The Fifth Petal Book Review

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Drink Paring: Cipher Cider—be sure to pour yourself a glass and settle in if this is your book of choice.

This book is slow, and because of the slow pace, it took me a while to get through. There is a lot of back and forth focusing on present day, what happened in 1989, and the witch trials of 1692. There are not separate chapters for these events; instead, we learn the history through present day. This makes it hard to keep all of the facts and details straight.

The book is broken up into 3 parts. Part one focuses on the details of the past—who are the Goddesses, who is Callie, who is Rose, what do all of these characters have in common. Part two fills in more gaps and focuses on Rose and Callie. Part three follows Callie and the town of Salem in the aftermath.

I did not enjoy this book. I was excited about the premise-I love the Salem witch trial lore and learning everything I can about that time period. But this book falls short of expectation.

The characters are flat and predictable. The “big revelations” in this book are things that you can see coming. The title, The Fifth Petal, is explained in several different ways at different points in the novel. All definitions make sense, but they are used to explain the connection between what happened in 1989 and who the main character, Callie has become. Callie is closed off because she is initially afraid that the people of Salem will recognize her. Once people do and she reveals who she truly is, the relationships that Callie has seem stale. She does not connect to others well.

The book is set up in the beginning to sound like a murder mystery. The officer now in charge combs through past evidence and we see some of the investigation, but most of it comes through visions of Callie. Because of this, there is a disconnect. It is difficult to piece everything together at once and the information we receive is back and forth between 1989 and present day. This confusion is frustrating as a reader.

I will note that this book is well written, but that is the end of my praise. There is no clear focus on the story. Jumping back and forth and the various directions the reader is pulled is off-putting. There is no delivering with “solving” the mystery either. There is not a build up to this moment. What should be the book’s climax is dull. I loved the references to Salem in the 1600’s but there were not enough of them for me to stay interested.

I cannot recommend this book.

Rating: 2/5

On Brunonia Barry’s website, there is a book club kit with discussion questions, map locations, and recipes (this is also in the back of some versions of the book—look for a “extra libris” notation in the upper right-hand corner to get the kit in the back of the book).

If you would like more information about this book or would like to learn more about the author, please follow the links provided.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

Cipher Cider:

Ingredients:

  • Apple Cider
  • Crown Royal Regal Apple
  • Cinnamon Sticks (or Cinnamon Candies)
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Apple Slices

Directions:

  1. Heat cider on stove on slow heat, but do not bring to a boil. Stir in cinnamon sticks or candies to taste. Remove from heat.
  2. In a glass, pour a shot of Crown Royal Regal Apple
  3. Pour in warm cider, stir
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top
  5. Use apple slices dipped in cinnamon for garnish

 

**Please drink responsibly. Drink recommendations are for those of age, who can legally drink.

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Destined For Doon Book Review

**SPOILERS**

Destined for Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon

I don’t know why I picked up this sequel. I liked Doon, but I did not feel completed to learn about what happened to McKenna in Chicago or how Veronica was taking on her new royal role. But, here we are. I do not know if I’ll continue on with this series. This second installation was predictable and suffered from “sequel syndrome”. The first 85% of this book is a boring back and forth between what Kenna regrets and how she wishes she could have changed the way she left Duncan mixed with Vee’s need to prove herself as Doon’s Queen. The last 10% of the novel is where the “action” happens. I use this term lightly because there is not much action in this climax. Instead, the BFF’s encounter a small obstacle, Kenna forgives herself, and Doon is saved.

I apologize in advance, but this review will not be pretty:

In book 2, it is Kenna that has realized she has had her Calling. She has grown used to seeing Duncan appear, but now he’s actually arrived in the States sent on behalf of his Queen. Strange things are happening in Doon, and Kenna is Vee’s last hope.

Every charming trait about Kenna in the first book has turned her into a whiney teenager in the second book. Kenna is immature, annoying, self-centered, and judgmental. She judges the new Destined and people in Doon based on their looks and their past. Kenna hates Ana simply because she’s close to Duncan and uses this to “justify” her skepticism because of Ana’s past. She judges other characters based on their appearance. Her immaturity may be because she’s still young. I believe her and Vee are only 18. But Kenna had a much easier life than Vee, so where Vee had to grow up and accept her fate, Kenna still hides. Kenna makes decisions based on her own wants. She often does not take into consideration what is happening around her, or what the right decision is. Instead, she does what is best for her interest and it is frustrating to watch.

In an attempt to explain Kenna’s sudden arrival in Doon, Kenna and Duncan fake being in love and that a Calling has happened. However, both know that a real Calling exists and are afraid to admit their true feelings. Kenna broke Duncan’s heart when she left Doon and Kenna is to wrapped up herself and her jealousy to tell Duncan how she feels. In a true cliché, both fake being in love until it is not convenient to do so. But ultimately, both admit in the end how they feel.

Kenna doesn’t take Vee’s role seriously. She does not understand what Vee is up against. Some people in the kingdom do not accept Vee as their queen. And on several occasions, they make their opinions clear. Kenna treats Vee like she’s playing dress up and has no worry in the world. For two girls who “share a brain” this book highlights the differences between the best friends. Speaking of, the amount of times the authors state that the girls “share a brain” is annoying—we get it. You’ve said this over a dozen times now, please move on.

Two things bothered me about this book: the amount of typos and the obnoxious slang, such as “aprops.” The main characters are teenagers, but this was said outside of a quotation by either Vee or Kenna. There are also a handful of typos that should have been caught on he editing process.

Finally, the ending of the novel is predictable. Ever since Vee picked up the queen’s necklace something has not been right with her. I can also predict how the next novel will unfold. I truly think this is where I’m stopping this series. It was cute at first, but the novelty has worn off for me.

 

Rating: 2/5

Heir of Fire Spoiler Free Book Review

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

“Each of the scars…they weren’t the makings of a victim. Oh, no. They were the trophies of a survivor.”

This is my third attempt at reading this book and I’m glad I finally finished this one. I did have to look up what happened in the previous two books because it’s been about a year since I read them. They were much easier for me to read than Heir of Fire was. I kept trying to read this book but I either got bored or got busy. There is a lot of information in this book and setup for the rest of the series. This is the pivotal novel in the series.

During most of this book I was internally screaming “Celaena, get your shit together, girl!” I know that she was beaten down and lost faith in herself for most of the book, but I definitely missed the defiant badass we saw in the last two books. Celaena is one of my favorite fictional characters, watching her go through emotional pain was difficult for me. But, she emerged as a defiant woman ready to take on the world with her fire heart.

Celaena slowly starts to accept her Fae form and learns to harness her powers. But she’s still hesitant to become who is destined to be. She doesn’t want a crown because it will only keep her shackled. After everything she has been through, Celaena yearns to be free. This internal struggle runs through most of the novel and shapes Celaena. I think this novel is a little boring because this is where she grows up and realizes what she is meant to do.

The evil king does not make many appearances in this book, but you can still feel his presence. Something is closing in on all of the characters, and at the root of it are onyx necklaces that are meant to control. We’re introduced to more creatures that are creepier than you can imagine. We learn more about the curse and what happened when magic was banished from the kingdom of Alderan.

I have mixed feelings about Rowan. He put up a front like he did not owe Celaena anything, he even told her as such. He was cold and distant for most of the novel. But the more Rowan and Celaena learned about each other, the more they learned to understand each other. Personally, I still don’t like Chaol. There is just something about him that irks me. He doesn’t love every part of Celaena, he want to choose parts of her and does not accept all of her. Obviously, I hate Maeve. I am sure she serves a purpose but I do not have to like her. I enjoyed learning about Aedion. It helped to give a look at Celaena’s past and where she came from. Dorian seemed like an out of control liability for most of the novel because of his caged magic.

I am excited to see where Maas takes us next. I’m looking forwards to Celaena’s journey.

Rating: 4/5

 

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

Turtles is a story of growing up, determining right from wrong, young love, death, and self control. Aza Homes is a junior in at White River High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has a mother who constantly worries about her. A best friend that supports her and talks sense into her. A crush on a boy she went to camp with when she was younger. And a spiral of thoughts that consume her.

The characters are not relatable. Aza is consumed by her thoughts and her thought spirals can get out of hand. Because of this, Aza is a flat character. I love that John Green is attempting to tackle mental illness with this main character but it is difficult to understand Aza because everyone is not wired to think the way she does. Even Aza admits that it’s “rate to find someone who sees the world the way you do.” Davis is the son of a millionaire fugitive. He wants to be normal, he wants to do what’s best for his little brother, and he wants a father. These are not characters that we know or can easily connect with.

Aza’s best friend, Daisy, is the most relatable character. She’s fighting Aza’s thoughts for Aza’s attention. She feels as if her best friend hardly knows her. She is stuck in a job she hates, working at Chuck E. Cheese, has to rely on her best friend or parents to driver her around, and has a little sister who does some frustrating things. At sixteen, he also has a life motto of “Break hearts. Not Promises.” I think Daisy is the most adorable and dynamic character in this book. Daisy writes Star Wars fan fiction and we see her go through “typical teenage struggles.” Such as dating and figuring out where she fits in the world and in her own life. She is Aza’s voice of reason.

I have been a John Green fan from the beginning, and still think Looking for Alaska is my favorite book of his. I haven’t read this book in years because I’m afraid that reading it again after so long will destroy the image I have created of it. Looking for Alaska is the reason I became an avid reader. I would not call this John Green’s greatest work. There is more emotional devastation in other books as well as better characters. But after waiting four years since The Fault in Our Stars, I am not entirely disappointed.

In true John Green fashion, Turtles is an addictive and quick read. I binged this book in a few hours. It is a good book. But being an adult reading this one is tough. I don’t remember what it is like to be a teenager, but I am fairly certain that I didn’t have any existential crises.

Rating: 4/5

Happy Death Day Review

Happy Death Day is a story of Tree Gelbman perpetually living the same day, Monday, October 18, which is also her birthday. Tree is a college student who keeps waking up in a dorm room and has to go through the motions all over again—facing class, her roommate, sorority sisters, and people she would rather avoid.

This is not a horror movie and it also does not make a great “slasher film,” it is cutesy and predictable. You can guess the killer just by watching the commercials of this film. The movie is also riddled with clichés and stereotypes. The characters are traditional college students portrayed in movies but that we have never met in real life.

One stereotype in this movie is particularly frustrating. Tree’s sorority sisters are portrayed as obsessed with their looks and the image they put off. The sorority president shames another member for eating during lunch. The traditional stereotype is tired. It is exhausting to see sorority women only care about their looks, partying, and sleeping with fraternity men.

The “Groundhog Day” sentiment is also worn-out. This movie does poke fun at itself, but this is the second movie like this released this year.

The acting was great, however. Tree, played by Jessica Rothe, is dynamic and manages to turn a grim situation into a small comedic relief. Carter Davis, played by Israel Broussard, is the sensible person Tree needs in her life. These two leads work well together and make this movie worthwhile.

Overall, I would recommend this movie. I would not call it a “must see” but it is a decent movie.

 

Rating: 3/5

The Girl Behind the Blog

I recently realized that in the past few months I have been blogging, I have yet to take a moment to introduce myself. Today, I thought it would be fun to let you get a sneak peak at who I am and what else happens in my life other than blogging.

My name is Ellie, and I’m a 26-year-old from Ohio. I love the Midwest! It’s a different place than anywhere else I’ve visited. It’s quiet, people are friendly, and it has its own pace.

I spend most of my free time reading and writing. I love young adult and new adult fiction, but occasionally I go outside of my comfort zone. Usually this happens with my Book of the Month subscription, or with books I choose from Blogging for Books. My to be read list is constantly growing! I love going to bookstores and spending hours learning about new books, and my library holds list is sizable as well. I do also have a love for learning and obtaining knowledge. My favorite subject to study and read up on is environmental justice, especially in the Appalachian region. In college, I wrote a case study about mountain top removal for a class and I have slowly learned as much as I can about the topic and how it affects environmental and societal norms.

I also enjoy writing. When I’m not writing on my blog, I work on short stories and works of fiction. I have written a few things that I am proud of, but they don’t feel perfect to me. Part of me is afraid of having someone else read my personal work, so I rarely let another set of eyes see any of it.

I’m a law school graduate who is waiting for her bar results. I know law grads warn you about going to law school. And I can tell you, that it is not an easy three years. But I did enjoy it. I met some fantastic people and colleagues who have become great friends. I also learned a lot. I am one of those people who always liked going to school and learning. This is helpful in law school because you have to re-learn everything you thought you knew. I had to learn a different way to read and write in a more succinct way and how the legal world differs from other forms of writing. If you’re not open to changing what you know, law school will not be a good fit for you.

I like to call myself an organized mess. I’m drawn to school supplies and organizational things. My desk, notes, and bookshelf look organized from afar but if you zoom in or look closer, you’ll see that it is nothing but a mess. I think I like the illusion of being put together. I can find anything I need to in my organized chaos, but I don’t think anyone else would be able to.

Everything else about me is simple. I’m a “wears her heart on her sleeve” kind of person. Sometimes it’s great because I speak my mind but I’m also prone to getting hurt when I put myself out there. Does anyone else have this problem?

I don’t see myself as a complicated person. Amongst friends I’m incredibly sarcastic. I’m not laid back, though. I always have to be on time and become annoyed if I’m running late due to someone or something beyond my control. To remedy this, I always end up early to places if it’s just me. But I would rather wait in my car than be the last person to arrive somewhere. I have my quirks: my volume is always on an odd number, I prefer dogs to people, I’d rather stay in and read than have a wild night out, I’m my most comfortable drinking wine with my best friend, I always carry a water bottle with me or I become annoyed if I can’t.

I can’t give you a run down on everything there is to know about me, but I am open. If you have any questions about my blog or writing, you can always reach out to me at elliemtesla@gmail.com.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

 

“Might does not make a hero. You can build a thousands soldiers, and not one will have a hero’s heart.”

Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a refreshing novel with themes of friendship and honor. This book is built on the fantastic female characters in this book. From Helen of Troy, to the Amazons and Goddesses, to Alia, and even Diana, these female characters create a strong sense of empowerment. There are too few female icons in stories these days. The modern twist on a classic tale is extremely well done.

Warbringer is set up going back and forth in different chapters focusing on Diana and then Alia, without using first person. We learn about the events and surroundings from two different women and yet these stories are woven together beautifully.

While attempting to blend in and hide her true identity as an Amazon. Diana became Diana Prince. She admitted to herself that it felt freeing because she could be judged by her own words and her own actions, rather than those of her mother. It is interesting to see the mortal world through Diana’s eyes. She did not understand many things about the outside world or American culture. For instance, Diana notes how when greeted, males engage directly with each other, while women hang back for a moment before engaging. Or how to do research on a computer instead of reading through books and paper.

Diana struggles with what her Amazonian sisters believe would be the right path and what she feels she must do. Diana and Alia come together and fight for a cause to save the world. In doing so, Diana and Alia make a pact to each other and take the oath of an Amazon: “Sister in battle, I am shield and blade to you. As I breathe, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.” This oath takes them halfway across the world and up against enemies who are ancient and powerful.

This war is bigger than Diana and Alia. But both women have to face the consequences of the actions they take. Both have to decide what is worth sacrificing and whether they can bring themselves to do it.

I like that Warbringer does not focus on a romance. Instead, the culmination of true friendship takes center stage. I am tired of reading stories that hint at women needing male counterparts or showcasing how women cannot do things on their own. Warbringer has a predominate female company, and I love this. The women are not caddy, but find a way to come together for the greater good.

As a side note, does anyone else get annoyed when an author or writer becomes fixated on a word and over uses it? No? Just me? Okay, well Bardugo used the word “cavernous” a few times in the beginning of the book and for some reason it annoyed me.

Ultimately, Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a must read! I highly recommend this story. It has quirky best friends, mythology, action, badass females, and a race against time. What’s not to love?

 

Rating 5/5

October TBR

Well, September was a horrible reading month. I finished exactly one book on my TBR and two books. Not a great record.

In October, I hope to read 4 books: Turtles All The Way DownMy Own WordsHeir of Fire, and The Fifth Petal.

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I read 10 pages of this book last month, so I’m rolling this book over from last month’s TBR.

 

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green 

Synopsis: “Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.” —johngreenbooks.com

Turtles All The Way Down releases on October 10. I have had this book preordered for several months. I am a huge John Green fan, and have been since I read Looking for Alaska  in high school. I’m excited to get my hands on this one!

 

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Synopsis: “Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Lost and broken, Celaena’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend. But she must instead travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat—and his own deadliest enemy. The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Timesbestselling Crown of Midnight.” –sarahjmaas.com

I began the Throne of Glass series in September of last year. My best friend loved these books and Sarah J Maas was coming to Cincinnati on her Empire of Storms tour. I’ve finished the first two books and loved them. This will be my third attempt at reading this book. The beginning of this one feels slow for me. But I always seem to pick up this book and then either forget about it or become too busy to finish it.

 

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Synopsis: “When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?“–brunoniabarry.com

I love discovering new authors, and Brunonia Barry is an author that is new to me. The Fifth Petal is part of her Salem series, but she did say that if you’re new to her books to start with this one. So, I figure I might as well listen to the author!

 

What are you reading this month?

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