REVIEW: Wayward Children Series, Seanan McGuire

“For others, the lure of a world where they fit is too great to escape, and they will spend the rest of their lives rattling at windows and peering at locks, trying to find the way home.” 

This series is a gift. Plain and simple. The writing is lyrical. The story is poignant. The characters are relatable and flawed. I cannot say enough wonderful things about these books.

The 411: The main characters in these books went through magical portals as young children (think THE LION, THE WITCH, and THE WARDROBE) and entered fantastical lands. But they’ve since returned to Our World and no longer know how to relate to a world of normalcy and sadness. The returned children often are in pits of severe depression as they try over and over to find another portal back.

Why? Because they belonged in these worlds. They could be their true selves. No judgment. Just true love and acceptance.

Enter Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. The last ditch attempt for parents who are desperate to find a “cure” for their delusions of another life lived. Eleanor believes them. And she helps these Wayward Children to re-acclimate while they A) Wait for another door to open, or B) Accept their return to life as we know it.

Each of these books are tiny–clocking in under 200 pages but holy cow do they pack an emotional punch. EVERY HEART A DOORWAY introduces us to the narrative, the home, and a few of our mainstay characters. DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES (my personal fave of the three so far) focuses on twin sisters, Jack and Jill, and their time spent in the magical moors. BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY is an adventure back to a land of Confection, in search for a beloved character.

And, hello, representation up the wazoo. All the races, all the ethnic backgrounds, all the genders, all the sexual orientations, all body types, all levels of physical and mental ability…I am truly amazed by all the diversity squeezed into these little novellas of joy.

I need Book 4 because I have questions and I love these characters so much. And I NEED, need, need Christopher to make it back to the Land of the Dead and Skeleton Girl.


“There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door.” 

REVIEW: To Kill a Kingdom, Alexandra Christo (March 6, 2018)

Woke up this morning to learn that Snarky officially has had over 90,000 hits!  Thank you for letting me gush about things I love and rant about things I hate.

Speaking of things I love: this book.

Retellings of fairytales and/or classic lit has become a favorite genre of mine. I wasn’t expecting this to be a reinterpretation of THE LITTLE MERMAID and I was a very happy reader. Just swap in sirens and add more blood. A lot more blood.

The 411: Siren Princess, Lira, is known as the Prince’s Bane–having made her name by exclusively killing mortal Princes. One a year for her seventeen years of life. On her way to number 18, she is responsible for the death of a fellow siren and her mother, the Big Bad Sea Queen aka Ursula on Steroids, isn’t having any of that. Lira is transformed into a human (but she doesn’t wish she could be part of that wooooooooooorld) with the mission to deliver the heart of Prince Elian to her charming mother before the Winter Solstice. The trick? Prince Elian isn’t your Prince Eric. He’s a pirate and a siren hunter, dead-set on serving some revenge on the Prince’s Bane.

So there’s glaring similarities to THE LITTLE MERMAID, yes? Ok–but TO KILL A KINGDOM stands completely on its own and is such a fresh, imaginative take that it feels original. Lira is not Ariel and Elian is not Eric and the mermaids in the story are physically hideous and annoying creatures, they’re the Flotsam and Jetsam of this story.

This book was so much fun. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I love books that skew towards the darker side and this definitely ticked that mark. Congrats, Alexandra Christo! I’m excited to see what you come up with next!

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: lovers of retellings with a darker twist and pirates!

Thank you Macmillan / Feiwel & Friends for my galley! To Kill a Kingdom is available March 6.

Preorder links!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository

MINI REVIEWS: February 6, 2018 Book Releases

This pub date snuck up on me and there are several book birthdays today that I want to talk about. I also have a few more ARCs yet to read. So, enjoy a round up of books that are available today!

THE QUEEN’S RISING by Rebecca Ross

Kingdoms Maevana and Valenia are bitter enemies. Maevana historically has had a Queen as their sovereign leader, but the kingdom is currently under the reign of the malicious King Lannon. After completing her education as a passion of knowledge at Magnalia House, our protagonist, Brienna, is taken on as a patron to the mysterious  Alderic Jourdain.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰ This was fantastic! While I do agree with some other reviewers that the plot moved kind of slowly, I was so invested and eager to unravel more of the story that I didn’t really notice until it was brought to my attention. For a 400+ page book, I breezed through this. The main romance in this book would typically have me cringing a bit, but I didn’t mind it at all here. Also, it’s definitely not the focus of the plot. The politics between Maevana and Valenia and Brienna’s heritage take the forefront. I can’t wait for the sequels and to meet Rebecca Ross in person during the Epic Reads Tour in March!

Thank you HarperTEEN for my galley!

SHADOWSONG by S. Jae Jones

After leaving the Underground and her Goblin King, Liesl returns to life as we know it determined to further her musical career. Also along for the ride is her fellow musician and brother, Josef, who is sullen and withdrawn.

MY RATING:  ✰✰ This makes me incredibly sad because I loved WINTERSONG something fierce. But this sequel just fell completely flat for me until the last 30ish pages. The writing is beautiful and the story arc this time around is even darker and focuses on each of the character’s demons in more detail. The author’s note at the beginning talking about depression, bipolar disorder, and self-harm was also wonderful. I appreciated these things immensely. However, I was completely bored 95 percent of the book. I was looking forward to this conclusion so much and it pains me to rate it this low–but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for my galley!


Elena Mendoza is the first human scientifically confirmed to have been born by parthenogenesis; in other words, she is the product of a virgin birth. After she miraculously saves her longtime crush from a fatal bullet wound, Elena discovers she has the power to heal and she must use her power, or else the world will end. But as Elena reluctantly begins healing those afflicted, people begin around the world begin getting raptured in a bright light.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰✰ This book made my Favorite Books of 2017 list, so obvi…I loved this. It’s poignant, thought-provoking, the representation is out-of-this-world. And someone in a big White House goes into the light and let’s just say, it was appreciated.

Thank you SimonTeen for my galley!

FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper

A group of coworkers go out into the wilderness for a company retreat. We follow the five women colleagues and their experience. But one woman doesn’t make it out. And the other four have conflicting stories.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰  I enjoyed THE DRY, the first novel about Detective Aaron Falk–but this one is definitely more my cup of tea when it comes to twisty thrillers. The search for Alice kept me on the edge of my seat.

Thank you Flatiron Books for my galley!


Picking up where GILDED C AGE left off, Luke and Abi Hadley continue their fight against the corrupt Jardine family for peace in a magical, feudal Britain.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰1/2 I liked this! TARNISHED CITY is a solid sequel that builds on the events of the first book. I’m super interested to see how James finishes the series with the third and final book. Also, more Abi and Jenner por favor.

Thank you Del Rey for my galley!

Also available today, SHE REGRETS NOTHING by Andrea Dunlop (), LOOK FOR ME by Lisa Gardner (✰1/2), AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao () and BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS by Kami Garcia ().

REVIEW: The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert (Jan. 30, 2018)

When there are books that are super hyped up, I’m both nervous and excited to finally read them. I feel like I had been hearing nothing but rave after rave after rave reviews about THE HAZEL WOOD and I was so excited to finally sit down and read one of my most anticipated reads of 2018.


The 411: Our protagonist is Alice, a nomadic teen who has spent most of her life flitting from place to place, receives news that her grandmother has died.  Her grandmother is an old recluse and acclaimed author of a collection of dark fairytales. When Alice’s mother gets taken captive by a mysterious entity who claims to be from The Hinterland, the magical world that her grandmother’s stories take place, Alice is forced to confront family secrets and the book’s crazed fans that she has long avoided.

Ok, so that premise is AWESOME, yes? I want to make completely clear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this book. It’s super interesting, extremely creative, and has multiple Iowa references…which made this little Hawkeye very happy. I breezed through this in a couple of hours. And it definitely still deserved a place on the most anticipated releases list…

Here’s where the disappointment came in: One of the main things I read in reviews was that the story was twisted and dark. Fantasy + twisted + dark = everything I want in a book. I do recognize that my threshold for creepiness is a lot higher than most people’s, but I didn’t find this book twisted or dark or creepy at all. If I had just picked this book up without hearing anything about it, the rating might be at least four stars.

I’m happy that there are going to be more stories from this world, because I highly enjoyed Alice and The Hinterland and all the fairytale characters. Now that my expectations are different, I predict it will be a completely different reading experience.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰1/2
RECOMMENDED FOR: YA-fantasy lovers
MAY I ALSO SUGGEST: MENAGERIE series by Rachel Vincent

Thank you Flatiron Books for my galley. THE HAZEL WOOD is available now.

REVIEW: Broken Beautiful Hearts, Kami Garcia (Feb. 6, 2018)

This book has all the right ingredients…I just didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

The 411: Peyton is a star high school soccer player who has just been promised a coveted scholarship at UNC. Her dreams are dashed when one night at a party, she suffers a season-ending injury. Although the only witness, her boyfriend, Reed, claims she fell–we, the reader, and Peyton know the truth: she was pushed. By Reed.

After experiencing a considerable trauma and facing backlash from her community who all believe Reed (including Peyton’s best friend), Peyton escapes to a small Tennessee town to live with her uncle and two cousins while she heals. It’s at her new school that she meets Owen, a charming and alluring classmate whose MMA hobby reminds her a little too much of Reed.

And, of course, the fighting world is a small world and it doesn’t take long before her two worlds collide…

I finished this in a few hours and I was seriously underwhelmed. From reviews I’ve seen from other bloggers, people are connecting to and enjoying this book–and I’m glad. I’ve heard wonderful things about Garcia’s other work. Personally, however, I just expected a lot more. I expected to be sobbing uncontrollably into my teddy bear by the end and it just didn’t happen.

I am hopelessly bad at predicting how books will end, but I called this one from the start. Was it romantic? Eh, sure. I was ok with it. I didn’t find Owen as swoony as Peyton did, and I am a constant swooner.  The bright, shiny beacon in this book are Peyton’s cousins. I loved how they always stood up for Peyton from the get-go.

Although I’ve read many books covering relationship abuse, I’ve never read a book that looks at steroid usage in sports. I AM grateful that this book tackles this subject and continues to look at victim-blaming and how a community looks at sexual assault.

RECOMMENDED FOR: people who can stomach insta-love and swoony male characters
MAY I ALSO SUGGEST: for the romance, the works of Kasie West. for the political intrigue, WHAT WE SAW by Aaron Hartzler.

Thank you Imprint / Macmillan for my galley. BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS is available on February 6.

REVIEW: Let Me Lie, Clare Mackintosh (Mar. 13, 2018)

Firstly, I’m going to apologize for how vague this review is going to be. This is for two reasons. 1) I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, and 2) The very last line threw me for a complete loop and I need someone to talk me through it.

I’ve mentioned many times that while I love psychological thrillers with a passion, I am HORRIBLE at guessing twists. I am so easily impressed by mysteries and thrillers because I am consistently shocked. This book was no exception. I changed my mind about where the plot was going way too many times over the few days it took me to read LET ME LIE.

The 411: Anna Johnson is still reeling from the deaths of her parents the previous year, both from apparent suicide, months apart. She is now a mother herself, having gotten pregnant by the shrink hired to help her through this troubled time. Oops. Then on the one year anniversary of her mother’s suicide, she received a card in the mail that simply says, “Suicide? Think again.”

…and that’s all you’re gonna get, sorry.

So, clearly, Anna starts digging into the circumstances around both of her parents’ deaths and finds some stuff. You think the story is going in one direction and then swerves and then swerves again. And then you think’s it’s done and it swerves again.

While I did enjoy both of Mackintosh’s previous books, I LET YOU GO and I SEE YOU, I always felt kind of let down by the ending. I was completely invested and into the whole story until the reveal and they both fell flat for me. That was not the case with this book. I was constantly on edge, I actually got the shivers during part of it.

But, I will be honest here…I’m not completely positive that I understood the ending. I sat and stared at the last sentence for at least five minutes because I was trying to piece together what the hell actually happened. The way that I took it, I was pleased with the ending. However, if it’s a completely different ending than the one I’m picturing, my thoughts might possibly change.

Basically this is a plea to anyone who reads this book to please contact me because I NEED TO TALK THIS OUT.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: lovers of mystery/thrillers and unreliable narrators
MAY I ALSO SUGGEST: the works of Karin Slaughter and Ruth Ware

Thank you Berkley Publishing Group for my galley. LET ME LIE is available March 13.