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