Monthly Wrap Ups

February Monthly Wrap Up + Beauty obsessed humans, Hemingway, a two star read and a murder mystery

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Hey everyone! It’s my first monthly wrap up EVER on Fawn & Fern and I’m so excited to share the books I’ve read this month. I’ve read a few great books, a good book and a book I wish I hadn’t even started. Keep reading to find out!

February went by SO FAST. January was probably the longest month of my life. I’m getting married in June, and March means I’ll be a married in THREE MONTHS. To be honest, I’ve been so anxious about it that reading is one of the only things that takes my mind off of everything.

To start the month I began Everless by Sarah Holland on audio book. This was my first audio book ever and I’m not going to lie… I struggled to get through it. I think it had a lot to do with the voice of the narrator and also it just felt boring. There was no chemistry between ANY of the characters. I couldn’t find much of anything to like about any of the characters, which is saying a lot. I had not liking books, but this was not my cup of tea. I gave it two stars.

One of the better books of the month was The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. You can read my review here. My oh my, this was filled with people who were borderline obsessed with how they look, teacup animals, a crazy pants villain and a main character who, although full of herself at first, always wants to do what’s right.

For a historical non fiction book I read Love & Ruin by Paula McClain. Let’s just stay it has started a Hemingway obsession. Not to mention it features kick ass main character Martha Gellhorn.

Last but certainly not least, The Broken Girlsby Simone St. James. I never pictured myself enjoying a mystery/paranormal book but man, I really got into this novel. It actually got me into watching more crime shows on Netflix (currently watching The Killing!) so there’s that.

Out of the four of these, The Belles and Love & Ruin were my favorites. I’ve already started reading three books at once for March (omg I’m insane) so stay tuned for a TBR post!

Book Review

Book Review – The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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I’m still in awe of this beautiful novel. It’s rich, full of fantastic characters, flowery writing, minimal lovey dovey scenes, and a political world based on people’s need to be perfect and beautiful. I loved the concept of this story. It wasn’t like anything I’ve read before. The characters had real flaws, and the villian was definitely full fledged crazy pants. I really enjoyed this read and can’t wait to read the next book.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, the most treasured type of human in her country. She is destined to be the favorite, the Belle chosen to work with the royal family and do all their beauty work. However, her plan doesn’t work out and she ends up second best. Until the royal family decides to change that, as easily as they do their appearance. Camellia soon learns that being the favorite has severe consequences…. and those consequences could cost her her life.

This world was so intriguing. The descriptions were a little TOO much at first, I was almost getting lost in them. However, once you get around the mid point of the book they become less and less. I love, love, loved the detail of the beauty work. How they changed body types, how they painted faces, how the person getting the beauty work usually had to drink a tea to ease the pain. It proved the point that beauty sure is pain. The teacup animals were probably my favorite part, and the fact that their mail was sent via small balloons… just awesome!

The story line was somewhat slow in pace, but very interesting none the less. I didn’t see the ending coming at all. I liked how it wasn’t “Camellia saved the sleeping queen and all was well”. There is still a lot that is going to happen with this series and I honestly can’t wait to read more.

There wasn’t a ton of lovey dovey scenes , but there are two love interests. I like that it really didn’t take away from the story at all.

I recommend this to anyone looking for a YA Fantasy read that differs from any current releases on the market, as it is mainly about how beauty consumes people and sometimes being perfect comes with consequences.

 

Book Review

The Broken Girls by Simone St.James – Book Review

What a fantastic mystery filled with paranormal experiences and suspense. This novel had so many layers that fit together like puzzle pieces and an ending that actually surprised me quite a bit. I hardly ever read thrillers since they give me anxiety but I really LOVED this one.

Fiona Sheridan is a journalist that can’t shake the murder of her sister Deb twenty years ago. With the help of her journalist father and police officer boyfriend, she’s determined to find out if the man convicted of murdering her sister was truly guilty. This takes her back to Idlewild Hall which is being renovated by a mysterious woman… but why? The novel flashed back and forth from 2014 and 1950 and is very fast moving and suspenseful. There are paranormal elements that really add a dynamic layer that makes this thriller different from any I’ve read personally.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC! This title comes out in March.

Book Review

Book Review: Love & Ruin by Paula McClain

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Paula McClain truly wraps and weaves you into the world of Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn with her newest novel, Love and Ruin.

Marty Gellhorn is a woman of courage and tenacity. She is a writer by trade and throws her all into her work. She is continuously let down by the men in her life, including her distant father, who sees her work and love life as self destructive. After her father passes away, Marty and family travel to Key West. They meet Ernest Hemingway at a local bar by chance, and he and Marty start a friendship that completely changes her life, in more ways than one.

This novel covers many years, including the years Marty and Ernest spend as war correspondents. While I know this was an essential part of the story, it was the only part that did not completely hold my attention. McClain’s writing is truly wonderful. The descriptions are elegant and intriguing, especially the scenes set in the house Marty and Ernest shared in Cuba. The relationships Marty had with Ernest’s children were beautiful and nurturing, an aspect that can’t be ignored from the story. Even the relationship between Marty and Ernest was raw and beautiful, although at times very trying.

Towards the end of the book we go through the demise of Marty and Ernest’s relationship, one that would free Marty but show the beginning of the end of Ernest Hemingway. It was tough to read after many pages overflowing with their partnership, but it was done well. It showed the true courage of Marty, which I believe was the best outcome of a sad ending.

Book Lifestyle

What Harry Potter Means to Me

What Harry Potter Means To Me:

Nearly everything I remember from my childhood includes reading. Whether it was reading under the table during class (I never got in trouble!), rushing through my homework so I could read at night, or begging my Mom to bring me to the library. Reading took up so much of my life that I don’t remember much else.

Out of all the books I read, the most memorable series was Harry Potter. I could completely lose myself in the books – spend hours and hours laying flat on my bed, letting my imagination run wild with Harry, Hermione and Ron.  I could finish an entire book in less than a day. That was back when I had no responsibilities, of course.

But what truly has me remembering this time in my life was who bought me these books. My Memere was one of the happiest, funniest and smartest ladies I have ever known. I remember waiting patiently every time a book came out in the series… waiting for her to drop it off and for me to dive deep into the world of Hogwarts. My Memere didn’t have a lot of money, but she was always able to buy me Harry Potter books. Some of my fondest memories include staying at her house and eating ice cream sundaes. She made the best sundaes – even had special glasses specifically for her favorite ice cream treat. She bought chocolate sprinkles specifically for me, since everyone else preferred rainbow.

She passed away in March of 2013 from cancer. It happened quickly, and I felt, and even feel now, that I could never thank her enough for helping my childhood love of reading. A few weeks ago I saw a grandparent buying their grandchild a copy of Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone, and my heart burst with joy. I almost said “Good choice!” but kept silent. I took that as a sign my Memere was present and telling me to get some ice cream and get back to reading.

What does Harry Potter mean to you?

Book Review

Book Review: The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

I had a huge Tudor book phase 4-5 years ago. I read everything about Henry the 8th and his wives, watched any Tudor show/movie (ahem, The Tudors with Jonathan Rhys Myers…swoon) and thought about what it was like to live during that era. My phase ended when I moved out of my apartment and into my boyfriend’s (he didn’t care to watch The Tudors 800 times) so it’s been awhile since I’ve picked up a Tudor book. I jumped at the chance to get an ARC of The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick. The premise of the novel seemed like something I could dive into.

The book starts with Allison peeking into a gallery window and seeing a painting of Mary Seymour. However, it’s labeled as Anne Boleyn. She becomes curious and walks inside, and to her surprise, after speaking to the gallery owner, finds out that the man who is claiming the portrait is of Anne Boleyn is her ex boyfriend, Adam.

To make the story even more crazy, Alison is a time traveler. She knew Mary Seymour as a girl. Alison has been trying to get back to her own time and find out what happened to her son. She tries to figure out the clues left by Mary and struggles to find the answers to where her son is. While all this happening, her romance with Adam is rekindled… but he still has no idea she’s a time traveler. Allison struggles with her relationships, knowing they are completely built on deception.

I really liked the premise of this, however I found some issues with the story. I felt really confused as to how Alison could spend just 10 years in modern times and not slip up, or have anyone be suspicious of her. There’s no way she knew how to navigate the world that easily. She works a normal job, had a boyfriend, etc and never had any issues. Whaaaaaaaaaaat?

The book went back and forth between Alison and Mary Seymour. Mary, at first, was a super awkward character. She was beyond naive when it came to men. but I guess that can be expected due to her life at that time. She did grow out of it in the end, thankfully. However, she had an “imaginary friend” who didn’t make a ton of sense at first. Even after his true identity is revealed, the connection lacked development.

Overall, I love love loved the idea of the story, but I couldn’t really vibe with  Mary or Alison.

3.5 stars from me.

Book Review

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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One of my goals this year was to read NEW books, not just books that have sat on my shelf since 2005. One of my most anticipated (and notably hyped on booktube) reads was The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Now, I’ve been a fan of the fae since Lord of The Rings (helllooooo Orlando Bloom) so when I heard that Holly Black was the Queen of Faeries, I couldn’t not pick this up.

Luckily, I wasn’t too disappointed, but I doubt it will be my favorite book of the year. Here’s why…

Jude is a human child born into a family that includes a half fae sister. When the kids are young, Vivi’s father, Madoc, shows up at their door and wants Vivi to come back and live among the fae. Except Jude’s parents won’t allow it, and they are promptly murdered. Yes. Right in front of the kids.

Now, that’s not the weirdest part to me. The weirdest part is that Jude and her twin sister Taryn are cool with it eventually. They know Madoc murdered their fam, but they are eventually like “whatev, he raised us”. However, Vivi refuses to live like the fae and could care less about being cool with Madoc, which I completely resonate with. The relationship with Madoc was just awkward to me.

I was really into this book for the first 3/4 of it. The world, the description of the different faeries… if I ignore the weird relationships, I was here for it. However, the last 1/4 had me a bit bored. The story seemed to loose steam and was definitely lackluster compared to the rest of the book. And somewhat predictable (for me at least).

What I DID like was the conflict between Cardan and his friends and Jude. Totally believable and actually made me uncomfortable. That was powerful writing.

I’d be interested in reading the next book, but hope we can get some clarification on parts of the story.

 

Uncategorized

My 2018 Reading Goals

I’ve been reading everyone’s bookish goals for 2018 and decided I needed to give it a go. These goals may be super optimistic (I’m getting married this year) but I’d rather have a reaching goal than a lackluster one! Comment or link your goals in the comments!
1. Read one to two classic novels a month.

Well, this is probably going to be my biggest challenge. Classic books tend to be huge (ahem, War and Peace, which will arrive this week) but there are some that aren’t that long. War and Peace, House of Mirth and some Jane Austen will definitely be read this year. All these classics will hopefully make me a better Jeopardy competitor 😉

2. Read four books a month (including classics).

This goal should be doable. I tend to get through 300ish page books rather quickly, and that’s a typical novel.

3. Use NetGalley more.

With or wedding coming up, I’ve been working on being “financially conscious” and not spending on things I don’t need. Which typically includes books and coffee. I’ve vowed to use our local library and NetGalley when I can. Unfortunately I was a bad NetGalley user last year (I didn’t review some books I received) and I will need to redeem myself somehow.

4. Read half YA and half adult.

Last year I jumped into some YA and some fantasy and I really enjoyed them. I’ve spotted some awesome new books for 2018 in both genres so I’m really excited.

5. Do monthly wrap ups.

I’m hoping to really start utilizing this blog and writing better reviews!

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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 I’m really glad I still picked up this book, regardless of the negative reviews it has.

Three sisters are separated at a young age and fostered by families in different places until their sixteenth birthday. There can only be one queen, which means two sisters must be killed. One is an elemental, able to control weather, one is a naturalist, able to control nature, and the third is a poisoner.. which is pretty self explanatory.

However, only one sister is showing her true gift and the other two are struggling. There’s some love interest and crazy political things going on, but I enjoyed all of them. It was all easy to understand. I can’t wait to get into the second book!

If you’re going to be critical, yes, this book could have been a lot crazier. It could have been completely brutal and over the top. And yeah, they should definitely make it into a movie. The first hundred pages were all about getting used to the three sisters and their different worlds. A lot of people seemed to have lost interest because of that. But honestly, I didn’t mind the first half and loved the second. I read most of it while taking a bath, and the water went cold because I couldn’t stop reading. What a freakin’ cliffhanger we were left with at the end.

There definitely isn’t anything stopping me from picking up the next book.

Book Review

The English Wife

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I recently told a friend “I’m not really into thriller or mystery books”. Had I read The English Wife before that, I never would have said it.

This suspenseful novel had me completely captivated from the beginning. Set in the late 1800’s, it has all the flair of the Gilded Age with a completely shocking and corrupt family story. I grabbed a copy via NetGalley hoping I could get into a book with a bit of mystery, but I had no idea I picked up a book that would leave me guessing and reeling. Who really did kill cousin Bay?

The author did such a fantastic job making you question every single character. I can’t imagine the time it took thinking out every single plot detail, working backwards and making sure the story lined up without giving away too much too soon. I honestly didn’t completely see the ending coming, and I usually pride myself in figuring these things out!

The characters were so multi-dimensional, and even if you hated one you found something in them to admire. Janie, the main character, was looked over for much of her life, preferring to have her nose in a book. She reminded me of myself… never wanting attention and hearing more than people think.

Highly recommend to anyone looking for a historical fiction mystery

Continue reading “The English Wife”