The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts (Lonely Hearts Bookshop, #1) – Annie Darling

Source: Goodreads

Posy Morland has always lived above Bookends Bookshop. She and her brother lived here before her parents passed away, and she came back from college to help raise her brother after they were gone. Their home is thrown into jeopardy when Posy’s landlady and boss, Lavinia, dies, leaving the bookshop to Posy and the rest of the property to her odious grandson, Sebastian. The two new owners go head-to-head over their beloved bookshop, desperate to keep it alive but at odds about the best way to do so.


I so wanted this book to be spectacular. The bookshop setting, the stellar love/hate chemistry between Posy and Sebastian was there, everything was there, but one ting was missing. Glaringly obvious to me as I neared the end of the story was the fact that we never got to know Sebastian at all. We almost never got chapters form his point of view, and when we did they focused on his actions and never delved into his thoughts or feelings. Because of this, Sebastian’s feelings felt as though they came out of the clear blue sky. The ending felt very rushed, like the author had hit word count and everything after that was just to wrap everything up. The best romances, in my opinion, allow you to get to now both your heroine and your hero, and not getting Sebastian’s view point really hurt the ending of this one. Overall it was cheerful and cute and an enjoyable read, but the ending really dented my feelings about it.

HHC Rating: 3.5 Stars.

Greenwitch (The Dark is Rising Sequence, #3) – Susan Cooper

 

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Photo by Amanda_HHC

 

 

Barnabus, Jane, and Simon are returning to the small town of Trewissick for a week away with their favorite great uncle – and to recover a priceless artifact the evil Dark has stolen from a museum. With them on their vacation is a mysterious young boy named Will Stanton. Unsure whether to trust Will with their secret or to forge ahead alone, the Drews will learn the difference between an outsider and an enemy as they race against the hourglass turned by mother nature herself to stop the Dark from rising.

 

This third installment in Cooper’s pentalogy is the shortest, yet the most chock-full of character development.  Barney comes into his own talents, Simon learns to tone down his temper, Jane finds her inner strength, and Will learns how to balance being a boy and an immortal. As the trio grows to a quartet, the bonds of the light grow stronger and the Dark is pushed back yet again. Cooper does an excellent job of taking a general storyline – darkness vs light – and creating it anew. With two books left in the series, I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

My favorite parts of this book involved Jane. Sure, she’s basically the only girl, but Cooper sets it up so this aspect gives her special access to knowledge and events that the boys are not privy to. This, combined with her open mind, allows for greater understanding of the implications of Will and Uncle Merry’s powers, and the truth about the fight against the Dark. While Barney and Simon only know that magic is playing a role in this fight, Jane can see and sense that this fight is bigger than four kids and an old man against a few unsavory people. Jane, without having it explained to her, understands that this is for all the marbles, and that while she isn’t the chosen one she’s still part of the fight. She actually reminds me of Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series in many ways. She’s smart, she’s brave, and she’s unafraid to be herself. She doesn’t always know why things happen the way they do, but she’s here for it, and her good heart – like in a Grimm’s fairytale, almost – leads her in the right direction.

 

 

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Over Sea, Under Stone
Book #2 – The Dark is Rising
Book #4 – The Grey King (Review Coming Soon!)
Book #5 – Silver on the Tree (Review Coming Soon!)

Notes to my younger self…

To Amanda at the age of 5: You’re not sneaky, and you’re a bad liar. Don’t even think about those cookies. Also, don’t get distracted by that boy. Learn to block soccer balls from hitting you in the face instead.

To Amanda at the age of 6: Congratulations, you’ve found your calling. Have fun thinking it’s not a viable option for the next 20-odd years.

To Amanda at the age of 8: The world is not ending because you’re moving, and you have a lifetime of friends to make. Just Breathe.

To Amanda at the age of 9: I realize you’re totally freaking out about puberty, but trust me, it’s not that awful.

To Amanda at the age of 11: Be friendly! Don’t moon over that boy too hard, he’s not the one. Have fun.

To Amanda at the age of 12: Not all middle school girls are this awful, trust me. Be strong. If you try, the worst that can happen is you fail. If you don’t try, you’ve already failed.

To Amanda at the age of 14: Chill, girl. Stop judging people based on the high school movies you’ve seen. You don’t know their history.

To Amanda at the age of 15: Don’t wait until the last minute to write those history papers. Don’t wave to that boy, you’re going to – congratulations, you tripped. It won’t be the only time today. You forgot to bring that note to school for a reason. Let It Goooo. In fact, just let ALL the boys go this year. Let them goooo.

To Amanda at the age of 16: I know you love history, but didn’t I tell you at six that you found your calling? This isn’t it. Also this is the best prom.

To Amanda at the age of 17: Fall down ten times, get up eleven. God won’t give you a situation you can’t handle with his help. Don’t let others dictate your actions. Peer pressure is an illusion. Be kind, and don’t ask stupid questions that you know will piss people off. Don’t moon over that boy too hard, he’s not the one. Communication is key. Also, your parents are totally not going to let you move to Colorado, but apply anyway.

To Amanda at the age of 18: You’re not missing anything, so focus on your schoolwork. Also, science is not your calling. Also, you’re going to have your favorite job while you’re here. Also, 36 hours at THON is not good for your ankles.

To Amanda at the age of 20: You’re making the right decision. There are so many good things waiting for you.

To Amanda at the age of 22: That friendship is not worth the drama. Let it gooooooooo. Just say no.

To Amanda at the age of 24: You won’t BeLIEVE where you’ll be living and what you’ll be doing this time next year. Oh… you guessed right. Okay then.


To Amanda at the age of 25: Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway. Chase your dreams ferociously. Don’t give away your shot.

TV Review – The Vampire Diaries, Season #2

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Source: Wikipedia

 

Season two is just as action packed as season one was, but with a whole new level of danger and some serious plot twists. The 22 episodes feel as though they are 122 because there is just so much plot. The continued love triangle between Stefan, Elena, and Damon is strengthened by the appearance of Katherine and her scorn of Damon’s love. Katherine’s love for Stefan, however, threatens to ruin his relationship with Elena. Add to that a lot of werewolves and even more vampires than season one, and you’ve got yourself the makings of an apocalypse. Kind of a heavy subject for season two, but it is handled very well, and the tensions are at an all-time high for literally every character. If there is something that can go wrong in someone’s relationship, it does, often with interesting consequences. I was overall very impressed with where the story went, and how the characters developed (especially Caroline, who really came into her own this season!) and I can’t wait to see how it continues! See below for a more spoiler-filled recap.

 

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Season two picks up where season one left off, with Katherine making her first appearance in Mystic Fall with a splash, turning Caroline into a vampire and telling Damon that Stefan’s the one she’s always loved. Throughout the season, Damon tries to hide how wounded he is by this fact, though it often rears its head in unexpected ways and leads to a few surprise deaths. Mason Lockwood is exposed as a werewolf after Tyler has to scare him off from nearly killing Caroline while she is making out with Matt in the woods, and Caroline and Matt’s relationship hits an all-time low.

We eventually find out that Katherine is in Mystic Falls because she needs a rock that she has been trying to hide from someone for over five hundred years and that she is using Mason to get it for her. Elena and Stefan pretend to be hitting a rocky patch in their relationship in an attempt to keep Katherine from killing anyone else, but it backfires. Elena finds out that she and Katherine are doppelgangers, and that one of them needs to die in a ritual sacrifice to either free the vampires to walk during the day, or to free the werewolves to change (or not change) whenever they choose. Jeremy tries to get Tyler to tell him about the werewolves and this rock that Katherine is looking for.

Everyone decides that Katherine is no good and needs to die, but instead, they end up locking her in the tomb with her special rock to rot. After getting kidnapped and introduced to someone referred to as an ‘original’ vampire, Elena is rescued by Stefan and Damon. She later visits Katherine to get the whole story about the doppelgangers and tries to find out if the ‘original’ vampire is who Katherine was running from.

 

Bonnie makes a new witchy friend, who fakes helping her destroy the special rock after Bonnie, Stefan, and Jeremy go to great lengths to get it back from Katherine in the tomb because he needs it to get his sister back from one of the original vampires.

Tyler accidentally kills someone and becomes a werewolf, and gets close to Caroline as she tries to help him through his first full moon. Mason disappears, but his friends Jules shows up in town with a group of werewolves who want the special rock to free themselves. Tyler initially goes along with their plan until he finds out that they plan to kill Elena.

The original vampires show up and take over everyone’s lives, the eldest, Klaus, deciding they should do the ritual sacrifice. It turns out that it won’t free vampires or werewolves, only himself. Klaus was cursed by a witch and the ritual will set him free. He planted the sun and moon curse story so everyone in the world would search for the special rock he needed. Caroline, Tyler, and Matt nearly die. Aunt Jenna, Jules, and Bonnie’s witchy friend’s sister die. Elena nearly becomes a vampire, but her birth father saves her. Damon is bitten by a werewolf. Stefan makes the decision to join Klaus and leave Mystic Falls behind. Elijah disappears. Alaric moves in, to act as legal guardian for Elena and Jeremy after Jenna’s death. Elena kisses Damon because he is dying.

 

***END OF SPOILERS***

 

 

I am still totally team Damon. Stefan is just too possessive and restricting. He judges Elena really hard for wanting to put her life before those for whom she cares, calling her a coward. Basically, Stefan fights until the last minute and then gives up, while Damon lets Elena do what she wants until he feels he must do what he must to keep her save and mostly alive.

Favorite Episode: Episode 01 – The Return

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

 

The Little French Bistro – Nina George (T: German-English by Simon Pare)

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Source: Goodreads

 

 

Marianne feels lost after 41 years of marriage. After a failed suicide attempt she heads to the Breton coast on a whim and leaves everything she knows behind. Once in Kerdruc, Marianne faces not only the daunting task of learning a new language, but also an internal battle that will define her life and determine her fate.

 

Having absolutely adored George’s The Little Paris Bookshop, I couldn’t help but pick this book up from my local library as soon as it became available. As with her earlier work, the main character has already lived a full life, yet yearns for something that remains a mystery to them. For Marianne, this means diving into the possibilities of who she would be without the parameters of the life she has built thus far. With an edge of mystery ever present, the reader is introduced to the townspeople of Kerdruc and it’s surrounding artisans, each of whom has their own story to tell.

There were many layers to The Little French Bistro, and I think that is what makes it feel whole. Marianne’s life is just the tip of the iceberg, under which resides love, loss, myth, magic, and good food. The villagers of Kerdruc will never be the same after Marianne has touched their lives. While I personally feel the ending is open to interpretation, the journey our heroine takes carries quite the heavy message that lives on long after the pages and words have run out.

Recommended for ages 16+ due to adult content.

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars

The Grand Relaunch – Announcements!

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Welcome to the new site!

If you’ve been here before, welcome back!  If you’re new, hello! Nice to meet you! I think you’re going to like it here.

If you’re a returning reader, you may have noticed the name change: I think it fits the image and purpose of the blog much better than the old one. There are a bunch of new things headed your way, and I can’t wait to share them!

 

First off, I wanted to let you in on a surprise – the book I reviewed last week, The Alchemists of Loom,  is on sale right now as an eBook for 99¢! (get it here) The sale runs through May 7th, and it’s all in preparation for a read along being hosted by the author starting May 8th and running through the end of the month. You can find the schedule of events for the read along, as well as a GIVEAWAY of The Alchemists of Loom in hardback(!!!), in the dedicated facebook group.

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Now is the perfect time to jump into the world of Loom, because later this week myself and the rest of the Tower Guard (A.K.A. the Elise Kova street team and fan club) will be bringing you the cover reveal of the next book in the Loom series: The Dragons of Nova!

If you happen to devour The Alchemists of Loom as fast as I did and you need more of Kova’s work to hold you over until The Dragon’s of Nova releases in July, her Air Awakens series eBook box set is on a Kindle Countdown Sale this week as well, meaning the sooner you purchase, the cheaper it is! This is in preparation for the publication of the last installment in the Golden Guard TrilogyFarmer’s War, on May 2nd! (TOMORROW!!!) (pre-order here) The Golden Guard Trilogy is a prequel series to Air Awakens.

And if you are into Goodreads giveaways, they’re doing The Alchemists of Loom AND The Dragons of Nova right now! These are in addition to the hardcover giveaway of The Alchemists of Loom associated with the read along.

Elise Kova, as you would know if you read my Life Log from a couple months ago, is just the sweetest, and I’m very happy to be able to help her out by spreading the word about her work! Please check out her stuff. You won’t be disappointed!

 

In other news, what else can you expect to hit the blog in the next month?

  • Weekly book reviews
  • A film review (or two!)
  • An update on grad school and my future plans!

Also, the monthly goal check-ins should resume this month!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, feel free to click around the new site and check it out. I think I got all of the links updated, but if something isn’t working please let me know so I can try to fix it as soon as possible. Enjoy!

 

Until next time,

Amanda

 

The Alchemists of Loom (The Loom Saga, #1) – Elise Kova

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Source: Goodreads

 

Ever since the fall of the resistance, Arianna has been working in the shadows to bring down the Dragons who ruined her world. In the city of Dortam, she is known as the White Wraith, a ghostly figure who even the dragons fear, an organ thief who sells to the highest bidder. Stumbling across a wounded dragon in a back alley is as close as she comes to having a good day. Cvareh is determined to help bring down the Dragon King and establish a new order. Stealing the King’s schematics and fleeing the sky world of Nova is just the first step on his journey to the Alchemists Guild. Now he just needs someone who understands this strange, grey, ground world of Loom to get him there.

 

I first heard about this book on Booktube, the corner of YouTube run by book bloggers, authors, and publishers where you can find anything and everything you want to know about books. Anyway, I first heard about The Alchemists of Loom from Sasha Alsberg of ABookUtopia, Regan of PeruseProject, and Lindsay Cummings. Their fantastic recommendations put this book pretty high up on my radar, and I was already planning to buy it when I passed a random Barnes & Noble here in Boston at the end of February and saw a poster of the cover in the window.When I went in to get a better look, it turned out that the author was there for a signing that was starting literally at that very second. Naturally, I purchased the book and then headed up to the area where the signing was.

When I went in to get a better look, it turned out that the author was there for a signing that was starting literally at that very second. Naturally, I purchased the book and then headed up to the area where the signing was. Let me tell you, Elise Kova is awesome. It was a small group, which was great because it was my first book-related event ever, and we all got to ask questions and chat freely. You can check out the post I wrote about it here.

Ever since the event, I’ve been dying to read The Alchemists of Loom, but I already had a bunch of other works scheduled for reviews and things so it wasn’t until I hit a reading slump this month that I finally gave in and picked it up, schedule be damned.

I really liked it. And not just because it was recommended by other reviewers whose opinions I trust, or because I met the author and she’s pretty awesome, but because the story was fresh, and new, and exciting! And even though I was thrown into this world I’d never been to before, with new words and things I didn’t understand for, like, 100 pages, it was totally immersive and relatable. Resistance. Revenge. Class Systems. Guilds. There is so much going on in this world that the only way to learn it is by complete immersion. As readers, we would get nowhere if Kova stopped to explain what things were every other paragraph. Instead, you learn about Loom at about the same pace that Cvareh (pronounced Sah-var-ay) does, which works perfectly with the timing of the plot and the development of the characters. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend this as anyone’s first dip into fantasy because I there is a lot going on and you will get overwhelmed if you don’t have some sort of background in reading the genre.

The only gripe I have is about a scene near the beginning in Arianna’s apartment in Dortam (pg 44 in the hardcover). I feel like an action is missing – like something got deleted accidentally. Right after an item is exchanged, one of the characters is suddenly across the room walking somewhere. Maybe I’m just confusing myself, but when the item exchange happened I pictured the first character standing in one place watching to see what the second character’s reaction would be, not giving them the item and then continuing to walk across the room. It just didn’t feel like a natural progression and I had to reread the scene like five times to figure out what happened.

The book overall was just totally engrossing. I devoured its 382 pages in 2-3 days. I enjoyed learning about the characters, the pacing was good, and the plot compelling. I definitely recommend reading this to anyone who enjoys their fantasy with a dose of steampunk (although this is more of the magically powered than steam powered variety). I can’t wait for the next two books in the series!

 

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars