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Weekly Reads: Week 36

**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**

I know it was a short week, but wow it really flew! This week’s post is a little shorter than normal, even with the extra reading time. I really struggled to find the right audiobooks for my work-week – nothing seemed to keep my interest for very long. Until, I finally found a winner in The Raven Boys! It’s a series I’ve been putting off for a while now, but I’m so glad I finally picked it up. After a long struggle, I finally found several amazing reads to finish out my week!

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The Reads:

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The Trees by Ali Shaw

Adrien Thomas has never been the hero. Quite the opposite, the very image of candles burning near a table cloth is more than he can take, and after years struggling to contain his anxiety and listlessness, his wife Michelle has given him the freedom to quit teaching to find his true calling (if only he could). However, the trees have other ideas…. Without a warning, his serene suburb is transformed into a monstrous woodland, but not just his tiny town, the entire continent, perhaps the entire world. On a journey to find his wife, who, as luck would have it, is overseas for a work trip, Adrien will find an inner strength he never knew he possessed in a world where his flaws are, in reality, perfections and nature a monster in disguise.

“The world keeps no secrets. Look it in the eye if you can. Everything is there to see.”

A natural apocalypse, The Trees is an exploration into magical realism, a glimpse of what could be nature’s revenge on man. The novel can easily be explained in that way, and certainly does comment on the effect man has had on the world: deforestation, pollution, climate changes… But The Trees is so much more. Adrien, as a character, is spineless, pessimistic, and always a follower, but, he’s also clever and good-hearted, showing the bad doesn’t always out-weight the good and even negative traits could be strengths in disguise. As the novel shows, “Strong men only drove the world to ruin.”, so of course it takes a man like Adrien Thomas to set it right. But of course, he never would have completed his journey without the help of a few friends, his nature loving neighbor Hannah in particular. At the novel’s start, Adrien sees only the devastation, the deaths that nature has caused, while Hannah sees only beauty as they travel past fields of wildflowers and patches of strawberries in the midst of fall (not to mention her many unicorn sightings!). But as the story progresses, they begin to switch roles – Adrien finds peace with nature while Hannah recognizes it’s ferocity, the way nature can disguise itself behind whimsical façade. Dark and sinister, but full of magic and charm, The Trees is by far, my favorite read of the year!

Rating: 5 Stars       Goodreads

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A Wife of Noble Character by Yvonne Georgina Puig

Born into the riches of Texas, Vivienne Cally is torn between tradition and the high price of freedom. With a college education, she works as a sales clerk for a measly income that’s mostly spent on designer dresses and fancy dinners, but as the family estate dwindles, she’ll have to face reality sooner or later unless she’s able to find a man to care for her, but is that really all she wants from life?

“…being born pretty in Texas is a burden you have to climb out from under.”

“I don’t know everything, but I do think you’re confusing freedom with money…People compromise their integrity with that kind of thinking all the time.”

Going in, I read cautiously, assuming I’d be reading another woe is me rich girl story, but A Wife of Noble Character is anything but. From the very start, the way Vivienne is described by the male characters is strongly reminiscent of Holly Golightly, but she’s much more complex – she wants to please her friends and family by following suit with tradition, but also sees the duality to it. Sure, she can be a pampered housewife, bored to death while shopping for shoes and dimly aware of the snickers at her back, but Vivienne wants more for herself, the only problem is how. Though her story is wildly different from my own (I definitely wasn’t born into that kind of wealth), her story is relatable. The struggle to fit in, to maintain an image you no longer fit, to find your way – these are things everyone struggles with in their early adulthood, I know I do. In tandem, living and working in Houston, where the novel is set, I loved reading about the city (and the rich people who live here). I’ve been to a fair number of places mentioned in the book, but reading the character’s experience and comparing with my own was an entirely new experience. In one passage, she takes the long way home, driving down Memorial Park in a convertible, passing all the beautiful mansions and shady trees – I can’t even count the number of times I’ve done this! At times I certainly felt like the nosy neighbor, catching up on the latest gossip about the town, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with Puig’s charming debut!

Rating: 4 Stars       Goodreads

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Nothing about Blue Sargent is normal. For starters, she lives in a house of clairvoyant women, but far stranger still, they’ve warned her for as long as she can remember that she will cause her true love to die, and all it takes is a kiss. One measly kiss. It’s never been anything but a heedless warning until the day the soon-to-be-dead walk past her mother. Usually unseen by Blue (she has a different type of gift), this year a mysterious boy emerges from the dark, full of eerie and questions. By mere chance, her path crosses with the mysterious stranger who she’ll come to know as Gansey, a rich student at the local private (and all boys) school, Aglionby. With the Raven Boys in tow, they’ll find themselves on a magical quest as they discover how grim the world can truly be.

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

I can’t believe it took me so long to read this! While it started out slow, the story quickly caught my attention and magically stole it away the rest of the week. Akin to  Hocus Pocus (in feeling at least), I only wish I’d waited a little longer ’til Halloween season! Blue’s story is as strange as it is unique, you can’t help but fall into it, wanting, no needing to find out more, bringing out a childlike wonderment as new secrets are unveiled. While I did have a couple of issues (like, how the Raven Boys never realized they were hanging out with a ghost for such a long time…), I can’t wait to see where the story goes. What happened to her aunt, who is her dad, is she really going to end up with Gansey? So many questions, but now that the series is complete, I don’t have to stretch out my reading to find out!

Rating: 4 Stars      Goodreads

What have you been reading lately?

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