Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer *Book Review*

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

Goodreads Rating: 3.62

My Rating: 4/5

Tongue and eye, hand and foot. Blood and bone, ash and soot.

E. Latimer combines modern witchcraft with Celtic folklore in this gripping story about two opposing covens who must come together in the deeply religious Irish town of Carman to stop a serial killer who is targeting witches.

At the beginning of the book, Dayna has just been outted as bisexual at her school against her will. On top of her training to become a full fledged witch, she must contend with her persistent ex-boyfriend, pastor father, and the return of her emotionally unstable mother from a suspicious bible camp that was intended to make her better. She finds solace with her friend Raegan and the other witches in her coven. That is, until a second coven of three strange witches shows up to combine their forces against an impending attack.

Meiner is also a witchling with a chip on her shoulder and an attitude problem. The leader of her coven is her grandmother King, who is equal parts abusive and reckless with her magic. And that is to say nothing of Cora, her ex-girlfriend, who is also a little too willing to bend the rules.

I loved the overall atmosphere of this book. It brings to mind scenes from The Raven Cycle’s 300 Fox Way and its diverse characters. I think the characters are easily the strongest thing going for Witches of Ash and Ruin. They have A LOT going on and it was very compelling to watch them struggle with each other and try to find middle ground in order to meet a common goal. The plot itself is super interesting and despite a slow section here and there, I wanted to push through them to see what would happen next.

I didn’t have any outright problems with this book but, to me, the most lackluster aspect was the writing style. It’s very direct which is good for getting its point across, but I am a fan of a little flowery language (to an extent) that I can return to and highlight. So that being said, this book isn’t very quotable but I can’t be too upset about it since I think everything else was done very well.

One thing I think is worth mentioning is the representation of OCD in this book. It is mentioned early on that one of the characters has been diagnosed and it’s something she struggles with, but it doesn’t really come up a whole lot after that. I’ve heard mixed reviews on how this was perceived. Some people liked that, and others didn’t. It’s not an illness I have any personal experience with so I can’t comment on it myself but maybe take that into consideration.

Some other trigger warnings you should be aware of: homophobia, implied conversion therapy, implied sexual assault, self harm, familial abuse, body horror, mental illness

As of 2021 I have revamped my rating system a little and it goes like this: I have a list of criteria I grade a book on (where applicable) and I give each of those a rating from 1 to 5. Then I take the average of them all, and that’s where my final rating comes from. So this is what my breakdown for Witches of Ash and Ruin looks like:

  • Plot- 4/5
  • Characters- 5/5
  • Pacing- 4/5
  • Writing Style- 3/5
  • Overall Enjoyment- 4/5
  • Insightfulness- 4/5
  • Ease of Reading- 5/5

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So Long, 2020…

If you are reading this, then let me start by sincerely congratulating you for getting through this hell of a year. I don’t know a single person who’s had an easy time of it for the majority of 2020 and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve gone through your fair share of trials in the last 9-12 months.

Speaking of, it’s been a while since we’ve talked hasn’t it? My last post here was in March and things pretty much went downhill for me (and billions of others, globally) from there and have only just slightly began to pick up. So let’s talk. I’ll tell you where I’ve been and we’re I’m headed. Fair warning in advance that I will be talking about some sensitive topics including mental health struggles. If that’s something you are not comfortable with, don’t worry– skip this one, and I’ll see you in the next one.

Around this time last year, I began experiencing what I thought was a really bad stomach bug, and then two months passed and it didn’t go away. I was diagnosed in February with an unidentified IBS disorder and began cutting things out of my diet left and right. It didn’t get better. On the contrary, as of right now, I can’t eat anything that isn’t egg, gluten free bread, or plain rice. I’ve dealt with doctors who misdiagnosed me or outright dismissed my concerns and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally got a proper diagnosis and began the long road to recovery. So my 2020 has basically been a medical nightmare full of uncertainty, pain, and bland food.

In addition to that, I lost my cat, Mia, at 16 years of age. I first got her when I was 8 and we had been inseparable ever since. It was so heartbreaking and I miss her every day. On top of that, I thought I had completed my college degree. Twice. Only to find out that so-and-so credit/requirement was missing and/or there was a massive misunderstanding that led to said credits not being fulfilled. I was meant to graduate this past summer and I am currently gearing up for an online spring semester. So all of that was a lot to deal with and collectively, it took a massive toll on my mental health. Something I thought I had mastered finally after nearly a decade of therapy came back around and RKO’d my naïve self. I am okay now, so please don’t worry on my behalf, but I’d like to take this moment to urge you to swallow your pride and seek help when you need it. You’ll be surprised at the number of people willing to come to your defense when you do. I am extremely fortunate in so many ways despite these hardships.

I haven’t even mentioned the giant, planet-sized elephant in the room. You all know about Corona Virus I’m guessing. I won’t get into that mess besides saying that I sympathize with every single person who has felt the effects of this plague first hand. As we go into the new year, please continue to be kind and considerate of the people around you. Wear a mask. Please.

As you may have imagined, all of this going on has kept me from social media for the most part. This blog has been devoid of content, my Instagram has been looking sad and neglected, and honestly it’s been Tumblr and the book community on Tiktok (or, Booktok, if you will) of all places that have helped to keep me going.

Despite my absence, I have been reading lots and I’m excited to tell you guys about all the wonderful books that have quite literally kept me from losing it. Let me just start by telling you what’s been going on behind the scenes of @foxingfae.

First, I have my own domain now! If you’re here, you’re currently on foxingfae.com. Welcome! I’ve been spiffying up the site and putting a few updated touches to old posts of mine. I’ve also made some pretty big changes on Instagram. Bookstagram and I sort of have a love/hate relationship that I’ve been trying to reconcile on my hiatus. On the one hand, I adore it as a community and I’ve met so many beautiful individuals and discovered so many amazing books. It’s a lot of fun to interact with it and I could honestly lose myself for days there. And that’s sort of where my problem begins. Bookstagram, to me, can feel really unhealthy.

Hidden below the surface of colorful photos and super sweet comments, is a clique-y and competitive nightmare that makes reading books feel like a contest, and follower counts feel like a reflection of your value as a person. There is a consumer culture that stresses me the hell out. I felt like I had to participate in follow trains, and shout-out swaps just to remain relevant, and still, every time I lost a follower, it would ruin my day. I would spend hours agonizing over my posts and hating what I came up with in the end, anyway. This site that I came to for relaxation and a good time felt like a huge weight on my shoulders.

So I’ve essentially started over. I’ve deleted over half of my posts and completely restarted my following list from scratch. There is nothing personal behind this decision, I don’t have an issue with any one individually, this is just something I needed to do for my own peace of mind. I hope you understand. If not, that’s okay. I’ve come to realize how important it is to curate your own online experience. I’ve taken the gravitas out of the action of blocking or unfollowing people. It’s not an attack, it’s a way to make my own time online more positive and enjoyable for myself. I would highly encourage you to do the same, even if that means you don’t want to follow me anymore. I won’t take it personally, I promise.

Whew okay, that was kinda heavy wasn’t it? I’m sorry. Let’s get into the fun stuff!

In addition to my IG, Tumblr, and blog (here) I’ve made a bookish account on Tiktok. I’ve had a lot of fun learning to make content with a whole new medium and I’ve met some really lovely people there. I’ll be doing a giveaway on there once I hit 5K followers! I will be back to posting on Instagram tomorrow (1/1) and my Tumblr is just as active as it’s always been.

I’ll be posting here again as well! I already have some new content planned. While you can mostly expect to see book reviews here, you’ll see a post about my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge, my favorite and least favorite books of 2020, and definitely a TBR or two. You might see the occasional post about music as well but this is still going to be a 95% book space as it’s always been.

So as 2020 ends and 2021 begins, the topic of resolutions is bound to come up. I really only have two for myself and they are: 1.) I want to heal, and 2.) I want to be happy.

Sure, I have some other goals in mind. I want to set my 2021 Goodreads goal to 50 books (same as last year) and I’d like to actually get to the Nevernight trilogy finally. But I think setting all kinds of “rules” for myself is sort of just setting myself up to fail. After such a stressful year, I want to be able to just… be. Life is so short, and most of it can’t be planned for anyway.

So I don’t know about you guys, but I’m just going to get the new year started right by burying my nose in a book. I have a few different ones I’m reading right now: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout (I looooooved From Blood and Ash), Into the Wild by Erin Hunter (Yup, I’m reading Warrior Cats for the first time in my 23 years of living), Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer, and I’m also reading the Death Note and Tokyo Ghoul manga.

If you’ve read this far, thank you so much and know that I love you. I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s. Please be safe and responsible, and let me know what you’re reading!!!

.✫*゚・゚。.☆.*。・゚✫*.

Most sincerely,

Liv

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Chain Mail by Hiroshi Ishizaki *Book Review*

chain mail

Chain Mail by Hiroshi Ishizaki

Goodreads rating: 3.83

My rating: 4/5

Subject: would you like to create a fictional world?

Four young girls are brought together when a chain email gets sent around asking them to participate in a collaborative story. Sawako, Yukari, Mai, and Mayumi are all tired of the lives they’re living. So when the opportunity to get creative and share a secret hobby together arises, they all join in. The story has four parts and each girl can choose a perspective to write from: the female protagonist, her boyfriend, her stalker, and the detective. What begins as a fun and thrilling hobby, becomes more sinister as real life and fiction bleed together. 

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I did not expect to love this story as much as I did. The characters are given a lot of depth and they undergo significant change despite the book being just over 200 pages. The aesthetic of a group of teen girls typing out story chapters on their flip phones against the colorful backdrop of Tokyo was just (*chef’s kiss*) so enjoyable. It all brought me back to the time when I was their age and trying desperately to fit in despite drama with my friends and troubles at home. I think there’s something for everyone to relate to in this book. Hell, even the school bully gets a redemption arc. 

If you want a story that reads like a wholesome slice of life anime with some effectively creepy undertones then I’d highly recommend Chain Mail, though you’ll probably have to buy second hand to get a hold of it.


It’s been quite a while since I last posted so I appreciate you stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

-Liv

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