Life Update – Where Have I Been?!

I’m not even going to start this post with a proper intro. Because the fact is, I’ve been a terrible blogger lately.

TERRIBLE.

I don’t know when the last time I posted was, but it certainly wasn’t recently. The thing is, I’ve just been incredibly busy these past few weeks and because of that, I’ve had no time to blog. I’ve been partaking in a musical theatre production since the start of November, so as you can imagine things have been insanely chaotic with tech week + performances taking place. This production IS coming to an end though, so I’m going to try to get back on track with my blogging ASAP.

But that’s a lot harder than it sounds.

I’m the type of person who takes a while to fall into a routine, so in order to readjust to my old blogging habits, I’m going to need some time, much to my own distaste. You see, I’d love it if I could just flip a switch and be posting two/three times a week from here on out, but obviously, that’s not reality. And I’m trying not to give myself such a hard time about that because I KNOW that my mental health always comes before blogging and that I shouldn’t be falling over myself trying to get posts published. But at the same time, it really frustrates me that I’ve been thrown into such a horrific blogging slump that I’m having trouble getting out of.

I guess I just want people to recognize that hey, I’m back! but that I might take a while to get into the swing of things again. Thank you all for sticking with me for the past few weeks, and I can promise you that I’m working hard to post more and become more active.

I hope this post provided more clarity on my current situation and how things might be handled on this blog for the next few weeks!

Again, thanks for not giving up on me!

-Octavia

 

ARC Review for HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS by Erin A. Craig

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Title: House of Salt and Sorrows

Author: Erin A. Craig

Publication Date: 06 Aug 2019

Synopsis (via NetGalley):

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. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.

My Rating: Image result for 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

Advanced Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I liked this one a lot!

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In case you were unaware, House of Salt and Sorrows is a dark, eerie retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses with hints of mystery, magic, and intrigue. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well, I’m pleased to tell you that it most certainly is!

House of Salt and Sorrows is undeniably a page-turner! The author keeps readers on the edge of their seats as she slowly reveals small pieces of information bit by bit, having us desperate to know what happens next! You may be at a point in the story where you think you’ve guessed the outcome, and then BAM! Erin A. Craig bombards you with a jaw-dropping twist that you DID NOT SEE COMING. Seriously, I’m not playing games with you guys. I thought I had everything figured out and that the supposed “twist” would just be an overused YA plot device that we’ve all seen before. In fact, I was already mentally composing the review where I was planning on mentioning how predictable the book was… But NOPPEEEE, it turns out that I was way ahead of myself because the ending totally surprised me.

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Okay, okay, enough about that.

Additionally, I really liked the characters in this book. Each one had so much individuality, and you could tell that the author really took the time to develop each character’s personality. Well done, Ms. Craig!

The only thing that I didn’t love about this book was the romance. Honestly, I just wasn’t for it, and that isn’t the author’s fault at all, it’s simply an issue of preference. I just never felt like Annaleigh (the protagonist) and Cassius (the love interest) were all that compatible as lovers, for there wasn’t much of a spark between them (in my opinion).

But overall, disregarding that, I enjoyed this book A LOT! I’d definitely recommend it if you are looking for an intriguingly mysterious retelling of an under-represented fairytale!!

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ARC Review for MY IDEAL BOYFRIEND IS A CROISSANT by Laura Dockhill

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Title: My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant

Author: Laura Dockhill

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Page Count: 400

Format: Electronic ARC

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Misrepresentation of medical professionals, neglect of eating disorders, body shaming, bullying, talk of weight, detailed descriptions of food.

Disclaimer: I was provided with this ARC in exchange for a 100% honest review. All opinions are my own. 

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It’s time for a rant, folks.

I didn’t even make an effort to force myself through this book, for all it succeeded in doing was offending and horrifying me with its’ harmful content.

My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant follows 16-year-old BB as she deals with the aftermath of a terrible asthma attack that very nearly killed her. She’s told by her doctors that since she has been deemed medically overweight and prediabetic, the best thing she can do is eat healthier and exercise more in order to improve her health. BB agrees to make an effort, but when an unexpected family tragedy occurs, losing weight becomes the last thing on her mind…

I DNFed this at 10%.

Perhaps that was a mistake, for maybe it would’ve eventually gotten better, but all I know was that it was impossible for me to put up with the cruelty and neglect of certain groups of people found in this book.

Let me start this review by talking about BB, our protagonist, and the main source of my dislike of this novel.

I had no appreciation for BB whatsoever! She had no empathy for other people, and it seemed like she was constantly contradicting herself, which was quite odd. At one point in the book, when she was told by a nurse that she had an unhealthy relationship with food and that she was medically obese, BB totally denied it, even after previously mentioning (several times might I add) how she knew she was overweight and how she knew she had the tendency to eat unhealthily. Super confusing… In addition, whenever she narrated, it seemed like she would just randomly change the topic of conversation without any build-up! Weird!! And it gets worse…

BB was also very ignorant and cruel towards individuals who struggled with eating issues different than her own. She referred to people starving themselves of food as shallow and vain and accused them of only caring about being thin. This brands eating disorders as “just wanting to be skinny” which is extremely problematic because no, that is not always what eating disorders are.

Since I stopped reading this book pretty early on, I don’t know whether BB developed as a character or not, but I don’t really think that matters. BB already said some very offensive things towards certain communities of individuals, so I think that the damage has already been done and that no level of character growth could really make BB more likeable, at least in my perspective.

And even though BB was my main problem with this book, I still don’t think I would have enjoyed it had she been replaced with a more likeable MC. The writing itself was not very mature, and it lacked a certain flow to it that resulted in the sentences sounding choppy and poorly composed.

And before I wrap this review up, I think I should just throw it out there that the author really misrepresented medical professionals in her writing. The nurse that BB interacts with throughout the book is very rude, mean, and awful towards her. She body-shames her and even goes to the extent of calling her “fat”, which isn’t empowering in the least, contrary to what the book’s synopsis says. I’ve been to enough doctors in my lifetime to know that this is not the way they are trained to treat their patients. I don’t know if the author did this just for the sake of drama in the book, but it really only made me, a reader, feel deeply uncomfortable.

Overall, I really didn’t enjoy My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant. I found it to be quite harmful and neglectful of real-world struggles. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t like it, for I was so excited to get my hands on a novel brimming with body positivity and empowerment. But, alas, this book just wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I can’t say I recommend it.

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Valentine’s Day Book Tag

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It’ssssss… Valentine’s Day! ❤ And you know what that means… It’s time for a book tag!

I don’t believe that I’ve actually done a book tag in quite some time, which is why I’m quite eager to dive into this one! I absolutely love doing book tags for holidays, so this should be fun… *smiles menacingly*

Before we begin, it seems appropriate that I should mention that I found this tag on the lovely blog of Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek and that its original creator is CC @ CC’s books!

Now, with that being said, let us begin!

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1) A Standalone Book You Love

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I bet no one’s surprised that I chose this book for this particular prompt! I’m sorry, but how could I help it? To Kill a Kingdom is without a doubt one of my favourite reads of all time! The characters are so well developed, and the romance is something that I’ll always root for! And even disregarding all of that, who doesn’t love a book about a kick-butt siren doing all sorts of kick-butt siren things?

2) A Dystopian Book You Love

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This book is dystopian, right?

Well, dystopian or not, I devoured it! I mean, it’s sort of your typical trashy YA novel, but isn’t that the whole point? A girl has gotta have her guilty pleasures. Anyways, I think it’s about time for a Selection reread because typing this right now is really making me miss this series!!

3) A Book You Love That No One Else Talks About

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Annie on My Mind holds such a special place in my heart, and it honestly pains me to see how underappreciated it is!!! This book truly is a significant one, so if you haven’t already, I deeply encourage you to pick it up. You won’t regret it!

4) Your Favourite Book Couple

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Day & June

Okay, so the Legend trilogy isn’t one of my all-time favourite series or anything, but I totally ship Day and June… Like, all the way. I love how flawed their relationship is, and how though they have considerable differences, they’re always there for each other in the end. AWHHH SO CUTE!

5) A Book That Other People Love But You Haven’t Read Yet

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So (confession time), I’m guilty of watching the movie adaptation of this one despite the fact that I haven’t read a single page of the actual book. Whoops. And, truth be told, I probably won’t pick up Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (unless someone miraculously manages to convince to do otherwise) ever simply because neither the book’s synopsis nor the film appealed to me at all. Oh well, we can’t all fall in with the hype!

6) A Book With Red On The Cover

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Isn’t this cover stunning?! Well the book itself is just as good! I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of Sadie last year! It was absolutely amazing, I was compelled from the first page to the last! I’d recommend this book if you are looking for a captivating murder story that stands out amongst others!

7) A Book With Pink On The Cover

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While this dark, eerie retelling of Frankenstein isn’t necasserily appropriate for Valentine’s Day, it’s a super gripping read that you should totally check out! I actually got my copy of this one signed by Kiersten White herself at an event where she and STEPHANIE GARBER (*squeals in excitement*) had a really interesting conversation about Kiersten’s upcoming release and all things related to Frankenstein! It was so much fun!

8) You were given a box of delectable chocolates… What fictional boyfriend/girlfriend/special someone gave them to you?

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Wren from Girls of Paper and Fire because omg she is the best fictional gf anyone could ever ask for. Period. I’ve already created an extravagant shrine dedicated to her that takes up half of my room. Not even kidding, you guys, not even kidding. If you’re unfamiliar with Wren and haven’t read GoPaF, DO IT NOW SO YOU CAN FANGIRL OVER HER WITH MEEEEE!

9) You’re single on Valentine’s Day… What book are you reading and what TV show(s) will you watch?

Book:

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Rebel Belle is such a fun, enjoyable book that never fails to make me laugh out loud (which isn’t something I often find myself doing when reading)! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which is why I can’t imagine finding a better book to read on Valentine’s Day!

TV Show:

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This show is total trash, but hey, it sure as heck is addicting! The plotline truly is ridiculous and everything that happens within the show is so over-the-top, yet it’s still so good! I live for teen soap operas, Y’all.

10) You’re in a bookstore and suddenly you get shot with one of Cupid’s arrows! What new release will you fall in love with?

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Last year I read Angie Thomas’s the Hate U Give and really liked it, so I’m sure I’ll love On the Come Up as well! I’m super excited because this weekend a friend and I are attending one of Ms. Thomas’s OTCU events to hear her talk about her new release and get our books signed! Eek, I’m so hyped!

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I know that Valentine’s Day is nearly over, but there’s still time to do this tag! If you’d like to, feel free to do so and link your posts in the comments below!

Thanks, and have a splendid Valentine’s Day!

With Love,

Octavia

 

 

ARC Review for SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim

Title: Spin the Dawn

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: July 30th, 2019

Format: Electronic ARC

Page Count: 400

Synopsis (Via NetGalley):

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Sexism, demons, fires, detailed descriptions of food, battle, mild violence.

My Thoughts:

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for this ARC!

If someone were to ask me what my definition of perfection was, I’d thrust this book into their face.

I’m not even kidding.

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I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, which is why I was slightly hesitant to request an arc of it, but I couldn’t be gladder that I went out on a limb and did so… Because Spin the Dawn was absolutely incredible!

Where to start?

Maia, our protagonist, was such a wonderfully crafted character! She was strong, rightfully ambitious, and independent, but didn’t end up reading off as cocky, obnoxious, or immature (*cough cough* Calaena Sardothian *cough cough* no shade tho)! Maia was constantly inserted into seemingly impossible situations that few could even imagine withstanding but repeatedly refused to give up and never let the toxic individuals around her bring her down. I admired how far she would go to secure the well being of her family, and I loved how she didn’t let the discrimination against her gender stop her from protecting those she loved.

Additionally, I simply appreciated the plot itself. It’s been saddening to see how similar YA fantasy novels are these days (plot and character wise) and how few of them actually stand out. But, thankfully, Spin the Dawn was a VERY original novel with a premise that has not been featured in other Young Adult works. So yay for that!

I also thought I’d throw out the fact that I didn’t mind the romance in this book! Typically, I’m the kind of person who avoids romance at all costs and sticks her tongue out in disgust at the slightest bit of romantic tension… But not for this book! The romance between Maia and Edan (da love interest) was something that I actually sort of rooted for. Elizabeth Lim did a great job at developing their relationship so it didn’t feel rushed or unnatural.

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Overall, Spin the Dawn was a book that I really, really enjoyed! I can’t wait for this book’s publication date because THE WORLD NEEDS TO READ IT! Seriously, guys, make room on your shelves for this gem of a book ’cause you will not want to miss out on all of its glory!!

Rating: 5 Stars

Books I Would Love to See Made Into Musicals

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So yesterday, while I was in the middle of a rehearsal for the musical theatre production that I’m currently in, I had an interesting thought… Readers are always talking about books they’d love to see made into movies. But what about… musicals?! I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen or heard of that many book-based musicals besides the Cursed Child, Les Mis, Matilda, the Lightning Thief and a few others… Okay, so actually there are MANY others, but for the sake of this post let’s pretend there aren’t.

So the question is: what are some books that would make marvellous musical adaptations? Well, I’m going to let my inner thespian take over and share with you a few of my picks!

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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I’m all about musicals based off of historical events. Come From Away, Newsies, Hamilton, you name it! I simply love seeing history portrayed through live action and catchy music! Which is why I think that a musical adaptation of the Nightingale would be utterly amazing! The Nightingale is set in Paris during WWII, so it’s only a few years (err, I mean centuries, but what does it matter, ya know?)  ahead of Les Mis, another musical inspired by French history. Anyways, there aren’t TONS of WWII musicals out there, and since it was such a groundbreaking time in history, I really think it would be great to see performed on stage. Plus, the characters in the Nightingale are just so raw and realistic that it’s difficult not to ponder over the idea of seeing them depicted by actual actors!

2. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

This is a book that will always remain very close to my heart. TSaBSoAL (Dang, that’s one heck of an acronym) is a story of multiple generations of women as they battle both physical and mental hardships that they are burdened with throughout their lives. I feel like this book is rather underappreciated, and I truly hope that more readers pick it up, because it really is a significant book.

Leslye Walton’s writing style is beautifully poetic and lyrical, and I can only begin to imagine how stunning it would be transcribed into actual music! And to see Ms Walton’s life-changing writing performed ON STAGE would be unbelievably amazing! So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that Y’ALL NEED TO READ THIS BOOK SO YOU CAN SIGN MY PETITION TO HAVE IT MADE INTO A MUSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION!

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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So haha, fun fact, I only sorta kinda finished this yesterday, but I can honestly tell you that I AM ALREADY OBSESSED WITH IT. This book can be summed up in one word, and that word is this: adorable! The characters are so fun and quirky and the romance is totally swoon-worthy! I loved every page of the beautiful book!

I think that it would definitely make a wonderfully hilariously charming rom-com musical! Maybe with Mamma Mia/La La Land vibes? I don’t know. All I can say that this book would, without a doubt, make an amazing musical theatre production!

4. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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You know what book would also make an amazing musical? Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli!

In case you weren’t aware, this book already has a film adaptation by the name of Love, Simon. In my opinion, it was an absolutely spectacular movie, which is quite surprising considering film adaptations of books typically stink (*cough cough* the Darkest Minds). But you know what would be even better than a movie (I bet you’ll never guess)… A MUSICAL! Love, Simon actually already has some musical elements in it, but I say not nearly enough!

Honestly, this book is probably on the top of my list for book to musical adaptations simply because I already have such a vivid image of what it would be like to see it acted out on stage! If you have yet to read this book, then go do so now, and you will understand what I mean!

And now, last on my list is…

5. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley H. Blake

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Ashley Herring Blake, author of numerous YA bestsellers, always manages to capture my heart through her beautiful writing that tackles tough topics in meaningful ways. Girl Made of Stars, a book that deals with the harsh realities of sexism and assault, is definitely my favorite work of hers. The characters in it are so heartbreakingly real, and the book itself is so significant and eye-opening.

I’d like this book to be adapted as a musical not only because I enjoyed it, but because I think that it is a story that more people need to hear. I believe that if Girl Made of Stars became a musical, more people would become aware of the horrors that take place in our world everyday and what we can do to end them. Rape culture is something that we need to continue talking about, however difficult it may be, so the injustice we’ve been witnessing can finally  be brought down.

Now, on that somewhat serious note…

THAT’S ALL I’VE GOT FOR YOU GUYS TODAY!

If you haven’t already, please read these books so you can join me in demanding musical adaptations of them! Just kidding, just kidding… kind of.

Anyways, I hope you all have a fantastic week! In the comments, please let me know some books that YOU’D like to see become musicals! I’d love to hear from you!

Wishing you the best,

Octavia ❤

 

 

 

 

 

ARC Review for Poseidon’s Academy by Sarah A. Vogler

Title: Poseidon’s Academy

Author: Sarah A. Vogler

Page Count: 400

My Star Rating: 2.5

Trigger Warnings: With it being a middle-grade novel, there were (in my perspective) limited triggering details within Poseidon’s Academy. Here are the few that I found, though: Descriptions of food, minor injuries/wounds, the death of a parent, blood, punching.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Getting sucked into a whirlpool, sleeping in monster-infested woods, and battling psycho sea-nymphs was not how Hailey planned to spend her first year of high school. But when you’re the only Zeus in the world, life tends to get a bit complicated…

The Great Battle saw the world changed forever when humans killed the gods and absorbed their powers. One power was coveted above all others: Zeus’s. Thirteen-year-old Hailey Woods is the first Zeus in over a century. Unlike everyone else, she hates her powers because of an ancient prophecy that claims a Zeus will have to save the world someday.

Hailey doesn’t want to save the world. She wants to be a normal teenager, whose biggest dilemma in life is deciding what to eat for lunch, rather than training to become the ultimate weapon. Poseidon’s Academy, an underwater palace where her powers don’t work, was meant to give her that opportunity. But when she arrives, she discovers the sea-nymphs living there are plotting to resurrect the gods, and Hailey must find a way to stop them before they can enact the prophecy.

So much for normal!

My Review:

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While Poseidon’s Academy was by no means “bad”, I can’t say that it was my cup of tea.

I found that it lacked some of the things a well-written book should have. For starters, world-building.

The author does a decent job of introducing readers to the most significant elements of the setting, but there is still something to be desired when it comes to the information given about the world’s history and attributes. I just wish the author would have provided more details on how the humans receive their powers and why they receive the powers of certain gods… Speaking of which, we are told that when the Gods were defeated, thousands of years before Hailey (the protagonist)’s time, their powers showered down upon humans and thus led them to possess divine magic of their own… This part of the book just triggered a lot of questions within me. Like, if the Gods’ powers were distributed among mortals thousands of years ago, then how did our main character (who was not alive then), get hers? And Are certain powers passed down through blood? Needless to say, I still have plenty of questions that were not answered in the book.

Moving on, I also thought the characters in this book were somewhat one-dimensional. I never really connected with Hailey, the main character, and while it pains me to say this, she was a pretty bland protagonist in my perspective. She didn’t have many intriguing qualities, nor did she have any depth or complexity. I didn’t find any of the supporting characters very interesting either, which is quite unfortunate because unique and fascinating characters majorly contribute to a book being enjoyable to read (at least in my experiences).

However, there were certainly some elements of this book that I appreciated immensely. Poseidon’s Academy is a fun, fluffy read that made me miss the middle-grade genre due to its bright and colourful narration. Sarah A. Vogler does an excellent job of painting vivid images in your head of all the fantastical places, things, and creatures that appear within this book.

All in all, though I didn’t love Poseidon’s Academy, I would definitely recommend it to fans of Percy Jackson and/or Harry Potter who are looking for a light and easy read that features magical powers, mythical beings, and more!

Thank you to NetGalley, Sarah A. Vogler, and Aurora House Publishing for sending me an eCopy of this book!