Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life – Kent Nerburn


Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life – Kent Nerburn

Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life

Title: Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life

Author: Kent Nerburn

Release Date: March 16, 1998

Publisher: New World Library

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 128

Source: borrowed from friend

In twenty elegant pieces, writer, sculptor, and theologian Kent Nerburn celebrates the daily rituals that reveal our deeper truths. 

A companion piece to Kent Nerburn’s book Simple Truths, Small Graces is a journey into the sacred moments that illuminate our everyday lives. Through the exploration of simple acts, he reminds us to chart a course each day that nourishes the soul, honors the body, and engages the mind. 

Small Graces asks us to observe life’s quiet rhythms, the subtle shifts in perception and changes in light, the warm comfort of family voices; to feel the blessing of birdsong, the solitude of a falling leaf, the echo of footfall in snow-covered woods. By inviting us to recognize the hidden power of the ordinary, Small Graces reveals the mystical alchemy of the mundane made profound by the artistry of a well-lived life.

2 out of 5 stars


ehh.

Maybe I’m just in a weird reading mood, but I didn’t really get anything from this book.

I think theres something beautiful to be said about the small moments in life, I really do, but I also think the beauty in them is getting to see them for yourself. I feel like this was trying to be a guidebook on how to see the world. I also kept thinking “there’s no way this man actually feels these things as often as he does.”

There were some things that I resonated with. The section about family and how it’s weird and beautiful and cool that you choose a spouse or partner, and the family is chosen for you. I agree, it was cool. The rest was just kinda ehh for me.

I think the thought was there and the meaning was nice, but I just don’t really see the point in this being a book….

Aubrey Joy

Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh Bardugo


Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

Title: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 560

Source: Target

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

3 out of 5 stars


Crooked Kingdom, second book in the Six of Crows duology, follows the misfit crew of Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Wylan, Jesper, and Kuwei as they unveil secrets, devise intricate and delicate plans, and ruin lives.

I don’t know what it was about this book, but I’m honestly a little disappointed. The writing style is great; a little too detailed for my taste at moments, but still nice. I love the intricacies of the characters. They’re all unique and interesting with well-thought-out back stories.

I think what bothered me about this book was the amount unspoken. I love trying to figure out what happened and why while I’m reading, but I don’t think there were enough clues given to be able to fully understand what was happening before it was explicitly stated. It’s a given that Kaz will come up with crazy plans, but sometimes it would be nice to be in on the secret before it has to be stated. I feel like there was a lot of telling and not showing throughout this book. There was NO WAY to possibly understand every nuance before it was explicitly stated, and that kind of bothered me. Yes, it’s awesome to read about a great plan, but it’s not as satisfying if you don’t get to see how it all unfolds.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The ending was SO UNSATISFACTORY. I knew something was going to happen to someone right at the end, but it just doesn’t really make a ton of sense. It seemed more like a plot device and less like an intentional choice.

Also, where the heck is the romance.

All I wanted was for some romance from these characters who OBVIOUSLY loved each other, and we barely got anything! What’s up with that? I understand this is YA, but why was the number of romantic scenes less than fingers I have on one hand? All I wanted was some cute romance. Again, I think there was too much left to the imagination.

It’s just weird because I really did enjoy a lot of this book, but overall I think my feelings were pretty “okay” about it. I just don’t understand why we couldn’t have had a real romance.

Jesper and Wylan could have EASILY been together for more than half the book. The ending with Kaz and Inej… why not more than that? He never even TOLD Inej about why he hates skin on skin contact. She spilled her heart to him and he couldn’t do the same. I’m just confused.

I see why a lot of people like this duology, but I think the first book was much stronger than this one.

Series:

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

Aubrey Joy

Review: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) – Leigh Bardugo


Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) – Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: September 29, 2015

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 462

Source: Barnes and Noble

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

4 out of 5 stars


I totally understand the hype. I get it. I’m part of it.

Six of Crows follows a group of 6 criminals tasked with breaking a very important man out of prison, but not just any prison… the most well secured prison there is. They have to work together despite their differences, and if they succeed, they’ll be rich beyond their wildest dreams. Some of this infamous band of thieves are called Grisha, who are people with magical powers that are able to be honed and used for either good or evil.

Six individuals. Six very different lives. Thousands of opportunities to fail. Can they complete the mission?

This book REALLY wanted to be a 5 star book for me, and it was almost there. It was still a really great book, but I think life stuff took over a little bit for me and it was kind of hard to focus on what was actually happening in my life, so my reading took a backseat. I am very happy to announce that I am now out of my reading slump! And I can give credit to this book yay thanks Leigh Bardugo.

Anyway, enough of the tangents.

I seriously LOVED theses characters. I loved their depth and complexity and how the whole book lends itself to being morally very grey, so it makes you wonder about each one of the characters. Every character is different and has a unique, very complex and detailed, backstory that just adds so much to the book. I also really enjoyed the multiple perspectives a lot. I honestly have felt like I prefer from one POV my whole life, but after this book I can totally totally totally see the draw for having multiple perspectives. I loved getting to see into each of the characters and learn more about their backstories.

Now here’s the deal. There is SO. MUCH. ROMANTIC. TENSION. IN. THIS. BOOK. I’m not saying sexual tension because no one actually got together… yet. I know it has to happen in the second book, but the set up for all the relationships? AMAZING.

These are spoilers ahead so if you don’t want to be spoiled *I promise you don’t* then come back again. Hope you enjoyed your time here, thanks byeeeee.

I’m going to break this next section into the (potential) couples and talk about them a little individually.

Kaz and Inej – Kaz is such a broken sad-boy, but he’s also super strong and cares so much, he just doesn’t know how to show it. He wants to love Inej, and he realizes that he truly does have feelings for her, but doesn’t know how to tell her. Inej has been falling for Kaz since day one, but he’s such a mystery that you can’t really blame her for not trying to pursue him seriously. I love that Kaz told Inej to stay in Ketterdam and even though she’s loved him for FOREVER she stayed strong and didn’t let herself be whisked away by his words. You go, Inej! I am kind of pissed that Kaz didn’t go after Inej at the end…. there will definitely be something about that and I’m predicting that Crooked Kingdom will start off with her.

Jesper and Wylan – I don’t know what it is, but I’m ALWAYS a sucker for a non-heterosexual relationship, and one is brewing here between Jesper and Wylan. I think I just see that love is love no matter what *honest opinion, it’s okay if you don’t agree* and it’s so cute seeing these two interact. I’m rooting for this relationship so much and I’m going to be really salty if it isn’t carried out well in the next book.

Nina and Matthias – Okay, I lied. There is definitely some sexual tension in this relationship. They’re not supposed to want each other, but they literally can’t help themselves. Even after everything that they’ve gone through, they NEED each other. Nina is going through some hard stuff at the end of this book because she sacrifices herself for the group (Matthias) and just wants everything to work out so she and Matthias can maul each other later, but we do get a very passionate kiss scene from them. Yay living vicariously through book relationships lol. I was SHOOK when Matthias seemingly betrayed Nina. Oh man I was pissed. But no worries, it all worked out within a few chapters, but you should have seen me furiously flipping the pages.

I love all the characters because, like I said, they’re all so complex and unique. Their backstories are so cool and that’s part of what makes this book so great. There is a depth to this book that is missing with a lot within the young adult genre.

If you can’t tell, I really did like this book, and I am SO EXCITED to read Crooked Kingdom. I’ve heard that it only gets better! I do think that I will reread this duology in the future because I think theres still more to unpack from this book. If you like fantasy, you should read this. You won’t be disappointed!

Series:

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

Aubrey Joy

Review: My Not So Perfect Life – Sophie Kinsella


My Not So Perfect Life – Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life

Title: My Not So Perfect Life

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Publisher: Bantam Press

Format: Audiobook

Page Number:

Source: Libby

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle–from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet–not to mention a possible new romance–the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away–until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

4 out of 5 stars


My Not So Perfect Life follows Katie Brenner through her newly formed life in London at a fancy marketing company. She feels like she’s finally figuring the big city life out and enjoys her job… or so she tells herself. She’s so desperately wanted to love everything about London that she might be compromising with some of the things in her life. Like her hour long commute on the Tube, and living in a small flat with two roommates she doesn’t like. But she loves her London life, right? Katie is struggling at work to be noticed by her seemingly perfect boss, Demeter. Demeter has it all together, and Katie aspires to be just like her, and she’ll be able to once she can just move up in the company.

This book was EXTREMELY predictable, but it served it’s purpose as a contemporary novel. This was my first Sophie Kinsella book and I really liked the writing style! I thought it was fun and easy to understand; I listened to it on audio and the voice actor was also really great.

I could actually partly relate to a lot of the London struggles in this book because I just took a trip to England over my winter break at school. The Tube is fast and efficient, but also includes figuring out the stops and which line you need to get on going whatever direction. It was really cool because I actually recognized a lot of the place names she was talking about. I also really relate to the whole “this is what I’ve always wanted, why don’t I love it?” feelings Katie was having.

England, and London specifically, had been my DREAM for so long. Seriously so long. At least 10 years of my life, so when I got there and didn’t love it, I felt like something was wrong with me! I think Katie also had some of this struggle because of choosing to move there from the countryside of Somerset.

I think the romantic relationship in this book was kind of unrealistic, but that could also just be my “I’ve only ever been in one relationship and don’t know how to date” mentality. I think the ending where he came back for her was… kind of cheesy. It was cute, but not the kind of romance I prefer. I like the slow burn, still have each other against all odds, but that could also be my high fantasy perspective lol.

I loved reading about the countryside of England. If I were to ever live in England, which is very unlikely, I would want to live in a small country town where everyone has thick country accents and everyone-knows-everyone. I just love small towns because of their cosy feel, so it was fun to read about that. I think the farm setting made me feel at home, too.

Even though the relationship between Katie and Demeter changes by the end of the book and you get to see a different side of Demeter, I still wasn’t a huge fan. Just be a genuine person and portray yourself accurately and you won’t run into any of the problems she dealt with. I don’t know, it just seems counter productive to me.

Overall I think this was a cute book, and if you have traveled around the UK you would find it enjoyable! I definitely want to read more by Sophie Kinsella in the future, possibly the Confessions of a Shopaholic series.

Aubrey Joy

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: 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 :)