Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Under the Whispering Door Review

Hello, all!

Before we get into today's post-- I decided to refresh my blog a bit and switched up my theme. I had the old one for years, and I saw this book background and thought it fitting. I'm not sure if I like it yet or if I find it too busy. Let me know what you all think!

I read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune last year (review here) and fell head over heels with it, so his latest release, Under the Whispering Door, was one of my most anticipated for this year. Big thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for a copy!

Pub Date: 9-21-21
Adult - Fantasy

Wallace Price was a terrible man. He was a terrible husband, he was a terrible boss, he'd be a terrible friend too if he had had any of those. Wallace never much cared for the thoughts or feelings of others if they didn't somehow benefit him. He dedicated his entire life to work and making sure he and his law firm were the most successful, and if he struck fear in the hearts of those around him, all the better for it. But now he's dead, and all he has to show for his life is a very expensive coffin.

When a spunky reaper named Mei shows up at his funeral, Wallace is ready for her to lead him straight to the afterlife, but instead, Mei brings him to a curious tea shop in the middle of the woods. Wallace quickly realizes this tea shop, including its handsome owner, isn't ordinary. The locals know Hugo as just a tea seller, but his real job is as a ferryman, helping those like Wallace cross over. But Wallace isn't ready to leave the life he knew behind, especially when he never got a chance to live it in the first place. With the help of Hugo, Mei, and the other inhabitants of the tea shop, Wallace learns to appreciate all the small things he took for granted. When the powerful and mysterious cosmic being known as the Manager steps in and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace frantically strives to pack an entire lifetime worth of memories into seven short days. But now that he finally knows the true meaning of friendship, family, and love, will he be able to say goodbye?

Once again, Klune has ripped out my heart, stomping and healing it all at the same time. I'm not going to sit here and say it was flawless, but it's pretty dang close. I went into this expecting to fall in love immediately as I did with his previous book, but it wasn't necessarily the case here. It took about twenty to thirty percent before I was fully invested in the story and thought it found its rhythm, but when I finally fell, I fell hard. It's chock full of Klune's signature whimsy and charm, but it's not just lightness and fun. It's a story about death and grief, but it's also about family and love. Klune beautifully balances all these heavy topics with humor and tenderness. There's an underlying feeling of hope woven throughout, and it's such a delight to see how it all played out. Aside from the plot, my favorite part of this was the characters. As much as I adored Wallace and Hugo and all their sweet interactions tugging at my heartstrings, my favorite was Nelson. He had me laughing out loud the entire time and made this even more joyful to read. While I may not have fully clicked with the beginning, by the end, I didn't want to leave this world or these characters behind, and I'm sure I'll reach for this again and again.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 16, 2021

August OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for last month was "Dark Academia" and it was definitely one of my favorite boxes they've done!



The first item was this double-sided book sleeve inspired by The Raven Boys. I've actually never read this series, but you can never have too many book sleeves in my opinion.


I drink tea every single day, so you know I love getting new ones to try! I tend to stick with green or herbal teas, and this strawberry/raspberry/hibicus blend by Riddle's Tea Shoppe sounds right up my alley! It's also Truly, Devious inspired which I love. 


Another thing I can never have enough of is notebooks. This If We Were Villains one by @paperbackbones is actually a reading kit, so there's little sticky tabs you can use if you annotate your books. We love a cute and convenient item!




Then there was the third tin in their A Darker Shade of Magic collectible tins. This one is for White London, and I love how sleek and clean it looks.


How gorgeous is this metal bookmark?! It was designed by @paperbackbones and has a quote from The Secret History. I'm a little nervous about using it since it's so delicate I don't want to accidentally break it, so I may just use it as decoration.


The last item was this cute rubber book stamp created by Little Inklings Design. I was just joking with a friend about how I wanted to get one of these, so I was very excited when I saw it. 



The book for August was A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee. This is set at a prestigious boarding school with a long, dark history full of murder and witchcraft, and follows two students who will do just about anything to uncover all its secrets.

I actually read this last month and really enjoyed it (review coming soon!). It's so atmospheric and would make a perfect autumnal read. If I'm honest, I wasn't a huge fan of what OwlCrate did with the cover since it's so different than the original, but the more I look at it, the more I love it. It also has beautiful metallic silver sprayed edges and artwork on the reverse of the dust jacket.

Let me know what you thought of this box!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!


Pub Date: 9-7-21
Adult - Contemporary

A Spot of Trouble- Teri Wilson: Violet March and Sam Nash couldn't be more different. She's a bubbly baker, and he's a by-the-book fire marshal. The one thing they do have in common? They both own Dalmatians-- just like her owner, Sprinkles is enthusiastic but unruly, and Cinder is a well-trained fire dog who never puts a paw out of line. Ever since their first encounter, when Violet accused Sam of dognapping, the pair have been at odds. It doesn't help that Violet is the police chief's daughter, and the police and firemen of their small beach town have had a long-standing feud for as long as anyone can remember. Violet was hurt by a fireman in the past and Sam can't imagine living a life so unregimented as Violet's, but despite their differences, they can't help but feel pulled toward one another. When an innocent prank involving their dogs goes haywire, Violet and Sam's lives are turned upside down and there's no denying the spark between them any longer, so they might as well fan the flame.

I think this may be one of those times where I fell for the cover instead of the premise. I mean, look at it! It's so cute. While the premise may be adorable as well, the execution was way lacking. It almost felt like I was reading an outline of a story rather than the finished thing. Everything from the characters to the plot felt underdeveloped. I don't feel like you really got to know anyone in this story, let alone the main characters. I had more of an issue with Violet over Sam because she came off as so ditzy and not in a quirky way, more of an "Are you kidding?" way. She's supposed to be in her late twenties, but she read a lot younger. I did enjoy her friendship with the group of meddling elderly women in the senior home, though. Then there's the romance between her and Sam, if you can even call it one, which was so lackluster. There were a few funny banter bits, but ultimately, their dogs had more chemistry. I guess I was hoping for a little more meat in this one. It had so much potential with these two completely different people and the small town feud (which is also unsatisfyingly wrapped up in the last few paragraphs) it just needed to be less rushed and more fleshed out.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 6-8-21
Adult - Historical Fantasy

The Wolf and the Woodsman-Ava Reid: Being the only person in her small village without some type of power, Évike is an outcast. She's looked down upon for being barren and for her tainted bloodline since her father was a servant of the much-loathed king. When soldiers from the king come to the village to claim a girl for the king, Évike is betrayed and given up as a sacrifice. On the journey, Évike and the Woodsmen are attacked by monsters, leaving most of the party dead. Now, Évike and the cold one-eyed captain must rely on each other if they hope to make it to the capital alive. But Évike soon learns that her traveling companion is not just a soldier, but the disgraced prince and rightful heir to the throne. Gáspár reveals that his fanatic half-brother has plans to usurp the throne, and he and Évike strike a bargain to stop him. As their treacherous journey continues, the mutual hate they both had towards one another starts to thaw into something more tender. But can their blossoming feelings withstand the oppressive capital and the dark magic that seems to be stirring within Évike?

There's no denying that Reid's writing is beautifully lush and descriptive, and her world-building is incredible. That said, I sadly couldn't connect with the story. I found it quite dense at times, and I had a hard time fully grasping what was going on. It wasn't the fault of the story; I think it was just me. There were many aspects I enjoyed, such as the magic system and the romance between Évike and Gáspár. I liked following their journey from despising one another to finding common ground to eventually admitting their feelings. It is a very slow building attraction, but I thought it fit the tone perfectly. The Jewish folklore and Hungarian history influences were also a nice touch as they were something I wasn't that familiar with. Even though it didn't work for me, I can still appreciate that this was gorgeously written and touched upon very serious topics in a violent yet hopeful way.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 8-17-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Cheat Sheet- Sarah Adams: Bree Camden and her best friend Nathan Donelson have been in love with each other since they met in high school. The only problem is both have never been able to tell the other how they feel, and now years later, they both skirt around the issue whenever it's brought up. But after Nathan's ex-girlfriend writes an article slamming the NFL hunk as being terrible in bed, Bree accidentally (and drunkenly) spills her guts to a reporter trying to set the record straight. When the video of her goes viral, Nathan's agents pounce on the opportunity, and the pair agree to fake date for the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Bree should be jumping for joy at the chance of finally being with Nathan, but when all their flirting starts to feel dangerously real, she's more confused than ever. Could it be that the man she's loved her entire life wants her back? Or will this fake relationship ruin the best thing in both their lives?

I've only read a few books by Adams, but this one is by far my favorite of the bunch! It was completely charming and I couldn't get enough of Bree and Nathan. Their relationship was amazing and they both complemented one another so well. Bree was a total firecracker and Nathan had such a way of grounding her. Their friendship was such a highlight for me. They would both do whatever for one another and were so supportive. It felt natural and easy for them to transition from friends to something more, and there were quite a few times I found myself swooning over Nathan. There were occasions where I found Bree a little too immature, especially in regards to Nathan's ex, but for the most part, I liked her. I really enjoy Adams' writing style; it's quick-witted, and the banter always feels true and never too over-the-top. I always fly through her books because I never want to put them down. I definitely see myself re-reading this one in the future and highly recommend it if you're a fan of The Bromance Book Club series as this had the same sort of vibe.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) Review

Hello, all!

As stated in my last post, I've quickly become engrossed in The Diviners series, so much so that once I finished the first book, I immediately picked up Lair of Dreams. I've tried to keep this as un-spoilery as possible, but still heads up.

Pub Date: 8-25-15
YA - Historical Fiction/Paranormal

Henry DuBois III has a special talent. He, like his friend Evie O'Neill, is a Diviner, and dream walking is his specialty. Unlike Evie, Henry keeps his power to himself and his best friend, Theta. Henry uses his powers to traverse the dreamland desperately trying to find his lost love, Louis but has never been successful. Until the night he meets Ling Chan. Henry has never met another dream walker before, so he's instantly intrigued, but Ling wants nothing to do with him. Ever the persistent one, Henry refuses to let up, and the pair strike a deal: Ling will help Henry if he helps her uncover the root of the sleeping sickness which is ravaging the City leaving victims in its wake.

The pair discover their powers are heightened while together, and eventually, they're successful. Henry is reunited with Louis, while Ling meets a young woman named Wai-Mae, who has an uncanny ability to manifest entire objects within the dreamscape. Despite Theta's reservations about the sleeping sickness, Henry and Ling escape to the dream world night after night. Henry to spend time with his Louis, and Ling to learn how to harness her abilities with Wai-Mae. But the more time spent with Louis and Wai-Mae, the more Henry and Ling discover there's something very off. When Henry falls victim to the sleeping sickness, it's up to Ling, Theta, and the rest of the gang to fight off another supernatural being before it's too late.

There's always that slight fear going into a second book in a series that it won't live up the the first, but boy, did this one ever! I enjoyed following Henry in this one (especially because Evie was annoying the heck out of me) and delving into his backstory. As much as I love Henry and Theta's friendship, I thought he and Ling were great together. Henry is so goofy and puppy-like and Ling is completely no-nonsense and very scientific, so watching the two of them banter was hilarious. I'm still not fully sold on Jericho and Mabel, but I'm here for the rest of the gang, and can't wait to see how they all evolve and work together. I will say, I didn't think the Veiled Woman mystery was as gripping as the Naughty John case in the first book, and there were bits I figured out beforehand, but regardless, I enjoyed this. I also can't wait to see what happens next after the bombshell that was dropped at the end. Overall, this was a solid follow up, and I can't wait to continue with the series.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 4-20-21
YA - Fantasy

Witches Steeped in Hold- Ciannon Smart: Iraya has spent years behind bars with only dreams of freedom and vengeance keeping her company. Jazmyne is the daughter of the Queen who refuses to lay down her life to strengthen her mother's power. Iraya and Jazmyne may be sworn enemies, but to take down a dangerous threat, they must put their differences aside and work together. With each having their motives for revenge and the lure of power becoming increasingly more intoxicating, can Iraya and Jazmyne destroy their common adversary before turning on each other?

This is a hard one for me because there were aspects of the story that I liked but also a lot I didn't like. The main things I enjoyed were the setting and the magic system. I liked how this had a lot of Jamaican influences and Smart did a nice job of crafting the world around that. The magic was also lush and imaginative. My biggest issue with this was the characters. There wasn't a lot of defining characteristics between Jazmyne and Iraya so there were times where I couldn't differentiate between the two. Maybe if I had read this physically it would've been easier, but the audiobook narrators sounded very much alike which made it even more difficult to tell who was who. Aside from that, I also found this to be quite long and drawn out and think the pacing would've benefitted had this been 50-100 pages shorter. If you like stories with witches who are morally gray or twisty vengeance-fueled plot lines, it might be worth it to pick this up.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 1-4-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Off Limits Rule- Sarah Adams: Lucy has always done her best to be independent, but she has to face facts: she's a struggling single parent and she needs help. Luckily, she has an incredibly supportive brother who lets her move in with him, and he also happens to have a super hot best friend. Lucy is instantly attracted to Cooper, but her brother is dead set on them staying far, far apart due to Cooper's tendency to flirt with anything that moves and aversion to commitment. That doesn't stop the pair from sneaking moments alone whenever they can, and Lucy learns there's way more to Cooper than meets the eye.

Ok, this was adorable. I ate it up in one sitting because I just couldn't pull myself away. The characters are so fun and relatable. I did find Lucy slightly annoying at times, but for the most part, I enjoyed reading from her perspective. The family dynamic she had between her brother and her parents was everything. I loved how supportive they were of her and her son. She and Cooper's relationship was also so sweet, even though it was a bit insta-lovey, but I did wish that there was a little more build-up so it didn't feel as rushed. I also enjoyed how this one took the classic trope of the main girl getting sick and her love interest caring for her and flipped it to where Lucy was the one taking care of Cooper. I'd never seen that specific trope done that way before, which set it apart from others I've read. This was just so charming and funny, and I'm excited to pick up the next one!

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 9-14-21
Adult - Cozy Mystery

Death of a Red-Hot Rancher- Mimi Granger: Just because Lizzie Hale owns a popular romance book store doesn't mean love comes naturally to her. Everything she knows about that particular emotion came from the books that line the walls of Love Under the Covers. But she has bigger problems than not being able to find a man, and that's murder. When the eligible bachelor, Brody Pierce, is found stabbed to death, everyone in the small town of Tinker's Creek is on edge. No one knows what happened, but that doesn't stop fingers from pointing at Lizzie's aunt as the prime suspect. Determined to clear her aunt's name, Lizzie starts her investigation and soon uncovers that Brody had his fair share of secrets, and the list of people who loved and hated him is pretty equal. With time running out and a killer still on the loose, will Lizzie be able to get to the bottom of this crime of passion before it's too late?

I've only recently gotten into the cozy mystery genre, but I'm having so much fun with it, and this one was no exception! I was taken with the characters and the small-town vibe straight away. Lizzie was such a joy to follow. She's funny and a little awkward which made her seem realistic, and made you root for her to get to the bottom of this mystery. I loved how she used her knowledge of romance books and their tropes to aid her investigation. There were times when she came across aa a little judgmental, but for the most part, I liked her. Plot-wise, I thought it was fast-paced and kept my attention the whole time. It's not the most complicated mystery, and there were a few points I was able to guess, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment, and I still found the ending satisfying. Overall, if you enjoy cozy mysteries or are looking to start getting into them, I think this is a delightful one to pick up.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Blog Tour: Never Saw Me Coming Excerpt

Hello, all!

If you're like me and tend to read more mystery/thrillers during fall/winter, than you need to pick up Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian. This follows Chloe, who may seem like your average college freshman on the outside, but inside she's plotting the murder of the childhood friend who wronged her. Chloe and a select group of students are participating in a clinical study for psychopaths, but when one of the subjects is found murdered, it's a race against time to uncover the killer before Chloe is next. 

Pub Date: 9-7-21
Adult - Thriller

Big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour. You can read an excerpt below. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

I don't know about you all, but this month couldn't end fast enough for me! We're finally coming to my favorite season where my mentality fully switches over to that of Meg Ryan walking around NYC while The Cranberries play in the background. I've got a lot of good books lined up to read this fall, but first, let's go over the ones from this month. 


Audio: 

-Just One Damed Thing After Another- Jodi Taylor; 2/5
-The Rehearsals- Annette Christie; 3/5
-Neon Gods- Katee Robert; 2/5
-Gods & Monsters- Shelby Mahurin; 3/5
-On The Way to the Wedding- Julia Quinn; 3/5
-A Dowry of Blood- S.T. Gibson; 3/5
-All's Well- Mona Awad; 2/5
-The Dating Dare- Jayci Lee; 3/5
-The Bone Shard Daughter- Andrea Stewart; 3/5

Digital:

-The Tea Dragon Tapestry- Kay O'Neill; 4/5
-Stranger Things and Dungeons and Dragons- Jody Houser; 3/5
-Stranger Things: Science Camp- Jody Houser; 3/5
-A Spot of Trouble- Teri Wilson; 2/5
-These Hollow Vows- Lexi Ryan; 2/5
-Wasted Words- Staci Hart; 3.5/5
-Death of a Red-Hot Rancher- Mimi Granger; 3/5
-A Perfect Bind- Dorothy St. James; 3/5
-The Spanish Love Deception- Elena Armas; 2/5
-A Lesson in Vengeance- Victoria Lee; 4/5
-The Cheat Sheet- Sarah Adams; 4/5

Physical:

-The Layover- Lacie Waldon; 3/5
-The Heart Principle- Helen Hoang; 4.5/5
-Final Girls- Mira Grant; 3/5
-Amari and the Night Brothers- B.B. Alston; 3.5/5
-For Your Own Good- Samantha Downing; 5/5
-The Wolf and the Woodsman- Ava Reid; 3/5
-Beach Party- R.L. Stine; 2/5
-Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook- Liv Albert; 4/5

Some favorites were: The Heart Principle, For Your Own Good, and Wasted Words. Least favorites (there were sadly quite a few this month 🤷🏻‍♀️) were: These Hollow Vows, All's Well, and Neon Gods.

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