BOOK REVIEW: Bright Burns the Night, by Sara B. Larson

Title: Bright Burns the Night
Author: Sara B. Larson
Series: Dark Breaks the Dawn duology, 2/2
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: May 29th, 2018

A Swan Lake retelling.

Note: This post reviews the second book of the Dark Breaks the Dawn duology. You may like to read the first book review in the series, Dark Breaks the Dawnbefore reading this review.

It has been ten years since King Lorcan of Dorjhalon trapped Queen Evelayn of Eadrolan in her swan form. Year after year, Lorcan shifts Evelayn back into her human form and offers her the chance to stay human if she will marry him, and year after year she refuses. But with the unbalance of power between the Dark Kingdom and the Light, Evelayn must put aside her prejudices and partner with the man who seemingly destroyed her life.

As Evelayn and Lorcan fight to restore the balance of power to Lachalonia, she learns truths about the past that change her views on almost everything. She finds friendship, love even, in the enemy she used to hate, while seeing others she trusted explicitly for who they really are. But can Evelayn and Lorcan remain on the same side long enough to save both kingdoms from an ancient threat?

I enjoyed this second book of the duology even more than the first! It’s rare that a series gets better, especially with the second book, but Sara B. Larson succeeded in Bright Burns the Night.

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BOOK REVIEW: Dark Breaks the Dawn, by Sara B. Larson

Title: Dark Breaks the Dawn
Author: Sara B. Larson
Series: Dark Breaks the Dawn duology, 1/2
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: May 30th, 2017

A Swan Lake origin story.

Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, has come into her full powers after turning eighteen. The timing could not be better, as her kingdom is at war with the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon. With her mother fighting the war at the front lines, Evelayn trains daily and learns how to use her new power. Lord Tanvir helps her train, earning her trust, and eventually her affection.

King Bain of Dorjhalon schemes to take control over both kingdoms, Light and Dark. Responsibility falls on Evelayn to fight the dark king and his sons, Lorcan and Lothar. The fate of her kingdom rests on her shoulders. With the help and support of trusted friends, she faces the dark kingdom. But not everything – or everyone – is as it seems, and Evelayn must face the consequences of her decisions, affecting not only her kingdom, but her very humanity.

It’s not very often that I come across a YA fantasy written as a duology (which just so happens to be my WIP). In addition to that connection, I have not only performed in the ballet Swan Lake, but have assisted in Swan Lake choreography at the Colorado Ballet Society. I’ve read Sara B. Larson’s trilogy Defy and loved it! I enjoyed her duology, but not quite as much as her trilogy.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking

Title: The Little Book of Hygge: Danish secrets to happy living
Author: Meik Wiking
Genre: Hygge, Lifestyle, Nonfiction
Publisher: Penguin Life
Release Date: September 1st, 2016

What is hygee? And how do you say it, anyway? Meik Wiking says that hygge (pronounced HOO-GA) “is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home.” He then teaches how to create hygge in the home and in your life like the Danes, the happiest people in Europe according to the European Social Survey.

So what are some ways we can bring some hygge into our lives? Wiking includes a “Hygge Manifesto” complete with adorable graphics:

  1. ATMOSPHERE (Turn down the lights.)
  2. PRESENCE (Be here now. Turn off the phones.)
  3. PLEASURE (Coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes, candy.)
  4. EQUALITY (“We” over “me.” Share the tasks and the airtime.)
  5. GRATITUDE (Take it in. This might be as good as it gets.)
  6. HARMONY (It’s not a competition. We already like you. There is no need to brag about your achievements.)
  7. COMFORT (Get comfy. Take a break. It’s all about relaxation.)
  8. TRUCE (No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day.)
  9. TOGETHERNESS (Build relationships and narratives. “Do you remember the time we…?”)
  10. SHELTER (This is your tribe. This is a place of peace and security.)

I loved this book! I recommend you reading it with a cup of tea or coffee, snuggled under a cozy blanket, with a candle lit close by. Now, doesn’t that sound hyggelig?

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BOOK REVIEW: Body Love, by Kelly LeVeque

Title: Body Love
Author: Kelly LeVeque
Genre: Health, Nonfiction, Nutrition, Self Help 
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: June 27th, 2017

“At its core, Body Love is about feeling empowered, not overwhelmed, by food and nutrition. It’s about learning simple tips and tricks to eat to satiety and naturally balance your hunger hormones, not fighting not to eat. It’s about ditching the food drama.”
Kelly LeVeque, Body Love

Health and wellness consultant Kelly LeVeque uses her extensive knowledge of nutrition and science to offer a sustainable alternative to frustrating diets. Her alternative focuses on what she likes to call the Fab Four: protein, fat, fiber, and greens. Protein, among other things, signals to your brain that you’re full; fat is necessary for brain functioning and helps manage hormones; fiber moves food through our digestive system and removes toxins from the body; greens are a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

LeVeque teaches a science-driven approach: eat for satiety, elongate your blood sugar curve to burn fat, and be “hormone aware” to autocorrect if necessary. Not only does this approach help your body find (and maintain) its ideal weight, it’s doing so in a healthy, sustainable way. This book includes 88 Fab Four recipes (over 50 smoothie recipes!) to help you “live in balance, weight what you want, and free yourself form food drama forever.”

Body Love, a light, yet educational read, was exactly what I was looking for. Not just informational, but inspirational!

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BOOK REVIEW: Ogre Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine

Ogre Enchanted (Ella Enchanted, #0.5)


Title: Ogre Enchanted

Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: October 16th, 2018

Ogre Enchanted is a prequel to Ella Enchanted, written two decades later. Lucinda the fairy, in her terrible judgement (as always), turns Evie, a young healer, into an ogre after turning down a marriage proposal from her best friend, Wormy. Evie only has 62 days to accept a marriage proposal and undo Lucinda’s curse – but will someone fall in love with her in ogre form?

Join Evie as she embarks on a quest to save herself from a terrible fate, experiencing friendship, heartache, and self-discovery along the way. Journey back into this beloved world created by Gail Carson Levine that has all the magic and charm of Ella Enchanted.

I enjoyed this new book by Gail Carson Levine, though I found the beginning to be a little on the slow side. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the rest of her books!

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BOOK REVIEW: Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis

Title: Girl, Stop Apologizing
Author: Rachel Hollis
Genre: Inspirational, Lifestyle, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: March 5th, 2019

“I can achieve anything if I’m willing to work for it. Not because I’m
especially gifted, 
but because I’m especially dedicated to improving
along the way.”
– Rachel Hollis, Girl, Stop Apologizing

If you read last week’s post, you already know how much I loved reading Girl, Wash Your Face. This new release by Rachel Hollis is even more amazing! Girl, Stop Apologizing: a shame-free plan for embracing and achieving your goals is a book targeted to women in their 20’s and 30’s, though I think all women, teens and up, can take something from it.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Hollis addresses excuses to let go of, behaviors to adopt, and skills to acquire so that you can turn your dreams into plans. She challenges you to walk out your calling without worrying about other peoples’ opinions of you. Whether you are single, a wife, a mom, an entrepreneur, or anything else, she drives home that there is no “right” way to do life.

I enjoyed Rachel’s direct approach and fresh perspective on work, goals, family, and faith. This book affirmed things I’ve thought for years: do not feel guilty for living your life in a way that’s different than what others expect; do not feel the need to justify your dreams, or apologize for having them in the first place; do not let others say who you can and cannot be. You get to decide what you are going to do with your life.

So chase those dreams, make those plans… and girl, stop apologizing!

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BOOK REVIEW: Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis

Title: Girl, Wash Your Face
Author: Rachel Hollis
Genre: Inspirational, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: February 6th, 2018

“You have to decide that you care more about creating your magic
and pushing it out into the world than you do about how it will be received.”
– Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

One of my goals as a book reviewer has been to use my library card more than my credit card. One book a week adds up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a year, even at Amazon’s unbeatable prices. So I borrow most of the time, and try to buy only the books I’m 100% sure to love.

So I picked up Girl, Wash Your Face at the library. Within a chapter or two, I already wished I owned the book so I could highlight my heart out. (Yes, I highlight my self-help books because I want to remember things that are, you know, helpful.) Now I’m planning to get the audio version instead so I can listen to it in the car when I need a good pep talk.

Written in a fresh, fun voice, Rachel Hollis confronts lie after lie that she used to believe about herself, with the goal of helping other women overcome those very same lies. Have you ever felt that you are not enough? Unlovable? A bad wife, or mom? So has she. Hollis gives personal examples of these kinds of struggles and practical advice on how to stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be.

I cannot recommend Rachel Hollis and her books enough. Her target audience seems to be women in their 20’s and 30’s, but I think all women, teens and up, can get something from Girl, Wash Your Face. Get ready for some raw sass and fresh, faith-filled pep talk from a woman who can’t help building up other women.

And while you’re at it… Girl, wash your face!

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