Shelf Control: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Bookshelf Fantasies is hosting a new weekly feature called Shelf Control! It’s all about books we already own, whether it be physical or digital, and finding things to read without rushing out to buy new books all the time. So many TBR posts are about upcoming or new titles—I thought it was interesting to focus on appreciating the things we already own (I really don’t need to spend more money and/or have the space for more books 😛 ).

My pick for this week is:

Title: Rebecca

Author: Daphne du Maurier

Date Published: 1938

Format: Paperback {own}

What it’s about? {synopsis via Goodreads}

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .”
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

How I got it?

I purchased it.

When I got it?

At least 4 years ago.

Why I want to read it?

There is no justifiable reason for me not to have read this book already. It’s been adapted to film by Hitchcock and is one of my favorite movies of all time. They always say that the book is better, which would be tough in this case, but even if it’s not, I’ll still probably adore it! Halloween is coming up and it’s a gothic mystery novel, so it’s a good time to rectify this mistake. 🎃

Do you have any books already on your shelf that you want to read?

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon 

 

18692431Title: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Publisher: Delacorte Press [imprint of Penguin Random House]

Date Published: September 1, 2015

Format: ARC {Received in exchange of a fair review}

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When I started this book I really thought I would enjoy it. It is sweet, charming, and has a unique story to tell. But about halfway through the book, a series of twists and plot developments left me sorely disappointed. I’m not going to spoil what happens, but the story just becomes increasingly cliché and unrealistic—especially after the so-perfect, yet oh so forbidden, love interest is introduced.

Madeline is not allowed to leave her home—severe allergies that were discovered when she was an infant have kept her cooped up for most of her 17 years. She’s basically a “bubble boy” and fills her days reading books, taking online classes, and hanging out with her mom and nurse, who are the only two people she has regular contact with. One day she glances out the window and sees a family moving in next door. Last time the neighbors left, it really devastated her, so she promises herself she won’t get too attached. Then she sees Olly. He only wears black, because of course that’s what brooding boys do. They begin talking over email and IM, but eventually that is not enough for them. They want to meet in real life, but Madeline knows that’s a slippery slope.

Their romance is too syrupy sweet for me. Writing limericks and haikus to each other somewhat ironically and stuff like that. It was only as the novel progressed that it got to be too much for me. I really dislike where the plot went and I went from enjoying the book, to being completely disappointed in the span of a few pages. I feel like Madeline went from being a character with potential charm and personality, to one that was making all these outrageous decisions without much founding. Later in the novel, Yoon gives a reason for these, but I felt that this twist cheapened the plot and relationships in the novel. It seemed to be a plot device thrown in so she could get the ending she wanted, rather than what would make the most interesting story.

Cover Critique: The cover for Everything, Everything is gorgeous. I love the white with the colorful pencil drawings outlining the text. It looks like a special book and I can imagine it’ll inspire many readers to pick it up.

Quick Version: After a promising start, I was left disappointed by Everything, Everything. What was initially charming about the novel began to grate on me, especially after some plot choices I found pretty questionable. I do admit that I am not the audience for this book, stories about sick teens have never been my favorites, but I had high hopes for this one. Yoon is an excellent writer and even though I was not a fan of this one, I look forward to what she does in the future.

Score: 2/5 stars

#15in31: October Reading Challenge!

I’ve really been missing taking time out of my day and sitting down with a good book. I’ve been so swamped this year and when I’m stressed/anxious the last thing I want to do is sit down and read, even though that would actually help me de-stress 😛

I was just thinking of how to jump start my reading when I ran across Andi’s challenge on Estella’s Revenge. I figured this was a sign from the reading gods and decided to give it a try! 15 books in 31 is a lot, maybe too much. I may not be able to complete all 15 titles, but I’ll give it my all. Worst case, I’ll have read more than I would’ve otherwise!

I’m horrible at keeping TBRs or planning what books I want to read next, so I’m not going to give you an exact list of the books I’ll be in October. This is more of a general list of books that I’m interested in:

Okay, I kinda lied, I know I’ll be digging into these three new releases next month. I’ve been waiting for them for ages!

What these all have in common is that they are all books that my husband has been begging me to read. His birthday is coming up this month and he reads a lot that I recommend, so I’ll give them a shot (I’m pretty positive I’ll like them anyways)!

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I’ve acquired these titles recently and I’m pretty excited about them. They’re a varied bunch, for sure, and I don’t think I’ll wait more than a month to read them.

I know that’s only nine, but I know I’ll get some random Kindle books in there as well as audio. I don’t like to overplan my reading when I’m having fun with it, and that’s the goal of this whole challenge for me– to read a ton and have fun doing it!

What about you? If you want to join in, please sign up on the link up top!

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Title: Dumplin’

Author: Julie Murphy

Publisher: Balzer + Bray [imprint of HarperCollins]

Date Published: September 15, 2015

Format: ARC– Received in exchange of a fair review

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I’m so glad to be back to this blog! It’s been way too long and I am looking forward to getting Curiously Bookish back in action. I’ve had a crazy year that involved getting married and finishing grad school, so I’ve been understandably busy! 😛 I’m in the middle of restructuring this blog and getting some more exciting plans underway (I’ll have some exciting news to share with you guys soon!), but for now we’ll start with a book review:

Willowdean is a self-proclaimed fat girl who lives in Texas and is obsessed with Dolly Parton. If you don’t like her, too bad. She’s happy with her high school life (as much as anyone could be). But the summer before Junior year, things start to change. Her best friend, Ellen, and her are growing apart. Ellen is the typical all-American beauty and is becoming friends with the popular girls in her class, who keep acting like Willowdean and Ellen’s friendship is more of a charity case than a legitimate relationship.  On top of this, Willowdean’s new job at the fast food place comes with a super cute coworker, Bo. To her surprise Bo likes her, and instead of feeling elated, the normally confident Willowdean feels insecure. She begins to doubt herself around him and think of her body in negative ways when she’s with him. She’s desperate to get her old confidence back and she does the last thing she thought she would ever do, enter the local beauty pageant. To make things tougher it happens to be run by her former-beauty-queen mother.

This was a very entertaining read! Willowdean is definitely not the typical YA protagonist. She is very opinionated, confident, and clever. The story deals with body image in many different ways and with all kinds of characters. It’s about not being perfect, or what you see as perfect, and finding out that everyone can be just as insecure as you are. Murphy did a good job of balancing the message of being happy with who you are, with also being able to admit your faults and doubts.

I really enjoyed the way friendship was handled in this book. Willowdean and Ellen were everything to each other when they were younger, but now that they’ve gotten older, it’s not working out well. Willowdean feels like Ellen is leaving her behind and she doesn’t even feel comfortable talking to her about her maybe relationship with Bo. They drift further and further apart as Ellen makes friends with the popular girls that don’t like Willowdean, and the feeling is mutual. This forces Willowdean to make friends with some of the other girls in her class, the other girls who don’t fit in. This group is a bunch of girls who get bullied and teased, but unlike Willowdean, they don’t have the confidence to stand up for themselves. At first, she treats them with disdain and frustration, especially when they all decide to join the pageant along with her. Eventually, she begins to like them and sees the value of having different kinds of friends. That was probably my favorite part of the novel; you don’t need to have just one friend who is everything to you. Especially as you get older, your best friend and you may grow up to have different interests and like different things. You may drift apart, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t still friends. You can make different friends and so can she, but you are still always there for each other.

Friendship is where Dumplin’ is at its strongest, but I wasn’t as big of a fan of the romance. I really just didn’t like Bo as a character. He was the brooding, mysterious boy and he really didn’t have much of a personality. He started the story as a transfer student who had some secrets, but it never progressed from there. He was also quite cruel to Willowdean in the early parts of the novel, he wants to keep their relationship a secret and only hangs out with her at work and by the dumpster or in his car afterwards. It just has so many red flags that even when he apologizes later, it still doesn’t sit right with me. There is another boy introduced later in the novel, Mitch, who I thought was a more interesting character. He really likes Willowdean and is very open about it, but she simply doesn’t like him like that. I guess that is very high school, though. Making the wrong decisions about boys is pretty realistic sometimes!

Cover Critique: I’m a big fan of the cover. It’s so graphic and simple. Willowdean in that pose in the red dress really does represent the novel well. Everything is clean and simple, which makes that red stand out even more. I also really like the crown at the top, it’s cute and combined with the image, really lets you know that this is a pageant book.

Quick Version: Dumplin’ is a charming, easy read. Willowdean is a girl you don’t see a lot in fiction, especially as the main character. Friendship and the issues that come with growing up and maintaining friendships are really a bright point in the novel. While I didn’t like Bo and the romance, the true heart of the novel lies with Willowdean and Ellen and learning how to be confident and love yourself, faults and all.

Score: 4/5 stars

The Awakening of Miss Prim, Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Title: The Awakening of Miss Prim

Author: Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Publisher: Atria Books [imprint of Simon & Schuster]

Date Published: July 8, 2014

Format: Galley– Provided in exchange of a fair review

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Prudencia Prim is a young woman who is looking for something different from her life in a big city. She moves to a remote village in France, San Ireneo, to work as a librarian in a large mansion. She is a highly intelligent woman; she has a great knowledge of literature and philosophy as well as holds a few different college degrees, but she also allows herself to be a little sentimental. When she arrive at the village she is surprised at how backwards everything is. This is a town were tea-time is taken very seriously and everyone seems to be able to quote Thoreau and Dante with ease. Miss Prim clashes with them often and the novel is full of philosophical debates and arguments about everything from home schooling to the necessity of having young girls read Little Women (any book that mentions how awesome Little Women is as a plot point is a total win for me).

The Awakening of Miss Prim is a very thoughtful book. There is not a ton of plot here. Not much actually happens in San Ireneo. At first I was bored with this book; I was waiting for something to happen. When I had gotten about a third of the way through, I realized that it wasn’t going to pick up, it just wasn’t that kind of book. And you know what, after I had that realization I started really enjoying it. This book will make you think, and it’s been a while since I’ve had a book do that. It presents all these different topics and the characters debate them endlessly. They never really give a “right” answer, which encourages us to come to our own conclusions.

You can feel how influential both Lousia May Alcott and Jane Austen were to Fenollera. She constantly alludes to them in the story and at times points out when she “rips them off.” If you enjoy the works of either of those authors there is a good chance you will like what Fenollera does here. The romance in this book is lovely, but you shouldn’t go to this book looking for something sweet and light. Miss Prim and her “Man in the Wingchair”, as she calls him, have their fair share of disagreements and different stances on big issues, but you’ll have to read the book to see how that all works out!

Cover Critique: I really like this cover. It’s colorful and sets this book apart from everything else out there. It is a little busy, but it’s done well and is perfect for the type of book this is.

Quick Version: The Awakening of Miss Prim is a book that doesn’t just want to give you a light-hearted romance, it wants to make you think. There is very little action in this book, I mean there is a whole plot point that is about whether or not Mr. Darcy is the “perfect man” and another about the pros and cons of matchmaking, but if you accept that, I believe this can be an enjoyable read.

Score: 4/5 stars 😀

July Mini-Reviews

This is has been one crazy month, but thankfully I’ve somehow found the time to get some reading done. I’ve been applying for internships, hiking on mountain trails and planning a wedding– all in the span of 30 days. The books I’ve read were able to keep me sane (at least a little), through all the stuff! This month contained a new favorite, which is very nice, and nothing that I despised. All in all, July did me good.

Unwept (Book One of The Nightbirds), Tracy Hickman [Galley received in exchange for an honest review]

A very engaging thriller with some fantasy/paranormal touches, which get more pronounced as the story goes on. Ellis is suffering from amnesia. She is going back to her hometown to heal from whatever has caused her to lose her memory and hopefully get it back. She is surrounded by supposed friends who claim to know everything about her, but Ellis feels that there is something very dark lurking in this little town. It  gets pretty crazy and it’s hard to put it down. I don’t read too many thrillers or mysteries– even though I always enjoy them– and this book makes me want to read more and more. {4/5 stars}

Alias Hook, Lisa Jensen [Galley received in exchange for an honest review]

Jensen gives us a very interesting take on the classic Peter Pan story. This is one of those novels that shows us the story from the “bad guy’s” perspective, and show us that they were really super wonderful all along. This book ended up being very different from I expected. I can’t say that I loved it, but I really enjoyed certain parts of it and it was beautifully written. It reads much more like literary fiction than fantasy, to me. The characterization and development of Hook was enchanting. Also, I adored the romance and it had a wonderful ending. It’s definitely worth a read, but don’t expect a very “magical” experience.  {3.5/5 stars}

Starters (Starters, #1), Lissa Price

Good concept, not too great execution. In this future-dystopian world, desperate teenagers loan out their bodies to elderly people, who use them to skydive, go clubbing, and do things they wouldn’t be able to do. Obviously, doesn’t work out too well and therein lies the story.  It was just pretty average. The writing was okay, but the characters were very shallow and that’s were the story was really lacking. {2/5 stars}

Blood Song (A Raven’s Shadow, #1), Anthony Ryan

This was so good. I can’t even talk about it in a coherent way (I’ll try my best). My brother, Javier, had been bugging me to read this all summer, and man was it worth it. This story is about Vaelin, whose father is one of the most famous warriors in the realm. Instead of raising him, his father drops him off and abandons him at some crazy assassin boarding school. He makes a family of his fellow classmates, who are all pretty awesome in their own right, and goes on some amazing adventures. I have a real weakness for school stories and novels that play with storytelling as a concept. The book begins with adult Vaelin about to face an execution. He tells his story to a man who despises him, but like the reader, learns to appreciate this cold, mysterious killer. I’m not doing this justice… just go read it! {5/5 stars}

Sailor Moon (Volume 1 & 2), Naoko Takeuchi

Sailor Moon holds a very special place in my heart. I was obsessed with the anime, movies, and manga as a little girl (and now, too, I can’t lie). I was always checking out the volumes from my library and devouring them. Now, this was a long time ago and my library didn’t always have the one I needed to read, so I was just kind of jumping around the series reading whatever I could. These volumes are a re-release from Kodansha, which are a more accurate translation from the original Japanese. So far I’m loving them so much, check in next month to see what I think about the rest of them (I’ll probably finish them before next week 😛 ). {5/5 stars}

What did you guys read in July? Any new favorites? 🙂

June Mini-Reviews

Another month gone and the year is halfway over! June was actually a pretty good reading month for me. I didn’t read too many titles, but there was some good variety. I mean, it’s still all fantasy– I’m not planning on radically changing or anything :P.  Here’s hoping July is even better! I have some interesting posts planned and I hope y’all will like them.

Child of a Hidden Sea, A.M. Dellamonica

This is a fantasy adventure story that is the perfect beach-read for a person that usually hates beach-reads (I speak from experience). It’s an interesting world with memorable characters, and it never takes itself too seriously. I really enjoyed this book and wrote a nice, long review about it. Also, this review was featured on Dellamonica’s website— you have no idea how freakin’ happy that made me! This brought my blog quite a bit of attention, which is always awesome, especially when it happens because of a great book! {4.5/5 stars}

The Princess in the Opal Mask, Jenny Lundquist

This was easily the cutest book I read all month (and maybe all year). It’s a fairytale version of The Prince and the Pauper and it does a wonderful job of crafting the two protagonists. The girls were very different in complimentary ways and the romances are very sweet and there are no love triangles in sight. It’s a great, fun read. I go on about it in much more detail in my full review. {4/5 stars}

Flight of a Golden Harpy, Susan Klaus

I couldn’t finish this book. I got about halfway through and then skipped around to the end. It’s a scifi story about a distant jungle planet colonized by humans. They share it with humanoid, savage harpies, who are hunted for their beautiful wings. The story revolves around a young woman and a harpy who fall in love and it doesn’t go too hot for them. The world was well crafted and very creative, but the dialogue was very clunky and the characters were shallow. The book just took itself and it’s message a little too seriously. {Did Not Finish}

Tiger Lilly, Jodi Lynn Anderson

This was an interesting book, but I can’t say I really enjoyed reading it. It’s a retelling of Peter Pan that focuses on Tiger Lily. The story is told through Tinkerbell’s perspective, who acts like a casual observer most of the time, except when she interjects a pointed opinion. The world Anderson creates is different from the classic Neverland; she brings some interesting twists to the tale, but I just felt disconnected from the characters and the story. I didn’t hate it and I loved some of the things it was trying to do, but I just didn’t have fun with it.  {3/5 stars}

What did you guys read in June? Anything you loved or hated? 😀

Top Ten: Classic Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a blog meme hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish every week! This week the topic is classic books. You can either list your favorites or ones that are on your to-read list. Since I am indecisive, I’ve decided to do a mixture of both! The first five will be my favorites and the following five are books that I’m hoping I’ll enjoy.

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Five Favorite Classics:

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

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2. Macbeth, William Shakespeare

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3. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights

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4. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Toliken

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5. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Five Classics I Need to Read:

1. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

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2. Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

{I’m fluent in Spanish, so I keep telling myself to read more in Spanish. I think this is a good one to do that!}

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3. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

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4. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

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5. The Once and Future King, T.H. White

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What are some of your favorite classics and/or ones you need to read? 😀

The Princess in the Opal Mask, Jenny Lundquist

Title:The Princess in the Opal Mask

Series:  The Opal Mask #1

Author: Jenny Lundquist

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Date Published: October 22, 2013

Format: Paperback

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This is a very sweet retelling of a classic story. It’s like The Prince and the Pauper, but with pretty, feisty princesses and fairytale trappings. It was a cute, little book. The writing was smooth and so easy to read. I would have been all over this book when I was little– I really had a thing for princesses and fairytale retellings. It’s definitely more suited for the younger part of the YA audience (maybe even more of a middle-grade book), but that didn’t stop my from having a lovely time with it.

The best part of the novel are the two protagonists, Elara and Wilha, and how well they complement each other. Elara is an orphan living with an evil stepmother and stepsister (sounds pretty familiar, right?). She is angry and spiteful toward her adoptive family that treat her like a servant. She is an extremely proud and headstrong girl, and is not afraid to lie and manipulate situations for her benefit. Wilha is the crown princess. She lives a life of luxury, but has been forced to hide her face behind a mask her entire life. Not even her own father will look upon her face and no one gives her the reason why. Because of this, she’s– obviously– deeply insecure and shy. She has to go to the neighboring kingdom to marry the prince, and it doesn’t go smoothly. The two girls’ paths cross and they are forced to interact, much to their chagrin. Since they have alternating POVs, one of the most amusing parts of the novel was how these girls saw each other.

The romance in this book is quite lovely. There is no love-at-first-sight or fighting over a prince, like you’ll see in most fairytale stories.  I was happy to see a book were there was no tension between the girls about a boy. There is plenty of conflict, don’t get me wrong, but it’s about their relationship or about the plot, not about boys.

I do think that the development of Wilha and Elara’s arcs were a little uneven. Elara really comes into her own at the end of the book, and Wilha is only just beginning to do so. I know that there is another book in the series coming up (yay! So exciting). So, I’ll be interested to see if she gets more to do in the next novel. I still really liked Wilha, though. She is very meek and afraid to take action, but it makes sense for her character.

Cover Critique: This cover is simply GORGEOUS. The colors are lovely and the font is great. It really portrays the spirit of the novel well. The inside of the book also has some lovely design touches. The team at Running Press Kids did a wonderful job with this book.

Quick Version: Between Elara and Wilha you really get the best of fairytale protagonists. One is spunky and needs to learn tact and the other is shy and is trying to find her strength. These two girls are thrown into a world of deception and political intrigue, and as much as they don’t like it, they have to count on each other to make it out. The story is well-written and a great read. Highly recommended for any fan of retellings or fairytale-esque stories. Fantastic cover, too.

Score: 4/5 stars 🙂

Child of a Hidden Sea, A.M. Dellamonica

Title: Child of a Hidden Sea

Author: A.M. Dellamonica

Publisher: Tor, imprint of Macmillan

Date Published: June 24, 2014

Format: Galley– received in exchange of a fair review

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This book was an insane amount of fun to read! It’s light-hearted in a way that is sadly missing from much of adult fantasy. The story is the perfect beach read for a girl (me) who typically despises beach reads– I hate them with a passion. It’s fun, without being dumb, and the protagonist is spunky and brave, without being annoying beyond belief.

Our lead, Sophie, is a twenty-four year old who is seriously avoiding defending her master’s thesis. Instead she explores the world; she goes on research dives, climbs mountains, and spends large amounts of time sailing around at sea. Apart from her thesis, Sophie has one thing weighing her down: finding her biological family. She adores her adoptive family, her brother Bram is her best friend, but she still wants to find out something about the people that abandoned her. When she finally finds them, she sees her aunt being attacked by some creeps in an alley. As she is running in to stop them, a crazy wind starts up. Next thing she knows, she is in a different world. Sophie finds herself floating in the middle of the ocean with an unconscious aunt she doesn’t even know.

Sophie is thrust into a new world of political intrigue, hot sailors, and magic. What I probably love most about the novel is how she reacts to finding herself there. She does notice the handsome men and the corrupt politics, but her main focus is trying to figure out exactly where she is. This world is similar to Earth, but slightly different in more ways than just the magic. The animals look like their Earthen siblings, but are different enough to warrant some notice. Sophie is reluctant to accept magic as an answer and is always looking for scientific explanations. This is a more realistic response to an unknown situation than I usually see in most fictional characters. She is asking questions the majority of protagonists don’t even bother about. To me, this made Sophie into an especially intriguing character.

I haven’t read too many portal fantasies that I have actually enjoyed; these are fantasy stories where the hero is in our world and is transported into another fantastical one. There are some classics that are obviously really good (Narnia and Alice in Wonderland to name a couple), but for contemporary adult books… the landscape is pretty sparse. Child of a Hidden Sea did a great job reminding me what can be so great about portal fantasies. The characters are thrown into a new world, just like the readers. This is particularly pleasing when you have a character like Sophie; we feel like someone is asking the questions we want answered.

Cover Critique: I really like this cover. It’s a simple design that serves to show off a lovely illustration. Our lead is front-and-center with a pretty sailor boy by her side. There is also a hint at the magic in the book with the script on the sails. This cover would totally get my attention at a bookstore. It really conveys a sense of lightness that I feel is really appropriate to the story, and sets it apart from so many other fantasy books out there.

Quick Version: This book should really be in your bag for your next trip to the beach or for sitting by the pool. It is an intelligent and funny book with an exciting adventure and memorable characters. Child of a Hidden Sea has all the fun of a light and fluffy book, but it can surprise you at times with the amount of depth Dellamonica was able to pack into the world and it’s inhabitants. I enjoyed this book a lot, as you can probably tell, and I really loved the main character, Sophie. It’s tough in adult fantasy to find an engaging, intelligent, and flawed female lead– and this book definitely had that.

Score: 4.5/5 stars 😎