First Lines Fridays 1.21: The trees grew..

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

The trees grew at impossible angles from the limestone escarpment, and brittle rock crunched underfoot. The sound forcefully reminded Goodson Anskar of the day he half ran, half skidded across the broken floor tiles of the monastery’s chapel–the ominous crush and scattering of marble beneath his feet–before he peered down into the Vault of Mount Djall and found it empty.

That emptiness reached inside him now, two years later–two years of research and guesswork, convincing himself his hunch was right. He had arrived in Hedenskia with two thousand knights. Now only he and Brother Marton remained, trudging through the Dead Forest, taking turns carrying the precious child they had never expected to find among the heathens.

Soulswift_cover


by Megan Bannen
ASIN/ISBN: 9780062674180
Publication: November 17, 2020

Gelya is a Vessel, a girl who channels the word of the One True God through song. Cloistered with the other Vessels of her faith, she believes—as all Ovinists do—that a saint imprisoned Elath the Great Demon centuries ago, saving humanity from earthly temptation.

When Gelya stumbles into a deadly cover-up by the Ovinists’ military, she reluctantly teams up with Tavik, an enemy soldier, to survive. Tavik believes that Elath is actually a mother goddess who must be set free, but while he succeeds in opening Her prison, he inadvertently turns Gelya into Elath’s unwilling human vessel.

Now the church that raised Gelya considers her a threat. In a race against the clock, she and Tavik must find a way to exorcise Elath’s presence from her body. But will this release stop the countdown to the end of the world, or will it be the cause of the earth’s destruction? And as Tavik and Gelya grow closer, another question lingers between them: What will become of Gelya? (Goodreads)

This one sounds really interesting. Have you read this? Is this on your TBR?

The Inn on Sweetbriar Lane (2021)

by Jeannie Chin
ASIN/ISBN: 9781538753606
Publication: September 28, 2021

The Inn on Sweetbriar Lane is a charming small-town romance, practically a Hallmark movie in its plot and execution but updated to be more diverse in its population. (And people have sex too…). June is a likeable protagonist. While Clay eventually grew on me, I still didn’t like him all that much. It has the typical small-town story that I usually enjoy but only half of the main couple is likeable, which affected how much I rooted for their romance. 

Clay is a grumpy and stubborn vet who arrives in Blue Cedar Falls to fulfill his best friend’s dream of opening a bar. His less than personable behavior and his planned business venture put him at odds with some of the residents of the small town, including June, who helps run her family’s inn across the street from his bar. He realizes belatedly that he’ll need June’s support if he wants to successfully open his bar. Clay’s assumptions about June rubbed me the wrong way, and he never seems to be apologetic for jumping to conclusions about her. He second-guesses her motives, even though she doesn’t give him cause to. I didn’t think he deserved her, especially when the last act breakup started looming.

Used to being the responsible one, June needs to get more guests checking in to help pay her mother’s medical bills. It doesn’t help that the newest resident is making noise at all hours and driving guests away. Like Clay, she can be stubborn, but her outlook on life is much rosier. She’s the small-town girl who loves where she lives and wants other people to see its charm. June is relatively open-minded and is willing to give just about anything a chance, including Clay and his bar. Getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t prevent her from helping him once he sees the error of his ways. I liked her Pollyanna personality. The support she provides her best friend, who has a subplot here, is part of the reason why I liked June. She’s dependable but can sometimes carry too much on her shoulder.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the book is how quickly Clay and June pair up. I was left wondering what was going to happen for the rest of the book. The second half left me restless, although I did enjoy some of the subplots. I was disappointed that the Pumpkin Festival mentioned in the blurb only makes a small appearance. Chin does an excellent job of making the town charming. Everyone knows everyone else, and Chin easily pulls in characters to weave in some of their stories and backgrounds through conversations. It helped create that small-town atmosphere I was hoping for.  Although I might not have liked Clay as much as I hoped, Chin has successfully drawn me into the town and I look forward to reading the next sister’s book. The one I’m really looking forward to is the youngest sister’s book.

Music Monday 1.21: I am bound…

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song you really like and share it on, you guessed it, Monday.

I don’t remember this song getting as much airplay as I thought it deserved. It was not originally a duet, but a single was released with Cara added on. There are two perspectives provided with the understanding that this is just a single night between the two. Apparently, the song is part of the album’s entire arc of escapism and losing yourself so I’m going to be listening to Bastille’s entire album. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. Enjoy!

First Lines Fridays 1.20: He sat on..

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Ophelia Harrison jolted awake, her heart pounding with terror. It was the middle of the night, and her room was dark. Dark enough that she shouldn’t have been able to see her father standing at the end of the bed, but she could.

“Ophie, you got to wake up. Get up, girl.”

OphiesGhosts_cover


by Justina Ireland
ASIN/ISBN: 9780062915894
Publication: May 18, 2021

The New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation makes her middle grade debut with a sweeping tale of the ghosts of our past that won’t stay buried, starring an unforgettable girl named Ophie.

Ophelia Harrison used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922, and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which was the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts.

Now Ophie and her mother are living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the same old manor house where she works.

Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past–and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged. And as Ophie forms a friendship with one spirit whose life ended suddenly and unjustly, she wonders if she might be able to help–even as she comes to realize that Daffodil Manor may hold more secrets than she bargained for. (Goodreads)

Doesn’t the description sound so interesting? I have been eyeing this one since it was published and was successful in keeping my distance until I saw it again while putting in a preorder for some books. Here’s another one on my TBR. Have you read it?

NetGalley November 2021

Total Books: 39
Backlogged: 14
Current Feedback: 69%
Goal: 80% (read 14 books)

I am participating in NetGalley November this year! I’d forgotten all about this readathon until I came across the post on Fi’s Bibliofiles. I have been feeling guilty about my backlog, some as far back as March, so this is the perfect readathon to whittle it down and bring up my feedback ratio.

The marathon was started by Emandherbooks and Lisa Lou from Tot and Tales. There are nine prompts, but I will focus on my backlog and see what fits the prompts along the way. Let’s see how the month goes! Wish me luck!

BACKLOG TBR

Anonymous Bookaholics Tag

I was tagged by Marta The Monogamist Reader. Marta has wonderful content, including a feature that lists the new YA releases of the week. It’s one of my favorites along with many of Marta’s reviews. Please check out her blog and follow if you haven’t already done so.

I’m not sure where the tag originated, but if you know, please let me know and I will update the post!

QUESTIONS

What do you like about buying new books?

I love the excitement of knowing that I will be on a new adventure soon. I enjoy holding it, the weight of it in my arms as I clutch it to my chest. Books are wonderful.

How often do you buy books?

I’ve been buying books more often than I used to because ebooks make it too easy to add something to my library. I purchase ebooks every few days when books I want are on sale. Print books are different matter. It depends from week to week if there is anything I want to have for my shelves.

Bookstore or online book shopping: Which do you prefer?

I want to say bookstore, but I’ve been I’ve been shopping online more often. Sometimes I want certain editions or I want to read it right away.

Do you have a favorite bookshop?

I’ve been trying to support more independent bookstores. I wish there was one in town, but there isn’t. I love Books of Wonder, because the books are wrapped in paper and then bubble wrapped when I receive them. It always feels like I’m opening a gift when a package from them comes in. I would also like to one day visit Waterstones.

Do you pre-order books?

I’ve fallen victim to pre-order incentives and like to pre-order books when I can. However, the incentives are just little extras. I’ll pre-order when it’s a book I can’t wait for. For instance, I’ve had Fonda Lee’s Jade Legacy and Andrea Stewart’s The Bone Shard Emperor preordered for a while now.

Do you have a monthly buying limit?

I really need to set one! The only thing that makes me feel a teensy bit less guilty is that I forgo buying certain other wants when I think about spending the money on books instead. Hahaha… Take out? Not tonight. I can use that for books instead.

How big is your wishlist?

My wishlist is technically my TBR and vice versa. It’s long and I should remove some. I’m sure I’ve forgotten half of the books on there!

Which three books from your wishlist do you wish to own right now?

I can’t wait for my print copy of The Bone Shard Emperor…and I’m already anticipating the last book in the trilogy. I’ve heard so many great things about An Ember in the Ashes. I have an ebook of An Ember in the Ashes but I really want a print copy. I also have an ebook of Attachment Theory (My Review), but I’ve been refreshing daily to see when the audiobook might be available. Loring has the best ensemble cast with her audiobooks.

I’m Tagging YOU.
If this is something you might enjoy doing, please do it and tag me. I’d love to read your answers!

This tag was fun but also made me reflect on my spending habits. Why must reality be forced on me? I am probably in need of a buying limit and likely have to curb my moods to minimize impulse buys. I do a lot of that!

Music Monday 1.20: It’s in the…

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song you really like and share it on, you guessed it, Monday.

I’ve been a Yuna fan for a while now and continue to play various songs by her on repeat. Currently, it’s “Favorite Thing.” Her voice is light and soothing, and reminds me a lot of Sade. I enjoy her many collaborations with international artists, but it’s nice to relax to songs that are just solely her.

And you remain my most favorite thing
And everywhere I go you’re here with me
And you remain my most favorite thing
And all the time I keep you near me

Today’s song lends itself well to gushing about my favorite reads for October. I wasn’t very productive this month and read only 11 books, half as much as what I accomplished for September. Hopefully it will pick back up this month. Despite not reading as much as I’m used to, I did read some good books. One of my favorite reads is The Bone Shard Emperor. I’m still writing a review for it but it’s rivals the first book in how great it is. Stewart did such a wonderful job. It blew me away! My other favorite read is You Didn’t Love Me Then (My Review). I spent a few days reading it, rereading it, and rereading my favorite parts. Since I love emotional reads, I think Baines might be one of my new go-to authors. As novella goes, Ninja At First Sight is fantastic. The only downside is that it ends on a cliffhanger. The novella was so well-written that the full-length novel featuring the same couple could not live up to it.

Let’s Talk Bookish: What makes you like a character?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Discussions pertain to topics related to reading or books. Share your opinions, and spread the love by visiting other “Let’s Talk Bookish” posts.

Prompts:  Are there any physical qualities you look for in a character? What personalities tend to draw you to characters? Are there any archetypes you prefer, are you always falling for the villain? What makes you like characters?

After discovering an array of books with diverse representation, I’ve been grabbing a lot of books that feature Asian characters. I still read plenty of books that do not have Asian characters, but I am particularly excited when lead characters identify as Asian or are Asian-type characters because I was rarely exposed to any when I was growing up; there weren’t really any to be exposed to. It wasn’t until this year when Lori M. Lee’s Pahua and the Soul Stealer was published that I could point to a book categorized as fantasy and say definitively that this protagonist is Hmong. As Lee writes in her author’s note, “Everything from books to TV to movies to magazines told me that being who I was meant I couldn’t go on epic adventures or discover magic or ride off into the sunset. I’ve matured since then, and now I know that representation matters, representation matters, representation matters. Being me is enough and always has been.”

I’m drawn to characters that are smart and have a desire to protect and help others. It’s a plus when these characters are also sarcastic and have a good sense of humor. I’m not the biggest fan of characters that are subservient but I don’t mind such characters when their arc involves finding their voice and standing up for themselves. Taking into consideration these personalities, I have multiple archetypes I fall for, including the joker, the hero, the rebel, and the caretaker. It’s hard to choose just one because characters often take on multiple roles. Villains are usually those I like the least, but I do love a good origin story or redemption story.

  • Ia Cōcha from Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan is one of my favorite characters because she embodies most, if not all, of what I’ve listed. She’s a rebel, tough and likes to do what she wants, but underneath that exterior is someone who cares about others.
  • Rowan Roth from Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon is another character I adore. She’s smart and has drive to go after what she wants, including bringing down her academic rival Neil after losing out to him for valedictorian.
  • Lennix Hunter from The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan is one of my favorite romantic leads. She is passionate and fights for what she believes in. She is the kingmaker because she is good at what she does, putting hopeful political candidates who she supports into office.

What about you? What draws you to a character?