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book review

My Musings: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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True to its name this novel was indeed both strange and beautiful in in its themes, prose, and story. While the title gives the impression that the plot primarily centers on the character of Ava Lavender, the book is more of an anthology of the fantastical experiences of several generations of women in one peculiar family.
This book isn’t simply about a girl named Ava who is born with the wings of a bird, but rather so much more. It is about life and love. It is about the passage of time.
The story and the way in which it is narrated—through the various perspectives of each of the characters—reflects on the drastic ways love effects people’s lives. Infatuation, lust, hatred, the pain of betrayal, love in all its forms—these are all emotions we all feel, and Walton portrays them with a poignancy and subtle grace that is utterly mesmerizing. The narrator’s repeating declaration that “love makes us such fools” effectively summarizes the overarching theme of the novel, which explores both the negative and positive consequences of such a visceral emotion in equal measure. This story isn’t solely about love. It is about humans’ interaction with the accumulation of emotions that make up love and all that it entails.
This is not an adventure story, nor even a coming-of-age tale, but rather a conglomeration of fantastical elements, superstition, and mythology and how they intertwine with reality. It is unique and bizarre in every sense of the word, but also incredibly profound. This is the perfect novel to cozy up with on your next rainy day.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for readers looking for a beautiful love story within a fantastic and magical world

If I could summarize the book in two words: bizarrely moving  

Check out the official summary of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★1/2

Outdoors and free is a lovely place to be.

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Outdoors and free is a lovely place to be.

My Musings: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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The sequel to Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses far surpassed everything about the first. The plot, the characters, the worldbuilding, and especially the romance were all so much better developed, and while I didn’t fall in love with the first book I definitely did with this one. In my opinion, this novel was close to flawless. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tamlin as the love interest in the first place, and this latest installment simply expounded on why. I loved Feyre’s growth throughout the story and how she finds her own strength through not only relationships with those around her but also with the acceptance of herself and who she has become. Rhysand’s character was revealed to have far more depth and maturity than what we saw in the first book, and the friendship to romance between him and Feyre was both entertaining and heartbreaking to watch at times.
To put it simply, I thought this book was amazing. I was thoroughly addicted from the first to last page, and reading this reminded me why I fell in love with fantasy in the first place—because when everything, when the words, the characters, and the story all coalesce to fit perfectly, the result can be magic.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for readers looking for a beautiful love story within a fantastic and magical world

If I could summarize the book in one word: mesmerizing 

Here’s an official summary on goodreads.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+ (honestly, I wish I could give it an even higher rating)

My Musings: Morning Star by Pierce Brown

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The release of the final book in the Red Rising trilogy made me feel simultaneously excited and anxious. Brown is a master of unexpected plot twists and delving into his futuristic world of war and politics is always as mind-blowing as it is fantastic. While there aren’t as many action scenes in this book, I like how Darrow seems to develop more as both a character and a worthy leader of the rebellion. In contrast to the first two, this is mainly a war novel, which definitely contributed to its slower pacing. Most of the plot is focused around Darrow’s campaign strategy with only a handful of large battle sequences. However, the somewhat gradual build-up to the finale is worth it in the end. Overall, the latest installment proved to be a satisfying conclusion to a great series.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for fans of hardcore sci-fi books and epic battle scenes in space.

If I could summarize the book in one word: Intense 

Here’s the official summary of Morning Star on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars) ☆☆☆☆1/2

My Musings: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

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This book was a fun read filled with romance, magic, and wonderful worldbuilding. Many of the elements of the story resembled those of Harry Potter and Eragon, but the tension-filled relationship between Prince Titus and Iolanthe was unique in its own right. The most interesting aspect of the story was watching the budding romance between these two wonderful characters. Despite Iolanthe being presented as the main protagonist, destined to be the chosen one meant to defeat the evil Bane, I found Titus to be the most lovable of the pair. I admired Thomas’ delicate and carefully crafted portrayal of the almost king as a boy weighed down by his destiny, while heroically struggling to be brave and uphold his duty to his people. Iolanthe was every bit the spunky heroine, but not nearly as well developed, and I couldn’t make myself feel as much of a connection to her.

Overall, the story was interesting, but not action-packed. For all the time and effort spent by the author in creating this dramatic sense of the potential greatness of the two main characters, I found the ending to be somewhat disappointing and anti-climatic. The action scenes were fast-paced, but many times vague and confusing. This drawback was very evident in the final scene, and that was partly why I was left somewhat detached at the conclusion. Aside from this, the novel was a pleasant and romantic read. I would recommend it for fans of high fantasy with an English flair.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for fans of high fantasy with an English flair.

If I could summarize the book in one word: Enchanting

Here’s an official summary on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★1/2

My Musings: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

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After seeing several reviews on this novel, I was somewhat hesitant to buy it, however after reading the blurb several times, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. The concept of a warrioress tasked with hunting evil faeries and saving the world in the process isn’t an exceedingly original one, but I found this to be a surprisingly fun read. While May’s worldbuilding is somewhat lacking, the relationship between her characters were interesting enough to keep me entertained. Aileana was a compelling heroine, and I loved her strength throughout the novel. I also enjoyed reading the banter between her and Kiaran, and honestly their alliance/romance was the highlight of the book for me. Without giving any spoilers away, I will say that I found the ending to be both short and confusing and not satisfactory at all. I am as big of a fan of cliffhangers as anyone else, but this ending didn’t even feel like an ending at all, and to be honest, I most likely won’t be reading the sequel.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for any fans of faeirie folklore and steampunk looking for a fast read.

If I could summarize the book in one word: forgettable

Here’s the official summary on goodreads.

My rating: ★★★ 1/2

My Musings: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

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As soon as I picked up this book and read the blurb on the back cover, I was intrigued. This story was advertised as having many things: mystery, suspense, masterful storytelling, and a gothic setting. Indeed, it delivered all of these factors to an extent, and yet, by the close of the novel, I felt something was lacking.

Let me first say that the language was beautiful from beginning to end. I loved the author’s description of the protagonist’s special relationship with books. Over the course of the novel, the various books and the stories featured within them are developed with such care that they nearly become characters in themselves, even more so at times, than the actual humans. The setting effectively established the haunting mood of the tale. Nearly every scene was heavy with unspoken memories, shadows, and dust.

What didn’t really grab me was the suspense aspect of the novel, or rather, a disappointing absence of it. The story’s pace was relatively slow. Yes, there is mystery as well as a distinct feeling of uneasiness that spans throughout the novel, but suspense? No. That factor only comes into play during the last few pages of the novel, but even that quickly fades after barely sputtering to life. The Thirteenth Tale is a thought-provoking, yet slow read. I kept waiting for something totally unexpected to happen. I kept waiting to be scared out of my wits.

While the ending indeed was surprising, the build-up was hardly gripping, and in the end I was left with a feeling of disappointment for what it could have been. Overall, I would compare the reading of the novel to the process of sitting down to assemble a thousand-piece puzzle on a rainy day. Does it thoroughly occupy your attention? Yes. Is it enjoyable if, at times, rather drawn-out? Yes. Are you happy to be finished with it? Definitely.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for those looking for a gothic unsettling read and beautiful prose.

If I could summarize this book in one word: Disconcerting

Here is an official summary on goodreads for The Thirteenth Tale.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★

My Musings: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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I had been looking forward this fourth installment of the Throne of Glass series for months, and I am thrilled to say it did not disappoint. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it! Everything about this story—the plot, the worldbuilding, the new characters, the returning characters—all of these factors were well crafted and just plain exciting to read. While, I must admit that the last two books did not quite make me feel the same magic when reading of the first, I am ecstatic to say that the fourth novel exceeded my expectations. In fact, I would go so far as to claim this as my favorite of the entire series. Why did I love it so much? One of the main reasons is Celaena’s love interest. Now, I’m not going to give away any specifics, but I was already rooting for this couple, and the fact that their relationship developed into a romance in this installment surprised and thrilled me to no end! There were also other romances beginning to bloom within the main cast of characters, all of which I really liked and am eager to see grow. The plot in this novel was absolutely amazing. I was literally sitting on the edge of my bed throughout the duration of my read, tearing through the pages to see what would happen next. Maas has a gift for buildup and suspense, while also never failing to deliver unexpected twists and turning points.
As usual for Maas, the character development was phenomenal. By the conclusion of the story, I felt Celaena’s emotional journey had almost come full circle. I loved how in this book, the distinction between Aelin’s and Celaena’s personalities is clearly laid out before the reader. While I instantly became attached to Celaena in the first book precisely because of her courage and charmingly reckless attitude, in this volume I came to appreciate Aelin so much more, and I really was impressed by how different Maas presented the two identities to be. Indeed, it seemed as if all of the major characters had fully realized story arcs. While the conflict is far from being resolved, I found the ending to be satisfying, more like a closing of one chapter of the story and the opening of the next.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for those who love high fantasy.

If I could summarize this book in one word: Epic

Here’s an official summary of Queen of Shadows on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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