Book Reviews

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter ARC Review

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who will perish when I call?

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 544 Publication Date: 6/25/19

In this tale of vengeance and woe, foe may be friend and friend may be foe.

WELCOME TO THE FOREST OF GOOD AND EVIL.

A DREAM COME TRUE…AND A LIVING NIGHTMARE.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy-tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control, Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed. As the prophecy unfolds, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

The battle between good and evil is on.

When I found out that Gena Showalter was coming out with a snow white retelling and that it would be a series I did the happiest of dances. Then when I received an ARC from Inkyard Press in the mail I actually cried happy tears. I love Gena Showalter and I LOVE a good retelling. This book absolutely did not disappoint!

Gena Showalter has this amazing gift of being able to create highly immersive and enchanting (see what I did there?) worlds. With every page you want to learn more and more about the world that she is building being hopelessly entranced by this insanely unique and visual setting.

The characters in this story are so multi-faceted and often fall into a “gray” moral area, which is SO REFRESHING! There is no clear definition on who is bad or good which makes them totally relatable. You very quickly become invested in these characters and their storylines.

I would like to note that while this is a retelling it is by no means your typical fairy tale. It is a dark story with unpredictable twists and turns that explores the meaning of what is right and what is wrong as well as passion, destiny, romance, family dynamics, and self discovery. I can’t wait to see more of this world and see where the story continues to take us.

If you enjoyed Gena’s White Rabbit Chronicles then this book is an absolute MUST! I devoured that series and it was so satisfying to read this story as the writing was very similar to those. Even if you are new to Gena Showalter I still highly recommend picking this one up as it is one of the most entertaining books I have read so far this year!

Are you a fan of Gena or retellings? Let me know in the comments below. Can’t wait to chat with you!

Always,

Alicia

Book Hauls

Asheville Book Haul

Good Morning, my fellow bookworms! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a happy Fathers Day! I apologize for being M.I.A on the blog for the last week or so. I was actually taking some much needed time off and decided to unplug for a little bit. My boyfriend and I went up to Asheville, North Carolina for a couple of days for my 27th birthday. We ate, drank, and got to go to some VERY awesome places but I will be doing a full trip re-cap in my upcoming bookish travel guide blog post coming soon!

However, I did want to share my full list of books that I picked up during our travels.

Asheville Book Haul

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Goodreads rating: 3.71 Stars

Description: Take one amateur sleuth. Mix in some eccentric Minnesota locals. Add a generous dollop of crackling suspense, and you’ve got the recipe for this delicious new mystery series featuring Hannah Swensen, the red-haired, cookie-baking heroine whose gingersnaps are almost as tart as her mouth and whose penchant for solving crime is definitely stirring things up.

Hannah already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother’s attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden’s most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah’s famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can’t get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer. But if she doesn’t watch her back, Hannah’s sweet life may get burned to a crisp.

This book was actually recommended to me by my friend Julie who is also a book blogger and aspiring author! Recently I just started getting into cozy mysteries and wanted to pick up something that was going to be good, I highly trust Julie’s opinion since she is a mystery expert!

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Goodreads rating: 3.62 Stars

Description: When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend.

While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief.

These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected.

So this book was actually a “Blind Date With A Book”, you can check out my Instagram post with all the details HERE I absolutely love this concept and hope that my local bookshop will incorporate it into their store soon because it is just too much fun!

Into The Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo (ARC)

Goodreads rating: 3.97 Stars

Description:

The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.

Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.

Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.

Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.

And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.

Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.

This one is actually an ARC that doesn’t come out until October 8th 2019, I was able to pick it up at Malaprops Bookshop for free because I had spent over $50 and they have a designated bookshelf filled with ARCS for people to pick out their own. Such a brilliant idea!

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Goodreads rating: 4.53 Stars

Description: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

I know, I know! I am so late to the game on this book. It has been recommended to me so many times I can’t keep track and I have had it on my TBR list for months. I was finally able to pick it up and I can’t wait to dive into it!

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Gilgariff

Goodreads rating: 4.44 Stars

Description: Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.

In Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being ‘nice’ or ‘helpful.’ They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness.

As a longtime murderino I just had to pick this one up. I had pre-ordered the audiobook and could not wait to get my hands on a physical copy! I plan on doing a full review and comparing both formats here on the blog very soon.

Well that wraps it up!! What did you think of my selection? Have you read any of these books before? If so, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Always,

Alicia

Bookish Travel Guides

The Best Bookish Spots in Charleston, SC

Happy Monday, my fellow bookworms! Today I am so happy to be partnering with BookSparks to take you on a journey through my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina for the #ReadAroundTown challenge featuring The Printed Letter Bookshop By Katherine Reay which they so kindly sent to me. Here is a little synopsis of the book:

” Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop.

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt — and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn —and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions – she questions her plans and her heart, and begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop. Yet, even working together, these three women may find their best efforts too little and too late.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is an engaging story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.

I am SO excited to read this book and it has promptly been added to my TBR list for this month. Who doesn’t love a good romance novel for summer? Perfect for bringing on vacation or just to your favorite reading spots around town! Speaking of…let’s chat about a few of mine and jump right into The Best Bookish Spots in Charleston, South Carolina!

1. Blue Bicycle Books

How could I feature this book and not show off my favorite bookshop in town! I am sure many of you are familiar with this store as they host Y’all Fest every year (which is SO much fun and you know I am going to be there this year) but that is not what makes this place so truly special. Though the store is not super large there are many reading nooks throughout the store with rooms/areas for specific genres. If you are traveling with children they will LOVE the children’s book room which features a little tent perfect for them to curl up in and read a book while you peruse the expansive selection of both used and new books. The staff is always very welcoming and helpful if you are stumped on what to pick up next. Blue Bicycle Books is also located right in the heart of the beautiful Historic Downtown Charleston and just steps away from several other local gems including our next stop…

2. Jeni’s Ice Cream

Just a 5 minute walk down the street from Blue Bicycle Books is my favorite place to grab a sweet treat in Charleston…Jeni’s! This place truly has something for everyone with flavors ranging from Honey Vanilla Bean to Fluffernutter Pie and they are constantly featuring seasonal treats as well that are so uniquely delicious. Also vegan/lactose-intolerant bookworms do not fear…they always have incredible dairy free options as well! I am seriously drooling as I think about their freshly made waffle cones and their gooey delicious butterscotch topping. Can you think of anything better than reading a book while having a scoop of pure sugary heaven? I sure can’t!

3. Rainbow Row

Did you really visit Charleston, SC if you didn’t snap some photos in front of Rainbow Row? Rainbow Row is a block of totally adorable sherbet colored homes located on the Charleston Battery. While this is a very popular tourist hot spot it does make for a very lovely reading spot as well. There are several benches located on the sidewalk where you can read a book, people watch, and take in the absolute beauty of all the historic homes while soaking in the sunshine and ocean breeze. Plus, you can take some really poppin’ #Bookstagram pictures. Total win/win!

4. The Battery

Once you have sat down for a bit at Rainbow Row and you feel the need to burn off some calories from stuffing your face with sweet glorious Jeni’s ice cream I highly suggest taking a walk along The Battery. On one side you will have amazing views of the Charleston Harbor and on the other you will see some of the most impressively ornate and historic homes that Charleston has to offer. I love exploring all of the side alleys & hidden gardens surrounding the homes. While there are not too many benches or reading spots on the promenade there is White Pointe Garden located right in the center of it that boasts plenty ancient oak trees with benches that are perfect for reading on. The Battery and White Pointe Garden is just rich in history and is quintessential to any Charleston, South Carolina visit.

4. Mercantile and Mash

So I may or may not have a serious caffeine problem but this place is my favorite spot to refuel while I read a book or work on my computer. Mercantile & Mash is located in a historic cigar factory turned modern living spaces and shops. The setting is totally unique but also their iced dirty chai lattes give me life!

5. The Beach

I feel like this is a given but it just has to be mentioned! Charleston is a coastal town so surrounding the historic downtown peninsula are several beaches and islands. My personal favorite is Sullivan’s Island. Edgar Allen Poe actually spent a lot of time there and even named one of his short stories after the island that the Sullivan’s Island Bridge is partially located on which is named Gold Bug. After soaking up the sun and reading on the beach you can grab lunch at Poe’s Tavern which, you guessed it, is Edgar Allen Poe themed and just two blocks from the beach! Poe’s is easily one of my favorite restaurants in town, their woodfire grilled burgers are so good and have amazing names like Tell-Tale Heart. I think Edgar would approve of their impressive craft beer list and the comfortable laid-back atmosphere.

Well that sums up my favorite reading spots in town. It was so hard to pick just the 5 as I didn’t want this post to be the length of a novel which it easily could be because Charleston is such a wonderful place to live and visit! If you plan on visiting and have any questions, or if you have visited in the past and have some suggestions of your own, please leave a comment below…I would love to chat!

Always,

Alicia

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Meet The Blogger

Hi Y’all!

Welcome to The Bookish Puff! My name is Alicia and I currently live in the beautiful city of Charleston, SC (where I grew up studying for Hogwarts…I am still waiting for my letter) in a little yellow house with my two gremlin cats and loving boyfriend.

Typically you can catch me at a cafe with a latte in one hand and a book in the other. But when I am not doing that I love to travel, watch true crime documentaries, cook, listen to music, play games (both video & tabletop), and hangout with my amazing group of friends.

On here you will find reviews, hauls, giveaways, bookish travel guides, and all sorts of other musings. I hope to bring all of my interests and love of reading on to this blog to create a safe space for all my fellow bookworms. I hope you enjoy!

Always,

Alicia

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Rating System

I rate books on a review scale of 1-5 stars, including 1/2 stars. Below is a basic outline of what each rating means. My reviews will always have more of an in-depth explanation as to why the book received that particular star rating. If you would like to know more about my review policy you can find that post HERE

1 Star – Probably DNF’d or wanted to. Did not enjoy at all. Would not recommend.

1.5 Stars – Did not truly enjoy but found some form of redeeming qualities. Would not recommend.

2 Stars – Some aspects I liked but overall it was not enjoyable for me. Would not re-read or recommend.

2.5 Stars – I did not personally enjoy it but think other may. Would recommend depending on the reader.

3 Stars – Overall okay and enjoyed the reading experience. However, I would not read any sequels or other books in the series. Would recommend.

3.5 Stars – A really good solid read but found some aspects to be problematic. Would recommend.

4 Stars – Entertaining and very enjoyable. Would absolutely recommend.

4.5 Stars – Adored this book and found it to be *almost* perfect. Definitely would recommend.

5 Stars – Absolutely loved this book. Probably won’t shut up about it for a while and will re-read it many times. Would recommend to *everyone*

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Review Policy

*I am currently accepting books for review*

However, at this time I can only accept print books and very select eBooks.

I will always review books with 100% honesty and my true feelings/thoughts. My reviews will be posted on here as well as on my Goodreads, if you would like a review to be posted elsewhere please state so in your email. If you send a print book I will usually include it in my Instagram stories for a “bookmail unboxing”. If I really loved a book I will promote it on my Instagram page. I always try to find redeeming qualities in books even if it is not something I personally did not enjoy, if you would like to know more about my rating system you can click HERE. I will never attack an author in my reviews or any other of my social media platforms.

If you would like to send me a copy of a book to review you can email thebookishpuff@gmail.com

Please keep in mind that I mostly read YA and enjoy the following genres the most:

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Romance
  • Historical Fiction
  • Paranormal
  • Dystopian
  • Fairytale & Myth Retellings
  • Thriller/Mystery
  • Contemporary

If you have a book that does not fit into the above genres but would like to still like for me to review it please still send an email and if I am interested I will get back to you.

I am also open to author interviews/spotlights, guest bloggers, and collaborations. If you are interested please email thebookishpuff@gmail.com or fill out the contact form located HERE.