This is the Story of a Happy Marriage: A Review

This is the Story of a Happy MarriageThis is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This author was recommended to me by a friend. I wasn’t sure which book I wanted to read first, but I thought that this compilation of essays that were published in various magazines and publications would be a decent place to start. Overall, it was okay. I will probably try to pick up one of her fictions later on in the year.

The essays were not in published chronological order, but they seemed to move through her life from when she was a child wanting to be a writer all the way into her present marriage. The writing touched on various highlights, such as the controversy of one of her books to her first marriage, subsequent divorce, and journey into her second marriage.

My favorite essay was the one called On Responsibility which introduced her relationship with her grandmother who had dementia and her relationship with her dog. I can personally relate to both of these experiences.

My least favorite was The Getaway Car, which was her journey to becoming a writer, filled with a lot of advice to those who may look into that career path. I didn’t really have any connection with her other writings which probably made that particular post slightly boring.

She is funny and honest and, at times, blunt with her writing, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a first read for this author. Hopefully, in reading her other work, I will have a better understanding and connection to the material I read in this book.


How to Stop Time: A Review

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

This was the book that I mentioned in my February Favorites post.  Here’s the full review!

How To Stop Time is an Adult Fiction by Matt Haig. It’s a beautiful mixture of historical fiction and a little bit of intrigue and mystery and romance. I picked up this book because I wanted something that had romance in it, and the tagline was “The number one rule is don’t fall in love.” And I was hooked. Also, I got a version that features illustrator Chris Riddell. I don’t have many books (Adult or YA) that have illustrations in them, so it was neat to see the words come to life alongside the gorgeous sketches.

Tom Hazard is the main character and narrator of the story. He has lived for over four hundred years due to a condition that makes him age slowly. The story interweaves between his memories of the past and present day that explains a lot of his motivations throughout the book. This has been one of the most seemingly realistic immortality-esque stories I have read. He isn’t rich or overly talented or charismatic, any more than any other human person, which makes him very relatable even though his condition and life are not. Other people with his condition are not completely like him. Similar, yes, but their own complex personalities and perspectives shape who they are. The “immortals” of this story are each different and have chosen different paths.
The women in his story are probably my favorite part. His mother, wife (Rose), daughter (Marion), and a present-day woman he meets while teaching history in London (Camille) are each different and complex. We don’t know everything about each character since it’s told from his perspective, but they are each painted as flawed yet beautiful people who affect his journey.
It’s written in the first person, from Tom’s perspective. We see his conflicting thoughts, his memories from the past and the present day situations in an effortless flowing narrative. The sections are short, as they flip from present day to various places in the past. And there are so many good quotes from this book. I felt like I could highlight several lines.
So, I don’t feel like I can write much about the plot without spoilers. After losing his mother and later his wife, Tom learns that his daughter might have the same condition that he does. He goes out in search of her and comes across a society of people like him. He joins this society in hopes that they will use their network to find his daughter, but in the meantime, he has to follow their rules – don’t fall in love, move every eight years, do whatever Heinrich (the leader) asks of you. As the story opens in present day, Tom is starting to question staying with this society, but fears what might happen if he doesn’t.
The overall themes of time and relationships are beautifully explored. I don’t want to get into specifics because, you know, spoilers, but the author actually does answer the question of how to stop time.

There is profanity used throughout the book, especially with some characters. It is actually a descriptor for a couple of the characters. And talked about deliberately (like, it’s acknowledged that the character cusses a lot).
There isn’t a whole lot of sexual content, at least none really described. A few kissing scenes here and there, and a reference to some sexual harassment that a couple characters endure. But in the sexual harassment section, it is alluded to, and then Tom goes and punches him in the nose. Nothing graphic
There is some violence. Tom is asked to bring people into the society, and if they don’t want to come, he is supposed to kill them. Tom is shot at one point. And of course, there is death throughout the story as people die and he goes on living. But none of it, I felt was too graphic.

At first, I was going to give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I enjoyed the story and flow well enough. But the ending was so good and as I was reading it, I realized how it had all been building up to this. I got emotional, and that bumps this up to 5 stars for me. It’s a wonderful read about life and time and relationships. I would definitely recommend!

The Hazel Wood: A Review

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, #1)The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

This is a dark fantasy YA book. I didn’t realize just how many dark fantasies I would be drawn towards this year. But I definitely give this one 4.5 stars. Not quite one I would pick up again, but I did thoroughly enjoy.
Alice is the main character. She and her mother have been traveling from place to place for most of her life. She has never met her grandmother, an eccentric recluse who is best known as the author of a book of dark fairy tales (which is a book Alice has not been allowed or able to read). They find out that her grandmother has died on her estate called The Hazel Wood. Shortly after, Alice’s mother is kidnapped and sends Alice a message not to go to The Hazel Wood. Alice goes after her, with the help of a fellow student, Ellery Finch, who is a huge fan of her grandmother’s fairy tales. Using the stories as clues and insight, Alice finds herself getting closer and closer to The Hazel Wood, and more truths are revealed.
The measure I use for character assessment is whether or not I care about the characters. I definitely got caught up in the stories of Alice and Ellery. The transformation and growth that Alice goes through are really well done. Ellery, not so much, but is still a character I wanted to know more about. The rest of the characters, which I don’t really want to go into without spoilers, are not quite as complex, some being used to move the story along, but I liked how they were used.
The plot has twists. Some I figured out pretty quickly. But even the ones that were predictable, I liked where the author took them.
The writing at times could get convoluted, but it was absolutely beautiful. The imagery was harsh and gorgeous at the same time. Weaving fairy tales into real-life situations made the whole story seem like a fairy tale, itself. And I loved the concept of using the fairy tale structure, especially towards the end. Also, some of the dark stories that were written by the grandmother are shared in the book. I thought that was pretty neat as well.
There is profanity in the book, particularly with one supporting character. I don’t know if it was absolutely necessary or not.
There is not much in the way of sexual content. I didn’t feel like there was a strong romance in the book. Alice is briefly kidnapped as a little girl, and people who find out tend to ask whether he touched her (which he didn’t).
There is a lot of violence, being a dark fantasy. The fairy tales that are shared are violent. Alice has a gun pulled on her. There are deaths and mentions of death. But part of the story is actually fighting that violent nature.
Overall, I would recommend with the caveat of the amount violence and profanity. Though I felt like the profanity is minor, and the violence is necessary to understand the plot and character development. Really entertaining read.
I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

Everless: A Review

EverlessEverless by Sara Holland

Everless is a YA fantasy adventure by Sara Holland. To be honest, I was drawn to this book because I have a friend with the same name as the author, but I was also drawn to it because I thought the premise was also interesting – turning blood into time and used as currency.

Jules and her father used to live at the palace at Everless, but after an accident, they are forced to flee. Since then, they have lived in poverty and on the run. But now that Jules is seventeen, she has an opportunity to return Everless as they prepare for the wedding between Roan and Ina. Liam, Roan’s brother, has always been mean and cruel, and when she returns, Liam is no different. However, there are a lot of unseen dangers for Jules, and the more secrets she uncovers, the less she realizes she knows about herself and those around her.

The characters are basically divided between the rich/royalty and the poor. Jules grew up around Roan and his brother Liam, part of the wealthy Gerlings who are the lords of their land. Roan is set to marry Ina who is the Queen’s adopted daughter and heir to the throne. I felt like the characters could be a little more three dimensional. I didn’t feel connected to a lot of them, but they have potential.

The writing got better when the plot began to move in the last ten chapters. But I found the folklore about the Sorceress and the Alchemist a little hard to follow. The rest of the storyline was pretty easy to follow, but the lore is actually a foundation for a lot of the plot twists that occur. So, it got problematic at times. And because the folklore was convoluted, the big revelations felt like meh…

As far as theme, there was a lot of repeating the idea of how callously the upper class used the blood-irons that the lower class suffered to make. Since Jules lived among the lower class for so long, it seemed to be all she focused on when she was among the upper class. But they weren’t mean, just didn’t understand how much privilege they wasted daily.

I don’t remember there being any distinct profanity used in the book. There was one kiss in the book, and I think there was a hint of infidelity, but no sexual content. Considering you pay for things with blood-iron, which is made by draining blood, there’s definitely some violence, some death, but none of it seemed too grotesque.

The book was okay. It definitely felt like it will be part of a series because it came with a bit of a cliffhanger at the end. But I don’t know if I will read the next book. I just didn’t feel invested in a lot of the characters or in the lore. It was a solid three stars for me.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

The Cruel Prince: A Review

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Cruel Prince is a YA fantasy adventure by Holly Black. It takes place mostly in the Fairie Realm. I recognized a lot of the lore from what I have read in traditional Fey stories, even some Shakespeare, which I thought would be interesting.

The story surrounds a girl named Jude. Other major characters include Caden, the prince to the High King, and his friends Valerian, Nicasa and Locke, Jude’s twin sister Taryn and their half-sister Vivienne, Magnus the General to the King and also Jude’s paternal guardian. The story is told from Jude’s perspective which is very affected by her understanding that the Fey and the Fairie world for that matter are beautiful and dangerous. From the moment she gets there, she is taught how to protect herself, what not to eat, what to do to keep her from getting manipulated or “glamoured” by the immortal Fey who don’t have a very high view of mortals, especially mortals without extraordinary skills of some kind of art. So, to me, the characters are limited in the way they are developed because it is all from her perspective which is highly prejudiced on these facts. Some of the actions of others aren’t really explained or understood, it’s because “that’s just the way it is” as Jude sees it. Jude’s violent past and present also affect her perspective.
Jude and her twin sister Taryn and half-sister Vivienne are taken to the Fairie world after witnessing the murder of their parents. The murderer then becomes their father (Magnus) and raises them among the high court fey because he is the General of the Army to the High King. Because of his status, they are educated among the basically rich kids who look down on their mortality. Caden and his friends, especially, torture Jude and Taryn. And the two sisters have different reactions to that bullying. The current High King Eldred is stepping down to give the crown to one of his children, and Prince Dain seems to be the front-runner. Jude is hoping to become a knight for Prince Dain, essentially giving her power to protect herself from her enemies. As the coronation nears, there is a lot of intrigue and deception, and Jude must choose who to trust.
One of the themes is having power and using power and desiring power. And also how power can corrupt and betray.
The writing flows pretty well. I’m not a big fan of the entire scene or what everyone is wearing being described, and there was a good bit of that in here. I’m very plot driven and character driven, which I think is done well in this book, but I found myself skimming the paragraphs that described everyone’s clothes. There is a lot of foreshadowing, and I didn’t fully trust everything Jude saw because the prejudices were pretty clear, so some of the twists were not surprises to me, but I did like how everything connected in the end. When things were finally revealed to Jude, the author had some secrets that I didn’t catch right away that played into the plot.

There is some profanity in the book, mostly towards the end with one character. Most of the language was very lore based so it didn’t have as much traditional profanity. I feel like that one character use of profanity signified their rejection of the Fairie world and the longing of the mortal world.
There is a reference to the “greening of the gown” which is a euphemism for sex, there is one scene where a character strips off their clothing, but most of the actual content just includes kissing. There is some romance and it does play into the plot or subplots, but I felt like this was more of an action adventure than a romance, so the sexual content was at a low.
There is a lot of violence in this book. I mean, the story starts with the descriptions of Jude’s parents being murdered. The Fairie world is very violent and Jude becomes very violent as a result. There is a lot of blood and fight scenes and murder scenes throughout the book.

Overall, I think the book was well written, though slow at times. It’s going to be a trilogy and I am interested in where the author will take the story from where it ends in this book. Of course, the next book is not slated to be released until next year, so I’m not sure if I will remember to get the next book at that point. I would recommend late teens early twenties for this book just for the amount of violence. Jude does learn how much violence and the desire for power can corrupt, but believing she is far too gone, relies heavily on these things to try to do what is best. So I would be aware of that. I give it three and a half stars. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve read, but it’s good for its genre.

What have you been reading lately?

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

The Night Circus: A Review

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel like I was late to this party, but I’m so glad I read this book!
If by some craziness you haven’t read this book, I highly, highly, recommend. It has definitely become one of my favorite fantasy books to date.
The story surrounds this circus that only comes out at night (hence, the title). It’s a cover for this competition between two magicians (not in the sense that we know magicians, but actual people who can use magic). But the story is bigger than this competition. It’s about every person who is a part of this circus. It includes the performers and the patrons and how they are all connected by choices.
I liked the theme of choice in the story. Some of the choices are brought onto the characters through no control of their own, but the choices they do get to make are what really define them as people.
It’s a beautiful story. The writing, itself, is beautiful and descriptive without being overbearing. The story is not necessarily told in chronological order or from the same perspective. They build on each other, though, which I really liked. I could tell pretty quickly that no character was inconsequential. Every performer, every visitor played a part in the machine of the story.
As far as profanity, sex, and violence. There is one curse word at the beginning of the book, maybe in the first or second chapter. I thought it was foreshadowing more, but I didn’t come across any more in the future chapters. There is one love scene, and there are a few death/violent scenes, but none of them were detailed or graphic. Would recommend to older teen and up (I think it is actually categorized as adult fiction).

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding: A Review

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #1)The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this would be the best book to delve into around Halloween, but because of my current energy levels, I read it throughout the month of November.

The basic story is about a boy named Prosper Redding. He comes from a very successful family in a small town. But he doesn’t quite share the successful gene. Come to find out, he has a demon (or malefactor) hiding inside of him, ready to break free on his upcoming 13th birthday. All of their success stems from a contract that their ancestor made with this malefactor around the Salem Witch Trials. And the ancestor tricked the malefactor, causing him to become trapped until now.

This is all revealed during a ritual and the family begins to attack Prosper. He escapes and finds refuge with his estranged Uncle Barnabas and his daughter, Nell. Nell is a witch, and they plan to use a spell to take care of the malefactor once and for all, but the demon grows stronger every day.

There are a lot of moving parts to this story. I think the author did well keeping the balance, though it did get a little chaotic at times. There is a major cliffhanger at the end of the book for an obvious sequel, if not series. And I liked the overall themes of power and how it can corrupt as well as being a good, authentic friend.

There were a few action-packed scenes of escape, plus the whole “my family is trying to kill me” kind of violence at the beginning. It’s meant to be a little spooky and scary. I liked the malefactor’s reaction to the modern world during Halloween. It was a cute scene.

I don’t know when the next book will come out. I might get it from the library. This is definitely geared towards middle school age kids. It’s pretty clean despite the spooky and creepy. Nothing too scary. I would definitely recommend it to that age group.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!