Thursday, August 27, 2020

August OwlCrate Review

 Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Written in the Stars" and it was outta this world (ba dum tiss.) 

First up we had some push pins in this cute little star bottle. I'm a big fan of stationery, so anytime they include something like that is 👌

Keeping with the office supplies, we then had this little star pen. I love getting useful items in these boxes, and I'm constantly writing notes and lists to myself, so this is perfect.

Then we had this scarf inspired by Strange the Dreamer designed by Fern and Ink. The colors and design are really pretty, but this just isn't my taste, so I don't know how much wear I'll actually get out of it.

Back to some office supplies! I don't think we've ever received a clipboard before, but I'm into it. This Aurora Rising one was designed by Daphna Sebbane, and it'll be great to use while working from home to keep all my papers in one place.

Now, for my favorite item: a book sleeve inspired by The Starless Sea by Quirky Cup Collective. This mashes up two of my favorite things, so I'm here for it.

The book for this month was Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar. This follows Sheetal, the daughter of a star and a mortal, who after accidentally burning her father with starfire needs the power of a full star to heal him. This leads her on a quest to the celestial court where she must act as her family's champion in a competition that will decide the next ruling house of the heavens. If that wasn't enough pressure, if she doesn't win she risks never returning to Earth ever again.

This is actually one of my most anticipated releases for the year, so I was really happy to get it in this box. Once I heard it was a mix of Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite authors) with Hindu mythology, I was completely sold, and you all know how much I love a competition setting in fantasy. OwlCrate also sprayed the edges of this a nice dark purple which really takes this edition to another level. What do you think of this month's box?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Another Book Haul

 Hello, all!

I know you might be saying to yourself, "But Heather, I thought you said in the last book haul that you weren't going to buy any more books?", to which I'd reply, "....whoops 🤷." As always, any recommendations, please let me know!

1. Misery- Stephen King
2. Pet Sematary- Stephen King (I'm on a used horror book kick.)
3. The Halloween Tree- Ray Bradbury
4. Mr. Malcolm's List- Suzanne Allain
5. Not Like the Movies- Kerry Winfrey
6. The Friend Zone- Abby Jimenez
7. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 5
8. The Woods- Vanessa Savage (Thank you Grand Central Publishing!)
9. Vicious- V.E. Schwab
10. Dune- Frank Herbert
11. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin- Roseanne A. Brown
12. The Rage of Dragons- Evan Winter
13. The Hollow Ones- Guillermo del Toro/Chuck Hogan (Thank you Grand Central Publishing!)
14. Trixie & Katya's Guide to Modern Womanhood- Trixie Mattel/Katya
15. Poison: A History- Jenni Davis
16. Assassin's Apprentice- Robin Hobb
17. Storm Front- Jim Butcher

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Time for some mini reviews. Big thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the copy of Kind of a Big Deal by Shannon Hale and The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

Pub Date: 8-25-20
YA - Contemporary

Kind of a Big Deal- Shannon Hale: Josie Pie was once at the top of her game. She was a theater star in her high school but dropped out to pursue her Broadway dreams. When things don't go exactly to plan, she becomes a nanny instead. If her dashed dreams weren't enough, her best friend keeps distancing herself, her boyfriend never seems to have time for her, and her mother is getting way into energy readings. Josie decides she needs an escape, and after stumbling upon a bookstore, she knows falling into a story is exactly what she needs. What she wasn't expecting was actually falling into whatever she's reading. Whether it's a 17th-century maid in a corset, a post-apocalyptic badass, or a star of the stage, whatever Josie reads she's suddenly thrust into the main character's shoes. At first, she's freaked out but after a while, her confidence returns and she finds life in stories better than reality. But the longer Josie stays in fictional worlds, the harder it is to escape back to the real world.

I thought the premise of this sounded right up my alley, but I think the execution was a bit sloppy. I didn't connect to Josie as a character, I actually found her a little annoying at times, and I couldn't help but cringe or roll my eyes at a lot of what she did. The plot and pacing felt slightly clunky, and I don't feel like it hit its stride until over halfway through. Then once it did pick up, it was resolved rather quickly so it didn't feel that impactful. I wish we had gotten to see more of Deo, the mysteriously charming bookshop worker because I think that would've made the big reveal of his part in the whole thing better. Usually, I'm all for books about books, but this one just tried to do too much that it really hindered my enjoyment of it.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 6-23-20
Adult - Contemporary 

Take a Hint, Dani Brown- Talia Hibbert: Dani Brown is successful, driven, no-nonsense, and doesn't have time for any relationship that lasts longer than a night. She believes romance and relationships are a big waste of time, so instead, she asks the universe for a perfect friends-with-benefits partner to, ahem, help her de-stress. After a video of Dani being rescued from a fire drill gone wrong by the oh-so-handsome security guard, Zafir, it seems her prayers have been answered. Zaf was once a well-known rugby player and his sports charity could really use the news coverage that their popular video is getting, it doesn't hurt that the entire internet seems to be shipping him and Dani together either. To satisfy both their needs, the pair decide to fake a relationship, but the line between fake and real quickly starts to blur. Both have their issues to overcome if they hope to make their relationship last once the #DrRugbae trend has faded.

I have to admit, I wasn't super impressed with Get a Life, Chloe Brown, so I went into this with lower expectations, but I ended up really enjoying it. Right off the bat, I was sucked into Dani's life and thought she was so interesting. I thought she and Zaf had such a fun, flirty friendship already that once it transitioned into something more it was explosive. The chemistry between them was crazy. I also loved how Zaf was such a romantic at heart and handled Dani so sweetly. Aside from the romance aspect, I thought this touched upon a lot of important issues such as grief and anxiety in a very delicate and real way that added a nice depth to the story. My only slight issue was I did find some of the dialogue, especially during the more steamy scenes, to be a little cringe at times. Other than that, this was super enjoyable and I'd definitely recommend, especially if you love a fake dating trope.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 8-4-20
Adult - Thriller

The Hollow Ones- Guillermo del Toro/Chuck Hogan: Odessa Hardwicke is an FBI rookie who hasn't seen too much action. All that changes in the blink of an eye one night as she's forced to shoot her partner in self-defense after he becomes inexplicably violent at the scene of a crime they're investigating. While she keeps replaying that night over and over, it's not the actual shooting that's bothering her but rather the shadowy figure she saw leaving her partner's body after he died. Completely shaken by the incident, Odessa is more than happy to be stuck on desk duty pending an internal investigation and takes up an assignment of clearing out the office of a retired officer. In doing so, Odessa stumbles upon some evidence that proves the shadow she saw might not have been her imagination at all and leads her to a mysterious man who claims to have been alive for centuries and who just might be her only hope in saving humanity from a terrible evil.

The premise of this sounded very The X-Files-ish and I was intrigued. While all those elements may have been present, it didn't feel fully formed. Was is action-packed? For sure. Was it exciting? Yeah, a bit. Did it keep my attention? Absolutely. I loved the notion of these Hollow Ones being around for centuries wreaking havoc and this shadowy man sort of overseeing that they don't destroy the whole world. The only thing that fell slightly short for me was the characters themselves. Odessa was fine, and I think Blackwood was interesting, but neither one felt very real to me. I think if they were fleshed out a tiny bit more, I could've connected and been more invested in what happens to them. Characters aside, the plot was still interesting and I'd recommend if you're a fan of possession movies like The Thing or the show Supernatural.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin Review

 Hello, all!

I'm not gonna lie, it's been a minute since I've been impressed with a YA fantasy. I live for fantasy, but somewhere down the line, every series started blurring together and I just couldn't find any stand outs. Enter A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. I bought this when it first came out, and I'm sort of kicking myself for waiting this long to read it since it's now one of my favorite reads of the year.

Pub Date: 6-2-20
YA - Fantasy

When Malik and his two sisters arrive in Ziran for the Solstasia festival after leaving their war-torn homeland behind, he's looking for a fresh start. But he soon realizes Ziran might be more dangerous than he imagined. After his younger sister is taken by a vengeful demon spirit, Malik is forced into a dangerous bargain: either kill Karina, the crown princess, or his and his sister's lives are forfeit. Malik will do anything to get his sister back, even if that means rigging his way into becoming a champion in the Solstasia competition to gain access to the princess.

Karina has never wished to be the queen of Ziran, but after the death of her older sister and father, she knows that one day the crown will fall to her. That day comes quicker than she would like after her mother is assassinated. Beside herself with grief and surrounded by a court that doesn't seem to have her best interests in mind, Karina decides to try and resurrect her mother using dark magic, but she'll need the beating heart of a king to complete the ritual-- and she knows just how to get one: by offering her hand in marriage to the winner of the Solstasia competition. The pair only has until the end of Solstasia to complete their tasks, and with the end creeping near and tension and attraction building, the question is will they even be able to go through with it? 

I just have one thing to say-- Wow. This was so entertaining, so captivating, and all around so much fun. Karina and Malik are such strong individual characters and I loved seeing the story through both their point of view. I did lean slightly more towards Malik only because he's such a soft boy that I just wanted to protect him, whereas Karina was so fierce and could definitely hold her own. Brown seamlessly weaved together magic, mythology, and court politics into such an amazing story that I was fully invested the entire time. I'm also such a sucker for a competition aspect in stories, and this one was just *chefs kiss*. All the elements I love in fantasy were here, but in ways that felt so fresh and new. I can't wait to see what else is in store for this series.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Blog Tour: The Dazzling Truth Excerpt

 Hello, all! 

Everyone has family issues, and no one knows that better than the Moone's. After tragedy strikes their Christmas holiday, each member of the family is forced to confront their own pasts, until one unbelievable truth unites them together for a future that no one saw coming. Big thanks to Graydon House for having me on the blog tour for The Dazzling Truth by Helen Cullen. For my part, I'll be sharing an excerpt for you all. Enjoy!

Pub Date: 8-18-20
Adult - Fiction

Tuesday, August 11, 2020


Hello, all!

You know how much I love a list, so I thought it'd be fun to break down some of my favorite things recently.

Listening to:
Folklore- Taylor Swift: I’ve pretty much had this on constant repeat since it came out, and it gives me all the fall vibes. The ones I’ve been playing the most are: “Invisible String”, “August” and “My Tears Ricochet.”

“Chew on My Heart”- James Bay: What an earworm this is! I dare anyone to listen to this and not have the chorus stuck in your head for days. It’s such a jam.

“Dead Horse”- Hayley Williams: I have to admit, I wasn’t fully sold on this solo debut, but I do really love this song. Just like the James Bay one, it has such a catchy hook that I can’t help singing along.


Cursed: I recently finished this and absolutely loved it. I'm a big fan of shows/movies/etc that take historical/mythical elements and turn them into something new and fresh. The magic in this was so interesting and I loved all the complex political and religious elements. It was also a fairly true adaptation from the book which I appreciate.

The Umbrella Academy, Season 2: I like the Umbrella Academy graphic novels, but I love the show. This season dealt with some serious issues, such as race relations in the 1960's South, but the humor was still there as well. And, of course, there was another dance scene which I loved almost as much as "I Think We're Alone Now" from the first season.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Re-watch): I’m slowly making my way through this again. I’m currently in the middle of season 2 and loving it just as much as if it were the first time seeing it. I also heard The Legend of Korra is coming to Netflix soon, which I’m pumped for since I’ve never seen it before.

Loving Misc.:

New Record Player: I had the same record player for about 14 years, and it was a clunky 4-in-1 record/cassette/CD/radio player and the only thing that sort of worked was the record part. I finally decided it was time to upgrade and got myself this nice Crosley one. 

New Comforter: Don't you just love the feeling of sleeping with new sheets? I also decided to upgrade my bedding and it feels like I'm sleeping wrapped in a cloud.

Homemade Starbucks tea: I'm an avid tea drinker, and one of my favorites is a Medicine Ball from Starbucks. Since working from home, I've been making my own with Tazo peach and green teas and lemonade, and it's such a nice start to my day.

Lemme know some things you've been loving lately!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The TBR Tag

Hello, all!

I saw this TBR Tag over on Michelle's blog, and thought it'd be fun to do. Let's talk about some books!

What Are You Currently Reading? 

Cursed- Thomas Wheeler/Frank Miller and In Case You Missed It- Lindsey Kelk.

What Book Do You Plan on Reading Next?

Either Smash It!- Francina Simone or It Came from the Multiplex: 80's Midnight Chillers.

Top Three Books on Your TBR?

The Lies of Locke Lamora- Scott Lynch
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin- Roseanne A. Brown
In a Holidaze- Christina Lauren

An Intimidating Book on Your TBR?

The Eye of the World- Robert Jordan. I feel like I'm going to love this, but I just keep putting it off!

A Short Book on Your TBR?

Hmm... not actually sure.

The Book That Has Been on Your TBR the Longest?

The Lies of Locke Lamora. I swear I'll get to it this year!

The Most Reason Addition to your TBR?

The Year of the Witching- Alexis Henderson

Here are the questions if you'd like to do the tag as well! Lemme know if you do, I'd love to see your picks!

What Are You Currently Reading?

What Book Do You Plan on Reading Next?

Top Three Books on Your TBR?

An Intimidating Book on Your TBR?

A Short Book on Your TBR?

The Book That Has Been on Your TBR the Longest?

The Most Reason Addition to your TBR?

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Blog Tour: Lies Lies Lies Excerpt

Hello, all!

If you're in the market for a new thriller to sink your teeth into, look no further than Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks. Simon and Daisy Barnes seem to have a perfect life: they have jobs they love, a talented daughter and a tight-knit group of friends... but they have their fair share of secrets, too. It took the couple years to conceive their little Millie, years of desperation and disappointment that took its toll on both Simon and Daisy. Simon's hoping for one more miracle, but after a doctor's appointment shatters his hopes, he turns to the bottle. With secrets swirling in their home, Daisy and Simon must try to hold onto the illusion of the perfect family before it shatters around them.

Pub Date: 8-4-20
Adult - Thriller

Big thanks to Mira Books for having me on this blog tour where I'll be sharing an excerpt with you all. Enjoy!

May 1976

Simon was six years old when he first tasted beer.

He was bathed and ready for bed wearing soft pyjamas, even though it was light outside; still early. Other kids were in the street, playing on their bikes, kicking a football. He could hear them through the open window, although he couldn’t see them because the blinds were closed. His daddy didn’t like the evening light glaring on the TV screen, his mummy didn’t like the neighbours looking in; keeping the room dark was something they agreed on.

His mummy didn’t like a lot of things: wasted food, messy bedrooms, Daddy driving too fast, his sister throwing a tantrum in public. Mummy liked ‘having standards’. He didn’t know what that meant, exactly. There was a standard-bearer at Cubs; he was a big boy and got to wave the flag at the front of the parade, but his mummy didn’t have a flag, so it was unclear. What was clear was that she didn’t like him to be in the street after six o’clock. She thought it was common. He wasn’t sure what common was either, something to do with having fun. She bathed him straight after tea and made him put on pyjamas, so that he couldn’t sneak outside.

He didn’t know what his daddy didn’t like, just what he did like. His daddy was always thirsty and liked a drink. When he was thirsty he was grumpy and when he had a drink, he laughed a lot. His daddy was an accountant and like to count in lots of different ways: “a swift one’, “a cold one’, and ‘one more for the road’. Sometimes Simon though his daddy was lying when he said he was an accountant; most likely, he was a pirate or a wizard. He said to people, “Pick your poison’, which sounded like something pirates might say, and he liked to drink, “the hair of a dog’ in the morning at the weekends, which was definitely a spell. Simon asked his mummy about it once and she told him to stop being silly and never to say those silly things outside the house.

He had been playing with his Etch A Sketch, which was only two months old and was a birthday present. Having seen it advertised on TV, Simon had begged for it, but it was disappointing. Just two silly knobs making lines that went up and down, side to side. Limited. Boring. He was bored. The furniture in the room was organised so all of it was pointing at the TV which was blaring but not interesting. The news. His parents liked watching the news, but he didn’t. His father was nursing a can of the grown ups’ pop that Simon was never allowed. The pop that smelt like nothing else, fruity and dark and tempting.

“Can I have a sip?” he asked.

“Don’t be silly, Simon,” his mother interjected. “You’re far too young. Beer is for daddies.” He thought she said ‘daddies’, but she might have said ‘baddies’.

His father put the can to his lips, glared at his mother, cold. A look that said, “Shut up woman, this is man’s business.” His mother had blushed, looked away as though she couldn’t stand to watch, but she held her tongue. Perhaps she thought the bitterness wouldn’t be to his taste, that one sip would put him off. He didn’t like the taste. But he enjoyed the collusion. He didn’t know that word then, but he instinctively understood the thrill. He and his daddy drinking grown ups’ pop! His father had looked satisfied when he swallowed back the first mouthful, then pushed for a second. He looked almost proud. Simon tasted the aluminium can, the snappy biting bitter bubbles and it lit a fuse.

After that, in the mornings, Simon would sometimes get up early, before Mummy or Daddy or his little sister, and he’d dash around the house before school, tidying up. He’d open the curtains, empty the ashtrays, clear away the discarded cans. Invariably his mother went to bed before his father. Perhaps she didn’t want to have to watch him drink himself into a stupor every night, perhaps she hoped denying him an audience might take away some of the fun for him, some of the need. She never saw just how bad the place looked by the time his father staggered upstairs to bed. Simon knew it was important that she didn’t see that particular brand of chaos.

Occasionally there would be a small amount of beer left in one of the cans. Simon would slurp it back. He found he liked the flat, forbidden, taste just as much as the fizzy hit of fresh beer. He’d throw open a window, so the cigarette smoke and the secrets could drift away. When his mother came downstairs, she would smile at him and thank him for tidying up.

“You’re a good boy, Simon,” she’d say with some relief. And no idea.

When there weren’t dregs to be slugged, he sometimes opened a new can. Threw half of it down his throat before eating his breakfast. His father never kept count.

Some people say their favourite smell is freshly baked bread, others say coffee or a campfire. From a very young age, few scents could pop Simon’s nerve endings like the scent of beer.

The promise of it.

More info about the book can be found here: