The Christmas Bookshop-A Book Review

Well hello, happy people! I bring to you today a festive book review. Hence the stockings hung by the fireplace.

Anyway. I read The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan for book club this month, and it was too cute to not review.

Laid off from her department store job, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. The prospect of spending Christmas with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered yuppie life does not appeal.

Frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want her prickly sister Carmen there either. But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and a client who needs help revitalizing his shabby old bookshop. So Carmen moves in and takes the job.

Thrown rather suddenly into the inner workings of Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the picturesque streets of historic Edinburgh, Carmen is intrigued despite herself. The store is dusty and disorganized but undeniably charming. Can she breathe some new life into it in time for Christmas shopping? What will happen when a famous and charismatic author takes a sudden interest in the bookshop—and Carmen? And will the Christmas spirit be enough to help heal her fractured family?

Like I said, this book was cute. The premise is what caught my attention initially. I mean, anything involving a bookshop is bound to draw a book hoarder’s attention, right? Right. And it did. And then I read about Mr. McCreadie’s old shop, filled to the brim with dusty old tomes, and realized I was an amateur book hoarder. Also, I want to visit Edinburgh and go to his shop. It sounds like a wonderful place to find beautiful old books, even if it did need some help at first.

The cast of characters is amazing. Jenny Colgan does a wonderful job of painting them into fully fleshed-out humans, which, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting in a holiday romance. I should just read more romances I think, so I stop making erroneous judgments about the genre.

Back to the characters. Carmen and Sofia have a great relationship, in the fact that it’s written well, their actual relationship is terrible. And I really enjoyed watching Carmen try to corrupt Sofia’s children with things like milkshakes and Muppets.

This book does set itself up for a love triangle…kinda, which I do not enjoy, so I won’t go much into our romantic interests. They were both very different and that did redeem that part of the book a little bit. There is also a little bit of the miscommunication trope, which I do enjoy I have discovered.

The plot was, well, cute. Mr. McCredie will lose his shop if he doesn’t turn a profit over Christmas, so Sofia calls in her recently unemployed sister to help him turn it around. The dynamic between Mr. McCredie and Carmen is very sweet. I love the way the two interact with each other while trying to save the shop. The shop, by the way, also happens to be Mr. McCreadie’s home.

Also, randomly, I didn’t know that Thundersnow was a thing. I live in the south and that just doesn’t happen here. Or, at least, it hasn’t happened where I live in my memory.

The pacing was consistent. Nothing felt rushed or forced, even towards the end. And that’s a rarity.

This book kept me entertained and was a lovely, cozy read. I can honestly say I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. When all is said and done, I gave The Christmas Bookshop 4 stars.

Piranesi-A Book Review

Well hello beautiful people! It’s that most chaotic of days where everyone returns to work after the holiday and tries to Cyber Monday shop at the same time. If this is what you endeavor to do today, I wish you luck and happy hunting. May your clicking be fruitful and the deals plentiful.

But I’m not here to talk about Cyber Monday, any more than I have already, I mean. I’m here to talk to you about Piranesi. A book that had been sitting on my TBR for a year just screaming at me to be read. It was my online book club that got me to read it this month, so thanks Literarily Wasted book club!

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls, an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

I must confess I was very excited to read this book. It currently sits at 4.28 stars on Goodreads, so I had high-ish expectations. I have to say, I was a little disappointed.

This is a book that clearly wants to be read. It craves it. And yet, it doesn’t quite fulfill that promise.

Piranesi’s journey to finding himself and answering the mystery of the House was promising. I loved watching as he discovered more in the mysterious journals even as it made him question both himself and The Other.

One of the things I found interesting was the way Piranesi looks at the House with this sort of child like wonder, despite being an adult of some age. Piranesi journals his days in the House so you can see his thoughts and feelings towards the House and the Other. But, the question does come up as to whether or not he is an unreliable narrator. Can you trust Piranesi as a narrator?

I felt that the characters that fill the House, such as the Other, could have been fleshed out a bit more. They all felt like they were missing just a little something.

Another problem is that I wasn’t as entertained as I would like to be by a book. It had moments where it gripped me, don’t get me wrong, but those weren’t as often as I would have liked.

At the end of the day I just didn’t feel like Piranesi lived up to the hype. I gave it three stars.

You Feel It Just Below The Ribs- A Book Review

My copy of You Feel It Just Below the Ribs, by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson, was provided by NetGalley and Harper Perennial and Paperbacks. In return, I will provide them with an honest review. The publication date is November 16, 2021.

Now that we have the particulars out of the way, you’re probably wondering what I’m thinking about this book. Warning, this is going to be a short review.

To be upfront, I realized something as I was reading this book. See, I wasn’t liking this one and I couldn’t narrow down why. I started to think about it and it hit me. It’s dystopian. Apparently, this is not my genre of storytelling. It does nothing for me.

So, as you can surmise, I didn’t enjoy my reading experience. In fact, I DNF’d it. I will say this though, the writing style was great, the faux memoir concept was fantastic, and I liked the pacing. A big plus in its favor, you couldn’t tell where one author started writing and the other ended, they flowed together so well. I just couldn’t get past the whole dystopian thing, which is a shame.

I know there is an audience out there for this book. And I know people who would enjoy it, but it just wasn’t for me.

Noor-A Book Review

My copy of Noor by Nnedi Okorafor was kindly provided by NetGalley and DAW publishing for a thoroughly honest review. Thanks!

Noor is, as of writing this, scheduled for release on November 16, 2021.

Noor is the story of AO, a young woman who, through circumstances of her birth and a car accident, is heavily augmented. One day, while shopping in the market, everything goes horribly wrong. Now she is on the run. Along the way she meet a Fulani tribesman named DNA, who also finds himself on the run.

Since everything is streamed, the whole world has seen their crimes and is glued to their screens watch the chase play out. Now AO and DNA must flee from their pursuers across the unforgiving desert, with very little hope of survival.

I guess I should start off by saying that I really enjoyed Binti by the author. I thought that book was really well done, so I hoped this book would be just as thought provoking and entertaining as that one was. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Noor was a fast paced adventure story that also encourages you to stick it to the man. Or, at the very least, the very large corporation. It uses Africanfuturism (the author’s preferred way of calling it) to tout the dangers of letting a corporation become to big.

The characters are wonderfully written. You really feel for AO and DNA’s plight as they race through the unforgiving desert wasteland that makes up their only refuge. AO and DNA could not be more different and yet their dynamic is brilliantly done.

Speaking of the desert. Nope. Do not want to go there. Not even for a short visit. The desert in Nigeria has undergone a massive cataclysm that makes it inhospitable to human life, and it’s there that our main characters must flee.

This book did not end the way I thought it would, which is a good thing. But I also think it was the only way it could have ended. I dislike predictable endings. Because when I say I really thought it was going to end a different way, I mean it.

But what do I rate it? I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

The Ex Hex-A Book Review

This book was published by Avon and was released on September 28, 2021.

At the beginning of the book, Vivienne is 19 and just having had her heart broken. She and her cousin, Gwyn, decide to use their witchy wiles (and a Bath & Body Works candle) to curse her ex, Rhys, with silly things like bad hair days and not being able to please a woman. Then the book jumps 9 years to a 28 year old Vivienne, who is more self assured but still dreading Rhys’ arrival in town.

Rhys pretty much knows who he is. He’s confident in his magic, successful in his business, and always dreads trips home to see his overbearing father. So imagine his surprise when his father sends him to Graves Glen for a short trip to recharge the mystical town’s ley lines.

Of course, that’s when everything starts to go horribly wrong and Vivi realizes her curse may have actually worked. Now Vivi and Rhys have to work together to stop the curse before something terrible happens to Rhys or Graves Glen.

I have a confession. I don’t read romance books. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate them. I just like it when my romance has a fantastical element to it. Or is a fantasy book with a little bit of romance in it.

That being said, I did enjoy myself reading this book. I thought it was a lot of fun and cute and quirky.

The setting was wonderful. I found myself wanting to visit Graves Glen and when the book ended I was sad that I wasn’t going to be able to stay there. It gave Stars Hollow vibes, but in Georgia.

The plot was well executed with a nice twist that I didn’t know you could get from a romance book. Shows what I know. The medium pace of the book was pretty consistent throughout, though there is a sense of urgency that sets in at one point.

The characters were simply divine. I enjoyed each of them and Gwyn, Vivienne’s cousin, was an absolute hoot. I would love to see a story featuring her, please.

When I finished this book, I found myself wanting more from this world, which I didn’t expect. As a result I have to give this book 4 stars!

Under the Whispering Door-A Book Review

My copy of Under the Whispering Door, by TJ Klune, was kindly provided by NetGalley, and I shall thank them by being honest in my review.

Please read content warnings before reading this book. It deals heavily with the themes of death and various types of death and that may be unsettling to some readers.

So I’m going to be honest, I loved The House in The Cerulean Sea. It is one of my favorite books this year. But this book, this book just might have it beat.

The premise is simple. Wallace dies suddenly, and can hardly believe it except he’s at his own funeral. And there just so happens to be a reaper, Mei, there to collect him. Mei takes him to see Hugo, the ferryman, who just so happens to have the doorway to the afterlife in his tea shop.

Wallace is not particularly keen on this idea, as he would really prefer to be alive, thanks so much.

The book details Wallace’s journey through the five stages of grief as he experiences them from the other side of things. It’s interesting to see it from that perspective. You never think of the one’s we lost as having to grieve the lives and love ones they left behind.

We also meet a colorful cast of characters. From Hugo’s grandfather, Nelson, to Desdemona, a unique townsperson who, among other things, thinks she can turn Hugo’s head. For so many of them being dead, they feel so alive.

Klune created such a wonderful place in this little tea shop. It makes me want to visit. From charming locals, to a helpful reaper and enchanting ghosts, it also has scones! But in all seriousness, the world the author created is very rich for being so self contained.

Now to the nitty gritty. I laughed. I cried.

Like seriously, I was still crying as I sat down to write this review, it gave me all the feels.

To actually be serious, I lost my father a few years back, and I’d like to think he had someone like Mei or Hugo helping him to reach the other side. It was a nice thought to have and the description of those crossing through the doorway gave me an interesting sense of peace as well.

It also made me cry.

Please, bring tissues.

If I had to, I would say this book got 5 stars. Can I give a book 6 stars? No? 5 it is? Okay. Well. New favorite book! Does that help?

Soulless-A Book Review

Originally when I sat down to review this book, I was going to review the whole series, and then other books happened and now here we are several weeks later and I have two books left in this five book series.

Oh well. I’ll get to it, eventually.

Soulless, by Gail Carriger, follows Ms. Alexia Tarabotti, a preternatural. Which means she is lacking a soul. In olden times, her kind would have hunted vampires and werewolves and exercised ghosts, but these days such creatures are welcomed in the world as full citizens of the British empire. When Alexia accidentally kills a vampire at a party she is attending, she stumbles onto a mystery that draws her into the depths of the supernatural world.

Gail creates a wonderful world full of rich and vibrant characters, each one more intriguing than the last. I love the flamboyant Lord Akledama, a rove vampire of some stature. And Lord Maccon, the werewolf alpha and head of BUR (the constabulary for supernaturals), is fantastically gruff. His relationship with Alexia is amazingly complex.

Also, I feel like I use “rich and vibrant” to describe characters a lot. Maybe I should invest in a thesaurus.

Alexia herself is a bit of an outcast, being half Italian and half English. Though almost no one, not even her mother, knows of her status as a preternatural. She is stubborn, but well mannered, as befits the times. And unmarried, which is quite the scandal, and quite often refers to herself as a spinster.

Did I mention this book is set in Victorian London?


My bad.

The plot is great. Finding out why a rove vampire would attack a preternatural at a party is the start of a great adventure. And it’s a fast paced story from beginning to end.

I will warn you that while it is described as steampunk, that really doesn’t come into play until later books. So don’t expect much in that realm from this particular entry in the series.

To sum up, I loved this book. I originally gave it four stars because I was upset there wasn’t more steampunky-ness. I later amended my review to five stars. It’s a fun read!

For the Wolf- A Book Review

I read one of the books on my Two Week Trip TBR! Go me!

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten is a story about two sisters, Red and Neve. Red is a second daughter, the one who must be sacrificed to the Wolf of the Wilderwood to help keep her land safe. And Neve will do anything to get her back.

I have noticed for a while now that I have become a fan of Orbit Books, that’s the publisher behind For the Wolf. Everything they publish seems to be great. I’m drawn to their titles, so much so that I signed up for their newsletter so I could be up to date on the newest releases. For the Wolf is another example of their excellence.

The plot is what drew me in. A unique retelling of beauty and the beast, this take makes the beast a man. Right from the get go you’re intrigued by what lies ahead for Red in the Wilderwood. And what is going to happen to her sister, Neve, as she does everything in her power to retrieve Red.

The characters are rich and and beautifully written. Eammon is interesting and complex, the perfect foil for Red. Red is daring, but unsure of herself in the Wilderwood. Because the Wilderwood is it’s own character. It has a life of it’s own and it doesn’t hesitate to let you know it. Neve is ruthless in doing whatever it takes to get her sister back.

The magic system is amazing and unique and complex. I won’t go into here because it would spoil the story too much. Just, I loved the magic in this book.

I did sorta see the twist coming, but I didn’t figure it out so early on in the book that I was displeased by it at the big reveal.

In the end I gave this book 5 stars, and I am really looking forward to the sequel.

Lost in the Never Woods-A Book Review

Well. How do I put this. I really wanted to like this book, and yet, alas, I did not.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas is a contemporary Peter Pan retelling. In the authors own words, it’s more like a fanfic. This one just happens to be a not so great fanfic.

Here’s the thing, the premise sounds great. Wendy and her brothers, John and Michael, disappear in the woods one day and only young Wendy returns. Fast-forward several years later and Wendy is freshly eighteen and two more children have gone missing in the woods. Wendy wants no part of any of it, until a she almost hits a boy, claiming to be Peter Pan, with her truck.

Just to reiterate, I wanted to like this book. I really did. I loved the author’s first novel, Cemetery Boys, and was hoping this book would live up to that promise and it just didn’t.

What was wrong with the book, you may ask? I just found it, well, boring. The first real action scene in the book and I wasn’t enthralled by it. This book just seemed to leave me wanting more, so much more, at every turn.

And that’s why, at 150 pages, I gave up. I was tired of wanting more from the characters, the world, the mythology, the world the author was building.

Am I still going to pick up their next book? Absolutely. But I had to give this one 1 star.

The Midnight Library-A Book Review

TW: Mentions of fictional character suicide.

Well, this was quite the read, wasn’t it! Let me say this, if you haven’t picked up The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, you probably should.

It’s the story of a young woman named Nora, who, when everything seems it’s worst, takes her own life. She wakes up in the Midnight Library, a place between life and death, where the clock is stuck at midnight. With the help of the librarian, Nora is able to look at all the possibilities of life and see all her could-have-beens.

Now yes, I know that this sounds like it should be a terrible book, cause suicide. But it’s really not. Each life Nora lives forces her to question what happiness, what a life worth living, really means to her.

I loved this book from the moment I picked if up. It has a beautiful writing style that helps you just fall into the pages. The plot is solid and the cast of characters sucks you right in. You can’t help but feel for Nora as she goes about her journey through the libraries many tomes.

Each life Nora finds herself in is uniquely crafted. A different version of herself that she never thought she could be. And it’s interesting, and introspective, to put yourself in Nora’s shoes and wonder what your life might have been like if you had just taken that left to that job interview one day.

I truly loved this book. Another 5 star read for me this month. You should absolutely pick this up.

If you or someone you love has suicidal thoughts, please seek help. In America you can reach out to 800-273-8255.