Currently Reading - Week 5

Hiya, everyone! I am amazed how quickly we are already into February. January was a very fruitful month for reading. I am hoping to carry that stamina into this month. Here are the books that I have finished and am currently reading:

Currently Reading

This year, I have decided to participate in the 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. In 2015, I completed and loved the challenge; however, last year I fell off the wagon a little bit and never finished. This year there are 40 regular prompts and 12 advanced prompts. For the last few weeks of December, I spent a lot of time on a spreadsheet compiling ideas and purchasing books to fill out this list to ensure success. Moving into the new year, I decided to change the format of my reviews from monthly to weekly as well as the content included. I want to really improve my reviews and there structure throughout. With that, I will not be able to hold back as much information as usual; therefore, I want to warn you that after the overview section (it will be marked) you may encounter spoilers.

Completed Books:

The Snow Child by Eowyn IveyThe Snow Child
Eowyn Ivey
Fiction, Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction
PSRC - A book set in the wilderness
Rating - 4/5

Overview - Jack and Mabel want nothing more to become parents, but as they age and their dreams do not come to fruition, Mabel quickly gives up. Ready to start a new life away from everything, Mabel encourages Jack to move to Alaska and start a homestead there; however, they are starting to unravel under the pressure of failed conception, a faltering homestead, and the depths of winter. Until one night, the snow starts to fall. Mesmerized, they find themselves playing in the snow and building a snowman, or rather a snow child. They are both surprised to discover it gone in the morning along with the scarf and mittens. Later, they glimpse a small child running among the woods. Setting out to find out who she is, the discover there is more than what meets the eyes.
It was beautiful, Mabel knew, but it was a beauty that ripped you open and scoured you clean so that you were lift helpless and exposed, if you lived at all. 

Was it as Ada had suggested, that we can choose our own endings, joy over sorrow? Or does the cruel world just give and take, give and take, while we flounder through the wilderness?
Plot - Set around a grieving family trying to escape the loss of losing a child, it is gripping and compelling. During the 1920s in Alaska, I can imagine the difficult life they were leading. The detail put into setting the scene was very vivid; however, I found myself taken aback when they mentioned the outhouse. It really brought me back to the reality that during that time, running what wasn't a thing. Later in the novel, you hear the mention of one of the first automobiles in the area. You are following years at a time, so the pacing was slowly building at a leisurely pace. 

Characters - I couldn't help but get tickled at Esther and Mabel. Such a diverse friendship that blossomed, even if it was out of necessity. I found all the characters to be lovable and enjoyable. Even some of the animals seemed to have their own sense of character about them. Fiana was such a mystery that I stayed intrigued by her. The element of surprise really helped develop her character depth. The way that they interacted with each other has very fluid and natural as well. I found myself drawn to how down to earth, real, and even slightly flawed the characters were. It really added to the overall story.

Conclusion - I really enjoyed reading this book. I slowed down and took my time and let the story and the emotions involved wash over me. It was a very dynamic and heart-wrenching story. How Mabel and Jack overcome their loss and continued to grow touched my heart. The story transported me to the 1920s in the wilderness of Alaska. The details within the book immersed me in all of the rich detail. I went into this book not knowing much about it outside of the description and that someone I trust highly recommended it. I think that worked out well overall. The only thing I didn't like was that it was such a leisurely paced book. The climax points were only a few steps above the rest; however, there is much to be learned from the characters in the book. I would definitely recommend this if you are someone that enjoys a family dynamic with a slight magical twist.

The Governess Affair by Courtney MilanThe Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister 0.5)
Courtney Milan
Romance, Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Historical Fiction
PSRC - A book from a genre/subgenre that you've never heard of
Rating - 3/5
(Mature Audience Only)

Overview - The duke finds himself in a lofty position once Serena sets up outside his estate. Already having enough trouble trying to smooth over his affairs and win back the dutchess, and her money, he sends the Wolf of Clermont to take care of the business. Known for his ruthlessness, Hugo Marshall is determined. The outcome of his own finances depends upon his success; however, he underestimates her determination for recognition as she refuses his offers. Having lost her position as a governess due to the duke, she isn't up for bargaining with his henchman, no matter the gossip surrounding his demeanor. Even though he vows never to harm a woman, he is torn between his resolve and his determination to see the duke through to his prizefighting victory.
Best not to dream dear. If you don't, there's nothing that can be taken from you.
I was wondering when you would start threatening me with fates worse than death. Congratulations, Mr. Marshall, I am now officially frightened.
It didn't matter if she spoke or stayed silent; she had no voice either way. 
Plot - Set in London, 1835, I felt there was a great deal of focus on the characters as only a minute attention to the atmosphere; however, I truly loved the diction used throughout. The pace of the story is quick, which it is short in nature. I was able to fly through this in a day. I was really intrigued by the story which took me by surprise.

Characters - I found myself really drawn to the characters. I found that they were very developed and distinguished from one another. I loved Hugo and Serena's banter and communication throughout the story. He was very admirable in the ways he chose to solve the problems set before them. I found most of the characters to be likable with the exception of the duke and Frederica. I became easily frustrated with her and the way she treated Serena. 

Conclusion - I was amazed at how quickly I was gripped by this story. It isn't my usual read; however, branching out seems to be working for me so far this year. This book found me by way of a YouTuber that I really enjoy watching. She loves regency romance, so I thought I would give it a shot. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and how it progressed. I didn't go into this with many expectations, and I definitely didn't expect to come out loving it. Like I mentioned, the banter and back and forth between Hugo and Serena were by far my favorite part of the book. Her sass and spunk grew on me from the beginning. If you are someone that loves period/regency romance, I would recommend this one. I picked it up for free on kindle. I am not sure I will pick up the rest of the series anytime soon, but I have them on my radar now as well as anything else by this author (her diction and word choice is spectacular.)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett (Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter)
Classics, Children's, Fiction, Fantasy
Rating - 5/5

Overview - Growing up in India, stored away where no one could see her, Mary Lennox is used to being. Soon, cholera struck the manor, killing her mother and father and many servants. Any of the servants not struck dead soon fled with little thought to the little girl. The silence that followed worried her. She wondered why no one came for her. Once the military men arrived and found her, she was soon sent away were the others teased her for being contrary. Soon after, she was sent to her uncle at the manor on the moors. The mistress that came for her warned her of the place: large with many rooms, a rather peculiar place. Having never heard of her uncle, Mary was unsure of what to expect. Warned not to wonder around the place and told her only where she could or could not enter, Mary began to worry about what was before her. Hearing about the secret garden that had been locked up, she was intrigued to explore the gardens and find it, not being able to imagine why anyone would want to shut away a garden.

Plot - From the setting, down to the story line itself, The Secret Garden truly is a magical tale. The premise that a child left alone and thinking horrible things surely cannot prosper, is such a strong narrative. I love that through grow, fresh air, and laughter, he is able to not only grow but thrive. This story has always held my attention and the pacing is wonderful. 

Characters - I love how the author really includes such a variety of characters. We see their flaws, their contrary behavior, and their tantrums. It is real and it plays with your emotions with how the children were treated. The interactions and the character development is wonderful. I love that you have such diverse characters coming together for a common ground.

Conclusion - I had read this before; however, listening to it just made me fall in love with the story all over again. Having Helena Bonham Carter (one of my favorite actresses) narrate this story really brought it to life in a completely different way. Every since I was little I loved the story and having read it a few years past, I really do believe this is one that I will return to time and time again. It is a classic that I never grow tired of reading. I honestly cannot wait to share this story with my children.

What have you been reading this week?