The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White {Book Review}

I received The Glass Ocean inside the September (adult) Once Upon a Book Club box, which also happened to be the first one that I’ve ordered. They do have a YA option if you’re interested, although I’ve never order that one.

The premise of the box is pretty neat: each month you receive a book, and then four-five gifts, art prints, and other goodies that directly relate to the story—but you don’t open them until to get to the page where they are mentioned. It’s an immersive experience, and if you want to go one step further with the “book club” part, you can take part in the scheduled discussions on Facebook and Instagram in order to connect with other readers. I liked it so much that I also ordered their October box (review up soon!), although I missed the deadline for the November box which made me a little sad.

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White
From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.
— Goodreads

Right from the start, this book had me hook, line, and sinker (PUN!). I love that the story weaved between the past and the present, and the way the stories of the three women intertwined was fascinating! I don’t normally reach for books written by multiple authors because they can have a confusing tone to them, but Beatriz, Lauren, and Karen all did a phenomenal job with The Glass Ocean—and their editor deserves a raise as well.

The story was lovely, sad, poignant, and utterly breathtaking. When I connected with other box subscribers, not everyone was thrilled by the ending. Some felt it didn’t fit, or was unnecessary, and other complained that it was hasty. I really enjoyed it, though; it felt right, and without it I would have been mad at the author for leaving things ambiguously.

My rating: 5 stars. Nothing about this book was boring or slow, the writing was fantastic, and the story flowed incredibly well.

Ashley Fisher

About Wonderland Media

Wonderland Media was created to provide startups, businesses, and bloggers with a resource to help them meet their goals. We are digital storytellers, using your unique story to connect potential customers with your brand. After diving deep into your business, we will craft a unique multi-platform marketing campaign that will best meet your short- and long-term business goals. Best of all, we will use quantifiable data gathered throughout the campaign so that you can see exactly how we are positively influencing your business.

We specialize in: social media marketing & community management, event planning & publicity, digital marketing (including Pay-Per-Click & ethical SEO), content generation, and graphic design.

About Ashley Heinaranta

Throughout her decade in various marketing roles, Ashley has guided countless businesses through the muddy waters of creating an “online presence”. With experience in branding, consulting on business and marketing plans, graphic design, and digital marketing, she is a powerhouse of knowledge and experience. Ashley loves to work with start ups, bloggers, and small business owners, as well as established businesses and brands. No project is too small for her, and she loves the unique challenge that every project presents.

Getting to the Bottom of Cork Taint

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You’ve just painstakingly picked out a bottle of wine to take to Christmas dinner, but when you finally open it…you find that it smells like your basement did that one time when it flooded while you were on vacation for a week and destroyed everything.

Thanks to either 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) or 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA), your wine is trash and you’re sad and sober at a holiday dinner—or stuck drinking what your family brought (sorry, Mom and Dad). Less than 5% of wines are affected by it, and as a consumer there is no way for you to prevent the dreaded cork taint, but it is possible to avoid it.

What is it?

Cork taint is generally caused by the two above-mentioned chemical compounds, TCA or TBA, and can come from the barrels that wine is aged in, or the way that the wine was stored, but it most commonly comes from the cork itself—but only natural cork, not synthetic.

What does it smell like?

The three most common ways to describe a corked wine are:

  • moldy basement/attic smell;

  • wet newspaper; and,

  • wet dog

What does it taste like?

Corked wines are flat, dull, and have almost no fruit flavour to them. Some people will describe it as tasting "astringent”, although this descriptor can also be applied to wines with unruly tannins so it takes an experienced palate to distinguish between the two.

How can I avoid it?

The easiest way to avoid cork taint is to buy wines with synthetic corks or screw caps, which can be easier said than done if you’re looking for uncommon or more expensive wines as these tend to use natural corks in their bottles.

How can I get rid of it?

Let me preface this with: I’ve never tried this, and honestly I don’t suggest it unless you’re down to your very last bottle of wine and cannot obtain an untainted bottle because let’s face it—life is too short for bad wine. But I digress.

Scientists at UC Davis—a well respected university with an outstanding Viticulture & Enology program—have apparently discovered a way to remove the TCA from a wine, virtually eliminating cork taint. I haven’t been able to find any actual research papers on the subject, but apparently you soak the wine in a pitcher with a wadded up ball of plastic wrap for about 15-20 minutes. Then, pour the wine out of the pitcher into a clean glass vessel (not the bottle it came from!), leaving the plastic behind. Apparently, the scientists who discovered this claim that the TCA bonds to the plastic and will remove virtually all of it—but, again, life is too short for bad wine, and there have been no follow-up studies to confirm whether this works, or how much of the TCA remains after the wine is treated.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, roughly 5% of wines throughout the world are estimated to be affected by cork taint, so it isn’t the biggest issue in the wine world—but it is rather irritating to deal with. Screw caps and synthetic corks have made a dramatic impact in the wine world, but they have their own flaws as well.

If you discover a corked bottle for the first time, treat it as a learning experience and teach yourself how to properly identify cork taint by smell and taste. And then throw it out and open a bottle of good, untainted wine because you’ve earned it.

Ashley Fisher

About Wonderland Media

Wonderland Media was created to provide startups, businesses, and bloggers with a resource to help them meet their goals. We are digital storytellers, using your unique story to connect potential customers with your brand. After diving deep into your business, we will craft a unique multi-platform marketing campaign that will best meet your short- and long-term business goals. Best of all, we will use quantifiable data gathered throughout the campaign so that you can see exactly how we are positively influencing your business.

We specialize in: social media marketing & community management, event planning & publicity, digital marketing (including Pay-Per-Click & ethical SEO), content generation, and graphic design.

About Ashley Heinaranta

Throughout her decade in various marketing roles, Ashley has guided countless businesses through the muddy waters of creating an “online presence”. With experience in branding, consulting on business and marketing plans, graphic design, and digital marketing, she is a powerhouse of knowledge and experience. Ashley loves to work with start ups, bloggers, and small business owners, as well as established businesses and brands. No project is too small for her, and she loves the unique challenge that every project presents.

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas {Book Review}

This past July, I ripped through the Throne of Glass series (up to Empire of Storms) in just over a week. And, as I mentioned already, I absolutely loved it. After I finished EoS, I decided that I needed a break from the chaos of the TOG universe, and instead re-read the Divergent series for the tenth time, and then the Selection series for the third time because I am a creature of habit and I take comfort in knowing exactly what is going to happen in a book. One of the main reasons why I delayed Tower of Dawn, however, was because I was sure I would rip through it as well, and then have to wait in agony for a few months before Kingdom of Ash was released.

Caution: minor spoilers, but this book is over a year old so I feel like at this point it’s not a spoiler because you should have read it already.

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas
In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.
— Goodreads

To be entirely candid, I did not rip through Tower of Dawn. It wasn’t for lack of trying; I am really invested in Chaol’s character and the role that he plays in the overall story, and since this book was almost entirely about his journey, it should have been a no-brainer.

Reader, it was not a no-brainer.

I found the first third of the book to be heavy in words but light in story, and I slogged through it a few pages at a time when I could find the attention span for it. It felt like it was a LOT, like it was trying so hard to be the connector between the first five books and the final installment that it became too much. The timeline didn’t make sense to me until the last third of the book when Aelin and the pirates are mentioned, and even then the entire book spans only a few months but so much happens that it’s overwhelming. At the same time, though, it wasn’t enough. New plot points and characters were introduced so rapidly that it felt like a standalone book, with this new world that had to be built, rather than the sixth in a series.

But. BUT.

By the last third I was entirely hooked, and I loved the way the characters grew and changed and adapted by the end of the story. And that’s the point, isn’t it? The second-to-last book is the setup for the game-winning spike, and as long as you get there and it’s a successful setup, that’s what counts. This book was necessary in order to get Chaol’s character to the point where he can and will fight for the world in the last book, and to finally end the Chaol-Celaena romantic connection once and for all, but in the end I didn’t love it as much as I had expected to.

My rating: on it’s own, I’d say this was a 3 star book. In the context of the series, however, I’d bump it up to 3.5 stars because it did what it needed to do in order for Kingdom of Ash to happen.

Ashley Fisher

About Wonderland Media

Wonderland Media was created to provide startups, businesses, and bloggers with a resource to help them meet their goals. We are digital storytellers, using your unique story to connect potential customers with your brand. After diving deep into your business, we will craft a unique multi-platform marketing campaign that will best meet your short- and long-term business goals. Best of all, we will use quantifiable data gathered throughout the campaign so that you can see exactly how we are positively influencing your business.

We specialize in: social media marketing & community management, event planning & publicity, digital marketing (including Pay-Per-Click & ethical SEO), content generation, and graphic design.

About Ashley Heinaranta

Throughout her decade in various marketing roles, Ashley has guided countless businesses through the muddy waters of creating an “online presence”. With experience in branding, consulting on business and marketing plans, graphic design, and digital marketing, she is a powerhouse of knowledge and experience. Ashley loves to work with start ups, bloggers, and small business owners, as well as established businesses and brands. No project is too small for her, and she loves the unique challenge that every project presents.

Throne of Glass Series {Book Review}

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Last month I hate-read the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and once I finished, I had to know if the Throne of Glass series (written by the same author, Sarah J Maas) was worth the hype--or if it was a love-to-hate series as well. 

The good news is that the Throne of Glass series is way better than ACOTAR. There isn't actually bad news, unless you count the fact that I threw my July TBR list out the window so that I could race through the series. 

I'm not sure how, but Sarah J Maas managed to mostly avoid the stylistic issues that I had with ACOTAR--her use of dashes and ellipses seem restrained in comparison, and I felt like the plot has better pacing in TOG as well. 


Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

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From Goodreads:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. He offers her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Although I loved it in the end, I found that the first 80% of the book dragged a lot. There was a lot of clunky world-building and plot setup that can befall even the most beloved fantasy series (Hi, Tolkein and GRRM), but once SJM stopped shoving the rules of the world down my throat, and got to the duel, I fell in love with the characters and was totally on board with reading the next book. 

Rating: 3 Stars


Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

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From Goodreads:

Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan's deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies' blood - but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.

Torn between her two protectors - a captain and a prince - and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom.

True to form for Sarah J Maas, the second book in the series was much better than the first; the biggest reason for this is because the world has been set up already, so there is no need for info dumps, and the reader is already familiar with the characters. Story-wise, Crown of Midnight is fast-paced and introduces (what I thought was) my OTP of the series, plus has a few twists that I didn't actually see coming! By the end of Crown of Midnight I was 100% hooked on the series and couldn't wait to read the rest. 

Rating: 4 Stars


Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

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From Goodreads:

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can't bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back...

The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king - for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her? 

I was really pumped for Heir of Fire because so many people were telling me that it was their favourite in the series. I don't know if it was the hype or what, but this definitely was NOT my favourite. I loved the introduction of the new characters, and I loved seeing more of the world outside of Adarlan, but this book is the first to have shifting viewpoints. I didn't expect it and I found it quite jarring and distracting. There were just SO MANY new people, places, and things introduced, and the POV changed quite abruptly and quickly. So I would just get interested in a character and storyline when BAM new chapter and new POV. 

My Rating: Immediately after reading -- 3.5 Stars. Looking back (now that I know how it fits into the series) 4 Stars. 


Queen of Shadows by sarah j maas

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From Goodreads:

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Lord have mercy, THIS BOOK. Queen of Shadows took the action and suspense from previous books and ratcheted it up 500%. There is SO MUCH that is going on, but it's plotted and paced really well so the excitement never lets up. I really love the development of the characters and how they interact with each other and this book sold me on my actual OTP for this series. 

My Rating: 4 Stars


Empire of storms by sarah j maas

From Goodreads:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Ok let's start with this warning: this is NOT a YA book. The rest of the series? Sure. There were a few intimate scenes, but they were tastefully written. I would let my teenager read the first four books. But Empire of Storms is NOT YA. Sarah J Maas took the ACOTAR route and included smutty, over-the-top sex scenes that do nothing to further the plot and seem gratuitous at their best, and downright awful at their worst. 

That being said, once you remove the unnecessary sex scenes, Empire of Storms becomes my favourite book in the series. Some of the long-term plots find resolution, and there are so many reveals that my head spun a little (in a good way!). I feel like this was a really great bridging book that tied up loose ends from the first five books, but also sets the stage for the upcoming books. I can't wait for October when Kingdom of Ash is released! 

My Rating: 4 Stars

Ashley Fisher

About Wonderland Media

Wonderland Media was created to provide startups, businesses, and bloggers with a resource to help them meet their goals. We are digital storytellers, using your unique story to connect potential customers with your brand. After diving deep into your business, we will craft a unique multi-platform marketing campaign that will best meet your short- and long-term business goals. Best of all, we will use quantifiable data gathered throughout the campaign so that you can see exactly how we are positively influencing your business.

We specialize in: social media marketing & community management, event planning & publicity, digital marketing (including Pay-Per-Click & ethical SEO), content generation, and graphic design.

About Ashley Heinaranta

Throughout her decade in various marketing roles, Ashley has guided countless businesses through the muddy waters of creating an “online presence”. With experience in branding, consulting on business and marketing plans, graphic design, and digital marketing, she is a powerhouse of knowledge and experience. Ashley loves to work with start ups, bloggers, and small business owners, as well as established businesses and brands. No project is too small for her, and she loves the unique challenge that every project presents.