What I’m Reading: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Young Adult Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

When I first heard about this book, I was tempted to pick it up straight away, but it’s a good thing I didn’t since I received it in the OwlCrate box that month. Melissa Albert’s writing style was a bit different than I’m used too, with some sentences that took a couple reads to understand, but once I adjusted, I quickly fell into the pages of the story.

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Now, I enjoyed The Hazel Wood, but something about the ending didn’t quite jive with my expectations at the beginning of the book. I loved the beginning. I loved the promise of the mystery and the shadowed back story, but I felt the end took this twist that was unexpected but also not quite as full as I was expecting. It was fast and happened really quickly, when it probably could have had much more time devoted to it.

The main character Alice as fun and loveable, as were Finch and Audrey and most of the other characters. This book is very fairy tale, but modern, which I really like. Now, apparently, this is the first book in of two, or possibly a trilogy, I’m not sure. But according to GoodReads a second book is expected next year. However, The Hazel Wood ends well as a standalone, so I don’t really feel like I’d have to pick up the second book. I’m thinking that maybe the second book is about different characters in the Hazel Wood world, so it will be interesting to see how that ends up.

Here’s a quote I that I loved, from page 128 of The Hazel Wood:

“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”

Overall, I’d give this book 4/5 Stars, but if there were room for decimals, it would probably be just a bit below a four. Have you read The Hazel Wood yet?

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Young Adult Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I love Holly Black. Is that enough of a book review? Lol. Since reading What I’m Reading: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black last year, I’ve wanted more Holly Black. It took me a bit to get into The Cruel Prince, but by the end I was madly in love. For an adult reader of Young Adult books, this is perfect. It’s dark, and dangerous, and rather violent (which maybe isn’t the best for young readers), and it drew me in like a piece of fairie fruit.

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Main character Jude is typical Holly Black, she’s tough and cocky and she’s going to succeed in life or die trying. One thing I wanted more of was Vivi, Jude’s older, half fairie sister who was mysterious and aloof. One thing I loved to hate was Taryn, Jude’s twin sister. This book is richly detailed, full of fairie magic, and takes place almost entirely in The Shifting Isles of Elfhame, for which there is this gorgeous map at the front of the book. I love books that come with maps.

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I loved the tiny tie-in’s with The Darkest Part of the Forest. The Cruel Prince, however, is the first book in a new series, The Folk of the Air, the second book of which, The Wicked King, is expected in 2019 according to GoodReads. I can’t wait. Have you read The Cruel Prince yet?

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book sat on my shelf for a while before I finally picked it up. When I started reading Caraval, I wasn’t so sure about a book that takes place at a circus type thing in a fantasy world, but you know what, it works.

Sister’s Scarlett and Tella are whisked away to Caraval, a mysterious magical show run by the mysterious Legend. The story is told in from Scarlett’s point of view, following her through Caraval. The world is painted in gorgeous colours, and the book left me longing to go to Caraval myself (somewhat like The Night Circus). But as far as I know, the only place Caraval exists in this world is in the book.

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There was one thing I did find a bit confusing in Caravel and that was the passage of time. It seemed like days went really quickly, like Scarlett just started the day and then the day was over, which threw me off a bit. I assumed she was just losing a bit of time due to magic or something, but I’m not sure that was the intent. It was almost enough to pull me out of the book but I did really want to know who was lying and what was the truth and that mystery was enough to keep me going. Even if everything doesn’t flesh out in a book, if it keeps me reading and able to suspend my belief, I’ll end up liking it. That’s just the kind of reader I am.

Caraval is the first book of a two book set, with the second book, Legendary being released at the end of May, so not much more than a month to go if you’re waiting for it. I’ll probably be picking it up. Have you read Caraval yet?

A solid 4/5 Stars

JEH

February Catch-Up

I know – I’ve been pretty quiet this month. Mostly, I’m busy getting ready for my time as a full time writer. The office is prepped, I’ve outlined stories and projects and books I may work on, in order of importance, and I’ve even tagged some educational reads. I can’t wait to spend the next four months as a full-time writer. I will have no distractions (hopefully), and no concerns (hopefully), other than to get my manuscripts finished.

I’ll be returning to my day job at the beginning of July, and by then I hope to have generated a bunch of amazing material.

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I also had a little blog blitz in January, and an associated giveaway of two copies of The Torc. Those copies are now in the mail, and the winners were notified. The first three letters of their emails were rjs and far, just in case anyone is wondering. I really hope these readers enjoy reading The Torc as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Last weekend, I spent a lot of time re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I haven’t done much (if any) re-reading in the last couple years, so it great to spend some time with a favorite book. Do you regularly re-read your favorite books?

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JEH

February 2018 Reading Stack

Today is the first day of February, and I thought I would try something new: planning out my reading for the upcoming month. I still haven’t finished a couple books I began in January, Do Not Say We Have Nothing and A Torch Against The Night, both of which I hope to finish this weekend. IMG_5251

Then, since I’ve decided that 2018 is my year of “finishing/reading trilogies” I’m finally going to read Library of Souls. I need to read Deep Work by Cal Newport this month as well, as I prepare for my four months of full-time writing (I can’t wait!). Scarlet, the second book of the Lunar Chronicles is on my list for near the end of the month, and then, in the hopes that I still have time, I’m planning to read Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal as it has been on my shelf forever.

What are you planning on reading this month?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Breathe The Well-being Special

Today I thought I’d write about reading something different. Obviously I read a lot of Young Adult Fiction and fantasy, but I also read short stories, poetry, literary fiction, general fiction, science fiction, romance, mystery, horror, children’s books, you name it, and I will read it! Recently, I saw this issue of Breathe in the store and purchased it. I love it. The best part is that it’s a magazine with no advertisements (the drawback to that being that it was really expensive). BUT, I love it. It’s the kind of magazine that I’ll keep like a book.

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Sometimes it’s just nice to read something unexpected. To read something that is unlike all the other things you’ve read lately. That’s why I occasionally pick up a murder mystery, or an issue of National Geographic. I love reading, but to keep it fresh, I need to read outside of my box of favourites.

What have you read lately that’s been a different fit for you? Did you like it?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Young Adult Book Review: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Sometimes the problem with borrow e-books (or audiobooks) from the library is that they expire and if I haven’t read them fast enough then I need to go on the wait list to borrow them again. This happened with Their Fractured Light.

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Their Fractured Light is the third and final Starbound novel. I was pleasantly surprised by the first book in the series, but was a bit disappointed to find that each book in this series has two different main characters. Their Fractured Light follows Sophia and The Knave on their fight to save the galaxy. While the story does intersect with the characters from the first two books, this story is mostly about Sophia and the Knave.

All in all, the book was solid. I liked the experience of seeing a new world, getting to know a different piece of this galaxy, but I didn’t like the characters quite as much as I did in the first two books, probably making Their Fractured Light my least favourite book in Starbound. Still a solid read and enjoyable book. I plan to one day read more books by Amie Kaufman and Meaghan Spooner, especially Unearthed, which was just released this month.

4/5 Stars

JEH