Sunday, May 31, 2020

DNF&Y [29]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom! Summer Set by Aimee Agresti

Synopsis (find the book on Goodreads): With a setting inspired by the real-life Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires where stars like Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lauren Graham, and Chris Pine have performed, THE SUMMER SET (Graydon House Books; May 12; $17.99) is a salacious rom-com, beach read perfect for Broadway nerds and Hollywood gossips alike.

Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood's hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she's pushing forty, exiled from the film world back at the summer Shakespeare theater in the Berkshires that launched her career—and where her first love, Nick, is the artistic director.

It's not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself thriving: bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships, and even reigniting her spark with Nick despite their complicated history.

Until Charlie's old rival, Hollywood's current “It Girl,” is brought on set, threatening to undo everything she's been working towards. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on one heck of a show to fight for the second chance she deserves in her career and in love.

DNF at 23%

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I'm going to chalk this one up to it being a review copy, and just hope that the finished product is a little more polished. My main issue with The Summer Set was its formatting. The POV would change in the middle of a chapter, and it was making me crazy! I never knew who was speaking, and it would take me several sentences to figure it out. The story bounced between Charlie, Nick, Ethan, and Sierra, but there were a lot of other characters connected to their individual perspectives (with some interesting and unexpected overlap).

In addition to the formatting, there are time skips that added to my confusion. Characters would reference something that had happened, only we weren't there and didn't experience it with them. For example, Sierra mentions understanding Ethan's family drama, but we weren't privy to whatever those two shared concerning his parents. "Sierra had already witnessed Ethan's frustration with his family and understood how hard he tried to bottle it up."

What did she witness? When? Was this their brief conversation about why he had a job? If so, that was not indicative of bottled up emotions. And then a random character named Tripp pointed out the shirt he was wearing and said something about Ethan designing them for his family's business (apparently they can be bought from Urban Outfitters), which led to Ethan sharing a few words about setting up something profitable for his family, but that's the extent of the information we receive regarding his personal drama (the gist: he made money for his family, yet they're unsupportive). Sierra and Ethan have also developed quite the friendship in a very short amount of time, and we don't really get to see that take shape. One minute they're strangers, and the next they're best buds.

That's not the only gap that I stumbled over, but it was the most recent. At a bonfire, Nick brings Charlie a stick (for s'mores) and the group Sierra and Nick are a part of feel the need to comment on their interaction. Someone claims it's an olive branch because Nick got upset when Charlie kissed Chase during rehearsals, even though the two are playing Romeo and Juliet. It wasn't a stolen kiss in a dark corner somewhere, but one that was planned in the script. Are you confused yet? I am! Why? Because whatever they're talking about wasn't something that was witnessed by readers. After the group dissects a conversation they can't hear and are not involved in, someone else divulges Nick and Charlie's shared past, although no one knows why the two split when they did. It's a mystery

Additionally, the characters in this book, at least where Charlie and Nick are concerned, are in their 40's! They're acting like angsty teenagers, and it's all because of something that happened YEARS and YEARS ago that we're𑁋again𑁋not privy to. I'm sure those details would have been shared eventually, but I don't have that kind of patience. Here's an idea... TALK TO EACH OTHER. If they had simply had an open and honest conversation, a lot of the conflict could have been resolved. Instead, they dance around each other, neither of them wanting to address the bees in their bonnets.

The story itself wasn't bad, and I didn't hate the characters, but I disliked how disorganized the book felt. Every time the perspective changed, I would have to readjust and find my flow again. It didn't help that after discerning who was speaking, I then had to figure out how much time had passed, and what I didn't know I'd missed. I wouldn't cross this one off your list completely, but definitely see if the published version has been cleaned up a bit before diving in. (★★☆☆☆) View the original post here.
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

DNF at 18%

I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really wanted to like this one! The concept was interesting, the cover was stellar, and the fact that men were knitting definitely piqued my curiosity. It's just not something you see every day. Unfortunately, Real Men Knit fell flat for me, and I wasn't able to finish reading it.

The conversations between characters were long and convoluted, a lot of the information was repetitive, and the writing itself was choppy and felt forced. The brothers were jerks (to each other and Kerry), and fought nonstop from the start. Jesse didn't do himself any favors by staying in his boxers even when Kerry told him to put clothes on. I don't care how long he's know her, it was inappropriate and rude. It only gets worse when he goes to comfort her (because of Mama Joy's death), and then starts thinking about how good she feels. Really? That's where your mind goes? 

She made his abs "twitch" just by looking at them, and he apparently had morning wood that he did nothing to conceal. Her eyes "roamed" all over his body, but they're both trying to keep themselves from crying??? The juxtaposition was headache-inducing, and caused me to roll my eyes hard enough to hurt. None of their exchange felt realistic, and the simple conversation lasted way longer than it needed to. Saying hello should not be followed by pages of dialogue before the other person responds with their own greeting.

Basically, there was a lot of talking that wasn't beneficial to the story, the characters were unlikable (although varied based on the numerous comments about appearances and backgrounds), and the writing was hard to follow. Obviously, I didn't get very far into this one, but I struggled to get from one page to the next. (★★☆☆☆)
This Eternity of Masks and Shadows by Karsten Knight
Expected publication: June 2nd 2020

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In a city of gods and mortals, secrets never die.

The gods walk among us. Some lurk in the shadows, masquerading as mortals; others embrace their celebrity status, launching careers from Hollywood to Capitol Hill.

One of them just murdered Cairn Delacroix's mother.

As Cairn sifts through the rubble, she uncovers a conspiracy two decades in the making: a cursed island, the fellowship of gods who journeyed there, and the unspeakable act that intertwined their fates. One by one, the members of that voyage are dying, and Cairn's investigations land her in the crosshairs of the rogue goddess responsible.

With the help of Nanook, a polar bear god turned detective, Cairn descends into Boston's underworld of supernatural crime and political aspiration. To avenge her mother and unmask her assassin, she’ll first have to reckon with a gut-wrenching secret that will rewrite the life she thought she knew.

DNF at 30%

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I think This Eternity of Masks and Shadows could have benefited from a few more rounds of editing. One example would be when the characters were exploring an uncharted island, but then "crash-landed in front of Sulfur Gulch," which made it seem like someone had been there previously to name that part of the island. Small inconsistencies like this one kept jumping out at me, which was distracting and disrupted the flow of the story.

I also disliked the main character, so that's always a huge negative for me. She wasn't understandably unlikable, despite losing her mother, so I had a hard time excusing her behavior. Additionally, she made inappropriate comments all the time. A guy dies after falling from 35 stories (at least, I think it was 35), and lands in a truck. Do you know what our lovely MC says? "That's a hell of a way to hitchhike." Really, Cairn? Her own mother just died by apparent suicide, and she's going to crack totally inappropriate jokes at another dead person's expense? Someone her mother was friends with?

Oh, and this gem: "...when she saw a bloody corpse that had been torn to shreds by a wild animal. She pursed her lips disapprovingly. 'Why is it always the sexiest ones who have the longest rap sheets?'" REALLY, CAIRN? That's where you're mind goes? She also had a bad habit of going from calm to RAGING in the blink of an eye. Other times she would be crying, but then stop suddenly when something else happened. It was hard to keep up with her emotionally. 

I also thought the story was overwhelming with its information. There were sooo many gods and deities being tossed into various conversations, that it was hard to keep track of them all. I did like that the author shared some of their individual myths and backstories, but I'm unsure of the accuracy (I'm unfamiliar with Inuit folklore). The gods themselves don't remember their past lives, so the stories they've collected are from what they've picked up during their current lifetimes. 

This Eternity of Masks and Shadows had an interesting premise, but in the end it failed to deliver. The story progressed a little too quickly (giving readers very little time to process new information), and the characters were either uninteresting or unlikable. However, I did like the dual POVs (Cairn in the present, her mother (Sedna) in the past). It just wasn't enough to keep me invested in the story or its outcome. Normally, I'm all over a book with mythology, but I think the author may have tried to tackle too much within one story, or the world-building needed some serious work. (★★☆☆☆)

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

More than a Princess (More Than a Princess, #1) by E.D. Baker
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From E. D. Baker, a magical new series about a heroic princess who’s more than she seems — and a kingdom whose fate rests in her hands.

Aislin is more than just a princess — she's half-fairy and half-pedrasi, with magical gifts that let her draw strength from the wilderness around her. When she’s captured and used as bait between two warring kingdoms, she must find a way to break free of their plot… while also minding the human princesses she encounters, conventionally beautiful girls who are all too ready to point out her differences. Thankfully, Aislin's inner strength goes beyond her magical qualities, and with a few loyal friends by her side, she's ready to stand up for herself and her kingdom.

E. D. Baker, whose books have sold over 1 million copies, offers a classic, original fairy-tale that celebrates beauty and goodness in all its shapes and sizes, sure to delight readers who love magic, suspense, girl power, and adventure.


I won a copy of More than a Princess several months ago, and was delighted when the author offered to sign it with a message for my girls! They love The Princess and the Frog movie, so I thought a similar story (since that movie was based on another of the author's books) would be something they enjoyed.

Unfortunately, this book had a glaring problem that I couldn't ignore, and one I didn't want to address in front of my girls. My main issue with this book was its focus and fixation on the main character's weight. They're only three, but I didn't want the character's comments to stick with them at such an impressionable age (or even once they're older). I have several sticky notes notating the areas where it's mentioned (and never in a nice way), so I'll share a few:

⮿ "Larch leaned forward to see past Nurlue. 'We're careful about what we eat,' she told King Tyburr. 'I can see why,' King Tyburr said, glancing at Aislin before turning to the heavier pedrasi and the fairies' padded clothes."

⮿ "'I'll need more fabric for this one's gowns,' said the seamstress. 'I'll do what I can to make her look thin, but I can't work miracles. The styles today are meant for slender girls.' 'Do you have any styles that would work on her?' asked Lady Speely. 'A few, and I'll try slimming colors, of course.'"

⮿ "And she wasn't even pretty! Well, her face was pretty, but her skin was as tanned as a goat girl's and she was as plump as the cook's daughter."

⮿ "He said that his father says that he should think about marrying you, but that's never going to happen. He said that he refuses to have a plump wife when there are so many thin girls around."

⮿ "Your voice is lovely, but seeing you would be too distracting."

⮿ "'Did you know that you'd be quite beautiful if only you lost some weight?' called Laneece."

More than a Princess is marketed as Childrens, Juvenile, and Middle Grade, so I hated that there were so many negative comments about the main character's appearance. It didn't add anything to the story. Aislin never seemed to take them seriously, but it was one component of the book that I wish had been left out. It was unnecessary and could potentially hurt a child's perception of themselves. There was nothing wrong with Aislin, and I hated that people kept insinuating otherwise.

Additionally, a lot of Aislin's actions (and those of other characters) simply didn't make sense. Aislin spends a large portion of her time trying to keep the humans away from her family and the castle, and even King Tyburr knows she's trying to distract and mislead them. However, when he suddenly wants to "rid the castle of its monsters," Aislin runs out screaming for him to save her. She says the castle is okay during the day, but she has to lock herself away at night (seriously, what is happening here). When the king first arrived, he commented on how much Aislin's "mother" obviously loved her, and that's how he'd deduced she was a princess. There was too much conflicting information, so her "needing to be saved" didn't make sense.

King Tyburr was welcomed into another king's castle, yet he was able to make demands as if its inhabitants were his own? How was he able to take Aislin so easily? Her "father" didn't insist that some of their guards go with them? King Tyburr shouldn't have held any authority over the faeries, despite Aislin trying to keep them safe from discovery. Aislin is still a child; however, all of the adults deferred to her because she was their princess. It didn't seem realistic to me.

I also have no idea how the humans made it as far as they did. Are you telling me the fairies had no warning systems in place to alert them of a breach or forced entry? They didn't have a way to hide or camouflage their home? They couldn't use magic to confuse or distract the humans? Again, it was unrealistic.

Tomas was also entirely too trusting of Aislin (and vice versa), especially since they didn't know each other and were both in similar positions of power. They bonded instantly, and a friendship didn't take long to develop. Later, his personality seemed to shift, and he didn't resemble the Tomas we first met. It was also annoying how quickly his doubts and disbeliefs regarding magic changed into enthusiastic acceptance.

Later on in the book, Aislin confessed to not giving the pedrasi the same respect she gave to fairies, and that came out of nowhere. Up until that point, she'd been equally happy about both sides of her heritage, and even seemed to use her pedrasi magic more. It was like the author was trying to force the main character to be internally conflicted, despite her never having felt that way before.

The actions of the adults were unbelievable, the way they treated children was incredibly frustrating, the negative fixation on the main character's weight, the general vibe of the story–it all left a lot to be desired. I honestly think this book will be detrimental to the way children view themselves, and hope that it's not something they focus on or take too seriously. The characters were shallow and underdeveloped, and the entire plot happened without too much fuss or conflict. (★★⋆☆☆)

Friday, May 29, 2020

Rebel in the Library of Ever (The Library of Ever, #2)
by Zeno Alexander
[Blog Tour: Spotlight + Giveaway]

Hello, and welcome to the next stop on the Rebel in the Library of Ever blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom! REBEL IN THE LIBRARY OF EVER (The Library of Ever #2)
Author: Zeno Alexander
Pub. Date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan)
Pages: 224
Formats: Hardcover,eBook 

Illustration copyright © 2020 Matt Rockefeller 

Rebel in the Library of Ever continues Zeno Alexander’s acclaimed middle-grade fantasy series with a dangerous takeover of the magical Library as our heroine fights to make knowledge free for everyone.

Lenora returns to the magical Library―which holds every book ever known on its shelves. But she discovers the Library is under new management, its incredible rooms and corridors turned dark and sinister.

She quickly connects with a secret resistance that’s trying to free knowledge from the shadows threatening it. Her new friends introduce her to an ancient lost city, hang-gliding, and mathematical beings larger than the universe itself. And they help her face the mysterious Board of new leaders―who are leading the Library into darkness.

Now it’s up to Lenora to prove that knowledge is always more powerful than ignorance and fear.

An Imprint Book

“Further proof that librarians are mighty in all universes.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Library of Ever:

“Zeno Alexander's The Library of Ever reads like someone mixed Neil Gaiman with Chris Grabenstein, then threw in an extra dash of charm. Reading it is like getting lost in an entire library full of books, and never wanting to leave!”―James Riley, New York Times bestselling author of the Story Thieves series

“Full of whimsy and pluck, The Library of Ever is a total delight!”―Wendy Mass, New York Times bestselling author 


About Zeno: 

After emerging from the shadows of the past, his history yet to be fully explained, Zeno Alexander spent years exploring the world's libraries before settling down in his lavish underground bunker, where he regularly hosts exquisite dinner parties and tends to his collection of extinct plants. His friendship with the famous librarian, Lenora, has turned into a series of biographical works devoted to chronicling her adventures.

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will win a signed finished copy of REBEL IN THE LIBRARY OF EVER, US Only. 

Visit Rockstar Book Tours to view the tour schedule!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

This Eternity of Masks and Shadows by Karsten Knight
[Blog Tour: Spotlight + Giveaway]

Hello, and welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for This Eternity of Masks and Shadows hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Author: Karsten Knight
Pub. Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Karsten Knight
Pages: 356
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, TBD

American Gods meets Watchmen in this mythology-inspired mystery from Karsten Knight, author of the Wildefire trilogy. 

In a city of gods and mortals, secrets never die. 

The gods walk among us. Some lurk in the shadows, masquerading as mortals; others embrace their celebrity status, launching careers from Hollywood to Capitol Hill. 

One of them just murdered Cairn Delacroix's mother. 

As Cairn sifts through the rubble, she uncovers a conspiracy two decades in the making: a cursed island, the fellowship of gods who journeyed there, and the unspeakable act that intertwined their fates. One by one, the members of that voyage are dying, and Cairn's investigations land her in the crosshairs of the rogue goddess responsible. 

With the help of Nanook, a polar bear god turned detective, Cairn descends into Boston's underworld of supernatural crime and political aspiration. To avenge her mother and unmask her assassin, she’ll first have to reckon with a gut-wrenching secret that will rewrite the life she thought she knew.


About Karsten:

Karsten Knight is the author of the historical mystery NIGHTINGALE, SING, the time-traveling thriller PATCHWORK, and the Polynesian volcano goddess trilogy WILDEFIRE (Simon & Schuster)--though some say his writing career peaked at the age of six, when he completed a picture book series about an adventurous worm. He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross and earned an MFA in writing for children from Simmons College. Karsten resides in Boston, where he lives for fall weather, bowling, and football season. For more information on Karsten or his books, please visit

Giveaway Details: 
1 winner will win a $10 Amazon GC, International. 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
5/25/2020 Lone Tree Reads Excerpt
5/25/2020 BookHounds YA  Excerpt
5/26/2020 Book Briefs Review
5/26/2020 Lisa Loves Literature Excerpt
5/26/2020 JaimeRockstarBookTours Instagram Stop
5/27/2020 Lifestyle of Me Review
5/27/2020 Discover Elysian Review
5/28/2020 Do You Dog-ear? Review
5/28/2020 Books Beans & Botany Review
5/29/2020 The Bookwyrm's Den Review
5/29/2020 Oodles of Books Review

Week Two:
Please check the Rockstar Book Tour website, since I'm having issues posting the informaiton to my blog. Apparently, it doesn't like going from a table format to a post.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

My Weekly Pull [117] & Can't-Wait Wednesday [92]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!
Mercy #2 by Mirka Andolfo
Avengers #33 by Jason Aaron, Javier Garron, Matteo Scalera

Jacob's comics for the week!
Amazing Spider-Man #43 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #23 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Erik Larsen
Venom #25 by Donny Cates, Mark Bagley

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature that's hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. It highlights the upcoming releases we're really excited about reading! CWW is a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday (WoW), that was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.,aps,161&sr=8-6&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=4daaad8b3b3f63a827ac46f008d9dff4&language=en_US
“Don't feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”
― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses

Do you want to know what brings me joy? This series! I only discovered it last year (was afraid of the hype), but I've already read it three times and bought a ridiculous amount of ACOTAR merch. Bring on the Nessian!! Also, have you seen the new covers? I love how colorful the paperbacks are! Can you own too many of the same books? πŸ˜‰ 

If you've read the series, how do you think the new covers compare to the old? Are you planning on buying this new set? If so, hardcover or paperback? How do you choose?? (You can click on the covers to pre-order! It took ages to find the right links for Amazon, since everything wanted me to buy the old covers.)
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas (Hardcover)
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas (Paperback)
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas (Hardcover)
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas (Paperback)
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3) by Sarah J. Maas (Hardcover)
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3) by Sarah J. Maas (Paperback)
A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas (Hardcover)
A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas (Paperback)

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.


I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I enjoyed The Jane Austen Society a lot more than I thought I would! I was hesitant when I started it, since I'm not a huge fan of classic literature in general (it's hard for me to feel immersed in a story when I don't understand half of the references and phrases, haha). They're just not for me! However, I was swept away by the story, the characters, and the love for Jane Austen. I really liked the little snippets from Austen's books, the detailed information about her history, as well as the character's reflections and perceptions.

If you're a fan of Jane Austen, this is definitely a book you need in your life. The author subtly weaves Austen's stories into her own, and shows readers how various people can all look at the same story and get something completely different out of it. Everyone has lived a unique life, and their individual situations played a role in how Austen's stories related to them (they do agree on some points, but debated many others). It was interesting to see how one author's stories impacted the lives of so many people, and how their love of Austen brought them all together. Her words helped them through some of the hardest moments in their lives, and they found solace in her characters and their circumstances.

The Jane Austen Society does take several chapters to get going. There are a lot of characters, and their lives are intricately connected (in ways they're not even aware of yet), and it takes some time to introduce all of the players. They each have a backstory, and details are slowly revealed over time. Additionally, the chapters skipped ahead by days, weeks, and years, so it often required several paragraphs for me to adjust to where they were in the story. Yes, the chapter headings provided dates, but I would have to flip back to a previous chapter to remind myself where I was in their timeline, and then do the math to determine how much time had passed. It was hard to stay fully immersed in the story when I kept having to backtrack (and mentally calculate dates).

This is also a book that needs to be savored and read with a sense of purpose. There are a lot of little details that shouldn't be missed, and it just felt like it needed to be read slowly. I don't know how else to explain it! Nothing ever felt rushed within the story; not the character's lives nor their conversations. Everything was discussed over tea, or on long walks, and the author's writing reflected that. Her words matched the pacing of her characters. It was truly exceptional! I felt like I was there with them, sitting by a fire, or bundled up against the winter wind.

Unfortunately for the characters, their lives are filled with turmoil and sadness. They're struggling with missed opportunities, the deaths of loved ones, feelings of inadequacy or failure. Some are afraid to be their truest selves, and some are just trying to survive until the next day. There are moments of happiness peppered in, and those seemed to revolve around their shared appreciation of Jane Austen, but for the most part we see real people struggling to live their lives. They continue to put one foot in front of the other, show kindness in the face of adversity, and give their all to preserve one woman's legacy in their small town.

The Jane Austen Society likely isn't a book I will read again, but I really enjoyed the experience. The characters and their lives, their love of Jane Austen (makes me want to try Pride & Prejudice again), and their resilience as people really resonated with me. If I hadn't known beforehand, there's no way I would've guessed this was Jenner's debut novel. The details and conflicts were so authentically portrayed, it felt as if the author had been telling stories for years.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Sunday Post [47]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


If your child is done with school for the year, I envy you. We still have three more weeks. Apparently, the school year starts later in Virginia? We started in Texas, so it feels like this year is never going to end. The coronavirus and homeschooling haven't helped. It's starting to feel like summer, so it would be nice if we could act like it's summer too! We actually inflated the swimming pool the other day, and the monsters spent HOURS outside. They loved it! Thankfully, Jacob was home, so he stayed out there with them while I got some stuff done inside. 

Our caterpillars have pupated (formed into chrysalides)! We're going to move them to their habitat today, so they'll have room when they emerge as butterflies! It's such an amazing process. Squirming, wriggling caterpillars are transforming themselves into beautiful butterflies with wings! Can you imagine crawling around for the first half of your life, only to fly endlessly for the duration? Our son has been learning about life cycles at school, so it's been nice to have something he can see firsthand. 

I miss having my husband home during the week, but we're slowly developing a new routine. Everything is starting to reopen around here (even the beaches), so I have a feeling things will get worse before they get better. When I get groceries, very few people are actually wearing masks (definitely not staying six feet apart) and only a handful of employees working at the store have one on. They're handling everyone's groceries, yet not taking all of the necessary precautions. IT'S SO FRUSTRATING. When did life start to mean so little? If you're not worried about yourself, at least help keep other people safe. Children have started contracting the virus with devastating results, and I don't want my children to die because someone else feels like this pandemic is a hoax, or that wearing a mask would be a waste of their time. It hurts NO ONE for you to wear a mask, but has the potential to help EVERYONE else.

Previous week on the blog: 
  • Sunday: NA
  • Monday: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab (★★★★☆) Review
  • Tuesday: NA
  • Wednesday: My Weekly Pull [116] & Can't-Wait Wednesday [91] Post
  • Thursday: NA
  • Friday: NA
  • Saturday: Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith (★★★★☆) Review

What I'm currently reading:
Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington 🎧
Changeling (The Oddmire, #1) by William Ritter
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
  • I started the audiobook for Love Songs & Other Lies, and I'm really enjoying it so far! I'm only an hour or so into it, but I have a feeling it's going to be full of drama. It's one that has been on my TBR for a while, so I'm happy I'm finally finding the time for it.
  • I started the first book in The Oddmire series with my son last night, so I haven't read enough to form an opinion yet. I hope it's good, since our last book (Spark and the League of Ursus) wasn't a hit.
  • I am enjoying The Jane Austen Society way more than I thought I would! I've never been the biggest Austen fan (the terminology and phrasing typically go over my head), but this book is making me want to read Austen so I can share the love these characters so clearly have for her stories.
  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is a book I won several weeks ago, but that only arrived recently. I opened it immediately to read a few pages, and it's DARK. I cannot wait to see where the story goes!

What I plan on reading next:
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Out Now: Queer We Go Again! by Saundra Mitchell & Various
The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles, #1) by Kester Grant

What I'm watching:

Avatar: The Last Airbender is on Netflix! Obviously, that's what we've watched all weekend! ;)

Challenge updates: 
Current giveaways:
Don't forget to enter my Twitter Giveaway for an ARC of Mary Kay Andrews' Hello, Summer! It might not have been the beachy romance I was expecting, but the murder mystery was wonderfully written. :) You can read my review here!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith't+Read+the+Comments&qid=1590249016&s=books&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=03debf51f17435cdfa99b1d0604326f9&language=en_US
Narrated by Richa Shukla Moorjani &
Sunil Malhotra
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.


I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I was originally supposed to read and review this book for a blog tour, but then we moved and it fell through the cracks. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook for Don't Read the Comments, so I'm going to count this one as a win! The narrators were fantastic and really brought life to Smith's words. They lent an authenticity to the story that I don't think I would have been able to produce on my own. 

Divya is struggling with trolls, online bullying, cyber stalking, and so much more simply for being a female gamer, and likely because she was also a person of color. I really loved how she was portrayed, and how realistic her experiences were. She was scared for herself, her mother, and her best friend, but she also didn't want to let the trolls win their absurd war. They were driven by hate, and their actions had lasting consequences on people's lives. It wasn't enough to destroy D1V in the virtual world, but they wanted to hurt her in real life as well. 

It's scary because it's true. I'm happy the author chose to shed light on an issue that plagues a lot of people, but one that doesn't receive enough attention. The actions of trolls and online bullying are seen as harmless, because it's just words on a screen right? Death in a game isn't death in real life? Unfortunately, that's not the case. People's actions online can have a drastic impact on a person's life. Children have committed suicide after being repeatedly bullied online, and it's an issue that more people should take seriously. Words matter. Your online presence matters. You can't just do or say whatever you want behind your computer screen, because what you put out into the world has the potential to hurt someone else.

I really liked both Divya and Aaron, and enjoyed their individual stories. They were a little underdeveloped, but still amazing characters. I wanted to know more about their families, and what their lives were like before gaming, but we mostly see what they're dealing with in the present. There's very little reflection or rumination, and I wanted to learn more about what drove them to their present situations. I also wanted a more gratifying conclusion, and wish certain people had been brought to justice (especially for Divya's best friend). I know it's impossible to catch every troll, but I still wanted that for D1V. 

The gaming aspect was something I really related to as well! I love playing video games (mostly RPGs), and recently brought out our old SNES for the kids to play on (desperate times call for desperate measures). Our son loves to play Donkey Kong Country, and the girls get excited about Mario Paint. The game the book centers around is called Reclaim the Sun, and I wish it really existed. It's definitely something I would play! I loved how immersive it was, and like the idea of endlessly exploring planets with unknown content. Smith should see about getting his fictional game made into one people in the real world can play! I think it would be very popular. :)

If you're looking for a satisfying story with wonderful characters, Don't Read the Comments has both. The author touches on tough topics, while also conveying the importance of friendship, family, and standing up for yourself and what's right.


Author Bio: 

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

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