The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, Publication Order #1) by C.S. Lewis

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“Lucy looks into a wardrobe”

I was feeling rather nostalgic this holiday season for some reason, and I thought what better way to pay homage to my childhood than by rereading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for the first time in a very long time! And, friends, I fell so in love. I actually think I’m going to make it a holiday tradition to read this book every single December for the rest of my life.

And it was so funny, because I was very apprehensive going in, because when I was little, I think the religious themes went over my head, but I didn’t know how overbearing they would be reading this story for the first time as an adult. But it honestly wasn’t too much. I mean, some of the characters in Narnia refer to the kids as “Son of Adam” and “Daughter of Eve” and like I get the parallels with Aslan and Jesus now! But I still think it was very thoughtfully done and didn’t pull me out of the story or anything like that.

But if you are unfamiliar with this beloved children’s tale, this is a story about four children who have been recently adopted by an old professor who lives in a massive house. And one rainy day, while the kids are bored, they decide to explore the house that is now their new home. And the youngest of the children find a portal to a magical land, ruled by the White Witch, who is causing an endless winter.

Lucy – The Best Character.
Edmund – What A Little Shit.
Peter – Good Guy.
Susan – Group Mom.
Aslan – Simba Who?
Tumnus – Second Fave, Even Though He Almost Kidnapped My First Fave.

But there was so much that I forgot about this story: Mr. Beaver poppin’ open a cold one at dinner, Tumnus almost kidnapping Lucy, Everything the professor says to the kids and how he helps them, Edmund being the such a little shit that even my patience was getting tested, Turkish Delights, Father Christmas, and him giving the kids weapons as gifts!

Overall, this was just the perfect winter wonderland to me. From closet, to lamppost, to dam, to forest, to castle, I never wanted to leave this adventure. I am not sure if it is a lot of nostalgia talking, but this was maybe the best thing I read all holiday season. It was exactly what I wanted, and I was truly enthralled from the first to last page. I never wanted to leave this endless Winter.

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Buddy read with Julie from Pages and Pens! ❤

 

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

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ARC given to me by a confirmed angel, Lilly at Lair of Books!

“You might get to know characters in books, Ollie thought, but getting to know a human was an entirely different thing.”

Small Spaces is Katherine Arden’s debut middle grade novel and I loved it so very much friends. Many of you know that The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favorite books of all-time, and even though these stories are nothing like one another, the beautiful writing, amazing characters, and important themes shine through. I went into this expecting a fun and spooky read (which it was), but what I also got was such a beautiful love letter to grief, depression, and trying to live in a world that has taken away someone who you feel you cannot live without.

In a small town in Vermont, our main character is riding her bike home from school one fall afternoon, when she notices a woman attempting to throw an old book in the water. Ollie, being the book lover that she is, feels obliged to stop and see what’s going on.

Olivia Adler – But she mostly goes by Ollie. A twelve-year-old, sixth grader, who loves to read and is trying to live her life while grieving a terrible loss. And the only way she truly knows how to cope is the escapism of books. (Also, there is a brief mention of her mom having brown skin, but I am not 100% sure of Ollie’s race.)

Coco Zintner – The tiniest child in Ollie’s class. She has a somewhat famous mother and has recently moved to the school. But her innocence and eccentricities constantly make her a target for bullying.

Brian Battersby – Jamaican and your typical middle school jock, who Ollie has known her entire life. And Ollie learns very quickly that you should not stereotype people, because they might surprise you.

And their paths truly cross unexpectedly once Olivia begins to read the book that was almost abandoned. She learns of a farm, and a girl, and two brothers, and a missing persons case that was never solved. And now Ollie and her friends are going on a field trip to a farm that is very reminiscent of the story she has been reading about.

And yes, friends, this is a spooky book. I mean, it’s nothing too scary or too much, but Katherine Arden for sure paints an eerie atmosphere and some extremely creepy monster like characters. And I truly think this will make the perfect Halloween read this year, for so many ages, but this book was also so much more than that.

This is a book about healing and friendship and learning to let go while simultaneously never letting go. This book is about escapism through books and how books carry some of the most powerful healing magic imaginable. And this is a book about healing at your own pace and in your own time.

“Maybe, she kept thinking, when she came back from one of those other worlds, when she woke up from book dreaming, she would come back to a world where […] wasn’t dead.”

Ollie is really dealing with some very serious depression and grief throughout this book. Like how we give up things that make us happy, just because those things remind you of the person who made you happiest. How sometimes the world feels too heavy, too loud, too empty, all because it’s missing someone who was your entire world. Yet, this is also a love letter to how the ones we lose will never truly be lost; they will always remain with us. Always.

Overall, I loved this book more than words. I wasn’t expecting it to make me feel everything that it did, and when I closed the book it truly felt like a cathartic experience. I recommend this book to any and every person, but especially during the autumnal season. I read this in a single sitting, I never once wanted to put it down, and I fell so deeply in love with it.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for minor bullying, loss of a loved one, grief depiction, and depression depiction.

 

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1) by Jessica Townsend

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“The point is—as far as the Society is concerned—if you are not honest, and determined, and brave, then it doesn’t matter how talented you are.”

Whenever people compare things to Harry Potter I immediately become wary of whatever they are comparing to it. I know this mostly comes from nostalgia, but still, I feel like saying something is “the next Harry Potter” is not only the highest praise, but also setting that thing up for the greatest fall. It took me a while to pick Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow up, just because of that that. But you know what? I think it deserves that title; not only is it amazing, it actually does feel like the closest thing I’ve ever read to Harry Potter, while also completely and wholeheartedly being its own story. I loved this book.

This book stars a young girl named Morrigan Crow, who has lived her life feeling unwanted by a family who believes her to be cursed. And this curse has also lead everyone, including Morrigan, to believe that she will die on her eleventh birthday. That is, until Jupiter North comes with an invitation to compete to join the Wundrous Society.

Each year, kids compete to enter this exclusive Society, with the help of a sponsor. And all the children have different knacks, AKA: talents, which range from being able to grow hair on a whim, to being able to ride dragons, to being practically invisible, the possibilities are honestly endless. And Jupiter North has never taken a protégée under his wing, until Morrigan. So, everyone is wondering and assuming that she must have a talent unlike anyone has ever seen, but Morrigan doesn’t even know what special powers she possesses.

But to even get into the Wundrous Society, Morrigan must complete each of the four trials. And all the trials are so very different, and so very unique, and such a dang treat to read. The trials were truly my favorite scenes in this book. And that’s saying a lot, because we have a giant, talking cat who is sassy and perfect. And a hotel, where Morrigan stays, with such an amazing cast of characters. And the Christmas scene and competition in this book? Honestly perfection. I truly did love this story with my whole heart.

This book is such a love letter to found families. And I think this book could change so many lives of so many kids out there that feel so unwanted, when in reality they are so very wanted and the family we choose will always be greater than the family we are born into. This is something that took me a long while to figure out myself, but blood will always be just that – blood. Hell, every one out of fifteen people walking around Vegas are likely to have my blood type, and that’s all my blood has to say about me. Yes, this book is whimsical, and fun, but I also think it’s important. And my heart is so very happy just thinking about the message that will touch so many kids picking this book up.

And this book has such an overwhelming message about how we can truly be anything we want to be. That good and bad are in all of us, and as long as you’re striving to do good, you can be good, no matter your past, and no matter who tells you otherwise.

Overall, I can honestly say that each time I opened this book up that I experienced pure joy. From the messages, to the writing, to this fantastic story in general. There is so much to love about this book. If you are on the fence, please pick this one up. It’s honestly such a bright shining light in middle grade. And I cannot wait to see what comes next in Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow!

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Trigger and content warnings for emotionally abusive parents and abandonment.

Buddy read with Sue & Lourdes! ❤

City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

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ARC provided by Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.

“People think that ghosts only come out at night, or on Halloween, when the world is dark and the walls are thin. But the truth is, ghosts are everywhere.”

City of Ghosts is a middle grade novel that has such a perfect spooky atmosphere, and it’s set around scary places in Scotland. Like, sounds perfect, true? And, as always, Victoria’s writing is so very beautiful and lyrical. I think this will be such a fun fall read for so many readers. Also, this is my 100th book read in 2018! *throws confetti everywhere*

Cassidy Blake isn’t the most popular girl in her school, but she has the only friend that she needs; a ghost named Jacob that saved her from death. And after Jacob saved her that frightening day, they have been connected. Jacob lives in the realm of the living with Cassidy, but Cassidy now can open and enter the veil, and see the ghosts that are stuck within it.

Even though she is always drawn to walk in-between the worlds, she has always managed to stay safe. That is, until her parents, who are ghost hunters, by the way, get a once in a lifetime opportunity to film a show about the most haunted spots in Scotland. And while in Scotland, Cassidy meets a ghost that is more evil than any of the others she’s ever encountered before.

“Once there was a woman, a beauty with fair skin and black hair, and a little boy who loved to wander.”

Trigger and content warnings for death, especially the death of children, murder, loss of a child, and abduction.

I truly did enjoy this book immensely. In fact, it might be my favorite Victoria Schwab book to date. But, a few things kept me from rating it higher. The biggest being the Harry Potter references. At first, I was so happy, and then they became so abundant and so forced. Also, you can really tell that Victoria is banking on her previous fans buying this, because yeah, twenty and thirty year olds are going to love nods to Harry Potter, but a new and actual middle grade audience? Probably not so much. And even me, a Gryffindor who fits that demographic, thought the Harry Potter references were too much.

The only other annoying thing, is that this cover really doesn’t make sense. Like, Cassidy does have a cat named Grim, but they aren’t brought up very much, and when they are it is in their carrier. Like, looking at this book cover you’ll get major Mr.Kindly from Nevernight vibes, but that’s totally not the case in the slightest. And I obviously know that authors have no control over their covers, but I wish the cat was replaced with Jacob.

“Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?”

But overall, I really do think people are going to enjoy this one. Again, Victoria truly is a very talented writer and her prose always really works with me. The atmosphere in this book is completely teleportive, and it was such a fast and enjoyable read. I loved seeing these scary places though the eyes of Cassidy, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with May at Forever and Everly & Julianna at Paper Blots! ❤