Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Paper Palace [review]

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The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
Published by Riverhead Books on January 6, 2021
my rating: 4.5 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.88 (as of 2022-04-17)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Bookshop


And I thought: now there is no turning back. No more regrets for what I haven’t done. Now only regrets for what I have done. I love him, I hate myself; I love myself, I hate him. This is the end of a long story.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the blurb: Elle awakens at her family’s summer home the morning after sleeping with her childhood best friend and over the next 24 hours has to decide whether she wants to leave her husband. What I didn’t expect was for this to span decades, generations. While the story itself does take place over only a single day, much of it is filled in with flashbacks that slowly fill in the context until we understand more fully what Elle’s decision truly entails.

I caution readers to take care before picking this up, and to look up the content warnings. Both Elle’s history and her mother’s contain child sexual abuse and rape as well as parental abuse and neglect. I found the reading experience intense and graphic, but not needlessly so. Heller skillfully shows the aftermath of trauma and how tightly it manages to grip you.

The writing in this is truly beautiful, I marveled at the author’s way with words and was shocked to discover this was her debut novel. I cared so deeply for Elle and Jonas and was genuinely invested in their lives both together and apart. I know reading about cheating can be a dealbreaker for some people and while I don’t think cheating is a good thing, love can be complex and I think this was handled realistically and gracefully. Elle is torn between the life she thinks she should have with the husband she truly loves and the life she truly should have had with the man she has been connected to for decades. This isn’t a simple or easy choice and Heller didn’t paint it as such. I also found it interesting that many readers found the conclusion open-ended, I was positive I knew what she had chosen so other reviews surprised me!

My one issue is with a reveal that freed Elle in a way I felt she should have been freed from the start. I can’t go any deeper without spoilers but I will say that while I had no issue with the reveal itself, I didn’t particularly love Elle’s reaction to it.

All in all, I found this to be a beautiful yet devastating novel that will stick with me for years to come. I really look forward to what Heller puts out next and am glad this was selected for the Women’s Prize Longlist, which is what prompted me to read it.

click for content warnings.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Blood and Ash Series #1-4 (review)

This review WILL be filled with spoilers, as I read all 4 books in one whirlwind and want to discuss them in more detail.

  • From Blood and Ash, 5 stars
  • A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, 5 stars
  • The Crown of Gilded Bones, 3.5 stars
  • The War of Two Queens, 3.5 stars

I picked this series up because I had heard that there was some drama around the 4th book — specifically drama around a triad that developed. I’m polyamorous and always looking for more rep, so I was intrigued. I couldn’t have imagined that I’d tear through all 4 books (none of them less than 600 pages) in less than 2 weeks. I fell deeply in love with the world and the people JLA created and adored this even more than the ACOTAR series.

The first book follows Poppy, the Maiden — a young woman who is Chosen by the gods and who is not to be looked at, touched, or spoken to. She leads a solitary life interacting with almost no one but her guards and her closest friend, her lady in wait. And the duke and duchess who watch over her. And then Hawke steps into the picture. If you like bad boy romances, you’ll love Hawke. I could not put this book down, loving the relationships between the characters (particularly between Poppy and Hawke).

I was truly shocked by the twists in this. Obviously the Ascended were awful and were doing very suspect things, but I could never have guessed that they were vampires (this series calls them vamprys) taking children to feed on. I had guessed that Hawke was an Atlantian after the scene under the willow tree and eventually also guessed that he was ‘The Dark One.’ And that ENDING! I lowkey love the cliffhangers these books end on, and the first was probably the best.

The second book picks up exactly where the first leaves off and I loved this one just as much. Seeing Poppy develop herself and her powers was great and I loved seeing more of her and Casteel (formerly Hawke). I did get annoyed at times when they were SO CLOSE to talking about their feelings and then didn’t, or didn’t understand each other. But they figured it out in the end. Meeting more of the wolven and the Atlantians was so nice, too. I got very [eyes emoji] about Poppy/Kieran/Cas.

The third book is where I began to tire a bit. Things start to go off the rails and it feels like there’s almost too much going on. Poppy is Ascended, but she’s not. She’s a deity? She’s a god? Who knows! I was shocked that the triad didn’t develop during this book tbh. There is a LOT of [eyes emoji] happening between them. I felt like Poppy was getting a little OP and was confused about how much we were going back and forth on her heritage and who she was.

Book four made my dreams come true, but other than that I was underwhelmed again. It was exhausting reading what I felt like was the same interaction over and over again between Isbeth and Poppy, Isbeth and Cas, Cas and Callum, etc. Poppy is truly OP at this point and just cannot control her temper. There were more shocking reveals that had me throwing my hands up, I can only take so many twists and back and forths before they start to bore me. The end was total chaos.

I’m just glad I finally got my triad, which has been steadily building since book 2. Kieran and Poppy’s interactions in this book made my heart all bubbly and happy. I really hope that their relationship develops more, because right now it definitely feels a little lopsided. I know Poppy and Cas are heartmates, but I’d like things to feel a little more equal. I am intrigued to see where things go, because JLA definitely left it a little vague. I really do hope book 5 is full of threesomes that are a little less chaotic than the one in this book.

Anyway, yeah I loved this series and I’m excited to read more from JLA (and more of this series). But for now, I’m looking forward to picking up some books that won’t keep me up until 2am every night.


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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

March 2022 Wrap-Up

March was good! My birthday was at the beginning of the month and my sister threw a really nice party for me. I got REALLY into the JLA Blood & Ash series, which has taken up several late nights for me. I got a new job at a home goods store. I am so close to being done with classes for grad school (although I still have some other things to finish up before I get my degree). I’m looking forward to this summer!

Books Read:

  • A Libertarian Walks into a Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling 2.5 stars, review.
  • Near the Bone by Christina Henry. 5 stars, review.
  • Human Acts by Han Kang. 3.5 stars, goodreads.
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle. 4 stars, goodreads.
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. DNF, goodreads.
  • Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller. 5 stars, RTC.
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. 3 stars, review.
  • Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl. 4 stars, RTC.
  • From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout. 5 stars, RTC.
  • A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L Armentrout. 5 stars, RTC.
  • Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben. 2 stars, review.

Books read: 10 books (+ 1 DNF)
Average rating: 3.9 stars (nice!)

Other Media:

  • Movies:
  • TV Shows:
    • Love Is Blind, Season 2 Eps 10-11
    • RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 14 Eps 9-12
    • Monster Factory, Ep 9-10
    • Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History, Eps 1-2 (rewatch)
    • Attach on Titan, Season 3 Ep 8
    • RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked, Season 14 Eps 2-3, 5, 8-12
    • The Dropout, Season 1 Eps 1-7
    • Criminal Minds, Season 7 Eps 6-10
    • Worst Roommate Ever, Season 1
    • iZombie, Season 1 Eps 1-3 (rewatch)
    • Catching Killers, Season 1 Ep 1

Short Reads/Watches:

My Month in Photos:

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

My Year of Rest and Relaxation [review]

This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Published by Penguin Press on July 10, 2018
my rating: 3 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.73 (as of 2022-03-22)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Bookshop

Life was fragile and fleeting and one had to be cautious, sure, but I would risk death if it meant I could sleep all day and become a whole new person.

This had been recommended to me by my friend Libby for the 12 in 12 Challenge, but it had been on my TBR since 2018 and I was looking forward to reading it. Friends of mine had very much enjoyed it and I thought the concept was interesting: the narrator decides that she wants to sleep for an entire year. So she does. Or she tries, at least. Using a cocktail of downers, she sleeps as much as possible.

I enjoyed the writing in this at a technical level, but I was just never as invested as I wanted to be. It felt like a bit of a slog, and I found myself not wanting to pick it back up except to finish it so I could move on to something else. Perhaps part of this is Moshfegh’s extremely real portrayal of depression. Real depression can be real hard to read, as it digs into your brain and pulls you down with it.

The narrator is incredibly unlikeable, something that is never a dealbreaker for me in a book since I love reading about messy women. Basically I’m that meme that’s like “I support women’s rights. But I also support women’s wrongs.” And this woman has a lot of wrongs. Unfortunately I just didn’t find them interesting in the way I normally do. I was bored by her poor relationships and her cold facade.

The end, though, that end was a punch in the gut. It pulled things together for me in a way I wasn’t quite expecting. Although I don’t fully understand what Moshfegh was doing here, I do appreciate the novel she gave us and I am intrigued enough to give her other works a try.

click here for content warnings


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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging, TBRs

5 Star Predictions: Update and Round 3

In this meme, you choose 5 books you think you’ll rate 5 stars and then come back later to see if you were right. Below is the second round of books I chose, as well as my ratings for them:

Wow, we had NO WINNERS. Also it’s been almost [checks notes] 3 years since Round 2, oops. Waking Gods actually made me decide to DNF the entire series. Rebecca was good and I’m glad I read it. Conversations with Friends was SO CLOSE to 5 stars and probably would have been had I been in a better headspace reading it. I had not looked into Human Acts before reading it and it was VERY different from The Vegetarian; good, but not quite my thing. A Girl Like Her was great and I do intend on continuing the series!


Here’s the next set of books I expect to love:

  • Beautiful World, Where Are You. I basically always assume Sally Rooney is just going to dunk on me.
  • Little Weirds. My best friend loved this and I’ve been looking forward to it.
  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Trilogy #2). The Fifth Season obliterated me.
  • So Sad Today. The Pisces is one of my all-time favorites so I’m excited to see what else Melissa Broder has in store for me. (Milk Fed also could have been on here)
  • We Are Okay. This one is just a gut feeling.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear [review]

This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling
Published by PublicAffairs on September 15, 2020
my rating: 2.5 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.86 (as of 2022-03-12)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Bookshop

Many times I’ve heard that it’s dangerous to let bears get acclimated to people, I’ve never been told what now seems clear to me — that it’s at least equally dangerous to let people get acclimated to bears.

As someone who grew up not far from Grafton (the American Town mentioned in the subtitle), I absolutely had to read this. A town taken over by libertarians and bears? How did I miss this?? As it turns out, I believe the bear situation came to a head once I had already left the state for college (I was gone from 2010-2020). But in reading the book, I was entirely unconvinced by its main premise. The libertarian project did not seem, to me, to have any connection with the changing behaviors of New Hampshire’s black bear population. This is even shown directly by the author when he talks about increasing bear sightings, break-ins, and attacks in other towns. Bears in general are spending too much time around humans (and vice-versa) and their populations are skyrocketing, forcing them to move into civilization for resources. Hasn’t this been the case for years with many predatory animals?

Certainly the libertarian group who moved to Grafton made a lot of changes to the town that had some negative outcomes, but I wasn’t convinced that the town itself was very solid to begin with, either. I found myself bored by the historical pieces and didn’t understand the inclusion of some stories. I just think Hongoltz-Hetling’s writing is really not for me. When talking about the long ago history of Grafton, he mocked the colonists for… being semi-illiterate? In the 1700s. Yeah. I also didn’t like the way he talked about some of the current residents; I got a real “haha look at these weirdos” vibe whenever someone was a little more odd than expected. He even made a comment about how badly he thought some of them smelled that seemed poorly phrased to me.

There is certainly some interesting stuff in here, but I really struggled to unearth it around Hongoltz-Hetling’s jabs and meanderings. This really could have (and should have, in my opinion) been a longform piece. Or two longform pieces! Since the two topics just do not connect strongly enough in my mind. An effort was made here, but I remain unconvinced by it.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Near the Bone [review]

This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

Near the Bone by Christina Henry
Published by Berkley on April 13, 2021
my rating: 5 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.77 (as of 2022-03-11)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Bookshop

This book was scary as hell. I felt like I didn’t breathe for the three hours it took me to read it — in one sitting, since I literally could not bring myself to put it down. I found Mattie to be an incredibly compelling main character and loved rooting for her. I will say that at times William felt almost cartoonish in his evil and I wish he were a bit more three dimensional, but that’s really my only complaint. The tension in this was so thick, and I truly didn’t know what would befall any of the characters. I’m really excited to pick up more by Christina Henry and think this is going to end up being one of my top books of the year.


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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

February 2022 Wrap-Up

My reading slowed back down a bit this month, but it was a short month and I had a lot going on. I am sooo done with winter and soo ready for spring to be here. I’m hoping this is my last New England winter (fingers crossed!). Hopefully I’ll have more to say next month, but right now I’m just vibing.

Books Read:

  • The Stand by Stephen King. DNF, review.
  • Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas. 3.5 stars.
  • In the Woods by Tana French. 2 stars, review.
  • Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes. 4 stars, review.
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisen. 5 stars, RTC.

Books read: 4 books (+ 1 DNF)
Average rating: 3.63 stars

Other Media:

  • Movies:
  • TV Shows:
    • The Umbrella Academy, Season 1 Ep 10, Season 2
    • RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 14 Eps 5-7
    • Squid Game, Season1 Eps 6-9
    • Love Is Blind, Season 2 Eps 1-9
    • Murderville, Season 1, Season 1 Eps 1-2 (rewatched)
    • Attack on Titan, Season 3 Eps 6-7
    • Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History, Ep 60

Short Reads/Watches:

My Month in Photos:

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Dead Silence [review]

This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes
Published by Tor Nightfire on February 8, 2022
my rating: 4 stars
Goodreads avg:
4.12 (as of 2022-02-16)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Bookshop

Okay yes, this did fit the ‘Ghost Ship in space’ bill everyone was assigning it, and did a great job at it. Dead Space follows Claire Kovalik and her crew as they find a seemingly abandoned luxury spacecraft that had gone missing two decades prior. As expected, spookiness ensues. Sidenote, do not read this if you have an issue with body horror or gore. It’s not on every page but it’s certainly prominent enough.

I did really enjoy this, the vibes were immaculate and I found myself putting it down for a minute every couple chapters to breathe. But then I would pick it right back up again and keep chugging along. Barnes really succeeded in creating a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere and an intriguing mystery. I fully did not see that plot twist coming!

It did have a couple weaknesses, though. Claire is supposed to be in her mid-thirties, but I found her somewhat juvenile. I know that’s probably because of her PTSD, but that’s another thing that bothered me. I felt like her backstory was pushed a little too hard. This might just be me, but I get really bored with books where the MC has a ~tragic backstory~ that is CONSTANTLY alluded to. I found her really frustrating to read at times because of this.

The romance subplot also seemed completely unnecessary to me. I did like Kane, but I was just like [shrug] we’re in a ghost ship in space! Why are we talking about romance! I think if this had been removed, the book could have leaned in a little farther with developing the creep factor.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed this and found it to be a unique reading experience. If anyone has recs for books similar to this, I am ALL ears. I am definitely going to be recommending this to horror fans and hope to see more from Barnes in this genre!


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

In the Woods [review]

This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French
Published by Penguin Group on May 17, 2007
my rating: 2 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.78 (as of 2022-02-14)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Bookshop

I did NOT get the hype on this one, lads. I’d heard rave reviews about this for years and finally decided to pick it up. My first letdown was when I realized the main character was a man — it didn’t really matter, but I do tend to prefer reading about people who are not men. I continued regardless, but really found it to be a slog from start to finish. Every time I would pick it up, it was with a sense of dread because I was just bored.

Rob was truly the most roll-your-eyes boring white man. He’s supposed to be broody and complex, with his PTSD and growing instability. I just found him to be insufferable, unprofessional, and of poor judgment. Do I have to like the characters I read? No, but I do need to find them somewhat interesting or compelling. Rob didn’t hit either of those.

Around the halfway mark, I had already figured out who was behind the murder (although the means didn’t fully come together until later on) and started to skim more and more. I didn’t want to DNF after putting so much into the book already, but I certainly didn’t want to take my time finishing either. Unfortunately, the ending was just as bad. There was a missed resolution that was essentially the only thing I had been waiting for, and it gave me a gut-punch far too emotional for how incredibly uninvested I had felt throughout the book.

I have to say I will not be recommending this to anyone in the future, but I know there are plenty of people who LOVED this, so take this with a pinch of salt.


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