Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater

Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication: May 3rd 2022 by Disney Press

384 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Merida goes on an all-new, life-changing adventure in this original YA novel set several years after the close of Brave!

What if you had one year to save everything you loved?

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER.

Review: I loved Brave, the movie and I also love Maggie Stiefvater so combining the two had to be good, right?! So right! When I first started reading the book I was a little unsure of my mood which could potentially be a problem being a mood reader. But I didn’t need to worry about that… I was almost instantly sucked into the story.

Merida had been away from home for awhile traveling. Not long after she returned she was thrown into a mess between two gods. A bargain was struck and for the next year, Merida was to try her hardest to make changes to the stagnation that had fallen upon her home and family. If she could not prove enough change, Feradach would be forced to bring ruination to her home and family. Of course with Merida being very headstrong, she was bound to have some issues with Feradach and getting her family to change themselves without being able to tell anyone about the bargain that had been struck. I really enjoyed the banter between Merida and Feradach. There were a few things I didn’t really like about this book. It felt like a very young YA, almost bordering on middle grade. And although I knew that Maggie Stiefvater wrote it, it didn’t really feel like it. The writing was rather basic and not what I have come to love and expect from her. Overall I enjoyed this book but would have enjoyed it a bit more were it not for those two issues I had with it.

3 Stars

I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Bout of Books 34

Bout of Books 34 is coming next week! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to participate so I am really looking forward to do so for this round. Bout of Books is one of my favorite readathons. It lasts a whole week beginning on Monday and ends on the following Sunday. It is super low key but also has some fun daily challenges that you can choose to participate if you want as well as a few other things.

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 34 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Normally I like to give myself a couple of goals and a tentative TBR just so I have something to go off of. Since I am a mood reader, I don’t hold myself to the TBR if I’m not feeling it when the time comes around. Since we are a week out from the readathon, I think I have a pretty good idea of what I would like to read but that could very well change so I will stick with it being a tentative TBR.

Personal Goals for Bout of Books 34:

  • Read at least 1 hour everyday
  • Finish at least one of each of the following:
    • audiobook
    • novel
    • graphic novel
  • Daily check-in on blog and Instagram stories

My tentative TBR plan is to focus on my ARC backlog. I have a few that have already been published and a couple that will be published very soon. I am also currently working on that so my plan for next week is basically to tackle the ones I have left. I would LOVE to be able to completely get caught up but I also have quite a few that I need to get through so I will just see how things go. I don’t want to push it too hard or I will end up in a slump for feeling forced to read these books. My selection includes the following:

  • The North Wind by Alexandria Warwick (published January 13, 20022)
  • Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long (published January 11, 2022)
  • The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth (published April 5, 2022)
  • The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner (publishing May 10, 2022)
  • Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry (publishing May 10, 2022)
  • Outside by Ragnar Jonasson (publishing June 28, 2022)
  • The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang (publishing November 15, 2022)

As far as the audiobook and graphic novel go, those will depend on what I’m in the mood for at the time.

I am really looking forward to participating in this readathon after so long away from it. Are you planning to participate?

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Bellinger Sisters #2

Published March 1st 2022 by Avon Books

385 Pages

Goodreads Summary: King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

Review: Last year I read and reviews It Happened One Summer, the first book in a duology by Tessa Bailey about two sisters who must leave their posh lives in Los Angeles to prove themselves to be capable adults in a small fishing town in Washington state. I really enjoyed that first book introducing the two sisters, with the main focus on Piper, so I was really excited to get a chance to read and review book 2 in the series that focuses on Hannah. I could more easily connect with Hannah than Piper so I knew the second book would probably be even better for me than the first book. I was not disappointed.

The book opens with a text string between Hannah and Fox over the course of several months while she is back in L.A. and he is in Westport. I loved the connection between them and how music brought them even closer together. They seemed to easily understand one another even though they were both so different at the same time. Even before Hannah got back to Westport, the way they fought their growing attraction made it seem more and more that they were meant to be together. Their chemistry was absolutely undeniable throughout the book. I also really enjoyed the vulnerability that they both had. Neither had been in a serious relationship and were scared to take that step. Especially with Fox knowing how his father was and thinking that everybody basically expected him to follow suite. Even more than the romance between Hannah and Fox, I very much enjoyed Hannah’s character evolution. She started out working as a production assistant for this director and always thought of herself as an extra or sidekick character rather than the leading lady. Gradually Fox helped her to see that she can and should be the leading lady in her own life. She started to take those steps to put herself out there more and get what she wants. I enjoy romances but it makes it so much better when the female character takes charge of her own life and doesn’t just let things happen to her.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I am sad that there will not be anymore of these characters in future books. But I will definitely be checking out more books from this author in the future.

4 Stars

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Published December 7th 2021 by Atria Books

354 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

Review: The first thing that drew me to this book was the author, Shea Ernshaw. I read and loved The Wicked Deep a few years back when it was published so I knew that she was an author I wanted to keep my eye on. The second thing that drew me to this book was the cover. The cover image is so haunting and beautiful, I just had to know what this book was about. The third and final thing that drew me to this book was the synopsis. Missing author and a mysterious commune in the middle of the woods?! Yes please.

When the book began I figured that the story would be following from Travis’s point of view for the duration but it didn’t take long for me to be proven wrong. We are then introduced to three characters living within Pastoral, the secret community in the woods: Theo, Calla, and Bee. Theo and Calla are married and Bee is Calla’s sister. Together they live in a farmhouse near the edge of the commune. Each of them has secrets they are trying to keep from each other but those secrets don’t last for long.

I don’t want to say too much about the story because I think honestly one of the best parts was being unsure of what was going on and what was going to happen next. It was such a puzzle to try and fit all of the pieces together about what happened to Travis and Maggie. And when those pieces began to be revealed… I was shocked by each and every one of them. The last third of the book is so full of twists and turns. I literally just finished the book a few minutes ago and wanted to start this review while my head was still spinning. So many “Aha” moments! One of the other really cool things about this book is you get little excerpts from the Foxtail book that Maggie St. James was famous for. It was incredibly eerie with how well it fit the surroundings of Pastoral. Shea Ernshaw did a fantastic job writing this book. Her words had a way of drawing me into the story and I felt as though I was in Pastoral, seeing and experiencing everything that the characters were experiencing. Especially with Bee’s character. Bee is blind and so you get to experience all of her other senses being heightened, mainly her sense of hearing and smell. I definitely see myself thinking about this book for quite some time.

4.5 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2021 Year In Review

Another year has come and gone! I was hoping to post this closer to the first of the year but I’m still just going with the flow and posting when I feel the urge to post. So that day has come today! I had a fairly decent reading year for the most part. There were a few months that I fell into a bit of a rut overall, not too shabby. One of my main goals for the year was to finally read the giant tome, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and it was even better than I thought it was going to be. I also wanted to read more of my owned but unread books but that didn’t quite work out. The majority of the books I read in 2021 ended up being audiobooks. And now for one of my favorite things… various statistics from my year of reading!

Total Books Read: 139
Total Pages Read: 56,116
Number of Different Authors: 98
Most Read Author: Stephen King
Books in a Series: 59
Standalones: 80

Hardcover: 30
Paperback: 13
Ebook: 12
Audio: 84

Adult: 116
Young Adult: 17
New Adult: 5
Middle Grade: 1

Average Pages Per Book: 403.7
Average Pages Per Day: 153.7
Average Pages Per Month: 4676.3

  • Fantasy: 40
  • Science Fiction: 1
  • Historical Fiction: 15
  • Contemporary: 8
  • Romance: 15
  • Classics: 3
  • Mystery/Thriller: 21
  • Horror: 31
  • Nonfiction: 4
  • Literary Fiction: 1

And for the finale…. my favorite book that I read in 2021, which may come as no surprise to those who know me….. EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE BY JAY KRISTOFF! This is the first book in a new trilogy and after reading it I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book. There were lots of special editions and I wasn’t able to collect them all but I did manage to get 6.

And that’s a wrap on 2021! What was your favorite book that you read in 2021?