Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

After almost a decade after the release of The Night Circus, The Starless Sea, released in early November of this year, was an incredibly highly-anticipated new novel from Erin Morgenstern.

All over Instagram, Goodreads, and anywhere books are talked about, The Starless Sea has been getting rave reviews from people who have been relentless evangelicals for this novel. Because of this hype, I wanted to offer my thoughts in a more in-depth, but spoiler free, review from my perspective.

What I Liked About the Novel:

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading The Starless Sea. It’s incredibly reminiscent of the dreamlike atmosphere Morgenstern created in The Night Circus and kept me guessing, entertained, and captivated by its whimsy.

One thing that I kept comparing this story to, which is not a negative thing, is Alice and Wonderland. The idea that someone falls down a “rabbit hole” of sorts and experiences otherworldly things that they have to figure out along the way is not a “new idea,” but Morgenstern’s execution of this trope was unique. While the setup was familiar, nothing else about the story was. I really loved the setting of this novel which was so book-focused and centered on literature. Despite the high level of adventure, there was comfort and a sense of “home” that made you desperate to visit the underground library/world in which it takes place.

In addition to the overall richness of the story, I was constantly highlighting quotes throughout the entire novel. There were so many hard-hitting (in a good way) nuggets of beautiful prose that resonated with me so fully. Here are a few of my favorites:

“”You’re not wearing shoes.” “I hate shoes.” “Hate is a strong emotion for footwear,” Zachary observes. “Most of my emotions are strong,” Dorian responds.”

“We’re here to wander through other people’s stories, searching for our own. To seeking,” Dorian says, tilting the bottle toward Zachary.”

“No, each one’s different. They have similar elements, though. All stories do, no matter what form they take. Something was, and then something changed. Change is what a story is, after all.”

 

What Did Not Work for Me About the Novel:

The characters in this book are, in my opinion, definitely not the main focus of this story. You hear their stories, follow their perspectives, but the world building of the story and the “once upon a time” setup leaves little room for “who are these characters” and “what motivates them.” While this is something that a lot of readers don’t mind, I find that, especially with fantasy novels, I need to have more character development to be able to really connect with the fantastic themes. Even character physical descriptions would have been nice just to be able to picture them in your mind. Some authors leave out descriptions on purpose so the reader can form them in their minds, so maybe that was a purposeful omission, but I would have liked even small hints.

While I enjoyed the interwoven stories from the magical books featured within the worlds of this story, I felt distracted by the fact that I was required to remember themes, characters, and storylines I was told hundreds of pages ago to be able to connect them to things that were currently happening in the main plot. If you did not remember the importance or finer details of those side stories, you would miss them and quickly become lost. Because I read the book so slowly over a few weeks, I think I shot myself in the foot in this regard. I should have taken notes or added bookmarks with markers of those side stories so I could revisit them when the context popped up later on, but I didn’t and found myself having to flip back and forth for reminders. This hurt my understanding especially when characters in the “now plot” ended up being one or two different characters with one or two different connections in the “side story plots.”

The last thing I felt could have been better executed in this book were the romantic themes. Because this is intended to be a spoiler-free review, I won’t mention whose romance arc I wasn’t convinced of, but for those who have read it, as a hint, it is the romance of those who travel into a wardrobe together (amidst Narnia jokes) and attend a ball. I really wish there would have been a more natural progression of the romance between them so we could see it flower and feel more connected to their love as an observer.

 

Overall Thoughts:

As I mentioned, I did enjoy this story. I do think I could have been a better reader of this book and I feel my slow reading and lack of attentiveness may have contributed to my enjoying it maybe a bit less than others.

For those who like star ratings, I give this novel a  3.5/5 stars with a caveat that “it’s not you… it’s me, The Starless Sea.”

 

 

 

Review: Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day

Review: Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day

*Thank you to Amazon Publishing for sponsoring this post and providing me with a free copy of Butterfly in Frost!*

It’s a cozy and dreary day here in Michigan which means you are not likely to find me leaving my bed anytime soon (and that’s just how I want it to be). Luckily, books are great company for days like this! 

I recently read Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day which was kindly provided to me by Amazon Publishing. Hardcore romance novel fans probably recognize the author’s name and know her from her Crossfire series. This book, while not a sequel to that series, does contain a few familiar characters you might recognize!

Butterfly in Frost follows a woman named Teagan Ransom who moves across the country as a result of her extreme distress following a very public divorce. When she moves home, she discovers that a very hunky neighbor named Garrett Frost has moved in, setting her soul on fire in a way she never thought she would feel again. They are immediately attracted to one another in a way that seems abnormal for them, but neither have any plans to fight their feelings.

There is one thing I don’t think anyone can deny: Slyvia Day writes EXTREMELY steamy and sexy scenes between characters. Sexual tension can be incredibly difficult to capture on paper, but Sylvia doesn’t shy away from creating scenes that make you blush. At just under 190 pages long, this novella was a quick read and at some points even FUNNY. Given that I read it in just a few hours,  this book could easily be one you could bring with you for a day at the beach or on a short flight.

What I liked about this book the most was the twist ending. I don’t think I have ever read a book that had a similar ending to it, especially in a romance novel, so I think the creativity behind the twist was something that was well thought out. I MAY have yelled “WAIT?? WHAT?” when I discovered what had happened. I don’t want to give too much away, but all I will say is, if you are looking for a book that will throw you through a loop at the end, you have found what you’re looking for in this book. I also enjoyed the friendship Teagan shared with her friend Roxy. Roxy is extremely supportive of Teagan and her happiness and frequently pushes her to do what’s best for her to be happy (in this case, meaning moving on from her troubles of the past and being with Garrett). I think a lot of times, female friendships are extremely overlooked and underrated because everything in the book is normally about the female romance, but I love to see ladies supporting ladies when they’re going through a rough time… or just there to have fun! 🙂

If you love books that contain:

  • Insta-lust and fast feelings
  • Quickly-paced plots
  • Light and fluffy fun
  • Alpha-male love interests
  • Women who are “starting over” after a rough time
  • Sexual tension
  • Hot and steamy scenes
  • Twist endings
  • Female friendships
  • Wealthy “rich and famous” lifestyles

… then this book may grab your interest!

 

Thank you again to Amazon Publishing for sending Butterfly in Frost my way and for sponsoring this post! I really appreciate the opportunity to read it!

If you guys want to check this book out, you can purchase it via my link at: www.amazon.com/ButterflyInFrost-3

 

 

 

 

15 of the Best Books to Buy Right Now On Book Outlet

15 of the Best Books to Buy Right Now On Book Outlet

Hey book-a-holics!

*Let me start this blog post off by saying that I am NOT being asked or paid to promote this blog post. I am writing and posting this of my own accord!!*

If you’re as obsessed with books and reading as I am, you probably already know about the magical world that is bookoutlet.com. Essentially, Book Outlet is an online book company that offers massive discounts on popular books.

The books they sell are what are sometimes called “remainder books” and are, usually, books that publishers sell to retailers for a low price once they have fulfilled public demand and have books “left over” that they hope to clear out of their warehouses. These are brand new books and the only “flaw” that marks them as any different is a little tiny dot of felt tip marker on the bottom, essentially, a total nonissue. For up to 90% off on new books, I’ll take the little dot happily!

The cool news is, if you haven’t heard of Book Outlet or you haven’t made an order with them before, you can use my affiliate code and you will get $10 off your first order of $25!! If you do decide to order something from my list of book recommendations, make sure you use THIS LINK TO PLACE YOUR FINAL ORDER AND CLAIM YOUR $10 OFF! I will also get a $10 credit if you do this, so it’s truly a win-win! 😉

Now for the books!! Here are a few books I recommend you snag on Book Outlet. Keep in mind that these books are normally limited stock and may be sold out if you don’t purchase them shortly after reading this post. If something is sold out that you were hoping to purchase, let me know and I can recommend something new for you!

15 Books You Should Buy Right Now!!

 

  1. Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce– $5.49
  2. Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown – $5.49
  3. Vicious by V.E. Schwab – $6.49
  4. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – $5.49
  5. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman – $4.89
  6. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst – $2.29
  7. Station Eleven by Emily St. Jon Mandel – $5.49
  8. The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz – $5.49
  9. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – $6.49
  10. The Shades of Magic Trilogy Series Box Set by V.E. Schwab – $15.09
  11. The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons – $6.49
  12. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren – $5.49
  13. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – $6.49
  14. From Scratch by Tembi Locke – $6.49
  15. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – $6.49

If you don’t see anything on this list that piques your interest, there are literally thousands of other options you can choose from! I love Book Outlet and, like I said, I am not getting paid to say this at all. This is coming right from my lil heart!! 🙂 Don’t forget to use this link to make sure you get $10 off your first order of $25 or more!

Let me know if you end up buying anything from my list or if you find something else you’re excited about!

Coping with Bookstagram Frustration

Coping with Bookstagram Frustration

I’m writing this post at a time when my frustration is fresh. In fact, I’m frustrated right now. My engagement over the last two weeks on bookstagram has been incredibly low compared to what it normally is. I’ve tried posting popular books, unpopular books, staged photos, casual photos, indoor photos, outdoor photos… and nothing has performed in my favor. My follower growth has also all but become stagnant and, admittedly, sometimes I really let it get to me.

When times like these come around, and they do fairly frequently, it’s really hard for me to not take it personally. I’ve gotten better at it in my 2 years on bookstagram, but it’s still incredibly easy to fall into that mind vortex of thinking you’ve lost your touch or people no longer care what you post or have to say.

I wanted to write this post for those of you who also struggle with this frustration and as a reminder to myself now and in the future. I am hopeful that this post will help more than just me when the bookstagram frustration sets in. So, here are a few reminders and lessons learned that I hope we can all use as a source of comfort:

This too shall pass.

The truth is that this time of poor engagement will pass. There have been endless cycles of poor engagement to stellar engagement for me. It’s the bookstagram “circle of life.” We can’t pressure ourselves to fight against it because it’s out of our control. Hang tight, the circle is on the upswing, love.

Bookstagram is for fun. Nobody else is judging you.

One thing I’ve been trying to come to terms with is that there is no one out there keeping an eye on how many likes or comments your posts get except you. Nobody is judging you for that post that is totally bombing. It’s frustrating for us, but we’ve all had bad days on bookstagram. We don’t judge you!

Posting what makes you happy is more important than likes.

Me posting a book that made me smile or even just posting book photos that feature my dogs, places I’ve traveled, and yummy food I am eating is fun for me and makes me smile when I look back on the photos after posting. Curating a space that fills me with joy is more important to me than the less than ONE second it takes someone to double click on my photo to pop up that heart icon and add another tic mark to the  number below my photo. This is really hard for me to remember. You want people to care about what you’re posting and find what you are doing entertaining enough to engage and keep following. But imagine that, in 30+ years from now, one of your loved ones (or even your older self) finds your account. What would your account say about you? Is it filled with what you love and does it stay true to who you are? Does it contain memories of the reality of things that were going on in your life? Being able to get a clear picture of YOU during this time in your life is going to mean more than how many likes your posts got.

Book popularity falters and what’s popular changes faster than light.

Trying to keep up with the newest releases and posting the latest books people are talking about is impossible. Like with most things in life, things move fast, especially trends and what’s hot on social media. Staying true to your reading taste and what you want to read is so much easier. Not to mention, it will make you feel more genuine and connecting with your followers and friends will be easier and more natural because they will know exactly who you are!

Being genuine and kind is more important than being popular.

I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Life is more meaningful in the land of kindness!

I know a lot of this stuff is kind of easier said than done. Like I said, this is supposed to act as a reminder to you AND to me. But maybe, as we spend more time on this platform, we will get better and better at remembering them, allowing them to become a natural habit and state of mind. We got this!

Do you get frustrated every once in awhile when it comes to social media/bookstagram? What helps you feel more positive? Let me know and I will add it to the list! 🙂

Oh! And don’t forget to follow me on @worldswithinpages on Instagram! 🙂

Exciting Reading for October!

Exciting Reading for October!

Hey friends!

This may be a bit premature, but I’m getting extremely excited for October. Despite the fact that it’s only August, I’m already incredibly excited to pick out spooky horror reads and deeply sink into the excitement of Halloween and crispy leaves.

If you follow me on Instagram (@worldswithinpages), you’ll maybe know that I’ve decided to use October as an excuse to host a month-long readalong of various horror novels. I always keep readalongs super laid back, so I’m really excited to introduce this new format! I’ll be using the hashtag #WorldsWithinSpooktober to track both my and posts and the posts of those who would like yo join in with me.

I’m going to choose 4 books and everyone will be welcome to pick however many they’d like to read along with me. I’m still deciding on how to set up discussion posts, but I’m hoping that by hosting this readalong, people will be more open to experiencing the horror genre. It’s so underrated, in my opinion, and I hope more people can fall in love with it.

Curious which books I might pick? Like I said, I am going to choose four, but here are a few on my list at the moment which I will narrow down in September:

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  2. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  3. Macbeth by Jo Nesbø
  4. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
  5. The Good House by Tananarive Due
  6. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  8. Fledgling by Octavia Butler
  9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  10. Bag of Bones by Stephen King

See any you’ve read and loved? Any you’re dying for me to include? Let me know, and let’s get SPOOKY! 👻

June Reading Wrap Up

June Reading Wrap Up

In the month of June, I read a large book that, apparently, has taken others MONTHS to finish. While I am proud and happy with this massive undertaking, it also means that I didn’t read a large quantity of books. Not mad about it though, because I really liked all of what I read and had an overall REALLY phenomenal reading month. I have also been really enjoying SLOWING THE EFF DOWN with my reading, but that is another blog post for another time… {foreshadowing??

In the month of June, I read four books (technically, I am still making my way through the fourth book, but shhhh…..). I read the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, The Whisper Man by Alex North, and I am about halfway through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. To read a quick and snappy overview of what I thought about what I read, keep reading!

 

  1. Miracle Creek by Angie KimOverall rating: 5/5 stars

    Miracle Creek: A Novel by [Kim, Angie]

    What I loved about this book is that it tied turbulent family dynamics and drama into a bow wrapped around a mystery that you couldn’t help but remain on the edge of your seat for. It is always extremely refreshing to have authors go full throttle into the lives of their characters while balancing the overall plot, neither outweighing the other. Angie Kim did a PHENOMENAL job with this book and I highly recommend this one to people who love mysteries surrounding small towns, domestic drama, legal proceedings, and overall anxiety and tensions between characters. 

  2. Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinOverall rating: 5/5 stars

    A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by [Martin, George R. R.]

    After the last episode aired on the final season of Game of Thrones, I finally had an excuse to start the books. I have really been enjoying visiting my friends and foes in Westeros and I am really excited to start the second book in July. Yes, these books are MASSIVE and yes, they are a bit over hyped in terms of popularity. But take it from someone who never lies about the quality of books regardless of their popularity: The series is (so far) so freaking GOOD. SO GOOD. I love it so much. In case you were wondering, which a lot of people do, yes, I do think you should watch the show before reading the books. This may seem backwards coming from a reader, but having the characters faces/storylines/etc. to reference as you work your way through the book makes it about 10x easier to remember who people are, where they come from, and why they’re relevant (or irrelevant) to the story. I recommend this series to people who love the show, love large fantasy novels, enjoy rotating character perspectives, and those who love a good political fantasy tome.

  3. The Whisper Man by Alex NorthOverall rating: 4/5 stars

    The Whisper Man: A Novel by [North, Alex]
    I am so grateful to Celadon Books for sending me an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of The Whisper Man by Alex North. I believe that this novel was previously published in Europe, but it will be available in the US for the first time on August 20, 2019. If you like books that will make you peek around corners, watching for dangerous serial killers, you will find exactly what your spooky heart needs in this novel. Trust me, I read a lot of horror and it takes a LOT to really rock my boat. This book creeped me OUT. It probably didn’t help that my husband was away for work while I was reading it, but STILL. This one has minimal gore, a hint of supernatural, a heartwarming undertone, and spine tingling creepiness. Basically, it’s perfect, and you should all read it! The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because I would have liked it to have been a bit longer to really flesh out some of the smaller characters and interactions people had with one another.

  4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 

    Overall rating: First half of the book is a 3.5/5, final rating TBDThe Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) by [Tartt, Donna]

    Here’s the thing about this book for me: While it is beautifully written, explores topics that people would rather not talk about (i.e. the death of a parent), and has kept my attention for quite some time, I do think that this book is way too long and would benefit from “wrapping things up” in about half the time it is currently using. Yes, I understand that the depth of the book is intentional and needed for this Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel to shine in all its glory, but I think a good cutback of about 25% of this book would be beneficial to my overall interest and compulsion to read it. I have started to listen to the audiobook versus reading the paperback because a) the narrator is great and b) I don’t think I would make it through this book on my own haha. TBD how much I end up liking it once I complete it.

 

 

That’s it! That’s my June monthly wrap up! I am hoping to have a few more books to talk about next month, but we shall see. What did you read this month? Any new favorites?

 

Until then, thank you for reading and I will see you next time!

-Alisa

Why I Am Ditching the TBR Pile Concept This Month

Why I Am Ditching the TBR Pile Concept This Month

Hello fellow readers and friends, how are you?! I wanted to do a quick chatty post since it has been a little bit since I last talked to you guys about what I am reading and what I am up to.

You may have noticed that I didn’t post a TBR pile this month on my bookstagram (@worldswithinpages) or here on my blog and there’s a reason for that. These past few weeks have been super weird for me when it comes to reading. I am not in a reading SLUMP per se, but I am definitely going through a weird spot in my reading habits. Let me explain…

Before April, if you would have asked me to read a thriller novel, I would have told you I was not interested. Thriller/mystery used to be my LEAST favorite genre for various reasons and I would avoid them at all costs. However, during April, I completely abandoned that notion and I read almost nothing BUT thrillers back-to-back. I have NO idea what happened, it just did.

It all started when I read The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell. I picked it up randomly and after realizing that it had been on my shelf for quite some time and had not yet been read. I figured, after hearing some amazing reviews for it, that it would be a good bet. It was! I really enjoyed it and I am glad that my whims lead me to want to read it. However, it started a snowball effect of ONLY wanting to read thrillers. I didn’t want to read regular fiction, I didn’t want to read anything YA, and I didn’t want to read fantasy (my long-standing favorite genre). For some reason, all my brain wants right now is thrillers, thrillers, thrillers. Since then, I have read a total of 4 thriller/mystery/horror-type books… and I don’t see myself slowing down or changing course.

I started to fight this feeling for a little while when it first started creeping in, but I realized a few things. The first and most important thing I realized was that I read for fun! I don’t get paid to read and I don’t read for anyone else’s benefit but my own. Why pressure myself to read anything other than EXACTLY what I want to read, when I want to read it? The second thing I realized was that I have been blocked out SO many books by being exclusionary to the thriller genre. I am YEARS behind on reading what thriller fans have been loving and I have so much to catch up on! I will never run out of books to read now haha!

Another reason why I am not setting up a TBR pile this month is because I ALWAYS deviate from it. Every single time I set up a stack of 10+ books, I read maybe 3 from that pile. That’s always okay by me, but then I feel like there’s a feeling of guilt that I put on myself for not acheiving some sort of goal. I also have this weird thing that happens where, as soon as I say I am going to read a book by x date, I don’t want to read it anymore because it feels like a homework assignment (gross). Sitting and thinking about this more makes me wonder if I should never go back to a TBR pile again… time will tell!

Because of my weird reading mood I am currently in, I will not be setting up a TBR pile this month. I am going to read exactly what I want to read, when I want to read it. If that means that I divert away from thrillers to read something else, that’s fine by me! I think my brain is trying to teach me that I need to get back to reading what I love and not what I feel obligated to read and I am going to ride that wave as long as I can! Like I said, I read because I love books and I can’t wait to read more of the books that remind me of that!

I will say that I do have two hopefuls for this month that I would like to read: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood and Final Girls by Riley Sagar. I have heard INCREDIBLE things about both books and I am excited to dive into both of them!

I know this was a bit of a rambly post, but I am still trying to figure out what the heck is happening to my reading mood and feelings lately. I have no explanation for it, so I am just taking it book by book haha!

How do you feel about TBRs? Are you good at adhering to them or do you always deviate like I do?