Hello all! My social/physical distancing is going well (5 days until my 14-day self quarantine is over! Then I can go on walks!), and I hope you are home safe. If you know a doctor/nurse/other medical personnel, please give them an elbow bump for me, as they are doing amazing work and putting themselves at risk for all of us!
In bookish news, I just finished P.S. I Still Love You, the book. I'm afraid to say I didn't love it as much as I expected, so I'm nixing the book-movie comparison article I had planned, in order to spare myself the experience of that plot again. If you all read the book and watched the movie, tell me what you thought! I'd love to discuss.
I'm currently reading We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia, which the author was so kind to send me. I'm really enjoying it so far. It's deep, and bold, and unexpectedly funny. I can't wait for this book to come out so y'all can read it as well.
Hi friend! Some recs for you--let me know which ones you read!
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Most Likely by Sarah Watson
All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
We Didn't Ask for This by Adi Alsaid
As some of you know, I love to make personalized book recs! If you want one, go ahead and fill out this form, and then check back later to see what you should read next!
New series! I love alliteration, so it's fitting that my first post in the Five Favorites series is going up on a Friday. I'm excited to share five of my favorite books released in 2020 with you all today, and I hope you'll consider picking them up or preordering, maybe from your local indie bookstore!
Hi all! Thank you to the FFBC for organizing this Blog Tour for Witches of Ash and Ruin. Find the tour schedule here to check out other reviews and creative posts!
The Book and its Author
Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy andA DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer's motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don't stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that's impossible to put down.
E. Latimer is a fantasy writer from Victoria, BC. Her middle grade novel, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray, was published by Tundra Books, and was recently nominated for the Red Maple Fiction Award.
In her spare time, she writes books, makes silly vlogs with the Word Nerds about writing, and reads excessively.
Her latest novel, Witches of Ash and Ruin, will be released Spring/Summer 2020 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Magic and murder collide in this contemporary fantasy novel that remains true to its bloody premise. Admittedly, I was skeptical at first, but I was hooked by the end. I was most pulled in by the plot—Dayna and Meiner’s quest to stop the Butcher, interspersed with magic and rituals, and the occasional shocking chapter from the perspective of the Butcher himself. The lesson here is that everyone has a story, even those who dabble in darkness.
Romance fans don’t have to stay away, though. Witches of Ash and Ruin also features a budding relationship between Dayna and Meiner, who start off as semi-rivals but grow to understand each other better over the course of the story. I love enemies-to-lovers plot lines, and this is no exception. The bond between the rest of Dayna’s coven was also lovely, and provided relief from her ultra-religious father, a priest who despises witchcraft. The spirit of sisterhood and family is strong in this novel, and I appreciated the mother-hen tendencies of Reagan, Dayna’s best friend, Yemi, her mom, and Bronagh, a grandmotherly woman who leads the witches.
Around 50% through, I found that I couldn’t put the book down. Several confrontation scenes moved at a fast pace as Dayna unraveled the mystery of the Butcher and came into her full powers as a witch. This was when everything began to feel more real to me, and the characters seemed to rise off the page. Any plot-focused reader will surely engage with the care taken to fully realize every plot thread, and character-focused readers will love the novel for the friendships and subtleties that appear throughout.
My only complaint is that I would have liked more world-building. The mythology wasn’t fully explained, and I like to explore the ways different books include the same deities and symbols. The spells and charms in Witches of Ash and Ruin were Celtic in origin, but I would appreciate more clarity on what each of them meant.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. It was a great distraction from the outside world, and I fell easily into the murder mystery and the magical entities that played in this mystical version of Ireland.
Hi all! I hope you’re staying safe and healthy (and indoors, if possible! We need to flatten the curve!). I usually keep this blog news-free, so head on over to my bookstagram to see my thoughts on COVID-19, which I am taking very seriously. I’m actually back home in Massachusetts, having flown back on Sunday. I cut my vacation short out of an abundance of caution, and am using my time to rest and explore new things.
In reading news, I’m thinking about getting more into non-fiction. I’m actually currently reading Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, which is a collection of stories about the elements. This satisfies both my love of reading and my interest in chemistry, so I’m wondering why I never gave non-fiction much consideration before. Not to worry, this blog will remain mainly a YA space, so to that end I have just finished Burn Our Bodies Down (!!! One of my most anticipated reads of the year !!!) and am looking forward to starting my review.
Again, I hope you are healthy and taking precautions to protect yourself and those around you—be mindful of vulnerable populations.
I’d love if everyone would comment 1-3 good things in their life! Let’s generate some positivity here!
Thank you to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review. I apologize for my lateness!
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
I love reading books based on lesser-known fairytales. Think The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but more creepy and romantic. I loved it. Now, I’ve never actually read the original tale, but I don’t think that had much bearing on my enjoyment of House of Salt and Sorrows. This book was always going to have my heart because of its atmosphere and world.
Annaleigh's life is filled with gorgeous dresses and silk shoes, but also tinged with grief after the death of her sisters. She balances her mourning with her family's desire to move forward and her own budding romance. However! There is also an element of mystery (which will always, always get me) because Annaleigh’s sisters have all died dramatically, and she wonders if they might have been murdered.
The mystery aspect of the novel is as sweeping as the glamour. I was deeply invested in finding out what happened to Annaleigh’s family, and found myself easily carried away by various aspects of the story. The plot grows more and more intense towards the end, and Craig brought the novel to a solid conclusion. Of course, I never wanted the book to end at all! I was trying to unravel the mystery as Annaleigh put the clues together, but a few twists had me gasping in surprise.
House of Salt and Sorrows seems like a magical book from the very beginning, what with the rituals of Salten and the Thaumas’s glittering lifestyle, but the magic becomes more real towards the end of the novel. Despite the late introduction, I found everything completely believable, and didn’t hesitate to let myself fall into Highmoor.
No fairytale fantasy would be complete without a romance either, and especially one with a mysterious stranger! Cassius, Annaleigh’s new beau, has some secrets of his own, but oh my wow! What a stunning and romantic relationship these two had! I’d put this one in the books with Feyre and Rhysand of A Court of Thorns and Roses and Harper and Rhen from A Heart so Fierce and Broken.
Overall, House of Salt and Sorrows earns 5/5 stars from me! It was one of my favorite reads of 2019, and I hope you all will pick it up as well.
Hello all! I am in sunny California, enjoying a little bit of R&R before I must return to my real life. I'm here on a true vacation, so I unfortunately don't have that many bookish destinations, but I did make time to visit The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles! I picked up a few special items, which will of course be revealed in an IGTV video later this week, along with the books I've brought with me on the trip.
Later this week I'll be driving up to San Francisco--anyone have any bookstore recommendations while I'm there? I haven't ever been, and I'm very excited to start exploring and see some of my family again. Happy Tuesday, everyone!
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.