Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Blog Tour: The Siren of Sussex Review

Hello, all!

When it comes to a historical romance, I'ma read it. It's one of my favorite genres and makes me so happy. The first thing that piqued my interest about The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews was the equestrienne aspect. I was the only one in my friend group who didn't ride horses growing up (they took me on a trail ride once and I was terrified), but I knew a lot about the sport just from listening to them, so I was intrigued how that would play into the plot. 

Pub Date: 1-11-22
Adult - Historical Romance

Evelyn Maltravers is a proud bluestocking who would rather ride horses than stroll through ballrooms. She knows she won't be able to save her family's crumbling reputation through a good marriage match. Her only hope is to play to her strengths as an equestrienne, and she knows the best way to make a splash is through high fashion. To turn the heads of the London ton, Evelyn will need a habit-maker just as afraid to rock the boat as she.

Ahmad Malik has always had a knack for making women feel beautiful. His designs are gaining recognition around London after outfitting the Rotten Row's infamous band of women riders dubbed the Pretty Horsebreakers. Meeting Evelyn sparks creativity in Ahmad that he's never felt before, and the pair decide to help each other out. As Evelyn and Ahmad spend more time together, they can't deny the spark between them, but with so many obstacles to hurdle, they'll have to decide if the risk is worth the reward.

I haven't read anything from this author before, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I liked this. I appreciated how much research Matthews must've done into this period to make it feel so historically accurate. All the descriptions of Victorian fashion were so beautiful and detailed, and the conversation surrounding spiritualism was interesting as it wasn't something I was very familiar with. I liked how independent Evelyn and Ahmad were and how they both were just trying to create a better life for themselves and their families. I didn't realize going in that this was a closed-door romance, and I do wish there was a little bit of steam because I felt the chemistry was lacking a smidge. It made the story come across more like historical fiction that just had a subtle romantic side plot. I think if I knew more or had an interest in horses or riding, I would've enjoyed this a little more, but it was still good for what it was.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Rage and Ruin Review

Hello, all!

I had posted a review of the first book in this series, Storm and Fury, last year (review here) but realized I never did the others. So, let's rectify that, shall we?  

*Potential spoilers ahead*

Pub Date: 6-9-20
YA - Urban Fantasy

Being the daughter of an archangel has brought nothing but grief to Trinity Morrow. She's spent her entire life being groomed to fight in a war that she has no concept of or wants anything to do with. She knows there's a lot about her and her future that's kept from her, but when she's betrayed by someone close to her she begins to see how in the dark she truly is. Trinity can feel an evil growing and she knows it's just a matter of time before the Harbinger comes.

Trinity and her bonded gargoyle protector Zayne have been patrolling the streets of DC constantly looking for any clues as to what, or who, the Harbinger is. As each search brings up more dead ends, the pair seek help from unlikely sources, namely Roth, a crown prince of Hell. When more deaths pile up, the group uncovers a sinister plot at a local school endangering someone close to Zayne. The more they investigate, the more Trinity can't help but feel as if she's being toyed with. She's being drawn to something but she can't quite figure out what. All becomes clear when Trinity comes face-to-face with another Trueborn and no amount of training could prepare her for the hell that's about to break loose.

This was a lot of fun. The pacing was way easier to fall into than the first and I found myself enjoying it a lot quicker. After the events of the first book, Trinity's whole life is turned upside-down and you know it's going to get worse but you don't know how, and then this comes in and just steamrolls you. Especially when it came to Trinity and Zayne. They've always had great banter and chemistry, but it was on another level here. Their journey together was such a highlight despite all the frustrating, and occasionally, heartbreaking moments. For me, the plot in this one was also a lot better than the first. I felt there was more world-building and things were more fleshed out. We learn more about the Harbinger and all the complexities it brings, and the ending was a complete shock and makes me even more excited to pick up the third. While I did still have a few issues with wording/phrasing choices, it didn't lessen my enjoyment and I thought this was a solid read.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 8-10-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

The Show Girl- Nicola Harrison: Olive McCormick has always longed to move away from her dull life in Minneapolis and become a star. When she arrives in New York City, she's determined to make all her dreams come true by becoming a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies. Despite being a talented performer, it takes all of Olive's know-how to make it to the main stage, and once there, she quickly learns it's not all it's cracked up to be. Nothing could prepare Olive for just how much she'd need to sacrifice to achieve her goals. Then she meets the wealthy and handsome Archie Carmichael. Archie isn't one to balk at Olive's progressive ways, and soon the pair find themselves swept away in a whirlwind romance. But when secrets from her past threaten to derail everything, Olive is forced to either reveal her darkest shame or risk losing the only man she's ever loved.

If a historical fiction is set in the Roaring '20s NYC, you can bet I'll be picking it up. I love reading about this time, and Harrison did a fantastic job immersing you in the story that you felt as if you were there. It was so atmospheric and light but still had that gritty feel to it. I found Olive fascinating and loved seeing the story through her eyes. In the beginning, she feels very naive and doe-eyed, but as the story progresses, you see her grow into this willful woman. Were there times I found her slightly petulant? Yes, but overall, I liked her growth. It is more of a character-driven plot, so I was worried it wouldn't keep my full attention, but that was never the case. I was engaged the entire time wondering what sort of antics Olive would find herself in. Harrison crafted a beautiful coming-of-age story that never shied away from the ups and downs or hardships that faced a young woman during this time. It was flashy, glamorous, and heartbreaking all at the same time. The ending was tied together a little too quickly/conveniently for my tastes, but other than that, I thought this was delightful.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 7-13-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Rehearsals- Annette Christie: Megan and her fiancé Tom have been together for most of their adult lives and are just about to get married on a beautiful island in the PNW. What should be a joyous occasion soon turns sour when secrets that both Megan and Tom have been keeping come to light. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner, the pair decide to call off their wedding and go their separate ways, only to wake up the next day to find themselves somehow stuck in a time loop. Neither one finds the prospect of reliving their worst day over and over again as enjoyable, but nothing they do seems to break the cycle. If Megan and Tom hope to make it to tomorrow, they'll have to work through years of repressed issues and learn to trust one another again. But if they finally do break the loop, will the wedding be on?

I'm not sure how to feel about this one. For a good 70-80% of it, I didn't like any of the characters. Megan and Tom were hiding things from one another and most of their family members were judgmental and just all-around crummy people. Then as the time loop progresses, Megan and Tom both did things to purposefully hurt the other which just left a bad taste in my mouth. Each day in the loop brought out new revelations about their relationship and how they've had problems right from the start that they both chose to ignore. They seemed to take the immature route by lashing out at one another instead of just talking through their issues. The whole relationship seemed very toxic from the get-go, yet it somehow still managed to charm me in the end. Once the pair started to see things from the other's perspective and commit to healing their past hurts, I started to like them more together and did root for them to break the loop and save their wedding. The character development they both go through is really what saved this for me. I think both Megan and Tom grew from their experience and learned to love and appreciate each other more which was satisfying to see. While I didn't fully click with it, I'd recommend if you enjoy a Groundhog's Day scenario and don't mind messy characters/drama.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-22-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

Songs in Ursa Major- Emma Brodie: Bayleen Island is best known for its yearly Folk Fest, and the biggest draw for the 1969 concert is Jesse Reid. The tall, handsome, soft-spoken guitar god is sure to rocket to stardom after this major performance, but a motorcycle crash on the way to the venue leads to an unknown local band taking over his spot. Jane Quinn and her band, The Breakers, take the stage to boo's and jeering, but the moment Jane opens her mouth and the band starts rocking, everyone is mystified by what's unfolding before them: a star in the making. The performance was just the beginning. Soon, Jane and the band find themselves on a label making an album and touring the country with Jesse. Between the blur of stadiums, partying, and media attention, Jane and Jesse strike up a whirlwind romance. But when the pressures of fame and the music industry start weighing on Jane, she must face a past she's long since tried to bury before she fades into the background.

I'm a sucker for a "Behind the Music" trope and this one did it fantastically. Brodie's writing has this gritty quality to it that feels very true to the era. She fully embraces that hard lifestyle that was running rampant during the 1970s where everything was sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I loved how she weaved all these different viewpoints together from Jane's relationship with her family to Jesse to the sexism she faced in the music industry. Everything flowed so nicely into one another which made for such a compelling and captivating story. Jane was so resilient and I admired how she wasn't one to back down from situations where someone was trying to stifle her. She and Jesse had such a tumultuous relationship so there are a lot of ups and downs throughout the book, with each having their demons to conquer. I think Brodie did a great job of handling their issues and making them feel real. The emotions are supercharged from beginning to end and there were times I felt just as drained as Jane. My favorite part of this was all the interactions between Jane and her band and getting insight into the recording process/songwriting. Jane's treatment is so different than her male bandmates and it's sad how that's still prevalent today, but she always faced down every obstacle that was thrown her way. If you're looking for the perfect beach read, or if you're a fan of Daisy Jones & The Six, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Let's Talk: The Inheritance Games Series

Hello, all!

It's no secret I'm a fan of a compelling and fun mystery. I'd heard a lot of hype surrounding The Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lyn Barnes, so I decided to check it out. It quickly became one of my favorite YA mystery series! I'd heard it compared to the movie Knives Out, and aside from the eccentric wealthy family, I didn't see too many other similarities, but if you enjoy that sort of vibe, I'd recommend checking these out. I can't wait for the third book which comes out later in the year!

Pub Date: 9-1-20
YA - Mystery

The Inheritance Games: The only plans Avery Grambs has for the future are to pass high school, and get a scholarship to a good college that will take her away from her hometown. Ever since her mom passed away, Avery has had to struggle-- constantly working and occasionally sleeping in her car when her half-sister's sleazy boyfriend is living in their apartment. Then out of nowhere, Avery's life is completely turned on its head when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves his estate to her. Avery's certain there must be some mistake since she's never even heard of Hawthorne before, but to her shock and confusion, it's all legal. The only catch to her inheritance? She has to live a full year at Hawthorne House, Tobias's sprawling Texas estate, full of secret passages and puzzles. Occupying the mansion with her are the four Hawthorne grandsons and their family who were just dispossessed. Two of the grandsons believe Avery to be the last riddle their grandfather left them to crack, and when someone seems to want to take Avery off the playing board for good, she'll have no choice but to play the Hawthorne's games.

I enjoyed this way more than I was anticipating. It was captivating and engaging right from the beginning. The idea of a seemingly random stranger inheriting a family's fortune was wild and led to some interesting conflicts between characters. There was so much about this that I liked, from the characters to the plot itself. I found it fun following along with Avery as she tried to ferret out the clues to Tobias' will, and how she fit into it all. I also liked the Hawthorne grandsons, even though I still don't know if I trust any of them, and thought Xander added a nice amount of humor to this. Barnes did a great job creating an intriguing mystery that kept you guessing the whole time by puzzling out riddles and hidden clues. I only had two problems with this: Firstly, there are hints of a love triangle brewing between Avery and two of the Hawthorne brothers, and that's not a trope I particularly love (and which I thought felt unnecessary given the brother's past); Secondly, I still don't fully understand why Avery was chosen to inherit everything, so I'm hoping the lingering questions I have will be addressed in the second book. Aside from that, I thought this was a solid start to the series.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 9-7-21
YA - Mystery

The Hawthorne Legacy: After inheriting a billionaire's fortune, Avery Grambs found her whole world turned upside down. She went from sleeping in her car to living in a sprawling Texas estate. Tobias Hawthorne was a complicated man who loved riddles and puzzles, and the biggest one he left his family was Avery. With the help of two of the four Hawthorne grandsons, Avery has been trying to piece together why a stranger would have left her anything. Thanks to a DNA test, Avery knows she isn't a secret Hawthorne, but her investigation leads her to discover she may have a deeper connection to the family than she realized. Avery may be the only person who knows the whereabouts of Toby Hawthorne, the Hawthorne son who was thought to have died years prior, and that information could get her killed.

Sometimes I'm wary of going into second books because I worry they may suffer from "second book syndrome." I always think it won't live up to the first book, and I'll be disappointed, but that wasn't the case here. It was as good, if not better than the first. Once again, Barnes sucks you into this crazy investigation and this family who is more likely to shoot you than hug you. I loved getting to learn more about Avery and her background, and finally getting to see how she ties into the Hawthorne family. You think her connection to Toby will play out in a certain way, but then Barnes flips the script. One of my favorite things about mysteries is not being able to guess what's going to happen, and Barnes does a great job at throwing so many plot twists at you that you can never be too sure what's going to occur. Even though there were so many aspects I loved about this, I still had the same nitpicky issues as the first. I'm not a fan of the angsty love triangle between Avery, Grayson, and Jameson, and there are times when the plot and character's reaction to things doesn't seem plausible. We did get some answers in this, but I feel like there's still a lot that we don't know, but I'm excited to see where it goes from here.

Rating: 4.5/5

Have you read this series yet? Lemme know what you thought!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Blog Tour: Love at First Spite Review

Hello, all!

I hope you're all having a nice start to the new year! Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins was on my Most Anticipated of 2022 list, so massive thanks to the publisher for having me on the blog tour!

Pub Date: 1-4-22
Adult - Contemporary

Dani Porter is out for revenge. She was supposed to get married and live happily ever after in a beautiful house, but now she's sleeping on her cousin's couch after her fiancé cheated on her with the realtor who sold them said beautiful house. Dani knows she should be the bigger person, but where's the fun in that? She decides the best way to get back at her ex is to make his life miserable, and she knows just the way to do it. Dani's going to buy the vacant lot next to her ex and put up the most obnoxious rental home.

As an interior designer, Dani already has plans laid out, but she needs an architect who won't mind working on her project she's aptly named the Spite House. But her plans hit a little bump when the only person at her firm available to take on the job is Wyatt Montego, who's as handsome as he is stuck-up. Wyatt is known for taking charge of his projects, but Dani refuses to let anyone come between her and her sweet revenge. As the pair spend time together both on- and off-site, Dani starts to realize there's more to Wyatt than his grumpy façade, but will her petty quest ruin her chances to build something real?

I thought the premise of this sounded hilarious, but I didn't love it as much as I was hoping to. It was a fun ride, and I liked the girl gang vibe Dani had with her cousin Mia and her landlady Iris, but I think Dani's revenge plot was a little too extreme. Dani is so laser-focused on annoying her ex and there's so much time placed on this house, only for it to wrap up in such an underwhelming way. I did like seeing the relationship between her and Wyatt grow, and thought they were cute together, but there was never any part that had me particularly rooting for them. Everything about this, from the plot to the characters, just felt a bit average. If you're into workplace romances and are looking for a quick read, then I still think this would be a good one to pick up. I just don't think it's going to be that memorable for me.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, December 31, 2021

December Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Before we get into the books I read this month, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy, (hopefully) healthy and safe New Years!


Audio:

Dark Tales- Shirley Jackson; 3/5
Daughter of the Deep- Rick Riordan; 3/5
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music- Dave Grohl; (I've decided to not rate memoirs going forward, but it was really good!)
The Yell Wall-Paper- Charlotte Perkins Gilman; 3/5
The Great Hunt- Robert Jordan; 4/5
How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days- K.M. Jackson; 2/5
All the Murmuring Bones- A.G. Slatter; 2.5/5
The Last Magician- Lisa Maxwell; 3/5

Digital:

The Mistletoe Motive- Chloe Liese; 5/5
King of Battle and Blood- Scarlett St. Clair; 2/5
Lucky Leap Day- Ann Marie Walker; 3/5
Always Only You- Chloe Liese; 5/5
The Siren of Sussex- Mimi Matthews; 3/5
Love at First Spite- Anna E. Collins; 3/5
With You Forever- Chloe Liese; 4/5
Kiss the Girl- Melanie Jacobson; 2/5

Physical:

The Ballerinas- Rachel Kapelke-Dale; 2/5
The Rose Code- Kate Quinn; 4/5
Donut Fall in Love- Jackie Lau; 2/5
All of Us Villains- Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman; 3/5
Athena's Child- Hannah Lynn; 3/5
The Bright and Breaking Sea- Chloe Neill; 4/5

Some favorites were: Always Only You, The Bright and Breaking Sea, and The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. Some least favorites were: King of Battle and Blood, How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days, and All of Us Villains.

What were some of your favorite/least favorite reads this month?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021 Reading Wrap-Up

Hello, all!


I don’t know about you, but I feel like I blinked and 2021 was over. I didn’t think that I was going to top my reading from last year, but then I became a permanent work-from-homer, my mental health took a slight nosedive for a bit, and the world started going downhill again, which all contributed to a grand total of 286 books read for this year.

I had mentioned in my wrap up for last year that I wanted to try and find another way of tracking my reading that would break it down more in-depth than what GoodReads provides. I ended up finding a great log from Book Riot (here's a link to their 2022 Reading Log if anyone's interested!), and I loved seeing my reading all broken out! I’m not going to go through all the stats, but I wanted to highlight a few:


Book Source: I’m hoping to keep this going and utilize the library even more next year. I also want to try and read more of my own TBR.


Genre: I always knew that fantasy and contemporary were my most read genres, but I loved seeing it broken down. This also helped me see what genres I don’t gravitate towards (I love sci-fi movies, but sci-fi books not so much) and what I’d like to read more of (lookin’ at you, non-fiction.)


Format: I always thought that I read more physical books than anything, so I was a little surprised at how well-balanced this turned out to be.


Audience: I just thought this one was interesting to see where my overall tastes leaned towards.

Now for my favorites of the year:

Enjoy the View- Sarah Morgenthaler: This is the third installment in the Moose Springs, Alaska series. This contemporary series is full of fun banter and steamy scenes, and the imagery makes me want to hop a flight to Alaska ASAP.

A Court of Silver Flames- Sarah J. Maas: Like pretty much everyone else, I’d been dying to get a Nesta/Cassian story, and SJM more than delivered. The character and emotional development were stunning, and I’m pretty sure this is my favorite in the series so far.

The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah: I’m not typically an emotional reader. I don’t usually get choked up when I know that something is fake, but when I tell you this book got me good. This is one of the best historical fictions I’ve ever read.

The Witch’s Heart- Genevieve Gornichec: I was a little hesitant going into this one since I’m not familiar with Norse mythology, but the writing was so accessible. It was such a beautifully written story about family, love, betrayal, and the strength of a woman. I’m excited to pick up whatever else Gornichec comes out with.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels- India Holton: This was one of those books where I hadn’t even gotten 50 pages in before I knew it was going to be a favorite. The writing was so sharp and clever and had me laughing out loud. I’m also a sucker for a sassy leading lady and Cecilia had it in spades.

Very Sincerely Yours- Kerry Winfrey: Have you ever felt like a book was written for you? That’s how I felt about this one. It had such You’ve Got Mail meets Mr. Rogers vibes and I adored it. I related so much to both Teddy and Everett, and I thought their relationship was the sweetest.

My Cone and Only- Susannah Nix: Not only did this have a friends-to-lovers trope, but it was also the brother’s best friend trope, which I’m starting to realize I kinda love. The dynamic between Andie and Wyatt was effortless and their chemistry was off the charts. The next book in this companion series comes out next month, and you can bet I’ve already requested a copy through my library.

For Your Own Good- Samantha Downing: I don’t usually give thrillers 5 stars, but this one was well-deserved. I had such a fun time reading this. You pretty much know right off the bat who the killer is, but the anticipation of whether they’ll get away with it keeps you turning the pages. It was so fast paced and entertaining. It’s also being turned into a show on HBO and I can’t wait.

They Never Learn- Layne Fargo: Here’s another thriller that fully lived up to the hype. I’m not one to condone violence, but I spent the entire time reading this like, “Good for you!” This is chock full of morally gray characters that you know you shouldn’t root for, yet you do anyway.

Kingdom of the Cursed- Kerri Maniscalco: I will read anything that Maniscalco puts out. I love her writing style and the way she completely pulls you into the story. I thought this second book was solid and even more entertaining than the first. There were some bits I was able to figure out, but overall, I loved it and can’t wait for the next book.

Lore Olympus, Vol. 1- Rachel Smythe: I read this webtoon every week, so I was thrilled when I heard it was coming out in print. It’s such a fun take on Hades and Persephone and I can’t get enough.

Always Only You- Chloe Liese: I’ve only recently gotten into Liese’s books, but each one I pick up gets better and better. Not only does she craft enjoyable characters/storylines, but the breadth of representation in her books is unlike any other romance I've read. I related to this one so much since I also have rheumatoid arthritis like Frankie, so I could sympathize with what she was going through. This one is also a contender for the best book boyfriend award since Ren was everything.

Now, onto some goals for next year!

-Pace myself and read slower: I’ve always been a very fast reader, which on one hand is great because it means I can consume a lot of books, but it also means I don’t always remember what I read. If I read a book in January, there’s a 75-80% chance I’ll forget most of it by June. I could tell you if I liked it or not, but mostly everything else goes out the window. This is probably going to be a difficult habit for me to break because I’m so used to finishing a book and immediately picking up another, but I really want to try and stick to it.

-Read 150 books: Clearly, I always set my reading goal too low since the past few years I’ve blown past it, but I think this is a good benchmark, and one that is still achievable if I stick to my first goal of slowing down my reading.

-Read more non-fiction: This was one of my goals last year as well and I failed, so I want to bring it over to 2022.

-Start a BookTube channel (?): I've been watching BookTube for a few years now and have been toying with the idea of starting my own for almost as long. The main reason I talk myself out of it is because I'm not the most tech savvy person, so I know the editing/making thumbnails part will be frustrating, but we'll see. Let me know what you all think!

Let me know how you’re reading year went or some goals you have for next year!