Thursday, July 11, 2019

Crashing the A-List Review

Hello, all!

You know what I love almost as much as a hate-to-love trope? A good ol' fake relationship-turned something more! Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock has all that and more, plus a dash of a swoony British male lead. Big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 7-9-19
Adult - Contemporary 
Clara Montgomery is down on her luck. After losing her job as a book editor, she moves onto her little brother's couch, and takes a job cleaning abandoned storage units. It seems luck is finally on her side when she stumbles upon a unit previously owned by an escort service. While digging through files of former employees of the service, Clara finds the "resume" of a younger Caspian Tiddleswitch, the massively famous British actor. Clara's best friend thinks she should sell it to the tabloids, but instead Clara tracks down Caspian's contact info to ensure him that his secret is in good hands. Unfortunately, Caspian misunderstands and seeks Clara out accusing her of blackmail.

After paparazzi pictures of the two are plastered all over the news, Caspian's PR people see it as an opportunity to promote his new film. In order to "atone" for her crimes, Clara must pretend to be in a loving relationship with the big British brute. That doesn't seem too hard for Clara, until her acting turns into something real.

I really loved the humor in this book. Clara's wit and banter really made the story for me, but I felt everything else fell a bit flat. I didn't feel much of a connection between her and Caspian, so I wasn't fully invested in the relationship itself. I could also tell where the story was heading before it got there which made it less exciting. It didn't feel fully formed to me. It was almost like a made-for-TV movie; it had all the right elements, but just needed that extra something to make it big league. Even though I was hoping for a bit more, I did enjoy this, but it just missed the mark slightly.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Season of the Witch Review

Hello, all!

As I've mentioned a few times before, I have a real soft spot in my heart for Sabrina the Teenage Witch. They were some of the very first comic books I ever read, and I never missed an episode of the 90s show with Melissa Joan Hart. So it was a bit of a no brainer that I would love The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I was obsessed with it from the very first issue, and was so excited when Netflix came out with the adaptation. Now, I have one more Sabrina thing to gush over: Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan. Big thank you to Scholastic for the copy!

Pub Date: 7-9-19

This is a prequel novel so it takes place right before the show during the summer before Sabrina's sixteenth birthday. Sabrina knows that her whole life is going to change very soon, so she's trying to spend as much time as possible living a normal life with her friends, Roz and Susie, and boyfriend, Harvey. But as time is starting to run out, Sabrina realizes leaving her mortal world behind for her witch one might be harder than she expected.

Sabrina always dabbled with magic with her aunts, but it isn't until she performs a spell with her cousin, Ambrose, that she really feels the full effect of her witchcraft. What starts out as a harmless little spell to show Sabrina Harvey's true feelings for her, snowballs into a dangerous cat and mouse game with an evil river demon who's set on possessing Sabrina for its own gain. Sabrina has always felt a pull towards her witch side, but now she's starting to worry that maybe it's leading her down a dark path she may not be ready for.

I was a little wary going into this book just because despite my love of Sabrina, I did have a few issues with the Netflix show, but all worries went out the window within the first few pages. I loved this. Brennan did such a wonderful job immersing you into Greendale and Sabrina's world. There were also snippets following the other characters as well, such as Harvey, Ambrose, and even Harvey's brother, Tommy, which was a really nice addition. I especially enjoyed getting to learn a bit more about Ambrose because I don't feel like the show has fully touched upon his story just yet. I did feel there were some clunky bits at times, but the story as a whole outweighed that. This was a super quick, fun tie-in to the show that I think any fan would enjoy.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Dragonslayer Review

Hello, all!

One movie I used to wear out playing when I was younger was DragonHeart. It had Dennis Quaid as a disgruntled knight and Sean Connery voiced the dragon. It was terrible and I loved it. Ever since I've had a soft spot for medieval set stories that feature dragons. So, Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton was a no brainer. Thank you to Tor Books for the copy!

Pub Date: 7-2-19
Adult - Fantasy 
Guillot dal Villevaurais was once a highly decorated soldier in the King's personal guard, but now he's a washed up drunk mourning the loss of his wife and child. To his surprise, the Prince Bishop calls upon him to help save the kingdom from a dragon that's woken up from centuries of sleep. After being run out of the capitol in disgrace years earlier, Gill isn't quick to jump up and protect the people who turned their backs on him. He's also wary to believe in the existence of a dragon, since the whole race was hunted to extinction by the ancient Chevaliers of the Seventh Circle thousands of years before Gill was even born. That is, until he witnesses the dragon ravage his lands and people.

On his journey to the capitol, Gill rescues a young woman named Solène who was about to be burned at the stake for being a sorceress. He believes her to be innocent, but soon finds out this woman actually is brimming with raw, unbridled magic. Fearing for her life, Gill tries to get her to run away, but the Prince Bishop has other plans for her. Believing that her power is the only way to destroy the dragon, he inducts her into his ranks. While there, Solène learns of a devious plan to overthrow the King which starts with Gill's death. Solène rushes to Gill's aid, and the two must use his rusty swordsmanship and her unstable magic to not only kill a dragon, but stop the Prince Bishop's plan before it's too late.

Dragonslayer definitely had all the elements that make for a great fantasy: magic, ancient beasts, knights, underlying danger and betrayal. I was hooked from the start and flew through this. I loved the subtle humor and sarcasm that Gill had. I was instantly drawn to Solène and this massive power she tried so hard to hide, but in the end embraces and lets empower her. I also enjoyed the little bits we got to see from the dragon's perspective, which you bet I read in Sean Connery's voice. My only issue was that for a book titled Dragonslayer, I expect more...slaying. I went in thinking that the whole story would revolve around killing this dragon, and while that is always the endgame, the story was more geared toward court politics and setting the scene for this plot of the Prince Bishop's. While the big confrontation between Gill and the dragon was satisfying, I just wish there were more of it. Despite that, I really enjoyed this and can't wait to see where else this series goes.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, July 1, 2019

This is Me Blog Tour: The Downstairs Girl Review

Hello, all!

I love historical fiction, so I'm beyond excited to be a part of Penguin Teen's This is Me Blog Tour for The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee.

Pub Date: 8-13-19

It's the turn of the 19th Century and Jo Kuan is a young girl just trying to get by in life as undetected as possible. She and her surrogate father, Old Gin, are one of few Chinese living in Atlanta in a sort of in-between state: not treated as badly as the African-Americans but certainly nowhere near the privilege of whites. After unjustly losing her job making hats, Jo is taken on as a lady's maid for the vicious daughter of one of the wealthiest men in town. While she spends her days being berated, she spends her nights pseudonymously penning the wildly popular newspaper advice column, "Dear Miss Sweetie", where she tackles the hot topics of societal norms.

After coming across a mysterious letter, Jo embarks on another quest: uncovering the family who abandoned her and discovering who she really is. When her investigation puts her in the sights of a notorious criminal, and the fevered backlash from her articles causes everyone to seek out who the real Miss Sweetie is, Jo must decide if she's strong enough to finally step out of the shadows and into the light.

I absolutely adored this book. It was insightful and brilliantly written, and I appreciated how Lee didn't sugarcoat anything so it felt very true to the time period. Jo was such a confident (even a bit mouthy at times), determined character and I really felt for her. I found myself getting mad or celebrating her small victories along with her. The arc that her character goes on throughout the story is so powerful. By the end, she really knows who she is and is secure in it. I also really enjoyed the side characters, especially Noemi and Nathan and even Bear. There were also twists in this book that I didn't see coming, which I always love. This was a book that I started recommending to people before I even finished it. If you're a fan of historical fiction or strong female leads, definitely check this one out.

Rating: 5/5

Also, check out the rest of the tour below!:

July 2 – YA Wednesdays – Creative Instagram Picture
July 3 – Awkwordly Emma – Author Guest Post: Her Research Process
July 4 – It Starts at Midnight – Moodboard
July 5 – The Reading Corner for All – Book Aesthetic

Thursday, June 27, 2019

LitJoy Crate June Review

Hello, all!

I recently cancelled my LitJoy subscription, so this'll most likely be the last box I get, but it was a pretty nice way to end off. The theme was Restricted Section, so let's get into it.

I've been craving a puzzle recently, so this was perfect. Plus, it has all my favorite bookworms on it: Matilda, Belle and Hermione. I can't wait to jump into this.

How adorable are these niffler book plates by Catarina Book Designs? I think these are so cute, and remind me of when I would borrow a book from my brother when we were young and he would legit make me sign it out like a library.

Can you have a restricted theme without something belonging to the Dark Lord? This replica from The Chamber of Secrets will go nicely in my notebook collection.

This tote bag is so fun. It's such a good size, really good quality, and I'm loving the design especially with the black and gold.

The book this month was Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. This was actually the same book we received in the OwlCrate box, so I'm not gonna go into the whole plot of the story again, but if you're a fan of magical libraries check this one out!

Lemme know what you all thought of this box!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

OwlCrate June Review

Hello, all!

This months theme was Libraries of Wonder, and it was one of my favorites that OwlCrate has sent in a while, so let's get to it.

First up was this adorable key gel pen. I always love stationery, and the fact that it matches perfectly with my bullet journal is a massive plus.

You can't have a box about libraries without including everyone's dream library. This Beauty and the Beast coffee was created by Book Beau, but since I'm not a coffee drinker I'll be passing this on to a friend.

Then we had these super cute literary inspired coasters created by KDP Letters. I also really enjoy the design on the packaging they came in.

Can we take a moment to appreciate how pretty these bookends by Hey Atlas Designs are? I've never gotten something like this in a box before, and I really dig them. The design is based on The Chronicles of Narnia and they are just so so nice.

The last item was this beautiful Strange the Dreamer inspired tote bag by Stella Bookish Art. I just love all the colors and the size is perfect.

The book this month was Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. All throughout her life, Elisabeth has been taught that all sorcerers are evil. Raised as an apprentice in one of the Great Libraries of Austermeer, Elisabeth has always been surrounded by dangerous magical grimoires, and hopes to become a Warden and protect the kingdom from their power. After she unwittingly stumbles into a plot to sabotage the Library, Elisabeth has no option but to team up with Nathaniel, a sorcerer, and his demonic servant to clear her name. As the alliance between the two begins to grow stronger, Elisabeth discovers a power inside herself that makes her start to question everything she's believed in her whole life.

It also came with this nice sticker and this months pin designed by Brio and Brandish. This is definitely my favorite pin so far. I'm also really excited to dive into this book cause I've heard such great things about it, and I always wanted to be a librarian (especially at a magical library!), so it checks all my boxes.

Let me know what you all thought about this months box!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) Review

Hello, all!

I read Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa last year and loved the anime vibes it had (review here), and I've been waiting to continue this story ever since. So big thank you to Netgalley for the copy of Soul of the Sword.

**Potential spoilers ahead**

Pub Date: 6-25-19 by
Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press
Young Adult - Fantasy
The story picks up pretty much right where the first book ended: The powerful demon Hakaimono has broken free of the cursed sword, Kamigoroshi, which held his soul for thousands of years, and possessed the demonslayer, Kage Tatsumi. With her protector and friend now gone, half-Kitsune Yumeko, must continue her quest of delivering part of the ancient Dragon Scroll to the elusive Steel Feather temple in order to stop the summoning of  the great Kami Dragon who will grant the wish of whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers.

While Yumeko and her band of merry misfits--including a noble samurai, a ronin, and a shrine maiden-- rush to deliver the scroll to the temple, Hakaimono joins forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse on the sword and finally set himself free for good. To do so, the pair must retrieve the Scroll first. As Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi paths continue to cross, Yumeko vows to save Tatsumi's soul and banish Hakaimono before their land is plunged into darkness forever.

I really enjoy this whole story. The characters mesh and work so well together. The relationship between the group is by far my favorite thing, especially Okame and Daisuke, their banter is everything. I also really liked how you got to see a little bit more of Tatsumi's background and upbringing in the Shadow Clan. You really understand how he became the person he is and the true weight of the burden he carries. All the Japanese folklore influence is again very interesting. My only issue with this one was the same as the first, the pacing just seemed a little off. It took a bit of time before it really hit its stride, but once it did, I was fully hooked into the story. I can't wait to continue the journey and see where else the story goes from here.

Rating: 4/5