ARC, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

The Goblins of Bellwater – Molly Ringle


Before I get into my review of this book I want to thank NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for the ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, despite the absolute GORGEOUSNESS of this cover (seriously… it is AMAZING), I really did not enjoy this book. The book begins by quickly introducing us to the four main characters of the book… Kit, Grady, Livy, and Skye, and provides a meaningful explanation as to their importance within the story, as well as setting up the plot. From there, the book fails to add anything meaningful to that plot, until about 60% into the book.

Kit is your typical, rugged, bad boy character (I honestly pictured Chris Pine) who unfortunately, due to a generational agreement made from one of his ancestors, is entered into a pact with the ‘Goblins of Bellwater’; in the hopes of saving the town from the conniving goblins, he is to provide them with large sums of gold each month – as well as to fulfill the requirements of the pact. In return the goblins do not bother the citizens of the town. Kit’s cousin, Grady, who does not know about this pact, is visiting Bellwater in order to look for a job in the cooking industry. Little does he know, his entire life is about to change. A chance meeting in the forest with Skye, a young barista/artist, sets them both on the path to potential destruction. Livy, Skye’s older environmentalist sister, is tasked with helping Skye after she comes home from the woods one day forlorn and depressed, unable to talk much or show emotion.

The premise of this book is simply amazing, and incredibly unique. A fantastical world where goblins wreak havoc on a small town if their liaison, Kit, does not fulfill the pact requirements. One night he comes up short, and four lives are about to be changed forever.

However, I found four main issues with the book that almost had me DNF’ing the book at 35%, 50% and even up til 75%.

  1. The dialogue in this book is awkward at best, and absolutely cringe worthy in other spots. It portrays each character as being perfect, one-dimensional, and overly stilted and robotic. These conversations are never ones that would be had in real life. Not to mention the character’s need to over-explain quite a few things that were happening throughout the book.
  2. Characters in the book tended to be omnipresent; as in they were able to discern what was happening during another characters POV, but should not have been able to do so. And it was repetitive. Happening multiple times throughout the novel as a way to quickly progress the story. This is your standard “show” not “tell” issue. The characters tended to tell you (inferring out of nowhere – ‘deus ex machina’) rather than come to the conclusion naturally.
  3. Being able to read way too much in people’s faces. Although we can tell subtlety in people’s facial expressions, ‘She seemed mournful almost, as if there might be many things she regretted, but not this specifically,’ this seems a bit over the top, using elaborate facial descriptions in order to feed the plot line.
  4. A lack of communication. Honestly the first 50% of the book was not necessary. In the beginning, Kit questions whether or not Skye has been affected by the goblins in some way. He literally owns a letter from his ancestor explaining the symptoms of a goblin curse, but then thinks himself crazy for even thinking of mentioning it to Skye. Who is Experiencing. The. Same. Symptoms. If she wasn’t cursed, all he’d have to do was laugh it off as a joke. He questions whether she’s been affected at ~20% into the book, but doesn’t realize that he’s been right the entire time until ~50% of the book.

In conclusion, while I think the premise is super interesting and fun, I would have loved to see less of a focus on romance at the beginning, and a stronger fleshing out of the curse, the trials the four characters must go through to break the curse, and the aftermath of dealing with a relationship primarily formed through being forced together. I unfortunately have to give this book 1 star. However, the plot and atmospheric writing, will have me picking up another Molly Ringle book, when she releases something new.

Fantasy, LGBT+, Young Adult

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell


“I am going to die kissing Simon Snow. Aleister Crowley, I’m living a charmed life.”

 I had heard about this book through BookTube, and other various media platforms and knew that since I had read previous books from Rainbow Rowell, that I would probably come to love this one as well. And I wasn’t wrong. Carry On is able to walk the fine line between tropes, as well as throwing in some amazing homages to the likes of Harry Potter and satirical nods to our favourite books such as Twilight. “I know what you are“… yes I bet you do, Simon.

I found this book so cute and the relationships between Simon, Baz, Penny, and Agatha to be absolutely realistic and mesmerizing. It made me laugh, it made me sad, and it made me cheer for these young people on their quest to solve a murder, and a growing threat from an unknown power, the Humdrum.

The nod to Harry Potter was subtle and gave me just enough of a nostalgia kick without going overboard. And as a self-professed lover of fanfiction (*ahem*and writer of it*ahem*), I loved the cute tropes that are present and beloved in some of the best fanfiction out there. ‘The Chosen One’ – trope, for example, is not one that I usually gravitate towards but I loved the twist on it, and the story that accompanied how the chosen one was meant to be.

Also, rarely do we see LGBT+ characters in mainstream novels, and I am so glad to have found one that aims to bring these lovely characters into the spotlight. I would have preferred a bit more information delving into the characters complex backgrounds and upbringings (specifically Simon), and his growing acceptance of his own fluid sexuality, but the discussion is good to have and I’m glad to see this in more mainstream media as the years go by.

My only gripe with the novel, is that I would have loved a more detailed description of the actual school itself. I always loved reading about Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and the classes that they went to. I am also aware that this is one book, instead of seven, and so some background needed to be cut in order to focus more on the characters and their interactions.

I loved this book, and gave it 4.5 stars. Any suggestions for books that are similar to this, feel free to let me know!