Mini-Reviews: Norse Mythology, We’ll Fly Away, and I Capture the Castle

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

Way back in 2012, I DNFed American Gods about three times. I tried really hard to like that book, but it just wasn’t happening. After that, I avoided Gaiman even though I’ve consistently heard that his writing is amazing. Well, I needed a book set in Scandinavia for a reading challenge, so what better than some Norse mythology?

This book was so good! I don’t really have any background in Norse mythology — I think the extent of my knowledge comes from the Thor movies — but you don’t really need any prior knowledge to enjoy this book. Gaiman writes a funny, engaging story of all the Norse gods interacting with each other and getting into shenanigans.

Norse Mythology gave me hope for other books by Gaiman, so I went out and got The Ocean at the End of the Lane for myself and added a bunch of his other books to my library wishlist.

#ps19: a book set in Scandinavia


We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love.

I actually DNFed We’ll Fly Away last summer, not because it was bad, but just because it was a much heavier book than I was in the mood for. I ended up picking it back up (audio this time) and connecting with it a lot more.

Still, it was a lot heavier of a book than I normally read. In general, I’m not a big fan of stories that pack a big emotional punch, and this one, a book about a teenage boy on death row, his neglectful mother, and the physical abuse his best friend endures, definitely fits that description. I really felt for both Luke and Toby, and, though I knew it was impossible, I just wanted everything to turn out okay for them in the end.

I saw the ending coming, but I don’t really think it’s supposed to be a surprise. I mean, the whole book builds up to the climax of what exactly landed Luke in prison. So, I don’t love the theme, I saw the ending coming, it’s no wonder I didn’t love this book. But the characters really made it worth the read. I loved reading about their friendship. It’s so rare in YA to find a supportive friendship like this between two boys, and it was so nice to read about.

If you’re in the mood for heartbreak and strong friendships, I’d highly recommend this one.


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: 1948
Source: Borrowed

Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.

I checked out I Capture the Castle solely because I needed a classic romance for one of my 2019 reading challenges. It’s not something that I would have checked out otherwise, but I ended up really enjoying it!

Cassandra was such an upbeat, fun narrator. The whole book is told through her journal entries, and despite everything going on around her, she keeps a positive attitude. For being written in journal entries, the book does a surprisingly good job of setting the scene. I felt like I was in that crumbling castle with the Mortmains, watching everything unfold right along with them.

I didn’t really expect to enjoy this book, but it was a lot of fun.

#romanceopoly: austen row


Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

1 thing this week:

  • This last week was such a blur, but it was great! I’m looking forward to relaxing this weekend (just in time for more celebrations next week)!

Weekly playlist:

Since it’s the end of 2019, I figured I’d share a list of songs that kind of defined the year.


How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: Bittersweet, Make Me Bad, and Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin

Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Borrowed

The new series is set in Vermont. True North is populated by the tough, outdoorsy mountain men that populate the Green Mountain State. They raise cows and they grow apples. They chop a lot of wood, especially when they need to blow off steam. (Beards are optional but encouraged.)

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

I picked up Bittersweet purely because of my romanceopoly reading challenge, and since I expected to flat-out hate it, I ended up liking it a lot more than I’d expected. I’ve been meaning to read some of Sarina Bowen’s books for years, so I guess it’s a plus that I finally got the chance to.

Now, Bittersweet was fine. It started off well enough. I liked both Audrey and Griff. They definitely had chemistry and some good banter. I wanted to eat and drink everything that was mentioned in the book. The side characters were pretty likable as well. But then the book turned into a bunch of sex scenes in a row and kind of lost the plot and that’s one of my least favorite things to have happen in a romance novel.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting, either.

#romanceopoly: uptown


Make Me Bad by R.S. Grey
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 7, 2019
Source: Purchased

I was issued a warning: stay away from Ben Rosenberg.

As Clifton Cove’s resident “king”, he thinks he’s entitled to anyone and anything.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my whole life following the rules and playing it safe. I know what it feels like to be the good girl. I’m the police chief’s daughter and a librarian—for adorable children, no less.

An all-nighter with a fictional hunk is about as exciting as my life gets until one day, fate decides to take pity on me and shove me straight into the path of Mr. Off-Limits himself.

Just as I suspected, every inch of him promises to be my demise. Up close, he’s tall, menacing—a lawyer who looks like he’ll bite. A well-behaved girl would do as she’s told and avoid him at all costs, but I’m overdue for a little rebellion.

So, I ignore the warning and throw caution to the wind. But Ben doesn’t just nudge me out of my comfort zone—he thrusts me into a dark corner and presses his hard body against mine, covering my mouth with his hand to ensure we don’t get caught sneaking around. In that moment, I finally understand why everyone thinks he’s going to ruin me.

To him, this is all a game.
He wants to tempt me with his dares and taunt me with his words.
I should play along. After all, I asked him to make me bad. I just never thought he’d take his job quite so seriously…

I love R.S. Grey’s books and, as expected, I loved the beginning of this one. I read the first half on a plane and had to try very hard to keep myself from laughing out loud at some of the things Madison said and did. Ben was just the right amount of “bad,” not so much that it was over the top, but just enough to keep things interesting. Madison and Ben had great chemistry, so I’m not really sure why I didn’t end up loving this book.

Maybe it’s because the whole “make me bad” thing disappears and then there’s just some drama that’s honestly pretty unbelievable. I’m not sure how to say this without spoilers, but as someone who’d been living on her own for seven years by the time I was 25 years old, I just didn’t understand how Madison still let her father control her life like that.

I ended up being a little disappointed with this one, but it was still really easy to read. I might not have loved this one, but I’m still excited to read whatever Rachel writes next.

#romanceopoly: bad boy circus


Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 21, 2015
Source: Borrowed

Twenty-six-year-old Gaby Barreto might be a lot of things (loyal, sarcastic, one of the guys and a pain in the butt depending on which family member you ask), but dumb isn’t one of them. When her twin brother invites her to go on tour as his band’s merch girl, she isn’t exactly screaming at the top of her lungs with joy.

With no job opportunities pounding on her door, an ex-boyfriend she would still like to castrate, and no end in sight to moving out of her parents’ house in Dallas… it would be dumb to say no to the chance of a lifetime. Two bands, three continents, one tour. Spending the next ninety-plus days with three beloved idiots and eight complete strangers shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

If only the singer of the headlining band didn’t have tattoos… a great personality… a fantastic body… and if he wasn’t so funny….

Let’s be real: Gaby never had a chance against Sacha Malykhin.

I’ve been meaning to read a Mariana Zapata book for a while, so when I had to read a rockstar romance and found this one available through Hoopla, I figured it was fate. I had zero expectations going into this and it turned out okay! It wasn’t the best book I’ve read all year, but I definitely didn’t hate it.

Sacha was a great hero. Above all else, he’s a great friend to Gaby and he always seemed to legitimately care about her. Gaby, on the other hand, frustrated me a little bit. It seemed like she’d put herself in these uncomfortable situations (like the hair thing??) for no reason, and she was also so frustratingly blind to Sacha’s feelings! I mean, I’m the kind of person that never believes someone likes them, but Gaby took it like fifteen steps further than me.

All in all, if you’re looking for a cute friends-to-lovers romance that is exceptionally slow burn (due mostly to Gaby being oblivious) then you might like this one.

#romanceopoly: downtown


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good romances recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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WWW Wednesday

It’s time for another WWW Wednesday post! WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking on a World of Words and just involves answering the 3 Ws!


What are you currently reading?

  • The Kitchen by Ollie Masters
    • This really feels more like a collection of plot points than an actual story, but it’s a graphic novel so at least it’s quick.
    • reading challenge: a book becoming a movie in 2019 (popsugar)
  • Roommates by M.E. Parker
    • I can’t really say that I’m enjoying this one, but at least it’s almost done.
    • reading challenge: firestation (romanceopoly)

What did you recently finish reading?

  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
    • This was so good! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
    • This probably wasn’t the best choice for my first Becky Chambers book. I wish I would have started with one of her novels.
  • The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
    • Once again, SDH gets me to accept, without a second thought, a completely outlandish premise in a YA contemporary.
  • Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
    • I’d expected a memoir and this was more like a collection of funny thoughts, but it was still a lot of fun!
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    • Given how much hype I’d seen about this book, I expected more than a racist, biphobic celebration of the manic pixie dream girl.
  • Snug by Catana Chetwynd
    • I love Catana’s comics and I loved this collection!
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    • I didn’t expect to enjoy a classic so much, but this was a lot of fun.
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
    • I’ve had this one on my TBR for a very long time and was very relieved to love it.
  • A Warning by Anonymous
    • I wasn’t going to read this one this week, but then it was automatically checked out to me and within about an hour, five more people put a hold on it. It was incredible.

What do you think you’ll read next?

  • Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis
    • Since I recently moved to the south, I figured I should learn how to behave.
  • Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen
    • I’m just praying that this will be good.
    • reading challenge: uptown (romanceopoly)

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR? Did you do your own WWW Wednesday post today? Let’s talk in the comments!

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