A Deadly Education

If you read Harry Potter and thought, “If Hogwarts was trying to murder you, though…” this is for you.

There’s no quiddich at the Scholomance. No holiday parties, no friendly games of chess. There are, however, monsters in the showers, in the ceiling, and in the food. If you want to survive, you have to be strategic. And no one is more strategic than El.

Unlike readers who were familiar with Novik through Uprooted or Spinning Silver, this was my first introduction (I’ve since gone back and read her other titles) and I loved it. LOVED IT. The main character, El, is a sarcastic, caustic, loner that you shouldn’t love, but somehow can’t resist while Orion’s awkward-hero (please cast Tom Holland for the Netflix adaptation) makes the perfect enemies-to-lovers pairing. So if you enjoy reading about terrible things happening to nice (and not-so-nice) people, grab yourself a copy.

“Some sorcerers get an affinity for weather magic, or transformation spells, or fantastic combat magics like dear Orion. I got an affinity for mass destruction.”

Book of Night

Not all authors can successfully make the jump from YA to adult. Holly Black is one of those who can, but it requires some patience from the reader. I debated for a while whether to recommend this, partially because of the slower paced plot (I didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it either) and partially because, apparently, when Holly Black goes adult, she goes ADULT. The characters participate in a fair amount of self-harm, including alcohol abuse and toxic relationships in addition to the murder and gore that’s become standard in the genre. Why am I including it? Because the premise is just so gosh darn fascinating. Shadow magic? Yes, please. I’ve also developed a recent soft spot for books whose plots are smaller and the stakes more personal (less saving humanity/the kingdom and more saving up the money to open your magic bakery) and this one gets it just right.

“There’d always been something wrong with Charlie Hall. Crooked, from the day she was born… If her shadow had been one of those magic ones, she was pretty sure even that thing would have run away.”

Lost Boys

Sometimes, I read so many “meh” books in a row that I begin to worry about finding a book I love ever again. As it would happen, Christina Henry’s Lost Boy, arrived just in time. If you, like me, were slightly in love with Peter Pan as a kid, this creepy retelling may well cure you of your childhood love for good. A throwback to the original source materials, Henry’s Pan is less a benevolent, slightly mischievous, hero, and more of a cold-blooded psychopath willing to cut the throat of any boy who crosses him. If you think your heart can take it, pick this one up.

Peter will never let me go…He brought me to the island and he swore I would never leave and so I haven’t.

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One Paragraph Book Recs

Happy Tuesday, book fans!

After a (not-so) brief hiatus while the world put itself back together, I’m excited to announce the re-launch of the monthly “One Paragraph Book Recommendations.”

Wait, wait, you might be thinking, didn’t those used to be *checks notes* book reviews? Weekly, book reviews?

Well, yes. But after spending the pandemic reading a ridiculous amount of books (what else was there to do, really?) I came to the realization that I would rather spend time recommending my favorite reads, rather than expounding on things I didn’t like. The decrease of posts from weekly to monthly is purely logistical: life has gotten busy, and I don’t have the same amount of time I used to have (it’s marching band season for the boys again, and the girl has started tumbling class). However, this means the books that make the cut are only the ones I’m really excited about! (Only the best for you, guys.) The old reviews will remain up for now, but all new posts will feature titles I would want on my own shelves.

As always, I would love your recommendations for titles to feature!

Happy reading!

– E

The Cruel Prince

A One Paragraph Book Review

The Cruel Prince

It won’t come as a surprise to any of you who are following along that I don’t like flowery, over descriptive prose. It’s not that I don’t appreciate an author’s careful description of their fantastical world-building, rather that I don’t appreciate superfluous scenes that seem to exist only so said author can spend pages waxing poetic about characters’ ball gowns. Words must have purpose, they can’t just be pretty. Enter Holly Black and The Cruel Prince: this, ladies and gentlemen, is what “lush” and “decadent” writing looks like. TCP is a delicious example of how vibrant description can work to enhance equally delicious characters and riveting plot to create a story that is not only worth reading, but worth savoring.