March Favorites!

people people people.

march is, like, over. what even.

(also my birthday is in less than a month AHHHHH)

OMG Y’ALL. I survived March. That was unexpected. I miss my books, I’m busy, pretending school doesn’t actually exist, but HEY I’M ALIVE. oh and I’ve been following this blogging schedule for a MONTH now so WHAAAAT. btw, if this whole thing confuses you, I have a page about it. if you don’t want to track down said page, here’s the link: https://thatbookgal.wordpress.com/my-blogging-schedule/. Now that that’s over, I’m going to bore you and talk about books I  LOVED this month! (to be clear, these are all the books I read this month that I rated 5 stars) (in order of when I read them)

919fV6DdE8LThis was my first five star read of the month and out of all of them it was probably my least liked five star book of the month? Which is kind of weird to say, but all the books on this list had to really earn that fifth star and this one just barely did. NONE of that means I didn’t love and enjoy this book–I really did! It delivers a positive message for young girls with romance they’ll fangirl over and a story that will keep them reading long into the night.

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I read both this book and the book before it, THE SILENT SONGBIRD, this month and they were both five star books for me but in the end I decided to only put one on this list (idk I can’t even remember why) (#professional) It was THE NOBLE SERVANT that won out in the end, because I ended up loving this book a little bit more. The plot in this book is amazing and the cover is gorgeous and the romance. THE ROMANCE. omg y’all. the characters and the romance are just so on point 😍😍 I would definitely reccomend this to teen girls. It is classified as a YA Christian Historical but honestly I think non-Christians can enjoy it too.

CxZh2HZW8AAVwqFStarting with the cover and premise this book immediately drew me in. The nice thing about my review copies is that by the time I read them I have always forgotten the premise that originally drew me in so it makes the content such a surprise for me. I related hardcore to Eliza and I loved her whole crew and the romance and this book… it made my favorites of the year because it was just perfection. Every detail was thought through and well written. Definitely would recommend to teens and older.

whole thing togetherThis book is a struggle to talk about and recommend because it was “eh” for me until the last 30% or so made it a favorite of this month and the year. I don’t want to spoil this book, but y’all. y’all. It hit me. emotionally, and more than just the feels. I really connected with this book. so much.

SO this month had a few disappointments. But ultimately it yielded some really good books that I really loved, some of which made it onto my favorites of 2017 list (scroll up to the top to find it). Thanks, March. You weren’t bad. (referring to books, of course. twitter was totally not my favorite place to be this month because people are mean)

What was your favorite book that you read in March??

Book Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice

Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.
Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.
In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.
Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

I’ve been wanting to read a Kristy Cambron book for a long time now. I actually first heard about this one when I filled out a survey to help choose the cover. When I read the blurb I was hooked. Like everybody, I’ve always found Illusionists mysterious and mystical. I loved how that feeling translated into the book. There was constantly an air of mystery to Wren, and it was fun to watch it unravel around her as she grew as a character
It’s very clear in the writing and romance and plot that Kristy Cambron knew exactly what she was doing while writing this. The world built around this story is vibrant and feels so real. I haven’t read a lot of stories about Houdini, but I’ve wanted too for a long time. I also liked how there was always something the characters knew that we didn’t, the last of their secrets not revealed until the very last pages.
And also THAT ROMANCE THOUGH. I literally highlighted one of the kisses because it was perfection (oh, does this make me weird?? 😉 ) the romance is slow, but expected. There’s that tension there, which build up the chemistry and lays the groundwork for actual romance. So when the romance actually does happen, it doesn’t feel ista-love-y, and it’s because we all saw it coming and shipped it.
My only complaint is that plot twists weren’t like “OH WHAT I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING, OMG OMG OMG” to me. They happened, and I was like “oh”. I didn’t see them coming, but they didn’t really wow me either. There was also the time jumps. If I was paying a lot of attention, sure I noticed them. But I do a lot of my reading while I’m supposed to be paying attention to normal things like people (ew), so I didn’t always noticed them and I kept getting confused.
All in all, it was a really fun mystery with a gorgeous romance and twists abound!

CONTENT GUIDE –
Sexual – kissing, mentions a need for a chaperone, an implied affair
Violence – abuse, shooting, kidnapping
Cussing – none
Imbibing – illegal drinking

Book Review: Eliza and her Monsters

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea‘s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

This was my first Francesca Zappia book and I found the story amazing and emotional and the characters touching and relatable. I found myself at a loss for words when I knew I had to write a review because there are some books you can’t sum up in a large or small amount of words. The best books make you feel something, even if the book doesn’t speak out about impending issues, even if the story itself is just so beautiful you can’t help but love it.
Eliza and Her Monsters was one of those stories, I came out of it feeling something. Eliza was such a strong character, very real and very relatable. She overcame some really tough obstacles and faced a lot of pain and came out the other side amazing.
This story seems like it would be about the romance, or a guy swooping in, but it’s about a girl with a passion who, in her own way, saves herself.
The romance is very cute and very wonderful and VERY shippable. Wallace has his own flaws but they really loved each other and I loved how even the relationship wasn’t perfect. It had its flaws, but at the heart they bother really loved each other.
Gimme a sec her because we have GOT to talk about Emmy. She’s apparently 14. IN COLLEGE. And also she’s basically a BADASS yo. She’s everything I want to be. Like seriously. BEST CHARACTER (maybe) (idk bc they’re all amazeballs)
The world felt very real, and I feel like a lot of that was due to Wheelhouse Turn. It definitely added a little character to the town which helped the story SO MUCH.
also I feel like this was extra relatable for me, because I spent ages 9-13.5 dedicating all my free time to an online forum and honestly those were some of the best friends I ever had. It helped me through a really tough time of transition where I moved to a new continent and the people on the forum were all the friends I had. Even though I don’t go on the forum much anymore, I still check in, and honestly I don’t even know if I’d still be alive right now without that forum carrying me through and pointing me to where I needed to really fall.
SHEESH, THAT GOT DEEP Y’ALL. 🤔
Eliza and her Monsters was delectably written, with badass characters, and a story that really hits home ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

CONTENT GUIDE –
Sexual – kissing, innuendos, crude talk
Cussing – this has a fair bit of cussing, including the f-bomb.
Violence – barely
Imbibing – none

Five Books with PHENOMENAL Writing

My plan was to alternate weeks for reading and writing posts, but next week’s post is more about books and because it’s my Faves of March post, it can’t be switched out with this one. So you lucky people get two weeks in a row of writing posts! Oh joy. Though, this week the post is like a mix between a writing and reading post. The best of both worlds, per se. (let’s go!) (btw, this is not in order. I’m not THAT organized, y’all)
Darkness_FledWhen I was a tiny baby reader many years ago and I didn’t even realize that Jill Williamson was an amazing writer, I read this book(my fave of Jill’s). One thing I’ve always gotten from her books is a sense of home in the world she creates around her story. At first I thought it was just in the Blood of Kings books, but everything I’ve read from her has given me this feeling. I’ve realized it’s just how Jill writes. She writes well and I love it. And her books.

24644814One thing I’ve always loved about Ally Carter books is that her characters always feel like my best friends. Her stories are always wonderful, of course, but her strong point is really the care and character she pours into her wonderful crew. Each book from her is always a true joy to read but I think the Embassy Row books are my faves.

b2ap3_thumbnail_the-color-projectI like to think I can recognize a good writer from reading their book. Most of the books I read have been edited and rewritten, but the draft of the Color Project I read was early, and it was… I can’t even think of words to explain it. Her writing delivers the story absolutely perfectly. No one else could take the plot and story of this book and write it as well or even close to as amazing. This book and the writing and everything… this is a book that gives you butterflies. Honestly, who even needs boys. I want to marry this book.

hunted-meagan-spoonerIt’s hard to come up with a new way to talk about this. In reading Hunted, I fell in love with Meagan Spooner’s writing. She took her story and told the story of a feeling. The book was about a romance too, obv., but what she really told the story of was searching for that something everybody is searching for. Most of us don’t even know what our thing is. It was so cool to see that, especially in fantasy which is usually more about story and less about delivering a message or relaying a feeling. It really represented how talented she was as a writer and a storyteller.

CxZh2HZW8AAVwqFI hardcore related to this book. If you’ll read my review, you’ll see that. It really made me feel something. It made me think back to my forum days, and on top of that the world is beautifully written. I love it so much. From cover to cover, you can tell that Francesca knows exactly what she’s doing and it’s so so wonderful.

okay so this is where the post is supposed to end. I was going to end it here. But then I read The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares and I just needed to add it but I also don’t want to take any books off of this list, so I’m adding it. I’m too lazy to change my premade graphic so deal with it 😛

whole thing togetherI’m not going to mention why I specifically fell in love with Ann Brashares’ writing, but it touched me. I’ve got a set of experiences that are common yet different in so many ways. It’s hard to find a book that relates to my exact thing but to put it as specific and spoiler free as I can, this book just took all of the feelings I felt when something(an experience of mine) happened and put how I felt on paper. It was real and honest and raw and written so so well.

 

So these are books I currently think are phenomenally written. TELL ME BELOW:

What books have you read that made you go: “WHOA THIS BOOK IS SO WELL WRITTEN OMG”?

 

Book Review: the Noble Servant

 

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.
Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.
But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.
Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.
Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to the uncle’s evil plan.
It’s always so fun to read a Melanie Dickerson book. Every single one is well plotted and well researched and this book is no different.
The world built around the story was on point, and the story was full of unforeseen twists and adorable characters. The romance was attraction at first sight but slow burning. It was clear that Melanie Dickerson knew exactly what she was doing in every aspect of the story.
The romance was adorable, and Magdalen and Stefan were just so, so perfect for each other! I loved how the “villains” were more than the eye could see, it made them feel more human and all of the characters more accessible.
One this I did find though was that Magdalen’s perspective seemed to tell more than show, but I only noticed that because I was a writer and I was specifically paying attention because I was a reviewer. As simply a reader, the telling didn’t bother me as much.
While there were more relatable villains, there was definitely on (the “main” villain, per se) that was just EVIL. like I hated him. Everything he did was selfish or mean.
Also I feel like I was supposed to recognize Avelina?? I’ve read all of the Hagenheim books but I didn’t recognize her so maybe I need to reread or just ask a knowledgeable human??? My memory is crap 😛 (maybe I should pursue different jobs options 🤔)
But overall this was a really fun story and I loved all the new characters and the high stakes retelling of the goose girls tale, which isn’t often retold.
CONTENT GUIDE
Sexual – kissing
Cussing – none
Imbibing – no drugs, no alcohol
Violence – threats

Book Review: Shine Like the Dawn

In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event shattered their idyllic family life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart as she begins to wonder if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident.

When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his son and Maggie’s estranged childhood friend, Nathaniel, returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll, and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate–and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?

It seems like 2017 is a year for Christian Fiction firsts. I read my first Colleen Coble book, and now I’m finally reading my first Carrie Turansky book. I got this book as an ARC from Waterbrook Multnomah through bloggingforbooks.com .

As most of you know, I have some trouble with reading physical book because I find it hard to concentrate. However (!!) I have gotten glasses, so I actually find it a lot easier to read this and concentrate with them.

This book was a cute slow burning romance with a twist a mystery. The regency era is definitely not something I read a lot of, but I always enjoy the books I read about it.

One pitfall of this book was that it felt like a lot of Christian Fiction books out there, especially parts like the romance between Owen and Clara. This also reminded me a lot of Dawn Crandall’s Everstone Chronicles? It was super similar, in a lot of ways.

HOWEVER I did really enjoy the characters and the tapestry and mystery that they had to unwind. It was a fun story and the twists and turns definitely kept me reading, even if I did guess some of them.

The romance was adorable but slow burning in a way that was kind of annoying. I spent most of the book annoyed at it because it didn’t happen until literally FOURTEEN pages from the end. Like what even. I’m a girl who likes a ton of romance, but I’m not mad when there’s none. But it does annoy me when I’m promised romance and I don’t get it until fourteen freaking pages from the end. What even.

However, the scene right before the big romance scene was really touching and well written. The writing in this book was well cultivated. The plot wasn’t amazing, but still enjoyable. The story was fun and delved into grief and mystery.

CONTENT GUIDE –

Sexual – squeaky clean. Almost no kissing.

Violence – the climax of the book is mildly violent, but barely

Cussing – none

Drugs/drinking – almost none.

My Top Five Book Ideas

Hey everyone! While this blog is still mainly about reading, I do think that other things I love to do can have a place here too. Some of you may know that along with reading, school, life and other things I try to write. I’ve been a writer for a long time so I thought I could share that aspect of my life with y’all. As a little intro to my writing and ideas, I thought I’d share my top five book ideas, in order of what priority they are in my writing plans.

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Chasing the Stars

This book is one of my most special and favorite book babies. I’ve been through a lot with it and I’ve almost trashed it so many times but it just feels like… the one? Book-wise, of course. I’m not marrying my book baby 😛 For your special viewing pleasure, I’ve written up a blurb to give you a taste of it.

Mothers and daughters fight all the time. Carol Worthington deals with it like any sane person. She ships her daughter to boarding school in Canada and elopes with her secret boyfriend. Because that’s normal (therapy, anyone?).

Elise Worthington thought the worst that would come of their spats was therapy. Instead she finds herself in a strange country in a strange school, surrounded by strange people. Like any sane person, she responds to this by running. But after meeting Joshua Aberdeen, she decides maybe Hazel, Canada is worth a try.

Chasing the Stars is the story of first love, heartbreak, and maybe, if they play the cards right, a happy ending.

This blurb is a little rough, so I apologize, but I’m really passionate about this story and what it can become. I’m currently working on just vomiting the story out and editing and polishing it later. For a long time I concentrated on making it all perfect but after an 18 month sabbatical I realized I just need to get it all out and I can change what I don’t like later. I realize all of you probably knew that already but I think it was much more helpful when I learned it by myself.

STATUS: Writing

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A Lineage of Blood

This idea came to me because I’ve always loved gladiator books, and been intrigued by a sport which celebrates brutality and violence. I’ve always wanted to put my own spin on it, and one day I thought; What if the gladiators forced to fight had physical disabilities and superpowers? As you can imagine, I’m a strange person. I struggled for awhile because I want to write in a way that doesn’t shame those with physical disabilities so I added a tyrannical Emperor who forces them to fight. As you may know, some gladiators in Ancient Rome would fight of their own free will, so in that respect I’ve changed it. I wasn’t actually sure who the main character would be in this book. Usually, it’s the characters that come to me first. I knew I’d have a gladiator as one of the main characters, but I also really wanted to feature a platonic best friendship between the boy MC and a girl MC. I had a different story idea in the back of my head for the daughter of an Emperor who, rather than just getting the throne, has to survive to get it (let me be clear, I had this idea before I ever read Three Dark Crowns. While there are a few similarities, I promise this book isn’t quite as amazing as Kendare Blake’s). The basics of that idea was that the girl would have to fight, and maybe kill, her bloodthirsty sisters to keep the throne. I ended up combining these two stories and I’m pretty psyched to finish writing it. While this whole section gives you an idea of the story, I thought I would still give you guys a blurb because I want to be fair 🙂

Athena was born an Empree, destined for a pompous life and glitz with a razor-sharp twist. If she can survive until her eighteenth birthday, she’ll become the Emperor’s heir. But violence turns her stomach and she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to fight off her sisters.

Titus was born to a family that was praying desperately for a girl. His gimp arm and telekinesis makes him a Cursed boy, and he’s forced to live out each year of his life in a different city, hiding behind the lies of his parents. But they can’t hide forever. In his seventeenth year, a stupid choice gets him captured and forced to live and fight for his life in the Arena, a bloody and brutal place where Cursed boys are forced to use their special skills to fight as gladiators—and kill.

When Titus and Athena meet, he tries to kill her. She doesn’t fight back. They begin to talk, and a friendship forms, one that could get them killed but might also save them.

Set in a rich fantasy world steeped in the mythology and infrastructure of ancient Rome, this unlikely friendship burns bright in a time when no one is to be trusted.

STATUS: kind of writing, kind of plotting

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The Thousand Year War

This book actually started out as a writing exercise. I wanted to get better at writing battle scenes and when I sat down to test-write one, this idea popped into my head. A war that’s gone on so long that both sides have forgotten what they’re fighting over. A girl who dreams about a handsome soldier and the horrors of the war. I was so intrigued by the idea that I immediately wrote it down and made collages and wrote a blurb. Oh, speaking of blurbs…

A war without end.

A sheltered girl.

and dreams that shatter her reality.

Marie lives in the protected North and has never had to deal with the violence and harsh reality of the Thousand-Year War. Until on her eighteenth birthday, she starts having dreams of a young soldier in the War. Dreams that are very violent and very, very real. They open her eyes to the reality of the world around her and how her family lives, safe and without a care for the soldiers who die every single day.

Marie begins to search the archives of history in her family’s library and finds a loophole—a way to end the war once and for all. However, before she can step in and stop the war she must get past her parents, who have never really cared, the world, which has been against her opinion as a woman since the beginning, and the greedy people who don’t want the war to end.

STATUS: Plotting. Planning. No writing yet.

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The Ravenmaster’s Apprentice

This story was my NaNoWriMo 2015 story, and while I reached wordcount on it, I definitely felt like the ending was completely rushed and I’ve been aching to go back and fix it. It’s an alternate history novel, and I got the idea in a brainstorming session. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a bittersweet love story that I cried while writing. Also, blurb:

A greedy prince

The girl meant to be queen

A Ravenmaster’s apprentice

For the first fourteen years of her life, Annette was raised in an abbey just outside of Winchester, England. The only person who could have represented a father to her was King Richard.

Annette is seventeen now, and he’s dead. Annette was supposed to be his heir, until the greedy Prince John exiled her to the holiday palace, Ravensmaw, and took her crown. She has eight months to undermine his plans, before he is crowned England’s king. But what can she do, a girl without even ten people dedicated to her cause?

Annette’s plans are turned on their head when Prince John decrees for her to marry the abusive, obese Lord Thomas Quentin. Especially when she has just begun to love the Ravenmaster’s apprentice that made her feel like living.

STATUS: Written, ready to be revised.

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The Chronicles of Alleure

This is an unfinished series. The first book was the second book I ever wrote, and my first NaNoWriMo project. It’s definitely a rough, rough draft, but I put a lot of work into this series. There’s four(????) books so far, and I fell into a lot of tropes and cliches with it, but I’ve figured out how I’m going to fix it. Because these books have been on the project shelf so long, I actually don’t have a synopsis for any of them #professional

STATUS: 4/5 books written. In desperate need of HEAVY revisions.

Well, if you’re still here, YAY! Let me know below whether you enjoyed this, if I should post about writing more often, and (if you’re a writer) what you’re working on!