Thursday, March 28, 2019

LitJoy Crate March Review

Hello, all!

This month was dedicated to the Man of Steel. I've never been a huge fan of Superman, but I still enjoyed this box.

First up was this LitJoy exclusive bamboo bookmark with artwork by Hallie Bertling. This is actually a reversible bookmark, the back has little pairs of glasses, tractors, newspapers, and a few other Clark Kent related bits. I really like the quality of this bookmark, it's very sturdy but also has a bit of a glossy feel. It's like a regular wooden bookmark, but a bit smoother.

Another exclusive was this luggage tag. I think it's clever to make it look like Clark's Daily Planet ID badge. It's a nice touch.

I think this was my favorite thing in the box. I've seen a bunch of A Court of Candles other candles on Instagram and Etsy, but I've never tried them before, so I'm excited to light this baby. It has such a sweet scent of fruit punch. I think I've found a new candle shop to obsess over.

Usually any bag I've received in these types of boxes have been the normal tote, but this is a cross body bag, which are my favorite kinds. It's not terribly big, though, so I'm not sure how much I could really fit inside it. The artwork is by EvieBookish, and while I do like it, it's just throwing me off a little that the majority of the letters are DC Comics character and then just one Marvel character for the 'E'. I sorta feel like either go full DC, or put more Marvel characters so it's a bit more balanced.

So, no surprise given the theme, the book this month was Superman: Dawnbreaker by Matt De La Peña. This is the fourth book in the DC Icons series, which are interesting takes on different DC Characters. I've yet to read them, but I've heard good things. Clark Kent has always been faster and stronger than everyone around him, but has always kept it to himself and flown under the radar. This proves to be rather difficult once he stumbles upon a crying girl. Clark soon learns of the deep secrets corrupting Smallville, so he teams up with his best friend, Lana Lang, in pursuit of the truth. His investigation will bring Clark face to face with the evils lurking in the shadows of his small town, forcing him to step into the light that will lead him down the path to becoming the Man of Steel.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Soulless Review

Hello, all!

Aside from fantasy, historical fiction is my favorite genre to read. I especially love a Victorian-era historical fiction. So, while I was perusing the stacks at Barnes & Noble, I came across Soulless by Gail Carriger and it checked all my boxes. Historical fiction? Check. Fantasy elements? Check. Pretty cover? Check check.

Pub Date: 10-1-09
Adult - Fantasy - Paranormal
Alexia Tarabotti has three strikes against her: 1. She has no soul 2. She's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead and 3. She was so rudely attacked by a vampire which is totally against all social protocol. If that wasn't bad enough, Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, which leads to the annoyingly charming Lord Maccon being sent to investigate by Queen Victoria. Oh, and he just so happens to be a werewolf.

With the recent string of vampire disappearances, and appearances of new vampires, everyone believes Alexia to be the one responsible. So, she uses her preternatural ability to negate the supernatural to get to the bottom of what's going bump in the night of London's high society.

Soulless is the first book in the Parasol Proctectorate series, and I loved it from the very first page. It's smart, witty, and so funny. It's described as being if Buffy were set in Jane Austen's time, and that's pretty much spot on. I absolutely loved Alexia and Lord Maccon's relationship, but my favorite was Alexia's friendship with Lord Akeldama, the flamboyant vampire rove. Their banter back and forth was so fun, and made you wish you could be friends with them.

The story itself was also really interesting. My only issue was that at some points I felt they were a little too descriptive of things, it was kinda like 'Yeah, we get it'. Other than that, I flew through this book and really enjoyed it. Alexia is such a great character as well. She's intelligent, strong-willed and not afraid to go against the societal norms for women at the time. The way her and Lord Maccon play off one another and push each other's buttons was delightful to read. The book also has a touch of a steampunk feel as well, which set it apart from other Victorian-set books I've read. I can't wait to dive into the rest of this series.

If you're a fan of fantasy, historical fiction, or are just looking for a fun read, definitely check this one out!

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4) Review

Hello, all!

A few months back I gushed all about how much I love the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn. From the moment I read it, it quickly became one of my favorite series of all time, so needless to say, the latest installment was my most anticipated release of this year. I'm so happy to say, it did not disappoint!

A quick little recap of the series: It takes place in Victorian England and follows Veronica Speedwell, a fiercely independent lepidoptrist (someone who studies butterflies), and the adventures her and her dashingly broody natural historian companion Stoker often get wrapped up in. The two use their scientific minds to help solve mysteries with a good ol' helping of sass and sexual tension thrown in for good measure. Seriously, this is one of my favorite fictional relationships but the slow burn of it kills me.

**Potential spoilers ahead**

Pub Date: 3-12-19
Adult Fiction - Mystery
A Dangerous Collaboration starts with Veronica being whisked away to a house party on a remote island by Lord Tiberius Templeton-Vane, Stoker's arrogant older brother, after he calls in a favor of her. Much to Stoker's annoyance, Tiberius also persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancé, which leads him to jealously join in their journey to Lord Malcolm Romilly's castle. What the trio find once arriving isn't your typical party-- Lord Romilly has gathered everyone who had a connection with his missing wife, who disappeared on their wedding night three years earlier, and he means to find out what happened to her.

Once ghostly run-ins, mysterious happenings and disappearances start cropping up, Veronica and Stoker take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of whatever is truly haunting the castle walls. Their investigation takes them all over the island, from the pubs filled with superstitious locals to hidden passageways within the castle itself. As they delve deeper into the mystery, they soon discover that all is not as it seems at Romilly castle and every person there has a motive for murder.

I enjoyed how you really just jump right into the adventure this time around. As always, the mystery itself was entertaining, though it wasn't my favorite of the series so far. The banter between Veronica and Stoker still remains the highlight for me. Their mutual respect for one another is so touching, and their interactions are so witty; they know what buttons to press and never miss an opportunity to do so. That being said, I felt a little off at the start of this one because their relationship was unlike it's ever been-- they had just spent six months apart and were acting indifferent towards one another due to events from the last book. Luckily, Raybourn more than made up for it once they got to the island and really fanned than slow burn. Not only do we get cheeky flirting, we finally get a swoon-worthy declaration of love and it was ev-ery-thing.

I also liked learning more about Tiberius and his backstory. It made you feel a bit more than just annoyance towards him. Also, if it weren't for him I don't think Stoker would've admitted his feelings for Veronica, so he's alright for now in my book. So, even though this mystery didn't engage me as much as the others, overall I really enjoyed this book. It was one of those where after I finished, I went back and re-read all my favorite parts. The ending, which sets up the next mystery Veronica and Stoker will be tackling, is so exciting and I absolutely can't wait for it. Someone please give me a movie or Netflix adaptation of this series because I need it.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

OwlCrate March Review

Hello, all!

This months theme was "Murder and Mayhem", let's get to it!

First up was this Three Dark Crowns inspired sticker by Jamila Mehio. This is such a dark, twisty series about three sisters who are destined to kill each other for their crown, so it's very on brand for this box.

Next up was my favorite item in the box: a Game of Thrones woodmark by Ink and Wonder Designs. I've gotten a few of these wooden bookmarks in past boxes and I'm always so impressed by them. The quality is sturdy and the designs themselves are so nice. This is also one of my favorite quotes from the series (I would definitely be a Stark if I lived in Westeros), so I'm really happy with this.

I love a good travel mug and this one by Catarina Book Designs is no exception. It's based off Nevernight, which I've never read, but the design and quote on the mug make me want to bump it up on my TBR. The mug also came with a silicone band to protect your hands when it's too hot, but I like it without since then you can actually see the design.

I love that this drawstring bag, designed by Michelle Gray, is not only roomy and even has an inside pocket, but that the design is the same as the box the travel mug came in. It's little details like that that make me love OwlCrate.

You all know how I feel about candles. I have an entire storage space dedicated to them. I love fruity scents as well, so this one by In The Wick of Time is right up my alley. It's such a sweet scent that will be perfect for Spring.

The book for this month was Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte. This story follows Keralie, a talented thief, who steals an important package from an honest messenger leading them to unearth a dangerous conspiracy unfolding in their realm. The unlikely pair discover that someone has murdered the four queens that rule over their lands, and go on a desperate mission to uncover who the killer is. I had actually gotten a little chapter sampler of this at Comic Con back in October, so I'm really excited to now have the full finished copy. It sounds like my kind of murder mystery.

Also, the pin for this month was designed by Iron and Ink Designs and it has a fun compass design inspired by the four queens of Quadara.

Lemme know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Top 5: Batman Villains

Hello, all!

Batman was one of the first comic book characters I ever read growing up. He's still one of my favorites, and I'm also very passionate about who I think is the best Batman actor-wise. (It's Michael Keaton, by the way. Or Kevin Conroy. But definitely not Val Kilmer.)

Since this month marks the 80th anniversary of the Dark Knight, I thought it only fitting to dedicate this Top 5 to some of his best foes. Because what is a hero without a villain?

Photo: Wikipedia
1. The Joker: Let's get the most obvious out of the way. You can't mention Batman without the Joker. They're two sides of the same coin, the yin to the others yang, the totally crazy to the others crazy. He's constantly popping up to throw a wrench (or crowbar, RIP-ish Jason) into Batman's plans. There is no thorn in Batman's side quite like the Joker.

Photo: Wikipedia
2. Hugo Strange: He might not be the flashiest in Batman's Rogues Gallery, but he did what almost no others could--he figured out Batman's identity. Strange also used his knowledge as a psychiatrist to hypnotize Bruce into forgetting all about Batman, and he created the mutant Monster Men from his experiments on patients at Arkham.

Photo: Wikipedia
3. Poison Ivy: Not only is she one of the most iconic female comic book characters of all time, but she is quite the foe as well. What I think makes her so great is that she's not necessarily all evil, she does actually have some good traits, such as fighting for the Earth rather than herself. Buuuut, she does usually go about that in some criminal or murderous way.

Photo: Wikipedia
4. Two-Face: All the best stories deal with the idea of good and bad, but none have shown it so literally as with Harvey Dent. Once a respected lawyer committed to keeping crime off Gotham's streets, Dent was horribly scarred after an acid attack from a mob assassin. After the attack, it was as if Dent's outsides now matched his conflicting insides as he slipped further and further into evil.

Photo: Wikipedia
5. Bane: My favorite villain. He's the man who broke the Bat. Enough said.

Lemme know your picks!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Slayer Review

Hello, all!

I'm a massive Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I grew up watching the show, and it was one of the first shows that really taught me girl power and how to stand up for myself and my beliefs. I love everything about it, from the friendships to the family dynamics to the puns. Especially the puns. I know the show wasn't perfect, but it'll always be one of my favorites. That's why when I heard there was going to be a YA story set in the Buffy universe, I knew I had to check it out.

Pub Date: 1-8-19
Young Adult - Fantasy - Paranormal
Slayer by Kiersten White follows twins, Nina and Artemis, who have spent their entire lives in the Watcher's Academy. While Artemis has been taught and trained to become a Watcher, Nina has always followed a different path. Instead of violence, she chooses a life of healing and knowledge, and becomes the academy medic. Then one day, Nina's life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous and infamous Slayer that Nina's father died to protect, Nina not only becomes the newest Chosen One-- she's the last Slayer ever. Now, along with her old crush-turned Watcher-in-Training, Leo, and her friends, Nina must learn to harness this power that she never asked for and doesn't even want. When a shadowy figure starts haunting her dreams, and bodies start turning up, Nina realizes it takes more than power to become a Slayer.

I had extremely high expectations going into this book just based on how much I love the Buffy-verse. I have to admit, this left me...underwhelmed. I felt the dialogue at times tried way too hard to be as punny and sarcastic as the TV show that it felt forced. Although their relationship does work itself out towards the later half of the novel, Nina spends the majority of the book bashing Buffy because she feels she ruined her life, and that got old real quick.

I did enjoy some aspects of the storyline and characters such as Rhys and his boyfriend Cillian, and there were a few funny bits thrown into the mix. I also found it interesting to see this world through the Watcher's perspective. In BtVS, we really are just following Buffy's life and her duty, so it's nice to flip the script. As a fan, I did like all the nods to the show and comics as well. Even though this didn't turn out to be everything I had hoped it'd be, I did feel it picked up towards the end and came into its own. I'm not sure if I'll continue with this series, but it was fun for what it was.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

These two books I received via Edelweiss and Netgalley, so a big thank you to them and the publishers for the copies!

Pub Date: 3-12-19 by
Simon & Schuster
Adult - Non-Fiction - True Crime
The Trial of Lizzie Borden- Cara Robertson: I've always been a bit fascinated by Lizzie Borden and so I was very intrigued by this book. It's a massive undertaking and dense with information. It breaks down the whole event into sections, and focuses heavily on the trial itself, which are detailed down to the most minute details, by day. Along with all the information, there are also court drawings and pictures littered throughout, which in and of themselves are super interesting to look at. Robertson did such a wonderful job of telling the full story of events, from the Borden's lives before the incident to the trial to Lizzie's reclusive life after. It's such a well rounded view of one of America's most notorious murder cases, and a must read for any true crime fan.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-26-19 by
Park Row
Adult - Contemporary
The Library of Lost and Found- Phaedra Patrick: Martha Storm lives a quiet, quaint life as a librarian in a small seaside village. She constantly puts others in front of herself, and never says no to someone in need. Her whole world turns upside down though once a mysterious book of fairy tales is left on the library's doorstep. Soon Martha finds this isn't just a regular book, it's full of stories she wrote growing up, and it has a dedication from her grandmother dated three years after she supposedly died. This book takes Martha on an emotional journey through her family's past where she uncovers harsh truths that were hidden from her and the depth of her own strength. I found this whole story very charming. Watching Martha go on this journey of self discovery and truly coming into her own was so heartwarming and satisfying, and at times even frustrating. It was a nice mix of quirky, funny and moving, and perfect if you're looking for something a little more emotional but still cozy.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, March 1, 2019

Current Favorites

Hello, all!

It's been a while since I've done a favorites, and there's been quite a few stuff I've been loving lately, so let's get into it!

1. Re-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine: I was obsessed with this show when it first came out and watched religiously until midway through season 4 when I moved and forgot to DVR it. Once I heard it was coming back from being cancelled for a hot second, I decided it was time to get back to it. I'm so glad I did. I genuinely think it's one of the funniest shows out there, and it just deepens my love for Andy Samberg.

2. Head over Heels Soundtrack: I saw this show on Broadway in December and loved every minute of it. The whole show used songs from The Go-Go's, and it's just super fun and upbeat, and the perfect soundtrack to dance around to. I've been listening to it non-stop on Spotify, so definitely check it out if you need a quick pick-me-up.

3. Kinder Cards: You know when you're checking out at the grocery store and there's just rows of candy tempting you? Well, they got me. I've had a few other Kinder bars before and loved them, so I knew I needed to try this one. It has a little wafer bottom, creme in the middle and covered with Kinder chocolate on top. I'm so glad the US is starting to sell Kinder more cause it's just so good.

4: Fleece lined jeans: I'm always freezing, like full body shivering as if I'm being electrocuted freezing. Doesn't matter if it's 6 degrees or 76, my teeth will be chattering so much it sounds like they're about to fall out. I've always worn fleece lined tights during the colder months, but then I found out Old Navy sold lined jeans as well, and my world has been just that much warmer. They're also super cozy which is pretty much what I base my wardrobe on.

5. Aggretsuko: This anime is a complete Netflix gem I stumbled upon a few months ago. It follows Retsuko, a mild-mannered red panda who works in an office by day and sings death metal karaoke by night. In two words: SO GOOD. Each episode is only around 10 minutes long, so it's super easy to binge when you need something quick to watch.

Let me know what you've been loving lately!