Category: books

ARC Review: Gathering Blossoms Under Fire

Alice Walker’s Journals

Pub Date: 12 April 2022

I love a good journal. There’s something absolutely fascinating about getting inside someone’s head and journals are the best way to achieve that. A favorite I read recently was Kurt Cobain’s controversial Journals. Controversial because he didn’t exactly authorize their publishing and were considered more of a cash grab by Courtney Love, or so the interweb rumors go.

That controversy makes it a great read for the voyeur, who just can’t help but “read and judge”. (Reference to Kurt’s handwritten cover, “If you read you’ll judge.”) Highly recommend for the Kurt/Nirvana fans and anyone else who adores slinks into other stoner/rocker/rebels’ minds.

Alice Walker’s journals are an awe-inspiring collection. They range from her early twenties all the way into her fifties, and you get the chance to follow along her whole adult life, a rare written journey. Starting in 1965 and ending in 2000 the world around her changes dramatically, but my favorite part was how her focus shifted inwards.

In her younger years she was more concerned about world issues and politics, but as she ages she focuses much more on personal relationships, on what’s best for herself, and connecting with nature. She learns lessons and thinks through situations through her writing, and another cool aspect was seeing her develop ideas for future published works. I really enjoyed this journal and I believe anyone who wishes to be a successful writer would enjoy reading Alice Walker’s journals.

Thank you to the publisher Simon and Schuster for providing an eARC of this book for review.

Find Gathering Blossoms Under Fire on Bookshop.org

ARC Review: This Place of Wonder

More like This Place of Procrastination

⭐⭐⭐/5

This Place of Wonder by Barbara O’Neal

Description via the Publisher

When famed chef Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves behind a celebrated reputation—and four women grappling with loss, anger, pain, and the question of how the world will turn without him…

Meadow, the ex-wife with whom Augustus built an empire—and a family—still holds a place for him in her heart, even as she continues to struggle with his infidelities, which ended their twenty-year marriage. More unforgiving is Maya, his estranged daughter, who’s recently out of rehab but finally ready to reclaim her life. Norah, his latest girlfriend, sidelined her own career for unexpected love and a life of luxury, both of which are now gone with Augustus. And then there’s Rory, Meadow’s daughter, the voice of calm and reason in a chorus of discontent.

As Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory are flung together by tragedy, grief, and secrets yet to be revealed, they must accept—or turn away from—the legacy of great intentions and bad decisions Augustus left them. And when the circumstances around his death are called into question, their conflicted feelings become even more complicated. But moving forward is the only choice they have, and to do so, they’ll need to rely on family, friendship, and inner strength.

Set on the stunning, rugged California coastline, This Place of Wonder is an emotional, lush, and empowering story of four women finding their way in a changed world—and what a wondrous journey it will be.

Review

Wow, I really wanted to love this book. In 2020 I read my first Barbara O’Neal book When We Believed in Mermaids and absolutely adored the twisting adventure of two sisters; the lush ocean scenery and mysterious characters; even the side romance was pleasant (and romance is not really my thing). I’d been craving to be taken there again, into that sweet oceanic unknown O’Neal created. So when I saw this book I jumped at the opportunity to read it. But it just fell short for me.

Thanks to the multiple character POVs there were a lot of inner thought ramblings that carried on forever and felt unnecessary, as well as repeated information between one character and the next. The characters all had sad backstories (which was supposed to endear them to us) but for some reason they never felt like real people. Since every voice sounded similar, I wasn’t able to hear each character’s voice. I just saw an author in her house freewriting as the thoughts occurred, eating up page count. It didn’t get interesting until about 60% and by that time it felt like it could have benefited from some heavy editing.

The characters had sad backstories (which was supposed to endear them to us) but they never felt like real people to me. Meadow’s story presents itself as uber *mysterious*, something that I should have felt desperate to know, but since the characters weren’t tangible it was difficult to care. There was very little to no action for the entire length of the novel, the inner thoughts just rambled on and on, but in the end I guess the pay off was worth it. The entire read just didn’t sweep me away how I’d hoped and that was a big let down. If it were whittled down to half the length then perhaps it would have shined brighter, but this one missed the mark.

2.5 stars rounded up to 3 for readability. The author does write beautifully and if you don’t mind sinking into a lethargic story about grief then this one could just be the one for you.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

ARC Review: Misrule

Pretty covers are my weakness

Misrule: Book 2 of Malice Duology by Heather Walter

Click here for link to Part 1 Malice Review

Pub Date: 10 May 2022

Thank you to the publisher Random House- Ballantine, Del Rey for providing an eARC of this book for review!

Description via the Publisher

Does true love break curses or begin them? The dark sorceress of “Sleeping Beauty” reclaims her story in this sequel to Malice.

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce wreaks her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. And no one will escape the consequences of her wrath. Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But it is a love that came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break. And the dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means turning into the monster Briar believes her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?

Review

Fantasy/Sci-Fi isn’t usually my thing but I do make an exception for fairy tale retellings! Getting back into the magical world of Briar was easy as a dip in a summer pool. Storyline aside, the author creates a world full of splendor and magic that isn’t too confusing in its rules. The addition of quirky kingdom characters like the goblins provided a fun, much needed comic relief. I enjoyed seeing Alyce fully embracing her dark powers because let’s be honest, it’s fun to root for the bad guys/girls sometimes.

However this time around Alyce had much more character dimension and thus, flaws that made her feel like a real human. This confused me a bit because she’s not a human? But I guess that’s all part of the fantasy aspect. She had a lot of self-doubt and would do certain things that made her a pretty unlikable character in this book for me, but in the end her character journey was well worth it. All in all, this was a great read that I breezed through and I recommend the Malice Duology for anyone who loves dark fairy tales, complicated love stories, and fantastical worlds.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Find Malice and Misrule on Bookshop.org!