Thursday, January 31, 2019

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett Review

Title: Onyx and Ivory
Author: Mindee Arnett
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Rime Chronicles, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Mindee Arnett is an author from my own state, Ohio, and the first book I ever read by her was her debut, The Nightmare Affair; it left me feeling kind of lukewarm. I liked the concept, but it wasn’t my favorite. But her series opener, Onyx and Ivory, has been sitting in my library stack for a while. When I realized that I couldn’t renew it any more, I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with Fire and Heist. This book was a lush, pleasant surprise: breakneck pacing, well-drawn characters, political intrigue and nefarious plots, with magic, danger, forbidden romance, with a shocking ending that leaves plenty of room for a sequel; this book has become my favorite in Arnett’s body of work. I’m so excited for what happens next!

                Kate Brighton has fallen from grace, ripped from her station as one of the King of Rime’s gentry, after her father dies; he attacked the king and almost killed him. Known now as only Traitor Kate, eking out a meager living in the King’s imperial riding service, The Relay, she is an outcast, hiding a deadly secret. From her father, she inherited forbidden, deadly magic known as wilder magic. Even more frightening, she can use that magic to control drakes, dangerous flightless dragons. The King’s order of magists hunt for Wilders, and the cruel inquisition only gains more traction when mysterious attacks begin happening all over Rime. Corwin, the younger of the crown princes, has his own secrets to hide, for fear of hurting his family, and his chances at the throne, even though he doesn’t seem to want it. When Kate reenters his life, he is forced to confront everything that he kept into the past. Drawn to one another despite all of the forces conspiring against them, they begin to dig into the dark past of their histories, and begin to realize that what they uncover will risk not only the kingdom of Rime, but the whole of the world as well…


                As I said before, this book was a pleasant surprise. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and I really liked Arnett’s take on it. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately drawn into the dangerous, magical world of Rime. One of my favorite parts of the book was how strong the characters were, especially Kate. This book had all of my favorite things in a fantasy opener: dragons, magic, forbidden love, political intrigue and dangerous secrets. I also adored the slow-burn, forbidden romance between Kate, the exiled traitor trying to clear her father’s name, and Corwin, stifled and desperate to make his own way, despite his family and station’s expectations. It took me much longer to finish it, as my life has been absolutely crazy recently, but I enjoyed it very much. The only thing that I wish was better was the worldbuilding; I wish the establishment of the gods’ roles in the book had been expanded on. Nonetheless, I’m very excited for the sequel! The bottom line: Mindee Arnett has redeemed herself fully in my estimation with her series debut, Onyx and Ivory! Chock full of romance, intrigue, and more than one monster, I loved it, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst Review

Title: Fire and Heist
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Sarah Beth Durst is one of my favorite authors; I read Vessel by her a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked on her work ever since. When I found out that she was publishing a new book in December, as soon as I had an opening, I reserved it at my local library. As soon as I was finished with The Crimes of Grindelwald, I began to read it, and I devoured it in a little over four days. Fire and Heist is an urban fantasy involving one of my very favorite things: dragons! And not just any dragons, but weredragons! This book had everything that I love in a fantasy novel: a feisty, hilarious and independent heroine, forbidden love, dark secrets and perilous quests, strong family bonds; I loved it so much! Fire and Heist is one of my favorite books of 2018.

                In Sky Hawkins’s family, gold is everything, and that’s hardly surprising, considering that she, her brothers, and father are weredragons, or wyverns. But things have never been the same for them all after her mother’s mysterious disappearance, which everyone, even her own family members, refuses to talk about. To make matters worse, her boyfriend Ryan has broken up with her, and all of her friends aren’t talking to her. Lost, furious, and desperate for answers, Sky attempts to make her own rite of passage: a heist, engineered by her. But things become even more complicated when, during the course of it, she stumbles across a dangerous secret that could change the fates of not just Sky and her family, but all wyverns throughout the world. Determined to uncover what really happened to her mother and why her family has been ostracized by the community, she joins forces with her ex, brothers, and friends to pull off the most dangerous heist yet, even if it means risking everything…


                This book was wonderful, as warm and comforting as a cup of hot chocolate on a cold, dark winter’s day, and I really enjoyed it. It’s probably one of my favorites out of Durst’s entire body of work; I was drawn into Sky’s dangerous, glittering world immediately, and her voice was so funny and warm; I loved her, as well as her close, tight-knit family. The pacing was breakneck; as I read, it kind of reminded me of Ocean’s Eleven and Six of Crows, without all of the darkness. This book was a reminder of why I love urban fantasy. I also adored the other characters, especially Ryan and Gabriella, as well as Sky’s parents and brothers. I was laughing, cheering, and crying the whole time I was reading this; I felt as though I made some new friends by the end. I also really enjoyed the ending; it was bittersweet and surprisingly true to life. (Well, as true to life that you can get when you’re reading about wyverns, but I digress.) The only things that I didn’t like about Fire and Heist was that it seemed to take a long time for the big reveal to happen, but that was minor; overall, I really enjoyed Fire and Heist. A gorgeous, hilarious book about being brave, the bonds of family and friends, and the idea that some things are just more precious than gold and jewels, it is one of my favorite books of 2018. The bottom line: A hilarious, heartfelt novel that I will never forget, I loved Fire and Heist! Another knockout from one of my favorite authors! Next on deck: Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original Screenplay by JK Rowling Review

Title: The Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original Screenplay
Author: J.K. Rowling
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Screenplay
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                When I heard that there was a new series of Harry Potter movies being made, I was skeptical at first, to say the least. And I have to say that I wanted to love Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but honestly, my reaction was just lukewarm. I loved Newt, but as for the rest, I didn’t know how to feel. But I was looking forward to The Crimes of Grindelwald, if only because I was very curious about Dumbledore’s evil nemesis. I saw the movie the day after it first came to theaters, and ever since, I’ve been stewing over it. I ordered the screenplay right after I went to the movie, and it’s been sitting in my library stack ever since. As soon as I was finished with The Light Between Worlds, I pushed it to the top of my stack, as I couldn’t renew it. As it’s been lingering in my mind since I saw the movie, I was eager to read the screenplay, and I have a better perspective on the film now, even as I have more questions than answers. But nonetheless, I really enjoyed it!

                The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up where the last film left off, with Newt having to deal with the consequences of what happened in the last film. The immensely powerful Grindelwald in the American Ministry of Magic’s possession, thanks to Newt’s help. But he makes good on his threat and escapes his detainment, beginning to gather followers, most of whom have no idea what he really wants: to raise pureblood wizards up above all, most especially non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart his former friend’s plans, Albus Dumbledore asks Newt for help, once again, and Newt reluctantly agrees, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn and bonds are put to the ultimate test while the wizarding world becomes ever divided.


                I really enjoyed this screenplay; upon reading it, I realized that there were many, many things I missed; often, I had to go back and reread what I had just read. I devoured it in less than a day, and as a result, I am most eager to dive back into J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world; I’m so sad that the last movie in the trilogy won’t be coming out for a long while. The illustrations of the screenplay were beautiful and gave me hints as to what was going on in the screenplay, before I’d even started writing. As I said before, this movie answered a lot of questions that I had about the last film and the state of the wizarding world during this turbulent time, but for all my answers, I had even more questions. It’s been more than a month since seeing the film, and several days since I finished the screenplay, and I’m still reeling, and I can’t help but wonder what J.K. Rowling has in store for the last movie! If you guys have seen the movie and read the screenplay, what did you think? I know that this movie has mixed reviews, to say the least. Nonetheless, I really liked it! The bottom line: The original screenplay to The Crimes of Grindelwald, this book was fantastic, giving more depth to a world that has felt like home to me ever since I was a child, and I have so many questions! Next on deck: Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst!

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth Review

Title: The Light Between Worlds
Author: Laura E. Weymouth
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                The Light Between Worlds was found through a recommendation list, and I ordered it from my local library. It’s been sitting on my stack for a while, and after I did a complete overhaul, I chose to keep it, since the cover was so pretty and the premise was interesting; honestly, it reminded me of a sort of reverse Narnia: What would happen if you came back from a magical world? I loved the way that one of my favorite trope was turned on its head. As soon as I was finished with Pulp, I pushed The Light Between Worlds to the top of my stack. I finished it in less than a day, and I really enjoyed it. With its unique premise, gorgeous, lyrical prose, and relatable characters, I loved it so much, and I can’t wait for what Laura E. Weymouth has in store for us next!
                
Siblings Jamie, Evelyn, and Philippa Hapwell were somehow whisked away to a magical world called The Woodlands five years ago, while they were cowering in a London bomb shelter, fearing for their lives. Creating lives as heroes and healers in this mysterious place, populated by all manner of fantastical creatures, they hold a brief refuge in The Woodlands. When they finally returned home to London, nothing changed, except themselves. Now Evelyn spends her days longing for the peace and purpose she found in The Woodlands, and she vows to return, no matter the cost. Her sister, Philippa, meanwhile, just wants to forget what transpired there, determined to find her place in the real world. Flawless and perfect on the outside, she has many friends and a coveted scholarship to a school in America. Tired of always keeping her sister from breaking into pieces, she escapes, intent on making her life her own. But when Evelyn goes missing, she has to return home, forced to confront everything she’s been running from. As she follows paltry clues that her sister has left her, she begins to wonder if Evelyn did indeed find her way back to the one place that feels like home, or if the pull of their two lives ripped her apart…


                This book was a lovely, thought-provoking debut! I really loved it. I enjoyed the way that Weymouth turned the magical world trope on its head; it was really interesting. The pacing was breakneck, and I also liked the way that the book went back and forth between the past and present, between wartime London and the dangerous, seductive setting of The Woodlands; it provided a lot of perspective and context to the Hapwell siblings’ relationship. I only wish that Jamie had had a first-person point of view, as well, because I was left wondering how he was dealing with the transition. I also loved both Evelyn and Philippa’s points of view; they were so similar and so different all at once. The prose was lovely, almost breathtaking, and more often than not, I was going back to reread. One of my favorite things about this book was how prevalent art and poetry was at the forefront of the novel, particularly in Evelyn’s narrative. And the ending! Oh, my goodness, I cried so much throughout this book. Especially over the ending! The only thing that really bothered me was that I wished all three siblings had an equal voice throughout the story. Nonetheless, this debut was really strong, and I will never forget the Hapwell siblings. What an amazing book! Enchanting, seductive, and poetic, The Light Between Worlds knocked me flat. Absolutely fantastic! The bottom line: Gorgeous, emotional and tender, I loved The Light Between Worlds! Absolutely amazing, one of my favorite books of 2018! Next on deck: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling!

Pulp by Robin Talley Review

Title: Pulp
Author: Robin Talley
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I first read Robin Talley’s books when I came across As I Descended, a modern lesbian take on one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, Macbeth, so when I found out that she was writing a new book, this one going back and forth through sixty years to tell the story of two lesbian young women, I was sold. I devoured Pulp in two and a half days, absolutely spellbound. The prose was snappy and sharp, and I loved the characters; this book seemed to take my heart and wring it out completely. A novel of self-discovery, true love, writing in all of its forms, and staying true to yourself at all odds, I loved Pulp! Easily one of my favorite books of 2018! Robin Talley has outdone herself with this meticulously researched and beautifully written novel; I will never forget Abby or Janet, and how they changed each other’s lives.
                
Janet Jones and Abby Zimet are two queer teens, separated by sixty-two years, and bound by the power of storytelling. Janet Jones, eighteen years old in 1955, shares a love that is forbidden by law and society with her best friend, Marie. It’s most certainly not easy, being gay in the time of McCarthyism, but when she discovers books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens a fierce desire to tell her own stories. Combine that with a romance that must be kept under wraps at all costs, and Janet is risking far more than her heart; she could endanger the woman she loves as well. Sixty-two years later, in 2017, proud lesbian Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject: lesbian pulp fiction. All to happy to escape her real-life problems and anxieties, she finds women just like her in the books she studies, but the one she most cherishes is a book by a woman who goes by the pen name ‘Marian Love’. Determined to track down the woman who so inspires her, Abby embarks on a journey of self-discovery and realizes that she is capable of more than she ever could have realized.


                This book was really a breath of fresh air! I really, really enjoyed it. It was meticulously researched and beautifully written; after I finished the book I went down a historical rabbit hole of sorts, searching for the sources that Talley used in the novel. The pacing was breakneck, and I really liked the dual points of view, giving a lot more depth to the story, as well as the time periods that the young women lived in. Abby and Janet felt similar, but not so much so that they weren’t strong characters in themselves. I also enjoyed the portrayal of both of the girls’ families, but especially Abby’s; it was surprisingly true to life and incredibly painful. And the character development was to die for. This book made my heart break, soar, and sew itself back together again; it was remarkably tender, funny, and thought-provoking, and I loved every single moment of it. I loved As I Descended, but Pulp is definitely my favorite book by the immensely talented Robin Talley. A gorgeous, groundbreaking triumph of young adult literature, and I will never forget Janet or Abby; they will stay with me forever. Fantastic, I cannot recommend it enough. The bottom line: Meticulously researched, nuanced, and thought-provoking, I loved Pulp! One of my favorite books of 2018! Next on deck: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth!

A Thousand Endings and Beginnings by Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh Review

Title: A Thousand Endings and Beginnings
Editors: Elise Chapman and Ellen Oh, various authors
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Anthology/Short Story Collection
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                This gorgeous short story collection has been sitting at the top of my library stack for a while; I had to do a library rehaul and decided I didn’t want to take it back without reading it, so, as soon as I was finished with The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, I pushed it to the top of the stack. This lovely little book contained 15 retellings of Asian myths and legends, and for the most part, I really enjoyed them! As there are fifteen different stories, I will pick my favorites out of the volume and review them individually, as well as give an overall rating for the whole collection. I was really excited about this book; I love short stories and retellings, so it was really exciting to be introduced to myths and stories from Asian cultures.

                Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this one! Romantic, melancholy and heartbreaking, this was one of my favorite stories in the volume. The Mountain, a beautiful goddess, falls in love with a human and plans to elope with him. But when his fellow villagers become convinced that he is hiding something from them, the goddess’s heart is shattered. Lyrical, beautiful, and bittersweet, I loved this doomed love story.

                Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong: 5 out of 5 Stars. This one was beautifully written, telling of a late chef’s daughter whose duty to the dead is the only thing she clings to after her mother’s tragic death from cancer. I really liked this one; the descriptions were beautiful and sad, and by the end of it, I was in tears. A story of forgiveness, legacy, and moving on, I loved it so much. Amazing!

                Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra: 4 out of 5 Stars. I’m such a sucker for star-crossed lovers! A girl goes to a party and is greeted by a handsome stranger who insists that he has seen her before. Freaked out by the strange encounter, she returns home, only for her mother to tell her a story that tells of a forbidden love from her past. The writing was beautiful, lyrical and hypnotic, and the ending had my jaw on the floor! Amazing!

                The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Ailette De Bodard: 4 out of 5 Stars. I loved this story; it’s one of my favorites in the collection. A fairy tale of two sisters who long to escape the tedium of their lives working for the emperor, one turns into a bird and the other is given a coveted position of being a counter in his own household; the writing was lush, lyrical, and enchanting, and I loved the ending!

                Nothing Into All by Renee Ahdieh: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this story! Sibling rivalry, magic, goblins! A pair of siblings long for different kinds of freedom; one longs for gold and fiscal security, while the other wants her own life outside of her village and family. When the sister is blessed by a goblin, the brother grows jealous and quickly covets what she has. But be careful what you wish for, for you never know just how it will turn out…

                Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this story; it was so beautiful and lyrical, and it read like a fairy tale. The daughter of the sun, hidden from all, falls for a man who is drowning in a river and saves his life, never mind that his life had an expiration date before they met her. It was bittersweet and heartwrenching, and I really enjoyed it. Absolutely gorgeous and unforgettable.

                Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa: 4 out of 5 Stars. Kitsunes! Forbidden love! A twist ending! This story is one of my favorites in the whole volume; a boy is rescued from starvation and thirst by a mysterious family hidden in the mountains. He stays with them for a while, never realizing that his generous hosts are a family of magical half-fox demons, one of whom feels just slightly more familiar than the rest. I loved the ending, and I really enjoyed the bittersweet love story that took center stage in it.


I really loved this gorgeous, diverse and ranged short story collection, and I’m so happy that I was able to read it before returning it. Like all anthologies, there were a couple of stories that really weren’t my cup of tea, but overall, I very much enjoyed it! One of my favorite books of 2018 for sure. I’ve been waiting for this collection my whole life, and I’m even more curious about the original myths and legends that inspired them! The bottom line: A diverse, ranged and timely collection of short stories inspired by Asian myths and legends, I loved A Thousand Endings and Beginnings, and it’s become one of my favorite books of 2018! Next on deck: Pulp by Robin Talley!

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee Review

Title: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Montague Siblings, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                One of my favorite books of 2017 was The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, so when I heard that Mackenzi Lee was writing a sequel to it, this time featuring Monty’s headstrong sister, Felicity, I was so excited. This book has been sitting in my library stack for a while, and when I realized I couldn’t renew it any more, I pushed it to the top of the stack as soon as I was finished with Outrun the Wind. This book is one of my favorites of 2018; I loved it so much. Full of hilarity, swashbuckling pirates, adventures that lead across the globe, dark secrets, and new friends, I didn’t realize just how much I missed Felicity, Monty, and Percy until I was plunged into their world once more. I finished the book in three days; I was that invested. It’s very bittersweet for me; I didn’t want to say goodbye to the friends I’d made in this book, familiar and otherwise.
                
Felicity Montague is a woman who seems to want too much. She longs to be a doctor, despite the medical field being closed off to her because of her sex. She knows what is expected of her: to marry, have children, and keep a wealthy man’s house, but she doesn’t care about convention or the society she was born into; all she wants is to follow her dream. When she is offered a chance to meet her idol, Alexander Platt, she leaps at the chance, and soon finds herself mixed up with most unsavory folk: pirates, scientists with secrets, magical creatures, and along the way, she discovers more about herself than she could’ve ever realized, and that it might take help in order to become a renowned physician.

                I absolutely adored this book! Sequels make me nervous; all too often I seem to forget everything that happened in the first book, so it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. But that wasn’t the case with this one: Almost immediately I remembered what happened, and I was laughing, cheering, and seething through the whole book. Feminist, fierce, and funny, Felicity’s voice was wry, sharp, and hilarious, and I loved the way she was more comfortable with science and anatomy of the human body rather than talking to people. The pacing was breakneck; I was spellbound from the very first sentence of the book; I finished it all in three days, I was so enthralled. I also loved the way other characters from the last book came in, and the new characters were fantastic, particularly Sim and Johanna. The ending was amazing; I was so satisfied, but it was bittersweet as well; I’d had so much fun with Monty and Felicity! One of my favorite things about her was that she was asexual, and was not shy about letting people know about it. This book, as well as its predecessor, is one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to see what Mackenzi Lee has up her sleeve next! Absolutely amazing! The bottom line: Gorgeously written, hilarious, full of action, adventure and self-exploration, I loved The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy! Next on deck: A Thousand Endings and Beginnings by Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi Review

Title: Outrun the Wind
Author: Elizabeth Tammi
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Everyone who knows me knows that I am a complete mythology junkie, but the one I know best happens to be Greek. I’ve followed Elizabeth Tammi on Tumblr since I first made my blog there, so when I found out that one of my favorite followers wrote a book revolving around Greek myth and female romance, I was sold. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, after I had to do another complete overhaul, and once I realized that it had holds on it, I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel. This book was highly enjoyable, full of heart, romance, painful tension and high stakes, and I really loved the romance between Kahina, one of Artemis’s hunters, and the legendary Atalanta, the girl so fast that she orders footraces, only agreeing to marry the man who can beat her. The only thing that I didn’t like about the book was that since it was set in ancient Greece, the dialogue and speech were a bit too modern for me, and it made it hard to really get into the story. Nonetheless, this debut was strong, romantic, and painful, and I look forward to more from this promising author!

                Kahina is a huntress in one of the goddess Artemis’s band, and there are only two simple rules: Never disobey, and never fall in love. After being rescued from the Oracles of Delphi, Kahina is glad that she has a place among the goddess’s chosen, despite the fact that her prophetic powers still linger. But when a routine hunt goes wildly awry, Kahina finds herself breaking the first rule to save the legendary huntress, Atalanta. In order to regain Artemis’s favor, she is sent to Arkadia, where the woman she saved is revealed as nothing less than the ruler’s daughter. For her part, Atalanta is still reeling from the disastrous hunt and her father’s insistence on marriage, she isn’t quite sure what to make of Kahina, but their relationship deepens into something more than friendship. The two young women join forces to devise a perilous game to avoid marriage, and suitors flock to the city, eager to best one another for the princess’s hand. But when the man responsible for both of the girls’ past pain arrives, the game turns downright dangerous…


                
As I said, this book was really good; I was only vaguely familiar with the myth of Atalanta before now, and I really enjoyed the sapphic reinterpretation of the Greek classic. The point of view went back and forth between Atalanta and Kahina, and it was really nicely paced; I was constantly guessing what was going on, and one of my favorite parts of the book was the girls’ budding relationship. I really liked how they were both huntresses, bound by rules that neither of them could control, but drawn to one another and each forced to face their demons. And the romantic tension between them was so deliciously painful; it was a great counterpoint to the many men who had it out for Atalanta throughout the novel. Feminist retellings for the win! I also adored the ending, and who the villain turned out to be; I wasn’t expecting it at all, it was a welcome surprise. The only thing that I didn’t really like was that the dialogue and writing were a bit too modern for my taste; it really made the book hard to read for me at times. But this is a strong, heartfelt debut from one of my favorite people ever, so I can forgive the small mistakes. I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Tammi has up her sleeve next! The bottom line: A romantic and beautifully written spin on one of Ancient Greece’s earliest myths, I loved Outrun the Wind, though there were times where the dialogue didn’t seem to match the setting or time. Nonetheless, I really loved it! Next on deck: The Lady’s Guide to Pirates and Petticoats by Mackenzi Lee! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo Review

Title: The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow
Author: Alyssa Palombo
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Romance/Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Hey, guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while; with the holidays and my life getting crazy, I’m a little bit behind. But I’m back now! I hope everyone had a fun, safe holiday with friends, family, and food, and of course, books! I’m ready for 2019 and everything it has in store for all of us.
I heard of The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel through a Facebook ad; Sleepy Hollow was one of the very first American folktales I’d ever heard as a child, so anything involving that is instantly on my radar.  The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel is a gorgeously written romance combined with creepy, spinetingling horror, and overall, I really enjoyed it, though I wished that the book focused more on the magic aspect rather than the love triangle between Katrina, Ichabod Crane, and the local paragon, Brom Bones. Nonetheless, this was a beautifully written, expertly paced, and transfixing romance wrapped up in dark legend and magic. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her work!

In the sleepy village of Sleepy Hollow, in the wake of The Revolutionary War and George Washington’s presidency, Katrina Van Tassel is exceedingly well-read, more interested in books and learning than in finding a husband. But that all changes when the new schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane comes to town. Bonded by a love of books and music, they quickly form a friendship that deepens into true love, and the pair begin a forbidden love affair. Meanwhile, Brom Bones, the local hero, is also vying for Katrina’s hand in marriage. But the legend of The Headless Horsemen still lurks inside the minds of the town’s residents, and when Ichabod disappears, Katrina is determined to find out what really happened to her beloved. But when she begins searching for answers, she discovers that some things are better left buried…


This book was really enjoyable; it was meticulously researched and finely written. I loved the gothic feel of the writing and the small, gossipy town of Sleepy Hollow, and all of the characters, especially headstrong, independent Katrina, and her best friend, rumored to be a witch, Charlotte. But honestly, I was expecting more. I was hoping that the focus would be more on the dark magic and the actual legend of the Headless Horseman, rather than the love triangle between Katrina, Ichabod, and Brom Bones, who really made me think of Gaston, a la the animated Beauty and the Beast, but I really liked it. The romance was really sweet and grew into something really beautiful, and I enjoyed the way that the local legends and magic were wrapped into the narrative. I really liked the ending. Despite this book not being exactly what I expected, I really enjoyed it, and I’m really looking forward to more of Palombo’s work. The bottom line: A gorgeous, romantic historical tale that draws inspirations from one of my very first American folktales, I really liked The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel, and I’m looking forward to more of her work! Next on deck: Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi!