Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Under the Whispering Door Review

Hello, all!

Before we get into today's post-- I decided to refresh my blog a bit and switched up my theme. I had the old one for years, and I saw this book background and thought it fitting. I'm not sure if I like it yet or if I find it too busy. Let me know what you all think!

I read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune last year (review here) and fell head over heels with it, so his latest release, Under the Whispering Door, was one of my most anticipated for this year. Big thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for a copy!

Pub Date: 9-21-21
Adult - Fantasy

Wallace Price was a terrible man. He was a terrible husband, he was a terrible boss, he'd be a terrible friend too if he had had any of those. Wallace never much cared for the thoughts or feelings of others if they didn't somehow benefit him. He dedicated his entire life to work and making sure he and his law firm were the most successful, and if he struck fear in the hearts of those around him, all the better for it. But now he's dead, and all he has to show for his life is a very expensive coffin.

When a spunky reaper named Mei shows up at his funeral, Wallace is ready for her to lead him straight to the afterlife, but instead, Mei brings him to a curious tea shop in the middle of the woods. Wallace quickly realizes this tea shop, including its handsome owner, isn't ordinary. The locals know Hugo as just a tea seller, but his real job is as a ferryman, helping those like Wallace cross over. But Wallace isn't ready to leave the life he knew behind, especially when he never got a chance to live it in the first place. With the help of Hugo, Mei, and the other inhabitants of the tea shop, Wallace learns to appreciate all the small things he took for granted. When the powerful and mysterious cosmic being known as the Manager steps in and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace frantically strives to pack an entire lifetime worth of memories into seven short days. But now that he finally knows the true meaning of friendship, family, and love, will he be able to say goodbye?

Once again, Klune has ripped out my heart, stomping and healing it all at the same time. I'm not going to sit here and say it was flawless, but it's pretty dang close. I went into this expecting to fall in love immediately as I did with his previous book, but it wasn't necessarily the case here. It took about twenty to thirty percent before I was fully invested in the story and thought it found its rhythm, but when I finally fell, I fell hard. It's chock full of Klune's signature whimsy and charm, but it's not just lightness and fun. It's a story about death and grief, but it's also about family and love. Klune beautifully balances all these heavy topics with humor and tenderness. There's an underlying feeling of hope woven throughout, and it's such a delight to see how it all played out. Aside from the plot, my favorite part of this was the characters. As much as I adored Wallace and Hugo and all their sweet interactions tugging at my heartstrings, my favorite was Nelson. He had me laughing out loud the entire time and made this even more joyful to read. While I may not have fully clicked with the beginning, by the end, I didn't want to leave this world or these characters behind, and I'm sure I'll reach for this again and again.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 16, 2021

August OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for last month was "Dark Academia" and it was definitely one of my favorite boxes they've done!



The first item was this double-sided book sleeve inspired by The Raven Boys. I've actually never read this series, but you can never have too many book sleeves in my opinion.


I drink tea every single day, so you know I love getting new ones to try! I tend to stick with green or herbal teas, and this strawberry/raspberry/hibicus blend by Riddle's Tea Shoppe sounds right up my alley! It's also Truly, Devious inspired which I love. 


Another thing I can never have enough of is notebooks. This If We Were Villains one by @paperbackbones is actually a reading kit, so there's little sticky tabs you can use if you annotate your books. We love a cute and convenient item!




Then there was the third tin in their A Darker Shade of Magic collectible tins. This one is for White London, and I love how sleek and clean it looks.


How gorgeous is this metal bookmark?! It was designed by @paperbackbones and has a quote from The Secret History. I'm a little nervous about using it since it's so delicate I don't want to accidentally break it, so I may just use it as decoration.


The last item was this cute rubber book stamp created by Little Inklings Design. I was just joking with a friend about how I wanted to get one of these, so I was very excited when I saw it. 



The book for August was A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee. This is set at a prestigious boarding school with a long, dark history full of murder and witchcraft, and follows two students who will do just about anything to uncover all its secrets.

I actually read this last month and really enjoyed it (review coming soon!). It's so atmospheric and would make a perfect autumnal read. If I'm honest, I wasn't a huge fan of what OwlCrate did with the cover since it's so different than the original, but the more I look at it, the more I love it. It also has beautiful metallic silver sprayed edges and artwork on the reverse of the dust jacket.

Let me know what you thought of this box!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!


Pub Date: 9-7-21
Adult - Contemporary

A Spot of Trouble- Teri Wilson: Violet March and Sam Nash couldn't be more different. She's a bubbly baker, and he's a by-the-book fire marshal. The one thing they do have in common? They both own Dalmatians-- just like her owner, Sprinkles is enthusiastic but unruly, and Cinder is a well-trained fire dog who never puts a paw out of line. Ever since their first encounter, when Violet accused Sam of dognapping, the pair have been at odds. It doesn't help that Violet is the police chief's daughter, and the police and firemen of their small beach town have had a long-standing feud for as long as anyone can remember. Violet was hurt by a fireman in the past and Sam can't imagine living a life so unregimented as Violet's, but despite their differences, they can't help but feel pulled toward one another. When an innocent prank involving their dogs goes haywire, Violet and Sam's lives are turned upside down and there's no denying the spark between them any longer, so they might as well fan the flame.

I think this may be one of those times where I fell for the cover instead of the premise. I mean, look at it! It's so cute. While the premise may be adorable as well, the execution was way lacking. It almost felt like I was reading an outline of a story rather than the finished thing. Everything from the characters to the plot felt underdeveloped. I don't feel like you really got to know anyone in this story, let alone the main characters. I had more of an issue with Violet over Sam because she came off as so ditzy and not in a quirky way, more of an "Are you kidding?" way. She's supposed to be in her late twenties, but she read a lot younger. I did enjoy her friendship with the group of meddling elderly women in the senior home, though. Then there's the romance between her and Sam, if you can even call it one, which was so lackluster. There were a few funny banter bits, but ultimately, their dogs had more chemistry. I guess I was hoping for a little more meat in this one. It had so much potential with these two completely different people and the small town feud (which is also unsatisfyingly wrapped up in the last few paragraphs) it just needed to be less rushed and more fleshed out.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 6-8-21
Adult - Historical Fantasy

The Wolf and the Woodsman-Ava Reid: Being the only person in her small village without some type of power, Évike is an outcast. She's looked down upon for being barren and for her tainted bloodline since her father was a servant of the much-loathed king. When soldiers from the king come to the village to claim a girl for the king, Évike is betrayed and given up as a sacrifice. On the journey, Évike and the Woodsmen are attacked by monsters, leaving most of the party dead. Now, Évike and the cold one-eyed captain must rely on each other if they hope to make it to the capital alive. But Évike soon learns that her traveling companion is not just a soldier, but the disgraced prince and rightful heir to the throne. Gáspár reveals that his fanatic half-brother has plans to usurp the throne, and he and Évike strike a bargain to stop him. As their treacherous journey continues, the mutual hate they both had towards one another starts to thaw into something more tender. But can their blossoming feelings withstand the oppressive capital and the dark magic that seems to be stirring within Évike?

There's no denying that Reid's writing is beautifully lush and descriptive, and her world-building is incredible. That said, I sadly couldn't connect with the story. I found it quite dense at times, and I had a hard time fully grasping what was going on. It wasn't the fault of the story; I think it was just me. There were many aspects I enjoyed, such as the magic system and the romance between Évike and Gáspár. I liked following their journey from despising one another to finding common ground to eventually admitting their feelings. It is a very slow building attraction, but I thought it fit the tone perfectly. The Jewish folklore and Hungarian history influences were also a nice touch as they were something I wasn't that familiar with. Even though it didn't work for me, I can still appreciate that this was gorgeously written and touched upon very serious topics in a violent yet hopeful way.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 8-17-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Cheat Sheet- Sarah Adams: Bree Camden and her best friend Nathan Donelson have been in love with each other since they met in high school. The only problem is both have never been able to tell the other how they feel, and now years later, they both skirt around the issue whenever it's brought up. But after Nathan's ex-girlfriend writes an article slamming the NFL hunk as being terrible in bed, Bree accidentally (and drunkenly) spills her guts to a reporter trying to set the record straight. When the video of her goes viral, Nathan's agents pounce on the opportunity, and the pair agree to fake date for the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Bree should be jumping for joy at the chance of finally being with Nathan, but when all their flirting starts to feel dangerously real, she's more confused than ever. Could it be that the man she's loved her entire life wants her back? Or will this fake relationship ruin the best thing in both their lives?

I've only read a few books by Adams, but this one is by far my favorite of the bunch! It was completely charming and I couldn't get enough of Bree and Nathan. Their relationship was amazing and they both complemented one another so well. Bree was a total firecracker and Nathan had such a way of grounding her. Their friendship was such a highlight for me. They would both do whatever for one another and were so supportive. It felt natural and easy for them to transition from friends to something more, and there were quite a few times I found myself swooning over Nathan. There were occasions where I found Bree a little too immature, especially in regards to Nathan's ex, but for the most part, I liked her. I really enjoy Adams' writing style; it's quick-witted, and the banter always feels true and never too over-the-top. I always fly through her books because I never want to put them down. I definitely see myself re-reading this one in the future and highly recommend it if you're a fan of The Bromance Book Club series as this had the same sort of vibe.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) Review

Hello, all!

As stated in my last post, I've quickly become engrossed in The Diviners series, so much so that once I finished the first book, I immediately picked up Lair of Dreams. I've tried to keep this as un-spoilery as possible, but still heads up.

Pub Date: 8-25-15
YA - Historical Fiction/Paranormal

Henry DuBois III has a special talent. He, like his friend Evie O'Neill, is a Diviner, and dream walking is his specialty. Unlike Evie, Henry keeps his power to himself and his best friend, Theta. Henry uses his powers to traverse the dreamland desperately trying to find his lost love, Louis but has never been successful. Until the night he meets Ling Chan. Henry has never met another dream walker before, so he's instantly intrigued, but Ling wants nothing to do with him. Ever the persistent one, Henry refuses to let up, and the pair strike a deal: Ling will help Henry if he helps her uncover the root of the sleeping sickness which is ravaging the City leaving victims in its wake.

The pair discover their powers are heightened while together, and eventually, they're successful. Henry is reunited with Louis, while Ling meets a young woman named Wai-Mae, who has an uncanny ability to manifest entire objects within the dreamscape. Despite Theta's reservations about the sleeping sickness, Henry and Ling escape to the dream world night after night. Henry to spend time with his Louis, and Ling to learn how to harness her abilities with Wai-Mae. But the more time spent with Louis and Wai-Mae, the more Henry and Ling discover there's something very off. When Henry falls victim to the sleeping sickness, it's up to Ling, Theta, and the rest of the gang to fight off another supernatural being before it's too late.

There's always that slight fear going into a second book in a series that it won't live up the the first, but boy, did this one ever! I enjoyed following Henry in this one (especially because Evie was annoying the heck out of me) and delving into his backstory. As much as I love Henry and Theta's friendship, I thought he and Ling were great together. Henry is so goofy and puppy-like and Ling is completely no-nonsense and very scientific, so watching the two of them banter was hilarious. I'm still not fully sold on Jericho and Mabel, but I'm here for the rest of the gang, and can't wait to see how they all evolve and work together. I will say, I didn't think the Veiled Woman mystery was as gripping as the Naughty John case in the first book, and there were bits I figured out beforehand, but regardless, I enjoyed this. I also can't wait to see what happens next after the bombshell that was dropped at the end. Overall, this was a solid follow up, and I can't wait to continue with the series.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 4-20-21
YA - Fantasy

Witches Steeped in Hold- Ciannon Smart: Iraya has spent years behind bars with only dreams of freedom and vengeance keeping her company. Jazmyne is the daughter of the Queen who refuses to lay down her life to strengthen her mother's power. Iraya and Jazmyne may be sworn enemies, but to take down a dangerous threat, they must put their differences aside and work together. With each having their motives for revenge and the lure of power becoming increasingly more intoxicating, can Iraya and Jazmyne destroy their common adversary before turning on each other?

This is a hard one for me because there were aspects of the story that I liked but also a lot I didn't like. The main things I enjoyed were the setting and the magic system. I liked how this had a lot of Jamaican influences and Smart did a nice job of crafting the world around that. The magic was also lush and imaginative. My biggest issue with this was the characters. There wasn't a lot of defining characteristics between Jazmyne and Iraya so there were times where I couldn't differentiate between the two. Maybe if I had read this physically it would've been easier, but the audiobook narrators sounded very much alike which made it even more difficult to tell who was who. Aside from that, I also found this to be quite long and drawn out and think the pacing would've benefitted had this been 50-100 pages shorter. If you like stories with witches who are morally gray or twisty vengeance-fueled plot lines, it might be worth it to pick this up.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 1-4-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Off Limits Rule- Sarah Adams: Lucy has always done her best to be independent, but she has to face facts: she's a struggling single parent and she needs help. Luckily, she has an incredibly supportive brother who lets her move in with him, and he also happens to have a super hot best friend. Lucy is instantly attracted to Cooper, but her brother is dead set on them staying far, far apart due to Cooper's tendency to flirt with anything that moves and aversion to commitment. That doesn't stop the pair from sneaking moments alone whenever they can, and Lucy learns there's way more to Cooper than meets the eye.

Ok, this was adorable. I ate it up in one sitting because I just couldn't pull myself away. The characters are so fun and relatable. I did find Lucy slightly annoying at times, but for the most part, I enjoyed reading from her perspective. The family dynamic she had between her brother and her parents was everything. I loved how supportive they were of her and her son. She and Cooper's relationship was also so sweet, even though it was a bit insta-lovey, but I did wish that there was a little more build-up so it didn't feel as rushed. I also enjoyed how this one took the classic trope of the main girl getting sick and her love interest caring for her and flipped it to where Lucy was the one taking care of Cooper. I'd never seen that specific trope done that way before, which set it apart from others I've read. This was just so charming and funny, and I'm excited to pick up the next one!

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 9-14-21
Adult - Cozy Mystery

Death of a Red-Hot Rancher- Mimi Granger: Just because Lizzie Hale owns a popular romance book store doesn't mean love comes naturally to her. Everything she knows about that particular emotion came from the books that line the walls of Love Under the Covers. But she has bigger problems than not being able to find a man, and that's murder. When the eligible bachelor, Brody Pierce, is found stabbed to death, everyone in the small town of Tinker's Creek is on edge. No one knows what happened, but that doesn't stop fingers from pointing at Lizzie's aunt as the prime suspect. Determined to clear her aunt's name, Lizzie starts her investigation and soon uncovers that Brody had his fair share of secrets, and the list of people who loved and hated him is pretty equal. With time running out and a killer still on the loose, will Lizzie be able to get to the bottom of this crime of passion before it's too late?

I've only recently gotten into the cozy mystery genre, but I'm having so much fun with it, and this one was no exception! I was taken with the characters and the small-town vibe straight away. Lizzie was such a joy to follow. She's funny and a little awkward which made her seem realistic, and made you root for her to get to the bottom of this mystery. I loved how she used her knowledge of romance books and their tropes to aid her investigation. There were times when she came across aa a little judgmental, but for the most part, I liked her. Plot-wise, I thought it was fast-paced and kept my attention the whole time. It's not the most complicated mystery, and there were a few points I was able to guess, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment, and I still found the ending satisfying. Overall, if you enjoy cozy mysteries or are looking to start getting into them, I think this is a delightful one to pick up.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Blog Tour: Never Saw Me Coming Excerpt

Hello, all!

If you're like me and tend to read more mystery/thrillers during fall/winter, than you need to pick up Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian. This follows Chloe, who may seem like your average college freshman on the outside, but inside she's plotting the murder of the childhood friend who wronged her. Chloe and a select group of students are participating in a clinical study for psychopaths, but when one of the subjects is found murdered, it's a race against time to uncover the killer before Chloe is next. 

Pub Date: 9-7-21
Adult - Thriller

Big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour. You can read an excerpt below. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

I don't know about you all, but this month couldn't end fast enough for me! We're finally coming to my favorite season where my mentality fully switches over to that of Meg Ryan walking around NYC while The Cranberries play in the background. I've got a lot of good books lined up to read this fall, but first, let's go over the ones from this month. 


Audio: 

-Just One Damed Thing After Another- Jodi Taylor; 2/5
-The Rehearsals- Annette Christie; 3/5
-Neon Gods- Katee Robert; 2/5
-Gods & Monsters- Shelby Mahurin; 3/5
-On The Way to the Wedding- Julia Quinn; 3/5
-A Dowry of Blood- S.T. Gibson; 3/5
-All's Well- Mona Awad; 2/5
-The Dating Dare- Jayci Lee; 3/5
-The Bone Shard Daughter- Andrea Stewart; 3/5

Digital:

-The Tea Dragon Tapestry- Kay O'Neill; 4/5
-Stranger Things and Dungeons and Dragons- Jody Houser; 3/5
-Stranger Things: Science Camp- Jody Houser; 3/5
-A Spot of Trouble- Teri Wilson; 2/5
-These Hollow Vows- Lexi Ryan; 2/5
-Wasted Words- Staci Hart; 3.5/5
-Death of a Red-Hot Rancher- Mimi Granger; 3/5
-A Perfect Bind- Dorothy St. James; 3/5
-The Spanish Love Deception- Elena Armas; 2/5
-A Lesson in Vengeance- Victoria Lee; 4/5
-The Cheat Sheet- Sarah Adams; 4/5

Physical:

-The Layover- Lacie Waldon; 3/5
-The Heart Principle- Helen Hoang; 4.5/5
-Final Girls- Mira Grant; 3/5
-Amari and the Night Brothers- B.B. Alston; 3.5/5
-For Your Own Good- Samantha Downing; 5/5
-The Wolf and the Woodsman- Ava Reid; 3/5
-Beach Party- R.L. Stine; 2/5
-Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook- Liv Albert; 4/5

Some favorites were: The Heart Principle, For Your Own Good, and Wasted Words. Least favorites (there were sadly quite a few this month 🤷🏻‍♀️) were: These Hollow Vows, All's Well, and Neon Gods.

How was your reading month? What was your favorite/least favorite?

Thursday, August 26, 2021

R.L. Stine Book Haul

Hello, all!

If you've been following me for a while, you'll know I was on a mission to collect all 62 books in the original Goosebumps series. It was the series that got me into reading and I used to have boxes of them, but they were either lost or given away in the many moves we did as I was growing up. Well, after a few years of scouring thrift books stores/eBay, I finally did it! I'm so happy I now have all of them and I'm planning on re-reading them soon. (Let me know if you all would like to see a post dedicated to those.)

After finishing up Goosebumps, I decided I wanted to start on his Fear Street series as well as his additions to the Point Horror series. There are so many different eras of Fear Street and so many collections, I'm still not sure if I'll collect them all or just whichever ones I like the most, but I picked up a few so I wanted to show them off. 



1. Silent Night
2. The Snowman
3. Twisted
4. Blind Date
5. The Stepsister
6. The Mind Reader

What's an author or book series you loved growing up?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Top 5: Go-To Movies

Hello, all!

I love nothing more than lounging around all day watching movies. These are my go-to films, the ones that I can watch repeatedly and never get sick of (and will usually be quoting along without even realizing it), and will drop everything I'm doing if they're on TV.


1. Clue: This is my absolute favorite movie. It's so campy and hilarious, and I love every thing about it. The entire cast is so good, and the alternate endings are perfect.


2. The 'Burbs: *Sigh* Oh, Tom Hanks, you dream boat. I feel like this movie is pretty underrated, but it's so great. The whole premise is so over the top and the physical comedy in it never gets old. Plus, it has 80s Corey Feldman as well as Carrie Fisher.


3. Ghostbusters: I once watched this movie 4 times in the span of 2 days and I'm not even sorry about it. Out of all on this list, this is probably the one I quote the most. I also lose it every time Spengler yells "YOUR MOTHER" at Peck.


4. The Princess Bride: I mean, who doesn't love this movie? (Apart from my roommate who has never seen it, and I question everyday how I'm still living with her.)


5. You've Got Mail: Let me just reiterate- Tom 👏 Hanks, you 👏dream 👏 boat. This might just be my favorite rom-com, it just makes me feel so cozy anytime I watch it. Where can I find a guy who would send me a bouquet of sharpened pencils if he knew my address?

What're some of your go-to movies? Lemme know!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!


Pub Date: 4-21-20
Adult - Fantasy

Shorefall- Robert Jackson Bennett: A few short years ago, Sancia Grado would've happily watched her city of Tevanne burn to the ground. She's known nothing but strife and hardship ever since she stepped foot in this cramped city, but now she and her friends, Berenice, Orso, and Gregor are the only ones able to stop a dangerous entity from destroying the very foundations of Tevanne. For Crasedes Magnus, the very first hierophant has been reborn and he'll stop at nothing until he remakes the world. Thousands of years ago, Crasedes was just an ordinary man who stumbled upon the magic of scriving and succeeded in convincing reality that he was something more than human, and has roamed the world like a god ever since, meting out justice and razing civilizations in a bid to cleanse the world of whatever he deems unfit. To beat a god, Sancia and company must unlock a god of their own and discover brand new uses of scriving that will flip the entire world on its head if they're to have any hope of surviving.

The action in this book was relentless and at times frantic but in the best possible way. The events take place three years after those in Foundryside, and we get to see Sancia and the group a little more established and a little more sure of who they are and what they can do which I liked. They all grew and developed and I enjoyed seeing how well they all worked together. You get a sense that they have more to fight for and more to lose if things go wrong. I thought the conflict between them and Crasedes was so intriguing and I liked how as events unfolded, there were moments when you couldn't tell if he was the actual villain or if Valeria was. The dynamic between these two god-like figures worked so well and they each had so many secrets and I loved getting to understand more of their backgrounds and how they came to be entwined together. I still loved the friendships between Sancia, Berenice, Orso, and Gregor, particularly since the bond between them was so much stronger so that when emotional moments happened (and there were quite a few), they hit a lot harder. The only problem I had with this was there were times I felt a little bored despite all the action and found myself not fully focusing on what was going on. Other than that, I still thought this was a strong follow-up and I can't wait to see how the rest of the series will play out.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 5-11-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

Mary Jane- Jessica Anya Blau: Mary Jane is a fourteen-year-old in 1970s Baltimore who loves to cook with her mother, sing in the church choir, and listen to show tunes albums. She's always been a bit sheltered, so she jumps at the chance to become a summer nanny for a local doctor. Mary Jane expects to be working in a respectable home with a respectable family, but what she walks into can only be described as a circus. The Cones are the complete opposite of Mary Jane's family. They're loud, untidy, carefree in their affection-- they even walk around barefoot! As if that wasn't shocking enough, Dr. Cone's patient-- a famous rock star hoping to get clean-- and his wife have also moved in for the summer. While Mary Jane introduces family dinners and cleaning to the household, she gets a front-row look into the liberal world of sex, drugs, and group therapy. By the end of the summer, everything Mary Jane has ever been taught will be turned on its head and she'll learn that there are different ways to view the world and how one doesn't need to be pigeonholed to one ideal their entire life.

If I'm being very honest, not a whole lot happens in this book, but I couldn't get enough. Mary Jane is this young timid girl who was raised in this very conservative almost oppressive family where she never felt like she could express herself, and then she starts working for the Cones who are unlike anyone she's ever met before. Suddenly, she's thrust into this world where people can be whoever they want to be and act however they want, and it allows her to feel free for the first time in her life. I absolutely loved the dynamic between Mary Jane and the Cones (especially the precocious Izzy), as well as Jimmy and Sheba, the rock star and his wife that Dr. Cone is treating. They're all so open and have this lust for life that is so addictive, and it opens Mary Jane up and helps her blossom into her own person rather than who her parents want her to be. Everyone can relate to that adolescent feeling of not fitting in or not knowing what to make of your life, and Blau crafted that into such a beautiful coming-of-age story that is completely unputdownable and just such a joy to read.

Rating: 5/5

Pub Date: 7-20-21
Adult - Thriller

For Your Own Good- Samantha Downing: Teddy Crutcher works at the prestigious Belmont Academy, where even the parents are as ambitiously cutthroat as their children. Teddy has recently won the Teacher of the Year award, which would be high praise if his achievement wasn't overshadowed by the death of a parent at a school function. Usually, Teddy wouldn't bother himself with such trivial things, but when the death is ruled a murder, and one of his students blamed, Teddy can't sit idly by, especially when Teddy knows who the true killer is. And if meddling colleagues and parents get in the way of his plans, Teddy has no issue taking care of them. After all, isn't helping students what teaching is all about?

This whole thing played out like an HBO drama in my head, so I'm very excited that it's being adapted into one. It was captivating right from the start, and I was so here for all the prep school rich people drama. I pretty much read this in one sitting because I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It was so fascinating being in the mindset of these characters, especially Teddy. You could tell that he believes he has the student's best interest at heart, but really he's completely out of his gourd. I also enjoyed seeing the bits with Zach and Fallon, Teddy's current and former students. They each have a bone to pick with the teacher, and I loved seeing them try and knock him down a peg. Downing weaves so many threads throughout this, and they all came together in ways that I wasn't expecting that I loved. While some moments were a little over the top, I still thought this was great. If you like a fast-paced, entertaining thriller that will keep you on your toes, I highly recommend checking this out.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Diviners Review

Hello, all!

I've always heard about The Diviners series by Libba Bray, but for some reason I kept putting off reading it. I finally picked up this first book last October and immediately kicked myself for waiting so long. It has all the elements that I love: a historical setting, a supernatural mystery, a cast of fun characters, and witty banter. Oh, and did I mention it all takes place in 1920's New York City? It's just *chefs kiss*

Pub Date: 9-18-12
YA - Historical Fiction / Fantasy

After a debacle at a party, Evie O'Neill is shipped from her parents in Ohio to live with her bachelor uncle in Manhattan, and Evie could not be more thrilled. New York City in 1926 is everything Evie hoped it would be: speakeasies, flappers, parties every night, and loads of handsome fellas. But after a string of gruesome murders start popping up, Evie quickly learns the City isn't all fun and games. 

Since her uncle is an expert on the occult, the police bring him on as an advisor, but Evie believes she may be of better help for she has a dark secret. She has a supernatural gift that allows her to see into the past of objects she touches. When her uncle discovers this ability, he reluctantly agrees to let her tag along. As the pair dive into catching a serial killer, strange things are occurring all over the City as a deep, dark evil is awakening.

I've been intrigued by this book for a long time, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up. It had all the spooky vibes I was hoping for and then some. Right off the bat, the setting is amazing. 1920's New York lends the perfect backdrop and makes the story feel even grittier. The characters were also fascinating, especially Evie. At first, I didn't know if I was going to like her since she's a bit spoiled and a troublemaker, but she grew on me by the end. I loved how the majority of the characters you meet have some sort of special ability or secret that they've been forced to hide, and I'm excited to see how that plays out in future books. The murder plot was super creepy and I was surprised by how unsettled it made me feel at times. This is a very dense book, and occasionally felt slightly too long, but overall it's completely gripping and I can't wait to pick up the next one.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 9-23-14
Adult - Fiction 

How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran: It's 1990, and fourteen-year-old Johanna Morrigan has embarrassed herself so epically on television that she's decided she can't possibly be herself for one minute longer. Instead of being meek, mousy Johanna, she's reinventing herself as the crass, loudmouth, Dolly Wilde. Johanna dons her new personality and sets out to help her struggling family by becoming a music journalist. By the time she's sixteen, she's spending nights drinking, chain-smoking, and bedding as many rock stars as possible and then turning around and trashing their bands in her reviews by morning. Johanna fully embraces this new lifestyle she's built, but what happens when she realizes Dolly isn't who she wants to be anymore?

I'm a bit torn on this one because the bits I liked and the bits I didn't are pretty much equal. As someone who spent most of their high school/college career writing for music zines and interviewing bands, I loved that aspect. It was fun going along to shows with Johanna and watching her craft her reviews because that was the same thing I used to do on countless weekends. I know the thrill of being packed together in a dingy venue with lots of other people listening to a band play their hearts out, so it was relatable watching her go through all those emotions for the first time. Aside from that, I liked the dynamic between Johanna and her family, as well as her friendship with John Kite, and the nineties setting. My main issues were the fact that the writing was repetitive, and Johanna was so sex-crazed, and her exploits very detailed, which made it slightly uncomfortable to read at times. More power to her for being on this journey of self-discovery, but I didn't need a play-by-play. It was still a somewhat funny coming-of-age story, you just have to wade through some cringey second-hand embarrassment to get to the heart of it.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-1-21
Adult - Contemporary

Seven Days in June- Tia Williams: When Eva Mercy was young, she and her mother constantly moved around from city to city, never staying in one place for long. In her senior year, she met Shane Hall, and the pair had a whirlwind romance that lasted for seven frantic days before Shane left her, and they never spoke again. Now, Eva is a best-selling erotica writer and single mother living in Brooklyn, and Shane is an enigmatic author who'd rather stay out of the limelight. While no one knows about the history between them, both have been writing to one another in their books for years. When the pair cross paths at a literary event, they can't deny the spark is still there. Over the next seven days, Eva and Shane begin to reconnect, and the feelings between them are more intense than ever, but can Eva trust that Shane isn't the same reckless kid who broke her heart all those years ago?

I didn't know much about this going in other than so many people were raving about it, and the hype is fully deserved! I was hooked right from the start. I loved following along on this epic, whirlwind romance and watching it go from angsty teenage wanting to mature understanding. Williams' writing is sharp and easy to fall into; it almost felt like you were having a conversation with a friend. Eva and Shane were both so complex and vulnerable, and it was satisfying watching them put the work in to have a relationship and fully realize they're both deserving of the kind of love they always pushed to the side. They both had their flaws and are very much all-or-nothing type people, but it made them feel even more real. I also loved how they were writing to each other in their books for years without anyone knowing. The representation of invisible illnesses and the silent suffering many go through daily was also really well done, and I don't think it's talked about enough in books. If you enjoy second-chance romances, you won't be able to put this one down.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 8-31-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Heart Principle- Helen Hoang: Once Anna loved playing the violin, but after a viral video made her famous, she's lost the music that was once as natural to her as breathing. Now, she can barely make it through a piece before obsessively starting over until it's perfect. Not only is Anna suffering from burnout, but her long-time boyfriend has decided he wants to see other people before he can commit to settling down with her. Anna's never had a one-night stand before, so she sets herself up on a dating site where she meets Quan. This muscular, heavily tattooed, motorcycle-driving man couldn't be further from her boyfriend, which means he's just what Anna needs for one night of fun. But when their first, second, and third attempts all fail, Anna starts to realize that Quan means more to her than just one night. He makes her feel things she's never felt before and fully embraces her for who she is. Both are dealing with obstacles in their personal lives that take a toll on their relationship, but they know what they have is worth fighting for, they just have to be courageous enough to not let go.

This was so unlike the previous two books, but it's hands-down my favorite. It was way deeper and emotional than the other books and dealt with darker topics, but there was still that underlying sense of hope. Anna felt so real, and that made everything she was going through that much more heartbreaking. She's trying to find herself while juggling so many changes in her life and career, and watching her and her feelings get dismissed by her family was hard to take at times. You can see how badly she's struggling and how trapped she feels inside her own mind, and you want someone to take care of her. And Quan was the perfect match. He was so sweet and gentle with her. He was attentive to what she needed and made sure she was safe and comfortable. I was fully connected and loved them together right from the start, and their chemistry was *chefs kiss*. Watching them develop as a couple was great, but watching them develop as individuals was beautiful. This whole thing just felt very raw and honest, and it'll break and mend your heart all at the same time.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Book Haul

Hello, all!

Here are a few books I've picked up within the last few weeks. Let me know if you've read any or what the last book you bought was!



1. The Layover- Lacie Waldon
2. Isn't It Bromantic?- Lyssa Kay Adams
3. It Happened One Summer- Tessa Bailey
4. The Witches of New York- Ami McKay
5. Daughters of Sparta- Claire Heywood
6. The Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafón
7. The Atlas Six- Olivie Blake
8. The Heart Principle- Helen Hoang
9. Seven Days in June- Tia Williams

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Storm & Fury Review

Hello, all!

After binge-reading the From Blood and Ash series, I was excited to dive into other books by JLA. I started with Storm & Fury, and it was a pretty fun time!

Pub Date: 6-11-19
YA - Paranormal/Fantasy

Despite her failing eyesight, eighteen-year-old Trinity Morrow still can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits due to a secret she's been keeping her entire life. Trinity may come across as human, but she's half-angel as well. Being a Trueborn puts Trinity at risk, so she's spent most of her life hiding in a compound full of Wardens-- a race of gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons-- where only a select few know her true identity.

When a neighboring clan comes to visit bearing shocking news of something powerful killing Wardens and demons, Trinity's world soon turns upside down. Trinity can't help but be drawn to this new clan, especially the frustratingly handsome Zayne, who has more than a few secrets of his own. After her bonded Protector is kidnapped during a demon raid and her secret is exposed, Trinity must work with Zayne to save the ones she loves before an all-out supernatural war breaks loose.

This had an interesting premise and I found myself quickly swept up into this world of angels, demons, and Wardens. Trinity and Zayne both had secrets they've been hiding which led to a lot of angst and melodrama, but their snark and banter balanced it out. As much as I enjoyed the characters and the overall basis, there were a few things I had issues with. One being, at times, the dialogue and phrasing choices were a bit cringe and clunky. Another was despite how long this book is, not a whole lot happened until the last 50 or so pages. Up until then it just felt like the characters were being placed where they needed to be for the plot to actually start cooking. I'm still interested enough to see where the story will go (especially between Trinity and Zayne), I'm just hoping for a bit more action in the second book.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

July OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for July was "Potions and Poisons", let's get into it!


I love getting tea towels in these boxes, and this one designed by Aimee Mac Illustrations is so pretty! I love the botanical guide feel with all the poisonous plants. I almost don't want to use it because I don't want it to get dirty!


Next up, was this Narnia inspired bottle keychain designed by Blissfully Bookish Co. I think the idea of this is really useful, but I'm not sure about how convenient it'll be to fill up that bottle with lotion, hand sanitizer, etc.



I've gotten a lot of home items throughout the years of getting book boxes, but never have I received an ice pop holder before. This one was designed by @paperbackbones and it's inspired by Three Dark Crowns. If I ate ice pops this would be pretty cool, but I don't so not sure how much use I'll get out of this.



OwlCrate has done one of these enamel bookmarks before and I loved it, so I'm excited to get another one. This Alice in Wonderland one was created by Herboreal Art.


I've mentioned previously how I'm not a fan of the bath products they've included before, but I think this little bottle has converted me. It's a bubble bath/shower gel created by Fiction Bath Co. inspired by The Midnight Lie and it smells divine. I can't wait until it gets to be a little bit cooler and I can take a bath because I'll definitely be using this.


The last item was this OwlCrate exclusive TBR jar designed by Lichen and Limestone. I'm very much a mood reader, so I don't make TBR's, so I'll probably find another use for this.


July's book was The Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron. This follows a young girl named Briseis, who has the ability to grow plants with a single touch. When her aunt passes and leaves her a rundown estate in upstate New York, Bri's parents think it's the perfect opportunity to learn to control her powers, but it turns out her new home is deadlier than Bri could've imagined. Soon, strangers start turning up asking Bri for tinctures and elixirs, one being a mysterious young woman who seems to know a lot more about the old estate than she lets on. When Bri finds herself up against an age-old curse and a shady organization hunting for a powerful elixir, Bri must learn to harness her gift in order to protect the ones she loves.  

This is said to be a mix of Greek mythology and The Secret Garden, so you know I'm intrigued! What did you think of this box?

Saturday, July 31, 2021

July Wrap-Up

Hello, all!




Audio:

The Jigsaw Man- Nadine Matheson; 2/5
The Silent Patient- Alex Michaelides; 3/5
It’s In His Kiss- Julia Quinn; 4/5
The Broken Spine- Dorothy St. James; 3/5
Survive the Night- Riley Sager; 2/5
The Final Girl Support Group- Grady Hendrix; 2/5
How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran; 3/5
The Last Smile in Sunder City- Luke Arnold; 2/5

Digital:

The Box in the Woods- Maureen Johnson; 3.5/5
My Cone and Only- Susannah Nix; 4.5/5
Finlay Donovan is Killing It- Elle Cosimano; 3.5/5
Under the Whispering Door- T.J. Klune; 4/5
Kingdom of the Wicked- Kerri Maniscalco; 4/5 (re-read)
The Chase- Elle Kennedy; 2/5
Hook, Line, and Sinker- Tessa Bailey; 4/5

Physical:

Shorefall- Robert Jackson Bennett; 4/5
The King of Crows- Libba Bray; 3/5
Curse of the Specter Queen- Jenny Elder Moke; 2.5/5
Isn’t It Bromantic?- Lyssa Kay Adams; 4/5
Seven Days in June- Tia Williams; 4/5
Daughters of Sparta- Claire Heywood; 4/5

Some favorites were: My Cone and Only, It's In His Kiss, and Seven Days in June. Least favorites were: Survive the Night, The Final Girls Support Group, and The Jigsaw Man.

How was your reading month? What was your favorite/least favorite?

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Currently...

Hello, all!

Time to look back at some things I’ve been loving the last few months. As always, let me know what your favorites have been!

Listening to:



Horrorscope- Eve 6: I don’t know what it is about the summertime, but I feel the constant need to play this album and pretend I’m the star of my own early-2000s teen movie. It was a jam when it first came out, and over 20 years later, it’s still a jam.

Staying at Tamara’s- George Ezra: You know those albums you listened to non-stop when they first came out and then just faded out of your brain? This is one of those for me. “Shotgun” came on one of my Spotify playlists and now I’m back to playing this record over and over.

“Phone”- Lizzo: I’m a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay for another streaming service, so I haven’t been able to watch this season of All Stars that’s on Paramount+. Then I saw a video of Ginger Minj and Mayhem Miller doing a lip synch to this song and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

Watching: 


Fear Street: I loved these movies! They were so fun and absolutely nailed the nostalgia vibe. I actually hadn't heard much of these before they were released, so I had no idea that they were legit slasher movies, but I was so into it! I thought all three were strong and there wasn't one I liked more than the other. I'm hoping Netflix will make more!

Loki: This might be a little controversial, but I thought Loki was just okay. I liked it, but it didn’t wow me as much as I was expecting it to. My favorite bit was the last episode and I’m so excited to see how Kang will play a part in the coming phase of movies.

Black Widow: Finally we get a Natasha-centered movie and it was fantastic! It felt different from anything Marvel has put out, and I really enjoyed the spy vibe and getting to learn more about Nat and her background. The humor was spot-on, the action was amazing, and the emotions run high. Also, can we all agree that Florence Pugh just steals any movie she’s in? I can’t wait for more Yelena!

Misc.:

Manual Treadmill: I’m officially a permanent work-from-homer, and as much as I love it, I knew that I probably wouldn’t be as active now that I’m not walking around an office all day. I love taking walks around my neighborhood on my lunch break, but now that the weather is hotter, it’s miserable. I’d been toying with the idea of getting a treadmill but they were all so expensive. Then I found this manual one from Dick’s Sporting Goods that was on sale so I just went for it and I’ve used it every day since. I love it!

Bike shorts: I’m one of those people who once they started working from home fully embraced the loungewear life. I've literally been living my best Sporty Spice life. I’ve been especially loving wearing bike shorts with oversized tees. I think it looks so effortless and cool, plus it’s breezy for the hot weather. My favorite are the ones from Aerie. They’re my go-to for any loungewear because they’re so comfy (their leggings and bike shorts honestly feel like butter), they wash well, and they’re affordable.

PangoBooks: As you all know, I’m a massive book lover and collector. The problem is that I’m now pretty much completely out of room, so when I heard about this app that lets you sell your books, I was all for it. It’s so user-friendly, which I love because I’m tech-deficient. You just snap a photo of the book and the barcode, it fills out the info for you, you price it and once someone buys it, a pre-paid label is sent to you and you just pack it all up and drop it at the post office! I’ve put up a few books (mostly a lot of OwlCrate editions) and have already sold a few. I definitely recommend if you’re trying to clean out your shelves.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Let's Talk: The Bromance Book Club Series

 Hello, all!

I realized that I've never talked about The Bromance Book Club series by Lyssa Kay Adams on here, which is just unacceptable since I love it so much! Seeing as how the fourth installment just came out, I thought it'd be the perfect time to rectify that.


Pub Date: 11-5-19
Adult - Contemporary

The Bromance Book Club:  Gavin Scott may be a big star on the baseball field, but his home life is another story. Humiliated after discovering his wife, Thea, has been faking it in bed, their marriage is strained to say the least. When Thea asks for a divorce, Gavin realizes he's let his fear and insecurities ruin the best thing in his life. Desperate to find a way to save his marriage, Gavin soon finds himself in the last place he'd expect: being inducted into a secret romance book club with some of the most well-known Nashville alpha males. The club, along with their steamy Regency read, help coach Gavin into wooing his wife again and saving their marriage. However, Gavin is quick to discover that if he really wants to win his wife back, it'll take more than sweet words and grand gestures.

You don't see many books following the male character, so this was such a refreshing take on the chick-lit genre. I adored Gavin, he was so likable and charming. The love he has for his wife and how he'll do anything to win her back was so endearing. I also really loved Thea as a character, she was so feisty and didn't take any crap. The both of them went on this journey of rediscovering one another that was so heartwarming and lovely to read. The whole Bromance Book Club was also hilarious and I loved their whole dynamic together. All in all, this was so solid and a must read if you love a good rom-com.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 3-10-20
Adult - Contemporary

Undercover Bromance: Braden Mack is a smooth-talking king of the Nashville nightclub scene who's never had to work hard to impress the ladies. All that changes when he crosses paths with Liv Papandreas. Liv has her dream job working as a pastry chef at one of Nashville's hottest restaurants. But after an unfortunate series of events involving a cupcake and Braden-freakin'-Mack leads to Liv stumbling upon her skeeze-ball boss harassing one of the young hostesses, she's fired and blacklisted from the restaurant scene. Liv swears to get her revenge and Mack offers his help in exposing her ex-boss. Despite being suspicious of his motives, Liv agrees and the pair, along with the rest of the Bromance Book Club and some new faces, set up a sting operation that puts the romantic suspense novel they're reading to shame. Somewhere along the way though, Mack and Liv start to feel more than just annoyance for one another, and Mack is determined to figure out a way to break down all the walls that Liv keeps building between them.

I really enjoyed this. The glimpses we saw of Mack's character in the first book always made him out to be a player, but you really get to dive into his backstory and personality in this one which I loved. There's so much more to him than meets the eye. The same can be said of Liv as well. You really get a good look into these characters lives and what makes them tick and what caused them to be the way that they are. I'm such a sucker for an hate-to-love romance and watching them go from their constant bickering to something more was everything. The actual plan of taking down Liv's corrupt ex-boss felt very timely, and I liked how it all wrapped up in the end. I think I may have liked this one a smidge better than the first one. So, if you were a fan of that one, or just love hate-to-love tropes in general, definitely check this out.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 10-27-20
Adult - Contemporary

Crazy Stupid Bromance: Noah Logan was once a rebellious teenage hacktivist but now spends his time running a computer security business and hiding his feelings for his best friend Alexis Carlisle. The pair have been attached at the hip ever since Alexis helped take down a sexually abusive celebrity chef. Her popularity has brought many a woman to her café looking for help, so Alexis thinks nothing when a young woman approaches her one day, but she's completely blindsided when the woman claims to be her sister and was hoping Alexis might undergo a medical procedure to help save the life of the father who abandoned her. Completely rattled and unsure of what to do, Alexis turns to Noah for help. While his friends in the Bromance Book Club think this is the perfect opportunity for him to express his feelings, Noah can't help but think he may be jeopardizing the best relationship he's ever had.

This was by far my favorite in this series so far. I love a friends-to-lovers trope and Noah and Alexis quickly became one of my favorites. They have such a strong bond and are completely supportive and caring towards one another. They're both also huge nerds which I loved. I really enjoyed seeing them open up to one another and how their relationship naturally progressed into something more. Despite dealing with some heavy family topics, there was still a feeling of lightheartedness and fun woven throughout. Adams delivers once again with the witty flirty banter and characters that feel real and genuine, and I can't wait for the next installment.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pub Date: 7-20-21
Adult - Contemporary

Isn't It Bromantic?: Vlad, affectionately known by his friends as "The Russian," is head over heels in love with his wife, Elena. The only problem is, she doesn't seem to feel the same. The pair grew up together in Russia, and when Elena's father, a noted journalist, went missing after speaking out about the government, Vlad and his family took her in without a second thought. When Vlad received the opportunity to move to America to play professional hockey, Elena jumped at the chance to escape the dangers her father tried to hide her from by accepting Vlad's marriage proposal. Vlad thought he could learn to live with their marriage of convenience if that was what Elena wished, but as the distance grew between them, Vlad couldn't help but feel like he deserved more than a one-sided relationship. After an injury brings the married couple back together, Vlad and his friends in the Bromance Book Club, with the help of a set of neighborhood widows dubbed the Loners, set out to save Vlad's marriage by creating their own real-life love story. But when secrets from Elena's past come to light, their happily ever after quickly turns into a life or death situation, and this time Vlad won't let Elena go without a fight.

I was a little hesitant when I heard about this one since the most we have gotten from the Russian in the previous books was just a running gag about his GI issues, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved him! At first glance, Vlad is this hulking, intimidating hockey player, but once he opens up, he's this sweet, gentle giant, and I couldn't get enough. I loved getting to learn more about him and his relationship with his estranged wife, Elena. The pair have been friends for all their lives and have harbored feelings for one another for just as long, but neither are great at communicating and are incredibly stubborn, so their whole dynamic goes haywire once they get married. Vlad doesn't believe she feels the same for him, and Elena feels like a burden since Vlad has always taken care of her. Both are so caught up in their worries that they're blind to the fact that they could solve their issues if they just talked. Once they got the ball rolling, it was so sweet to see them fall for one another again over Russian dishes and poetry. Of course, I loved the boys in the club doing their part to help the reconciliation, and the introduction of the new Loner ladies was perfect. They added so much humor and lightness to this. I did think the parts about Elena's father and the Russian mob being after her were a little dramatic, but it wasn't enough to lessen my enjoyment. Overall, this was yet another solid installment to this series, and I can't wait to see what Adams has in store next.

Rating: 4/5

Have you read this series yet? If so, lemme know what you thought!