Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Reading Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

We did it, friends. 2020 is finally coming to an end after lasting two million years. This was definitely a trying year for everyone, but the one bright spot was that it was my most productive reading year ever. I managed to read 280 books this year, which is just crazy to me and a number I don’t know if I’ll ever hit again. (Well, who knows, if this quarantine stays in place, maybe!)

As always, I used GoodReads to track my reading (feel free to add me on there!), so here’s a little look back at my stats. I always find it interesting to see what my average rating for the year is. I felt I read a lot of 4/5 star books this year, so I thought it would be slightly higher, but it ended up being about the same as it was last year.

Speaking of high ratings, let’s get into some of my favorites from this year.  Let me know if you’ve read any of these, or if any are on your list to read:

-Kings of the Wyld- Nicholas Eames: This was a hilarious fantasy romp following a group of mercenaries who used to be the most fearsome band but who are now way past their prime, but something happens forcing them to dust off their weapons and head out for one more quest.
-My Favorite Half-Night Stand- Christina Lauren: You all know my love of Christina Lauren books. They’re always just so fun and this one about a woman falling for one of her best guy friends through a dating app was no exception.
-The Happy Ever After Playlist- Abby Jimenez: After the death of her fiancé, Sloane can’t get her life back on track, but then a dog literally falls into her lap and his handsome owner might be just the thing she needs to feel alive again. This is a companion novel to The Friend Zone, but I actually read this before that one and it was still easy enough to follow.
-Beach Read- Emily Henry: Neighbors January and Gus are both writers but couldn’t be more opposite. She writes romance, and he’s more hard-hitting fiction. They decide to try out each other’s genres to cure their respective writers’ block, and adorableness ensues.
-The Song of Achilles- Madeline Miller: This is a breathtaking telling of Achilles and the Trojan War and it completely broke me.
-The Tourist Attraction- Sarah Morgenthaler: A cute quirky girl falling for a grumpy diner owner in a small Alaskan town? Sign me up.
-The Diviners- Libba Bray: This is the first book in a historical fiction/mystery/supernatural series that I put off for way too long and am now kicking myself for. The 1920s New York setting really adds to the grimy feel of the story and the writing is top-notch.
-The House in the Cerulean Sea- TJ Klune: I don’t think I’ve ever read such a heartwarming or charming book. Everything about this was magical and I loved every second of it.
-Thunderhead- Neal Shusterman: This is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series which I binged this year and it blew my mind.
-A Song of Wraiths and Ruin- Roseanne A. Brown: Two characters who are unknowingly trying to kill one another? A competition element? And ancient magic? Yes, please.
-The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue- V.E. Schwab: I will probably never stop gushing over this gorgeous book.
-Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood- Sarah J. Maas: Obviously, this one was going to be on here. I’m forever trash for whatever SJM brings out.

I also thought it might be fun to include some reading goals for 2021:

-Read 150 books: I always tend to set my reading goal very low and then surpass it in a few months, so I figured I’d be a bit more realistic this time.
-Read more Non-Fiction: I don’t usually gravitate towards non-fiction, but I read a few memoirs this year which I enjoyed, so I want to continue that in the coming year.
-Read more books on my shelves: I want to cut down on the unread books I have on my shelves, so I want to read at least one a month.
-Cut down on my Netgalley requests: It’s so easy to request every e-ARC that slightly interests me, but then all of a sudden I have 20 books to review and then I get stressed, so I only want to request books I really want to read.

I also want to shake up my reading tracking for 2021. Aside from GoodReads, I also use a bullet journal where I break down by month what audio books, e-books, and physical books I read. I want to be able to take that info and include it into my yearly wrap-ups as well, but unfortunately, my brain is hardwired to turn to mush when it comes to numbers, so I went on the hunt for something else to use that would track that for me and I found it! I stumbled across this reading log by Book Riot which is essentially a Google sheets doc where you input all the information for whatever you’re reading (title, format, length, author info, etc), and then it will convert all that into percentages and pie charts. I’m really excited to try this out and get an even better breakdown of my reading habits.

Let me know how your reading year went, what some of your favorites were, and if you use anything to track your reading as well! Have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

December OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Love is a Battlefield" and let's get right into it.

I'm always freezing, so these Serpent & Dove inspired leg warmers are going to come in handy. These were designed by @paperbackbones, and I like how the only bookish part of these are the buttons, so even if you're not the biggest fan of the book, you can still get use out of these.

I've said before that I'm not a fan of woodsy scents, so I found this Of Fire and Stars inspired hand creme by Fiction Bath Company to be slightly too strong, but I do like the packaging.

I love how OwlCrate adds in these wooden ornaments by Juniper and Ivy Designs every year! This one was inspired by The Wrath and the Dawn, which I've never read, but I still really like this and I'm excited to add it to my collection.

I've been getting more into puzzles during this year, so now I can add this one designed by Tiara L'Hommedieu with characters from An Ember in the Ashes into my rotation as well!

I don't know about you all, but I tend to bake a lot more during the holidays, so this little rolling pin designed by Michelle Gray was fun to get. The etchings are inspired by Spinning Silver which I haven't read that so I'm not entirely sure what they're supposed to be, but it's cute nonetheless.

The book this month was These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. This is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai, so it's filled with rival gangs, star-crossed lovers...and monsters? I've heard a lot of hype around this, so I'm interested to see how it plays out.

This edition also came with this beautiful artwork on the reverse of the dust jacket which was a really nice touch.

Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Top 5: Christmas Songs

Hello, all and Happy Holidays!

I haven't done a Top 5 in a while, and since I genuinely love Christmas music, I thought I'd do another list of some favorites. 

1. "Underneath the Tree"- Kelly Clarkson: I didn't even know Kelly Clarkson had a Christmas album until last year, and that is criminal on my part since this song is such a jam.

2. "One More Sleep"- Leona Lewis: I listen to a lot of Spotify Christmas playlists during this time of year, and this one always seems to be on it and I just think it's so fun and catchy.

3. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"- *Nsync: What girl growing up in the '90s didn't have this Christmas album? It's essential.

4. "Run Rudolph Run"-Chuck Berry: I'm dancing from the second this starts to the moment it's over. This has been one of my faves since I was young and I have to play it at least 50 times during the holidays.

5. "Fairytale of New York"- The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl: Now, unfortunately, some of the lyrics of this song are not the best, but this is one that I think plays in pretty much every Irish household during this time of year.

Let me know some of your favorite holiday songs!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Got Bit By the Redecorating Bug

Hello, all!

I don't know about anyone else, but after quarantining for 9 months now, I've gotten pretty sick of staring at the same four walls all day everyday. When I first started working from home back in March, I did everything in my room. I'd work at my desk during the day, and then move to my bed afterwards to watch TV or read, so things got old real quick.

I decided a few things then: 1. I had to find somewhere else to work (I've since moved to my dining room), and 2. My room needed a spruce up. So, I've slowly been trying to revamp. I started with new bedding, then a new bookcase and record storage, and a few new fake plants (I really wish I could get real plants, but alas, I was cursed with a black thumb).

My next step is decor, so I was super excited to get to work with Photowall for this post. (Big thank you to them!) Photowall is a wonderful site that has everything from wall murals and wallpaper to canvas prints and posters. They have such a vast collection of designs so there's sure to be something for everyone. 

I love a print, so I was instantly drawn to that section. There were so many to chose from, but once I saw this Elton John one I knew that was it. I love how minimalistic it is and "Tiny Dancer" is one of my all-time favorite songs. I also think it pairs well with this Parlour Tattoo Prints Johnny Cash print I've had for years.

There's options on the site to get your print framed, but I opted to do it myself since I like all my prints to have the same frames, but they did look like really nice quality. Since there's so many different sections to peruse, I think these would make the perfect gift for anyone in your life. The prices are also super reasonable. You can check out their site here (if you use the code 'nerdybynatureblog2020' you can also get 25% off!), and once again, huge thank you to them for working with me!

Has anyone else been updating their spaces during quarantine? If so, let me know what you've done!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Most Anticipated Book Releases of 2021

Hello, all!

I’ve always seen other people do their most anticipated releases for the coming year, and I thought it might be fun to throw mine into the mix as well. I’m going to try not going too in-depth because I don’t want to bombard you all (I know it's already a lot-- sorry!), but I will link to their GoodReads page if you want to check them out. Some are coming out in the latter half of 2021, so there wasn't a ton of info out yet, but I still wanted to include them. Also, I categorized this based off the release dates listed on GoodReads, but we know with COVID that things can change at any moment. I'm also sure there's a ton more I'm missing, but this is what I'm going with for now.

Let me know if anything catches your eye or if any of these are on your list as well!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Well Played Review

Hello, all!

One of my favorite reads last year was Well Met by Jen DeLuca (you can read my review here), so it's no surprise the follow up, Well Played, was one of my most anticipated releases this year. 

Pub Date: 9-22-20
Adult - Contemporary

While all of Stacey's friends are getting engaged or popping out babies, she's stuck working a mindless job and living in an apartment over her parent's garage. This was definitely not how she pictured her late-twenties to be. She thought she'd be a big shot in the fashion world by now, living in a crowded city, but when her Mom became ill she threw away her plans and laid down roots in her small town. Willow Creek isn't all bad, though. In fact, some of Stacey's best memories come from working the taverns at the local Renaissance Faire every year. It doesn't hurt that she's spent the last two summers hooking up with the hottest guitar player, Dex MacLean, either.

However, this year, Stacey vows to make a change. She wants something more than just a hook-up; she wants the real thing. But could Dex be that person for her? One night, she drunkenly sends him an email, and to her surprise, he replies with words so tender and well-written that Stacey is beyond shocked. Who knew Dex felt this way for her? This sets off a year's worth of emails and texts that gradually get more and more flirty as the months leading up to the Faire grow closer. Stacey can't wait to finally come face-to-face with this new Dex, but she quickly learns the man she's been falling for isn't Dex at all.

Like I said, I really loved Well Met, so I was excited to be back in this world with these characters. I had high expectations going into this book, and while I did enjoy it, I didn't think it was as good as I was hoping. Stacey's a fun character to follow, she's bubbly and upbeat, but she also has these insecurities that she tries to hide from everyone. I'm not usually one for a catfishing scenario, but I actually liked the relationship she and Daniel built over their communications, and how it helped them develop a deeper connection. Speaking of Daniel, I thought he was just adorable. He's super sweet and thoughtful and he and Stacey meshed well together. I will admit, I do wish there were more real-life interactions between them to really sell the relationship because at times it didn't feel wholly believable, and I also think the story would've benefitted more with having less of Emily and Simon because they almost overtook the plot at points. Other than that, this was still a fun book and can't wait for the next one.

Rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Feeling Festive Tag

Hello, all!

So Michelle over at A Geek Girl's Guide has done it again with the tags! She created one for the holiday season, and it was too fun for me to pass up. Be sure to head over to her page to see her answers as well!

When does it officially feel like the holidays for you?

Usually right after Thanksgiving is when I shift into holiday mode.

Do you have any traditions for the holidays?

I always have to watch A Muppets Christmas Carol as many times as possible, and I bake a lot more.

What foods do you associate with the holidays?

Cookies! I used to do what I dubbed "Heather's Baking Bonanza" where I would bake for days straight for all of my friends.

What’s your favorite holiday treat?

I really love a Snickerdoodle hot chocolate from Starbucks.

What’s your favorite holiday activity?

Watching tons of Christmas movies.

Do you decorate for the holidays?

Of course! I didn't go as all out as usual this year, but I still put up a few things around the house.

How do you spend Christmas Eve?

I used to spend it with my Dad's side of the family, but now it's usually just a low key night at home. I also always have to watch A Christmas Story since it's on a 24 hour marathon.

How do you spend Christmas Day?

With my Mom and brother. We do gifts in the morning, then my brother and his wife go to her family, and my Mom and I do dinner.

Here are the questions if you want to do the tag as well!

When does it officially feel like the holidays for you?

Do you have any traditions for the holidays?

What foods do you associate with the holidays?

What’s your favorite holiday treat?

What’s your favorite holiday activity?

Do you decorate for the holidays?

How do you spend Christmas Eve?

How do you spend Christmas Day?

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Ready Player Two Review

Hello, all!

Oh, you guys, this one is gonna hurt. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is one of my favorite books, so I was very wary when I heard there was going to be a sequel. I went into Ready Player Two with low expectations because I honestly didn't think it could touch the first book, and yet the betrayal I felt when I finished was still so real.

Pub Date: 11-24-20
Adult - Sci-Fi

When Wade Watts won James Halliday's Easter egg hunt, his life changed forever. He went from a poor kid from the Stacks to a multibillionaire within moments. He and the rest of his friends in the High Five became co-owners of the OASIS, the virtual reality utopia where everyone spends their time. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility, and Wade may not be up for the challenge. 

Days after the contest, Wade stumbles upon one of Halliday's personal vaults and makes a massive discovery. He not only finds a technological advancement that is sure to change their world forever but also another riddle that will once again send him questing through the OASIS. But this hunt is definitely unlike the first. Wade will soon discover this one is way more sinister and he'll have to face a dangerous rival who has no problem killing millions to get what he wants. It's not only the fate of the OASIS hanging in the balance, but the lives of Wade, everyone he loves, and the whole of humanity itself.

From the moment this book was announced, I knew there was no need for it, and I firmly stand by that. Ready Player One ended in such a great way that it was unnecessary to return to this world. Wade is like an entirely different character. He's no longer that loveable underdog you want to root for, but kind of a jerk who alienated himself from everyone he knew but acted like it was their fault. Besides the character issues, the plot itself was also very much like the first book. There was another scavenger hunt with another prize at the end, but this time with ten times as many pop culture references shoved down your throat. I'm normally a huge fan of pop culture references, but this time Cline went way too overboard so it felt like the story couldn't breathe on its own. Then you had the ending which was so cringe I thought my eyeballs were going to fall out of my head from how hard I was rolling them. The only reason I didn't rate this lower was that there were some fun bits, but ultimately, I'm going to pretend this doesn't exist. 

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Kingdom of the Wicked Review

Hello, all!

I've been a big fan of Kerri Maniscalco ever since I read her Stalking Jack the Ripper series, so I've been eagerly awaiting her latest release, Kingdom of the Wicked. It definitely has a bit of a darker vibe, but I'm so here for it.

Pub Date: 10-27-20
YA - Fantasy

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria have grown up listening to their grandmother's tales of demons and princes of Hell. The twins have never fully believed in the dangers of these stories, but being witches themselves, have still taken every precaution to hide their abilities from those in their Italian town who would wish to bring them harm. After a brutal string of murders occur where young witches have been found with their hearts ripped out, Emilia is more on edge than ever. When Vittoria misses dinner service at their family's restaurant, Emilia goes in search and finds her twin's body desecrated in the local monastery. Beside herself with grief and seeking revenge, Emilia does the one thing her grandmother always warned them about: she summons a demon.

Believing her summoning spell would bring forth a low-level demon, Emilia is shocked when instead she gets Wrath, one of the seven Wicked princes of Hell her grandmother has specifically told them to avoid. Wrath claims to be on Emilia's side and has his reasons for tracking down who's been murdering witches, but Emilia can't put aside this nagging feeling in her gut that something is wrong. The pair strike a deal to work together, and soon Emilia discovers a warmth to Wrath she wasn't expecting, but like she's been told since she was young, the Wicked are not always what they seem. Despite her misgivings, Emilia will do whatever it takes to avenge her sister, even if that means losing her soul in the process.

I really enjoy Maniscalco's writing, so I was looking forward to this one and it was so fun! This had a lot going for it: the setting was amazing, all the mentions of food had my mouth watering the entire time; the characters were well-developed and I loved Emilia and Wrath together, their banter was my favorite part; and most of all, the story itself was engaging. I loved the idea of a witch and a prince of Hell having to work together to solve a mystery. They had such a slow burn-will-they-won't-they thing happening and I couldn't get enough. That said, I did have a few issues with this. For one, it was a bit obvious who was behind the mystery itself so the big reveal at the end didn't have as much of an impact. Another thing was I found Emilia's grandma to be so frustratingly vague about their background to where it was detrimental to Emilia. So many moments could've gone better had she just been straight up with Emilia. Aside from that, I was still fully invested in this and can't wait to see what the next one has in store.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Astonishing Life of August March Review

Hello, all!

I was browsing the shelves of my library the other day, and I randomly picked up The Astonishing Life of August March by Aaron Jackson. I had never heard of it before, but I liked the cover, so I thought I'd give it a go. Friends, let me tell you, it was the best decision I've made in a while.

Pub Date: 4-7-20
Adult - Historical Fiction

August March came into this world under the most absurd of circumstances. His actress mother gave birth to him in between acts of a play and promptly left him in a basket in her dressing room before heading off to Hollywood. Found amongst the dirty clothes, he was taken in by the theater's aging laundress, Miss Butler, who would tend to him in between her duties but would leave him at the end of every workday to fend for himself. Along with Miss Butler, August found companionship in Sir Reginald Percyfoot, an actor who took August under his wing and taught him everything he knew (which wasn't much), but who also did so when it was convenient for him. Living in a theater proved to have a profound effect on August. Hidden in nooks and crannies, he was able to recite Shakespeare before the alphabet, his only friends being the rodents he shared a small cramped room with, but August soon wanted more.

When his beloved theater/home is demolished, August is forced to roam the streets of a post-war New York City, pick-pocketing whatever he could to survive. The next few years of August's life are a blur of stealing, booze, and women until finally Sir Percyfoot finds him and sends him to a posh boarding school to try and make him fit for the life he deserves. As August grows into a man, he starts to long for all the things he never had: a family, a home, someone to love. Then he crosses paths with a beautiful conwoman named Penny, and things may finally be looking up for August March. But is what they have real or the ultimate dupe?

I didn't know much about this going in, and I think that made me enjoy it even more. It's so surprisingly charming and slightly bizarre. You follow August through his life from a feral child living in a theater to a pretentious boarding school brat to an adult conman/thief, and while most of the time he's a snob with a high opinion of himself, you still can't help but love him. He's ridiculous in the best way. Aside from August, the rest of the cast of characters was enjoyable and also slightly over the top. I liked him and Penny together and how their lives had been entwined from a very early age. This is all about a young man trying to make the most of a bad hand he was dealt, and it's done so in a highly entertaining way. It's witty and funny and sad at times, but overall an amusing tale.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, November 30, 2020

November OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Growing Wild" and it had a very Hufflepuff vibe to it.

The first item was this dandelion fluff necklace with art on the box by Studio Kyra inspired by Wild Beauty. I like how OwlCrate has been leaning more towards subtly bookish items, and I while I do think this is really pretty, I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of it.

Then we had this A Darker Shade of Magic inspired wooden flower press created by Peppermint Lines. I've actually never pressed flowers before, so I thought this was a unique item to get.

Then we had these Lord of the Rings botanical prints by Rheannon Ormond which I think are so pretty. I'm actually not the biggest LOTR fan, but I really love the whole aesthetic of these prints.

Last but not least, we had the 2021 reading planner designed by Blue Star Press along with some Pipstickers planner stickers. I always enjoy their planners, but I'm not sure if I'll use it next year since I already have two other reading journals.

The book for this month was Among the Beast and Briars by Ashley Poston. Cerys lives in the kingdom of Aloriya where there is no disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. But as Aloriya prospers, the woods around it grows darker and more cursed. Cerys knows the dangers of the woods first hand after watching it kill her mother and friends. Now, Cerys holds a part of the cursed woods within her. When a new queen is crowned, the woods begins to crowd in on the kingdom and Cerys is forced to flee, her only companions a strange fox from her garden, a powerful bear, and the magic within herself. It's up to Cerys to find the elusive Lady of Wilds and beg for a way to save her home, but the road may prove to be darker than Cerys could've imagined.

I haven't heard much about this, but I'm intrigued. I also love the edition OwlCrate created and it also has maroon sprayed edges, and we all know how much I love a sprayed edge. Let me know what you thought of this box!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Birthday Book Haul

Hello, all!

Happy Thanksgiving! As you may have seen, my birthday was at the beginning of the month, and I decided to really run with the "Treat Yo'Self" mentality. To be fair, some of these I bought a few months ago, some were sent to me by publishers, and some were gifts, but the majority are ones I did buy myself so we're just lumping them all into one great big haul.

1. Egg Drop Dead- Vivien Chien
2. Cookies and Scream- Virginia Lowell
3. A Field Guide to Internet Boyfriends- Esther Zuckerman
4. Nights at the Circus- Angela Carter
5. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories- H.P. Lovecraft
6. Royal Holiday- Jasmine Guillory
7. A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem- Manda Collins
8. Call Me By Your Name- André Aciman
9. Crazy Stupid Bromance- Lyssa Kay Adams
10. The Diviners- Libba Bray
11. Lair of Dreams- Libba Bray
12. Before the Devil Breaks You- Libba Bray
13. The King of Crows- Libba Bray
14. Candy Corn Murder- Leslie Meier
15. Death in the Stacks- Jenn McKinlay
16. Well Played- Jen DeLuca
17. The Tourist Attraction- Sarah Morgenthaler
18. Blood & Honey- Shelby Mahurin
19. The House in the Cerulean Sea- T.J. Klune
20. From Blood and Ash- Jennifer L. Armentrout
21. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire- Jennifer L. Armentrout (E-Book)
22. The Shadows Between Us- Tricia Levenseller
23. Kingdom of the Wicked- Kerri Maniscalco
24. The Silvered Serpents- Roshani Chokshi
25. The Huntress: Origins- Paul Levitz/ Joe Staton
26. Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy- Amy Ratcliffe
27. Harleen- Stjepan Sejic

 As always, let me know if you have any recommendations, or let me know what the last book you bought was!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Review

Hello, all!

Like most people, one of my most anticipated releases for this year was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. I'm so happy to report that it is totally worth all the hype it's getting and I loved it so much.

Pub Date: 10-6-20
Adult - Fantasy

It's 1714, France, where the only thing a woman is good for is getting married and having children, but twenty-three years old, Addie LaRue, wants more. She wants to be free. So, on the night of her wedding, she panics and runs into the woods, pleading to the old gods for help, but she makes a mistake. In her desperation, she doesn't realize that the sun has gone down and night has fallen, and one should never pray to the gods who answer after dark.

When a handsome, dangerous being called the Darkness answers Addie's pleas, she's cursed to live forever, but to be forgotten by everyone she comes in contact with. She can leave no lasting impression on anyone or anything. This curse leads Addie on an incredible journey that spans centuries, but despite all the wondrous things she's seen and done, Addie longs for the comfort of being truly seen. Then one day, a man in a bookshop remembers her, and Addie's life is once again changed forever.

OH MY GOD, THIS BOOK. Within the first few pages, I knew that this was going to be a new all-time favorite. The writing is beautiful and sad, the characters are so well-developed, and the story itself is just *chefs kiss*. I adored Addie and loved seeing her journey throughout time. Not all of it was good, she went through more downs than ups, but she never lost her will and overcame everything that was thrown at her. I know a lot of people remarked on the pacing being a bit slower due to how much backstory she has, but I enjoyed it and thought it was just right. The absolute highlight though was when Addie meets Henry, and I couldn't get enough of these two precious babies (even though Addie and Luc are a delight together). Their relationship was everything and destroyed my heart and then put it back together again. This was just so stunning and atmospheric and one I know I'm going to come back to over and over again.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Netgalley for these copies!

Pub Date: 11-15-20

Emo: How Fans Defined a Subculture- Judith May Fathallah: This should've been called Sugar, We're Goin' Down Snoozin'. I went into this thinking it was going to be a fun look back at the music scene I grew up in, but that wasn't necessarily the case. Fathallah really dives deep into the cultural impact emo music had on society, and isn't afraid to shy away from tough subjects such as gender stereotypes, and even the violence, that plagued this genre. While she touches upon different bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate and Dashboard Confessional, she sticks with the "emo holy trinity" of My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! At The Disco to really drive her message home. Along with the musical holy trinity, she touches upon how the social media holy trinity of Livejournal, Myspace, and Tumblr also played a huge role in the success of emo music, especially in the early 2000s. This is a very research-heavy book, so I think it would be an interesting read for someone who is more into the academic side of music. While I did appreciate the nostalgia factor, it read a little too much like a thesis paper for me to fully enjoy.

Rating: 2.5/5

Pub Date: 11-10-20
Science Fiction - Fantasy

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back- Various Authors: This is such a fun anthology to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back! This is essentially forty different stories retelling the events of the movie, told by different authors, and all from the point of view of a wide array of characters-- from those we know such as Wedge and Dak to those we may not have even given a second thought to such as the wampa and tauntaun. The latter stories are what interested me the most. I thought it was so cool to read from the point of view of some of the creatures, and I didn't think I'd be so moved from the inner thoughts of a tauntaun! You get a nice mix of POVs from both the Rebellion and the Empire, so you can get a feel for how it is on both sides. As with most anthology collections, there were some stories I favored over others, but even the ones I didn't love as much were still fun. This is definitely one to pick up if you're a Star Wars fan.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 11-3-20

September Love- Lang Leav: Yet again, Leav takes her readers on an emotional roller coaster. The poems in this collection range from hopeful to hopeless, from being in love to being alone. Whatever emotion you may be feeling, there's a poem for you to embrace. I flew through this in one sitting because I just didn't want to put it down. There were so many quotes that I felt a connection to and so many lines that I had highlighted. A few of my favorites were "Taking Time", "The End of Love", "Night and Day", "Ten Things" and "Show of Love." If you're a fan of poetry, I'd recommend checking this collection out.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Hello, all!

It's time for another round up of things I've been loving lately. Lemme know some of your recent favorites!

Listening to:

"Golden"- Harry Styles: I will forever shout my love of Harry Styles from the rooftops. I must've watched this video four times in a row once it came out, and the song is just so catchy.

"Kyoto"- Phoebe Bridgers: I can't believe it took me this long to get into Phoebe Bridgers. Her voice is so calming. Her whole album, Punisher, is great (especially for rainy days), but I've had this one in particular on repeat for months.

Christmas Music: Now, usually I'm on Team No Christmas till after Thanksgiving, but it's 2020 where there are no rules and you need to find joy wherever you can. My roommate has even put up our tree already, so we're getting way into the holiday spirit over here.


Harley Quinn: A few months ago, my brother added me onto his HBO Max account just so I could watch this, and I'm so happy to report that I loved it! I will admit, I find Kaley Cuoco's voice slightly shrill at times, but other than that, it was a fun time. The highlights are definitely Clayface, King Shark and Bane. I die every time they open their mouths.

The Great British Bake Off: I live for Bake Off time! It's my cozy show and I love spending my Friday's with a cup of tea and the newest episode. If anyone else watches, let me know who your favorites for this season are.

The Mandalorian: I pretty much only use my Disney+ account for this show. This is also one of the shows that my supervisor and I have to talk about every Monday morning.


Book Light:
No surprise but I read a lot. I don't have the best lighting in my room, so I asked for a book light for my birthday and I've used it every single day since. It has different settings where you can have it warmer or cooler and adjust the brightness. I just think it's the most convenient thing ever. 

Yoga with Adrienne: I've been trying to be more active this year, so I decided to give yoga a try and I'm really enjoying it! I've been trying to do the 30 Days of Yoga challenge on Yoga with Adrienne's YouTube channel, and I'm 100% not doing the moves correctly, but at least it's something.

Teavana Spice Apple Cider tea: Of course, I had to include a tea on here because you all know I'm an addict. I was afraid it would taste too clove-y because of the "spice", but it's barely there. If you love apple cider then you'd love this. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2) Review

Hello, all!

As you may have seen from my last post, I've really been enjoying the Cursebreakers series by Brigid Kemmerer, and A Heart So Fierce and Broken, was such a solid follow up.

*Potential spoilers ahead*

Pub Date: 1-7-20
YA - Fantasy

Grey may have once been the Commander of Prince Rhen's royal guard, but after defeating the enchantress Lilith, he's now on the run after learning his true identity as the rightful heir to Emberfall. With no desire to challenge Rhen's right to rule, he decides to flee with his secret and start a new life as a stable boy. While living under an assumed name and trying his best to keep his head down, Grey learns of rumors spreading about this mysterious heir and the magic he's said to possess causing many to turn against Rhen and his rule. Soon, Grey and his new companion, Tycho, are captured and brought before Rhen, who will do anything to get the information he seeks, even if that means torturing his oldest friend to get it.

As the daughter of Karis Luran, Lia Mara is no stranger to cruelty. She may be the eldest daughter, but she was passed over being named heir since she lacks the vicious brutality of her younger sister. Where she and their mother believe solving problems with a sword is the right way, Lia Mara believes in peace through negotiation. When she sneaks away to try her hand at a treaty, it leaves her a prisoner in Rhen's castle. Her only hope of escaping and uniting her country with Emberfall without more bloodshed is Grey. But can she convince him to stand against everything he's ever known to protect the good of all?

I enjoyed this sequel a lot! I really loved Grey from the first book, so I was so happy that he would be the focus here. He's so fiercely loyal and that comes at a huge personal cost. He always puts everyone in front of himself and his actions was a way of protecting Rhen rather than self-preservation. I loved learning more about his character and background. I also really enjoyed the new characters that were introduced, especially Tycho, who I just found so heartwarming. I liked Lia Mara, and while I did find her self-deprecation slightly grating at times, I overall liked her compassion and intelligence. I also have to admit, my feelings for Rhen have significantly dropped in this one. He was just so frustrating in this and refused to see reason.  With all the events that happened, I can't wait to see what the next installment has in store.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1) Review

Hello, all!

You all know how much I love a Beauty and the Beast retelling, so I have no clue how it took me this long to pick up A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Once I finished this, I went directly into the sequel, so stay tuned for that review on Thursday!

Pub Date: 1-29-19
YA - Fantasy

Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, holds a dark secret: he was cursed by an enchantress to relive the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over again. The only way to break the curse is for Rhen to find someone to fall in love with him. As a young arrogant prince, Rhen figures this would be easy, but at the end of each season, he turns into a dangerous beast and destroys everything in his path, including his family, his townspeople, and the occasional potential love interest. Now, entering his last season, Rhen is more desperate than ever to do whatever it takes to break the curse.

Life hasn't been kind to Harper and her family. Her father left leaving his loan sharks to come after her family forcing her brother to work for them to pay off his debts, her mother is dying of cancer, and she's constantly being handled with kid gloves due to her cerebral palsy. When she tries to prove that she isn't some damsel in distress by trying to save someone from being attacked on the DC streets, she's sucked into Rhen's world. The longer she stays in this enchanted world, the more she comes to understand what's at stake, and she's willing to help however she can. But there are darker forces at hand than just a prince's curse, and it may take more than Harper has to offer to save Emberfall from ruin.

I can't believe it took me this long to get into this series, but I'm hooked! I usually love any Beauty and the Beast re-tellings, and this one was no exception. I liked Harper and how independent and strong she was. She may have a handicap, but she never once let it define or hold her back from anything. Rhen was complex and I think grew the most throughout. He started sort of resigned and by the end was willing to fight to the very last for his kingdom and people. I also enjoyed all the secondary characters, especially Grey and Freya. My only slight issue was I found the beginning a bit slow, but considering all the world-building in this, I understand it was needed to ease you in. So, if you're into action-packed re-tellings, strong characters, and subtle romance, definitely check this out.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, November 5, 2020

A Star is Bored Review

Hello, all!

I've been reading a lot of top notch books lately, and I'm living for it! I feel like the second half of the year has been full of new favorites, and A Star is Bored by Byron Lane is definitely one of them. 

Pub Date: 7-28-20
Adult - Fiction

Charlie hates his life. He has a terrible job writing the news on the graveyard shift where he never sees the sun, he lives in a small apartment, he's single, and he's depressed. When he gets the opportunity to interview to become the personal assistant to one of his childhood icons, he jumps at the chance. Kathi Kannon is a world-famous actress best known for her role in a blockbuster sci-fi film, an author, Hollywood royalty, and admittedly, absolutely crazy. Charlie will do anything to get the job, but he's completely unprepared when he does.

As a young boy, Charlie idolized Kathi as this otherworldly being, but he soon finds out she's just like any other mere mortal. He organizes her life, from her pills to her underwear, he watches her spending, and he makes sure she doesn't leave her cell phone in a department store...again. While the work may be tedious and aggravating at times, the moments alone with Kathi make it all worth it. From last-minute trips to see the Northern Lights to shopping sprees to just dancing around the house, these are the moments that help Charlie see that life is worth living. As the year's pass, Charlie and Kathi's relationship grows into more of a friendship, which forces Charlie to look inward and ask himself if he's ready to step out of the shadows and lead his own life.

This is said to have been heavily influenced by Lane's own time as Carrie Fisher's assistant and you can definitely tell. Kathi has that same acerbic wit and middle finger attitude that Fisher was notorious for. She also has some of the same mental illnesses that Fisher suffered from, which I thought were handled nicely in here. I loved her and Charlie's relationship so much and thought it was the highlight. They're so different--Kathi is boisterous and doesn't care what anyone thinks and Charlie goes into a panic over everything--but they complement one another so well. They start as strangers, but by the end are family. It was both a coming of age and a love story, but not in the traditional sense. It was funny, it was sad, it was deep, it was moving, and you could tell it came from a place of such love and respect. I just simply adored it and can't recommend it enough.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

OwlCrate Exclusive The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Review

Hello, all!

I've always seen OwlCrate bring out these amazing exclusive boxes for new releases, but I've never actually bought one before. Then I got an email that they were doing one for V.E. Schwab's latest release, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, and I couldn't hit "Add to Cart" fast enough. I wasn't even sure if I was going to get this because I had a few issues with the post office saying they delivered it when they didn't, and when it did finally come the box was all damaged, but luckily everything inside was in tact!

First up, we had this wooden page holder designed by Juniper and Ivy Designs. I love the design and I've never used a page holder before, so I'm excited to test it out.

It wouldn't be a book box without a candle! This one is from Alchemy and Ink and it has a very deep woodsy scent which usually I'm not a fan of, but it seems to have a little sweet undertone, so I'm hoping that will cut through nicely when burning to offset the pine.

I've actually been needing a new reusable water bottle, so I'm really pumped on this one by @paperbackbones. It even has a little tea infuser you can pop in and out for loose leaf tea which I love.

Now, for the most unique item I think I've ever gotten in a box before: this gorgeous wooden calendar by Daffodils and Ink. I'm terrible at just changing a regular calendar, so I'm not sure how on top of this I would be, but the design is incredible and very chic.

The last item was this 3-year journal designed by Michelle Gray and Unlucky Designs. I've had a journal like this before and for the first few months I was really diligent about filling it out, but then I eventually stopped, so we'll see if I can keep up with this one.

Now, can we take a moment for the actual book. It is 👏stun👏ning. I'm such a fan of hardcovers with no dust jackets and I really wish more came this way. Aside from the naked book (which again was gorgeously designed by @paperbackbones), there's a ribbon bookmark, exclusive endpapers and rose gold foiling. This is definitely one of the prettiest books I now own.

So, this story follows Addie LaRue, who in 1714, France, in a moment of desperation strikes a deal to live forever, but there's a catch: everyone she ever meets will instantly forget her. This leads Addie on an incredible journey that spans centuries, but despite all the amazing things she's seen and experienced, Addie goes through life never leaving a lasting impression on anyone or anything around her. Until, in a bookstore 300-years later, someone remembers her.

Ahh, I cannot wait to pick this up. What do you think of this box? Have you read this yet? If so, lemme know what you thought!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Hello, 32

Hello, all!

I'm 32-years old today! I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of birthdays, especially with it being such a weird year, so I'll just be spending today with a quick trip to the bookstore and food with family and some friends at home.

I thought it might be fun to get a little more personal and give you guys a few fun facts about me, so we can get to know one another a bit more!

1. I don't post a lot of myself because I actually hate getting my picture taken.

2. I have a massive sweet tooth. I'll eat my weight in almost any baked goods except for fruit-based pies (I love a custard or pudding pie though) or cheesecake (this one is only due to me being lactose intolerant.)

3. I'm not a fan of breakfast foods. Pancakes, waffles, French toast, etc, big no thank you. Basically, please don't invite me to brunch, or do because then it gives me an excuse to eat fries super early in the morning.

4. I love going to museums. One of my favorite shows to binge is Mysteries at the Museum, and I even went on vacation to Washington, DC a few years ago strictly to go to all the museums there and see the items that were on the show.

5. As I've gotten older, I've developed terrible motion sickness if I'm traveling long distances. Also, if I'm on a train, I have to sit facing whichever way we're moving. I'm pretty much always stocked up on anti-nausea medicine whenever I'm going places, so if you're ever in need, I'm your gal!

Let me know something fun about you!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Horror Tag

Hello, all!

So Michelle over at A Geek Girls Guide made up another fun tag that I just couldn't pass up. Make sure to go over to her page to see all her answers as well, and I hope everyone has a spooky and safe Halloween!

How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?

Probably somewhere in the range of 5-7.

What was the first horror movie you saw?

Either The Blob (though it's more sci-fi), or Scream.

What is your favorite horror movie?

I have two: for a funnier scary movie- Killer Klowns from Outer Space (I even have a tattoo for it), and for an actual scary movie- Scream.

Do you prefer gore or thrillers?

Depends. I can take B-movie gore where it's obviously fake, but other than that, I don't really like it. 

If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Yikes, none of them, but maybe Night of the Living Dead because I can definitely run faster than those zombies.

If you were in a horror movie, would you be the final girl, the first to die, the comic relief, the smart one, or the killer?

Definitely the comic relief. Humor is my defense mechanism.

While watching a horror movie, are you the person who yells at the characters, the person covering their eyes the whole time, or the person who falls asleep?

I don't necessarily yell at characters, but I do talk at the screen if someone's doing something dumb.

Have you ever played a horror game? What is your favorite horror game?

I actually don't play too many video games, so I'm just gonna go with the classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

If you got trapped in one horror game, what would you want it to be?

I don't know enough to pick one 🤷

Here are all the questions if you want to do the tag as well!

How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?

What was the first horror movie you saw?

What is your favorite horror movie?

Do you prefer gore or thrillers?

If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

If you were in a horror movie, would you be the final girl, the first to die, the comic relief, the smart one, or the killer?

While watching a horror movie, are you the person who yells at the characters, the person covering their eyes the whole time, or the person who falls asleep?

Have you ever played a horror game? What is your favorite horror game?

If you got trapped in one horror game, what would you want it to be?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Final Girls Review

Hello, all!

I've been on a Riley Sager kick this month, and I'm having a lot of fun with it! Final Girls has been on my TBR for so long, and I figured what better time than October to finally read it. 

Pub Date: 7-11-17
Adult - Thriller

To the outside world, Quincy Carpenter has it all together. She lives in a beautiful NYC apartment with her loving boyfriend and runs a well-known baking blog. But a quick Google search would show that not everything with Quincy is as it seems. Ten years ago, she and a few college friends went on vacation to a remote cabin in the woods, but Quincy was the only one to come out alive after a brutal murder. The press lumped Quincy into a club along with two other survivors from different yet similar situations dubbing them the "Final Girls." Despite the media attempts at throwing the girls together, they never meet. Instead, each faded into the background to try and live as normal of a life as possible. That is, until now.

Quincy doesn't remember much of what happened to her that horrible night, despite numerous attempts from police and therapists trying to jog her memory. Her only comfort from that time is Coop, the police officer who saved her life. The memory loss is fine by Quincy, but it's soon going to be her downfall. One of the Final Girls, Lisa, is found dead in her home, and the other, Sam, shows up on Quincy's doorstep with the apparent purpose of forcing Quincy into reliving her past. Everything about Sam makes Quincy uneasy, especially when new details about Lisa's death come to light. Quincy must not only unravel the mystery about what truly happened to her but also get to the bottom of who Sam is before it's too late.

Like many horror fans, I appreciate a final girl. I love to see a strong female character stand up to evil and triumph. This was a fun look at what happens to that character after the film stops rolling. How someone who survived such a traumatic experience tries to move on and live their life. Quincy was an interesting character to follow because while she seems to have everything together, there's a huge part of her life she hides from. She's unwilling to relive what happened to her, so she mostly walks around in a Xanax-induced haze. Then Sam comes along and prods her into remembering by using some extreme measures, and you start to wonder if Quincy herself can even be trusted. While I was able to figure out a few of the twists, the majority of the time I was on the edge of my seat waiting for what would happen next. With so many secrets floating around, it was a little hard to keep track at times, but overall I was satisfied by how it all played out and would recommend if you're in the mood for a quick thriller.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, October 22, 2020

October OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Legends and Lore," and if I'm being honest, this was actually my least favorite box we've gotten so far, but let's still get into it.

First, we had this glass nail file with a quote from Girls of Paper and Fire on it. I read that and thought it was okay, but I'm happy to have another nail file since those are always useful.

We've gotten oven mitts and holders before, but this is the first time a bowl cozy has been in the box. I didn't even know these were a thing! The Spin the Dawn inspired pattern, designed by Janine Lecour, also gives me such 90s wallpaper flashbacks.

Then we had this soap inspired by A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Motherland Essentials. It has a very strong musky earthy scent, which is slightly too potent for my tastes, so I probably won't get much use out of this.

Next up was this bamboo phone stand designed by Lady Chubb Letters and inspired by The Star-Touched Queen. Not gonna lie, it took me a minute to figure out how to put this together, but it's cute and handy.

The last item was another first-- wind chimes. I like the design, though it took me ages to untangle! Wind chimes aren't something I usually use either, so not sure if I'll put them up, but I like how OwlCrate thought outside the box.

The book for this month was Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. After the death of her mother, Bree wants nothing to do with family memories or her childhood home. Her perfect escape comes in the form of a residential program for bright high school students at UNC-Chapel Hill. When Bree stumbles upon a magical attack on her first night and a secret campus society of monster hunters called the "Legendborns," she quickly realizes not everything is as it seems. After a mysterious teenage mage tries to wipe Bree's memory of what she witnessed, Bree recruits a self-exiled Legendborn to help her get to the bottom of what's really going on around campus. But she wasn't prepared to discover the descendants of King Arthur's knights, or that there's a magical war heading their way, or that she may hold the power to help stop it.

I've heard a lot of hype surrounding this book, so I'm interested to see how it is. Lemme know what you thought of this box!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Sun Down Motel Review

Hello, all!

Do you like multiple POVs/timelines when it comes to thrillers? I think it can be very hit or miss, but if done well, can really add another element to the story. In the case of The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James, it definitely worked in its favor.

Pub Date: 2-18-20
Adult - Thriller

It's 1982 and Viv Delaney is a night shift worker at the rundown Sun Down Motel in the rural upstate New York town of Fell. Viv has always felt uneasy at her job, and she has good reason. Shady customers, lights that flicker and go out on their own, cigarette smoke filling the air when no one's around, and phone calls with nothing but heavy breathing on the end of the line are the norm around the Sun Down. Then, Viv mysteriously vanishes in the middle of a shift and is never seen or heard from again. Did she stumble upon a secret she was never meant to know? Did she succumb to whatever lurks in the shadows of the Sun Down? No one knew until now.

Carly is a young woman who grew up hearing about the aunt that was kidnapped. She never met her Aunt Viv, but she knew her mother grieved for her lost sister her entire life. When Carly's mom passes away, she makes it her mission to find out what truly happened to Viv. She decides to move to Fell and in doing so, ends up taking the same job that her aunt once had. Carly soon starts experiencing the same strange occurrences that plagued Viv, and she can't help but feel like she may be out of her depth. With the help of some locals, Carly uncovers the truth behind what happened that fateful night back in '82, and she can't help but wonder if the past is better left buried.

This hooked me from the very first page. I was immediately sucked into this mystery and the whole atmosphere of the book. I think the dual timeline/POVs worked so well and made it even more fascinating. Viv and Carly were both interesting characters to follow and it was cool to see how similar their journeys were despite being in two different times. Both were very strong-willed and refused to let anything deter them from their investigations, even when it threatened their safety. The whole mystery was so intricate and gripping, and I kept holding my breath waiting for what was going to happen next. There were small bits I figured out, but the overall mystery was a shock and I thought very well done. The supernatural elements were just right and never felt too cheesy or out of place. If you're looking for a thriller that'll keep you on the edge of your seat, pick this up.

Rating: 4.5/5