The Perfect Child

Well my streak of books determined to keep me childless and alone continues friends.

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The Perfect Child, was certainly no exception, and let’s be honest it’s entirely my Facebook book club’s fault. I blame them, and someone can break it to my mother.

Good Reads Synopsis: A page-turning debut of suspense about a young couple desperate to have a child of their own—and the unsettling consequences of getting what they always wanted.

Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own.

But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature.

Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge. “

Told in alternating perspectives, The Perfect child is an adoptive parents’ nightmare. Traditionally I’m no fan of the alternating perspectives for each chapter, but here it works. I was drawn into this god awful parenting story gone awry (could also be filed under another “woman’s intuition ignored and we all catch hell for it later” tale).

Also no worries on it being The Orphan redux, its not. Its worse.

Look I love kids, I have none but I love them, but books like this keep my womb very VERY empty.

Janie is the victim of some horrific abuse, who meets adorable couple the Bauer’s in the hospital (he’s a surgeon, she’s a nurse Awwwwww). Important point of order, The Bauer’s desperately want a baby so of course CHRISTOPHER not Hannah (women are so much smarter than men FACTS) falls in love with Janie gets Hannah onboard and suddenly they have a toddler with severe trauma.

Here’s where the shit hits the fan both literally and figuratively…seriously the kid throws feces frequently.

Janie hates mothers.

ALL mothers.

Christopher is enamored with Janie; do we see where I am going here?

Poor Hannah, I spent most of this book wanting to scream at Christopher for being such a dunce.

Look an animal dies, someone's nip gets bit, a relative gets a good shove down the stairs, and there’s no ending NONE essentially this book ends on a non-ending.

Intriguing yes, but no ending? The demon spawn gets hospitalized and essentially it all boils down to the system is broken? I call foul.

 Speaking of which Piper, the Bauer’s social worker is a real piece of work. WOOF.

It felt as though she was a little too invested in Christopher, and her police interview chapters were not my favorite parts of the story.

A quick read, fun and frightening but imperfect I give this book: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 a pleasant part of my Saturday read-a-thon but not earth shaking.

Want to read it yourself? It’s a Kindle Unlimited option! You can find it here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2BPJFYA

Verity

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My lord, someone send a brain bath.

I have never wanted to dip my brain in bleach more then after I finished Colleen Hoover’s Verity.  A wild ride, disturbing to the very last page, and so very well worth the read.

Goodreads Synopsis: “Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.”

I am not a huge thriller reader, certainly there’s an exception here or there but its not my go to genre so when my Facebook book club started raving about this one and mentioning it was included with Kindle Unlimited I thought, why not?

From the first few pages Verity is grim. Splattered brain matter levels of grim. You’ve been warned this is definitely not a light and fluffy read.

If you can’t tell from previous reviews, I’m fond of the dark and disturbed especially when it comes to female characters. You could say I’m fully on team, down with likability! Verity may have changed my mind on that a bit, as after finishing this book I came up for air and needed a cookie and a Disney movie.

***Spoiler ALERT***

The described attempted abortion made me light headed while reading, something that has never happened to me! Let alone the purported after effect on the child, I was full on skeeved out. By the time you get to the child murder, I was ready to throw my kindle off my balcony (obviously tying a string to it so that I could pull it back up and finish the book).  It’s like a car accident on the freeway or pimple popping videos, you can’t not look. I become emotionally invested in fictional characters, and I am not apologizing!

I haven’t disliked a character so strongly in quite some time, but Verity is a trip. You will full on cheer for Lowen and Jeremy’s adultery solely as some sort of karmic revenge, I about cheered at her final comeuppance but then felt like I walked face first into a stop sign at the twist ending. I’m not saying anything else except, READ THIS BOOK.

I would absolutely recommend this, and will be slipping references to every conversation I have for the next month or so.

I give this book 5/6 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Want to be in need of a brain bath too? Grab Verity on Amazon!

Here’s a link: https://amzn.to/2X8JWie

A Conjuring of Light.

Delicious.

Divine.

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Delightful.

Reading something by V.E. Schwab is like the best feast in the great hall of Hogwarts at the end of term. Sensory overload, in the best way!

Good Reads Synopsis:

Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

—-

This series has been an utter delight from start to finish, and this last book of the trilogy was nothing short of perfect. I am so happy it ended on a high note!

There is something to be said of a story that envelops you wholly, the kind where you forget a pot is on the stove or skip wrapping Christmas presents one evening to finish those last 20 pages. That’s the kind of book I love to get lost in, and Schwab always delivers with a writing style is nothing short of poetry.

Admittedly I have hated Lila Bard from the start, with a fiery passion. Like Kell, I am keen on rules and order BUT in A Conjuring of Light I came to like Lila and her ways (i.e. didn’t growl every time her name popped up). I won’t re-hash all the relationships and who gets their happy ending and who doesn’t but overall I was satisfied with everyone’s fate. The pacing of this one is also spot on, I occasionally found this series wordy slowing me down while reading but I zipped thru this one. There’s enough action and a smidge of romance to really get lost in it all. Side note thank the lord for authors who write about LGBTQ relationships! Happy to see an uptick in the diversity of sexual orientation in my reading!

I would absolutely recommend this and will obviously be forcing this series on anyone who asks me for a recommendation and will certainly re-read this series again and again.

I give this book 6/6 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️YEP I SAID IT! READ THESE BOOKS PEOPLE!

Want to read it? Of course you do. Here’s a link: https://amzn.to/2BLLbdr

Oh? You want the boxset? Let me help you out: https://amzn.to/2RsS1yt

The Universe Has Your Back:Transform fear to Faith

I am so happy I finally picked this book up! I know to some it might seem like a lot of woo-woo but I’m definitely team #GoodVibes when it comes to world view, our everyday mindset, and general state of being as much as possible.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In her latest book, The Universe Has Your Back, New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein teaches readers how to transform their fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life. Each story and lesson in the book guides readers to release the blocks to what they most long for: happiness, security and clear direction. The lessons help readers relinquish the need to control so they can relax into a sense of certainty and freedom. Readers will learn to stop chasing life and truly live.

Making the shift from fear to faith will give readers a sense of power in a world that all too often makes them feel utterly powerless. When the tragedies of the world seem overwhelming, this book will help guide them back to their true power.

Gabrielle says, My commitment with this book is to wake up as many people as possible to their connection to faith and joy. In that connection, we can be guided to our true purpose: to be love and spread love. These words can no longer be cute buzz phrases that we merely post on social media. Rather, these words must be our mission. The happiness, safety, and security we long for lies in our commitment to love.

When readers follow this path, they’ll begin to feel a swell of energy move through them. They will find strength when they are down, synchronicity and support when they’re lost, safety in the face of uncertainty, and joy when they are otherwise in pain. Follow the secrets revealed in this book to unleash the presence of your power and know always that The Universe Has Your Back.

—-

Let me be entirely upfront, if you don’t like woo-woo and new age self help, this book will drive you nuts. As someone who is equal parts pragmatist and hippie dippy dreamer, I had moments where I was cheering while reading thinking, “Damn this is revelatory” and then immediately moving over to “What a lot of hooey”.

Growing up my mom read A Course in Miracles, so I am peripherally familiar with the book and its teachings. Gabby is very clear on the fact that A Course in Miracles has heavily influenced both her life and her work, but I often feel like the bulk of her writing and teachings are an amalgam of watered down A Course in Miracles and several other major new age thinkers you’ve seen hanging with Oprah. So on the spiritual side, it can be derivative and some of her “challenges” are definitely champagne problems to have in this world and this may not speak to those truly going thru it. On the flip-side, if her easily digestible and au courant writing style brings people closer to centering themselves (whoop there it is! hello woo-woo!) and growing spiritually then what is there really to complain about?

She touches at the very end on righteous anger, and I appreciated the last chapter immensely for at the very least acknowledging that we live in rough world and suffering is all around us and we have a responsibility to effect change. That’s what I want from my spiritual thought leaders, uplifting content but at the same time a tacit acknowledgement that we do live in the real world and horrible shit happens that we have to confront.

Going to give this one 5/6 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and would absolutely recommend it.

Here’s a link if you want to snag it: https://amzn.to/2UtbnSq

Sawkill Girls

Whoa, what a ride. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand was well worth the rough day I had after staying up late into the wee hours of the morning to finish this excellent book.

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Goodreads Synopsis: Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.


Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now. “

- - -

I don’t think that synopsis does this book justice. Sawkill Girls was so good I’m gonna swear on the Internet!

Holy hell, if you’re looking for something smart, snarky, scary, and fun this is it.

When I read anything YA, I want it complex and confident about its audience’s intelligence and this book…whew… hits the nail on the head.

There are diverse characters, LGTBQIA relationships, nontraditional/non hetero-normative gender roles, consent is presented well AND let me just drop my favorite quote:

“Girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

Somebody help me up the truth just knocked me down! Claire Legrand in two sentences explained my experience as a woman, an actress, and female identifying working professional.

This book doesn’t shy away from gore which, I’ve noticed some YA books with girls as the leading characters often do, or worse they use flowery prose to cover up blood and gore. We’re women not hothouse flowers, y’all.

Romantic relationships in the book were also well done, with a deft hand, no love triangles (thank god).

I did have a moment mid-book where I thought things were taking a derpy turn, and this great book was going downhill with the appearance of male “heroes” coming in to save the day but instead this book is fiercely fucking feminist (excuse my French and love for alliterations but truth is truth). Another gem I love:

“Screw that book,” said Val. “It was written by men.” She held out her free hand to Marion. “We are rewriting it.”

Clearly I loved reading this book.

Somewhere after 2am I knew I needed to call it, and take my ass to bed, but I couldn’t. I was so deep in this book about these special girls I couldn’t put it down. I had to finish it.

The only thing I hated but came around to was the weird man-cult (Legrand’s words not mine), yeah we needed them to represent the patriarchy/mansplainy pseudo villains, but I cared less about them and more about the Collector.

If you’re looking for a dark, atmospheric, creepy read with kick ass heroines and monsters this is it.

I give this book a solid 5/6 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Grab it, read it, and let me know what you think: https://amzn.to/2A5gPTk

Girl Wash Your Face

I cannot believe I am writing this, but I did not enjoy this book at all.

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Goodreads Synopsis: “With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.
Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son's request that she buy a necklace to "be like the other moms," Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.”

—-

That’s a very generous synopsis.

Midway thru chapter 2 or 3 of Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, I nearly threw my iPad out the window. This was a tour of privilege town, in and around the county of humble brag. I am still so shocked to have so disliked this book, Rachel’s humor and aesthetic should have been a winner given my typical taste.

Look, is she quippy? Yes. Are there a few cute gems in here? Sure. Is this book as good as all the reviews and Instagram posts suggest? HECK NO.

I was mildly irritated while reading, but when I got to the section where she describes her trip thru Europe with her now husband and refers to people of Romany descent as “gypsies” and not in the “I’m a wandering soul” way but in the “we were worried about being robbed by thieving gypsies” way I was done.

The ONLY and I am talking only thing that I loved about this book, was Rachel’s suggestion to not flake on yourself. She discusses it in terms of commitments we make to ourselves. Would you want to be friends with a flake? No, right? So why do we flake out on the things we set up for ourselves? Like the gym or self-care? This was an ah-hah moment (albeit a tiny one) that helped me jumpstart my workout routine. Despite that gem, this was sadly a #DNF (did not finish) for me.

Overall this was a no for me dawg.

Would I recommend this book? Probably not.

0/6 stars

You can find it here on Amazon…if you’d like to give it a shot: https://amzn.to/2xThCpe

Dreadful Young Ladies: And Other Stories

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I can never really tell if I like short story collections.

It’s rarely the fault of the author, its my greedy book hoarder self that is the problem! I want to get lost in a book and short stories feel like a collection of cliffhangers.

Dreadful Young Ladies: And Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill, was a delight and an exception to my unresolved drama with short story collections.

Goodreads Synopsis: “From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kelly Barnhill comes a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.
 
 When Mrs. Sorensen’s husband dies, she rekindles a long-dormant love with an unsuitable mate in “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch.” In “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through,” a young man wrestles with grief and his sexuality in an exchange of letters with his faraway beloved. “Dreadful Young Ladies” demonstrates the strength and power—known and unknown—of the imagination.  In “Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake,” a witch is haunted by the deadly repercussions of a spell. “The Insect and the Astronomer” upends expectations about good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, love and longing. The World Fantasy Award–winning novella The Unlicensed Magician introduces the secret magical life of an invisible girl once left for dead—with thematic echoes of Barnhill’s Newbery Medal–winning novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
 
By an author hailed as “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies feature bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, hope, and more.”

——

I loved several of the stories, “Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch” and the collections’ namesake “Dreadful Young Ladies” stood out as some of the best writing I’ve read in awhile. “Dreadful Young Ladies”, in particular gave me strong The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One vibes and that poetry collection is one of my favorite reads this year. I disliked a few others, and not in a “vehemently disliked“ way but certainly a “not for me” way aka my reaction to “The Insect and the Astronomer”. “The Unlicensed Magician”, I loved but wanted more of and would’ve read a full-length novel about Sparrow. (Seriously its not you it’s me, short story collections I promise!).

Overall this was a yes for me, I liked it and was thrilled my random pick at the library was a win. It was a perfect dark and creepy fantasy read to have on deck as we move into October (aka HALLOWEEN TIME Y’ALL).

Would I recommend this book? Sure especially to short story fans. 4/6 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Grab it on Amazon today and let me know what you think! https://amzn.to/2OtjZIM


The Astonishing Color of After

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Have you ever read something so wildly good, you finish it and are almost out of breath?

That’s The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, a stunning novel of love, loss, and rediscovery.

Goodreads Synopsis: “Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.”

——

Magical realism is one of my favorite genres of narrative fiction. Hit me with some Isabelle Allende, a little Toni Morrison, and then a spattering of Gabriel García Márquez and I will be in book heaven. After reading this I can confidently add Emily X.R. Pan into that excellent company.

Leigh’s struggle to find both her sense of self and place in this world after her mother’s suicide along with a burning desire for answers surrounding her mother’s mental health feels so relatable in this current climate. (The CDC reports that as of June 2018 suicide rates have increased 30% across the country) and while it feels as though mental health is something we as a society are learning to more frequently openly discuss the realities of living with a loved one with mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc) can be devastating. This book so accurately portrays that brutal struggle, I found myself a little weepy.

Her time in Taiwan and forays into her family’s memories are vividly depicted, while deftly being interwoven with the fantastic.

I also loved the emotional shorthand between Axel and Leigh, each time they questioned what color they “felt” I fell a little more in love with the idea. This was one of the best parts of my September library haul, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Emily X.R. Pan.

Would I recommend this book? Yep, can we talk about how you need to be reading this right now? Did you buy it yet?

**If you can’t stand Magical Realism and are unwilling to suspend your disbelief I suggest you look elsewhere.

5/6 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

You can find it here on Amazon, let me know what you think! https://amzn.to/2Oh4Slq

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

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SHUT UP! A fun flirty romance with a quirky girl who isn’t quirky to the point of annoyance or a caricature of a human being, an interracial couple, and laugh out loud banter?! I am in! Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren was a darn good time. I love sitting down to read a good romance novel (seriously pass me a peach canned fizzy wine, put my phone on airplane mode, and buh bye world!) but I also demand that they actually be good! Not just heavy petting and some mind numbing dialogue. Give me wit, banter, and a storyline that makes me care about the couple.

It’s for those reasons that I keep coming back to the work of the delightful duo that is Christina Lauren! Two fabulous authors writing under one pen name who I just adore.

Let’s get the nitty gritty out of the way, here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

“Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?”

I loved Josh and Hazel, they were fun and I wanted to hang out with them! I was rooting for them to fall in love and realize they were absolutely perfect for each other. I also was enamored with their friends and family. Plus let me tell you I’m a sucker for an adorable epilogue and if you want feel good cute factor then Christina Lauren nailed it in this one.

It was also so refreshing to have a Korean American leading man in this! All of the romance hunks are usually of the wonder bread variety (BORING), I’m totally team Josh Im.

The hook up scenes were spicy but I would expect nothing less from team Christina Lauren.

Was there anything I didn’t like about this cute rom-com romp? Not really! Was the final twist a little predictable? Yes. Could Hazel have figured out a little sooner that yes of course she and Josh were a good match? Yes. Was the story about the drug induced email to Hazel’s TA, a weird throw back to a story I swear to goodness I read on reddit/twitter earlier this year? Yes but honestly doesn’t the best whacko stuff come from the internet?

***UPDATE***

Saw on Instagram that this story WAS inspired from said tale on the internet! So strike that criticism, add it to the pro column friends.

****UPDATE***

Overall Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren, was fun and frothy. It was the perfect midweek read, and if romance is your jam you should definitely pick this one up!

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. 5/6 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Grab it on Amazon today and let me know what you think! https://amzn.to/2CV1ng3

The Black Witch

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The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, was supposed to be my hot date on a Friday night but it ended up being a blind date gone awry. One thing that gets me going is a long ass book, and I was so excited to dive into this one (hello check out the endorsement from Tamora Pierce on the cover) but very quickly it became apparent that The Black Witch was not going to be anything like what I anticipated.

Goodreads Synopsis: "Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear."

-----

Let's start with the good. Laurie Forest is a fantastic writer when it comes to style. She built a world so compelling I did not like 90% of its inhabitants. 

Now for the bad, this book is slow going which would be fine if the payoff at the end was worth it and sadly that's not the case in The Black Witch. Elloren aka Ren our protagonist is seemingly on what would be a redemption arc but its so poorly executed I found myself wishing she would be killed off or knocked upside her head once or twice more by the other kitchen workers at Verpax University. 

At one point, Ren allows her pseudo boyfriend/stalker/boss/companion dude to intervene in a dispute and he does so by threatening to send a child off to labor camp to meet almost certain death. CLASSY. 

I get it the author's goal was to present a world so blinded by their religion and prejudice that they could not see the truth of the world around them BUT Ren was so unlikable for so long it didn't matter that she eventually (sort of) came around. Her favorite class for most of the book is the class with only Gardnerian students and a full tea service, essentially a revisionist history class, and she feels little to no remorse for murdering her roommates pet chicken, and tells her **SPOILER ALERT** gay brother to keep his sexuality secret because its "too dangerous". All of this would work out to be a great redemptive arc for her if she turned the corner quicker but by the time she'd grown even a little bit as a character I had her firmly in my dislike column. 

I'm curious to see if things change in then next book in this series but would want to wait till I can snag it at the library. 

Would I recommend this book? ...maybe... 2.5/6 stars ⭐️ ⭐️ 

Snag a copy on Amazon today and let me know what you think! https://amzn.to/2p0YW21