Review: The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5) – Brandon Sanderson


The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5) – Brandon Sanderson

The Hope of Elantris (Elantris, #1.5)

Title: The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: 2006

Publisher: Brandon Sanderson

Format: ebook

Page Number: 25

Source: Brandon Sanderson’s Website

The following is a short story I wrote in the Elantris world back in January of 2006. At that point, Elantris had only been out in stores for about seven or eight months, but I actually hadn’t written anything new on the story or world since 2000, when I’d finished the first draft of the original book. This story was originally posted for sale on Amazon.com; once the contract with them ran out, I posted it on my website.

There were always a few holes in the manuscript where I decided not to include viewpoints or sections of explanation in the name of streamlining, particularly at the end. In the back of my mind, I knew what happened. This story talks about one of those holes; it is meant to be read after you’ve finished the novel and takes place during the events of the climax. In the annotation, I’ve written a further explanation of why I wrote this piece. Some of you may find it interesting to read this ahead of time; I put it in the annotation, however, as I know others would rather enjoy the story without bias beforehand, then read my thoughts afterward. 

Either way, if you haven’t read the novel Elantris, this contains major spoilers. Might I suggest reading the book first? This story won’t work at all for you if you haven’t.

As always, thanks for reading!

4 out of 5 stars


Now I know it may seem backwards that I rated this short story 4 stars when I only rated the first book, Elantris, 3 stars, but it was just so cute!

This is a short story set in the world of Elantris, and Brandon Sanderson published this on his website as he just wanted to have the story out in the world living its literary life.

I loved that we got a little more backstory on some of the events at the climax of Elantris. I loved getting to see Sarene and Raoden again *even though I literally just finished Elantris yesterday morning….* They’re just so cute together and love each other so much. So sweet.

I think getting this story from the perspective of another character was really cool and added a unique twist, because in the book you get three main perspectives. There was also an annotation section from Brandon Sanderson and he named the girl Matisse because he wanted to impress one of his wife’s favorite students. CUTE.

This story made me really excited to read more by Brandon Sanderson!

Series:

Elantris (Elantris #1)

Aubrey Joy

Review: Elantris (Elantris #1) – Brandon Sanderson


Elantris (Elantris #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Elantris (Elantris, #1)

Title: Elantris (Elantris #1)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: May 30, 2006

Publisher: Tor Fantasy

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Page Number: 622

Source: Barnes and Noble

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

3 out of 5 stars


You guys. I finally finished this book after reading it for a month!

Elantris follows three main storylines of Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen. Raoden is the Prince of Arelon, Sarene is from Teod and is to get married to Raoden, and Hrathen is a Derethi priest sent to convert everyone in Arelon to the Derethi religion.

This book is really hard to explain because there’s so much going on at all times, it’s actually crazy. In short, there is a ton of politics, super cool magic, interesting characters, and a slowly developing plot that wraps up nicely at the end.

This is a typical high fantasy in the sense that it is mostly surrounding intricate politics. I really enjoyed this book and was debating between 3 and 4 stars. I would give the first 3/4 of the book a solid 3 stars, but the last 100ish pages would definitely be 4 stars. So I’m going with my gut and saying 3 stars is a solid way to describe the book.

It was such a slow read for me. This could be because I started reading it when I started backpacking around England, so I was a little preoccupied with… literally everything. I didn’t have a lot of time to read during the trip, so that could have also contributed to it feeling a little disjointed. I also just feel like this is a slow-paced book. It was a really good book, but you have to love reading in order to get through it.

I personally really enjoy “slow burn” books where it takes awhile to get everything sorted out and figure out what’s happening, but it’s also kind of exhausting. This book was 622 pages long, so when I was reading it, it felt like it took me forever to make any notable progress. That being said, I think it was a beautifully crafted book.

I really enjoyed the characters of this book, and the story was definitely character driven. There was a lot happening with the plot, but it mostly focused on the characters. I loved Raoden and how he developed this second life when he got sent to Elantris. I think it said a lot about his character and morals because he didn’t just give up or give into the pain he was feeling.

At the time of reading it I REALLY wanted him to tell Sarene who he was once she started going into Elantris, but after finishing the book, he told her at the perfect time. Any earlier and it would have disrupted the story, and any later it would have been too late. I love them together and seeing how much they love each other just makes my heart so happy.

The magic system was pretty cool, but it took so long to actually get to anything dealing with the magic. I honestly think this book could have been at least 150-200 pages shorter. There was a lot of this book that wasn’t necessary to the story to be able to understand and appreciate what was happening.

I’m looking forward to reading more Brandon Sanderson books because I’ve heard that the Mistborn trilogy is AMAZING. I enjoyed his writing style, so can’t wait to pick those up!!

 

Series:

The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5)

Review: The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – Meik Wiking


The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – Meik Wiking

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Title: The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Author: Meik Wiking

Release Date: September 1, 2016

Publisher: HarperAudio

Format: Audiobook

Page Number:

Source: Libby

Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable, audiobook edition of The Little Book of Hygge, written and read by Meik Wiking. Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That’s down to one thing: hygge. ‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’ You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right. Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress. Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He is committed to finding out what makes people happy and has concluded that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world.

3 out of 5 stars


This was a really great audiobook, but would also recommend flipping through the physical book as well! I started listening to this audiobook and then my mom sent me the physical book because I was talking to her about it. It’s a super cute book to be able to look through, and a great hyggelig book to have on your cozy coffee table or in your reading nook.

This book finally gave me a word to describe my favorite feeling of coziness and being happy at home: hygge.

Hygge is formally defined as: “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture),” but really just means the happy, cozy feeling you get from being comfortable, usually in your own home.

I found this book on the Libby app from my library, and it was the perfect thing to listen to while walking around campus. I related to so much of this short book because I have recently come into the knowledge that I am such a homebody. I went on a 17 day backpacking trip to England right after Christmas, and was so homesick. All I wanted was a day to be back at home with my family playing cards, snuggling with my dogs, having a reading party with my mom, and ending the night snuggled up and cozy in bed.

To me, this is my perfect hyggelig evening. Oh, maybe add in a couple Harry Potter movies and a cup of tea and we’re set.

I LOVE being at home. It’s something I’ve struggled with being away at college. I go to school 5 hours away from home, and even though it doesn’t seem far away now that I’ve traveled halfway across the world, it’s still a journey to get home. I just love my family so much, that I feel safest and most at-home when I’m…. at home.

The author of this book is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, and his job is literally to try and figure out what makes people happy. Firstly, such a hyggelig job, secondly, what a happy way to spend your life!

There was a lot of information packed into this short audiobook including great examples of hygge, facts about why Danish people are so happy, recipes, and how to have the perfect hyggelig evening with family and friends.

I think a lot of introverts would relate to this book. My personality type is INFJ *kind of obsessed with learning about the personality types* so I make strong, deep connections with people, but also enjoy being by myself. In my humble opinion, I have the perfect personality type for hygge ;) All joking aside, I do believe that some of the feelings experienced with hygge can resonate with an introverted individual as we are comfortable being alone or with a small group.

After writing this, all I want to do is put on some warm socks, a big sweatshirt, and climb back into bed and read my books. Sorry, college, you don’t have any hygge.

Review: Up to This Pointe – Jennifer Longo


Up to This Pointe – Jennifer Longo

Up to This Pointe

Title: Up to This Pointe

Author: Jennifer Longo

Release Date: January 19, 2016

Publisher: Random House

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 361

Source: Thrift Store

Harper Scott is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. But while Kate is a naturally gifted dancer, Harper has had to fight for every step. And now it’s make-it-or-break-it time: if their auditions go wrong, their dreams are over. Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in her way, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper may not be a natural, but she is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the daring explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station…in Antarctica.

Extreme, but also somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

3 out of 5 stars


This book was good, but I wasn’t blown away.

For some reason I decided to not finish the last 50 pages of this book before leaving for my 17 day England travels, so when I came back and finished it, it felt a little disjointed. That was all on me, though, because I just chose not to prioritize it…

Up to This Pointe follows a girl named Harper Scott who wants to be a professional ballet dancer. Her dream has always been to be in a ballet company, but something happens and her dreams are momentarily put on pause. She decides she needs to get some distance from San Francisco and finesses her way into going to Antarctica for researching for 6 months.

She jumps on a plane and heads out to the frozen tundra where she is finally able to be seen as herself and not just “the dancer.” She meets people and makes new friends who help her see she has other interests instead of just dancing.

I related to the whole “oh my gosh my life isn’t what I thought it would be right now and I have no idea what I want to do with my life” more than you will ever know lol. I have been having all these same feelings for a couple months, so I related so much to this! I also don’t know if I want to go into the professional dance world even though I’ve been dancing for almost 15 years of my life. Life is weird, guys.

I didn’t love the relationships or the ways they were portrayed throughout this book. Harper meets this super cute and sweet guy in San Francisco who really likes her, then she just leaves and goes to Antarctica. Fine. No worries, I guess, but then she meets another guy while she’s there. I don’t think she really likes him I just think that she’s “dating” him because it’s convenient and she wants attention. But then other times I think she actually does like him. I don’t know. But the original super sweet awesome cute boy from San Fran is sending her emails and letters and she just doesn’t read them.

?

What the heck. Why wouldn’t you read them and respond? She likes him. A lot. Or so she said before she left, so idk why she wouldn’t look at them. Plot device? I don’t know.

He also just keeps sending them even though she isn’t responding. I admire that his character has resilience, but that is totally not what would have happened. He would have emailed for maybe a month and then got the message that she wasn’t interested. Because that’s what she was portraying to him. Just seems a little fishy to me.

There was also LITERALLY NO WAY she would have gotten the opportunity to go to Antarctica.

  1. She’s not even a science student. She’s not going to college and she graduated school early.
  2. She has no skills that they would have possibly known would be useful to being there.
  3. She applied to go and knew she was going within such a short time.

Not realistic at all. People would be waiting to go and working for years and years to get a spot on the list. There literally no possible way that could have happened… but this is also just a book, so I’ll give it a little grace.

I know there was a lot of negative in this review, but I actually did enjoy a lot of this book. I love books about dance, even though it’s not always done in a way that makes a ton of sense.

The reality of dance is this: it’s a lot of hard work for not a super great reward all the time. You work for hours a day and might not get a part because you’re too tall or won’t fit into a costume. Dance is so subjective and that makes it so difficult. You could have amazing technique, but your body doesn’t fit the type they want. Again, a lot of work for not always a great reward.

I loved the family dynamic because everyone was so close; it reminded me a lot of my own. I’m so close with everyone in my family, so it’s nice to see a strong family unit that doesn’t have any disruptions in it.

Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone that dances because there are some little tidbits of info that only a dancer would understand :)

Review: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World – William H. McRaven


Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World – William H. McRaven

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World

Title: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe The World

Author: William H. McRaven

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Format: Audiobook

Page Number:

Source: Libby

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves-and the world-for the better.

Admiral McRaven’s original speech went viral with over 10 million views. Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven now recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage. Told with great humility and optimism, this timeless book provides simple wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire readers to achieve more, even in life’s darkest moments.

3 out of 5 stars


I gained such a new appreciation for Navy Seals after listening to this audiobook.

This is a short book talking about lessons Admiral William H. McRaven learned during his career as a US Navy Seal. The title originally caught my attention because I, too, make my bed every morning. I love climbing into a nicely made bed, and this was the first lesson talked about during the book.

Part of the training for becoming a Navy Seal is to look professional, and that always included the barracks. Each individual was to make their bed pristinely every single morning. I liked that this is what the book started with because the idea behind it is this: if you make your bed, no matter what, you’ve started your day off with finishing a task. It’s simply that you can have something positive done right at the beginning of your day. Plus having a nicely made bed is so much nicer to sleep in, and makes your bedroom look 100x more organized.

I liked the advice given throughout this book, but I found some of it to be pretty generic. I was intrigued by the stories the author told about his life in the Navy. I knew it was intense, but not as intense as he was describing it. There is literally no way that I could do half of what he had to endure. Anyway, I liked the stories even though the advice was a little average.

There were moments that I was getting chills or getting teared up because of some of the stories. I think I’m just becoming a big softy, but I almost started crying multiple times just because something was so touching.

I’ve come to really love self-improvement books because there is ALWAYS something to be gained from the advice given. I love having positive information in my ears as I walk on campus during the day.

Yay for the first book of the year!

Review: Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis


Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

Title: Girl, Wash Your Face

Author: Rachel Hollis

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 240

Source: Gifted

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

5 out of 5 stars


This book was filled with so much wisdom and great advice, and I think any female-identifying individual would gain insight from this book. There were so many moments that it felt like Rachel Hollis was speaking directly to me! I loved pretty much everything about this book!

The writing style made this book so memorable to me. Rachel Hollis is so honest with all of her stories and advice, that it makes it so much more believable. Some self-help books make you feel like the author has it together and has this perfect life and is above you because they know something you don’t, but Rachel Hollis writes like she’s a real person. Crazy concept, but that’s what makes it so great! She doesn’t talk down to her readers, and just wants to create something useful for people to read.

There were a few chapters that I couldn’t completely relate to because I’m not married and I don’t have kids, but I there was something I could gain from every page of this book. I’m so excited to have kids in the future, so I know that I will be able to remember some of this book or reread it to help me more once I’m in that stage of my life.

I already want to reread this even though I just finished it. I feel like that always shows how great of a book it is! I annotated this book, so I have sections I liked underlined for future reference. I think I will love being able to flip through this book and read my underlined passages when I need some inspiration.

Another thing, this book was so inspiring. It made me want to get up and actually live my life. I’m only 19, so I think it’s an amazing thing that I already feel like this, but I don’t want life to just pass me by. I want to be the one controlling my world, and I think that’s where the main message of the book comes in.

You are responsible for your own happiness.

I think I will come back to this mantra time and time again because IT’S SO TRUE. My mom has always told me that “you choose happiness” and that is exactly what the message of this book was, so I could completely relate to it. I love this because you truly are the one who decides your own life. Yes, there are situations you can’t avoid, but you choose how you react to those situations.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“You are in control of your own life. You get one and only one chance to live, and life is passing you by. Stop beating yourself up, and dang it, stop lettings others do it too. Sop accepting less than you deserve. Stop buying things you can’t afford to impress people you don’t even really like. Stop eating your feelings instead of working through them. Stop buying your kids’ love with food, or toys, or friendship because it’s easier than parenting. Stop abusing your body and your mind. Stop! Just get off the never-ending track. Your life is supposed to be a journey from one unique place to another; it’s not supposed to be a merry-go-round that brings you back to the same spot over and over again.”

“Stop waiting for someone else to fix your life! Stop assuming that some day it will magically improve on its own. Stop presuming if you only had the right job, the right man, the right house, the right car, the right whatever that your life will become what you’ve always dreamed of. Be honest about who you are and what you need to do to make change.”

“Girl, get ahold of your life. Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can’t do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year. Stop crying about what happened and take control of what happens next.”

Review: My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1) – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows


My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1) – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies, #1)

Title: My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1)

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Release Date: June 7, 2016

Publisher: Harper Teen

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 512

Source: Half-Price Books

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

4 out of 5 stars


SO CUTE.

I was hoping I would like this book, but it totally exceeded any expectations that I had before going into it. I wasn’t sure about the comedy aspects of it as I don’t find “typical” comedy actually comedic, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This book is super hard to explain, but the synopsis does it justice. Pretty much, King Edward is dying, and he appoints his best friend and cousin, Lady Jane Grey, to become the next queen of England. He arranges a marriage for her to the son of his advisor person, and on top of all of these political shenanigans, there are people called Eðians who can turn into different animals.

This was totally not what I was expecting, but again, I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t typically gravitate towards historical fiction, but I’m obsessed with pretty much everything England related, so this book appealed to me because of that. I loved the Eðian fantasy element to the story. It kept it super interesting, and I was engaged the entire time. I think it was so surprising, that I just happily went with it.

This is the perfect example of a book that it’s fun to go into without knowing anything about it first. I love doing that with books and am usually good with the outcome.

Another thing. The characters were so cute. Of course I loved Jane; she was obsessed with books and reading, but she was also unbelievably stubborn and opinionated. I loved that there was some girl power from her. I also really loved Gifford, Jane’s husband. He was so sweet and loved her so much, you just couldn’t help falling for him.

Edward wasn’t my favorite, but that could just be because I was half-expecting him to try and end up marrying Jane, and I was REALLY not here for that. I think he was an okay character, and it was obvious he wasn’t the main character in this story even though every third chapter was written from his perspective.

I think I loved this book so much because I was in the exact right mood for it. I have been doing my reread of the Shadowhunters books, and of course I love them, but it was nice to have something new and different. I needed a cute book with lots of *sometimes unnecessary* drama.

The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars was because there were some aspects that fell short to me. I think some of the decisions that were made were just so stupid. For example, you would give up a dagger instead of having to go fight a bear. You would talk to your significant other before just assuming something is 100% true. Some of the decisions just didn’t make that much sense to me, but what can you do sometimes?

I also LOVED the narrator sections. I don’t typically enjoy when the narrator actually interrupts the story, but it added such a fun layer of humor. I didn’t laugh out loud, but that’s also just not my style; I still found it funny, though.

This book was set in London, so it just made me THAT MUCH MORE EXCITED FOR MY ENGLAND TRIP WHICH IS LITERALLY HAPPENING IN 10 DAYS. Sorry for the screaming, but I’m so excited wow.

I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone who enjoys YA books. It was easy to read and kept me hooked. I also loved the way the story played out. Super cute. Super fun. Highly recommend :)