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A Book Blog is a Dream That You Hold in Your Hands

Hello, everyone! Thank-you so much for coming by for a visit! 😄

This is my first blog post EVER, and I couldn’t be more excited (and a little nervous…so much to learn!). I’m @KattitideReads from Bookstagram (for those that aren’t familiar, Bookstagram is a warm and welcoming corner of Instagram that’s a book lover’s Utopia), aka writer Kara Harte. 👋🏻

So, have you ever found yourself in a situation that just kind of happened? Maybe you’ve thought about it a lot, even visualized it. But you never really thought it would bear fruit. Then one day you look around, and the reality of it is all around you. The Law of Attraction has worked on you unawares.

That’s what happening to me now as I type this. I’ve wanted to start a book blog since I first found myself by happy accident in the world of Bookstagram a few years ago. I saw this amazing picture of a book on my feed one day, clicked on it, and was suddenly Harry as he looks upon Hogwarts for the first time. I looked around me in awe as picture after picture of books flashed on my screen, and much like Harry, wondered, “A place for people like me actually exists?!” Me, the bookworm obsessed with all things books: reading them, collecting them, sniffing them. My whole life I’d been that girl who’d rather be reading than out at a party. I’d never met anyone else as into all things bookish irl until I found all of the amazing people within the Bookstagram community.

That’s also where I discovered what book blogs were all about.

I loved the idea of having a place to write down and discuss in detail all your thoughts on a book, a place to unabashedly worship The Book Life.

I just wasn’t sure it was meant for me. So, the idea of starting my own was left to linger indecisively in Limbo.

I got an offer to read/review an ARC about a week ago. I’d been trying to figure out how to request an ARC to review for the longest time, thinking I’d never really figure it out – the password into that particular club evaded me, and it always would. Then, like a Hogwarts letter lands in your lap, it just kind of happened. I was called. My letter said, “Time to get this thing up off the ground, Harte!” And so here I am.

I didn’t expect this little dream of mine to become a reality. Once it was held in the palm of my hand like a magic bean, full of maybes. I’ve somehow dropped it, and find myself standing slightly dumbfounded at the foot of a magic bean stalk. I’ve grabbed a hold of it, and I’m ready to climb. Time to discover what adventures this new venture brings. Care to take my hand?

See you at the top! 💖

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Mini Review: Storm and Fury by JLA + Book Blogger Confessions Tag

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Happy Monday, everyone! 👋🏻

How was your weekend? I hope it was full of relaxing and reading! 📚 My family pretty much had one really long 4th of July weekend party, lol. There was endless grilling and beer pong, basically. 😆 And I cherry-topped out the week by pulling an all-nighter last night to finish up Storm & Fury by JLA. It was AMAZING. So. No regrets. 😍

S&F is the start of a new series, The Harbinger, a spin-off of JLA’s Dark Elements series, ft. golden boy gargoyle, Zayne. And a quippy/badass new MC by the name of Trinity Lynn Marrow, who is not what she seems. I have to note that I LOVED Trinity with all my heart and soul. 🥰

Sorry, dude! JLA’s gargoyles are way hotter!

I give S&F a solid five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I love anything and everything JLA, but this book really was just so freaking good. It was hard to put down, and I didn’t want it to end. S&F is full of action, angst, sexiness, mythology, mystery, and suspense. I 100% recommend giving it a read! 😁 (I also recommend reading the Dark Elements series first, if you haven’t already. 🖤)

So, I’ve never done a tag on here before, but I came across this one on LauReads blog, and it looked like fun!

Here we go…first tag post EVER…😅

Answer these questions truthfully.

  1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

Last month, I DNFed The Witch on Bourbon Street. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I wanted to read Storm and Fury more, lol. I just couldn’t get into TWOBS like that. 😅

 

  1. Which book is your guilty pleasure?

I’d say various smutty romance novels, lol.

 

  1. Which book do you love to hate?

Even though I will always have a soft spot for it and did love it at one point, there are times I love to hate the sparkly vampires in Twilight. And Edward, who I just never liked. #teamjacob

 

  1. Which book would you throw into the sea?
    Beautiful Disaster. I hate that book and the toxic relationship dynamics in it so. much.

 

  1. Which book have you read the most?

I don’t reread a lot of books, but I’ve found myself re-reading a certain few. The Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series, The Summer I Turned Pretty series, the Seven Realms series, The Alchemist, On the Island, and the Lux series by JLA.

 

  1. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

I’m usually pretty happy getting any books as presents, but there was one time someone gave me a really unreadable, torn-up copy of The Divine Comedy as a gift – pages were falling out like autumn leaves – and I was like, “…thanks?” It didn’t have any sentimental value to the gifter, so I was perplexed. And a little outraged that the book had been so abused in the first place, lol.

 

  1. Which book could you not live without?

The books from The Seven Realms series.

 

  1. Which book made you the angriest?

Caution: Possible trigger warning for my answer!

There was this random AI romance novel I was reading (can’t remember the title), and it started to use rape (quite frequently) of the female MC as a plot device to make her a damsel-ey Mary Sue, and have all these big men come to her defense, while also furthering THEIR character development. 😑

I HATE when rape is used as an unnecessary plot device. 😡 It was beyond misogynistic and made my skin crawl. Left a scathing review – which I NEVER do – and DNFed it. 👍🏻 #notsorry

 

  1. Which book made you cry the most?

If I Stay and Where She Went have both made me cry the most. Like, ugly cry.

 

  1. Which book cover do you hate the most?

I hate when book covers become movie/TV tie-in covers. With the fiery passion of a thousand suns. 🔥☀️ 🔥

 

If you’d like to do this, consider yourself tagged! 😊

Review: Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie

“A few hours before I am raped, two officers in a bar try to corner me and steal my panties.” And with that jarring first line, Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie begins, hitting the ground running. A lyrically written novel that embodies the Hemingway quote, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein,” Dostie lays bare the deepest depths of herself in this debut memoir. In boldly and candidly telling her truth, Dostie inspires.

 

Formation dives right into the trauma that will change Ryan Dostie forever – the night she is betrayed in the worst way by a fellow soldier when he rapes her. The events that transpire after this heinous act of violence shines a blaring spotlight on the culture of toxic masculinity within our own military. And what happens when our women warriors refuse to ‘go gentle.’

 

Raised surrounded by a group of powerful women, Ryan Leigh Dostie was never a girl destined to be a shrinking violet. Taught to embrace her own worth and desires from a young age, unintimidated by barriers that could get in her way, Ryan grows from a wonderfully wild little girl into a brilliant, spunky, adventurous young woman. So it’s no surprise that promises of thrilling endeavors draws Dostie to the army as a linguist. The army turns out to be both wonderful and terrible. And never what she expects.

 

Thrust into a male-dominated establishment unwelcoming to women, Dostie still manages to hold her own in the army with grit and sharp wits. But, after the vicious assault she suffers in her barracks room that night, when Ryan doesn’t adhere to the subliminal rule of ‘shut up and suck it up’ that’s been drilled into her since basic training, the commanders that are there to protect her utterly – and willfully – fail her. Even with a crime scene, with physical evidence, they look this woman in the eyes and tell her they don’t believe her. They cherry pick her statements, selecting snippets that suit their fabricated retelling of the crime. They bully, sneer, blame, and try to humiliate her for speaking up. They protect a rapist. These leaders chosen to be thus because of their valor and great endevours, force a victim to bare the shame of an assailant, shame that never belongs to her. While her attacker walks around albatross-less, she is ostracized like a leper, even though she’s not the one clothed in the boils. It is a second violation.

 

Even when recounting the turbulence, Dostie always seems to find moments of light within the dark to focus on. Instances of kindness and compassion from friends, from family – even a few strangers – are made evermore poignant for their rarity. And as she wages this war for justice, Dostie soon gets sent off to fight in another war, all the way in Iraq. 

 

Her battle scars take on the form of PTSD.

 

What follows is Dostie dealing with the aftermath of trauma and war. Can you ever really heal from something from which there is no closure, no justice? Ryan answers this question by showing us. In present-tense, she immerses us in another time. You feel every nuance of emotion as your own. All the rage, disbelief, heartbreak, triumph, resilience – it seeps into your amygdala. Formation is not just sitting down and reading a book. It is leaping into another dimension to stand juxtaposed with Dostie in her shoes.

 

Formation is a story for everyone. Though we all may have different backgrounds and journeys, the human experience is universal. Formation, at its core, is a starkly human journey. Dostie’s writing vividly captures the marrow of what it is to be human. The one truth we all know is that life is both gutting and glorious. We all have faced adversity, we have all been vulnerable to someone we trust, we have felt the burbling of happiness in our bellies, and we have all fought for something that mattered. It is by being utterly real in her humanity that Dostie connects powerfully with readers from all walks of life. 

 

The message in Formation is a timely and vital one in the #metoo era. The message is this: you are not alone, and you are never to blame. The way rape victims are treated is not acceptable. There is nothing in this world that justifies sexual assault. And the tradition of victim blaming needs to end. Sexual assault survivors deserve justice, for their voices to be heard. Not omitted. Consequences are for perpetrators, not victims. And the military cannot hide the way sexual assault has been grossly mishandled within its walls forever. It has to stop. We need to be the ones to fight for those changes. To fight for those who have been silenced. I have high hopes that Formation will shake up this world, and help those who have lost their voices find them.

 

Formation is a vindicated fist raised in the air. A rally for change. A self-reclamation, a narrative repossessed. It is a woman whom, even when she feels shattered to bits like Humpty Dumpty, has a lionhearted spirit that burns undimmed, as incandescent as it did when she was a child. A spirit that their barriers never did stop. It is a woman who has been heard. A woman who is believed. 

 

Formation is a book whose echoes will linger with you long after you’ve closed the pages. 

 

5/5 stars, and HIGHLY recommended. Formation lives up to all the hype, and is well-deserving of its spots at the top of summer reading lists. I look forward to more work from Ryan Leigh Dostie in the future, and foresee a bright career ahead. Now, book and author, go soar and make waves! 

 

Review of ‘The Enchanted Sonata’ by Heather Dixon Wallwork

I was initially given a free digital copy of ‘The Enchanted Sonata’ by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (thank-you!), but after reading it I fell in love and bought a hard copy of my own to add to my book collection. 😊

‘The Enchanted Sonata’ by Heather Dixon Wallwork is a whimsical, hybrid tale of ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘The Pied Piper’ that reads like a classic fairytale from the likes of The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. That means that there’s a hint of darkness in all that sweet. And that darkness threatens to topple an entire empire.

TES follows Clara, a gifted ingenue pianist who is crushing hard on older superstar pianist, Johann Kahler. He’s like a Beatle or a Jonas brother. And Clara is convinced that if she masters her piece for the upcoming concerto, Johann will fall head over heels the minute he hears her play. So, it’s pretty inconvenient when Clara is sucked into a mysterious book – a book from an anonymous gifter, at that, along with a nutcracker doll – and sent to Imperia, a kingdom whose children have been turned into toys by a song no one but they can hear. A place where music is literal magic, where the forests glitter and the air smells of gingerbread and peppermint.

And where its future ruler, Prince Nikolai, has also fallen victim to this horrific curse.

Clara doesn’t have much time to wonder at this new land she’s been transported to – she just needs to figure out how to get back home so she doesn’t miss her concerto, and the chance to seize True Love for herself. But, then she meets Nikolai and the people of Imperia. Clara – and her life – will never be the same again.

Can Clara find the power inside to defeat the musical monster lurking in the dark, trying to take down Imperia? Will Prince Nikolai ever get the chance to show his people what kind of leader he really is? Or will all fall to ruin?

I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. I loved Clara’s character development – we watch her grow up and really earn herself a steely spine from beginning to end. We watch Prince Nikolai grow confident in his ability to lead his country. And to say nothing of how beautiful and immersive the descriptions of Imperia are. A land with magic, mesmerizing scenery, faeries, and large rats that remind me of the R.O.U.S.’s from The Princess Bride? Yes, please!

The villain of the story – an evil magician – is human and layered, which makes the story even more compelling. Grey zone villains are life. When you can understand where the bad guy is coming from with his actions, can empathize with the glimmers of that aforementioned humanity, you know you have a good, multilayered story (with multidimensional characters) on your hands!

Wallwork’s love of music is sprinkled all throughout the pages of TES, and that passion is contagious, making the story come to life.

The only downside I’d say would be that there were some places with a dash of rushing, as well as moments of telling, not showing. But, it didn’t much take away from the story. I still thoroughly devoured it.

TES is a heartfelt love letter to music, a journey of self discovery, and a love story sweeter than Franz Liszt’s ‘Love Dream.’ I give it a solid 4 1/2 stars! Highly recommended!

“I was born with a reading list I’ll never finish.”

Is it just me, or do you tend to buy more books than you read? I have a TBR list that I’m whittling down little by little, but it’s kind of like one of those monsters where, when you cut off a limb, it instantly regenerates. I lobb a book off the ‘ol TBR, and BAM, another one appears. I just keep buying and adding more to it, over and over and over again. Resolutions to kick this addiction have been willfully  unsuccessful.

Me:

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I was looking through my TBR list last night, and the amount of books I added to it in the past two weeks alone is absurd. I think there’s like +20! 😂

I can’t really complain, though. It’s a not a TERRIBLE problem to have. Books make me ridiculously happy, and a mountain of books is basically the secret to eternal happiness as far as I’m concerned. Knowing I’ll always have something to read is Christmas morning on Repeat, year-round.

Still, sometimes when you take a step back and really look at your TBR list, it’s like, HOW?!

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So, what are some of the books on your TBR that you’re most looking forward to, or are there any you think you’ll never get to? There are some that I definitely push back in favor of others, I won’t lie! XD

Since you’re showing me yours, I’ll show you mine. Here are the top books I’m looking forward to on my TBR:

‘Royal Bastards’ by Andrew Shvarts follows a group of royal and non-royal bastards on an epic adventure in order to try and stop a Great War from going down.

Here’s the full summary:

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust.

Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table.

Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead–with Lyriana next on the list.

The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart–if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

You can pick up your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Royal-Bastards-Andrew-Shvarts/dp/1484767659

Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my favorite authors. Anything she writes, I read. The book series I first read by her is the ‘Lux’ series, and I absolutely fell in love with not only the characters, but Armentrout’s vivid writing style. So, of course I was over the moon when I found out she was writing another book in the ‘Lux’ universe, ‘The Darkest Star.’ In the Lux series, there’s aliens, romance, action, and government intrigue. And ‘The Darkest Star’ continues on in that vein in a totally new series.

Here’s the full summary:

A girl pulled into in a world she doesn’t understand finds herself confronted by long buried secrets, a betrayal that could tear her life apart…and Armentrout’s most swoonworthy book boyfriend yet.

Seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher knows firsthand the devastating consequences of humanity’s war with the aliens. When she’s caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…

To learn more about the ‘Lux’ series, this is the first book: https://www.amazon.com/Obsidian-Lux-Jennifer-L-Armentrout/dp/1620610078

And for ‘The Darkest Star,’ head here: https://www.amazon.com/Darkest-Star-Jennifer-L-Armentrout/dp/1250175739

I highly recommend all of the Lux books, and really anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

I loved Julie Kagawa’s ‘Iron Fey’ series, and I was really intrigued when I read the plot for ‘Shadow of the Fox.’ This book has shapeshifters, samurai, kami, legends, humans, demons, and brings Japanese mythology to life. This book is definitely different than anything else I’ve read, and I love it all the more for it. And it has a badass female MC who is a fox yokai. 😍

If anyone is a fan of Inuyasha, you’ll know why I have so much love for fox yokai! 🦊

Here’s the summary:

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

Check out ‘The Shadow of the Fox’ here: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Fox-Julie-Kagawa-ebook/dp/B07843G18J

One of my favorite book series is ‘The Madman’s Daughter’ trilogy by Megan Shepherd. I even liked her ‘Cage’ series, though to a lesser extent. When I saw she came out with a new book, I was immediately intrigued. She’d written about animated human-animal creatures in ‘The Madman’s Daughter’ trilogy, but ‘Grim Lovelies’ was something altogether different.

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

I think this sounds so different than the usual YA books you typically see. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into it.

To get your own copy, head here: https://www.amazon.com/Grim-Lovelies-Megan-Shepherd/dp/1328809188

Kiersten White, the author of ‘And I Darken’ (another book on my TBR) is coming out with a new book set in the world of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ I don’t know about anyone else, but I am a HUGE fan of ‘Buffy’ (and the spin-off series ‘Angel’), and have literally seen every single episode. I’ve even read some of the comics. Buffy is one of the reasons I have such a love for Strong Female Characters. And the fact that there’s a book coming out set in the ‘verse that I miss so much? I am all over that! ‘Slayer’ doesn’t release until January 8th, 2019, but you know I pre-ordered a copy! 😍

Summary:

Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

In case you want to pre-order your own: https://www.amazon.com/Slayer-Kiersten-White/dp/1534404953

One of my CR’s is ‘The Way of Kings’ by Brandon Sanderson, and I’m loving it so far. But, one of his books that I’m chomping at the bit to feast my eyes on isn’t the next book in the ‘Stormlight Archive’ series. It’s Mistborn.

Goodreads summary for Mistborn:

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more? In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

If you’re interested in Mistborn, too, here’s where I got mine: https://www.amazon.com/Mistborn-Final-Empire-Book-No/dp/0765350386

The last (but not least) book I’ll share off of my TBR is ‘In Order to Live’ by Yeonmi Park. I first learned of Yeonmi’s story in her TedxYouth talk, which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/Sg3kC4uKDJU

Yeonmi came from a world that most of us cannot imagine, but that it’s so important to educate ourselves about. We need to stand up to oppressors like North Korea who violate human rights – who use paranoia, rape, state-sponsored murder, work camps, and starvation as weapons to imprison its people. People who deserve freedom, who deserve to LIVE. Educating ourselves is the only way to fight back and work to help put an end to it all.

When I saw Yeonmi’s book featured on a Bookstagram page that I follow, I knew I had to get it. This is one vital read I will honestly be bumping up on the TBR.

Summary:

Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape.

Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.

Park knew the journey would be difficult, but could not have imagined the extent of the hardship to come . Those years in China cost Park her childhood, and nearly her life.  By the time she and her mother made their way to South Korea two years later, her father was dead and her sister was still missing. Before now, only her mother knew what really happened between the time they crossed the Yalu river into China and when they followed the stars through the frigid Gobi Desert to freedom. As she writes, “I convinced myself that a lot of what I had experienced never happened. I taught myself to forget the rest.”

In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Korea—and to freedom.

Park’s testimony is rare, edifying, and terribly important, and the story she tells in In Order to Live is heartbreaking and unimaginable, but never without hope. Her voice is riveting and dignified. This is the human spirit at its most indomitable.

To pick up your own copy, head here: https://www.amazon.com/Order-Live-Korean-Journey-Freedom/dp/014310974X/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542579478&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=in+order+to+live+yeonmi+park&dpPl=1&dpID=51UjzlaZaBL&ref=plSrch

Now it’s your turn! Show me those TBR’s! 📚

Review of ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ by Kate Morton

‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ by Kate Morton follows present-day archivist Elodie Winslow as she comes across a mysterious and very old leather satchel carrying a photograph of a striking Victorian woman, and a sketchbook with a drawing of a twin-gabled house Elodie swears she’s seen before. But how?

Over 150 years before Elodie comes across the satchel, in the summer of 1862, a group of artist friends coverage at Edward Radcliffe’s Birchwood Manor, ready to spend a month absorbed in the Upper Thames, their art, and each other. But, before the summer can come to a dreamy end as planned, one woman is dead, another is missing, a rare antique has been stolen, and life will never again be the same for this group of young artists – especially not for Edward Radcliffe.

What exactly happened behind the walls of Birchwood Manor in 1862, and why is a place haunted by such mystery and tragedy so vividly familiar to Elodie? And who is the mysterious woman in the photograph, who seems to be at the center of it all?

Told in multiple POV’s, across multiple time periods, ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is a story of murder, forbidden love, theft, art, and the transformative, timeless effects of love and of grief, all converging around one place – Birchwood Manor.

This is the first Kate Morton book I’ve ever read, and I have to say I found ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ to be lyrically written, atmospheric, and haunting. It’s a literary work of art, for sure.

‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is a book that takes its time. It unfurls its mysteries like a foggy day reveals the surrounding world as it dreamily burns back up into the atmosphere. This is definitely a book with which you need to have patience while it simmers. Its style is very old-world – harking back to both the language and literary style that was popular during the 1800’s. Very fitting for the setting.

While this book was beautiful and lush, and the story engaging enough that I read it cover-to-cover, I wasn’t immediately sucked in. It took me time to settle into the story, and once I was, a shift in time and character would come along and jolt me right out of my cozy rhythm. I liked reading about the different characters and their time periods, but there were so many POV’s – something I’m not typically fond of – that it made the book choppy and slightly hard to follow. This one took me a while to read because it had a hard time keeping my attention. And yet…I loved this. The charm of ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ was irresistible, and though it took me a while to finish, in that time the story smoothly and slickly spun itself around me and bundled me snugly up in its web. It will remain with me for some time.

‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is a beautifully written, old-world style mystery that you can take your time with, and savor. It’s not a quick read, and there’s a lot to take in, but as long as you know that going in, you’ll love it and be able to enjoy it. If you like unfrenzied, exquisite novels, ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is for you, and definitely recommended. I’m looking forward to discovering some of Morton’s other work!

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read Review

‘The Dragon Sleeps’ takes place in 1927 Queensland, Australia and follows 21-year-old aspiring antiques dealer, Alexandra Thornton. Alexandra plans to follow in her forefather’s footsteps and get into the ages-old family business of antiques. Only her father doesn’t know it yet.

As Alexandra plans to head to a weekend party at Thornton Park, her ancestral home, Thornton Antiques’ manager – and Alexandra’s dear friend – Benedict Archer (who has been secretly helping Alexandra learn all she can about the antiques business) helps her gather her courage to break the news to her father.

The party seems to be a success…until a brutal murder is committed on the grounds of Thornton Park, and a precious antique is stolen.

Could the killing have happened because of an angry, murder-hungry dragon spirit, tied to a sword owned by the Thornton family? And how might the Ming dragon – a statue just gifted to Alexandra’s father – tie in, when blood is discovered on its claws?

Brilliant and independent Alexandra takes it upon herself to unravel the mystery, and figure out how its tied to her family. As secrets unfold, and Alexandra begins to question her feelings for Benedict, she soon finds that her own life is in grave danger.

Reading TDS was like stepping into the pages of an old-world Agatha Christie novel. The world Read builds brings the characters, setting, and time period roaring to brilliant life. The author’s love for her homeland, history, architecture, and flowers are passionately displayed within these pages, and the passion became contagious!

Alexandra was by far my favorite character in the novel. She’s so untraditional for her time period, and I loved that about her. She’s whip-smart and determined to forge her own path in life. I’m fond of strong female characters, and Ellen Read delivers just that in Alexandra.

The suspense and romance of ‘The Dragon Sleeps’ will leave you breathless until the very end!

I give TDS 5 stars, and highly recommend it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can pick up your copy of ‘The Dragon Sleeps’ in paperback or Ebook format here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0994392729/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_.qvUBb6RQCHDH

‘The Magic of Me’ by Becky Cummings Review

As an educator and an aunt, sometimes I believe that there’s more we should be teaching our children in addition to the standard curriculum we already have set. And that’s where ‘The Magic of Me’ comes in – a game-changer in the Self-help, Personal Development, Spirituality, and even Psychology genres.

With echoes of ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle and ‘A Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson – but for kids! – Becky Cummings delves into the importance of self-love, what nutrition is and why it’s so important, body health and the sacredness of our bodies, the power of forgiveness, bullying, caring for the environment, kindness and helping others, mindfulness and meditation, and tells children that they do have the ability to do and be anything in this world that they want, that they themselves have the power to make it happen.

‘The Magic of Me’ also addresses the Big Questions: Who is God? What happens when we die?

Some of my favorite parts of ‘The Magic of Me’ were the chapters on angels and on the afterlife. It reinforced things I’d explored and discovered as an adult, and even taught me some new and interesting things. Cummings even introduces The Law of Attraction to kids in a way they’ll understand, very cleverly using magnets to explain the power of our own thoughts. I LOVED that. And after every chapter, there’s a fun activity for kids to try out that helps to further increase their understanding of a topic. Kids learn best when it’s hands-on, and the inclusion of these engaging activities was brilliant.

My question is: why should a child have to wait until adulthood to explore these things? The subjects addressed in ‘The Magic of Me’ were all questions and wonderments I myself had as a child, but no one ever spoke to me about them, asked me about them, or even acknowledged that I might even be cognizant of them. ‘The Magic of Me’ finally does acknowledge that kids, do, in fact, think about and hunger to learn more about all of it, and I believe this will make us adults more aware that these are important things that SHOULD be discussed on a wider-scale with our children. They’re tiny, yes, but they’re still human beings that seek to understand deeper meanings. And if you’ve wanted to broach any of these topics with your children but didn’t know how, then ‘The Magic of Me’ can also help you with that, even allowing you to take the journey WITH your child as you do so.

I found myself not just reading this book, but EXPERIENCING it. From cover to cover, ‘The Magic of Me’ was a journey. One that will make children see the world around them, and themselves, in a new and utterly, beautifully, positive light.

Highly, highly recommended. Five stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Go and grab your copy at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HNDD4LX/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_FKpUBbSS299BE