The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
A 5⭐️ Book
TJ Klune has given us a gift. The House in the Cerulean Sea is a gift of love and color and adventure and magic. It is a book about being comfortable in your own skin, questioning your preconceived notions, and finding where you belong. In short, I believe this is very nearly the most perfect novel ever. Full-stop.
Linus Baker is a caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). He lives a grey existence and follows the RULES AND REGULATIONS to the letter as he investigates orphanages housing magical children. He does not sway from his life as an observer.
Until Extremely Upper Management sends him on a month-long Classified Level Four assignment on Marsyas Island. As Linus gets to know – and love – the brood of characters on the island, he shifts from being an observer to an active participant in life.
I loved this story. TJ Klune’s writing is spot-on – both witty and touching, with plenty of bits of wisdom thrown in as we travel through this world. Each character is endearing in a unique way. The cast includes
- Talia: A young (263 years old, to be exact) gnome who loves gardens and threatening to beat people with shovels
- Theodore: A wyvern who hasn’t grown into his wings but will love you forever if you give him a button
- Sal: A quiet, tentative boy with a tragic past and a gift with words, and who happens to be able to shift into a Pomeranian
- Chauncey: A – well, we’re not exactly sure what his physical being is – but we know his lifelong goal is to be a bellhop
- Phee: A tiny sprite with magic in her fingers and wings and a deep understanding of roots and trees (she’ll turn you into one!)
- Lucy: A little devil. Literally, his name is short for Lucifer and his father is Satan. Lucy is a 6-year-old Antichrist,but we don’t use that word on Marsyas Island
- Zoe: An older sprite who owns Marsyas and is a fierce protector of its inhabitants, including Arthur and the children
- Arthur: A gentle man with secrets of his own but who knows how to make each of his children feel special, who teaches them and guides them, and who loves deeply
I hope you’ll choose to read this gorgeous book. It gave me hope and joy, and it touched my soul.
Book Review (No Spoilers)
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas
I know, I know. A Court of Silver Flames has probably been all over social media since its release in February. But there’s a reason for that.
This book is freaking good, y’all.
Like any Sarah J Maas fan, I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I even bought the Kindle version because I couldn’t wait for my delayed hard copy any more. Ms. Maas took the Prythian world to the next level with her novel of Nesta and Cassian. With new mythology, new creatures, and new heat, this book is jam-packed with a great story, fierce action, and all the things the Maasdom has come to expect.
But she went even further here. In taking us back to the Night Court and sharing Nesta and Cassian with us, Ms. Maas managed to build a fantasy that also addresses mental health, self worth, and the Me Too movement. The struggles and desire for empowerment may be cloaked in Fae magic here, but they’re relatable to us humans as well.
A 5⭐️ read with an added 🔥 for heat
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
I start any book by Kristin Hannah with the expectation that she’s going to devastate my emotions with her characters and plot lines. And, with that in mind, The Four Winds did not disappoint!
I could feel the despair and heartache that these characters experienced in the Dust Bowl of 1930s Texas and in the neverending circle of poverty when Elsa, our heroine, moves her children to California in search of a better life. From the touching relationships between Elsa, her in-laws, her children, and her friends, and the emotive descriptions of the landscape during the Great Depression, Ms. Hannah has created a book that will stay with me for a long time.
I can’t recommend this 5⭐️ book enough!
What 5⭐️ book do you think people should read?
Book Review: A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
There are some books that manage to rip your heart out, filling you with grief for the characters, and then they give you hope for the future at their conclusion.
A Woman is No Man is one of these books. Told from the viewpoint of three generations of Palestinian-American women, this book explores fate, choices, culture, and traditions. It is a book about suppression and violence, but also about faith and personal strength. From their deep-rooted desire to do the best and live up to cultural expectations, the main characters explore and challenge what it means to be a woman in two very different cultures.
This is a beautiful book, one that I finished in less than 48 hours. Deya, Isra, and Fareeda are nuanced characters who show their strengths in different ways. Etaf Rum writes in a gorgeous style, showing vulnerability and thoughtfulness on every page.
A Woman is No Man is a 5⭐️ book, one that I highly recommend.
Five is the number! Here are five random facts about me, and more importantly, five books that have inspired me in some way.
Five Facts about Me
- I lived in a town of 150 people from birth to 18. Yes, it was quiet. Yes, you couldn’t get away with anything as a kid because someone was always watching. Yes, I was sheltered in many ways. However, my parents insisted I grow beyond that four-square-block town and encouraged me to expand my mind and experiences.
- I wrote my dissertation on mental illness in the workplace. Specifically, I focused on how managers interact with employees who have/have not disclosed mental illnesses. My biggest takeaways from the research was that stigma is rampant about mental illness and that disclosure is a multi-faceted decision. I’ve seen this in my own life.
- I took a solo trip to Greece after my first husband and I divorced. Well, about 27 months after the divorce, actually. It took that long to get the courage to go on my first-ever solo trip. While the sites were amazing and the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I was still lonely and cannot wait to take another trip, but this time with my amazing husband.
- I adore elephants and dogs. To me, elephants have a quiet majesty about them. They are strong and fiercely protective of their loved ones. I love them and need to add more elephant symbols in my office. And dogs? Their loyalty and playfulness brings me joy. I could watch our dog Tuck explore our backyard all day.
- I am the youngest in my immediate family and amongst my cousins. So, I’m the “double” baby. As a child, this meant I was spoiled rotten and teased exponentially. Because everyone is significantly older than me, I missed out on a lot, and I don’t have much of a relationship with anyone aside from my sister and brother.
Five Books that Have Impacted My Life
I could have picked many more books to add to this list and think I’ll do another installment in a few days, but here are five books that inspired me in some way.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I first read The Handmaid’s Tale when I was a freshman in college. Being 18 and freshly out of a tiny town (see #1 above), this book was unlike anything I’d ever read. It was part of the curriculum for a first-year seminar about utopias, and I consider it to be one of the first books that led me to be an English lit major. I reread it about 3 years ago, and I still adore it.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
You know those books that you pick up 3 or 4 times and they just don’t click, but then the next time you pick it up, you’re like “Why did I stop reading it the other times?” For me, One Hundred Years of Solitude is that book. This was my introduction to magical realism, and I had a major book hangover when I finished the last page.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
This is a recent read for me, and I shouted its praises when I finished it. I don’t know that I’ve related to a protagonist so deeply in comparison to any other book I’ve read in the past three years. Nina’s love of books and her awkwardness spoke volumes to me.
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
My apologies to James Joyce, but Roddy Doyle is my favorite Irish novelist. I read Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha while I was studying in Dublin, and the child protagonist is amazing. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors was my first read by Doyle, but it’s gone missing from my collection, as has A Star Called Henry. I’m very sad about this.
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
What can I say about Pat Conroy? He was a genius who could transform a phrase from words on a page to magic in your mind. My high school English teacher encouraged me to read The Prince of Tides, and I am so grateful she did.
What about you? Share your facts and books!
Booklover Confession: I love a good dystopian novel. Give me a well-crafted fictional setting depicting a “perfect” society where the protagonist questions the rules, and I’m a happy reader. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett fits these requirements.
Tierney is a complex heroine and her fight to make life better for all women is full of characters and action that made me question what would happen next, as well as what happens to women in today’s society. I read this book in about 24 hours and enjoyed every minute.
I knew The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was going to be a good read. I didn’t account for “good” not being a strong enough qualifier for how amazing this book really is. Bennett is a genius at telling stories, weaving together multiple points of view, and creating characters who jump off the page.
The relationship between twins has always fascinates me, and The Vanishing Half takes this relationship one step further – what if one twin chooses to abandon a part of herself that is inherent to them both? This book explores race, colorism, sisterhood, and gender issues with eloquence and an unflinching grace.
Book Review: Followers by Megan Angelo
Followers is a cautionary tale that questions the right to privacy, the price of fame and financial security, and the desire to be loved. In a world driven by technology, I found some of the plot line to be almost too real – like some of these things Ms. Angelo describes could actually happen. (The irony of me posting a review on social media is not lost here.)
In Constellation, CA, in the year 2051, character’ lives are determined by the number of followers they have on a new social platform and the sponsorships they’ve agreed to. Marlow starts to question everything and proceeds on a journey to find answers.
In New York City, in the years 2015-2016, Orla and Floss want better lives for themselves, and they soon make decisions that will impact a greater audience than they anticipated.
Followers transitions from setting to setting with ease, as we learn more about Marlow, Orla, and Floss, as well as how the world changed so dramatically in 36 years.
I enjoyed this book and will continue to think about it, which makes it a solid 4⭐ for me.
Highlighting One of My Top-Loved Series
A Court of Thorns and Roses is one of my favorite book series of all time. I love the premise, the romance, and the fantasy. If you haven’t read these books by Sarah J. Maas, I highly recommend you start reading now!