Review// House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy & Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Book Length: 304
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Review: 5/5

My Review:

One of the most hauntingly beautiful books I’ve ever read.

On one New Year’s Eve ten years ago, three young sisters – Grey, Vivi, and Iris – were on a walk in Edinburgh, with their parents trailing behind them. For a split second, their parents turned to each other to share a midnight kiss, and when they looked up ahead, their children were gone. A month later, the children were found standing on that same road, naked, each with matching half moon scars at their throats, their dark hair turned white, and none of them remembering how they got there. Except, maybe one of the sisters does remember, and now that a masked man is starting to appear everywhere, seemingly after them all, continuing to live the lie means the difference between life and death. 

What initially drew me in was the cover – I mean, just look at it. As I started reading though, I realized that what’s inside is even more awe inspiring. The characters!! The setting!! The mystery!! The unraveling of secrets!! It was all so good. The book gave me witchy, fairytale vibes, and I loved it. There were a few parts that were pretty gorey, and actually spooked me out, but it was nothing too intense. It was creepy but beautiful at the same time, and I’m so impressed with how the two opposites were portrayed so well together.  

I think it ended perfectly because it could be good as a standalone, but also has a perfect segue into a second book if the author chooses. I could definitely go for a House of Hollow sequel, so I’m going to hold out the hope that there’s another book because I couldn’t get enough of this!

– Catherine

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Review// Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Shadow & Bone Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Book Length: 358
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

My Review:

I LOVED this book; my only regret with it is that I slept on Leigh Bardugo for so long!

I’m not even gonna lie, a huge reason why I didn’t pick this up sooner is because I think the original cover is ugly (yes, I judge books by their cover; sue me) but wow, I’ve been missing out.

I know not all of the Russian aspects of this book are 100% accurate, but I actually loved doing supplementary research into some of the things I found interesting and getting to learn more about Russian culture that way. I would describe this as a Russian-inspired mythology, and I thought it was so cool.

While I like Alina, I hate that she feels like she needs Mal every second in order to be somebody. Usually it would bother me more that I didn’t love the main character that much, but in this case it didn’t for some reason. I think because I loved how she interacted with Genya and the Darkling – who are also big parts of the book – that it didn’t really matter.

Of course, I’m also that person who still ships Darklina even though he’s evil – sorry, Mal, you’re nice but you’re boring! I can’t wait to see how the trilogy plays out in the other 2 books, and what transpires between the Darkling and Alina; I really hope there’s something.

– Catherine

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Review// Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Author: Courtney Summers
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Length: 308
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review: 4/5

My Review:

‘How do you forgive the people who are supposed to protect you? Sometimes I don’t know what I miss more; everything I’ve lost or everything I never had.’

Best audiobook I’ve ever read, and I think it would be best read in audio format because it is told like a podcast with a full cast of characters, as well as through Sadie’s perspective and it switches between the two. These characters tell the story of a missing girl, Sadie, set on a mission to bring justice for her little sister’s death by their mother’s ex-boyfriend. I also really love the cover a lot; I think it’s so beautiful.

It was such an emotional read with so many grief-stricken characters; it’s hard not to feel for them. I liked how it went back and forth between the podcast about finding out what happened to missing Sadie, and Sadie’s first hand account of events as they happened – I really liked the contrast and it was so suspenseful when the podcast host, West, found more leads that got him warmer and warmer to the truth.

However, with that said, the one thing I was a bit iffy about was West. He felt a little bit one dimensional, like there was something off about him but I can’t even pinpoint what exactly it was. In addition, the open-ended conclusion felt a bit frustrating! Then again, a lot of real stories like this unfortunately don’t have clear, solved endings, so maybe the author was trying to pack a bigger punch by leaving it up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m not sure, but I still wish it had ended differently.

Overall, I’m really glad I finally got to read this, and I will be thinking about the story for a long time.

– Catherine

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Review// Those Who Leave & Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

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Author: Elena Ferrante
Series: My Brilliant Friend #3
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Book Length: 418 
Publisher: Europa Editions
Review: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her abusive husband and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which have opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women have pushed against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of misery, ignorance, and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to each other by a strong, unbreakable bond.

My Review:

“A community that finds it natural to suffocate with the care of home and children so many women’s intellectual energies is its own enemy and doesn’t realize it.”

Okay yes, I know the cover to these books are really ugly, but I promise you, what’s inside is golden.

However, for the first time in the series, I’m a bit torn about how I feel about this book, mainly because the one juicy part of the whole thing consists of something that I hate: insta-love / a love subplot that comes randomly out of nowhere. On the one hand, I like that it happened because it gave me something to to keep turning the pages for, but on the other, I hate that it happened because it felt so out of place.

This book takes place in the 60s and 70s, mentioning a lot about the university and worker strikes that happened during that time in Italy, which was really interesting. I love all the historical aspects of the book and how they always tie together so well with the characters’ lives. Not only do I feel like I’ve learned something through the historical events, but it also drives the plot along, which is nice. People’s ideas of the role of women in society also begin to change in this book and I thought it was fascinating to read the progression.

The girls are in their 20s and 30s now, and Lila is as stubborn as ever, but Lenu surprised me. At the end, it felt like she became an entirely different person, and it kind of bothered me because her actions were so out of character. Though they are all grown up, it’s evident that their lives in the neighborhood have shaped – and continue to shape – who they are, even if they’ve both moved away from it.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be how obsessed everyone is with Nino. There is no one that I know who still fantasizes about their elementary school crush, and honestly, I think Lenu needs to grow up and get over it. It kind of annoyed me that she constantly tried to find ways to bring him up and how she’s still bitter about things that happened in their childhood between him and Lila. These girls are constantly comparing each other and trying to one-up the other, and while it makes for an interesting story, sometimes it just gets so childish.

But anyway, now that I’m down to the last one, I can’t wait to see where the plot takes these characters as Ferrante always ends her books on a cliff-hanger and this one was no different!

– Catherine

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Joy of Christmas Book Tag 🎅❄️

I found this tag over at Jennzah and Erin’s blog, but it was originally created by Samantha on her booktube @ Novels & Nonsense.

1) Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?

Admittedly, I haven’t done much research into all the new releases coming out soon and in to 2021, but I do have my eye out for Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle. I loved her debut novel, You Deserve Each Other, so I’m really excited for this one set to come out April 6, 2021.

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2) Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing it’s praises?

Taylor Jenkins Reid – I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her so far.

3) Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?

I only read the first book of the series, but The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss has excellent world building!

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4) A Christmas Carol: Favorite classic or one that you want to read

A classic that I really want to read soon is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I’ve had it on my TBR forever, but I’m going to use this post as a promise to myself to get to it next year. 🤞

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5) Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas?

To be honest, I would be happy to get any book for Christmas that someone thought I might like!

6) Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling?

Even just the thought of City of Girls gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. It was one of the best books I read in 2020.

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7) Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?

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8) Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas And/Or some of your favorite Christmas memories?

I love the time with my family; the baking; watching the snow fall; Christmas movies; egg nog; and hot chocolate!

I’m not going to actually tag anyone to do this, but if you’d like to participate in the tag, feel free to go for it!

– Catherine

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