Finally Fall Book Tag

The season has finally started to change. The weather is getting cooler during the day and not just at night. The candy corn is back in the aisles. I found this awesome book tag that celebrates some of my favorite things about the season, plus I missed doing tags. Enjoy!

In fall, the air is crisp and clear: Name a book with a vivid setting!

For this one I am going with a historical fiction book: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah . This book made the dustbowl, migrant camps, and work fields come alive. The writing is so vivid and beautiful, even in this book that is largely heartbreak.

Nature is beautiful…but also dying: Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

Unfortunately for this question and perhaps myself I have read quite a few books that fit in this category. I would pick Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi and The Deep by Rivers Solomon but for very different reasons. Yolk is a contemporary that focuses on health, growing up, and food. The Deep is a fantasy that surrounds generational trauma, identity, and mermaids.

Fall is back to school season: Share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

I have been reading a lot more non-fiction lately. One that really stuck with me was Pushout by Monique Morris. This focused on the criminalization of Black girls and the structures that work against them in the school systems, especially in the US.

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: Name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

Even though i wasn’t a huge fan of the last book I would love to be a member of the Penderwick clan from the Penderwick series by Jeanne Birdsall. This passionate, loving, wild family is so endearing and cares for each other so deeply that I would just love to be another member of this ever growing family.

The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: Show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: Share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

Definitely going with the classic The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss for this one. This fantasy epic is Kvothe telling his own story to a biographer after years in hiding from his past.

The nights are getting darker: Share a dark, creepy read.

I am not a huge horror or gore fan but I do like a good mystery or suspense novel. The best creepy novel I have read recently is A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell. This is the story of massacre, class, and coverup. This was brutal but not gorey or gross and definitely a great stay-up-all-night nervous book.

The days are getting colder: Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julia Abe is an incredibly heartwarming book that also deals with an impending storm. I absolutely adore this book about a young witch going to find her talents and her place in the community (both magical and non).

Fall returns every year: Name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

This is not a book but a world favorite. I absolutely love Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legends of Korra. I am super excited to return to the world with the Kyoshi duology by F.C. Yee and Suki, Alone by Faith Erin Hicks this fall.

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: Share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”!

I got a large mug with a hot beverage and cozy cat. I am all set to settle in for a long reading night.

The post Finally Fall Book Tag appeared first on Kristin Kraves Books.

Summer Wrap Up

This summer was incredibly long personally. I did get a lot of reading done though despite work, memorials, and finally taking a break. This season I got through 36 books, which felt really good for me. I also was a little more liberal with myself and not finishing books after I had started them. I had a pretty solid reading month. I enjoyed most of what I read, but there were very few stand outs. Over the month, I averaged 4.04 stars in the books that I finished. This felt pretty solid. I enjoyed most of the books I read. They were solid, but there were very few standouts for me personally, even in the ones where the books themselves were excellent.

Genre Breakdown:

Rating Breakdown:

RatingNumber of Books
2.0 – 2.5 Stars 2
2.51 – 3.0 Stars1
3.01 – 3.5 Stars7
3.51 – 4.0 Stars8
4.01 – 4.5 Stars7
4.51 – 5 Stars11

Standouts of the Season

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Ash by Malinda Lo

Monstress Vol. 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takenda

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Books that focus on Education

Happy back to school season! School and education has always been such a major part of my life. For me there are a lot of aspects to an education, not just learning algebra and going to class. There is building a strong foundation to move forward, finding passion and deciding what you are excited about, and taking new opportunities through extra curriculars and chances provided to you. All the books below take place at a school, but focus in a different space of the education process.

Changing Your Life (Core Classes)

Princess Academy (series) by Shannon Hale – Middle Grade/Fantasy

We are Okay by Nina LaCour – Young Adult/Contemporary

Educated by Tara Westover – Adult/Autobiography

Following Passion (Field of Study)

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells – Adult/Autobiography

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – Young Adult/Contemporary

Truly Devious (series) by Maureen Johnson – Young Adult/Mystery

Taking Chances (Extracurriculars)

Again, but Better – New Adult/Contemporary

Check, Please! – Young Adult/Contemporary/Graphic Novel

Smash it! by Francina Simone – Young Adult/Contemporary

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian (Spoiler Free)

Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of is cursed to see the future.

On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.

When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.

As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.

Laura Sebastian, Penguin Random House

My Review

I will pick up anything to do with Arthurian legend, but I really enjoyed this take on our Once and Future King. This story plays out in three times, the past when they (Arthur, Guinevere, Morgana, Lancelot, and Elaine) come together on on Avalon, the present when they reach Albion and step into their respective roles, and the future when the tale and tragedy of King Arthur plays out. I really liked this as it turned the conflict into characters versus plot , as Elaine tries to circumvent the tragedy we have come to know so well in Western cannon.

As a retelling, I thought it was particularly strong. There was the thread of the Arthurian legend, especially in the future line from the novel. However, bolstered some of the same stories in new ways like the twists in the intention, word play, and expanding context. Some examples are Arthur and Lancelot’s respective tourneys, Merlin and Nimue’s conflict, and combining some of the Elaine’s (in my opinion: Shalott, Corbenic, and Garlot). You can tell there is a deep familiarity with the story and love for these characters. I did wish that there was a clearer or longer ending and that the past timelines were brought into the story a little more. I do wonder if this was avoided because it was the part that deviated most from accepted cannon.

4.75 Stars

Publication Date: July 2021

Read other reviews and potential content warnings here.

Learn more about the Author here.

Definitive Bridgerton Ranking

I recently completed the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn after fully boarding the Bridgeton train after watching Season one of the adaptation on Netflix. The Bridgeton series is a historical romance series where each book functions independent. They are connected as each protagonist is the member of the same family, it follows 8 siblings and their respective relationships.

I thought that this was a generally good romance series. I thought there was a good variety in the couples and each relationship was unique. In general I enjoyed this series but most of the books averaged out to about 3.75 stars. Of course, I am not including the main outlier in that of The Duke and I, which in general I didn’t enjoy due to the relative blandness but the blatant rape that occurs put me over the end. I do not recommend reading that installment, but I would recommend the rest of the series. For any additional content warnings I recommend checking out the series on Storygraph starting with the Duke and I here,

My favorite of the series was The Viscount Who Loved Me, but when talking about the series I found I had to make distinctions between the relationships I liked and the stories I like. If you have read the Bridgerton books, which one did you enjoy best?

By Plot

The books were ranked on the following criteria was the book well-paced, was it engaging, and did things happen.

  1. The Duke and I
  2. Romancing Mister Bridgerton
  3. An Offer From a Gentleman
  4. On the Way to the Wedding
  5. It’s In His Kiss
  6. The Viscount Who Love Me
  7. When He was Wicked
  8. To Sir Phillip with Love

By Relationship

The books were ranked on the based on the main relationship in terms of: chemistry, spice, and healthiness.

  1. Daphne and Simon (The Duke and I)
  2. Benedict and Sophie (An Offer From a Gentleman)
  3. Eloise and Phillip (To Sir Phillip, with Love)
  4. Gregory and Lucy (On the Way to the Wedding)
  5. Hyacinth and Gareth (It’s In His Kiss)
  6. Colin and Penelope (Romancing Mister Bridgerton)
  7. Francesca and Michael (When He was Wicked)
  8. Anthony and Kate (The Viscount Who Loved Me)

Overall Ranking

  1. The Duke and I
  2. An Offer From a Gentleman
  3. On the Way to the Wedding
  4. It’s In His Kiss
  5. Romancing Mister Bridgerton
  6. To Sir Phillip, With Love
  7. When He was Wicked
  8. The Viscount Who Love Me

Series Review: Beyond the Four Kingdoms by Melanie Cellier

Can you tell I have been hyper fixating on this author? This is the sequel series to The Four Kingdoms that following some of our familiar characters to explore new lands and expand relationships beyond the Four Kingdoms after a storm clears to reveal a pass into a heavily populated continent. The books are a companion series of fantasy retellings. Similar to the prequel series, we rotate through the kingdoms and young royalty as they go through their individual tale.

My Review: This series is highly magical and the fairy tales are much more quest based with romance thrown in to the stories. Still enjoyable, but a very different reading experience, especially by book 2. I think that the retellings were more inventive but I really missed how much relationship building and politics were present in the first series. This series was very romantic with high stakes. Personally, this was less my taste than the original series. On average this series was about 3.8 stars! If you have read this series, let me know what you thought!

Genre: Fantasy Romance that all focus on a general quest or curse.

The Books:

A Dance of Silver and Shadow (Twelve Dancing Princess)

A Tale of Beast and Beauty (Beauty and the Beast)

A Crown of Snow and Ice (Ice Queen)

A Dream of Ebony and White (Snow White)

A Captive of Wing and Feather (Swan Lake)

A Princess of Wind and Wave (Little Mermaid)

Favorite Retelling: One thing that I think was a bonus about this series was how inventive the retellings got. My personal favorite was Snow White or a Dream of Ebony and White. I don’t think I had ever experience a Snow White tale get this deep or political before. I liked how Snow White had to become a real political threat to the throne and a ruler in her own right. This was also the only retelling I have ever read that held the King accountable for some of the catastrophe that comes to kingdom and it was weirdly satisfying. The found family was a happy bonus.

Favorite Couple: Teddy and Isla (A Princess of Wind and Wave). This is my favorite version of a Little Mermaid couple I have experience so far. I like that they actively had to fall out of love with idea of each other and in love with the person they got to know. This was the couple that grew the most together throughout their story. Close second is Lily and Jonathan (A Dance of Silver and Shadow). They are so similar and dutiful. It lead to a fun back and forth of admiration and angst.

Favorite Kingdom: Eldon. I liked the more rigid and traditional kingdom more than I expected. Even though it ended up getting them more trapped in their curse than anything else I found the shift to be a nice change of pace.

Favorite Family: The Duchy of Marin (A Dance of Silver and Shadow). We didn’t spend as much time with them but the three sisters competed (and deserve a short story of their own) and the brother, Jonathan, is the featured love interest. The family is heavily featured as they are the ones who invited the Princesses from the Four Kingdoms to the new land. They are so sweet together and genuinely try to levy their roles as diplomat in every scene they are in.

Favorite Book: A Tale of Beast and Beauty. I think there was a great balance of the relationship and understanding the curse that was on the Kingdom of Palinar. There was a lot of misunderstanding when it came to the Beast (Dominic) and Sophie, but I loved how the relationship developed and that you got to see the type of rulers they would both be. Second place, A Dance of Silver and Shadow. I have loved Twelve Dancing Princess retellings since the Barbie Movie, but I thought the competition was a great introduction. I loved the balance between competition, getting to know a new land and new characters, and an incredibly tense romance.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro (Review)

Summary:

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Tor Teen, Mark Oshiro

Review:

This was a really ethereal and weird read about connection, religion, and freedom. I have always found Oshiro’s writing to be very visual and visceral. The characters were flawed, confused, and doing the best they could even when it wasn’t best for everyone. It was really easy to get attached and want the best for everyone , including the characters that only briefly share their stories.

Now, I loved the back stories they made the world feel full and the culture complete. However, they were all previous stories that were just for the world and not for the current plot as outside observers (ala The Sun is Also a Star and Lalani of the Distant Sea). This sometimes lead it feeling hard to back into the plot and readjusting to the different moods back and forth.

On a personal note, as a monoglot (I only speak English) I was really intimidated by the amount of Spanish in the book when I started. I was put at ease about 20% through when I realized that everything was either common words (hola, etc.) or were translated either directly or indirectly.

I gave this book a 4/4.25 stars. If you have read it let me know what you thought or if you are thinking about picking it up.

Publication Date: September 2020

Publisher: Tor Teen

Read more reviews and content warnings here.

Read more about the author here.

Spring Wrap Up

I didn’t make it to everything from my Spring TBR (approx. 40%). My workload drastically changes plus I got COVID which sucked, and lead me down a few different roads reading wise. Specifically, I read a lot more middle grade and significantly shorter novels than I have previously leaned towards. I read 54 books this spring and enjoyed most of them! Definitely diversified my reading more than normal into different genres and was pleasantly surprised. The average rating of the season was 3.89 stars. What was your favorite book you read this spring?

Genre Breakdown:

Age Breakdown:

Age Range# of Books
Children4
Middle Grade15
Young Adult17
Adult18

Most Read Author: Mellanie Cellier (7 books across the Beyond the 4 Kingdoms series and the Return to the 4 Kingdoms series)

Standouts:

Anna K by Jenny Lee

Eva Evagreen: Semi-Magical List by Julie Abe

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Beartown by Fredrik Bachman

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Pride Reads – Recommendations

Happy pride month! For this month I wanted to highlight some of my favorite books and series that feature LGBTQIA+ characters and stories. Let me know what you are reading to celebrate Pride!

Fantasy

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Science Fiction

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Pet by Awaeke Emezi

This Is How You Lose a Time War by Becky Chambers

Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Contemporary

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

George by Alex Gino

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Graphic Novel

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki

Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Middle Grade Recommendations 2.0

If you are still looking for something to read for Middle Grade May, I just want to throw some of my favorite suggestions in the ring. I really enjoy reading middle grade because it tends to be very thematic, whimsical, and makes me feel better about humanity. If none of the following suggestions strike your fancy, you can check out my recommendation list from last year here.

If you like cults, found family, and DRAGONS, you may like…

Wings of Fire

If you like fairy tales, independence, and making the wrong choices, you may like…

Furthermore/Whichwood

If you like tea, kindness, and graphic novels, you make like

The Tea Dragons

If you like misconceptions, dismantling systems, and monsters, you may like…

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

If you like fairy tales, self-discovery, and a good quest, you may like…

Lalani of the Distant Sea