June Wrap-up

Wrap-up

I swear that there was no June this year. I really do think that’s what happened. Because, it went so fast!! It felt like the first half of the month was preparing for Portland, then I was in Portland, then I was working on stuff for my second, and final, year of grad school.

Basically, a lot has been going on!

Along with that, I’m very excited to announce that I’m an affiliate for Book of the Month’s brand new YA line! If you already have BotM, you have to make a new one. If you don’t, you can sign up and choose exclusively from five YA selections for $14.99 each month. Tomorrow they’re announcing their July choices, which I’ll post about.

You can go to our bio/home page and there’s a link that’s mine. What does that mean? If you sign up through it, I get $10. I’d love it if you all could if that’s something you can afford and are inclined towards since it does help this blogger out a bit. Or, you can click here to give it a look! The July choices are pretty damn good!

But, enough promo for this post. Onto what I read!


I read 30 books this month! I’m pretty proud of that number. Even more proud that my average rating was 3.8! May was a super low month, 2.9, so I’m happy that it went up and I did a better job of choosing what I read.

Below are links to my reviews with the ratings.

Reviews on the Blog


Reviews on Goodreads


Reviews to post in July

  • If You See Her by Ania Ahlborn – 4.5/5
  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – 4/5
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley – 4/5

Thank you all for indulging my promo! I will be posting about that another time this month, just as a warning. I’m just really excited that BotM is taking this step and that they were amazing enough to let me be an affiliate.

Talk to me!
What were your favorite books this month?
Have you heard about Book of the Month YA?

June Haul

Copy of Copy of Top Ten Tuesday

Hello all! I’m here to share with you the books that I bought and was sent this month! I did spend a bit more since I did go on vacation and had a blast.


Book of the Month

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These are my June picks from the ever wonderful @bookofthemonth! I couldn't help but get three. I can always find more books, even though my #tbrpile is growing at an extreme rate. 📚 I got We Hunt the Flame because it's been so hyped for me. Then, The Golden Hour because it mentioned the Windsors and, well, royalty got me hooked. Finally, Recursion because I've never read Blake Crouch before and this was my chance! 📚 What book(s) did you get?? 📚 #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #bookofthemonth #booksubscriptionbox #amreading #tbr 📚 [Image description: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams, and Recursion by Blake Crouch. Books are resting on a grey blanket.]

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This time, I got three books! I actually read two over my vacation, We Hunt the Flame and Recursion. Both of the reviews are on my Goodreads! I’m probably going to read The Golden Hour a bit later since it feels like a good fall read for me.

Owlcrate

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I got my Owlcrate box yesterday! And, y'all, it was a winner. Swipe for spoilers! 📚 I'm super excited about the coffee. I can't try it yet since we only have a Keurig but I'm going to ASAP. The book ends are also gorgeous. I'm totally using them as props in my pictures! And coasters?? Love em. Always need more. Lastly, the book. I guessed right and I'm very excited to read it. Also, that cover is amazing. 📚 What's your favorite part of the box? 📚 #owlcrate #booksubscriptionbox #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #yafantasy #tbr 📚 [Image description: Pictures of June's Owlcrate box! First picture is just of the box. Second is of Book Beau coffee that's Beauty and the Beast themed and a key shaped pen. Third is of Narnia themed book ends. Fourth is of a bag with a Strange the Dreamer quote on it. Fifth is of a set of coasters with bookish quotes on them. Sixth is of the enamel pin. Seventh is of the book, Sorcery of Thorns.]

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This month, I decided to get Owlcrate! I figured out the book (and it was one that I had my eyes on). Plus the goodies that they talked about were too good to pass up! Not only can’t I wait to read the book, but it had stuff in it (gender neutral stuff!!) that I’m actually going to be using.

Portland

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See this stack? These are the books that I got at @powellsbooks! Obviously, I got quite a few. 🤣 In other news, I have no self control. Only one isn't pictured because I got it for my mom! 📚 I got a few books that I've already read, but most were ones that I haven't! My stacks of unread books have definitely grown. 📚 #bookpile #bookstack #reader #amreading #tbrpile #bookstagrammer #bookstagram 📚 [Image description: Stack of books that include The Shining by Stephen King, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, Solitaire by Alice Oseman, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, Scythe by Neil Shusterman, and The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore.]

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This is my haul from Powell’s specifically. Funny enough, I had already read Scythe (as y’all know) and The Shining. While I was in Portland, I also read Lies We Tell Ourselves and Solitaire. I’m currently reading The Romanovs. So, I think I’m doing very good at this!

Not pictured are books I bought in Barnes and Noble while we waited on her mom. I got Nocturna, With the Fire on High, and  Love From A to Z.

From publishers

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#partner While I was away in Portland, I got some amazing #bookmail that I want to show off! (While also using my new bookends from @owlcrate!) 📚 First up were some raffle wins from @bookishhq! So far, they're such fun! I'm grateful to have them and I will always thank the wonderful people who worked hard to organize this. So, thanks for the books! 📚 Next was surprise bookmail from @vikingbooks! I didn't expect it, but it looks really good. It's an already published book, so I'm planning on reading it next month. Thank you for sending it to me! 📚 #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #bookishfirst #bookishhq #arcs #thisishowyoulosethetimewar #dragonslayer #theartofbreakingthings #reader #amreading #currentlyreading 📚 [Image description: First picture is of all the books together with bookends holding them up. Second picture is of This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Third picture is of Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton. Fourth and final picture is of The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson.]

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Then, I got home from Portland to some amazing mail from publishers! I’m currently reading Dragonslayer and This is How You Lose the Time War since they come out in early July and I want to make sure they’re read since they’re ARCs. But, I really am excited to dig into The Art of Breaking Things since it gives me a Sadie vibe.


But, those were the books that I got this month! I’m sure that July will be a light month since I have expenses that I’m expecting, but who knows!

Talk to me!
What books did you get this month?
Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

IT WORKS LIKE THIS:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Unsinkable: The Full Story Of The RMS Titanic

I’ve always had a small obsession with the Titanic. Always. Ever since I was a kid. And, I really would like to read this, even though it’s small for a full history.

Verdict: Keep


The Book of Strange New Things

The reviews for this aren’t thrilling. And the description sounds pretty boring. It’s one of those I could like, but it just doesn’t sell itself well.

Verdict: GO!


The Peripheral

Eh? Sounds like a Black Mirror episode, but in a boring way.

Verdict: GO!


Creed

Meh? Sounds a bit boring.

Verdict: GO!


Doomed Queens

I’ve read too many books like this one tbh.

Verdict: GO!


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

This is one of those books I really want to read, even though it’d take me about three to six months.

Verdict: Keep


Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII

I’ve heard iffy things about this book. Lots of mixed reviews. I’m going to remove it for now, but one day I might read it anyways.

Verdict: GO!


Falls the Shadow (Falls the Shadow #1)

The reviews for this one aren’t that great, but that cover is fantastic.

Verdict: GO!


Fearscape (Horrorscape, #1)

I’ve been wanting to read this for ages and I have it on my Kindle. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet.

Verdict: Keep


The Last Queen

I’d rather read about Juana in a nonfiction book.

Verdict: GO!


Last TBR: 1560

Books kept: 3

Books removed: 7

Current TBR: 1552

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I shock myself sometimes by actually keeping my damn TBR down so much.


Talk to me!
Have you read any of these books?
Should I have kept any that I removed?

Book review – Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

Caidyn's review (1)

Necessary People

4/5

CW: drug use, alcohol use, and toxic friendships


Ah, friendships. They can be good. They can be bad. And they can be ugly. I’ve definitely had my fair share of all those over the years, as has most everyone. This book is about one of those ugly ones.

Violet and Stella have been best friends for years. They met in college and quickly bonded despite coming from different backgrounds. Violet is from a family that wanted to look rich and be rich while Stella was from a family that actually was rich. After college, they decide to live together in a house paid for by Stella’s family. Stella decides to go travel around the world while Violet starts her career in cable news.

And Violet thrives. That makes Stella jealous because Stella is the one who’s supposed to succeed while Violet builds that image up.

This book is far from perfect, I will be honest. I know that if I had read this book at home, I probably would have given it 3.5 because it took so long to get to the whole point of the book. Like, over half of the book was setting the stage.

However, I read this on a plane ride. A plane ride where I was in first class (because my dad had points to score me first class tickets to Portland while I’ll be in economy going home) so I got free wine the whole time. I think the combination of wine and having only this book to read really helped it. This is a book I’d suggest you read in one sitting. Two tops. But, ideally, one sitting with wine if you drink/can drink.

Why? Because it’s a slow build. It takes its time. And, when you get there, it’s very satisfying. I was satisfied reading it and mulling over it on the plane. It’s truly a book about the devolution of a friendship. One succeeds and the other gets jealous over that success. Then, that break and Stella wanting to be better than Violet — as she has up until that point — and then Violet becoming more like Stella than she ever intended.

It’s just one of those books I know people will either love or hate. It doesn’t have a lot of action to it. For the subject matter, it’s very quiet and insidious rather than loud and bold. Personally, that really worked for me but I know it won’t for everyone. Either way, I’d read another “thriller” from this author. It impressed me and has put her on my radar for future reads.


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?
What quiet thrillers do you like?

Book review – As I Descended by Robin Talley

Caidyn's review (1)

As I Descended

4/5

CW: ableism, drug use, drugging someone, outing, and death


Macbeth is my favorite of Shakespeare’s tragedies. While it’s not my absolute favorite play, I love how he wove the story and made it so entrancing even today. I’ve had this book on my radar for a while, but I never took the leap to try it until I saw it get recommended by Mackenzi Lee on her Instagram story.

It was great! Not perfect, but I thought it was very creative. Instead of medieval Scotland, we have a highly prestigious high school where everyone’s competing for the best grades and, therefore, the best college. I remember those people at my own non-prestigious high school — literally, it was one high school for two towns — so it gave me major flashbacks to my own senior year. I wasn’t in that group of overachievers, but I had classes with them.

Let me break down the characters and link them to the characters in the play, though. (And I thought what Talley did with the character names was super clever!)

  • Maria = Macbeth. She is a bi Mexican teen who is nearly at the top of her class.
  • Lily = Lady Macbeth. She is a disabled lesbian teen (not out). She also has an addiction to pain pills.
  • Delilah = Duncan. She’s the queen bee of the school. Top of the class. Famous last name. Gets everything she wants because of who she is. Also drinks and does drugs occasionally. She and Maria are competitors and on the same sports team.
  • Brandon = Banquo. He’s gay and Maria’s best friend.
  • Mateo = Malcolm. He’s gay and not out to anyone outside of school. Also created a GSA for the school.

Those are, basically, the main characters of the story. Same with the play if you’ve read it. (And, if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. If Shakespeare isn’t your jam, try an audiobook. They tend to have a full cast and you really get to experience the play.)

I absolutely loved the intersectionality in this book. You have queer characters of color. You have queerness mixed with disability. And it was so much fun.

The whole story starts off with Maria, Lily, and Brandon deciding to break out an ouija board to fuck around after drinking some. Except, they reach spirits. Spirits who have information, in Spanish, for Maria that tells her the future and what she has to do to get what she wants. Aka, Delilah’s place.

From there, the story basically follows the play. As I said, I thought it was super clever and fun to read. No, it wasn’t perfect. But it was super enjoyable. I read over half of it while waiting on my flight to Portland — seven hour fucking layover after getting up at 3am to catch my first flight — and it was just a fantastic read. It definitely kept my attention.

The diverse cast and plot were the best parts of it for me. And, I know that I’ll be checking out more of Talley’s books from here on out because this first book I read by her impressed the hell out of me.


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?
Do you have a favorite Shakespeare retelling?

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Want to Buy This Summer

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

I don’t make seasonal TBRs since I’m a major mood reader and it changes month to month. So, I took my twist on the prompt! These are books that I want to buy this summer that don’t include preorders. (Also, all these are on my Amazon wishlist which is in the bio if someone wants to take pity on me.)


Magic for Liars

I read an ARC of this and thought it was super enjoyable. Definitely want the finished copy on my shelf! (My review.)

I Was Born for This

I’m on an Oseman kick after I read Radio Silence. This will be my third one, but I need to buy it. Since it’s a UK only release, I have to go through Book Depository but I really want to buy it!

Foundryside (Founders, #1)

I read this back in April and thought it was fantastic. Totally an amazing series that I’m excited to watch. And a fantasy heist book that I need on my shelf! (My review.)

'Salem's Lot

I read this a long time ago and I’m really getting ready for a reread. I don’t remember much of it at all. However, I want to read it on my own time rather than with the pressure of a library book.

The Hound of Justice (Janet Watson Chronicles #2)

I read A Study in Honor with Chantel earlier this year and I really enjoyed it, so I want to read the rest of the series once this comes out in July. I have a hold on it through the library, but I’m sure I’ll want it for my Sherlock shelf.

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages

I rarely like short story anthologies. I like them better than short story collections (aka, one author), but they’re not my favorite. Either way, I really enjoyed this and I want it for my shelf. (My review.)

The Bird King

I read an ARC of this and enjoyed it. But, I never preordered it and I still want it for my shelf. A great story with Muslim main characters. I didn’t expect to love it, but I did. (My review.)

Hidden Bodies (You, #2)

I love You. I love Hidden Bodies. It’s a shocker that I don’t own this book yet, isn’t it? (My review.)

Radio Silence

The book that started my new interest in this author. But, I really want to own this one and it makes me sad that I don’t already own it. (My review.)

Anansi Boys

While this isn’t my favorite Gaiman book, I really want to own it for my Gaiman collection! (My review.)


Talk to me!
What books do you want to treat your shelf to soon?

Book review – George by Alex Gino

Caidyn's review (1)

George

5/5

CW: gender dysphoria, deadnaming, and bullying


I’m waayyyy late to this book.

You might ask why. I’m trans. I’m pretty open about that being a part of my life. So, why did I wait so long to read a book that’s being lauded as a heartfelt book about a transkid?

Because I’ve been burned many times by books that are labeled as that and about transpeople. Half of the time, it’s a sobfest of all the hard issues that transpeople face, including deadnaming, transphobia, bullying, outing, death, suicidal ideation, and extreme descriptions of gender dysphoria. Sometimes, it even misrepresents the people since the big authors who write these stories aren’t trans. They’re cis. All while trans authors are struggling to get their ownvoices works published.

Just once, I want a happy book with a transperson in it.

I finally have this book!

Now, I know the book is called “George” and that “George” is the MC’s birth name. But, she refers to herself as Melissa and that’s her chosen name. So, she’s Melissa in this review and always will be Melissa. Think of it as someone deciding not to call me Caidyn because that’s not my “real name”… even though legally it’s been changed to that and that’s the name I’ve lived in for years.

As basically all of you know, this book is about a transgirl and her coming out experience. Melissa desperately wants to play Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Her best friend is the super supportive and amazing Kelly. Her mom doesn’t quite get it and she has an older brother, Scott, who doesn’t know either.

And this is how she comes out to them and finally gets seen as the girl that she is.

It was incredibly sweet to read. As I said, there’s deadnaming in it (mainly because Melissa hasn’t told everyone the name she’s chosen) and definitely descriptions of gender dysphoria, but, overall, this was a happy book. It was a great book to read during Pride and I’m incredibly happy that it’s available for young kids to read and perhaps put a better name to what they’re feeling. It’s also easy to wrap your head around as a parent and an adult. It doesn’t dumb things down. It just makes it easier to understand.

This is one of those books that I wish that I’d had as a kid. Now, I never felt gender dysphoria as a child. I was pretty chill in myself. More friends that were boys than girls for a long time. My mom didn’t enforce any gender things on me, so I could play with what I wanted to. (I loved cars. I had a bff, Andy, in preschool and we’d play with them. I got bitten over a toy car there, too. Those were the days.) I also played dress-up and I’d fluidly go between male and female characters. One second I’d be playing Harry, then I’d go to Hermione, then I’d be Aladdin or Mogli.

But, being trans wasn’t a thing that was talked about. I think the first time I was exposed to transpeople was when I was 13 — so, a few years before I came out to myself and my family — and in Thailand. A transwoman there was in a shop we were shopping in because we didn’t pack what we needed so we were buying jeans. She was gorgeous and I didn’t have a clue that she was trans. But my parents did and they told me later.

I didn’t grow up with it in the news. I didn’t grow up like these kids are. And, maybe, if I’d had this book or more exposure I’d have realized sooner. So, it makes me incredibly happy that this book exists for younger kids so they can have a name for how they’re feeling and expressing themselves. Also, it’s a great book for parents to use to introduce their kids to more diverse topics and to help their kids understand people who aren’t like them.

I’d definitely recommend this book to other people. It was just fantastic in so many ways — supportive friends, school environment, and, in the end, family — and it’s the happy trans book that I’ve been searching for.


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
Do you have any other happy trans books you’d recommend?

Book review – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Caidyn's review (1)

The Night Circus

5/5


This book isn’t my usual fare. It’s magical realism, which I don’t usually like, and it’s basically a romance book… which I don’t read. And, surprise surprise, I liked it even more than I liked it the first time around!

It was just… beautiful.

I love the way Morgenstern can tell a story. It’s not necessarily chronological and, for this story, it wouldn’t have worked. We needed the jumping around, the not knowing why someone or something is important. In a way, it was like watching a circus act. You don’t know where it’s going just that everything you see is spectacular in its own way.

Two magicians decide to play a game again. Not a game of skill, but a game of endurance. Who can they teach better to win a game where the whole world is their chessboard. Celia shows up on her father’s, Prospero or Hector Bowen, doorstep after her mother commits suicide. Marco is chosen by a magician and is taken in.

The playing field for this game? A circus of dreams that they weave together to show off their own power.

And, yet, Marco and Celia fall in love. Which they shouldn’t do because it makes things worse in the end. I do love the way they came together and the way the relationship went. I think my thing with romance is that I love when two people get together who maybe shouldn’t and when it’s about a game, playing each other until someone gets the upper hand. It’s the only way I can do romance. Usually that means the story’s dark, but this was incredibly light and beautiful.

I think what really sells the story is Morgenstern’s writing. She can paint a beautiful scene that you can see in your child’s mind, like the circus that you always want to see as a kid or a magic show. All of that wonder and awe. I read the book, but I think that this would be a captivating audiobook to listen to.

The plot itself is rather nonexistent for most of the book. There isn’t a discernable one and I thought that I figured it out, but that wasn’t the real story. The real story is very hidden, which I loved because it made it feel as if there were multiple stories wrapped into this one book.

It’s a beautifully woven book, as delicate and intricate as the magic in this book. It’s one of those books you can sit down to on a gloomy, dark day — maybe raining lightly, but not absolutely storming — with soft classical music playing (I thought a string quartet station was the best fit) and allow to wrap you in a warm hug.

In short, this book definitely moved to my all time favorites because it’s so unexpectedly beautiful.


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

I’m back from Portland!

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Look! We met!! (And, this is our new picture because, well, we just thought this was our best selfie.)

Now, you’re going to get a photo tour of our time together.


Thursday

I woke up at 3am my time (1am where Chantel is). I got on the plane around 6am. Landed 6:45 in Arizona, so it was 8:45 for me. Then, I had a hellacious 7 hour layover. I became one with the airport. I think I know it like the back of my hand now.

But, after those seven hours, I got on a plane!

And we took our first selfie!!

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Friday

We went to Powell’s!!!

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I got many books.

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See this stack? These are the books that I got at @powellsbooks! Obviously, I got quite a few. 🤣 In other news, I have no self control. Only one isn't pictured because I got it for my mom! 📚 I got a few books that I've already read, but most were ones that I haven't! My stacks of unread books have definitely grown. 📚 #bookpile #bookstack #reader #amreading #tbrpile #bookstagrammer #bookstagram 📚 [Image description: Stack of books that include The Shining by Stephen King, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, Solitaire by Alice Oseman, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, Scythe by Neil Shusterman, and The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore.]

A post shared by Caidyn and Chantel (@bwreviewsblog) on

Yeah, I have no self control.

We also went to the downtown library because Chantel loves the building. I didn’t take any pictures, but it was gorgeous.

After that, we went and grabbed food at Mayas Taqueria that was omg amazing.


Saturday

First, we went to Saturday Market! I only took pictures of food I got there.

Then, we went to the Pride festival!

I literally took one picture there. Tons of stalls and I just was trying to absorb it. I don’t take many pictures on vacations since I like to experience it while I’m there rather than through a camera.

The only pictures I took were of Satanic Portland us living our best lives.

Before parting ways, we went to Chantel’s favorite cider place, Portland Cider Company. So delicious! I took pictures of my drinks, of course, but they look the exact same.

The first is of their seasonal passion fruit cider. Super tart, but I loved it. The second is of an apricot cider! Not as good, but I still liked it.


Sunday

We went to the parade! I took no pictures because I just was enjoying myself so much, but the selfie that’s our new picture is from us standing there for it!

We left halfway through because we had brunch reservations at Brix Tavern. Best fucking brunch of my damn life.

After this we went our separate ways because we were tired.

But, we did take super gay pics on the way to the restaurant.

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Monday

I took no pictures on Monday. It was our last day together (sad face) and we did more personal things together. I mean, I met her mom and we had an amazing lunch together. Then, I met one of her friends and had dinner with her.


It was such a great trip. We had an amazing time and I’m already planning when I’ll be going back. Seriously, just so much fun. It was a jam-packed long weekend but Chantel described it perfectly. “I’m tired, but I’m happy.”

Me, too.

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

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!

Brother Poncet crouched on the scree-covered mountain slope clutching his cream robe about himself, and watched his comrade, Brother Ambrose, inch into the pitch-dark cavern before them. He remained a few paces behind, still out in the sunlight, although at that altitude it did little to warm him. Up that high, it was always cold, even in summer.


I feel so happy that I got this ARC!

I won it in a raffle from BookishFirst, so a huge thank you to them for hosting it and Tor for being willing to part with some copies! These first lines are liable to change as this is an ARC.

Based on that first paragraph, I can tell the book will be a bit of a slow-build. I’ll have to work at it, I’m sure. Lots of description! Not a bad thing, but it could get annoying for me if I pay attention to it while reading.

It is…

 

Dragonslayer

The cover got me, then the description. It sounds super interesting and ever since The Priory of the Orange Tree, I’ve been craving some more fantasy books with dragons!


Talk to me!
Would you read this based on those first lines?
What fantasies with dragons do you love?