Thursday, December 1, 2022

Well Traveled Review

Hello, all!

One of my favorite series is Well Met by Jen DeLuca, so I was pumped to receive a copy of the latest installment, Well Traveled. Big thanks to the publisher!

Pub Date: 12-6-22
Adult - Contemporary

Louisa "Lulu" Malone comes from a success-driven family and has dedicated years of her life to a job that will never appreciate her. When Lulu finally comes to this realization, she decides that she's had enough. Knowing that she needs a break from life, Lulu's cousin, Mitch, convinces her to escape with his friends to the Renaissance Faire. Lulu reluctantly agrees and soon finds herself hawking turkey legs and sleeping in a cramped motorhome with the Renn Faire Lothario himself, Dex MacLean. 

Dex MacLean is well-known on the Renn Faire circuit, not only for his family band, the Dueling Kilts but for having a girl at every stop. He's got that carefree, playboy persona down to a T, but the one person he isn't fooling is Lulu. For the first time in his life, a woman is immune to his charms, and Dex can't help but be intrigued. It doesn't take long for the pair to start opening up while stuck in such tight quarters, and soon Lulu is seeing another side to Dex that no one else has seen before. He's not just a pretty face like everyone says; he's driven and has plans for the future. Lulu knows her time on the road is dwindling, and her real life is catching up to her, but she can't help hoping those plans will include her.

I really enjoy this series. I find the Renn Faire setting so whimsical and charming, and it feels like getting a peek into a wacky summer camp. While I liked this latest installment, it wasn't my favorite. I thought it felt similar to the last book, especially with how Dex is perceived. He and Mitch both had that feeling of being portrayed as pretty faces with nothing of substance underneath, but then realizing they have so much more to give once you get to know them. Dex is also repeatedly referred to as this big playboy, but other than some flirting, he never really lived up to the rep. I did like him and Lulu and thought they worked well together. They both come from different worlds, so it was interesting seeing how they would find a balance. Though, I did think the ending resolution was a bit too convenient. Other than that, I thought this was fun but not the most memorable in the series.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November Reading Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Can you believe we're nearing the end of the year already? I can't wait to get into the festive mood!


Audio:

Daughter of Redwinter- Ed McDonald; 2/5
The Body in the Garden- Katharine Schellman; 4/5 (re-read)
The Duchess in His Bed- Lorraine Heath; 3/5 
Beyond Scandal and Desire- Lorraine Heath; 4/5
Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard- Tom Felton; *No rating for memoirs
Hamnet- Maggie O'Farrell; 3.5/5
Sorcery of Thorns- Margaret Rogerson; 4/5 (re-read)
The Cloisters- Katy Hays; 3/5
A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder- Dianne Freeman; 3/5
Thistlefoot- GennaRose Nethercott; 2/5

Digital:

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife- Ashley Winstead; 4/5
A Fire Endless- Rebecca Ross; 4/5
A Wicked Game- Kate Bateman; 5/5
A Light in the Ember- Jennifer L. Armentrout; 3/5
Mysteries of Thorn Manor- Margaret Rogerson; 4/5

Physical: 

The Duke Buys a Bride- Sophie Jordan; 3/5
Lore Olympus, Vol. 3; 4/5
Curse of the Reaper- Brian McAuley; 3/5
One Dark Window- Rachel Gillig; 3.5/5
Clytemnestra- Constanza Casati; 4/5
Two Wrongs Make a Right- Chloe Liese; 3.5/5

Some favorites were: A Fire Endless, A Wicked Game, and Beyond the Wand. Least favorites were: The Cloisters, Daughter of Redwinter, and The Duchess in His Bed.

How was your reading month? What was your favorite/least favorite read?

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 5-24-22
Adult - Historical Romance

The Bride Goes Rogue- Joanna Shupe:
 If it were up to Katherine Delafield, she'd be married by now. She's spent the last year betrothed to the son of her father's late business partner and real-estate tycoon, Preston Clarke, and now she's finally decided she's done waiting. When she ambushes Preston about wedding plans, he tells her in no uncertain terms that there's absolutely no way he's marrying her. Instead of wallowing, Katherine decides to sample all the New York nightlife has to offer and meets a mysterious stranger at a costume ball. The pair get on like a house on fire, but when the masks come off, Katherine is shocked to find it's none other than her ex-fiance. Preston never expected Katherine to be so alluring, and he can't seem to get his mind off of her and how she makes him feel. Is it possible this heard-hearted rogue is falling for his would-be wife?

Wowza, this book! It had everything I love in a historical romance. Witty banter? Check. A strong-willed main character? Check. A rogue with a squishy tender inside? Check. I enjoyed watching Katherine and Preston's relationship blossom from passionate trysts to forging a real connection. Katherine was so determined to take her life by the reigns, and I loved watching her put her dreams of opening an art museum into motion. Preston was one of those loveable anti-heroes who make many mistakes and bad choices, but you still can't help but root for them. Their chemistry was amazing, and they are probably my favorite couple in this series so far. I think the conflict at the end wrapped up a little too quickly (though I did love Preston's top-notch groveling), but other than that, I loved it. I can't wait for Nellie's book next!

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 10-20-20
YA - Fantasy

Among the Beasts and Briars- Ashley Poston: Growing up in Aloriya, Cerys was always taught to stay out of the woods. Dangerous creatures and diseases lurk in the forest, but the people are safe as long as they keep within the village limits. A hundred years ago, the first king of Aloriya struck a bargain with the Lady of the Wild, but as his land prospered, the woods deteriorated. After a brush with the forest took her mother and friends, Cerys knows all too well how dangerous the woods can be. But inside Cerys lives a tiny spark of the forest's magic, and when the creatures from the wood destroy her home, it's up to Cerys to try and stop them. She decides to seek help from the Lady of the Wild, and she's joined on her quest by a fox with secrets of his own, and a strangely powerful bear. Together the group must fight their way through the wood, but as they do so, they uncover even darker secrets lurking in its shadows.

I've had this on my TBR for ages, and I'm so glad I finally decided to pick it up. It was so much fun. Poston did such a wonderful job weaving together the world and characters. I loved the idea of this forest magic, and it was so interesting learning more about it and how it affects the people it infects, which was terrifying. I liked watching Cerys navigate through the woods, and the banter between her and Fox was great. I loved their playfully teasing dynamic, and even though I figured out who Fox was, I liked how it all came together. Poston's writing was lush, descriptive, and so easy to fall into. I flew through it, and read the majority in one day because I didn't want to put it down. The plot may have been a bit predictable and had many of the classic YA fantasy tropes, but I would still recommend it if you're looking for something entertaining that would be perfect for the fall.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 7-21-22
Adult - Historical Fantasy

Ten Thousand Stitches- Olivia Atwater: Euphemia "Effie" Reeves has a big problem: she's fallen in love. Mr. Benedict Ashbrooke is a gentleman, and gentlemen don't marry their housemaids, but Effie can't help but dream of becoming his wife. But then she meets a faerie named Lord Blackthorn who is eager to help her fulfill her wish. Effie knows it's dangerous to enter into faerie bargains, but what harm can it do when her life is already terrible? The pair agree that Lord Blackthorn will help turn Effie into a lady, thus winning Benedict's heart within one hundred days, and in return, she'll embroider ten thousand stitches onto his favorite jacket. It sounds simple enough to Effie, but when Lord Blackthorn keeps accidentally mucking up the plan with his good intentions, she realizes that maybe her heart has belonged to another the whole time.

Given my love of regency romance and fantasy, you would think I'd eat this series up. Sadly, I can't help but feel completely underwhelmed by it. I enjoyed the first book but felt it was lacking something, and the same can be said for this one, too. It was as if the plot was never fully formed. Maybe it's because the length is so short, but everything felt glossed over. The characters were one-dimensional, the relationship between Effie and Lord Blackthorn was flimsy, and the plot was boring. Lord Blackthorn was like a dopey golden retriever, and it did make for some cute moments, but that was it. I enjoy the cozy vibe, but I think it would've benefitted by having more magic and a more cohesive plotline.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, November 24, 2022

End of the Year Book Tag

Hello, all and Happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends!

I saw this tag floating around BookTube so I wanted to give it a go.


1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? 

No, not finishing books stresses me out so I have to finish whatever I'm reading before going on to something else. Unless I'm really not vibing with a book in which case I'll just DNF it rather than putting it down.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I just picked up The Cloisters by Katy Hays that I think will be perfect for this time of year. 

3. Is there a new release you're still waiting for? 

I can't wait for A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross to come out in December. It's the follow up to A River Enchanted which was probably my favorite book I've read all year.

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? 

I'd like to read Hester- Laurie Lico Albanese, and I'd like to continue with my re-reads of the Percy Jackson and Throne of Glass series since I wanted to read them both this year and sorta failed 😅

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year? 

I mean, sure. I always go into every book hoping it'll be a new favorite, so hopefully any that I pick up will do the trick.

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2023?

No way. I'm a total mood reader so I never plan out my reading. I just pick up whatever looks interesting at the moment.


Here are the questions if anyone else wants to participate. Let me know if you do as I'd love to see your answers!

Questions:- 

1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? 

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? 

3. Is there a new release you're still waiting for? 

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? 

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year? 

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2023?

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

November OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "The Dark Heart of the Forest." Let's get into it!


First up, we had the next installment in their Literary Luggage pin collection. This one was inspired by From Blood and Ash and I really like the design here.


Then we had this bamboo travel toothbrush inspired by The Raven Cycle. I've never read that series, but I love a useful item.


Next, they included another of their Lord of the Rings ceramic bowls. This is inspired by Gondor, and features some quotes around the outside. 


I know I just said I love useful items, but this The Bear and the Nightingale soap dish holder seems so strange to me. I didn't realize enough people use bar soap to necessitate OwlCrate to make this one.


My favorite item was this reusable hand warmer inspired by Lakesedge and Among the Beasts and Briars. Everyone makes fun of the fact that my hands are always freezing (my mom dubs them my corpse hands), so I can't wait to use this.


The last item was a reading planner. As cute as I think these are, I never actually use them because I have my own reading trackers I like to use, so I always pass these off.





The book for this month was The Luminaries by Susan Dennard. This is set in a wild and mysterious woodland world where mysteries lurk and danger stalks the forest at night. Winnie Wednesday must learn to traverse the dark and fight for her life-- even if it means unearthing secrets that are best left uncovered.

I read an ARC of this book a few months ago, and sadly, I didn't love it, but I do think this edition is super pretty. Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

One Dark Window Review (The Shepherd King, #1)

Hello, all!

I've been craving an atmospheric fantasy lately, and I had seen One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig floating around BookTok, and I loved the cover so I figured I'd give it a go.

Pub Date: 9-27-22
Adult - Fantasy

Elspeth Spindle lives in the mist-locked kingdom of Blunder. Hundreds of years ago, its King was betrayed, and the throne usurped. Since then, the infection has plagued the land. Those who catch the fever are sentenced to death before developing the magic that will cause their bodies and minds to degenerate. When Elspeth was young, she caught the fever, but instead of turning her over to the King's cruel guards, her father sent her away to live with her aunt and uncle. For the past eleven years, Elspeth has had to hide the fact that she has magic, but it's getting increasingly difficult now that the monster inside her head is growing stronger.

Elspeth has tried to live a quiet life, not wanting to draw much attention to herself, but when she crosses paths with a highwayman, all that changes. Suddenly, she finds herself thrust into a dangerous quest to steal Providence Cards, the magical keys to saving not just the land, but all those infected with magic. Elspeth is desperate enough to try anything to rid her mind of the monster within, but when her mysterious highwayman turns out to be the King's nephew and captain of his guard, the stakes get higher. With treason on the line, the pair must tread carefully to succeed. With suspicions arising and the darkness within her threatening to overpower her, Elspeth quickly learns that everything has a cost, especially when it comes to magic.

I've been intrigued by this book for a while, and I'm glad I finally picked it up. It has that eerie, creeping vibe that makes it perfect for the fall. I thought the magic system was super unique. It revolves around tarot cards which I don't think I've seen utilized in other fantasy stories. Each card has a different use and way they affect those that wield them, and I found it all so intriguing. It was also interesting to see how the fever manifested in different people. For Elspeth, she essentially absorbed the magic from a card she touched that caused a being to become trapped in her mind. Their dynamic was interesting because you could tell they had some respect for one another, but the monster was ultimately feeding off her. I also liked the relationship between Elspeth and Ravyn, and the interactions between all the secondary characters. When it comes to the actual plot, I did want a little more out of it. I didn't feel like a lot happened, but I was still entertained and am looking forward to continuing the series.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Currently...

Hello, all!

It's been ages since I did one of these, so I thought it was about time I rectified that.

Listening to:


Stick Season- Noah Kahan: The only album that could knock out Taylor's Midnights from my most played on Spotify is this one. I'm obsessed with this record. I love the folk-y indie vibe. The whole album is great, but some of my favorites are: "Northern Attitude," "Stick Season," and "Homesick."

Midnights (3am Edition)- Taylor Swift: If Taylor releases an album, it's obviously going on one of these lists. It took me a few listens to really get into the new songs, but now I'm loving it and I'm bummed I won't be around for her upcoming tour! Some favorites are: "Maroon," "Bejeweled," and "Dear Reader."

Being Funny In A Foreign Language- The 1975: I've never listened to The 1975 before, but I heard one song and it was such an earworm that I had to binge listen to the whole album. Some favorites are: "About You," "I'm In Love With You," and "When We Are Together."

Watching:


Ted Lasso:
My mom recently signed up for a free trial of Apple TV so that means I've got a free trial of Apple TV, and I knew I needed to watch Ted Lasso. I fully get the hype. This show is so good. I tried to savor it, but binged it too quickly and now I have to wait for the next season (and I guess actually sign up for Apple TV!)

Dickinson: Once I finished Ted Lasso, I jumped straight into Dickinson. I love satirical takes on historical figures, and I love Emily Dickinson, so this is perfect. I had seen a few episodes when it first came out and really enjoyed it, so I'm excited to be able to watch the whole thing. 

House of the Dragon: I think we can all agree that the last season of Game of Thrones wasn't the best, so I was apprehensive going into this spin-off, but I ended up liking it a lot. I thought the casting was great, the costumes were gorgeous, and the cinematography was beautiful. I can't wait for next season.


Misc.:


Vanilla Cookie Crunch wax melts:
At any point throughout the day, I'm burning a candle. I got a wax melter for my birthday a while ago, but only recently become obsessed with it, and this is by far my favorite scent I've found. It smells exactly like a buttery shortbread cookie and I can't get enough. I've been stocking up on it so I never run out.

Kyra Pro walking work outs: I like to think I'm fairly good about working out, but I wanted to mix it up a bit. I needed something that was going to be apartment friendly and not too intense, and some of her videos popped up while I was browsing YouTube, and I love them. She has a mix of different work outs, but I've been digging her walking ones. My favorites so far have been the Harry's House, Hamilton, and '90s hits. I definitely recommend checking her videos out if you're looking for quick and fun work outs! 

emilybites.com: Going hand-in-hand with the above, I also wanted to fix my diet. Thanks to my mental health, I gained a ton of weight and was the heaviest I'd ever been, so I signed up for Weight Watchers over the summer and I owe a lot of my success to this blog. My friend told me about it, and everything I've made so far has been delicious. Even if you're not on WW, there are so many fast, healthier meal options on there.

Let me know some things you've been loving lately!