Thursday, January 23, 2020

OwlCrate January Review

Hello, all!

The first OwlCrate theme for the year was "Vengeance will be Mine", so let's get right to it.


First up was this little storage pocket mirror designed by OwlCrate based off Nevernight. I always love a pocket mirror, and the fact that this has three little cubbies inside will make it super convenient to take on trips to put medicine in or other small bits.


I'll never pass up a candle! This one is by A Court of Candles and was inspired by Children of Blood and Bone. It says they put different versions in the boxes and I got Lighter, which is very orange-y, but I don't actually mind it too much.


Much like candles, I will never say no to socks. We had gotten a pair of Six of Crows ones in a past box, so I'm pumped to get a pair dedicated to the next book in that duology.


Then we had this pin banner based on The Hobbit designed by In the Reads. I'm actually not a huge fan of The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, so while I think the design is cool, I'll probably pass this along to someone else.


Finally, my favorite item! This month we got the next Harry Potter mug from Cara Kozik. I absolutely love all the other mugs she's done, and this one based on Order of the Phoenix is no exception! The detail! The artwork! Everything is so amazing.


The book this month was Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim. This is basically a gender-swapped re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo. It follows Amaya, who has been held captive on a debtor ship for years, and one day she decides to rescue a stranger from drowning. In return, this stranger offers her a chance to start over, riches beyond her wildest dreams, and the chance to seek revenge on the man who wronged her family and ruined her life. The deeper Amaya dives into this new life, the more complicated her situation becomes. Especially when she meets the son of the man she's plotting to take down.

What do you think of this month's box? Lemme know!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Next Year in Havana Review

Hello, all!

My maternal grandma is Cuban. Her family came to America in the 1930's, but she spent a lot of her childhood/early teens in Cuba. I've always been fascinated about learning more about her time there, and this past May, my second cousin and I finally got to visit Havana. It was definitely an emotional trip for us, we heard stories growing up from our grandmothers, but actually being there walking the same streets as them was something entirely else. What made the trip even more special was we found family that we didn't even know existed. We went to the address where our grandma's would stay while in Cuba, and we found their cousin, one of her daughters, and granddaughter. It had been 70 years since my grandma and my cousin's had been back to Cuba, and after the revolution, they lost all contact with their family there. Neither they nor their cousin knew if the others were still alive. Now, I speak to my Cuban family all the time, and I'm so thankful and grateful for that trip. (You can read all about my trip here, here , and here.)

Seeing as how I had that experience, my friend has constantly tried to get me to read Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, to the point where she just ended up buying it for me. (Thanks, Melissa!)

Pub Date: 2-6-18
Adult - Historical Fiction
In Havana, 1958, Elisa Perez is a 19-year old Cuban socialite. Her father is a well-known sugar baron, who has done everything in his power to keep Elisa and her sister's sheltered from the political unrest that runs rampant in Havana. Despite her father's best interests, Elisa finds herself falling for a passionate revolutionary, and she must keep their relationship a secret for both their sake.

In 2017, Marisol Ferrera is a Cuban-American living in Miami who has grown up hearing stories about her grandmother Elisa's lavish life in Cuba before their family had to flee due to the revolution. After her grandmother passes, her last wish is for Marisol to scatter her ashes back in her homeland. Once Marisol arrives in Havana, she learns that there's more to Cuba than the stories her grandmother told her.

This book was absolutely beautiful. Cleeton's writing transports you and makes you feel as if you're actually in Cuba watching this all unfold. I knew bits and pieces about the revolution, but nothing to the extent of where this story goes. No part in this story is sugar-coated, and it was so eye opening and heartbreaking. I loved the dual timelines/perspectives, and how you really get the full picture of what Elisa's and Marisol's family went through. That was my favorite part of this, the family ties. The loyalty and love woven throughout this was so great. I also think the romances were nice and not too over the top. Being part Cuban myself, and getting the opportunity to visit Havana and discover family I didn't know, made this book hit so close to home that much more. If you're looking to get swept up in a story, this is definitely it.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Will and the Wilds Review

Hello, all!

Big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the copy of The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg!

Pub Date: 1-21-20
YA- Fantasy
Enna has lived her whole life in fear of the mystings that roam the woods near her small village. When one of these monsters breaks into her home and attacks her, Enna decides to take matters into her own hands. She summons Maekallus, a trickster Narval, to track down the Gobbler who attacked her, but she soon learns his help is not for free. His price? Just one kiss from Enna. The catch? She'll lose her soul.

After the pair strike a deal, Maekallus gets trapped in the mortal world which slowly starts to eat him alive. Only a willing kiss from Enna can help slow the process and save him. The downside to this temporary solution is the more kisses she gives, the more he starts to feel emotions he has never felt before. If Enna isn't able to find a way to break the binding spell on Maekallus, he'll be consumed completely taking her soul with him. If that wasn't enough, the pair must fend off an army of mystings hell bent on invading Enna's world in search of an ancient magical stone. The very same stone that Enna wears upon her wrist.

I thought the premise of this was really solid, but I didn't fully love the execution. I felt the romance between Enna and Maekallus fully took over the plot, and the mysting army that the pair were supposed to be fighting sort of fell by the wayside. In fact, when the big conflict did arise, it was over so quickly that it felt like there was no point to it at all. I also didn't feel any chemistry between them, so the romance just didn't seem believable to me. I wish we learned more about the Deep, the land of the mystings, and just more about them in general because all the different varieties seemed so interesting. Despite that, I did think the world was fun to read about and it was definitely very whimsical and a bit dark, I was just hoping for slightly more.

Rating: 2.5/5

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Girls with No Names Review

Hello, all!

The majority of the historical fiction I read tends to take place in England, so when I heard about The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick and how it's based in the early 1910's New York, I knew I wanted to pick it up. Big thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy!

Pub Date: 1-7-20
Adult - Historical Fiction
Born with a heart defect, Effie Tildon wasn't meant to live a very long life. Now, coming on 14 years old, she's grown accustomed to the overprotective and sheltered life she's lived along with her older sister, Luella, in their large family mansion. Determined to have a little fun, the pair start sneaking out and roaming the gypsy camps in the woods by their home. Here, Luella especially, starts to open up and enjoy all the things in life they had been kept away from, and her brazen attitude comes out tenfold after the girls accidentally stumble upon a secret their father has been keeping.

One morning, Effie wakes to find Luella gone, and she's convinced her parents have found out about the gypsy's, and have locked Luella up in the House of Mercy, a local home for wayward girls. She hatches a plan to get herself committed in hopes of finding Luella and breaking her out, but when she realizes she's made a grave miscalculation, the only hope for her survival is Mable, a tough girl with secrets of her own. The pair must learn to put their differences aside and truly trust one another if they mean to make it out alive.

This book had me completely hooked. It's told in three perspectives: Effie's, Mable's and Effie's mother, Jeanne. In Mable's case, it's mostly flashbacks detailing how she came to be in the House of Mercy, and all the hardships and betrayals she's had to face. I thought her backstory was so interesting and really pulled the curtain back on how life was like for young girls during this time period. She was such a strong character, but being on this journey with Effie and the way they interacted, brought an almost vulnerability to her that softened her hardness. I thought Effie grew so much throughout this as well. She started off a naive child who needed to be cared for and blossomed into one who could stand on her own and wasn't afraid of succumbing to her "blue fits." Aside from the characters, I thought that the setting felt very real to New York in the 1910's; it was gritty, grimy and unforgiving. My only small gripe was that I felt the story was a tad slow at times, and I would've loved to learn a bit more about the House of Mercy (which was a real place at the time), but other than that, I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Little Bookshop on the Seine Blog Tour

Hello, all!

As a book lover, whenever a story takes place in a bookshop, it immediately goes on my TBR. Big thank you to Harlequin for having me be a part of the blog tour for The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin!

Pub Date: 1-7-20
Adult - Contemporary
Sarah Smith lives a small but quaint life surrounded by books. Never one to go against the grain, when the option to switch bookshops with her outgoing Parisian friend, Sophie, unexpectedly comes up Sarah jumps at the chance. Spending a few months in the romantic literary city is sure to be an experience of a lifetime, but Sarah soon finds out it's not at all as it's cracked up to be.

Sarah was hoping the Once Upon a Time bookshop would be her chance to break out of her shell and really come alive, but she feels more out of place than ever. From rude coworkers to ruder customers, Sarah has to fight for even the smallest bit of respect. It doesn't help that her travelling reporter boyfriends calls have gotten even fewer and far between. As the sales in Sophie's shop keep plummeting under Sarah's management, while hers are thriving under Sophie's, Sarah can't help but think she made a terrible mistake. Slowly, as she starts to carve out a life and friends in Paris, and with Christmas fast approaching, Sarah is determined to get the shop, and herself, back together and make her happily ever after a reality.

I really wanted to love this, but I ended up just thinking it was okay. I loved the idea of this gorgeous Parisian bookshop, but most of the staff there were just so arrogant that I didn't like most of them. I liked Sarah and really enjoyed watching her blossom into this independent woman, and I liked her dynamic between TJ and Oceane, but everyone else I could take or leave. The writing wasn't my favorite either; I felt it came off a bit unrealistic and pretentious at times. Sarah and Ridge's romance was alright, but didn't give me all the feels I was hoping for. Although I didn't end up loving this, I still would recommend it if you're looking for a quick holiday read.

Rating: 3/5

For more information on the book, check out the below!


Buy Links: 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Love Hate Thing Blog Tour

Hello, all!

You all know how much I love hate-to-love and second-chance romances, so I'm really excited to be a part of the blog tour for A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison. For my part, I'll be giving you all a review of this new YA contemporary. Big thanks to Inkyard Press for having me!

Pub Date: 1/7/20
YA - Contemporary
The last place seventeen year old Tyson Trice wants to spend his summer is in the wealthy community of Pacific Hills with a family he hasn't seen in ten years. Coming from the rough streets of Lindenwood, he knows he's in for nothing but stares and judgments, but after recovering from a gunshot wound and losing his family, Tyson doesn't really care about much. Especially not reconnecting with his childhood friend, Nandy Smith, whose family has taken him in.

Golden girl Nandy has it all laid out for her: she has the perfect boyfriend, the perfect grades, the perfect friends, and the last thing she needs is a thug from the 'Wood ruining the reputation she's taken so long to build. The more time the two spend bickering, the more the tension and underlying feelings they have for one another grows. As the pair start to rekindle their friendship, Tyson helps bring Nandy back out of her shell, and Nandy tries to show Tyson that holding onto his anger will do nothing but hurt him more in the end. As they try to navigate through their new way of life, the ever-present pull back to Lindenwood may prove too much for Tyson to resist.

I was a huge fan of The OC back in high school/college and this gave me all the same vibes. There was all the needless drama and overreactions that you'd expect in an early '00s teen show, as well as its predictability. While I did enjoy it, I was able to tell where the story was going before it got there, so that dropped it down a bit for me. I did really like Tyson and how complex he was. He goes through so much in this, and I love how he sought refuge in his writing. Nandy starts off being a bit of a spoiled brat, but eventually gains a whole new understanding and perspective of her world which was nice character growth. Their romance didn't blow me away, but it was cute. I also really liked the side characters, and would love to read a spin off about Shayne and Kyle. All in all, if you're craving a teen drama in your life, check this one out.

Rating: 3/5


More info about the book can be found here:

Buy Links: 

Friday, January 3, 2020

Top 5- 2020 Goals

Hello, all and Happy New Year!

I'm not usually one for resolutions because I never tend to stick to any and then feel like a failure. However, with the start of a new decade, I figured I'd try something new. Here are just a few things I want to keep in mind heading into this chapter of life:


1. Work on my mental health: This past year or so has really taken a toll on me anxiety/depression wise, so I really want to work on pulling myself out of this slump and getting back to enjoying life.

2. Put down books I don't enjoy: For some reason, I always feel bad DNF-ing a book, so no matter how much I'm not liking it, I still force myself to finish. No more! I read somewhere that it takes 50 pages to get hooked on a book, so if by then I'm not feelin' it, I'm going to step away. My TBR pile is too long to waste it on books I don't enjoy.

3. Exercise and drink more water: I used to be really good about going to the gym and watching what I eat, but then I got lazy. I'm in my 30's now and I can't keep up the same diet I had in my early 20's. So, I'm going to try and be better about my choices and make it a point to get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. Also, I'm the worst when it comes to drinking water because I have the bladder of a fruit fly, so I'm perpetually dehydrated. So, if you ever see me around, just tell me to drink some.

4. Go out more: This'll definitely be the biggest hurdle for me since I am a hermit down to my very core. I love nothing more than curling up on my couch in a blanket burrito. A lot of my seclusion this year was just due to not feeling comfortable around a lot of people anymore, but I want to make it a point to see my friends and make fun memories going forward.

5. Spend less: I'm not terrible with money, but I don't feel I'm particularly good with it either. I feel like there's so many better ways I can be managing it, so I want to learn how. I want to try not to spend a lot on things I only want but don't necessarily need. Especially when it comes to books. I've been pretty good about utilizing my library rather than buying tons of books every month, so I want to continue doing that. If anyone has any money saving tips, please let me know!

What're some goals you have? Lemme know!