ARC Review: A House of Salt and Sorrows

This is the second horror/paranormal novel I’ve read this year and it did NOT disappoint! House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is an amazing, well written fantasy read which releases in August 2019. I managed to snag an ARC at NoVa Teen Book Festival back in March and while it took me a while to pick this book up, it didn’t take long for me to finish it.

39679076

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

When I first started reading this story, I knew it was a ghost story of sorts. The deaths of Annaleigh’s four sisters is hard to stomach, and thinking they’ve come back to haunt her is worse. We start off the story at the funeral of her fourth sister as they return her body back the waters she came from. This seen was a bit sorrowful for me and almost hard to stomach for personal reasons, but a beautiful scene nonetheless. But it’s the rest of the book that leaves me breathless, and a bit terrified.

Now, I like horror novels. Horror movies are a no-go for me, but novels are different. I like them to be extra scary so that when the lights go off at night, I can be sure to hide under the covers. This one was a great contender for that top spot! Not only did the mystery aspect of it leave me on the edge of my seat, but the horror images actually made me squirm. There were several moments in the story where I had to shut off that internal movie because the images were too gruesome or gross.

While this book is horrifically good, it’s also got an interesting romance to it. One that I wasn’t sure was developed enough. It feels almost forced that Annaleigh is enthralled with this one person because this person barely reciprocates. Until the end at least. Now, since this is an ARC review, these details could change. And I hope they do. I can appreciate a good romance in a novel, but not if it feels forced.

Besides the forced romance though, the relationships between Annaleigh and her family are heartwarming. Even though there is tragedy striking her family, they still remain close knit between the sisters. And I loved seeing that. While there is a few quarrels and differences of opinion, its clear that the sisters love each other and are constantly supporting each other. Which makes sense for what is going on in their life. Nonetheless, still something I love to see, as I have sisters myself.

Finally, the mystery of the story and the plot development is PHENOMENAL. Like, scream with delight amazing. It can be so hard to find horror stories that take care in the details and progression of events, especially YA horror. But Craig is careful and meticulous in her plotting, which shows by the end.

Overall, I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars, because while this story was amazing, the romance kind of drew it back for me.

.

.

.

.

.

If this book sounds interesting, check out The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees.

.

.

.

If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Spin the Dawn

I received an advance e-book copy of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Let me start off by saying THANK YOU! I adored this story and let me tell you why!

36683928

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

First off, the blurb at the top of the Goodreads synopsis:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Totally accurate. This is definitely Project Runway meets Mulan and it is AMAZING. My favorite thing about this story is that it is not what it seems. I assumed it would just be Maia avoiding being discovered as a man during the trials, but so much more happens and it is epic!!!

One of the most interesting things in the story is the magic system that Lim builds. Most people in the world don’t have magic, but it’s revealed that magic was a more prominent aspect in people’s lives. Certain people still can possess and use magic, but it’s limited to very specific people. Lots of other stories have this type of element, but the way Lim uses this in the story is the unique part that I liked so much. She doesn’t make it the important part of a quest, but a hinderance to the people who possess it since they are used and abused. It’s sad, but it’s new.

Another thing I liked about the story was the characters. Maia herself starts off very timid and obedient then slowly evolves into someone more confident and self assured, which I love to see! Her personality grows every page and helps her become a stronger person – I love positive character growth. Then there’s Edan – my favorite character in this story. The enchanter is another person we see a large shift with over time. He goes from being a snarky, cocky person to someone who is caring, kind, and loyal. Less of a brooding bad boy and more of a reserved jerk? That’s the best way to describe it. Meanwhile, the other people we meet and most definitely not what they seem and it’s obvious there is something going on.

I thought the first half of this book was going to be the entire story, but a grander, more interesting story emerges. It’s so good! While I would love to see Maia kick butt during the competition, the whole second half of the story changes everything. It adds so much more to the growth of Maia and Edam – and the story.

Overall, I would give this a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars. There is nothing in this book that I wasn’t a fan of. The imagery is beautiful, characters are enchanting, and the storyline shoved me from my seat onto the page. It was … magical!

.

.

.

.

.

If this book sounds interesting, check out We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. 

.

.

.

If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

Update: My Absence

I have never been in that bad of a reading/writing slump before. It felt like trying to put down words or pick them up was an unbearable challenge. Normally, I’m fairly consistent with my reading and writing, but two weeks ago we had to unexpectedly put my dog down. It was awful. He was only 5 years old and he was my best friend. To have to put him down threw me off and I still search for him every morning, looking to see if he’s sitting on the floor beneath my seat at breakfast. I’ve never lost a pet as an “adult” before and it hurts.

To top it off, a friend of mine died last month unexpectedly as well. While I’ve had more time to process that, it still feels unreal. To have two deaths in the span of two months is something my brain still can’t comprehend properly, but I’m trying.

So while I apologize for my failure to post or read, I know it’s an acceptable thing. And I’m aware it’s not something I need to apologize for. But I feel like I should anyways so, I’m sorry.

Thankfully, as I relearn aspects of my familiar life, I’m starting to feel like I can read and write again. I hope this will help me through this time as I continue to process everything, or at least give me a false sense of “everything is ok”. I managed to read the entirety of A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer last night which feels like a huge success!

So until I can smash my fingers on the keyboard and put out another post, thank you for sticking with me. And if anyone is going through a similar experience, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It can be hard but it gets easier over time.

While this isn’t much of anything I did want to update on my absence and failure to post. I hope to be back to posting like normal soon.

Thank you for your support!