How many of you have kept up with your 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge? At the beginning of the year (before I had a newborn) I aimed for the lofty goal of 80 books. Yep! You read that right, folks.
Needless to say, I cut that number in half recently. Because while I started out strong, I found the challenge a bit much. I read the most probably those first few weeks after having my baby girl. Until reading started to put me to sleep instead of helping me stay awake. As I was unable to keep up the momentum, I was able to reread and finally finish the Throne of Glass series! I’ve also continued to read and review via Lone Star Lit and NetGalley.
This time, I’m only sharing the books that made me feel things, from extreme elation to extreme frustration, for better or worse. Curious to see what I haven’t shared? Check out the rest of my 2022 Shelf Here 🙂
A Crown of Petals and Ice
HONEY AND ICE TRILOGY #3
Queen of the fae courts. Faced with an impossible battle. Destined to never be with the Unseelie I love.
How could I give this any less than 5 stars? A Crown of Petals and Ice was everything I hoped for as we finish out this fantastic trilogy. Like the first two installments, I devoured this within a day. Mayer and Clare’s writing drew me into the world and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Best of all? Not only do we get a surprising yet satisfying ending, but the promise of more adventures and supernatural creatures to meet within this dazzling world.
The Confidence of Wildflowers
My future is a big ‘what if’ at the moment and I’m fine with that. For the most part. When Thayer Holmes moves in next door, the grumpy landscaper both fascinates and amuses me. When he asks me to nanny his kid, it’s a great way to make some extra money. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Thayer and his adorable son. There’s a big problem though. I’m eighteen. He’s thirty-one. Falling for someone almost fifteen years older than me wasn’t part of my plans, but sometimes things happen when you least expect them.
I loved everything about this book, from the small town Massachusetts setting and its denizens, to our main characters and especially the romance. Now that I’m in my 30’s, many of the old romance tropes don’t satisfy me anymore. I tend to crave more substance and depth to the characters and the world they inhabit. And I have a low tolerance for unnecessary drama (i.e. characters who could easily talk things out instead of always reacting). Micalea Smeltzer more than delivered all these things with The Confidence of Wildflowers.
I can’t remember the last time a character’s journey so eerily echoed not just my mindset but many of my own experiences. So many of Salem’s thoughts and coping mechanisms for having survived childhood abuse were all too familiar. My mom also had to get a double mastectomy for breast cancer. I babysat for a single older dad in my early 20s and fell in love with both the “hot daddy” and his little boy. And like Salem, I drifted through most of my college years, preferring to keep close to home while everyone around me left. For these reasons, I think this book hit me especially hard, but in a good way.
I won’t lie to you and say this book is all fluff and flowers because it’s not. The depth I mentioned before is always lurking in the background for our characters. Life for Salem and Thayer is much like it is for us. Full of little and big moments, triumphs, and tragedies. What matters most are the choices we make as we face them.
Tower of Dawn
THRONE OF GLASS #7
Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken. His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica-the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.
But what they discover in Antica will change them both-and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.
I’ve nearly skipped reading Tower of Dawn several times in my attempt to finally finish this series. Chaol was never one of my favorite characters. I never cared for his and Aelin’s romance either. But as I finally re-read the previous books, I decided to give it a shot.
For fun, I’ve been reading this alongside my re-read of Empire of Storms. I’m so glad I did! Not only did this make me invested in Chaol as a character, but I fell in love with Yrene and Nesryn’s journeys as well. The southern continent and its peoples and the city of Antica were so vibrant and beautifully rendered by Maas, it was a refreshing change of pace. With new mysteries to unravel and revelations that literally made my jaw drop, this is absolutely worth the read.
Heir of Fire
THRONE OF GLASS #7
As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.
After my frustration and disappointment with the previous book, Kingdom of Ash was a breath of fresh air and a satisfying conclusion to an epic series. Instead of feeling like a fanfiction of her first three books, we finally see Aelin facing impossible stakes with real humility. Dorian is given a true arc and a chance to step out like he hasn’t since the beginning. I loved to see his love for and friendship with Aelin brought full circle here. I still believe Manon and the Thirteen should and could have had their own spin-off series. And much as I love Dorian, I much prefer Manon apart from him.
Side characters I became surprisingly invested in besides Yrene and Nesryn were Fenrys and Aedion. Both “males” had been hit and miss for me before this, but I honestly wasn’t sure if either would get a happy ending. Depending on the ending, I would have been okay either way. On a side note, Erawan was finally an interesting villain rather than the ominous Big Bad. And as awful as she was to our heroes, part of me also wanted more for Maeve.
Something I loved in this book (which is so long it was like reading a concluding trilogy) was that Maas brought in wonder for the magic of her world. Much like Tower of Dawn, we see glimpses of other kingdoms and other worlds in a fun nod to my favorite Maas series. And while I still feel like too many characters survived the fantastically epic battles they constantly fought, while I hoped for a little bit more tragedy with certain romances, I am satisfied.
There is something to be said, after all, for a conclusion that reminds you why you loved a long-winded series in the first place.
There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind. Until they found her…
“Sunshine” is a character and a novel you can really sink your teeth into! (Forgive the pun) Not only does it manage to be an original vampire novel, but possibly the best of Robin McKinley’s works. Having been a long time fan of her knack for storytelling, gift for re-tellings and penchant for witty heroines, I had some idea of what to expect. Sunshine delves into the supernatural world, deviating from her usual fairy tale genre. But McKinley more than proves her punk and merit. I can’t wax enough on the gritty beauty of her description, the fanciful realness of her characters, and the joy of their dialogue. World building is at its best and brightest and gloomiest here. The human “coffee house” world is painted just as perfectly as the supernatural vampire mansion. And as both merge, as Sunshine’s character is forced to accept and embrace what she is becoming, you’re left with pure magic.
What a difference ten years make on your perspective. I’m a lifelong Robin McKinley fan. Her books Beauty and Hero and the Crown were transformative and inspired me to write my own stories. I am predisposed to love everything else of hers I’ve read. Ten years ago, I read and adored her vampire apocalypse novel, Sunshine. I was shocked to find a completely different experience in this recent re-read.
The world building is immersive and the rules of magic intriguing. McKinley has a gift for pulling you into her worlds and sharing truly unique characters. I can’t think of a magical/vampire story I’ve read quite like this one. But I could barely stand Sunshine, the protagonist. Rae, as she’s otherwise known, tends to monologue to the reader and go off on multi-paragraph tangents in the middle of dialogue or important scenes. Because she’s a self-proclaimed coward, she tends to lean into this even more during pivotal moments and climactic scenes.
After over a hundred pages of this, I started to skim-read so I could jump to the important bits. And while I enjoyed the Special Others Forces officers and the folks at Charlie’s Diner, I would have preferred a lot more of Constantine. As far as fictional vamps go, Connie might be in my top five. McKinley gives him such an alien demeanor mixed with old speech and mannerisms, you really get the feeling this guy is ancient.
Ultimately, I could have done with far less of Sunshine’s mad mental ramblings and focused more on the action and external conflict.
A Letter to Three Witches
Bewitched meets Practical Magic in this sparkling and quirky rom-com with an enchanted twist. When romance problems cause their powers to go berserk, a trio of witches whose family was banned from practicing magic risk getting in serious trouble with the Grand Council. Can they get their magic—and their love lives—in order before it’s too late?
Ready to be enchanted? Elizabeth Bass’ magical rom-com, A Letter to Three Witches, delivers on sparkling characters, compelling spells-gone-wrong, and pure witchy fun.
Taking place in the fictional New England town of Zenobia, our story introduces us to three witches (and one warlock) within the same cursed family. Years ago, Gwen’s family might have maybe caused the Dust Bowl. In retaliation, the Grand Council of Witches carefully monitors all descendants, forbidding them from practicing the craft. Yet when Gwen’s adoptive-sister Tannith decides to push and prod her cousins into action, all their family’s carefully guarded secrets begin to unravel.
If you love family-centric stories (and movies) like Practical Magic and Charmed, you’ll enjoy A Letter to Three Witches. While the pace is occasionally slow-going, the quirky characters and steady buildup of tension pay off before the end. Favorite aspects of mine include Trudy’s cupcake fiascos, awkward encounters with Jeremy the grad student, and Griz the familiar cat. Unlike stories where magic seems to fix everything in a jiff, it only causes trouble for the cousins here, similar to Practical Magic. Although each character deals with real consequences for their actions, it’s never too severe and almost always with a comedic bent.
While A Letter to Three Witches lacks gravitas, it’s also an enjoyable light read, perfect for a fall evening under a cozy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate.
**I was provided with a copy of this novel via NetGalley. These are my honest and unsolicited thoughts.**
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