Sky in the Deep – A Review

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Last night I had the joy of finishing Sky in the Deep by Adrianne Young and it was an absolute pleasure. The story’s world is based off Viking culture, and aside from having a general idea of who Thor, Loki, and Odin are, this was a completely new world for me. It’s funny, but a kid who would make fun of me in middle school nicknamed me The Viking (the nickname had a lewd half I won’t get into now), and for the longest time the only image I had of them was the double horned helmet and the blonde braids on each side, which somehow also always involved opera singing. I’ve never seen the show Vikings, and I haven’t read any books on Norse mythology (Greek mythology was my jam as a kid), so I didn’t have expectations on what the world I was about to enter would be like. I may have chosen to read Sky in the Deep because it’s a standalone, but now all I want is more time in that world.

 

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Sky tells the story about Eelyn, a 17 year old Aska warrior who in the middle of battle sees the brother she had seen die 5 years before fighting with their enemy tribe, the Riki. The book hits the ground running, introducing our MC moments before the fighting starts. She’s an incredibly strong fighter, a badass who doesn’t wear a shield, but wields a sword in her right hand and an axe in her left, but who we meet already wounded. She’s been forced to stay at the sidelines for two months of the fighting season, which happens every 5 years, due to some broken ribs, and a few pages into the first chapter the man she is fighting has her at a disadvantage she’s never been in before. It all but seems Eelyn’s story is about to be the length of a pamphlet when she spots her brother and the man she’s fighting spares her as his people retreat, leaving her arm deeply wounded, but alive. When she tells her father Aghi that she saw her brother, Iri, he sees it as a sign that Eelyn has been blessed by their god, Sigr, and that he sent her brother’s soul to save her. Later that night, when the Riki attack them again, Eelyn leaves her fighting mate Myra behind the moment she sees her brother disappearing into the forest. She follows him, still hanging out with the guy that cut her up, and she’s captured by the Riki and taken to their village to be sold as a dyr* (slave). Iri, and her captor, Fiske, plan to keep her as a dyr until the snow thaws, then let her escape once the snow melts enough for her to be able to make it home. In order to do that, her relationship to Iri must be kept secret to everyone, so Eelyn ends up being forced to serve Fiske and his family, which is the family that adopted Iri and love them as their own, the very reason he betrayed their people. It’s a lot.

*I understand it was part of Viking culture, and I understand that dyr were acquired from the frontlines; people who were trying to kill them, but it’s impossible for me to not feel incredibly uncomfortable with this. Slavery is part of my people’s past, and its something that’s had long lasting effects still felt this day by a lot of people in the world. While the circumstances here are entirely different and slavery not race driven, some readers may understandably want to skip this book.

 

Aska fjords

 

Young is extremely skilled at having the reader understand and empathize with Eelyn’s emotions. I found myself feeling anger and betrayal toward her brother, and hating his new family whose only crime was having treated him with love. His adoptive family; Fiske, his mother Inge, and his brother Halvard were all fully fleshed people who you understood, but still felt anger towards them. As the book progresses we see relationships evolve. We see Halvard slowly crack the ice around Eelyn’s heart and Inge’s decreasing worry about his growing attachment to her. We see Eelyn trusting Inge with the details of her mother’s death at the hands of the Herja, a clan thought by the Riki to be the product of myth, but known to the Aska to be very real. When the Herja raid their village and other Riki settlements it’s decided that the Aska and Riki must join forces in order to have a chance of surviving.

 

Riki mountains

 

The differences between the Riki and Aska are in everything. The Aska make idols of the loved ones they’ve lost. The Riki carve runes into smooth, black stones to protect the people they love as they head into battle. The Aska live in fjords, the Riki deep in the mountains. Both tribes have varying versions of the same creation myth; a myth that establishes a clear rivalry that started by slights and offenses committed by their gods, Sigr and Thora, against each other, and that is perpetuated every fighting season. One of my favorite moments of the book was when before the clans were to face the Herja together Eelyn prays; first to her god Sigr, then for the first time ever, to Thora. Her love for her new family was strong enough that she went from being afraid of entering a rival clan’s ritual house would cause her own god to curse her, to caring about her former enemies enough that her heart found room for Thora in it. Just like Iri didn’t stop loving his family when he embraced his new one, Eelyn didn’t stop having faith in Sigr when she prayed to Thora.

 

Eelyn inspiration

 

Among those people she grew to love is Fiske, the man who came close to killing her in the field and who she would have killed just as easily were it not for Iri. Their relationship grows slowly, over gestures and conversations, over trust gained and given. Their love isn’t one of flowers and courtship, but one of two people who see each other as equals, who are willing to risk their lives for each other, and who desperately long for the fighting between their clans to stop because they’ve seen that the enemy they’ve been taught to hate their whole lives is more like themselves than they’d wanted to admit. When they sleep together it’s an act of giving themselves to one another, they belong to each other, they are each other’s home.

 

I have tryed to gather pictures enough to give an idea of how viking age people dressed and equiped themselves. Note "viking age"  (since the term is used)"Viking" is a proffession, not the ethnici...

 

I fell in love with this book. It started off in the middle of the action, yet its most thrilling and exciting moments were the small, quiet ones.

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Genre Bias

We’re all guilty of it.

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Can you guess where I’m going with this?

 

The same way we all gravitate to some genres more than to others we have some genres we just refuse to read, and for me, that was romance. Covers are very important for me, and romance novels tend to have covers that make me cringe; the fonts, the artwork, the posing. On top of that, they tend to be mass market paperbacks, which I detest. I’ll be the first to admit that if one of these bodice rippers were given some really abstract or minimalistic cover art I’d be gobbling it up. But it’s not just the look.

 

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Fun Fact: Mullets were the traditional hairstyle of the Scottish Highlander clans

 

As in most things, misogyny seeped into our feelings towards this genre. As it has happened with anything that has historically been aimed at women, romance novels have been dismissed, and women enjoying something sexual has always made people uncomfortable. I’ve never gone into that section of any bookstore except to giggle at the titles. Although, with names like The Count’s Can Hider, and The Feathered Shaft it’s impossible not to.

 

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Oh, you thought I was joking with those titles?

 

So what changed my tune? Well, a bunch of things. While I had enjoyed books that had some romance in them, fantasy has always been my main genre, which is why I read so much YA. It wasn’t until I read the A Court of Thorns and Roses series that I realized how incredibly addictive a well written romance can be. Those books sucked me IN. I couldn’t stop thinking about them, to the point that I just wanted to get off work so I could submerge myself in them fully. But it wasn’t just romance in them, they were first and foremost a high fantasy series, which leads me to believe if I’m going to get into some romance, I’ll want a whole lot of plot besides them, too.

 

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At this point I’ll just keep sharing these even without context.

 

There’s also an amazing romance author character on TV who I adore, and her name is Jane Gloriana Villanueva. Jane the Virgin takes a lot of inspiration from telenovelas, which are basically romance novels brought to life by overacting latinxs in the most over the top way possible. It’s not a TV genre I like, but it is one I grew up with. Anyway, in the book, Jane gets an amazing academic mentor who is, like me, super snobby about romance novels, and I immediately sided with Jane. How dare she say that to my sweet Jane? She’s just so biased! Of course, I didn’t realize that I was the mentor in that situation, but it eventually dawned on me. Which leaves one final piece of the puzzle of how I got here.

 

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What

 

A couple of weeks ago in one of my online book groups someone shared a page from a book. It was funny and weird, but I had no context to what it was. Someone shared the name; Pestilence, by Laura Thalassa. I went online and saw the cover and realized “oh, it’s one of those books”.

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See? It’s not bad art, it’s just not my style and it tells you from the get go what kind of book it is.

 

Still, I was intrigued.  I added it to my Amazon cart but didn’t get it because I had other books with higher priorities. I kept pushing it back to the cart, then saving it for later over and over again. Until Sunday. I bought it on its own and got it today. And it has a new cover! And, if I’m being honest, it’s what I want to be reading right now. I lost A Gathering of Shadows somewhere in the house and with just two weeks left until Kingdom of Ash comes out I cannot be starting a new series. So, if I finish Sky in the Deep in time, you’ll see my nose hidden behind a blond man’s glistening torso.

 

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P.S. The book that Jane published on the show is now available to own in real life!

 

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Their highlighter game is impeccable

 

The Cruel Prince

What the hell, Holly Black? What the hell.

Okay, let me start over.

 

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Today I’ll be giving my thoughts on Holly Black’s latest book The Cruel Prince in a pretty spoiler free review, but if you haven’t read it yet and want to be surprised, feel free to mosey on home.

I should have known what I was getting into. The Book is called The Cruel Prince. I really should have known better, but the cruelty described in the book made me feel sick to my stomach. Within the first 30 pages Prince Cardan is described as mutilating a child in court for what he felt was a slight to his honor without so much as a second thought. His group of friends are just as nasty. Yet why is everyone so obsessed with this book?

So the story is about Jude, who along with her twin sister Taryn and her older sister Vivi are taken to live in Faerie by Madoc, Vivi’s real father, who also killed Taryn and Jude’s parents in front of them. See, their mother, a human woman, had been married to Madoc but faked her death while pregnant with Vivi so she could escape back to the human land. It didn’t work out in the end. So the half fae Vivi and the human girls are all whisked away to Faerie, to live among the fae but never be like them.

Things aren’t great for the twins, specially not Jude. They’ve grown up trying to keep their heads down and without attracting attention. They wear a string of rowan berries under their clothes at all times so they can’t be glamoured. They salt the food so it’s safe to eat, and they endure ongoing abuse from creatures who are considered superior. The fae view humans much like humans view dogs; as hairy, smelly, short lived creatures who owe us respect and unconditional love whether or not we deserve it. Except, I adore my dog. I’m never cruel or unkind to him. I give him the best I can afford and sometimes even what I can’t. I’d never treat my dog like the fae treat humans.

The book makes it clear that this is the way they are, that they don’t know any better, but they also show that while different, not all fae are as cruel as Cardan and his group. That’s not to say the book isn’t good. On the contrary. It’s so good. There’s intrigue and secrets and scheming. The world of Faerie is alluring enough that you kinda want to style your hair into horns like Jude.

 

Then there’s Jude. She can’t fit in and at some point she stops trying to. She doesn’t want to keep her head down and blend in, she wants to fight. And I love that about her. At the end, the only thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars on Goodreads is the fact that everyone seems to be missing the point that Cardan, while also mistreated and miserable, did things that should not have been excused by him being so painfully beautiful and charming. And I am a sucker for a charming character. But I prefer them kind. Like my beloved Nikolai Lantsov, whose book cannot come soon enough.

So, yeah, in conclusion, you should read the book. It’s a really good one, as much as the previous issues made me want to not love it. And I know it’s fiction. But try to keep the hot, hurtful guys who are dicks to you and toy with your emotions trapped between the pages of your books, please. You deserve much better.

Enamel Pin Mania

If you’ve been anywhere near Instagram or other forms of social media you probably know that enamel pins have become a huge thing. I’m not exactly sure when I started getting obsessed, but I’m sure I started collecting them once I got a lanyard for work. I can’t find said lanyard right now so I’m not 100% sure which one I got first, but I know the first thing I looked for in Etsy was a Pansexual Pride Flag pin (yes, you read right, I’m a big ol’ queer). I ended up getting a button because it was both super cheap and I liked the design, but didn’t really know that there was a difference between a button or a pin. BTW, feast your eyes on this groovy thing.

 

Button -  Pansexual LGBT Queer Pride Flag!

 

Shortly after that Rat Queens did their annual collaboration with Worldbuilder’s Market in which they sell their merchandise while raising money for a good cause and I got an awesome shirt with the Queens’ logo and a pin. The pins were all in colors associated with each queen and while aesthetically I’d be more of a Violet (I even look like her), I identify the most with Hannah, so I picked the red one.

 

 

After that, I know my husband got me a really cute rocket enamel pin at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and I put it on my lanyard at work but after that it gets kinda hazy. When did I start getting obsessed with them? Which one was the first I bought from the Owlcrate Buy/Sell/Trade group? It gets hazy. All I know is next thing I knew, there were a lot of them.

 

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Whoops

 

I was buying from Etsy and from Ink and Wonder all the way down in Auckland. Next thing I knew I was surrounded by them. Some of these were specially hard to get, which made them more valuable. Some have a bigger significance to me (the Thirteenth Doctor is specially important), but all of them I love. Except… what to do with them? Enter Ardent Adornment.

 

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HELLOOOO! A few things, 1. Summer is kicking my ass 2. I absolutely love @lovelybookishbelle photos of my Pin Pals- every time she tags me, my heart kind of swells 😍💙 3. I have been quiet for a myriad of reasons- so buckle up or get out because this is going to get messy! 😘 _________ I am awfully transparent on my personal/bookstagram account but am more hesitant to do so here- which is silly since my mental health affects EVERY aspect (especially Ardent Adornment). • I will admit to becoming easily distracted and sometimes neglecting messages, fighting my inner battles- no one is perfect and I am faaaarrrrrr from it. With my own two children and my neice all day, (my children with their own health concerns) things gets pushed aside, it happens and I am sorry if you have suffered from this. • I am nearly caught up again with orders and am, as always, eternally grateful for all y'all support, and love. I know I'm not the best at this, and …no longer the only one, either (which kind of totally messes/messed with my head big time and caused some radio silence if I am being SUPER honest with y'all)- but I am still here! And have a lot of ideas for the future that I am now finally dedicating some time to. • Again (and again and again), a HUGE thank you to all y'alls continued support, it literally fuels my spirit. 💙💙💙 ______ #ardentadornment #pinpal #pindisplay #pinlover #enamelpins #bookworm #booklover #bookish #booksbooksbooks #craftydecor #craftyshit #realtalk #lifeupdate #realtalk #thankyouforyoursupport

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April had the genius idea to take some embroidery hoops, add some gorgeous fabrics and some backing, and make it into a place to display your beloved pins. Like I said, genius. The processing times vary but I am so in love with it and I know that the only reason it felt like it took a long time is because I am EXTREMELY IMPATIENT. I originally wanted a different print but I took too long to decide and it sold out, which I won’t ever get over, but I have to say, I love this print as well. The colors aren’t as muted as they looked on the shop images, but they’re still soft enough that it gives it a bit of a pastel vibe, if that makes sense?

 

 

Long story short, I’m in love. I literally squealed at work when I got the notification on my phone that my package had been delivered. I went upstairs with a hammer and nail the second I got home and then I went to town on that bad boy. I picked the biggest size because I know I have self control issues and need more space for future babies and I the moment I finished arranging my pins I knew I’d made the right call. In conclusion, it doesn’t look like I’ll stop buying enamel pins anytime soon (I literally have some from Alchemy and Ink that I’m waiting on) and you should buy from Ardent Adornment.

 

The end.

 

 

 

Also, I’m linking some of the artists that made the gorgeous pins I have on display here. Have fun! #enabler

Karen Hallion (Holy crap, I just realized I’m wearing one of her shirts right now)

Icey Designs

Ink & Wonder

NerdyPost

Out of Print

Rather Keen

 

A Brief Interlude (Getting Personal)

I apologize for the radio silence. I haven’t posted in a while due to the fact that I’m going through some pretty difficult health issues and, frankly, I don’t have the spoons to finish that saved draft on Gemina and Obsidio (it’s still coming, though). But books are still a big part of my life, even if I’m too sick to read a single page right now.

Due to my chronic illnesses I’ve been on certain medications for a long time. After a very expensive visit to the neurologist we both agreed that me going off one of them would be a good idea. I mean, the idea was mine, and he devised a plan to wean me off and make it as bearable as possible. I’ve been in hell. Too dizzy to walk, too nauseated to eat, too famished to sleep, too anxious to rest. I never considered self harm, but in my most horrible moments I thought “if I die, this pain would be over”. At a certain point, maybe it was as I cried and heard my husband tell me it would get better, I remembered one of my favorite book heroines, Nina Zenik, from Six of Crows.

In Crooked Kingdom we see Nina go through the withdrawal of taking jurda parem to save her friends’ lives. We see how miserable she is, how desperately she aches to have it again, just so she can ease the agony she’s in. We see how Matthias refuses to leave her side, just as I looked at my former military spouse refusing to leave mine. I remembered Matthias whispering to her “Nina. Little red bird. Don’t go.” and it made my heart break further. I loved Nina Zenik the moment I met her; gorgeous, fat, happy, charming, badass. I didn’t know I would identify with her even more later on.

Art by Monolime
charlie bowater nina zenik
Art by Charlie Bowater

My Bookish Candle Obsessions

If you’ve been following my posts for a while, you’ll probably have noticed I have a bit of a hoarding problem when it comes to candles. And sure, a nice lavender candle is great, but I’m (unfortunately for my wallet) obsessed with bookish candles, the ones that use their magical blend to remind us of a time, a place, a food, or even a character, in the most magical of occasions. I’ve decided to make a list of the bookish candle shops I’ve fallen in love with in the past. I am not a rep for any of these companies and my opinions are my own, which means they are 100% subjective.

The Melting Library

 

 

The first bookish candle I owned was from The Melting Library. I’d been eyeing them on Etsy for a while but had never paid $15 for a candle so I was afraid to take the plunge. Then one glorious day I got a 2oz candle made by her in an Owlcrate box. I wasn’t familiar with the fandom at the time*, and the candle was inspired by cake and I’m not a big fan of sweet scents, so I had low expectations. But I loved it. I burned it in the kitchen while I cooked and it made me so happy. It was thanks to Raquel that I found out about A Court of Thorns and Roses. I kept seeing her make candles of the same series so I decided to give it a try and, obviously, my life was lowkey changed. Since then I’ve bought every ACOTAR candle I’ve been been able to get my hands on and I love every single one of them. Her labels are designed like library cards, with the book’s release date or dates referenced in it “stamped” as dates when the candle has been taken out. They often feature images right from the books, like a lovely Christmas table for Hogmanay at Lallybroch inspired by the Outlander series that smells of Raspberries, Whiskey, and Frasier Fir. My favorite of her lables, however, belongs to one of the best smelling candles; Lucien, inspired by our beloved lord of foxes from ACOTAR.

 

*That fandom ended up being Throne of Glass, which, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with.

 

In the Wick of Time

 

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Hello interwebs! I’ve contacted most of you about your order, but if you haven’t seen it or gotten an email, I’ve had a family emergency that has kept me in the hospital with them all week. Things should be back in motion with the next few days. I appreciate everyone who has responded with such understanding. My customers are the best! On a lighter note, the beautiful @nadinebrandes who took this photo has a new book coming out called Fawkes. I’ve started it and am enraptured by the first page I’m excited to keep reading it! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 #harrypotter #handmade #candle #candles #etsy #slytherin #gryffindor #hufflepuff #ravenclaw #harrypotterworld #book #books #bookish #bookworm #nerd #geek #wizardingworldofharrypotter #butterbeer #ootd #inthewickoftime #holiday #gift #fiction #reading #treatyoself#losangeles #wizard #dogsofinstagram #nerdy #sweet

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I found this company strolling through Etsy, whose recommendations are often dangerously spot on for me. Now, I mention them because even though I only own one actual candle from them, they are my absolute top pick for wax tarts. The first thing I bought from them was an Aelin of the Wildfire candle and a Cursebreaker wax tart (both of Maas’ series, typical). While I’m saving the Aelin candle for when Kingdom of Ash comes out (COVER REVEAL TOMORROW OMGGGG), the Cursebreaker tarts are possibly one of the all time greatest scents I’ve experienced.

 

Containing notes of freesia, orange blossom, pear, osmanthus, amber, and Egyptian musk, these tarts are a family obsession. You can burn them over and over again several times before their scent fades, and it’s powerful scent can be felt all over an (admittedly small) two story townhouse. Their wax tarts are solid and not greasy, and even a little goes a long way. Also, this may not be a big deal to y’all, but I absolutely adore the font they use. Actually, the whole black label with the white lettering is lovely, specially in front of a gorgeous design like the one above, featuring Feyre Archeron’s gorgeous hair, or Celaena’s apartment on the Sidra, or these beauties below.

 

 

Wick and Fable

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Happy Thursday Lovelies!! . We have some great news for you today! June boxes are heading out the door shortly so keep an eye out on your email for tracking numbers!! . Our photo challenge for the May box will begin on Sunday, July 1st. We will be posting more information on Saturday 💖 . If you haven't yet seen it, we are currently hosting a rep search! Head over to our original post to learn how to enter. Good luck!! 💖 . Stunning photo by the talented @myfriendsarefiction . . . #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #fandom #bookish #read #reading #booknerd #bookaholic #bookworm #bibliophile #bookphotography #booklover #bookmerch #bookishmerch #literature #bookishcandle #bookishcandles #candles #wickandfable #wickandfablecandles #bookinspiredcandles #bookworm #instabook #instaread #readergram #candlegram #yalit

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Now these folks are one of the biggest names in the Bookish Candle game, which is a thing, believe me. In addition to their year round catalog they have monthly themed boxes which you can get in Deluxe or Essentials editions. I recently purchased their May box, which was themed after A Court of Frost and Starlight. Every item in the box was well thought out and beautifully made, and the candles are amazing, making me desperately wish they’ll be added to their permanent catalog because I need more of them.

 

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Wick and Fable Starlight Dreams Photo Challenge July 1st: Unboxing ••• Finally had a chance to take a few photos of the @wickandfable monthly box, which I’m just in love with. It seems like May and June were just Maas Hysteria, so most of my posts have been ACOTAR related, but what can you do?? I’m in love with everything in this box but mostly I want to thank wick and fable with my whole heart for having nothing with roses!!!! I’m in so much love. Instead it smells sweet and fruity and the most floral we get is jasmine which is so underrated. The prints and wall tapestry were a lovely surprise too. ••• [ #ACOTAR #BookishMerch #Bookstagram #Bibliophile #WickAndFableBox #WickAndFable #BookishCandles ]

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Their scents are strong and perfectly mixed. I’d never had such an intense feeling of “that’s EXACTLY how this character smells like” than with the Dorian Havilliard inspired candle “Hello Princeling”, which smells “Cool Water, Fresh Citrus, and Wild Lavender” but also has notes of violet, cotton, sandalwood, and all things perfect and pure as my beloved Dorian. Also, that label is downright sexy.

 

They change their font according to the label, and they’re one of the few companies to use photographs as well as artwork. In fact, their labels for the seasonal court candles and wax melts from ACOTAR are stunning and some of my favorites in the shop.

 

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There aren’t enough good things to say about them, and I know I’ll be their customer for a very long time.

 

Canterbury Road Co

 

Now this company is very new to me, having received my first shipment from them within the last two weeks, and having lit one of them for the first time today. And I’m happy to say, the smell was as good as when I opened the lid for the first time and it very quickly filled up my whole room! Their book hangover candle smells like what I wish my summer would be like always; fruity, fresh, bright, and lovely. And with just a hint of booze.

 

 

I look forward to trying out more of their candles. I mentioned in my Instagram stories that I was just about to light their “Reading by the Pool” candle for the first time, then mentioned how great it smelled and I got a lovely message back from them happy that I was enjoying them. They also messaged me when I posted about receiving their shipment and how giddy I was.

At the end of the day, that’s what I love about buying from these companies. They’re not a huge corporation where candles are mass produced and scents are decided by a focus group. These companies are often run by one or two people who are doing all the work by themselves. Their prices aren’t as cheap as a wax candle you’d get at Target, but they’re all made in small batches, usually in their own homes, and filled with so much love and care that it shows in all the details. Truth is, I’d rather wait weeks for a candle that will be made for me, that will have a scent that feels like it belongs in my heart, and that will support small businesses. Hopefully you will, too.

Do you agree? Is there another bookish candle company I should try? Novelly Yours and Flick the Wick may be next!

My Top Book Series (so far)

When I first thought about doing a “top ten” list, I briefly considered having both series and standalone books in it and just mentioning the name of the series as a unit. I quickly discarded the idea and settled instead on making several lists, including one for series. Now, some of these books I’ve read recently, and others I read around 17 years ago, so my recollection of them may be a bit fuzzy, but I’ll do my best to tell you why these series captured my heart the way they did.

 

Harry Potter

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The first choice had to be the most obvious one. The first Harry Potter book I read was actually the third one in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I got it as a Christmas gift from my parents and remember being surprised that my parents had heard about this book since we didn’t live in the states and at the time the internet was still in its infancy. I devoured the book, was given Chamber of Secrets (book 2) somewhere soon after as a result. One of the most magical things was that I was reading this book at 13, when Harry was also 13, and for a couple of years our ages were synched, until the books got longer to write and publish. I could go on and on about what this series meant to me, but there are a million other people who have done that already. After all, I’m a millenial, and if there’s anything my generation loves more than killing industries, it’s Harry Potter.

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses

You know that feeling when you find something you fall in love with and want to immediately get everyone to love it as well? That was me with A Court of Thorns and Roses. This was my first time reading Sarah J. Maas and was obsessed with the get-go. Book 1 is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, in which a young woman named Feyre kills a wolf in the woods and later finds a beast break into her house in demand a life in retribution. It’s hard to give more details about the plot without giving away some of the amazing twists and reveals, but this is one of those books where things feel close to getting solved and the book still has hundreds of pages to go, which means you KNOW it will hit the fan. A wonderful thing about Maas’ writing is how she gives us hints of what’s coming in the subtlest of ways, and it isn’t until it’s happened that you realize it, although some clues you won’t even notice until you’re doing a re-read and all of a sudden-

Now, this book has a lot of fans. And a lot of fanart. If you’re reading these books and want to know what someone looks like DON’T GOOGLE IT OR YOU WILL GET SPOILED. Don’t make the same mistakes I did! These books have a massive following so any tag on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr will have a lot of stuff you don’t need to know yet.

Unless you’re into that stuff.

I’ve literally bought copies of these books for two of my friends so they’d read it and we have a group chat on Snapchat and a message chain to discuss our feelings and share ACOTAR memes. Go get these. You’ll thank me later. I was literally having dreams about these, and having a hard time thinking of anything other than going home and reading more to find out what will happen, which hadn’t happened to me since high school. So, yeah. That good.

 

The Caster Chronicles

When I read these books I’d never read Southern Gothic before. See, I’d been led to believe by virtually every book, movie, and TV show, that the only place anything happens is in New York, specifically the city, and even more specifically in Manhattan, with a small smattering of Brooklyn. Imagine my surprise to find a series based in a small town in South Carolina, with amazing characters, and a boy narrator, something I hadn’t seen in a long time. The story centers around Ethan Wate, a boy who spends his days yearning to escape his small town and having dreams of a mysterious girl whose face he can’t fully see. When Lena Duchannes moves to Gatlin, he feels himself drawn to her, all while she’s struggling to conceal her power and escape a family curse.

Now, this is one of those extremely rare cases in which I saw the movie adaptation before reading the books (it had an amazing cast, don’t @ me) and all I can say is DON’T. The movie doesn’t just leave out stuff, it changes it completely. The only good thing about it is that it gave me a mental image of what Lena and Ethan looked like, and the actors played the parts with intense charm and charisma.

Yup, that’s Baby Han!

 

The Hunger Games

I remember when I bought The Hunger Games I saved the book for the longest plane ride of my life. I have sleep apnea, which, among other things, makes me snore extremely loudly. Due to consideration towards fellow passengers and general self-consciousness, I decided to brave the eight hour flight to Spain with just a book knowing I left Saturday, would arrive on Sunday morning, and my last night of sleep had been Friday. And boy was it worth it.

For the 3 people that haven’t read it or seen the movies it’s about a dystopian future that forces kids to fight each other to the death for the country’s entertainment once a year. It’s a book about trauma, violence, PTSD, loss, and the desperation that comes from true poverty. It had a great lead whose drive was always her family’s safety, and a bond between sisters that felt deep and true. It also had two romantic interests; a handsome, strong friend who had been there for her through the years, and my personal favorite, a boy who was kind, and gentle, and who’d rather bake bread and paint pictures but risked his life for the girl he’d always longed for. Did I mention that SHE rescues HIM? Just for how they played with tired gender stereotypes and made the girl the one who could take care of herself and the guy the one who takes the bold risks for love, it was meant to have a place in my heart.

 

The Mortal Instruments

Now, when Cassandra Clare wrote these books she wasn’t trying to do a Young Adult series, she was doing an urban fantasy story with characters who happened to be in the brink of adulthood, which we can all agree is an intense time in our lives. Regardless, Clare wrote a series where fantastic creatures lived and thrived alongside humans in New York City, proving yet again that there’s where everything happens. It had so many things I loved; demon killing, witty banter, New York (where I was originally moving to), and a world that felt new, yet familiar. These books were the first series Cassandra Clare published, but they’re series #3 out of 5 in her world. I haven’t read the rest yet, since it felt super confusing to me for the longest time, but I already bought one of the other ones whose name I can’t recall because there’s SO MANY OF THEM.

*Fun fact: The movie adaptation for these books were the first time I went into a blind rage, in spite of the impeccable casting of Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Jemima West, Godfrey Gao (perfection), Lena Headey, and Aidan Turner. It. Was. Bad. But, hey, don’t watch it, and instead look at these snazzy new issues and how cool they line up together!

 

The All Souls Trilogy

We’ve arrived at the only non-YA entry in the list! Behold; the All Souls Trilogy! These books were so fun. They tell the story of Diana Bishop, an American historian and descendant of witches who’s worked hard her whole life to hide and suppress her powers (as in, she doesn’t even use them). But one day, while working at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, she discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782. The discovery sets of a chain of events where witches, vampires, and daemons all want possession of it, and where a handsome, suave, and handsome vampire named Matthew Clairmont just keeps trying to get close to Diana.

Diana’s an awesome lead; she may have picked history because she felt it was the discipline where she was least likely to use magic by accident, but she loves her work, and it shows in her excitement. Author Deborah Harkness is a historian as well, and she manages to make finding old books and documents sound riveting. Harkness created a world where a lot of the magic is grounded in science, with genetics and alchemy playing a big role in the series. She also filled it with genius touches, like the way a vampire’s gaze feels to a witch, or describing the way people smell. The supporting characters are amazing, and the upcoming TV adaptation is making absolutely brilliant casting choices, even if my heart will never recover from Richard Armitage not playing Matthew. Here’s the trailer for the series.

 

 

 

Throne of Glass

Fun fact: There seem to be no photos of all the books in the series to be found on Google, so this entry was already way too stressful, thus making it like reading the books, which are full of nail biting thrills from start to finish.

The series tells the story of Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s best assassin, who has been sentenced to live as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier (though if you read the prequel, The Assassin’s Blade, first, you’ll get to read several short stories that led to her getting there). One day she’s offered a chance to compete for the title of King’s Champion, which would mean basically being a servant to the man who sentenced her to slavery, but that would ultimately give her a chance to be free. Oh yeah, and the guy who picked her as a contestant is the prince of Adarlan. And he assigns the captain of the guard to be on her ass. And she has to hide her identity, and something starts murdering the contestants, and there’s a lot going on! These books are amazing. The more books you read, the more amazing characters you meet. Everyone has their favorite, and everyone is right because every character is badass in their own way.

throne_of_glass_sketches_by_charlie_bowater-da8coly (1)

I own shirts, candles, wax melts, totes, stickers, art prints, and so much more merch from this series because I can’t get enough of it. The last book, Kingdom of Ash, will be released in October and I am ready to be utterly devastated by it. I’m scared, I’m excited, I’m happy to know how it will all end, and sad that it’s all ending, but I trust Sarah J. Maas and will go with her, to whatever end.

 

 

The Grishaverse

Now, I made sure to leave the most complicated thing for last because I like to procrastinate and make things hard on myself, but behold; The Grishaverse. Consisting, as of right now, of 3 series and a set of fairy tales, the Grishaverse is the name given to Leigh Bardugo’s world, where Grishas live. Its Wikia describes them as follows:

Grisha are humans who practice the Small Science and are divided into three orders, Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki, with each order being further divided into specialized types. Most Grisha show certain powers at a young age but sometimes Grisha are born with extremely uncommon abilities to summon light, as seen with Alina Starkov, or darkness, as seen with the Darkling. Both are considered Etherealki and are part of the Order of Summoners.

This world is amazing, and all of the books so far have blown me out of the water. The Six of Crows duology is more popular than the Grisha Trilogy, which precedes it, but I have a very soft spot in my heart for all of it. I’d actually bought Six of Crows first, but when I read the word grisha on the first pages I remembered that I’d heard about a book with that word before, so I put the book down, ordered Shadow and Bone from Amazon, and fell deep and hard for that world. The Grisha Trilogy, is a coming of age story, plus magic, plus romance, plus villains, and demon like creatures, all set in Ravka, a country based heavily on Russia. The Six of Crows duology is a heist story that has the funniest, sharpest, wittiest, loveliest, most amazing outcasts doing a score that will change their lives. The Language of Thorns is a collection of fairy tales set in this universe’s different countries, all which take inspiration in classic fairy tales of our childhood, but whose endings are infinitely more satisfying. And the upcoming King of Scars duology centers on the story of one of the Grishaverse’s most beloved and charming characters as he tries to break free from the physical and emotional trauma he suffered in the events of the past books.

This is where everything takes place

I cannot say enough good things about these books. They have body positivity, inclusion, charm, and so much beauty. It’s the first book I’ve read where a girl who is canonically plus sized is confident and in love with herself, who’s universally considered as wildly attractive by all, and whose charm and wit are almost as powerful a weapon as her grisha abilities. There are queer characters all around, characters with trauma, characters who’ve suffered and who have been victims but will no longer be victimized. I don’t want to give more away than I should, but suffice it to say it is an experience that will greatly enrich your heart. And if you decide to pick these up, please start with the Grisha Trilogy, it makes everything so much better.

six of crows
The Crows, by Kevin Wada