looks at abuse in a very unique way. There are so many different types of abuse that this novel considers and it is worthwhile to note that abuse doesn’t just manifest itself through physical violence; it can come from a loved one, too, and have disastrous consequences on one’s mental and emotional well-being.

Even though there were things I really didn’t like about this novel, I’m still giving it a fairly high rating of 3.5/5 stars. This is a very unique psychological thriller, with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers interested, so if you are looking for something new in the genre, consider this book.

Happy reading ~

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill

One thing I need to learn to stop doing is jumping at a book because it has a gorgeous cover. Take, for instance, Ever the Hunted. Look at this cover and tell me it isn’t pretty:


I saw this cover and immediately wanted to read it. It promised to be an interesting story. It was not.

Summary (Goodreads): Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Review: Everything you expect to find in a stereotypical YA fantasy novel is in this book. And that’s why it didn’t work for me. I like to see variation, something unique … and there was none of that.

In the beginning, the story showed some promise. There was a bit of excitement as the story started off with a bang. I could sense the desperation of Britta as she found herself in a dangerous situation.

But this excitement didn’t last too long.

I quickly grew tired of Britta’s character. For one thing, she repeats the same thing over and over again. Another thing is that she is seriously not smart. I hate when the author makes the main character unable to figure out even the most basic clues. Strong and intelligent protagonists are not a bad thing! In any case, Britta was unable to put anything together. She also seems incapable of thinking about anything other than romance because every other sentence was about how she had feelings for Cohen and whether he reciprocated. I mean, considering the seriousness of her situation, this may not have been the perfect time to wonder if he liked you.

And then came the special snowflake effect. Britta is a special snowflake. So, not only is she unintelligent and ridiculously infatuated, she is also special. And that’s supposed to make the readers connect with her.

I also thought the romance angle was nothing great. I know I’m someone who generally doesn’t like romance, but the last few books that I’ve read in the fantasy genre have had great romances. This book was not one of them. It was generic, featuring your stereotypical hot guy friend who the protagonist has a crush on. It didn’t do anything for me.

But the other major problem with this book is that there was barely any world-building. There is a war between two countries. But there is no detail into how this came to be, what the conflict is about, the political climate and the differences. The world in this novel was described with the bare minimum needed for the story to move along. And this is such a shame because fantasy novels really need to have great world-building for the story to shine.

Needless to say, I was not impressed with Ever the Hunted. It didn’t give me anything new and it was disappointing to see all of this potential go to waste. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~



The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

I had read The Princess Saves Herself in This One when it first came out, and I had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I liked the strong message in the story. On the other hand, I didn’t necessarily consider the style to be “poetry.” Nevertheless, I was glad to have received a copy of this from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. Here is my review:

34518216Summary (Goodreads): The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

Review: The style of this collection was just like the previous one. But this time around, I wasn’t as bothered by the style.

This time, more of the poems stuck with me and evoked strong feelings within me. This collection deals with a lot of difficult content that the author prefaces by giving a trigger warning. I found that, as I was reading the poems, I could feel the emotions that the author was mentioning. The anger roiled up in me at reading these words that portrayed injustice, the rage boiled up just like it was described in these stanzas. I felt something with this collection that I had not previously.

This made me pause for thought. I wasn’t expecting to be moved; generally, I am not very emotional and I don’t think any work of poetry has ever affected me emotionally. But this one did. Maybe it was because I feel strongly for the issues that were being discussed, maybe it was because I could relate to them through my own experiences. Either way, it made me connect with this collection and not care about the style of its presentation.

I will say that I wish there had been more personal poems from the author, rather than the collective voice of all women; while the latter is great, I want to get to know the author more through her work. I still have my mixed feelings about this style of poetry. With the more powerful poems, I was able to feel the flow and break of the words and stanza, and it felt logical. However, with the poems that weren’t so strong, I was once again feeling like the style was very tumblr-esque, which I didn’t really like.

Either way, this collection of poetry was one I enjoyed. It had strong poems and strong opinions that I could connect with. I hope that the author will try to incorporate more personal poems in her next collection. I’m giving this a solid 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~


Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

I read Seraphina a while back and I fell in love. It had dragons and court life and great world-building. It was definitely very different from most fantasy stories I’ve read but I enjoyed it immensely. When I saw that LibraryThing was hosting an Early Reviewer giveaway for Tess of the Road, I immediately jumped at the chance, and was delighted to receive a copy. From the synopsis, I was aware that the book took place in the world of Seraphina and I was excited to get back into it. Here is my review:

Summary (Goodreads): 

33123849In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.
Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Review: Getting back into the world created in Seraphina through the eyes of a new character was really exciting for me. That being said, I would HIGHLY recommend that you read Seraphina before this one; this novel draws on many terms and concepts from Seraphina and the author doesn’t really take the time to explain it again in this book, so readers might find themselves lost.

When I started reading this novel, I was surprised to find that it was quite slow. Based on the premise, I think I was expecting a faster pace to the story. I also found Tess’s character to be … well, not to my liking. She is quite selfish and a little too impulsive. However, as I was thinking this, I also found myself liking this choice for a protagonist. I have always favoured flawed main characters to perfect one – and Tess is definitely in the former category.

As the story continues, there is an allusion to an incident that Tess was involved in that has made her undesirable and given her a bad reputation – and it is connected to a sexual encounter. The mystery surrounding this incident immediately made me want to know more, and it served as a pushing force for me to continue with the story. At the same time, I was surprised that the author wanted to discuss sex and sexuality; I hadn’t pegged this as the direction for this novel.

One of the major problems I encountered in this book was that it had very slow pacing. Not much happens in this story. Tess goes on a journey to escape life in a nunnery – and to escape the judgmental attitude of her family and friends. There are bouts of adventure but for the most part, there was just a lot of walking and talking and philosophizing. Now, I’m not really a fan of philosophy so I found some of these talks to be a little tedious to get through but I found that they were important for setting the stage for some of the moral issues the author explores.

Because while Tess was going through a boring outward journey, she was going through a rigorous inward journey. This novel was all about Tess’s ingrained views on sexuality and proper behaviour (as she was taught by her mother) and the way her experiences and the views of others’ challenges these beliefs. The reader gets to see how Tess has been bullied and shamed into feeling inferior and how she rises from this and starts to love herself again. I think that this theme is a really important one to cover and I think that, while the author had a shaky start with it in the beginning, it all came together quite well in the end.

This is a book that won’t work for everyone. The slow pacing and the initial un-likable-ness of Tess can be offputting for a lot of readers. But if you push through, you’ll see that this novel has its merits. It’s all about self-love and taking care of oneself. It’s about different ways to think about sex and sexuality, and the issues of being judged by traditionalist views on a female’s role in the bedroom. I like how the novel challenged these issues through Tess’s character and for that reason, I’m going to give this a 3.5/5 stars. The reason I can’t give it a higher rating is because the pacing was difficult to deal with and there wasn’t really much of a plot.

This is a novel I would recommend for fans of Seraphina and for those who are looking for a novel that looks into morality through the genre of fantasy.

Happy reading ~

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Over the years, I have become a big fan of Alice Hoffman. Regardless of the genre, she manages to produce a story that will leave a mark on the reader. Of the 4 books I’ve read in the past, every single one has been absolutely stunning. I approached this novel excited to see how she would tackle the contemporary genre.


Summary (Goodreads): Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Review: Once again, Alice Hoffman has written a story that tugs at the heart. But compared to her other novels, this one fell short for me.

The story starts off post-tragedy, and we are introduced to post-tragedy Shelby, a girl who is grief-stricken by this event, which ruined her best friend’s life. Shelby shoulders all of this grief and hurt, but most importantly, she stops loving herself and thinking of herself as a good person. And thus, starts our journey with Shelby as she hesitantly moves through life, changing and adapting – and maybe finding it within herself to let go of the grief. I know I’m saying something that might be a spoiler… but it’s really not. The blurb pretty much gives it away.

Here’s the thing: I liked the journey. I liked the growth. I loved the opportunity to connect with Shelby and understand her. But the story lost me quite a few times. The plot meandered many times, and I found my interest slipping when that happened. This is not an easy story to read because it deals with difficult topics of guilt, loss, love, and self-love. But it took a long time to get to anything conclusive. I feel like Hoffman was trying to emulate real life through her progression of time and events in the book. And that’s great. But it just strayed away from the central plot too much to keep me interested.

This is a great story that explores grief and forgiveness and love. It mirrors real life by depicting realistic situations and time frames. But I think it was this realistic nature of the story that didn’t work for me. There was a point where some “miracles” were introduced – but it was quickly explained away. I wish this had been explored more because I was excited by the potential for some magical elements in the story. I think that this novel would appeal more for those looking for a very realistic portrayal of grief and the ability to move on from traumatic events. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~