House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Published: August 6, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
This book had me from the first time I saw the cover. Then I picked it up and read the description and I just knew. This is easily one of my favorite books this year: the story is unique, and twisty, and gorgeous. I hadn’t read anything like it before. I would very much like to visit the Salann Islands and to study the People of the Salt. I want to know every festival, every tradition, every bit of their culture. Each setting was imaginative and spun descriptively and completely. The gods of this world are obviously based on other gods from cultures around the real world, but I still completely believed every one of them.
I was so emotionally involved in Annaleigh’s family story. I cared about them. The sisters were unique and the curse was terrifying. Each ghost sighting gave me goosebumps. If you’re looking for a read that is creepy, but not scary, this is the perfect book. The mystery was complicated and kept me guessing. Overall, this is an awesome book that I would recommend to pretty much anybody.
The Virtue of Sin
Author: Shannon Schuren
Published: June 25, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
A novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.
Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.
But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.
Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.
Ok, so to start, I’ll admit that my own life experiences and education completely colored my reading and other people will totally have a different opinion of this book. This really seemed to stick out while I was reading and I wish I could say that I loved this book, but I can’t. The story itself, the mystery, the twists, I did enjoy. This book had the potential to be such a great book with a fascinating cult, and amazing plot . . . But the thing that ruined it for me was the author’s own ignorance about the subject matter. Schuren obviously never grew up going to church or learning the Bible. It felt like she took all the propaganda that’s out there about Christians and white men and Christianity, and created a story that she thinks is close to reality. Some people may have just read it and accepted it as the way Christians are with a nod to the fact that it’s a cult so it’s probably not everybody.
I am not one of those people. I grew up with Bible lessons included in every subject everyday, Bible classes from preschool to college, church multiple times on Sunday, chapel almost everyday . . . And I noticed all the small things that didn’t work. No self respecting Christian, cult or not, would name a girl Delilah . . . She was the whore that brought Samson to sin. That’s like naming a girl Jezebel and ignoring that she was the most hated woman in the entire Bible. Bible verses were taken out of context or misinterpreted all together. The idea that women should be seen and not heard; dude my parents encouraged free thinking like you would not believe and they are legit the most sincere Christians I know!
As for the “feminist” side of things, every time one of the girls tried to point out how oppressed they are and how few choices they have, it was then pointed out that the boys were pretty much in the same position. But then, the story started wrapping up and I was enjoying most of the plot, boom, it was like a switch was flipped in Caleb’s head and he became a misogynist. Suddenly, this girl he loved and respected and valued became a stupid trouble maker, out of thin air. It was like Schuren realized that the oppression angle wasn’t working so we had to fix it and on one page, his character did a complete 180.
Everything just felt disjointed and unrealistic and preachy. As I said, the story itself wasn’t bad and I would have loved to get all involved in the twists, but all those little things just kept distracting me. I can’t really say that I recommend this book to anybody.
Today Kim is bringing you a Sunday Series VIDEO review of the Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Shusterman. Both Jessica and Kim have loved this series, which the final book just came out and Kim has already read it! Once Jessica can get her hands on it (and time to read it) we will bring her her thoughts on it!
Books in the Series:
Published: November 22, 2016
Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.
Published: November 21, 2017
Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology. The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.
A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change. Will the Thunderhead intervene? Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?
Published: November 5, 2019
In the highly anticipated finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy, dictators, prophets, and tensions rise. In a world that’s conquered death, will humanity finally be torn asunder by the immortal beings it created?
Citra and Rowan have disappeared. Endura is gone. It seems like nothing stands between Scythe Goddard and absolute dominion over the world scythedom. With the silence of the Thunderhead and the reverberations of the Great Resonance still shaking the earth to its core, the question remains: Is there anyone left who can stop him?
The answer lies in the Tone, the Toll, and the Thunder.
Kim’s Ratings of the Series:
Scythe: 5 Stars
Thunderhead: 5 Stars
The Toll: 4 Stars
Kim’s Thoughts on the Arc of a Scythe Series: