Posted in Tags, Memes, and More!

April TBR: Updates and a Buddy Read

A little late in posting my tbr for April but ah well, I am still posting! I failed utterly at my last reading months tbr tho I DID read around twenty books, wrap up to come soon. This month I have a single buddy read and a few arcs, library books, and I’m actually plowing my way through a historical mystery series without stopping-I know, that’s rare, who am I?

Buddy Read:

ARCs on my TBR:

Library Books:

I also have Still Life by Louis Penny, & Fable by Adrienne Young.

Ebooks:

And that’s it!

I’m not overloading on arcs this month tho I do still have an alarming backlog. I’m on book four of The Lady Darby series and will post reviews of the first three books soon. I have a lot of reviews pending and hope to share them soon.

What’s your April tbr look like? Share in the comments and let me know!

Posted in Website Updates

Website Updates: New Name, New Look

Hello all,

Pass Me That Book is no more. After five years, I felt it time for a change. Totally Honest Reviews is a name born out of the fact that I try being honest in my opinions, as well as everything else. Kindness is our motto, but promoting how I feel about a book-whether good or bad-is where the new name comes in. If you don’t like it, too bad, I say.

There will be further changes. I’m aiming for these to be changed:

-website name change from passmethatbook.com to totallyhonestreviews.com

-frequent posting

-being more open about accepting reviews

-going through all my unorganized posts, and labeling them appropriately

-to be determined

I stated in an earlier post how I would like to see more changes on my website. How I’d like to be more on time and get a lot more content in. Prepare for that to come true. Suggestions welcomed in what all I should post as new content, and what you would like to see changed. Also let me know if any links don’t work.

Thank you, all for your support, and until next time!

Posted in fiction, Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Romance

Start of a Series Book Review: Into the Wilderness

Book One

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donatti. This is described as a ambitious sequel to one of my favorite classics The Last of the Mohiacns, though you don’t need to read that to read this. Written back in 1998, after Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, this is one of my top five historical fiction romance books. Unlike Outlander, this doesn’t feature a time travel element, however it is directly linked to the series, as within the halfway point of book one, Clair Fraiser is outright mentioned for at least six pages as ‘the White Witch’. Its a nod to one of the biggest romance series of all time, that’s so well known it became a hit series on Hulu a few years back.

The story begins with Elizabeth, a spinster wishing to teach school in Paradise. But there’s problems. For one thing, her family is cash poor thanks to her brother’s gambling debts. For another, her father-the Judge-wishes her to marry Dr. Richard Todd. But she’s firm in remaining a spinster…until she meets Nathanial Bonner, direct descendant of Daniel (Dan’l) Boone. She is wary around him, unsure of what to expect of him-or this new land so rife with both bounty and troubles. Slavery is still legal. No one’s at first eager for a schoolmarm, worried more about cost and that what she teaches will not be useful to the students, apart from math or geography, reading or writing. She fights for her school, as well as her freedom in not to marry.

There’s lots of other problems scattered throughout the book. Someone attempting to run Nathanial and his people off of Lake in the Clouds, as they don’t want Indians on their territory. Rougher weather than usual settling in. A dangerous threat looming. And the potential for marriage in Elizabeth’s future, despite her wishes being made clear to her father. She struggles to grow used to her new home in Paradise, while the people struggle with the fact she’s not the spoiled princess they thought she’d be.

The story spans eight hundred plus pages, and evolves for at least six more books. I’d read book one at least ten times throughout the last fifteen years, and I’m still drawn in to the whole of it. Its one of my most favorite historical romances that I’d read in my life, and I am sincerely hoping it gets its own television series being linked with Outlander so. I cannot rate this highly enough, if you want fiction with depth, history, and romance as well as adventure, then I recommend picking up this book. You won’t regret doing so.

Final Rating: 6/5 stars

Posted in fiction, Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

New Release Review: Leave the World Behind

Book Summary from Goodreads:

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? 

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis. 

My Review:

This book was weird. An ending that left it all hanging wide open. No questions answered, and no one technically dead. An apocalypse story but with few signs of the actual events shown. From the point of view of strangers stuck together at a vacation home in the middle of nowhere. The disjointed writing took a bit to get used to and I didn’t much care for Amanda or the rest though I was curious as to what would happen. A slow build of a plot that cuts off abruptly leaving you asking “wtf was that?!”

Trigger warnings: 9/11 discussed, kid sick/ill, missing child, and brief sexual scenes between husband/wife

Final Rating: 4/5 ⭐

Posted in Uncategorized

Discussion: Reading Slumps (And Why I Hate Them)

Hello all.

I’m tentatively stepping out of hiatus and explaining where I’ve been. Answer: reading but not reviewing. Dnf’ing and not finishing. I’m struggling to figure out how I want my blog to go. While I like wrap ups, tbr updates, and new book releases it feels repetitive after a while. I grew tired of posting what felt like the same shit different day. It’s nice owning my own website name, but the little amount of traffic I get doesn’t feel worth it. Part of why I blog is to be heard and it feels like I’m not reaching that I want to reach.

That’s issue #1. Issue #2 is that life’s busy, I’m bored (not of reading but of staying home due to Covid), there’s a lot of those who wrote the same sort of reviews that I do…a list of complaints isn’t something y’all want to read, but that’s basically what I feel. Issue #2: it doesn’t matter what I do, my work is barely making a difference for the community.

But! See, I know that’s not true. Every review matters for authors. That’s always been how I operate: read, review, share sometimes purchase if it’s something I truly enjoyed or feel I must have. The book community is amazing and resourceful and helpful, kind and encouraging. I grew from a pitiful 10 followers to an amazing 300 followers. I’m wanting to seriously increase that number but #3 STOP F*CKING PROCRASTINATING!!!!

I’m whining and bored, but I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered. I’m aiming to (once again, damnit) change that so that I’m more frequent about posting. I want my blog to grow and to do that I have to post content.

Even if I hate it, if I’m bored, I gotta post content AND STICK TO A SCHEDULE!!! I’m awful about scheduling. About posting reviews on time instead of months/years later. I have a hell of a backlog to go through and I need to get up off my lazy butt and get to it.

In total, I have roughly 400 books on Netgalley to review. Yes, I’m not being paid for those books. But I got a book for free and I ought to show my support somehow. I am not even going to talk about my owned tbr, my library of new things, and the list goes on and on.

But reading slumps. Those things ought to leave us all alone but they aren’t gonna. We need to push through the damn reading slumps and get ourselves to be focused. It’s hard. In that we especially don’t feel like reading at that moment. Is that depression? Anxiety? Or just plain laziness? Whatever it is, I plan on ignoring reading slumps as much as I can from here on out.

I want to read, and I want my blog to grow. My reviews to matter and be something different and not repetitive. I’m hoping to change all that.

Will you help me out? Can you encourage me into posting more frequently? Share just this one post and make it stretch far and wide. Encourage all those with reading slumps: what you do for this community f*cking matters. Whether it’s book reviews or blog hopping, buying or promoting. Good job book community. Keep up the amazing work and stay safe in these troubling times.

Later.

And thanks.

Posted in Fantasy Book Reviews

Book Review: A Deadly Education

Summary From Goodreads:

Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.

A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.

There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.

El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students. 

My Review:

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik is adult fantasy, with a unique story plot, featuring a girl named Galadriel and a boy named Orion Lake. I wanted to really like this more than I did, but I wound up dnf’ing the book at around 200 pages. Galadriel was rather harsh towards Orion, and the plot wasn’t keeping my attention.

The magic system was good. I liked the whole school set up. But otherwise? I hated how the students treated one another, as though each of them were nothing more than cannon fodder to the other. It seemed rather callous between the students. I understand the whole ‘fight to survive’ element going on, but it seemed as though they could have banded together to accomplish more.

The pacing for the story was well structured, and I did like how the characters all felt real. The magic system was slow to be explained as were the monsters within and without the school. I generally was overall? Not a huge fan, but still liked it enough to make it past the halfway point. I’d recommend this to those looking for another fun fantasy setting set at an educational school.

Final Rating: 3/5 stars

Posted in Tags, Memes, and More!

February is my Netgalley Reading Month: Here’s What I Plan to Tackle

Lately there’s a lot of books in my Netgalley account. Roughly 150+ books. I really need to tackle a lot of them, and get my ratio back under control. So for February I plan on reading nothing but Netgalley arcs. I’m going to try an arc a day, if I can manage it. If not, then I’ll stick close to it. Here are the books I’m most eager to get to in the next month:

There’s lots more of course. And I need to finish catching up on some of the series like The Relentless Moon for example. Many books in my Netgalley account are sequels to series I haven’t read or started, though thankfully I am all caught up on Mrs. Kopp-an absolutely favorite historical cozy mystery series that I adore. I’m lucky to get all these delightful looking books, and hope to review at least all these that I listed in this post for the next month.

Wish me luck!

Posted in Fantasy Book Reviews

Book Review: Winterwood

Summary From Goodreads:

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic,where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.

My Review:

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw is a fantasy novel that’s beautiful, lyrical, atmospheric, and mysterious. It involves a witch, a dead boy, and a missing boy found. It blends magical realism with witchcraft, history with enchanting tales of witches throughout the Walker family, that live near the Wicker Woods. It tells about Oliver-the missing boy found in those woods, and Nora Walker-the witch who found him. It has a hint of romance, that’s barely there within the pages. It was perfect for the winter season in terms of when this book should be read.

It’s lyrical prose was enchanting throughout the whole book. It reminded me of why I adore witches in small towns, of haunted forests, of magical spells and enchantments. I was reminded quite strongly of Alice in Wonderland, before she went off to her adventures, eager to see what lay beyond the fantastical. There’s an all boy’s school, there’s a mystery to the story, of what happened to the lost boy, as well as the dead boy. The writing was beautiful, and perfectly captured the atmosphere of the small town setting, back when things were mysterious and wild.

Its easily one of my new favorites of the year (though we’re early in the year, I know, lol) and I’m hopeful to snag The Wicked Deep by the author soon as well since I missed out on that one as well. I’m going to go ahead and rank this one five out of five stars. I really loved this book and hope to buy a copy to add to my collection because the binding of it is beautiful as well.

Final Rating: 5/5 stars!

Posted in Tags, Memes, and More!

Top 25 Books on my 2021 Most anticipated reads

It seems as though all the bloggers are making top ten lists, top twenty, so on and so forth. I thought I would do a slightly bigger number. Top twenty five books on my tbr pile that I’d like to get to. I chose random books from fantasy to romance to historical fiction. The choices were hard to pick, but I narrowed it down at last.

#1:

To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—a story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II.

#2

In The Need, Helen Phillips has created a subversive, speculative thriller that comes to life through blazing, arresting prose and gorgeous, haunting imagery. Anointed as one of the most exciting fiction writers working today, The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives.

#3:

Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.

#4:

An electrifying, page-turning debut about a young woman haunted by her tragic past, who returns to her hometown and discovers that there might be more to her police detective mother’s death—and last case—than she ever could have imagined.

#5:

A traveling librarian ventures into the mining towns of Kentucky on horseback and rediscovers her passions in this powerful novel from the best-selling author of A Silken Thread.

#6:

Combining the emotional power and dual narrative style of ‘Before We Were Yours’ with the nuanced, layered, and atmospheric mystery of ‘The Dry’, a powerful debut novel revolving around a shocking disappearance, two neighbor families, and shameful secrets from the past that refuse to stay buried.

#7:

Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue—and a touch of magic.

#8:

A propulsive, richly entertaining novel about two adventure-seeking brothers, the enemies who threaten them, and the women who reveal to them an unjust world on the brink of upheaval.

#9:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression.

#10:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

#11:

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

#12:

An unforgettable tale of what we owe to those we love, and those we have left behind

#13:

A queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family.

#14:

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

#15:

Superbly tense and oozing with atmosphere, Anna Downs’s debut is the perfect summer suspense, with the modern gothic feel of Ruth Ware and the morally complex family dynamics of Lisa Jewell.

#16:

Bestselling author Nancy E. Turner returns to the world of Sarah Agnes Prine through the wide-eyes of her irrepressible young niece, Mary Pearl.

#17

It’s late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest.

#18:

When fragmented images and unfocused panic force Noelle St. Claire to flee her wealthy, sheltered life in New York, she gains sanctuary on a ranch in the Rocky Mountains.There Noelle finds solace in the breathtaking scenery she paints. But as the attentions of two brothers, Rick and Morgan Spencer, breach the wall she hides behind, the past she yearns to escape becomes a menacing threat from which she can no longer hide. Award-winning and bestselling author Kristen Heitzmann has skillfully created a story resonating with emotion and depicting a poignant spiritual journey.

#19:

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s HamletThe Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

20:

All the Light We Cannot See meets The Nightingale in this literary WWI-era novel and epic love story of a brilliant young doctor who races against Einstein to solve one of the universe’s great mysteries.

#21:

Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows–her family, her teachers, her friends–is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth.

#22

From a beloved, award-winning writer, the much-anticipated novel about what happens when two families go on a tropical vacation and the children go missing.

#23

An instant New York Times Bestseller, this is a stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of. Perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone

#24

Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine—and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

#25:

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the incredible true life story of Mrs. Grace Humiston, the New York lawyer and detective who solved the famous cold case of Ruth Cruger, an 18-year-old girl who disappeared in 1917. 

And those are my top 25 books I’m anticipating in 2021. I should note, all of these are backlist titles, except Kristin Hannah’s, and maybe a couple other historical fictions that I couldn’t resist adding onto the pile. This list was also in no particular order, as I’m determined in getting all these read, as my library has ebook copies, as well as physical copies, of all of these apart from the new releases. I hope some of these caught your attention. I also hope that y’all can send me more recommendations in the comments for backlist titles!

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book.

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review: Splinters are children of wood

Summary From Goodreads:

The wildly unrestrained poems in Splinters Are Children of Wood, Leia Penina Wilson’s second collection and winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, pose an increasingly desperate question about what it means to be a girl, the ways girls are shaped by the world, as well as the role myth plays in this coming of age quest. Wilson, an afakasi Samoan poet, divides the book into three sections, linking the poems in each section by titles. In this way the poems act as a continuous song, an ode, or a lament revivifying a narrative that refuses to adopt a storyline.

Samoan myths and Western stories punctuate this volume in a search to reconcile identity and education. The lyrical declaration is at once an admiration of love and self-loathing. She kills herself. Resurrects herself. Kills herself again. She is also killed by the world. Resurrected. Killed again. These poems map displacement, discontent, and an increasing suspicion of the world itself, or the ways people learn the world. Drawing on the work of Bhanu Kapil, Anne Waldman, Alice Notley, and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Wilson’s poems reveal familiarity and strangeness, invocation and accusation. Both ritual and ruination, the poems return again and again to desire, myth, the sacred, and body

–Craig Santos Perez 

My Review:

Splinters Are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson is a poetry novella.

Poetry is a new genre for me. All that I’ve read of poetry thus far is Emily Dickenson, and I adored her works, as well as that of Robert Frost. This was…not that sort of poetry at all. For a word of warning, this book contains harsh language that I wasn’t quite prepared for. And their misspelling of the word “girl” to “gurl” was irritating after the sixth or so page.

I wanted to like this more than I did. I really wanted to dip my toes back into poetry, but this was extremely off putting. I can, on the one hand, see why some people enjoyed this book. But to me? No. Two stars, and I will probably not be reading from this author again any time soon. I will say that I still rather like the book’s title and cover, and that’s pretty much it.

Final Rating: 2/5 stars