Argren Blue is Sure to Woo

Art is a reflection of who we are as a people. Of why we fight to be free from the Empire’s oppression. At its greatest, it represents truths we can’t express in words, truths that speak directly to our heart. The kind of truth that inspires people to rise up against impossible odds.

Argren Blue, Ross Hightower & Deb Heim

This is a story all about how I met a Milwaukee author on the Nextdoor app. Yes, you’ve heard that correctly. The Nextdoor app can be for more than silly inconsequential neighborhood complaints and missing pet updates. I’m just as surprised as you are.

It all started with this post: “Looking for a videographer for a local author book launch at the Black Husky June 4th. There will be food, beer, a short scene acted out by local actors, and a ballad!” Everything about this post made me happy and excited.

Obviously, I commented: “What’s the book called?” And Deb said: “Argren Blue. It’s a coming-of-age epic fantasy.”

Coming-of-age. Epic. Fantasy. She needn’t say anything else. I already knew I was going to read and write a review for this book. Not only because I’m obsessed with fantasy books, but it was also written by two people living in the greatest city in the world: Milwaukee. This was fate.

Without further ado, please enjoy my review of Argren Blue, written by Ross Hightower and Deb Heim.

Book Description

When Alar joined the resistance, he dreamed of throwing the imperial oppressors out of Argren. But as the inexperienced rebels reel from one disaster to another, Alar wonders if the Empire notices them at all. Until the day he discovers he has powers not seen since the great heroes of the past.

As he explores his newfound abilities, an imperial witch appears to ask the rebels to rescue prisoners from an Inquisition prison. The plan is crazy, but the rebels have been riding the ragged edge of crazy for years. Though their surprising success revives their dreams, they may come to regret drawing the Empire’s attention.

When a powerful inquisitor sends novice Harold Wolfe to root out the nascent rebel group, Harold has to wonder why. As a half-breed, Wolfe, is persecuted for his humble origins. By the time he discovers the trap, it’s too late to escape the tangled web involving the rebels, a mysterious assassin, a corrupt imperial governor, and foreign mercenaries, all vying for a cache of priceless art. While Harold looks for a way out, Alar and the rebels fight for their land, their people, and their freedom.

Brought to you by Goodreads

Woooo doggy – where do I even begin? There were many elements of Agren Blue that drew me in, and in the process wooed me. Let’s break it down:

Incredible World Building

Argren Blue will take you to places like Richeleau, where the Oss’stera and corrupt governor live, to the artsy village of Lirantok, and Kartok which is home to the Inquisition Prison and House of Death. You’ll be taken to a time that is reflective of the middle ages, with horse-drawn wagons as the primary mode of transportation and bows and swords as the weapons of choice.

Hightower and Heim, through their thoughtful and thorough character and setting development, have created an enchanting world. I’m also certain that immersing yourself in this world will make you want to go to an old-timey pub and order a large mug of ale whilst listening to a bard sing.

Milwaukee Easter Egg: I was very giddy to discover one of the taverns in Richeleau is called Black Husky. If you’re from Milwaukee then you’ll know there’s a Black Husky Brewing Company in Riverwest. If you don’t live in Milwaukee then I feel sorry for you.

Complex Characters

Argren wouldn’t be Argren without its variety of characters. First, we have the rebel group, Oss’stera. Everyone in Oss’stera has been slighted by the Empire in some way shape or form and therefore is motivated and determined to create change. Alar, the unofficial leader, was only a boy when the inquisitors murdered his parents and took his sister. Tove, Alar’s BFF, has a scarred past and face thanks to the Empire. Ukrit and Scilla spent the majority of their lives in an evil Empire-free bubble until said Empire murdered their parents and attacked their village. Woof.

Then we have the friends of Oss’sstera like Ragan and Gallia, (ex) Seidi Sisters, and Brie who is a member of The Desulti. Ecke is a young witch who was taken by the Inquisition but eventually rescued by Alar.

All characters, big and small, caught my attention. I especially loved one of the younger rebels, Zaina, who gave off mega Lyanna Mormont vibes from Game of Thrones. I wished I could have seen more of The Desulti which is a group made up of lady assassins. What’s not to love about lady assassins?

If Argen itself doesn’t suck you in then I assure you its multitude of characters will.


I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more: I love magic. Thankfully, in the world of Argen, there is much of it. There are the Seidi Sisters, imperial witches, and the Alle’oss witches. The empire executes Alle’oss girls who exhibit magical powers at a young age. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the empire and their reasoning behind killing young Alle’oss witches, and that will be answered when you…read the book!

Alar, our main character, has the ability to walk between the physical realm and the realm of the dead. Known as realm walking, this is magic that hasn’t been seen for hundreds of years and has never been seen in an Alle’oss boy. It becomes a handy tool in fights because it appears as though Alar is moving at fast speeds when he is only walking between realms.

An Underdog Story

Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Here we have a group of youngish Alle’oss who are fighting against the Vollen Empire. The only problem is the Empire has no idea they exist. This doesn’t keep the Oss’stera in the highest of spirits, but it also doesn’t stop them from fighting a good fight. Heck no. They keep on trucking.

After enduring loss after loss, the group finally gets a win. With the help of (and because of) a Seidi Sister, Ragan, they manage to rescue two prisoners from the infamous House of Death. If you can’t tell from the name, it’s not a great place. Anyway, this seemingly impossible rescue finally puts them on the map.

Slowly the group begins to grow, with the help of its new members, spreading the word and mission of Oss’stera. In the end, there is so much hope and possibility for the rebel cause, and it brings immense joy to my heart.

Art History

Not only does this book feature magic, an underdog rebel group, and an evil empire (three of my favorite things) but there’s also a huge emphasis on art. The Alle’oss people have a deep connection to art, and that’s just one of the many things that the Empire has taken from them for reasons I won’t reveal.

I’ve taken Art and Art History classes in high school and college, so I’ve analyzed and criticized many a painting, but I’ve never really known the history behind colors, especially the color blue. I encourage you to visit Ross Hightower’s blog post and his nerdy take on Argren Blue. I found it very insightful.

Just Read It

The thing about Argren Blue is it’s sure to woo, so if you aren’t in the mood to be wooed, then don’t read this book. All those in favor of being wooed should get themselves a copy.

Argren Blue is a Prequel to the Spirit Song Trilogy, and guess what? The first book, Spirit Sight, is already published and it’s available for you to read right now. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve already downloaded and started reading it. I don’t think it really matters which book you start with, just as long as you read them both.

Here are some links to peruse at your leisure:

Special thanks go to Ross Hightower and Deb Heim for sharing their book with me. Argren is incredibly magical and I can’t wait to read more!

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5 Reasons You Should Be Excited for the Harry Potter Reboot

Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me, and I’m looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long-form television series.

J.K. Rowling

Anyone who knows me is probably very irritated because I won’t shut up about the new show adaptation of Harry Potter. I refuse to dampen my excitement for the convenience of others and you shouldn’t either. If you’re as excited as me then you too should scream it from the rooftops, or from wherever you are.

I believe it’s set to premiere sometime in 2025 or 2026, and while the anticipation is killing me, I also think it will be well worth the wait.

Here are 5 reasons you should be INSANELY EXCITED for HBO Max’s (soon to be Max) Reboot of Harry Potter.

1. The show won’t miss as many details (hopefully)

Each book will get its own season. Do you know what this means? There are so many details from the books that weren’t included in the movies. Not just small details, but large details were missed too. This is understandable. You can’t fit everything into a two-hour movie, but a ten-hour season for each book? They should be able to pack plenty into that.

Here are some book details I’m hoping to see in the show:

  • Peeves #justiceforpeeves
  • Charlie Weasley #justiceforcharlie
  • The backstory to the Marauders’ map – it was created by James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter Pettigrew.
  • Harry loses his temper with Dumbledore. Actually, all of the parts where Harry loses his temper – he’s so feisty!
  • Hermione tries fighting for house elf rights by creating S.P.E.W.
  • Ron and Hermione were both Prefects in their fifth and sixth years.
  • Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party.
  • Rita Skeeter is an illegal Animagus and that’s how she got her scoops.
  • Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny end up meeting Neville’s parents in St. Mungos.
  • Neville could have been The Chosen One.
  • Harry gives his Triwizard winnings to Fred and George to open their own joke shop.

This isn’t even half of everything. I’m hoping, nay, praying that these get included in the show.

2. A new cast

Out with the old, in with the new! I have nothing against the movie cast. For the most part, it was a perfect crew, but I think we can do better. So far there is talk of Adam Driver as Snape, Helen Mirren as McGonagall, and…Tom Felton as Lucius Malfoy *gasp*. I don’t know if any of these whisperings are true, but if they are, I one hundred percent support them.

I’m also excited for more accurate character depictions. Could they please make Harry’s eyes green? Every other statement made to Harry is, “You have your mother’s eyes,” but he doesn’t have her eyes in the movies. Daniel Radcliff has gorgeous blue eyes, they just aren’t Harry’s. Colored contacts, that’s all I’m asking for.

Also, let’s give Ginny a personality. She’s the only Weasley girl in a sea of Weasley boys, which means she’s feisty. I’ll never understand why they made Ginny’s personality so blah in the movies.

3. J.K. Rowling & HBO Max are involved

If you’re creating a show or movie based on a book, you should involve the author. Thankfully, Rowling is a producer. I think there are quite a few producers from the movies that are working on the reboot too.

Not only do we have Rowling, but we also have Max. Everything Max has created is pure gold. I’m talking about Game of Thrones, House of Dragon, The Last of Us, and Succession, just to name a few. All of these shows are incredibly well done. I have total faith that this platform will do us justice.

4. The possible spinoffs

I think everyone can agree that we could do with fewer Star Wars spinoffs and more Harry Potter spinoffs. I’m not saying we go crazy like Disney has with Star Wars and Marvel, but it would be nice to have something other than the Fantastic Beasts series.

Here are just a few spinoff ideas:

  • James and Lily at Hogwarts, and I would love to see James causing mischief with Sirius and Remus too.
  • Seeing Snape go from villain to hero – focusing on his time as a Death Eater.
  • Voldemort’s villain origin story.
  • The founders of Hogwarts and the creation of the four houses.

Any of these, when done right, would be *chef’s kiss*

5. The first teaser has been released

I know it’s just a title sequence, but it does make my heart go pitter-patter.

The Harry Potter movies are classics, and they will always stay near and dear to my heart. Having this reboot will just be an added bonus for us Potterheads.

Are you excited too? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Magician and Fool is the Start of Something Magical

“You are only responsible for your journey, Miss Smith.”
“And what is my journey, Mr. Kamal?” Pamela asked.
“Only you can answer that, Miss Smith,” Ahmed replied, picking up the incense bowl and cloth. “Are you on a hero’s journey or a fool’s?

Magician and Fool, Susan Wands

Two moons have passed since I read Magician and Fool by Susan Wands, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Why can’t I stop thinking about it, you ask? Because it’s weird, and if you’re a weirdo like me then you’ll know that calling this book “weird” is the opposite of an insult. It’s the biggest compliment I could bestow upon it. It’s the kind of weird that’ll have you saying,

I believe this with every fiber of my being: A good book will stay with you long after it’s over (feel free to quote me on that). Magician and Fool is the start of what I think will be a very magical series.

Book Description

Pamela Colman Smith, newly arrived from New York to her birthplace of London, is received as an oddball in Victorian society. Her second sight helps her in her new illustrating tarot cards for the Golden Dawn, a newly formed occult group. But when Pamela refuses to share her creations with Aleister Crowley, a controversial magician, he issues a give up the cards’ power, or he’ll harm her muses.

In the midst of this battle, two of Pamela’s idols, the actors Henry Irving and William Terriss, take her under their wing. Henry, who tutors her as the leader of the Lyceum Theatre, becomes the muse for her Magician card. William Terriss, teaching her by examples of instinct and courage, becomes the muse for her Fool card. As Pamela begins to create the tarot deck, she is almost overwhelmed by the race to possess the magical power of her cards. In order to defeat Aleister, Henry and William will have to transform into living incarnations of the Magician and the Fool—and Pamela will have to learn how to conjure her own magic.

*Brought to you by Goodreads.

Just Read It

There were a lot of things I didn’t know before starting this book, and I thought I’d share some of them with you before you venture into the magical world Susan Wands has created.

First and foremost, Susan Wands does a wonderful job of blending history with magic in this book, and if you aren’t an expert on the history of the 1800s theatre scene in London then you’ll probably find yourself doing a lot of googling. For instance, I didn’t know that Pamela Colman Smith was a real-life person. She’s most known for illustrating the Rider-Waite tarot deck, which is what this book is primarily about.

(PSA: Tarot is not pronounced like carrot, it’s more like arrow or farro.)

Henry Irving was an actual actor and manager of the Lyceum Theatre and he and his business partner, Ellen Terry, kind of adopted Pamela into their theatre family after her parents passed away. Bram Stoker, who I’m the most familiar with, was the author of Dracula, and he also worked closely with Henry Irving.

Not only do we have reimagined historical people in this book, but there are also secret organizations. A lot of the characters belong to the Freemasons and Golden Dawn, both of which were actual groups (…and still are). Golden Dawn members were known for dabbling in the occult, and this is the group that hires Pamela to create the tarot deck.

Something that surprised me was that Pamela doesn’t join Lyceum Theatre or the Golden Dawn group until about halfway through the book. Much of the beginning is spent focusing on her childhood which is okay because I loved seeing where Pamela came from.

Not only do we get Pamela’s origin story, but we also get Aleister Crowley’s villain origin story. Believe me when I say I LOVE a good villain origin story, and Wands did not disappoint. I can see why Aleister goes nuts. He is the perfect example of why we need to be kind and love one another. Especially to children. Please, I beg thee, be kind to your children.

There you have it! All in all, this book surprised me (in a good way), and I’m very excited for the next one. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and magic then find yourself a copy of this book ASAP.

If you want to learn more about the history behind this book then check out this article. It’s got some great background info for you super nerds.

As always, happy reading!

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12 Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow Quotes You’ll Remember Tomorrow

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was voted the 2022 Book of the Year (BOTY) at Book of the Month (BOTM), so I had to read it. Upon reading this gem of a book, I underlined many quotes. Who knew video games could give us such a great lens for looking at life? Gabrielle Zevin did, that’s who.

And while this book references video games and is generally about creating video games, it’s not required for you to be a fan to fully appreciate this story. I’m not an avid video game player and I LOVED this book. It actually gave off a lot of Social Network vibes, so if you like that kind of thing you should pick this one up.

Even if you decide not to read this book (mistake) you should at least check out the quotes below, because they are pretty darn great.

Book Description

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

*Brought to you by Goodreads.

‘What is a game?’ Marx said. ‘it’s tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s the possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption. The idea that if you keep playing, you could win. No loss was permanent, ever.’

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

If you’re always aiming for perfection, you won’t make anything at all.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

This is what time travel is. It’s looking at a person, and seeing them in the present and the past, concurrently. And that mode of transport only worked with those one had known a significant time.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

Video games don’t make people violent, but maybe they falsely give you the idea that you can be a hero.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

We are all living, at most, half of a life, she thought. There was the life you lived, which consisted of the choices you made. And then, there was the other life, the one that was the things you hadn’t chosen.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

The game is only over if you stop playing. There is always one more life. Even the most brutal death isn’t final.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

You’re incredibly gifted, Sam. But it is worth noting that to be good at something is not quite the same as loving it.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

There is no purity to bearing pain alone.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

A programmer is a diviner of possible outcomes, and a seer of unseen world

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

‘Friendship,’ Marx said, ‘is kind of like having a Tamagotchi.’

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

Art doesn’t typically get made by happy people.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

He knew what he was experiencing was a basic error in programming, and he wished he could open up his brain and delete the bad code. Unfortunately, the human brain is every bit as closed a system as a Mac.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zeven

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These 8 Books are too Lit to Quit

While I haven’t been posting a ton – I blame it on my ADD – I have been reading a wide variety of books in a short amount of time. Coincidentally, I also blame that on my ADD. I’m sure I’m not the only person who suffers from this problem. Thankfully, I rubbed some of my brain cells together and came up with the genius idea of writing a short review for each book in one post. Please, hold your applause until the end.

The 8 books below are too lit.

They are too lit to quit.

I guess I’ll get to it.

56 Days

“None of us know what we’re capable of, if the circumstances were right. Or wrong.”

This book came out in 2021 but seeing as how traumatic the pandemic was, I needed to wait a year before I cracked this one open.

Here we have a girl meets boy situation. Then the shutdown happens, the girl moves in with the boy, and someone ends up dead. There’s nothing I love more than a thriller with plenty of twists and turns.

If you’re a fan of thrillers, then you’ll probably be a fan of this book.

The Stardust Thief

“All we can do is make choices based on the cards fate deals us. But so long as fate allows me to stay with you, I will not leave you Loulie. That is a promise.”

If your favorite princess movie was Aladdin growing up, then chances are you will LOVE this book. It’s packed full of Arabian folklore and features a thief, jinn, prince, and a magic lamp.

It also features a smidge of romance, but nothing that distracts from the plot. It’s subtle and exciting. This is Chelsea Abdullah’s debut book, and I have to say it is very lovely. It’s definitely worth the read if you’re looking to dip your toes into a new fantasy series.

Foul Lady Fortune

“Trauma doesn’t have to lead to destruction. Trauma can be the guiding point to something better, something stronger.”

You might recognize Chloe Gong’s name from a previous series she wrote, These Violent Delights. If you loved that series then you’re sure to love this one too. It’s sort of a spin-off.

This book is historical fiction meets mystery/thriller meets espionage meets romance. We all know two spies falling in love is a recipe for disaster, which only makes this book more exciting. While this book is long, it is also action-packed, which makes the time just fly by.

Firekeeper’s Daughter

“Kindness is something that seems small, Daunis, but it’s like tossing a pebble into a pond and the ripples reach further than you thought.”

Let me state for the court that this book contains MANY trigger warnings including, but not limited to, sexual assault, addiction, and death, lots and lots of death.

That being said, this book is AMAZING. Let me repeat, this is one of the best books I read in 2022. Angeline Boulley, you’ve delivered a masterpiece, and I almost struggle to find the words to describe my love and admiration for your book.

There are so many layers to this story, and not enough space to discuss, see the link above to check out the book summary, or better yet, just read the book and behold all the greatness yourself

Make sure to have a tissue box standing by because you will cry.

Ninth House

“That was what magic did. It revealed the heart of who you’d been before life took away your belief in the possible. It gave back the world all lonely children longed for.”

Galaxy “Alex” Stern can see dead people, which has made her life very difficult. Because of this, she gets recruited by fancy people at Yale to oversee and help monitor the 8 secret societies at the university. Each of these societies dabbles in magic, which Alex and her mentor, Darlington, are responsible for overseeing.

When Darlington disappears and someone on campus gets murdered, Alex discovers that these incidents might be connected to more than one society. The more she learns, the less safe she becomes.

Leigh Bardugo coming at us, yet again, with a wonderful fantasy series. I love her fantastical take on Yale’s secret societies. Trust me, this book will ensnare you!

A History of Wild Places

“There is no history in a place until we make it, until you live a life worth remembering.”

If you are fascinated by cults then this is a must-read. A woman goes missing and Travis Wren, a private detective, is hired by the family to find her. He tracks her last whereabouts to a place considered to be a legend by most local folk – a place called “Pastoral”.

Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, comes across Travis’ truck outside the commune years later, which causes a huge disruption to the small community. No one is allowed in or out of Pastoral, so what happened to Travis? What happened to the woman?

This book will mess with your mind. Even when you think you’ve figured it out, you probably haven’t. It is my belief that when a book leaves you feeling that shook (in a good way), then you have to tell everyone you know to read it. ‘Tis the law.

A Fire Endless

“You and I have faced many things alone. Between the mainland and the isle, the east and the west, we’ve carried our troubles in solitude. As if it were weakness to share one’s burden with another. But I am with you now. I am yours, and I want you to lay your burdens down on me.”

The Breccans and Tamerlaines are back, baby! They are back and they are on FIRE (ha).

This time we learn more about the Breccans, and we get to see more of the spirit realm – ooooo ahhhhhh. A sickness spreads throughout Cadence, infecting both the east and west. Jack, Adaira, Sidra, and Torin work to unite the isle and end the wretched curse Bane has cast on them. Mwahahahahaha!!

If you read A River Enchanted, then you need to add this to your TBR. Immediately.

The Light Pirate

“There is a necessary tension between knowing how nature works in theory and witnessing it.”

This book is a very quick read and very enthralling. It’s got major dystopian vibes, specifically focused on the downfall of Florida. The government shuts down and people flee the state due to the increase in hurricanes. Wanda is one of the few people who stay in her small Florida town and attempts to create a new normal. While others struggle to adapt to the changing world, Wanda thrives in it.

I get a Where the Crawdads Sing vibe from this book. I imagine that Kya and Wanda would have been the best of friends. If you’re a fan of stories that comment on climate change, nature, survival, loss, and coming-of-age, then this one is for you.

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How to Stop Time is a Story for the Ages

That is the whole thing with the future. You don’t know. At some point you have to accept that you don’t know. You have to stop flicking ahead and just concentrate on the page you are on.

Matt Haig, How to Stop Time

Book Description

Tom Hazard has just moved back to London, his old home, to settle down and become a high school history teacher. And on his first day at school, he meets a captivating French teacher at his school who seems fascinated by him. But Tom has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

Unfortunately for Tom, the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past or finally begin living in the present.

*Brought to you by Goodreads.

Just Read It

Coming back at ya with another Matt Haig book, and it’s just as beautifully mind-bending as The Midnight Library. If anything this book reminded me that the world is crazy and insane and we’re just living in it. I don’t know anything about anything.

Tom, beautiful Tom, knows everything about everything. At least he does about history and such. That’s the benefit of being 451 years old – you’re a good history teacher. Unfortunately for Tom, he’s still human and aging, so he still falls victim to the dratted mid-life crisis. That is how I’d describe Tom’s state of mind at the beginning of the book and throughout most of it too. He’s one sad dude.

Let’s make sure my math is mathing: dead loved ones + missing daughter for 400 years + trapped in a cult + said cult prohibits personal relationships + awful headaches due to being 451 years old = 1 very sad man. I think that checks out.

Tom’s just trying to understand the meaning of life and existence like the rest of us. I think the most fascinating thing about Tom is that he recalls events from the past like they happened yesterday, or are even happening in the present moment. The whole book intertwines his past and present as if they are happening at once. One minute Tom’s telling his history class about Shakespear, and the next he’s meeting Shakespear for the very first time. These two events, although hundreds of years apart, feel like they’re happening at once.

Another way Haig exemplifies the intertwining of past and present is through places. Tom walks the streets of present-day London, but all he can remember and see is the London he knew in the 1600s. It’s almost as if Tom is living in his past because his current life is so miserable.

Don’t worry, Tom isn’t sad for the whole book. He eventually discovers that by holding on to his past, he’s preventing himself from fully living in the present. The same goes for fearing his future. How can you live a decent life when you’re dwelling on the past or obsessed with what’s to come? I guess to stop time, you just have to be present.

Overall, this book is a work of art, and Matt Haig is an exceptional artist. Seriously, Mr. Haig, you’ve outdone yourself again. Brilliant! If you too are a fan of Matt Haig and literature that will make your brain fart, then you should probably just read this book.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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5 Book to Movie Adaptations that are Actually Good

You can’t deny that it can be entertaining to see a book you’ve only pictured in your mind, alive on a big screen. That’s a special kind of magic. Of course, that’s only for movies that are good. Bad movie adaptations exist, and I think we’ve all seen one…or ten (hint hint: My Sister’s Keeper).

The list below features five movie adaptations of books that I really enjoyed.

1 – The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

I can’t be a princess! I’m still waiting for normal body parts to arrive!

Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries

This was my favorite movie growing up. The idea that an ordinary girl could be a princess? Talk about a dream come true.

Then I find out there’s an entire book series? I headed to the nearest Barnes & Noble to get my hands on them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the biggest fan and couldn’t get myself to read past the second or third book. ‘Tis life.

Crazy to think this movie was made in 2001 – woof. Julie Andrews was made to portray a Queen. Everything about her is regal and elegant. Don’t even get me started on her relationship with Joseph. They had waaaay more chemistry than Mia and Michael. Honesty though, that makes sense since they’re only in high school. In fact, it’s more realistic.

This movie, mwah! Chef’s kiss.

2 – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin

You have bewitched my body and soul. And I love…I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.

Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice

By far the BEST Pride and Prejudice movie adaptation ever made. I’m talking about the 2005 movie starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. I’m not discounting the BBC series with Colin Firth – that one is good too, but it is my opinion that the 2005 adaptation is greater.

The influence this book as made on our entertainment is just astounding. Not only do we have Pride and Prejudice, but we also have thousands of spinoffs like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Also, where would Hallmark be without the Pride and Prejudice storyline? We wouldn’t have great titles like Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe, or Unleashing Mr. Darcy.

I talked about Queen Clarrise and Joseph having Chemistry, well Elizabeth and Darcy can join this club. Can we all agree that Matthew Macfadyen really nailed those non-verbal cues? The iconic fist-clench, and just the way he looks at Elizabeth. That man has nailed the female gaze.

3 – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Life, uh, finds a way.

Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

It’s required that you listen to the theme music whilst reading this section.

I LOVE dinosaurs, and I love this movie. First, we have a great cast. No one but Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Sam Neill could have done this movie. They slay.

I first saw this movie when I was but a small tot, so I didn’t read Michael Crichton’s book until high school. He almost immediately convinced me that you could clone dinosaurs using the blood of fossilized mosquitos. As I was reading, I thought, yes that makes total sense! Sadly, it’s just not possible 😦

Jurassic Park is so popular they rebooted it and made Jurassic World. I’m okay with the first installment. It’s the other two I have issues with…and I don’t know what Chris Pratt did to the writers of Jurassic World because they gave him the cheesiest lines.

Just to prove my point:

  • “I would have a word with your people in the lab. That thing out there…that’s no dinosaur.”
  • “Don’t worry. It’s gonna be just like taking a walk in the woods…65 million years ago.”
  • “Just breathe. If you don’t, she’ll think you’re scared.” (referring to a dinosaur?!)

And those are just a few. This also proves that no matter how many times they try and reboot the classic, nothing will ever beat it.

4 – Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkein

All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.

Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring

I haven’t finished the LOTR books yet, and I have to say, it’s a struggle. The story is great, but the descriptions are extremely lengthy and I often find myself zoning out in the middle of paragraphs. I’d even compare it to a food diary. Every other chapter goes on about food.

To get myself more pumped up about the books, I decided to watch the movies and it’s crazy how perfectly cast the characters are. They are everything I expected and more.

The perk of this book being made into a movie is that they couldn’t include every single detail – only the most important plot points. You know, since it’s inappropriate for a movie to be over 5 hours.

No matter the struggle, I still plan on finishing the books. I will prevail.

5 – The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

We accept the love we think we deserve.

Mr. Anderson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Back at it again with that great cast. I think this was one of the first projects Emma Watson did after filming the Harry Potter movies. This movie determined if she could play anyone besides Hermione Granger. She obviously passed the test with flying colors.

This movie was the perfect combination of dramatic and funny. Maybe it was a little strange for Charlie and Sam to have a thing, and Charlie and Mary Elizabeth for that matter. He was fourteen…they were eighteen…but hey! Age is nothing but a number. Unless one person is 18 and over and the other just became a teenager…*grimace face*

Overall, I felt like they didn’t stray too far from the book in this movie, and considering the book’s length, I think that’s a good thing.

It seems the key to having a good book-to-movie adaptation is the casting. If you don’t have a good cast, then the movie will suffer. Also, you don’t have to make the movie exactly like the book – sometimes it’s good, or even better, to go your own way.

What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Let me know in the comments.

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Beach Read Vs. Book Lovers

I’m a big Hallmark movie fan. The key isn’t to watch them with high expectations because the characters are always dull and the plotline is nonexistent. No matter how bad those movies are I will still watch them because they’re comfortable and easy. Easy and breezy – it’s kind of how I feel about Emily Henry’s books. Except she includes character and plot development – brava, Emily!

So, if you are a fan of light-hearted small-town romance books then chances are you’ll enjoy these books. Both have very similar vibes. I thought Book Lovers was better than Beach Read, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I’ll let you decide which one is better for you.

Beach Read

That was what I’d always loved about reading, what had driven me to write in the first place. That feeling that a new world was being spun like a spiderweb around you and you couldn’t move until the whole thing had revealed itself to you.

Emily Henry, Beach Read

Author January Andrews meets (again) author Augustus Everett while working remotely in her dead father’s beach house. Everything about these two scream opposites. January writes romance books and August writes literary fiction. January is a winter month and August is in the summer. August is a grump and January is all about sunshine and roses. The one thing they have in common, at least at the beginning of this story, is that they’re suffering from writer’s block. They’ve also got nearing deadlines and have high expectations from their publishers.

August and January decide to write a book in the other person’s genre, which of course involves a lot of one-on-one time to help each other research. Sparks go flying and shockingly they end up together.

This book was good. It wasn’t my favorite rom-com book, but it also didn’t shock me or keep me invested all the way through. After seeing this book plastered all over TikTok, I seem to be one of the few people who felt this book was a bit lacking. But, hey, that’s a-okay!

Book Lovers

Sometimes, even when you start with the last page and you think you know everything, a book finds a way to surprise you.”

Emily Henry, Book Lovers

This book was my jam. It’s very similar to Beach Read, except I felt like the enemies-to-lovers aspect was a little bit stronger in this one.

This time we have competing book editors, Nora Stephens and Charlie Lastra, finding love in the charming small town of Sunshine Falls. Nora is on vacation with her very pregnant sister and Charlie is visiting the small town to help his ailing parents.

Again, we have the grumpy guy and the upbeat/hopeful girl. Multiple accidental meetings in the small town spur a hot and heavy relationship between the two. I know, shocking!

And there was just something about Charlie and Nora – I really enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom from acquaintances to…BOOK LOVERS.

Just Read Them

As you can see both books are very similar. We’ve got two city girls going on a vacation in small towns and running into men that work in their field. Girls fall in love with grumpy boys and have career realizations. Not to mention they both work in the book field.

There’s nothing wrong with the formula 🙂 and I think Beach Read and Book Lovers are definitely worth the read.

Let me know in the comments which book you liked more.

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This Author is Reading Bridgerton (and You Should too)

Dear Reader,

It has come to this author’s attention that Bridgerton, streaming on Netflix, has stolen many hearts this past fortnight. Could it be the beautiful and stubborn Kate Sharma, or the handsome and just as stubborn Anthony Bridgerton that is stealing all of our hearts? One might never know...

All this author knows is that she must have MORE.

Lady M’s Just Read It Blog

And more did I get. I bought all eight Bridgerton books, and have so far read five of the eight. I can now say that the books are good, but I wouldn’t say they’re better than the show. Although, it’s tough to fully compare the two since Netflix and Shondaland stray from the books in many ways.

One difference between the show and the books is the diversity. All of Julia Quinn’s characters are white in the books. The show is so much more diverse and I was a little sad to find that the book characters had zero diversity. No matter! ‘Tis what our imaginations are for!

The biggest similarity between the show and the books is the steamy romance (*wink wink, nudge, nudge). In that way, Shondaland and Netflix do not stray.

Either way, If you’re on a 19th-century high like I am then I highly suggest that you check out the Bridgerton books and the show if you haven’t watched it yet.

And I know book research can be a tedious process, so let me be your guide through this Bridgerton “Middle Earth”. Below are all the books listed in the correct order, along with their descriptions.

Book 1 – The Duke and I

Daphne and Simon’s Story

The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, Daphne has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

Book 2 – The Viscount Who Loved Me

Anthony and Kate’s Story

Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry—he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…

Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman

Benedict and Sophie’s Story

Sophie Beckett never dreamed she’d be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton’s famed masquerade ball—or that “Prince Charming” would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.

Who was that extraordinary woman? Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other—except, perhaps this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid’s garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?

Book 4 – Romancing Mr. Bridgerton

Colin and Penelope’s Story

Everyone knows that Colin Bridgerton is the most charming man in London. Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for…well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret…and fears she doesn’t know him at all.

Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone’s preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same – especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide…is she his biggest threat – or his promise of a happy ending?

Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love

Eloise and Phillip’s Story

Sir Phillip knew from his correspondence with his dead wife’s distant cousin that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her…

Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking… and wondering… and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except… he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered. And he certainly should have mentioned that he had two young – and decidedly unruly – children, as much in need of a mother as Phillip is in need of a wife.

Book 6 – When He Was Wicked

Francesca and Michael’s Story

In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London’s most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca’s surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer—the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

But that was then… Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love… until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets…

Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss

Hyacinth and Gareth’s Story

Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth’s sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past… and the key to his future. The problem is—it’s written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there’s something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won’t quite let go…

To Hyacinth, Gareth’s every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other… and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.

Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding

Gregory and Lucy’s Story

Unlike most men of his acquaintance, Gregory Bridgerton believes in true love. And he is convinced that when he finds the woman of his dreams, he will know in an instant that she is the one. And that is exactly what happened. Except…

She wasn’t the one. In fact, the ravishing Miss Hermione Watson is in love with another. But her best friend, the ever-practical Lady Lucinda Abernathy, wants to save Hermione from a disastrous alliance, so she offers to help Gregory win her over. But in the process, Lucy falls in love. With Gregory! Except…

Lucy is engaged. And her uncle is not inclined to let her back out of the betrothal, even once Gregory comes to his senses and realizes that it is Lucy, with her sharp wit and sunny smile, who makes his heart sing. And now, on the way to the wedding, Gregory must risk everything to ensure that when it comes time to kiss the bride, he is the only man standing at the altar…

Honestly, if you don’t feel called to read the books for the romance, then you should just read them to witness the beauty that is the Bridgerton family. They are family goals.

All books are available on Amazon.

Let me know what you thought of the Bridgerton books and/or show in the comments below.

Happy Reading!

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6 Reasons You’ll Get Swept Away by A River Enchanted

I once thought home was simply a place. Four walls to hold you at night while you slept. But I was wrong. It’s people. It’s being with the ones that you love, and maybe even the ones that you hate.

A River Enchanted, Rebecca Ross

I really wouldn’t do much for a Klondike Bar, but there is a lot I would do for a good fantasy book, especially if it’s a series.

The only thing I had to do to get this book was to pick it for my BOTM, and I’m so thankful that I did. Everything about this story locked me in, from the characters to the descriptions and I never wanted to put it down.

This is Rebecca Ross’ first jab at Adult Fantasy and I think she just about crushed it, and in case this wasn’t enough to convince you to read the book, then please see my additional six reasons below.

Book Description

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world-building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

*Brought to you by Goodreads

1. Multiple perspectives and third-person narrative

One perspective isn’t bad, it’s just limiting. Thankfully, Rebecca Ross has given us not one, not two, not three, not four…but FIVE perspectives in this spellbinding book:

  • Jack Tamerlaine – Our leading man/bard, who has been summoned back to Cadence after being away for ten years, to help find missing lasses.
  • Adaira Tamerlaine – Our bamf leading lady who is the heiress to the Tamerlaine laird. Also, Jack Tamerlaine’s childhood nemesis.
  • Torin Tamerlaine – The guardsman to the east (aka Tamerlaine), Adaira’s cousin, husband to Sidra, and father to Maisie.
  • Sidra Tamerlaine – Healer of the east, wife of Torin, and pseudo-mother to Maisie.
  • Fraeda Tamerlaine – Jack’s little sister.

Tamerlaine is the name of the eastern clan, so that is why it’s Adaira, Torin, and Sidra’s last name. Jack and Fraeda don’t know who their father is, so they’ve taken that last name as well.

2. Soooo many secrets…and mysteries

You will find many a mystery on the island of Cadence, but the three primary mysteries are as follows:

  • Who is taking the Tamerlaine lasses, and why are they being taken?
  • The Breccan Clan – we are only told that they are violent and don’t seek to make peace with the East.
  • Who is Jack and Fraeda’s father?

Many more stem from these three, but I would hate to give everything away 🙂

3. Clan rivalries

It’s like the Montagues and the Capulets, the Trojans and the Spartans, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, Jerry Seinfeld and Newman…The Tamerlaines and the Breccans have a rivalry that beats all rivalries (besides the Packers and the Bears).

We know that the clans’ feud stems from centuries past when the leader of the east and the leader of the west decided to wed in an attempt to bring the two clans together. Obviously, that ends in utter disaster.

While this book mainly focuses on the Tamerlaines. We see glimpses of the Breccans, but not much is revealed about the clan. The Breccans seem to be more warrior types, while the Tamerlaines are more gentle.

4. There’s magic

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo – magic rules.

Many people on the island of Cadence have magical abilities. For the Tamerlaines, wielding magic has a very dangerous cost – your health. For the Breccans, there is no cost for practicing magic. Just add it to the list of mysteries.

Jack has the unique ability to communicate with the spirits of Cadence (water, earth, and wind) through his music. Jack’s mom has the ability to weave protective plaids. There are all sorts of magical abilities, and I wish I had all of them.

5. Dynamic & romantic relationships

Where would a good story be without a little romance? There are quite a few romantic entanglements mentioned in this book, but Jack and Adaira, and Torin and Sidra truly steal the show.

First, we have Jack and Adaira. They start the book off as enemies and it ends with them falling madly in love. It’s slow-moving but totally worth the pace and I love a good enemies-to-lovers romance trope.

Torin and Sidra are married when we are first introduced to them, Sidra being Torin’s second wife. His first wife died in childbirth. While it’s clear the two care for each other deeply, there’s still so much they are discovering about each other throughout the book. Honestly, their relationship is beautiful and I love them.

6. Celtic Folklore

This book is set in the 21st century, but when Jack arrives in Cadence it’s as if he’s gone back in time. The men wear kilts and plaids. There are no phones, TVs, cars, or guns. People get around on foot or by horse. The clans fight with enchanted swords and are protected by enchanted plaids. If you need someone, all you have to do is whisper their name in the wind and they’ll come.

Then there are the spirits. The people of Cadence believe that the spirits hold their fate in their hands and many of the Tamerlaines make offerings to them to keep the peace.

It’s all so magestic!

Just Read It

If you don’t mind reading an exquisite book and then being forced to wait a year before the second one is published, then I highly suggest you read this book right now.

Happy reading!

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