Monthly Book Blog Wrap-Up: October 2021

Happy first of November, everyone! (I can’t believe it’s already November?!) I thought I’d try a new post series where I summarize everything book blog-related that I did during the past month. That way, in case you missed anything, all my blog activity will be in one post. I might even throw in a few personal updates here and there.

Early in October I felt stressed because I had two blog tour deadlines, my very first blog tours ever; I wanted to finish and review at least one more NetGalley request to boost my percentage; and I had a library due date for a book I’d been trying to finish for over a month. So I set myself some goals in a pinned tweet and I’m happy to say I met them all!

So what was I up to in October 2021?

Book Reviews
I posted six reviews in October, two of which were for blog tours. From earliest to latest, I reviewed:

Book Memes
I only posted one book meme during October:

Other Book-ish Progress
I finished reading The Bone Ships by RJ Barker after seeing it pop up over and over on Twitter. Look for my review before the year is out! I also binge read A Deal With the Elf King by Elise Kova to lift my mood and absolutely loved it. It was exactly what I needed to read at that point in time.

I started my NetGalley ARC for The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart. I’m very happy to be reading about Mephi again.

Lastly, I finally wrote my review for For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten. I finished it in July, but then we moved and writing a review for it got lost in the shuffle. But, again, look for that review before the end of the year.

If you’ve been following me, you probably know we moved to a new place (our first house!) in August. Since then we’ve mostly unpacked. We also did a lot of big outdoor projects during the hottest part of the summer. (Because why do it any other way?) In October we finally tackled the front yard landscaping. And by that I mean we dug up most of the shrubs/plants close to the house and put in all new shrubs/perennial flowers. That was a lot of work to remove established plants. We replanted a few of them in the back yard; we’ll see if they survive.

Now we need to tackle things like hanging up artwork, fixing dry wall, etc. Luckily we didn’t have to order a lot of additional furniture. But we did order a love seat for what I call the “fireplace room,” which will be a large reading nook. It’s velvet and emerald green and supposed to arrive tomorrow! Then we can finally decide if the 3 different rugs we bought match or if we need to return them.

We also had family visit to check out our new place. It’s nice to actually have comfortable space to host family overnight, not to mention perhaps entertain for a dinner. I also started my Christmas shopping because the news keeps talking about all of the shipping delays. Yes, some of those gifts will be books. Obviously.

What have you been up to during October?

Book Review: Granted by Kendra Thomas

Author: Kendra Thomas
Publisher: Independent Book Publishers Association
Publish Date: May 5, 2020
Pages: 270
Type: Paperback

Official Synopsis
Sabeara Aigoviel, princess of Aveladon, wants nothing more than for her heart to glow. The Stone-Hearted power that is received at the age of eighteen is her ultimate wish. With a grim curse looming over the realm and a neighboring kingdom’s conspiring plans, contentions arise. Moments of danger summon evil forces, sending Sabeara into a whirlwind of adventure, captivity, and even love.

Rescued by a handsome stranger in a brown cloak, they navigate the kingdoms to bring her safely home. When her rescuer arrives betrothed to her beloved older sister weeks later, it is all she can do to erase their memories. Will Sabeara be able to defeat the curse on the Stone-Hearted race? And will she be able to forget the memories of her epic ventures with her cloaked rescuer?

My Review
I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

Granted by Kendra Thomas is a very character-driven young adult fantasy about a princess who stumbles across the existence of a curse threatening her kingdom. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with character-driven (over plot-driven) books and I’ve read plenty of great character-driven stories. However, I picked up this book up because its summary intimates an intriguing magic system and adventure prompted by a looming curse. I was also looking forward to a little YA fantasy romance.

Unfortunately, the magic system, at least in this first book of a trilogy, is somewhat underdeveloped. At the age of 18, the Stone-Hearted people receive their power from a magical tree that houses spirits and magic. Each person’s power is different as is the magnitude of said power, which is indicated by the color of their glowing stone heart.

The author sets up a perfect opportunity to tell us more about this system in that Sabeara’s sister, who’s just turned 18, is about to receive her power. But the door to learn more is literally (in the story) shut and we only learn snippets about it as Sabeara meets new people and learns what they can do with their power. I feel like it was a missed opportunity to tell the reader more about how a Stone-Hearted person receives their power. I can only hope that Thomas elaborates more on this in the next book.

Thomas does, however, spend more time developing Sabeara’s character than she does with the magic system. Sabeara’s mother died when she was young. In his grief, Sabeara’s father, the king of Aveladon, loses sight of the importance of running the kingdom and giving his daughters the attention they deserve. As a result, Sabeara doesn’t feel like he’s been a good father and loses some of her respect for him from his poor governance. This sort of situation is a breeding ground for complicated feelings. Thomas does explore this, but the way Sabeara navigates these emotions fell a bit flat for me. Sure, volatility, glares, and disrespect from Sabeara are to be expected, but the way Thomas writes these actions make Sabeara seem more juvenile than she actually is.

With respect to the promised YA romance, it is a bit trope-y. Guy rescues girl and they end up liking each other. I’m totally fine with that trope. I have absolutely no problem with it and even concede I have a soft spot for it. However, the flirting dialogue was cheesy and forced. There are a lot of sarcastic “sweethearts” (think Han Solo from Star Wars, but not witty). There’s a lot of smirking and a lot of the author describing words and emotions as “sarcastic.” I think the most interesting part of the romance is when [semi-spoiler!] we find out he has a hidden identity, which causes some family drama later in the story.

Thomas also misses an opportunity to tell us more about the curse. She describes Sabeara spending hours reading about the kings involved in this old curse. But as a reader we learn almost nothing from Sabeara or her conversations with others who know about the curse.

The writing in Granted isn’t bad, but in my opinion needs improvement. I feel there’s an overabundance of passive voice for a first person narrative. I also feel that there are unnecessary descriptions of rather mundane topics. The example that sticks out to me is the description of clothes. I don’t need to know what each character decides to wear each day; it’s not important to the plot. I constantly felt like the author used a thesaurus to insert synonyms into sentences. There are many sentences whose structures seem “off” (and I know I’m not perfect, either!), though for the most part I did understand what Thomas tries to impart to the reader. For example:

“The roof gave the resemblance of a tower to my prison…”
“An outside wind drafted into my bastille, causing me to be wracked with more shivers.”
“Unable to control the excitement within me, I fell onto the bed of roses and sunk into their soft contents.”

Overall, I feel like this story needs more copy editing. The magic system and the history of the curse provide a good backbone upon which the author can elaborate. I hope the next book(s) delve more into these story elements. Personally, I probably will not continue this series.

Rating: 2.25/5
Content warnings: kidnapping
Reading format: Kindle e-book