Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Reading Wrap-Up and Favorites

Hello, all!

I'm a huge fan of GoodReads. I've only been using it for about 2 years or so, but everything about it is so convenient: you can add books that you want to read, keep a record of those you have read, rate and review books, and even browse lists of upcoming releases. I always love setting my GoodReads goal every year, and I thought it might be fun to go over this year's Reading Challenge.

I tend to set my reading goal on the lower side because I feel like if it's too high I might be setting myself up to fail. This year I went with 50, and as you can see, I sorta went a bit over that which really surprised me. This was easily my most productive reading year I think I've ever had, and I'm gonna say that was mostly due to getting more into audio books. I'm allowed to keep headphones in while I work, so I really took advantage of that. By doing so, and also reading a physical book, I would get through anywhere from 2-4 books a week. I'm also a fairly quick reader which helped bump up my reading count. I'm also going to list out my favorite reads for this year as well, which was a bit tough since I loved so many! Without any further ado, let's take a look:

I had a nice mix of newer reads and re-reads this year. As much as I enjoy discovering a new book or series to love, there's nothing that makes me happier than revisiting a world and characters that are so familiar to me. I definitely thought my average rating would've been a bit higher though cause I felt I read a lot more 4/5 stars this year.

Speaking of high ratings, let's move on to some of my favorites this year. I keep a bookish bullet journal, and at the end of each month I picked my favorite read, so here are 12 that really stood out to me:

1. Circe- Madeline Miller: I grew up obsessed with Greek mythology, and this was such a phenomenal take on this famous sorceress's story.
2. The Name of the Wind- Patrick Rothfuss: I don't know why it took me so long to read this, but I was completely sucked into Kvothe's story from the very first page.
3. Daisy Jones & The Six- Taylor Jenkins Reid: The hype surrounding this book is so real and so so worth it.
4. The Unhoneymooners- Christina Lauren: This was the first Christina Lauren book I'd ever read, and proceeded to binge them for the rest of the year. Talk about swoon-worthy.
5. Soul of the Sword- Julie Kagawa: This was the sequel to Shadow of the Fox and the whole series just gives me such anime-Studio Ghibli vibes and I'm here for it.
6. My Best Friend's Exorcism- Grady Hendrix: If you ever wanted to know what The Exorcist would be like if John Hughes wrote it, look no further.
7. Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating- Christina Lauren: Like I said, I binged a whooooole lot of their books, and I loved each one.
8. Well Met- Jen DeLuca: Enemies to lovers set at the Ren Faire? Sign 👏 me 👏 up.
9. Capturing the Devil- Kerri Maniscalco: I love the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, and thought this was such a solid ending to it.
10. Serpent & Dove- Shelby Mahurin: Another enemies to lover story I couldn't get enough of, but this time involving a witch who has to marry a witch hunter and all the shenanigans that ensues.
11. The Bromance Book Club- Lyssa Kay Adams: It was so refreshing to see a chick lit book written from the guys perspective, and Gavin was so charming.
12. The Girls with No Names- Serena Burdick: A really gritty, grimy look at two girls and the hardships they face in a home for wayward girls in 1910's New York which was so heartwarming yet heartbreaking at the same time.

Lemme know how your reading went this year, and if you had any favorites that stuck out!

Monday, December 30, 2019

End of the Year Book Haul

Hello, all!

I always tend to go a little overboard with book shopping towards the end of the year because of all the great sales. I already love Book Outlet and Book Depository for how inexpensive their books are, but add in all the Black Friday/Christmas deals and you can't go wrong. Here are some that I picked up the last two months or so, and some that were gifted to me. Most are ones I've already read but didn't have copies of, or were too pretty for me not to add to my collection. As always, let me know if you have any recommendations!

1. Faker- Sarah Smith
2. Coraline- Neil Gaiman
3. Earthsea; The First Four Books- Ursula K. Le Guin
4. The Bromance Book Club- Lyssa Kay Adams
5. The Time Collector- Gwendolyn Womack
6. The Hummingbird Dagger- Cindy Anstey
7. Crooked Kingdom (Collectors Edition)- Leigh Bardugo
8. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga (Novelization)- Stuart Moore
9. The Girl He Used to Know- Tracey Garvis Graves
10. The Ruin of Kings- Jenn Lyons
11. The Devil's Thief- Lisa Maxwell
12. Kingdom of Ash- Sarah J. Maas
13. Keeper of the Lost Cities-  Shannon Messenger
14. Next Year in Havana- Chanel Cleeton
15. The Lies of Locke Lamora- Scott Lynch
16. The Name of the Wind- Patrick Rothfuss
17. The Wise Man's Fear- Patrick Rothfuss
18. The Cruel Prince- Holly Black
19. The Wicked King- Holly Black
20. The Queen of Nothing- Holly Black
21. Matilda- Roald Dahl
22. My Hero Academia; Vol 1
23. Little Witch Academia; Vol 1
24. Ancient Magus' Bride; Vol 1
25. Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid; Vol 1

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

OwlCrate December Review

Hello, all!

The last OwlCrate for this year was "Tales of Trickery", and it was full of fun stuff. Let's get to it!

I have one other book sleeve, but this one is by far my favorite! This was inspired by Sorcery of Thorns and created by Chatty Nora, and I love it so much. From the quote to the design itself, it's all so good.

Next up was a first for any subscription box I've ever gotten: an ear muff. Usually, we always tend to get knit hats, but this OwlCrate exclusive is so unique and I really love the rose design inspired by the Caraval series.

I can never turn down a bookish candle! Novelly Yours Candles makes some of my favorites and this Grace and Fury one smells just like Christmas in a jar. It actually has a wooden wick, which I've never tried before, but I'm hoping it'll sound like a crackling fire, so I'm really excited to light it.

Another totally new to me item: a tiny little reusable hand warmer! This was designed by Kit Cronk Studio and inspired by one of my fave reads, Sky in the Deep. As someone who is constantly freezing, this is so great and I'll definitely get so much use out of it. I also love how it comes with a little cozy!

They also included this little coloring book of each months enamel pin, which I thought was a cute touch.

The book this month was The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White. This is a take on the Arthurian legend like you've never seen it before. It follows Guinevere as she's sent to Camelot to protect Arthur from a dangerous threat looming at the kingdom's borders. But Guinevere isn't who she claims to be-- she's a Changeling and she'll do whatever it takes to keep Camelot safe. She'll have to navigate through deadly jousts, traitorous knights, forbidden romances, and magic if she wishes to protect Arthur and keep Camelot free.

I'd never heard of this one before, but I am a fan of the story of King Arthur, so I'm interested to see how it'll go. Lemme know what you all thought of this months box!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Top 5- Unconventional Christmas Movies

Hello, all!

I love a nice warm Christmas movie as well as the next person, but sometimes it's fun to watch a slightly different take on the holidays. Here are a few of my favorite Christmas-but not-Christmas movies.

1. Die Hard: This is definitely a huge favorite of mine. I watch this multiple times during the holiday season, and it just gets better each time. Bruce Willis has so many iconic quotes and I can't help but laugh each time I see his terrible rubber feet.

2. Batman Returns: Aside from being my favorite Batman movie, it's also a pretty decent Christmas film. I mean, sure there's a death during their Christmas tree lighting, but we can look pass that. And I think we can all agree that Michelle Pfeiffer will forever be the best Catwoman.

3. Edward Scissorhands: Tim Burton just has a way with holiday films that's so unique. Much like Batman Returns, it's a bit of a twisted take on Christmas, but who can forget Winona Ryder dancing in the "snow" from Edward carving the big ice angel.

4. Gremlins: What's more festive than watching a bunch of evil Mogwai screeching Christmas carols? I love this one because even though it's definitely a bit darker, there's still so many lighthearted and fun moments. Plus, I'll just always love Gizmo.

5. Trading Places: What's better than an Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd switch-a-roo? These two are from completely opposite society classes, and the hijinx that ensue when they trade lives is so ridiculous.

Let me know if you have any favorite non-traditional holiday movies!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Sorcery of Thorns Review

Hello, all!

I've sort of always wished that I was a librarian. I grew up spending most of my time at my local library, I still go there almost every other week. There's something about walking into a library and getting hit with the smell of all those books that instantly calms me. So when I saw Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson was about a girl who works and lives in a magical library, I was completely sold.

Pub Date: 6-4-19
YA - Fantasy
Elisabeth has spent her entire life in one of Austermeer's Great Libraries. After being taken in as an orphan, Elisabeth has grown up around magical grimoire's that rattle the shelves and whisper things to passer-bys, and turn into grotesque monsters spewing ink and leather if provoked. Despite growing up surrounded by magical artifacts, Elisabeth has been told that all sorcerers are evil and to stay far away from magic. With hopes of becoming a warden of the library in order to help protect the lands, Elisabeth's whole world turns upside down when she uncovers an act of magical sabotage that release's one of the libraries most dangerous grimoire's.

After being wrongfully accused of treason, Elisabeth is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. While there, she unravels more of the conspiracy against the Great Libraries, and the only one who believes her is Nathaniel Thorn, a young sorcerer who takes Elisabeth in. Elisabeth has no choice but to put aside her prejudices against sorcerers and allow Nathaniel, and his demonic servant Silas, to help her get to the bottom of this treason before not only the libraries, but the entire world, goes up in flames. As her relationship between Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth begins to question everything she's ever been taught--about sorcerers, magic, the libraries and even about herself. With each step closer to the truth, Elisabeth learns there's a power inside herself that she never could've imagined.

I absolutely loved this. I was hooked from the very first page. I loved learning about Elisabeth and life at the library, and especially about all the magical grimoire's and how they interact with her. Aside from Elisabeth, I adored Nathaniel and Silas. The whole dynamic between the three characters was everything, and definitely tugs at your heartstrings at times. Even Elisabeth's relationship with her best friend Katrien was so relatable and fun. Rogerson does such a lovely job developing this world and the entire magical system. The only thing that knocked this down a peg for me was I did guess at some of the plot points, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed this.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Starless Sea Review

Hello, all!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is one of my favorite books, and I've been looking forward to sinking back into her magical mind ever since I heard about The Starless Sea. The wait was definitely worth it.

Pub Date: 11-5-19
Adult - Fantasy
Deep in the stacks of his university library, Zachary Ezra Rawlins stumbles across a mysterious book. Flipping through the pages, he sees all these fantastical stories of pirates, key collectors and mute acolytes. Then he spots something strange: a story from his own childhood. A story about him. Determined to unlock this mystery, Zachary follows a series of clues-- a bee, a key, and a sword-- to a masquerade party in New York City, a secret club, and ultimately to a hidden doorway that leads to a vast library hidden far underground.

Zachary soon learns that there are many doors like the one he stumbled upon. Doors that lead to the past; doors that lead to places he's only read about in fairy tales; doors that lead to anywhere you can imagine and many more you cannot. Along with Mirabel, a protector of this otherworldly place, and Dorian, a handsome man with blurry allegiances, Zachary traverses everything from burned out tunnels to star-soaked beaches looking for the answers to not only this book, but his own life as well. All the while trying in vain to outrun and outsmart those who will stop at nothing to make sure the doors into this world remain shut forever.

Morgenstern has such an atmospheric way about her writing that completely transports you into her stories. I was captivated right from the start, and right there next to Zachary as he discovers this strange new world. I loved how there were the actual tales from the book Zachary finds incorporated into the actual story. It really added this fantastical element to an already magical story, and they were all just so good. I especially loved the one about the inn at the end of the world, and the moon who fell in love with its innkeeper. I think the pace of the story is good, and even though it's big, it never felt long. There was just the right amount of action to where you're never bored. All in all, this was such a whimsical, imaginative ode to storytelling that will have you searching for your own hidden door to journey through.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Would Like to Meet Review

Hello, all!

Is it obvious by now how much I love a rom-com book? Big thank you to Putnam for sending me Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters!

Pub Date: 12-3-19
Adult - Contemporary
Evie Summers is in a rut. After spending the last seven years as an assistant at a film agency, the now 29-year old wants more. There's a few problems standing in the way of Evie's much deserved promotion: 1. The agency she's been basically running by herself is going under, 2. The only way she can save it is by getting the arrogant screenwriter, Ezra Chester, to finally finish the romantic comedy screenplay he's been contracted to write. A bit of a cynic with writer's block to boot, Ezra only agrees to start writing again if Evie can prove to him people can actually fall in love like they do in the movies. Desperate to save her agency, Evie sets out to find her own meet cute.

From spilling drinks on unsuspecting cafe patrons, to planning the perfect Holiday-esque romance, Evie is determined to try anything to inspire Ezra to write, no matter how humiliating it is for her. Along the way, she meets a father and daughter duo who always seems to be around during her most embarrassing moments, but who will help her open her eyes to what really matters most.

This was such a cute and quick read. It was fun to see Evie play out these famous rom-com moments, and even funnier to see how disastrous they tend to turn out. Evie wasn't the perfect leading character; she was insecure, not always the best friend, and selfish at times, but I think that all made her a bit more real and relatable. I really enjoyed Ben and Annette, the little family Evie meets at the coffee shop. Although, it did annoy me slightly that Annette is supposed to be 7, but the way she was written made her seem way more mature and it just didn't always feel believable. There was an almost love triangle brewing, and there's a moment when you think Evie will go one way, and I was so happy when that didn't pan out. All in all, I didn't find any major moments that really blew me away, but it was cute for what it was.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

OwlCrate November Review

Hello, all!

This months theme was "Through the Enchanted Forest", let's get into it!

First was this pretty woodcut ornament inspired by The Raven Boys designed by Juniper and Ivy Designs. I've not read this series yet, but I'm really diggin' this.

This metal bookmark was created by Her Paper World and has a quote from Uprooted on it. I've received a lot of bookmarks in these boxes, but this was the first metal one I've ever gotten, and I'm really impressed with the quality of it.

Next, we had this gorgeous reading planner by Blue Star Press. OwlCrate has been doing these planners for the last few years, and I love them. I usually keep my own reading journal, but I love these because you can do so much: plan out your weeks and months, keep a list of new releases broken down by month, and even write reviews for what you've read. I really love this design of this years, and they've added so many cool features (like whether what you read was audio/e-book/physical), I'm obsessed.

You can't have a planner without some fun stickers to put in it. These whimsical forest stickers were designed by Pipsticks, and fit the theme so well. There's also another bookish sheet underneath, which I can't wait to use.

The final item was this blanket designed by Bookmark'd Tattoos inspired by The Cruel Prince. I'm such a sucker for a cozy blanket, and this one's no exception! It's ridiculously soft, but my only slight complaint is that I wish it was just a little bit longer to get the full snuggly effect.

This months book was Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw. The woods around Fir Haven have a dark reputation for being haunted. Only rumored witch, Nora Walker, knows the truth. The Walker women have always had a close connection with the woods, and it's this connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman, the boy who went missing from the Camp for Wayward Boys. Stuck for weeks in a snowstorm, Oliver should be dead, but instead he has no recollection of the time he's been gone. Nora feels an uneasy shift in the woods with Oliver's presence, so she decides to get to the bottom of this strange boy. What she discovers is she's not the only one with secrets she'd do anything to keep hidden.

I've heard a lot of mixed reviews of this, so I'm interested to see what I think. I didn't fully love Shea Ernshaw's other release, The Wicked Deep, but she sure does have a way with atmosphere. If any of you have read this, let me know what you thought!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Funko/NYCC Exclusive Haul

Hello, all!

I was so bummed over missing NY Comic Con this year, mainly because Funko was releasing some great Pops, but I'm happy to say I was able to track them down!

1. Daria: The second I saw they were releasing this, I knew it needed to be mine. I was obsessed with Daria when I was younger (still am), and I've spent most of my life being compared to her, so I was so pumped to be able to snag this one.

2. Slim (Killer Klowns from Outer Space): I've been saying for years how I wished Funko would do Killer Klowns Pops, and now they have! This is one of my favorite horror movies (I even have a tattoo of it), and I really hope they do the rest of the gang because I'd love a Shorty one.

3. Huntress: I used to be a huge fan of Birds of Prey, both the comics and the tragically underrated early 2000s TV show, and Huntress was always my favorite of the bunch. Helena's such a badass, and this also makes me excited to see her newest incarnation in the upcoming Birds of Prey movie.

4. Beetlejuice: So, this technically isn't a Funko release, but it was still an NYCC Entertainment Earth exclusive. Beetlejuice is one of my favorite movies, so once I saw this little wooden guy, I had to snag it. It's one of those things where you push a button on the base and it flops around. I get such a kick out of its little flailing hammer arms, and I just can't help but channel my inner Michael Keaton going "Come on a little closaaaaa. Step right up!"

Let me know if you've picked up any fun figures lately!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Last Affair Blog Tour

Hello, all!

I've gotten way more into mystery/thrillers recently, so I'm very excited to be included in the blog tour for The Last Affair by Margot Hunt. This is a gripping story of a love affair turn murder that will have you guessing until the very end. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt (just a little taste, I don't wanna spoil too much!), and big thank you to Mira Books for letting me be apart of the tour!

Adult - Thriller

"Other than the woman’s blood-covered body splayed facedown in the grass, it could have been any typical upscale Floridian backyard. 
There was the ubiquitous pool with a water fountain feature, a patio furnished with both a dining set and outdoor sectional couch, and an enormous gas grill capable of cooking hamburgers by the dozen. A large pergola with a tropical vine trained over it covered part of the patio. The dining area was shaded by a black-and-white-striped awning. It was the very picture of suburban domestic bliss. It could have been the set for a commercial advertising anything from laundry detergent to allergy medicine. 
Again, except for the dead body. 
The area had already been taped off. The first officers on the scene appeared with an ambulance in response to a frantic 911 call placed by the woman’s daughter. The paramedics had assessed the situation, and quickly determined that the woman was dead. The fact that the back of her head had been bashed in with what looked like a paving stone, conveniently dropped next to her prone body, made it immediately clear that it had not been a natural death."

If you're interested in more, The Last Affair hits stores 11/26. For more info on the author and where to buy your own copy, check out the links below.

TWITTER: @HuntAuthor


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ninth House Review

Hello, all!

Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite authors. She has such a way with characters and world building that just fully pulls you in and makes you feel like you're actually watching these events unfold. Her newest, and first adult release, Ninth House, was one of my most anticipated reads for this year, and it was interesting to say the least.

Pub Date: 10-8-19
Adult - Fantasy
Galaxy "Alex" Stern has seen more hardships in her life than most. Raised by a hippie mom, by her early teens, Alex had dropped out of school and started running around with drug dealers. By the age of twenty, she was the sole survivor of a vicious unsolved homicide. Some, including her own mother, say she threw her life away, but she's given a second chance in the form of a full ride to Yale University. The only catch? She has to monitor the numerous secret societies littered throughout the campus. And they may prove to be more dangerous than the life she's leaving behind.

Recruited for her ability to see ghosts, called Grays, an ability she's spent her whole life running from, Alex now uses it during the rituals and rites performed by each of the secret Houses to make sure everything goes smoothly. As a member of Lethe House, she's tasked with reporting back to the Dean of the goings on of each society, and maintaining some sort of balance. Surrounded by the future rich and powerful elite, Alex learns there's nothing money and influence can't buy you. Soon, she uncovers that under all their occult activities lies an even more sinister plot and the closer she is to finding out the truth, the more her life is put in danger.

Let me first just say, I did actually really love this book. The characters, especially Alex, were so complex and interesting. The plot itself was captivating and I'm such a sucker for a school setting, and was getting all these The Magicians/Dead Poets Society vibes. I loved the way magic worked and how Alex interacted with it. I think it deals with dark, intense themes in a very respectful and truthful manner. Bardugo's writing is top notch, as always. She managed to take the real world we know and flip it in a way that is so eerie and unsettling. That being said, I found this to be a bit too long. I feel like it easily could've been 50+ pages shorter and the effect would've hit harder. I just felt that it took a long time for not a lot to happen. It was a lot of back story and a lot of setting the scene for what's to come in this series (which is a lot more Darlington, I'm hoping.) Despite that, this is a really solid read for those who are into a darker fantasy and I'll just forever be a fan of anything Bardugo puts out. I'm just hoping for the next one to have a bit more action in it.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Serpent & Dove Review

Hello, all!

I've heard a ton of hype surrounding Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, and I have to say, it more than lived up to it.

Pub Date: 9-3-19
Young Adult - Fantasy
Louise "Lou" le Blanc fled her coven and has been living a life of petty crime in the city of Cesarine. Forsaking any magic, Lou has tried to fly as under the radar as possible since there especially, witches are not only feared, but hunted and burned by the militant Chasseurs.

Reid Diggory, fiercely loyal Chasseur, has lived his whole life by one creed: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. He was never meant to cross paths with Lou, but after a wicked (and very public) prank, the two are forced to marry. Lou's reluctant new husband has sworn to protect her, but will his vows still hold true when he finds out what she really is? Unable to ignore her growing feelings, Lou is soon forced to choose a side as the battle between the church and the witches escalates to dangerous levels.

The second I heard "witch and witch-hunter forced to marry", I was sold. I was hooked right from the very first page. Lou is so sassy and doesn't bat an eye at pushing people's buttons. The tension between her and Reid was everything. I loved seeing them gradually open up to one another and eventually come to an understanding. I also loved the way magic worked in this world. It's all based off give and take, which was a really cool concept. There were so many interesting aspects to this book. Aside from the slow burn romance (we all know I love me one of those), the friendships between the characters was lovely, and there was just the right amount of action. Overall, this was such a fun start to this series, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Songs from the Deep Review

Hello, all!

I'm a sucker for a story set on a secluded island, and when you add sirens to that mix, it's a no brainer that I'd want to read it. So big thank you to Netgalley for the copy of Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell.

Pub Date: 11-5-19
Young Adult - Fantasy
Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the sirens that surround her small island home. While most villagers steer clear of the danger, Moira relishes in it. In fact, she spends most of her time on the sea cliffs, playing her violin to the sirens that gather at the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, everyone is quick to blame the sirens, but Moira is unconvinced. She believes the boy was murdered.

Moira enlists the help of Jude Osric, keeper of the lighthouse and her estranged childhood best friend, to help her get to the bottom of this mystery before anyone else, human or siren, gets hurt. But with unhelpful police detectives, townspeople calling for siren blood, and even their own deep-seeded secrets, the pair have many obstacles to overcome. When another body turns up on the beach, and threats start coming their way, it's a race against time to uncover the true killer and bring justice to the island.

I really enjoyed this. I was so engrossed in the story from the very first page, and I flew through this cause I just didn't want to put it down. I loved the whole setting, and especially Moira and Jude's relationship. They complimented each other so well, and I loved their whole dynamic. The mystery was solid enough to where I was never bored, and despite having my own guesses as to who the killer was, I was still pleasantly surprised at the end. Powell did such a great job of balancing out the fantastical siren element with a really well thought out murder mystery.  I'd definitely recommend this if you're a fan of either genre.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Unnatural Magic Review

Hello, all!

I'm always looking for more stories led by independent, strong females and Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner checked all my boxes. Big thank you to Ace Books for the copy!

Pub Date: 11-5-19
Adult - Fantasy
Onna is a genius when it comes to writing parameters for spells, and can do so better than any young man in her small village school. Despite her talents, she's denied admission to the nation's leading arcane academy. Onna doesn't let this setback stop her, and she sets sail for the bustling city of Hexos, hoping to earn a place at a university that doesn't frown upon women in magical education. However, she soon finds herself swept up in investigating the recent string of troll murders that've been plaguing the land.

Tsira is a troll, who despite being the daughter of a clan-leader, never truly fit in so she decides to strike out on her own. On her way, she crosses paths with an injured human soldier in the snow and nurses him back to health. The pair form an unlikely bond which is quickly tested as an unknown mage threatens Tsira's life. After tragedy strikes her family, Tsira swears to uncover who's behind the troll deaths before she's next.

This one is a little interesting for me because even though I enjoyed it, I found it a little hard to get through. It wasn't so much the characters or plot, but more the the pacing. There were a lot of dense parts, especially in the beginning due to all the world building, so it is slow going for a while. Despite that, I did end up liking the different cultures and places Waggoner created, and I also enjoyed the way her magic system works more mathematically than you usually see in fantasy. Telling the story through both Onna and Tsira worked well, but personally, I liked Tsira's perspective a little more because she came across way more dynamic, and I enjoyed her relationship with Jeckran. I do wish their paths would've come together a bit quicker because I think they worked well together. Overall, slowness aside, this was a fresh, imaginative and interesting debut, but I was just hoping for a smidge more.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

OwlCrate October Review

Hello, all!

This months theme was "Dawn of a New World" and it was chock full of sci-fi goodies.

I love stickers and this Warcross inspired one by Blanca Montiel is no exception! I love the holographic effect and the quote as well.

I'm not a huge fan of magnetic bookmarks, but I love these Saga ones by Craftedvan. I only got into Saga within the last year, so I have a ton to catch up on, and these will be perfect for that.

Then we had this lovely crescent moon necklace which has a bunch of wiring throughout by Iron and Ink Designs inspired by The Lunar Chronicles series. I'd like this more if it was a little bit smaller just cause I'm not a fan of larger jewelry, but it's cute.

The last item was this book tin created by Stella Bookish Art inspired by the Illuminae Files. We've gotten one of these tins before, and they're so convenient to hold pins and little bits in.

OwlCrate included two books again this month, and the first was I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi. This story follows Adeem, a coder and radio enthusiast; Cate, a young girl determined to track down the father she's never met; and Jesse, who constantly watches his mother try to make ends meet. After it's revealed that an alien planet may end life as we know it in just seven days, the trio's lives begin to cross and intersect in ways they never would've imagined.

The second book was Crier's War by Nina Varela. In a world where perfect andriods, called Automae, are enslaved by their human creators, Lady Crier, an Automae and daughter of the King, is terrified people will discover she isn't as perfect as she pretends to be. Ayla, Lady Crier's human handmaiden, has been biding her time and waiting for the best moment to take her revenge on the King for murdering her family. Her plan? Murder Lady Crier. But her plans take a turn after her and Crier begin spending more and more time together. Can their feelings for one another survive a world on the brink of war?

I don't usually read a lot of sci-fi, so I'm interested to dive into these. Lemme know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sleepy Hollow

Hello, all!

This time last year I was in Salem, MA and I knew I wanted to do another spooky-ish trip for my birthday, so my mom and I stayed a bit local and went to Sleepy Hollow. The whole thing came about in a funny way; I had mentioned how I wanted to do a day trip up there, and literally the next day, there was an ad for an overnight trip with our local library which we jumped on.

I had never done a library trip before (I actually never even knew they were a thing), so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be pretty cool. It was a two day trip, and jam packed with stuff, so I'm going to break it down by day. Here we go!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Halloween Tag

Hello, all!

In honor of my favorite holiday, I decided to do The Halloween Tag created by Michelle over at A Geek Girl's Guide. (Make sure you go check out her answers as well!) Let's get spooky 🔮🎃

1. When does the Halloween season start for you?

Mid-September because I can't help myself.

2. Do you have any Halloween traditions?

I always try to watch as many horror, or just Halloween-y, movies as I can throughout the month.

3. What is your favorite Halloween memory?

Maybe not my favorite, but just the first one that came to mind-- My friends and I were heading to our other friends Halloween party and we got stuck on the LIRR for hours and everyone in the train car eventually just became friends and we had our own little train party.

4. Do you decorate for Halloween?

YES! Luckily, my roommate is as Halloween obsessed as I am, and we even have one of those projector lights out front that make it look like our house is encased in hellfire.

5. What has been your favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn?

After working at Party City for so many years, I refuse to buy costumes, so I usually make all mine and my favorite was Elliot and ET.

6. If you could be in a Halloween movie (horror or not), which would you choose?

The Monster Squad. I just wanna hang out in the tree house and help save the town from dollar store rip off Universal monsters.

7. How do you plan on celebrating Halloween this year?

Most likely just handing out candy at home while watching Halloween.

8. Have you ever carved a Jack-O-Lantern?

Yep! My best one was one that looked like it was throwing up.

9. What is something you want to do to celebrate Halloween one year?

Probably just throw a big Halloween party.

10. What is your Halloween costume this year? If you don’t have one, what would you like to be?

For work we went with a witch theme, so I'll be Hermione.

11. Do you enjoy a super scary Halloween or a more lighthearted spooky Halloween?

A nice mix of both! 

12. How would you spend a Halloween at home versus going out?

Watching Halloween, it's a given.

13. Why do you love Halloween?

I've just always been a fan of supernatural or spooky things. And because my birthday's the next day, so it was always fun to eat all the candy I got.

Here's all the questions if you wanna join in!

When does the Halloween season start for you?
Do you have any Halloween traditions?
What is your favorite Halloween memory?
Do you decorate for Halloween?
What has been your favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn?
If you could be in a Halloween movie (horror or not), which would you choose?
How do you plan on celebrating Halloween this year?
Have you ever carved a Jack-O-Lantern?
What is something you want to do to celebrate Halloween one year?
What is your Halloween costume this year? If you don’t have one, what would you like to be?
Do you enjoy a super scary Halloween or a more lighthearted spooky Halloween?
How would you spend a Halloween at home versus going out?
Why do you love Halloween?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Twice in a Blue Moon Review

Hello, all!

I fell in love with Christina Lauren after I read The Unhoneymooners, so I was dying to read their newest release, Twice in a Blue Moon. Huge thank you to Netgalley for the copy!

Pub Date: 10-22-19
Adult - Contemprary

Tate Jones was eighteen when her whole world changed. During a vacation abroad in London with her grandma, Tate met Sam Brandis, a charming 21-year old who just so happened to be staying at the same hotel. Tate and Sam spent every moment they could together, learning about one another, sharing their hopes, dreams, and in Tate's case, their biggest secrets. Tate is the daughter of one of the worlds most famous actors, who hasn't been publicly seen since her parent's messy divorce. She's spent her life since being someone else and only a handful of people know who she truly is. Sam is the first person she's ever felt comfortable enough to let in on her big secret. She was very wrong. Sam was Tate's first everything: first love, first time, and first heartbreak.

Now, fourteen years later, Tate, a big up-and-coming actress, just landed a major break out role and doesn't have time to dwell on her lost love. When she arrives on set, Sam Brandis is the very last person she expected to see. Tate is shocked to discover that Sam happens to be the screenwriter for the film, and he's just as handsome and charismatic as he was all those years ago. Tate is now forced to confront his betrayal head on, and must ask herself if doing something bad for the right reason is enough to put the past behind her, especially when old feelings start to stir up.

Christina Lauren just have a way of making me swoon. Seriously, I would love to just live in one of their worlds. Tate feels so real and relatable, and her actions seem genuine. Sam, despite his mistakes, never stopped loving Tate and does everything he can to make her see the error of his ways. I will say that I do think Tate seemed to forgive him a bit quicker than I thought she should've, but hey, it's fictional and all. My other issue was that I didn't feel any resolution when it came to the drama at the end. I feel if we saw that conclusion this would've been a full 5 star read for me. Other than that, I loved this and flew through it. I loved the setting, both London and the movie set in the woods. The humor and dialogue were spot on. I also really enjoyed how you got little excerpts from the movie script as they were shooting the film. I thought that was a nice touch. All in all, another great story by this dynamic duo.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Top 5: Fictional Witches

Hello, all!

'Tis the witchy season, so I figured what better way to celebrate than to dedicate this Top 5 to some of my favorite witches.

1. Sabrina Spellman: My love of this sassy teenage witch started way back when I was a kid. My mom would take my brother and I to the local comic book store, and I would get the mystery bag comics (basically, a paper bag filled with about 5 comics that you never knew what they were until you opened them). They were almost always filled with Archie comics, and the Sabrina ones were my favorite. From there, I was an avid watcher of the 90s show, which later turned to the darker Netflix adaptation. Even though she's a witch, she's also just trying to be a regular teenager and that always made for the most ridiculous antics.

2. Willow Rosenberg: Ok, so Willow once tried to destroy the whole word, but she did it for love, so at least her intentions were sorta honorable? Dark Willow aside, she is probably my favorite part of the Scooby gang and I loved watching her growth throughout the series.

3. Hermione Granger: As if I could have a list of witches and not include the brightest witch of her age. Hermione has all the qualities I admire in a character: she's smart, loyal, compassionate and not afraid to stand her ground. I would just love to hang with her in the Hogwarts library and roll our eyes at Harry and Ron over our massive book piles.

4. Piper Halliwell: The Halliwell sisters may have been stronger as the Power of Three, but I always loved Piper the most. She always seemed like the most level-headed out of the sisters, and she's the only one who not only grew more powerful throughout the series, but who also had a family of her own. Plus, I just wish I could've had the power to freeze and blow things up.

5. The Sanderson Sisters: You can't have Halloween without these witchy sisters. While Winnie is obviously the most powerful (and smartest), I think all three of them really round each other out. And who can resist calling out "Booo-ooook" or "AMUCK! AMUCK! AMUCK!" at any given opportunity?

Let me know who your picks would be!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Furies Review

Hello, all!

I distinctly remember the first time I ever saw the movie The Craft. I was 8 years old and my friend's mom took me and him to see it when it came out in theaters. We were definitely way too young to watch it, and by the time we left the theater, it was dark and it had started chucking down rain with thunder and lightning, the whole witchy-feeling she-bang. I remember we got to my house to drop me off, and I literally ran in because I was convinced Nancy Downs was going to jump out and start antagonizing me. Needless to say, I now love that movie, so when I heard about The Furies by Katie Lowe with its group of witchy girl vibes, I needed to pick it up. Thank you to Netgalley for the copy!

Pub Date: 10-8-10
Adult - Thriller
After a tragedy strikes her family, Violet seeks to start fresh at Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl's boarding school on the outskirts of her quiet seaside town. A bit timid and unusual, Violet finds it hard to make friends. Desperate to fit in, she soon finds herself invited to join a secret advanced study group taught by her mysterious art teacher, Annabel. In these sessions, Violet, along with three other girls, Robin, Grace and Alex, delve into the strange history of the campus: everything from Greek and Celtic legends, to the founder of the school's "academic" interest in the occult, and even the witch trials that were held on the quad. Even about how the Furies of ancient Greece were reportedly summoned to enact justice upon those who were wronged. Annabel tries to convince the girls her advance class is just based upon speculation and that it's all just myth, but the more the girls learn the more they believe they can harness this power for themselves.

Violet soon finds herself completely wrapped up in this world of revenge magic and power. She also discovers that before she came to Elm Hollow, a young girl, who was also a part of the study group and friends with the three girls, disappeared and Violet bears a striking resemblance to her. It doesn't help that all the girls, especially Robin, get cagey whenever the subject is brought up. As her and her friends spiral deeper into the darkness, Violet begins to wonder who she can trust and just how far she's willing to go before she allows this power to destroy her completely.

I sort of went into this hoping it would give me all The Craft meets The Graces vibe, and while it did to some extent, I wanted a bit more. The spooky witchy vibes were there, but I just feel like it could've been ramped up slightly. I also wish the Furies themselves were highlighted just a bit more since they seem to be such a central part of the story. The group dynamic between the girls was good, I felt they all brought something different to the table. It definitely had an interesting premise, and I loved the boarding school setting, but I did think some bits dragged. Overall, I think it'll be a good eerie read, especially if you're a fan of darker themes.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Big thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for these copies!

Pub Date: 10-8-10
Adult - Fiction
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts-Kate Racculia: Tuesday Mooney likes to be alone. She doesn't have many friends, she doesn't leave her house much, and that's alright with her. But when an eccentric billionaire dies and leaves his fortune to whoever can beat his weird treasure hunt throughout Boston, puzzle-loving Tuesday joins up with a crew of misfits to ferret out the clues. With teams throughout the city vying for the prize, Tuesday and company must work quickly, but what they discover is way more dangerous than a silly little scavenger hunt. I have to admit, this book threw me. Based on the title, I went in thinking it was going to be one way--a woman who talks to ghosts--but really it was a woman getting to the bottom of a mystery, who occasionally believes she can talk to her dead best friend from childhood. I didn't find myself connecting to this story at all. I wasn't invested in any of the characters or even the plot itself. I was even skimming through parts because I was just bored. The premise could've been really cool, but I just don't think it was executed in the best way.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 10-15-19
Comics - Graphic Novels
Mooncakes- Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu: Nova Huang isn't your typical teen witch. She knows more about magic than most witches her age, and spends her time helping out in her grandma's book shop, lending out spell books and investigating supernatural occurrences in their small New England town. One of these occurrences, a rumor of a massive white wolf, leads her out to the woods one night where she comes across the last person she expected to see: her childhood friend, Tam, fighting a demon horse. As a great big wolf. Hunted by dark forces, Tam and Nova band together and find their feelings for one another might just be the spark their magics were missing. This was such an adorably charming story. In one word: magical. It was a heart-warming and cozy coming-of-age story, and Nova and Tam were so precious together. Everything from the artwork to the story was just so enjoyable.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 10-15-19
Sad Birds Still Sing- Faraway: This is a new collection of poems by the anonymous poet, Faraway, that touches upon everything from life to loss to heartbreak to fighting your own inner demons. Although, there are some heavy themes in this collection, the main thing holding it all together is an underlying message of hope. I really enjoyed these poems, and quickly flew through this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. I found this relatable, inspiring, and so beautiful. I'll definitely be checking out more from him.

Rating: 3.5/5