review: in an absent dream by seanan mcguire

Rule 1: ask for nothing.
Rule 2: Names have power.
Rule 3: Always give fair value.

Title: In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

Genre(s): Fantasy

ISBN: 0765399296

Publication date: January 8th, 2019

Format: ARC

Length: 208 pages

Thank you to Tor Publishing and Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for review!


This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone . . .


In An Absent Dream is the fourth book in the Wayward Children series, and though it wasn’t my absolute favourite (that is reserved for the second book), I still immensely enjoyed reading it.

I’m going to start with the things that I disliked, so that I can end this review on a positive note. There weren’t a lot of things that I didn’t like, though, because as I said, I did enjoy this edition to the series, and I liked it a lot more than the previous book, Beneath the Sugar Sky. I’ll have to admit, at first, I found that the jumping back and forth between the human world and the Goblin Market broke a lot of the tension-building for me, and would have preferred if we stayed in the Goblin Market the entire time, but I understand why it was that way. I also thought that there should have been a lot more relationship-building between Lundy and her family, particularly her sister, and I feel like that is more of a length issue than anything else–because these books are novella-length, it’s sometimes hard to hit every mark, and though we’re alluded to such a strengthening relationship, I would have liked to see more. Though some things missed the mark, I think that the plot and the idea of the story was generally concise and well-delivered.

There were far more things that I liked about this book, so now I’m going to get into those. The writing was gorgeous and lyrical, and Seanan has a way of making sure that she stays concise, which is sometimes hard to do in fiction writing, particularly when purple prose is involved. This book has a very classic fairytale feel to it, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. I thought that the world-building and the storytelling was very reminiscent of darker such fairytales, like things from the Brother’s Grimm, and such, and I thought it added a more grown-up facet to this particular story. The Goblin Market was so fascinating, and I knew that I was going to love it–I’m often drawn to fantasies about goblins, as they tend to all feel very gothic and dark, and because The Labyrinth is my favourite movie, I was so excited to read it. The lore about fair value and names being important felt very classical in terms of goblin tales, but the way in which these things turn awry is where Seanan really shows her expert craftsmanship when it comes to world-building–the whole thing about turning into birds was something new that she added to this particular theme, and I loved it.

Katherine, known as Lundy in the Goblin World, was everything I was as a child–bookish, introverted, desperate for adventure, and it’s part of the reason that I was so enchanted by this story. Seanan has such a way of making sure that there are characters that a lot of her readers relate to, and though this book isn’t necessarily about anything in the real world, I found myself comparing the fair value concept to that of money in our real world, and how our class systems are very much so like the goblin market’s. Katherine’s thirst for knowledge and her moral compass made for such a rigid yet dynamic character, and the ending made her even more dynamic, in my mind.


Overall, I really enjoyed this installment. The characters were great and well-developed, and the world-building was solid and whimsical, with hidden fairytale-like elements that echo some of the greatest stories written. I gave this book four out of five stars.


Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of this novel, if you’ve read it? If you haven’t, I would highly recommend this series! It’s perfect for fantasy lovers.

Lots of love,

Jess, xoxo

review: the light between worlds by laura e. weymouth






Title: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Genre(s): Fantasy, young adult

ISBN: 0062696874

Publication date: October 23rd, 2018

Format: ARC

Length: 320 pages


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PREPTOBER: NaNoWriMo To-Do Lists!


Hello, friends! 🙂

It’s Preptober–a nickname given to October as writers and authors alike get ready for National Novel Writing Month in November, and I thought I would do a little series about it for the coming weeks leading up to November!

Here is a little blog post/to-do list for myself of all the things I like to have ready or need to get ready as we head into the most wonderful time of the year! If any writers are reading this, please feel free to follow along and do your own lists! AND TAG ME. I want to read about your strategies.



I don’t know about anyone else, but for me personally, I absolutely LOVE writing to curated playlists. I have so many for writing, too–I have ones for specific projects, ones for specific moods, and a gigantic one of a mishmash of instrumentals and songs! They’re also really fun to make, which is what I’m most excited about for Preptober. I’ll be organizing my Spotify and remaking all of the ones I made last November for my current project, #IceFantasy2018.



Ahhh, yes. That blasted Pinterest. The website that people use to procrastinate and find their perfect wedding, hairstyles, or, as I use it, photos to match the theme of a novel. Whilst I have spent many a night procrastinating on Pinterest, scrolling through thousands of photographs of girls with half of their faces cropped off for the PERFECT photo that encapsulates my main character, I will say that it’s been a great way for me to get my mind’s eye imagining, my creative juices flowing. While I wouldn’t recommend it for ACTUAL NaNo time, before is okay! And now that they’ve introduced the Sections feature, I can organize all my photos into specific folders, such as characters or countries. It’s a great way to visualize the world you’ve created. I’ve recently reorganized all of mine, and I feel so much better about the state of things.



Now you may be wondering, “Jess, what the heck is an aesthetic?” Ahh, sweet summer child. An “aesthetic” is a sort of moodboard, where one compiles a bunch of photos for a specific theme, or even just to get a feel of the novel. An example would be of this one that I used for the #ThursdayAesthetic tag on Twitter, with the prompt: Atmosphere.


There are so many ways in which this is helpful. It’s kind of like Pinterest, where creating a moodboard helps get a feel for a specific place, chapter, scene, character, or relationship. Also, if you’re not a Twitter user, I highly suggest getting an account! The writing community on there is great, and I’ve made a lot of friends that are so supportive of my novels. Make some for your novel, even if it’s just an inkling right now! There are many phone apps that make it easy, too–you don’t have to be fancy like me and use Photoshop.



This is one of the less fun aspects of Preptober. I am, by nature, a plotter, and if you’re the opposite (called a pantser), you can skip this step, but I highly suggest you dont, because it’ll make it easier for you in the long run! I’ve been, recently, plotting all of my chapters out and sticking notecards on a corkboard so that it’s easily accessible for me, and it’s been doing wonders for my anxiety and confidence level going into this November. Even if you’re not as thorough as I am, lightly outlining will save you from getting confused and discouraged when you have to type through all of that mid-November, and will prevent writer’s block (somewhat).



This point goes along with joining Twitter–having friends who are doing NaNoWriMo with you is a great way to keep morale–and have someone to bitch with. I find that a lot of people in my life don’t quite understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, and that’s okay, but finding writer buddies has been great for my self-esteem, and it’s just nice having someone who knows what you’re going through (because let’s be real, writing is a trip, and NaNo can sometimes get unreal stressful). So MAKE FRIENDS! The easiest way, as I’ve mentioned, is getting involved in the writing community. Comment on people’s aesthetics, follow lots of people, encourage them–it’s not hard to get into the hearts of writers, and I guarantee you’ll meet people on Writer Twitter that you’ll be friends with for life.



This is an important one! The NaNo website offers a wide scope of resources–from forums, local group meetups (FRIENDS!!!), and badges to move you along in your wordcount and keep your morale up. There’s also a handy-dandy wordcount tool that will automatically update your wordcount whenever you use it, which is great for saving time on doing all those math problems! Along with this, there’s also a function to be Writing Buddies with people on the website, including friends you know. It’s a great way to thrive in competition, if that works for you! You can also upload an excerpt of your novel to get people interested in it.



This one is a toughie for some, because it’s always hard to know where you’re going to write! For me personally, I like using Scrivener, because it has lots of options, such as a corkboard to set up your chapters, a timeline function, a wordcount function, and more! There are lots of programs out there that are (usually) free, though, such as Google Docs! I just like the extra help and options that Scrivener gives me.

(Here is a great page on some options for book writing software!)



While I do use Scrivener, I also like to have a notebook with me everywhere during NaNoWriMo, and honestly, most of the year, too. It’s where I keep a progress of my wordcount, a profile of all the characters in my novel (and which ones I kill), worldbuilding, and an outline. I also use it for if the inspiration strikes and I’m not by my computer (i.e. the train or out with friends). My best friend Clarisse has a wonderful blogpost about the way that she organizes her notebooks that I think is super helpful, and we have a lot of similarities in the way we set them up.



Okay, so this one is a mild joke, but actually though–stocking up on various hot drinks will give you all the strength you need! I drink SO much tea when I’m writing, especially since it gets really cold in Canada during the winter (hello, -40C winters).

And there you have it! I hope this was helpful/enjoyable to read! Comment below if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and what your tips and things to do are for Preptober!


-Jess xoxo

THE GHOST ROAD | blog tour and aesthetics!

the ghost road tour.gif

Hello, friends! Long time no type!

I decided to take a break from blogging, mainly because I just started a YouTube channel and wanted to focus on that for a little while, but I’m finally breathing life back into this blog and starting September off with a blog tour!

I was kindly given a slot in the Ghost Road tour to talk about the release of The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter, a talented Canadian author. I received an ARC of this middle-grade novel from Penguin Random House Canada, so thank you so much to them for including me in this!

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an honest discussion about mental health and reading

Dear Reader,

I’ve been a bit absent on social media, and especially this blog. I’ll confess, it’s because I haven’t been reading/writing, and therefore haven’t had any content to post.

You’re probably thinking, “but why haven’t you got any content, Jess?” Well, here’s the reason: mental illness.

I’m a pretty honest person, but I’ve been humming and hah-ing about posting this. I got scared, because I don’t want to be judged or seen as a different person for experiencing this, but I realized simply that if anyone had that opinion, then they really didn’t matter to me, and that their opinions didn’t matter, either. So I’ve decided to share this with all of my followers, because I feel like I have a (sort of) platform to address this and I feel more comfortable now.

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review: the strange fascinations of noah hypnotik


…and I tell her she can still love this flawed thing. I tell her it will be a different love, a little sadder maybe, but wiser, too. I tell her that if we can’t love flawed things, we probably wouldn’t love anything at all.

  • The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold
  • Genre(s): Young adult, coming-of-age, contemporary
  • Format: ARC paperback
  • Length: 411 pages
  • My rating: 4/5 stars
  • Started reading: June 8th
  • Finished reading: July 4th

This book contains the following triggers: underage alcohol use, talk of mental illness, injury, and hospital settings. If any of these things trigger you, please use appropriate self-care methods, or don’t read the book! Take care.

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bookish playlists: the grisha trilogy edition!

Hello friends!

It’s Monday again (though sometimes I wish it wasn’t, because they suck), and you know what that means! Another edition of Bookish Playlists, a weekly post that I do on my blog to highlight songs that make me think of some of my favourite series and books!

Today, I wanted to highlight an old favourite. Back in 2014, I read a gem of a book named Shadow and Bone, and instantly fell in love. I had seen a lovely gal named Emily (link to her Twitter) on my Tumblr dashboard around this time screaming about this series, and because I was a fresh new bibliophile-in-the-making, I decided to try it out. It instantly became a favourite–not only because of the intricate fantasy vibes I got whilst reading, but because of the characters and the immersive storytelling that the author possesses. I have only read S+B (I know, tragic! Trying to remedy that immediately, don’t worry) but I feel like I still have a grasp on the story and all of its elements, so here, have a playlist! I’m quite of this one, actually!

The Grisha Trilogy Playlist:

  1. No Light, No Light – Florence and the Machine
  2. Dark in My Imagination (Radio Edit) – of Verona
  3. Use Me Up – Wanderhouse
  4. Until We Go Down – Ruelle
  5. Into the Dark – Amarante
  6. Castle – Halsey
  7. Turn to Dust – Wolf Alice
  8. Whitelady – LYRA
  9. Wolves Without Teeth – Of Monsters and Men
  10. All We Do – Oh Wonder
  11. Golden Antlers – Glass Animals
  12. Me and the Devil – Soap&Skin
  13. The Devil Within – Digital Daggers
  14. Introspect – Anchor & Braille
  15. In The Dark – Cathedrals

As always, here is the link to my Spotify playlist to listen to these songs! Comment below songs that remind you of the Grishaverse (though pls, no spoilers if you can help it!) and I’ll be sure to listen to them. I’ll see you all next Monday for another playlist!

-Jess xoxo

top adult fiction books i want to read this summer!

Hello, friends!

So, I’ve been reading YA books since, well, I was a young adult! The thing is, I’m a little bit… restless. Not exactly bored, but I just feel like I need a change. So I figured that summer would be the perfect time to dive into some adult books! I feel as though I need to change up my reading routine and expand my horizons, because I don’t want to read the same things all the time! As much as I love YA, I’ve been dying for an adult book lately!

I’ve been wanting to read a lot of these for a while now, and so whilst scrolling through Goodreads and combing through many YouTube videos, I’ve made up a list of the top adult fiction books I want to get to this summer!

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review: a torch against the night by sabaa tahir

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  • Genre(s): Young adult, fantasy
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Length:
  • My rating: 5/5 stars
  • Started reading: May 1st
  • Finished reading: June 9th

As always, I’m starting my review with a few trigger warnings! So, for this book, there are trigger warnings for: torture, violence, murder, and slavery. Be aware of these and be cautious, and most of all, practice self-care when reading!

Now, to the nitty-gritty.

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