Grown-Up Fairy Tale

There’s nothing I love more than a spicy YA book, except possibly a spicy YA book based on a fairy tale, ESPECIALLY a fairy tale that coincidentally had a live-action movie retelling coming out at the same time I was giving it a read. Yes, folks, you read that confusing sentence correctly: I just reread A Court of Thorns and Roses and man, do I love that book.

In a nutshell, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, except it’s gritty and violent and sexy and has less inanimate objects singing and dancing. I slammed through it in one long travel day in 2015, and read the equally-as-excellent follow-up A Court of Mist and Fury as soon as it came out in the spring of 2016.


A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas)


On a scale of 1 to 5 faeries, I give both books 5 steamy sex scenes.

#FirstFifty Synposis

Very human Feyre is out in the woods doing her daily task of hunting in order to feed her family (two lazy sisters and a disabled father). While out in the woods, she sees a giant wolf that she surmises must be a faerie – a magical creature that inhabits the land north of the wall, a creature that is supposed to stay in his land. She makes the decision to kill the faerie and sell its pelt – a decision that soon leads to a wrath-filled High Fae breaking down her door, informing her that she broke the faerie/human treaty, and that the only way to atone is to come over the Wall with him and live in his palace for eternity. (Real Beauty and the Beast vibes here, folks).






Last week, when I was sick and craving a familiar book, I decided to give these books a reread – and I instantly remembered why I loved them so much. (Especially since I haven’t read them since the one and only other time, there was a ton I didn’t remember!). AND, the third book comes out in 6 weeks. NEED I SAY MORE?! Why are you still here, reading this? You should be out reading these books!


Scary YA

I’ve talked before about how much I hate the “young adult” categorization, as I feel it often is used to denigrate a book: oh, it’s a YA book. It’s not a REAL book. And, often I feel that category is applied simply because the main character is a teenager, and not reflective of the themes or tone of the book (not that books targeted to young adults shouldn’t have adult themes…). All that to say, the books I read most recently are YA in name only, because they are scary as hell, and I loved it.


The Diviners and Lair of Dreams (Libba Bray) (the first two books in the Diviner series).


On a scale of 1 to 5 overused 1920s slang, I give the first book 4 cat’s pajamas and the second book 5 Sweetheart Seers.

#FirstFifty Synopsis:

We are in 1920s New York City, and a young girl looking to liven up a party pulls out a recently acquired Ouija board and suggests they try to contact the dead. They have some spooky messages from someone calling himself Naughty John who threatens to bring about the end of days… and soon forget about it. Meanwhile, our heroine Evie is banished from her small town in Zenith, Ohio, after pulling out her “party trick” to embarrass a prominent boy in town: she can sense people’s secrets and pasts by holding an object of theirs. She’s loaded onto a train headed to stay with her uncle in New York City, thrilled to be going towards some excitement and not knowing the mystery and horror that lies ahead.





Maybe don’t read this one right before bed, but I dove into the next book immediately and liked it even more – the author gives us multiple main characters, and you get a really cool look at a lot of things in 1920s New York: interracial relationships, the challenges of being an immigrant, segregated neighborhoods, class divides. She did a lot of research, and it shows.

The Tragedy of Sequels

I try my hardest, I truly do, when I know I’m reading the first book in a duology or a trilogy. I take detailed notes on the synopsis to remind me of the plot in the future; I request the next book from the library as soon as it comes out; I find in-depth anaylses online of the previous book and dive into them right before reading the sequel. (I’ve found this website to be really helpful).

But, despite my best efforts, I totally failed in my read of Wayfarer (Alexandra Bracken), the follow-up to one of my favorite books of 2016, Passengergushed over Passenger when I read it: I loved the time travel, going to different eras, the dichotomy of pairing a white present-day woman traveling with a black 18th-century man through different eras. I even convinced my mom to read it, wrote myself a tidy little synopsis so I’d remember what happened, and got Wayfarer from the library almost as soon as it came in.

And yet… Wayfarer just never really grabbed me. Partially it was because I had a busy week and was reading in snippets, instead of in long swaths of (commuting) time like I normally am. But I’m not sure if the author – to be clear, one of my favorites – did a fantastic job at bringing everyone back into the world.

I still enjoyed reading it, but found myself confused most of the time, disinterested part of the time, and kicking myself for not giving the first book a full reread the rest of the time.


Wayfarer (Passenger #2), Alexandra Bracken


On a scale of 1 to 5 confusing time travel devices, I give this 3 astrolabes. When combined with the first book, it gets 4 eyepatches.

#FirstFifty Synopsis:

We’re immediately thrown back into chaos. In a flashback scene, a young Rose experiences the traumatic event that will set her against Cyrus Ironwood forever. Etta, orphaned in a different timeline (maybe, this part always confused me) makes her way through early 20th century Texas and then San Francisco. Meanwhile, Nicolas chases clues trying to find her in 18th century Nassau, even though he’s probably (maybe) in a parallel universe.






Cheating on #TheNext100

Call this “the first 98” or whatever, but I have to admit up front that this is not, in fact, a kickoff to the next 100 books I’m going to read this year. In fact, this is Book #98 I read this year, and I KNOW, I KNOW, I promised that I would start getting cutthroat once I hit that magical number of 100. What can I say? I was:

a) Impatient to get going on this

b) Afraid that my 100th book and my kickoff would be some lame-o book

So I’m cheating a bit. What are you going to do, arrest me?


Some Kind of Happiness (Claire Legrand)



On a scale of Trump to Trudeau, this book is a sizzlin’, Tim Hortons-drinking, hockey-loving, hunk of a Prime Minister.


Book club, baby! The last couple of books we read were duds, so I was pleased to have loved this one so dearly.

#FirstFifty Synopsis:

Even before the book officially starts, it opens with the best dedication:

If you are afraid, sad, tired, or lonely; if you feel lost or strange; if you crave stories and adventure, and the magic possibility of a forest path – this book is for you.

I mean. You guys. I just love that. Immediate warm fuzzies.

The book opens with an excerpt from the narrator Finley’s fantasy novel about Everwood, a magical forest home to “astonishing creatures and peculiar, solitary people.” Finley writes about Everwood throughout the book and these fantasy excerpts are sprinkled throughout; normally I hate that (I truly hated that in Fangirl, one of my favorite books), but in this instance it really helps to add some color to Finley’s lines.

You quickly find out that Finley is going to be spending the summer with her paternal grandparents (and her aunts and cousins, who live nearby), all of whom she has never met as her father is mysteriously estranged from them. She is immediately overwhelmed when she sees their home (Hart House) and struggles to understand what the unspoken rules of the house and the family are. She tries to fit in, but finds herself on her first night waking up “sweating and pinned to [her] bed in terror,” unable to make the terrible and anxious thoughts in her head stop. In an attempt to calm herself, she starts to explore her grandparents’ yard; that is when she discovers their backyard is Everwood.*

(Note: Not actually Everwood, but still a cool forest).







In case you didn’t get everything you needed to know from my highly well-written and literary post, may I direct you to more flailing at my Goodreads.

In short, this book is a mature Middle Grade exploration of mental health (particularly depression and anxiety), family dynamics, and the power of imagination. It meant quite a lot to me as a formerly anxious kiddo and a currently anxiety-prone adult, and the writing was, quite simply, magical.

P.S. I just finished Book #100 (Noughts and Crosses) and it turned out to be a good one! Quite thought provoking. So, keep an eye out for Book #101 and the legit kickoff of #thenext100 coming up soon!