Friday, April 30, 2021

April Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

I think I’ve finally kicked my habit of lackluster books! I still had a few duds, but for the most part, I had a solid reading month.


-When He Was Wicked- Julia Quinn; 2/5
-Legendborn- Tracy Deonn; 2/5
-Doctor Aphra- Sarah Kuhn; 4/5
-The Immortalists- Chloe Benjamin; 3/5
-One By One- Ruth Ware; 3/5
-The Off Limits Rule- Sarah Adams; 4/5
-The Midnight Bargain- C.L. Polk; 2/5
-'Salems Lot- Stephen King; 3.5/5


-The Soulmate Equation- Christina Lauren; 4/5
-The Duke Undone- Joanna Lowell; 2/5
-The Mary Shelley Club- Goldy Moldavsky; 3/5
-The Crown of Gilded Bones- Jennifer L. Armentrout; 3/5
-Life’s Too Short- Abby Jimenez; 4/5
-Malibu Rising- Taylor Jenkins Reid; 4/5


-The Witch’s Heart- Genevieve Gornichec; 5/5
-Ariadne- Jennifer Saint; 4.5/5
-People We Meet on Vacation- Emily Henry; 5/5
-Pride and Premeditation- Tirzah Price; 4/5
-Second First Impressions- Sally Thorne; 4/5

Some favorites were definitely: The Witch’s Heart, Ariadne, and People We Meet on Vacation. Least favorites were: The Duke Undone, Legendborn, and The Midnight Bargain.

Let me know what your favorite/least favorite read of the month was!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

April OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme this month was "Ruthless Rivals", and it wasn't my favorite box, but let's get into it.

First up was this little card game designed by @paperbackbones. I've never gotten a card game before, and I do love a game night, so this will be fun to break out.

Then we had this chopstick set also designed by @paperbackbones inspired by These Violent Delights. I have no idea how to use chopsticks, so I may need to pass this along to someone who will be able to get more out of it.

Another item I'll be passing off is this cinnamon hazelnut coffee by Fable Grounds Coffee. I'm just not a coffee fan 🤷

My favorite item was this pop socket/card holder inspired by Hamilton designed by Lady Chubb Letters. I'm a huge Hamilton fan and I love useful items, so this was perfect.

The last item was this Nevernight pillow cover designed by KDP Letters. I like the quote and the design, but I never actually use these types of items when we get them.

The book this month was Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart. This is a Jamaican-inspired fantasy following two rival witches who form a tentative alliance to take down a common enemy. It's full of twists and turns, and a magical world that will keep you on your toes.

I've heard a lot of good things about this book, so I'm interested to get to it. Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Crown of Gilded Bones Review

Hello, all!

As you would've seen at the beginning of the year, I quickly became obsessed with the From Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout (reviews here and here). The third installment, The Crown of Gilded Bones, was one of my most anticipated releases this year, and well.... you'll see.

Pub Date: 4-20-21
New Adult - Fantasy/Romance

Poppy has lived the majority of her life on other people's terms. First, as the Maiden then as a pawn in a play to take down an entire kingdom. The only thing she has ever truly chosen for herself is Prince Casteel. Poppy didn't intend to fall in love with the heir of Atlantia, the kingdom she's been taught to fear, but shedding her veil has opened her eyes to the lies she's been fed and that the true enemy was the same Queen who raised her since she was young. When Poppy and Casteel cross into Atlantia, they discover another part of Poppy that's been hidden away: the blood of the King of Gods flows through her veins, and by rights, the crown and kingdom are hers.

The thought of being queen terrifies Poppy, but she knows to help those in need, she'll have to claim her birthright and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But with the crown comes a dangerous threat from a long-forgotten power. The greatest threat to both Poppy and Atlantia comes from the west, where the same Queen who cared for Poppy is preparing to bring war right to their doorstep. Poppy and Casteel have no choice but to journey to the mystical Land of Gods and wake the King himself, but their quest leads to even more shocking secrets and betrayals, and Poppy will have to decide just how far she's willing to go to claim what's hers.

I don't want to say I'm disappointed, but I'm a little let down by this. I think I just went in with high expectations since I loved the other two books so much, and it just didn't live up. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, but it felt very info-dumpy which made it so hard to get through. Some bits felt so frantic and chaotic, but then others dragged and felt so boring. Only a small percent of the plot felt relevant to the story and the rest just felt like filler. All the questions that you were left with after the second book were barely answered, and you were left with even more than when you started. You do get to learn a bit more about Poppy's background, but so much is thrown at you and it gets a bit confusing, especially with the whole god/deity business. There were a few things I enjoyed, namely the relationships between Poppy and Casteel and her and Kieran, which will always be a highlight for me, but I think if this was cut down a bit and the plot more focused, I would've liked it more. Despite this not being as great as I'd hoped, I'll still pick up the next because I'm still interested to see how this is all going to play out.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 1-9-18
Adult - Thriller

The Chalk Man- C.J. Tudor: 
Like most kids in 1986, Eddie and his friends spent most of their days riding their bikes around their tiny English village hoping for some excitement. They even developed a little code, using stick figure chalk men to leave notes around town for one another. But when a mysterious trail of chalk men leads the group to a dismembered body in the woods, they get a lot more than they bargained for. In 2016, a grown Eddie has put his past behind him, for the most part. He doesn't like to linger on the memories of that traumatic time, but they come flooding back when he receives a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. Eddie thinks it's just his old friend's playing a prank until one of them ends up dead. To save himself and get to the bottom of what truly happened, Eddie will have to dig up the past he'd prefer to keep buried.

I've only recently gotten into Tudor but she's quickly becoming one of my favorite thriller authors. Her writing is gripping and always manages to keep me on the edge of my seat, and this was no exception. Right from the jump, I was pulled into this story and needed to know more. I thought the dual timeline POV was done well and never felt disjointed. I liked trying to uncover the clues along with Eddie in the present. You notice as you're going through the story, that not every character seems to be that reliable and there are a lot of secrets lurking about which makes it hard to suss out who to trust. This is definitely more of a slow-burn thriller, so there were parts where I was wishing it would speed up, but the payoff at the end was worth it. And that twist at the end! It was unexpected and throws you for a loop so you're left wondering how much of what you've been told is the truth or not. Overall, while maybe not the fastest page-turner, it's still completely compelling and will keep you guessing.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 10-20-19
YA - Fantasy

Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters- Emily Roberson: Sixteen-year-old Ariadne has spent her whole life begrudgingly in the spotlight. Not only is her family royal, but they've built an entertainment empire surrounding the bloodthirsty event called The Labyrinth Contest. Each year, fourteen teens are brought to Crete from Athens with hopes of beating the maze and slaying the Minotaur inside, bringing them fame and fortune. Out of the hundreds of players, not one has been successful. When the new competitors come, one stands out to Ariadne the most. Theseus is mysterious, charming, and just so happens to be the newly crowned prince of Athens. Ariadne knows she shouldn't be consorting with the enemy, but she can't deny the attraction she feels. When Theseus begs her to help him win the contest, she's more conflicted than ever. She's never been a fan of the competition and hates being forced to be a part of it, but if Theseus wins that would mean the Minotaur is dead, and that's the last thing Ariadne wants.

Ok, listen, did this have the greatest writing I've ever read? Not in the slightest. Did I have fun reading it? Absolutely. Roberson's writing felt very reminiscent of early 2000s YA that tended to skew more toward the younger side. It was a lot like if you were to take Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, and a trashy reality show and mix it all in a blender. Ariadne was a young girl trying to make the most of a crummy situation. She seems to be the only one in her family with some sense. Her sisters are vapid and her parents are cold and manipulative, constantly making Ariadne do things she doesn't want to. The only sort of light in her life is her relationship with the Minotaur, and I loved how Roberson connected them. It added such a layer of vulnerability to this and made for some really sad, tender moments that I wasn't necessarily expecting. She and Theseus did have that insta-love connection, but seeing as how this is based on Greek mythology where people would fall in love with the first person who breathed on them, it didn't bother me as much. While the writing wasn't the strongest, it was a fresh and modern take on this story that was unique to itself and kept me entertained the whole time.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 3-18-21
YA - Fantasy

The Shadow in the Glass- JJA Harwood:
 Ella has always wished for more out of her life. She has always dreamt of being a proper society lady, and after being taken in by the Pembroke's after the death of her parents, Ella believed she would one day achieve that goal. But then her beloved Mrs. Pembroke passed away, and Ella was forced into servitude by the same man she once called step-father. The only joy Ella has in life is sneaking into the library and reading books by candlelight. On one such night, Ella throws a plea out into the universe and she's shocked when a mysterious fairy godmother appears and tells Ella that she will grant her seven wishes. Eager to finally live the life she believes she's owed, Ella agrees, but she soon learns that each wish comes at a steep price.

If you've ever wondered what Cinderella would be like if Tim Burton directed it, here you go. This isn't your typical Disney fairy tale. It was dark, twisted, and more akin to a Gothic penny dreadful. Ella has gone through many hardships in her life and believes that she's entitled to a better life than the one that was given to her. This leads her to make a rash decision by entering into a bargain with a fairy godmother who's more like a devil in disguise. With each wish Ella makes, someone around her dies and as the story progresses, you see the guilt of that weighing on her yet she can't bring herself to stop. So much of this story is fueled by bitterness and desire, and the limits one would go to have the life they've dreamed of. My only issue with this was that it felt incredibly long and drawn out at times which lead to it feeling quite repetitive. Other than that, if you're a fan of darker retellings, this would be a good one to pick up.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Witch's Heart Review

Hello, all!

Do I even need to reiterate how much I love of mythology retelling? I tend to lean more towards Greek mythology just because I'm a lot more familiar with those stories, but I'm so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone with The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec.

Pub Date: 2-9-21
Adult - Fantasy

Angrboda was once a powerful witch, but after defying Odin, was burnt at the stake and her heart ripped out. After surviving the burning, Angrboda flees to a remote forest, injured and powerless. All she wants to do is live her life in peace, alone and unbothered, but those plans as dashed when she meets Loki. Angrboda is immediately wary of the trickster god, but when he gives her back the heart she was missing, they form a tentative friendship which soon turns into deep love.

Their marriage produces three offspring just as unusual as their parents, who will each play a pivotal role in a future event. Afraid of what Odin might do if he discovers the children, Angrboda keeps them secluded in her little patch of woods at the end of the world. But with her powers of prophecy increasing, Angrboda knows there is no way to stop the fates, only delay them a little while longer. When she is betrayed by those closest to her, Angrboda must decide whether to accept the path destiny has laid out for her family, or awaken the power within her to help remake a better world.

I've heard so much hype surrounding this book, and it more than lives up to it. I was a little hesitant going in because I don't know much about Norse mythology, but I realized quickly there was nothing to worry about because the writing was so accessible. It made the story feel almost modern in a way. I absolutely loved the characters and how they interacted with one another. Angrboda and Loki had such a dynamic relationship and I enjoyed the way Angrboda saw past all the mischief and understood Loki in a way no one ever had before. I also loved the relationship between her and Skadi, it just felt very raw and honest. Aside from the characters, the plot itself was fascinating and I loved how Gornichec tied everything together. There was never a moment where I was bored. Gornichec did what Madeline Miller did for Greek mythology, she took a character that many would've disregarded and given them a voice and a story that is all at once heartbreaking and powerful. It was beautiful, dark, compelling, sad, and hopeful and I just couldn't get enough.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 12-1-20
Adult - Historical Fiction

The Arctic Fury- Greer Macallister: It's 1853, and there are not many ways for a woman to make her way in the world, but Virginia Reeve has made a name for herself by being a trail guide in California. Her expertise has caught the eye of a mysterious benefactor who has her brought out to Boston for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: lead an all-female crew into the depths of the Arctic in search of the lost Franklin Expedition. Virginia and her team each bring something vital to the dangerous mission, but soon find themselves completely out of their depths when faced with the bracing wilderness, and as time passes it becomes clear that not everyone will make it out alive. Virginia uses every trick in her arsenal to keep herself and her crew alive, but her good intentions fall upon deaf ears as she's put to trial a year and a half later for the lives of the women who never made it back. No one knows what happened out on that ice, and when dark secrets from Virginia's past come to light, any hope she had of going free starts to slip away.

This is a dual timeline story chronicling this group of women as they make their way through the harsh Arctic terrain, and then the sensationalized trial of the crew's leader when not all the women come back alive. The premise sounded like it was going to be this whirlwind adventure/mystery story, and while it had those elements, I couldn't help but feel a little bored at times. The parts showcasing the women's journey were very atmospheric and you could feel how bleak it was as any hope of them surviving just dwindled with each step. It also seemed very true to the time in regards to how women were treated which lead to a lot of frustrating moments especially when it came to the trial. I think it was an interesting reimagining of events, and there were a few twists thrown in that I appreciated, but overall, it just didn't grip me as much as I was hoping for.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 5-23-19
Adult - Fantasy/Romance

A Touch of Darkness- Scarlett St. Clair: Persephone may be the Goddess of Spring, but ever since she was young her powers have been lacking. Instead of being able to nurture things into growing like her mother, Demeter, flowers and plants shrivel from Persephone's touch. Frustrated by this, she instead focuses her time in New Athens, blending in amongst the mortals posing as a journalist. But all hope of living an unassuming life is dashed after Persephone unknowingly enters into a bargain with the God of the Dead, Hades. Persephone is given an impossible task: she has six months to create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

I didn't have a whole lot of expectations going into this, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I flew through this in almost one sitting because it was just so addicting. That being said, this wasn't without its fair share of issues. The writing itself is pretty simple, and nothing about the characters or world was that mind-blowing. Character-wise, I enjoyed Hades a lot, but Persephone took me a while to warm up to because she could be so annoying with how judgmental she was towards him. My favorite character was Hecate and I hope that we get more of her throughout the rest of the series. I also loved the Underworld setting and how different it actually was compared to what people thought of it. Another issue I had was that I felt the story heavily relied on the physical aspect of Persephone and Hades' relationship, which I mean, I get it, but at times it felt all steam and no substance. I would've just loved to see more emotional development and vulnerability. Aside from that, this was still highly entertaining and I'm interested to see where else the series goes.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 7-23-19
Adult - Fantasy

Gods of Jade and Shadow-Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Casiopea Tun has always looked up to the stars and wished for more. She longs for adventure and a life outside the small Mexican village she lives in spending her days scrubbing the floor of her wealthy grandfather's home. Her prayers are answered when she finds a wooden box with strange carvings in her grandfather's room. Throwing caution to the wind, Casiopea opens the box and unleashes the spirit of an ancient Mayan god. After being betrayed by his brother, Hun-Kame will do anything to take back his throne and he requires Casiopea's help to do it. With their future's now entwined, Casiopea and Hun-Kame are set on a quest to reclaim what was stolen. If they succeed, Casiopea is set to receive her heart's desires, however, if they fail, it could mean the end of her life.

I've heard a lot of hype around this book and it's well deserved. I find Moreno-Garcia's writing to be a bit of a slow burn, and it takes a while for me to get into it, but I fell into this one rather quickly. A lot of that had to do with the characters themselves. Casiopea is so willful and Hum-Kame is so stoic, and while they tended to butt heads in the beginning, by the end, they developed this bond that was so strong and satisfying. I liked watching them open up and start to trust one another. Aside from the characters, the plot itself was so adventurous. Watching the pair go on this journey that took them all over and put them up against demons and other gods was fun and I never found myself bored at any point. It was well-paced and easy to read. I also liked how while there was a slight romantic aspect, it didn't overwhelm the story and didn't end in your typical fairy tale way. All in all, it was a charming take on Mexican folklore full of action and highly entertaining.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Blog Tour: These Feathered Flames Excerpt

Hello, all!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I enjoy a good retelling. While I love reading a reimagining of a familiar story, it's also fun to learn about other cultures, so I'm excited to be a part of the blog tour for These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy. Big thanks to Inkyard Press for having me!

Pub Date: 4-20-21
YA - Fantasy

This is a retelling of the Russian folklore, The Firebird, and it follows two sisters who are heir to their lands and whose fates have been decided since they were very young. One is kept at court and trained to learn all the skills needed to become the future Queen, while the other is taken away to learn magic from her mysterious aunt knows as the Firebird. Each girl will have to come into her own power and navigate court politics and decide who to trust, who they can love, and most importantly, who killed their mother.

You can check out an excerpt from the book below!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

To Love and to Loathe Review

Hello, all!

I read To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters last year (review here) and immediately fell in love with her characters, so when I saw that she was coming out with a companion novel, To Love and to Loathe, I was all about it. I mean, it's an enemies-to-lovers historical romance, so really, what is there not for me to love? Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-6-21
Adult - Contemporary

Lady Diana Templeton and Jeremy, the Marquess of Willingham, have been at each other's throats for most of their lives. They are well-known in society for their verbal sparring matches (and flirtations), and each takes pride in being able to one-up the other. During one such argument, Diana challenges the rakish Jeremy to find a wife within a year or she'll forfeit a hundred pounds. Thinking she has this bet in the bag, Diana is thrown for a loop when Jeremy approaches her with a very different proposition.

Jeremy has always had a way with the ladies. He's never been shy about his bedroom activities, but after his latest partner implied he wasn't as talented as he thought, he seeks out the one person he knows will always be brutally honest: Lady Diana. As the pair are about to spend time at a house party, he suggests that they use this opportunity to test his prowess in the bedroom. She can give him an honest critique of his abilities, and the gossip they'll churn up will show to other gentlemen that the widowed Diana is interested in taking up a lover. Believing this will be the perfect way to ensure she wins their bet, Diana agrees but quickly learns that it's not only money on the line but her heart as well.

Like I mentioned, I was really looking forward to this and it was so much fun. Waters has such a way of making slightly messy/petty characters so entertaining and investing. I'm always a sucker for a hate-to-love romance, so I was completely hooked on Diana and Jeremy from the very first page. Their bickering was delightful and you could feel the tension between them increasing with every teasing comment. There were so many times I found myself smiling or laughing at their antics. Though I will admit, Diana did get on my nerves slightly at times just due to her scheming/manipulations. There were also some moments where I found the writing to be a bit repetitive, but not enough to diminish my enjoyment. Overall, this was a solid follow-up and I can't wait to see where this series goes next.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Blog Tour: The Last Bookshop in London Excerpt

Hello, all!

You all know by how much I love a historical fiction and books about books. When you mix the two together, it's an instant winner in my book. I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. Big thanks to the publisher for having me!

Pub Date: 4-6-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

This is set during WWII and it based around the true history of the handful of bookshops that survived the Blitz. It's all about wartime hardships, loss, love, and the healing power of books and literature. For my part of the tour, I'm sharing with you all an excerpt. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Twice Shy Review

Hello, all!

Now that the weather is starting to turn a bit warmer, I tend to pick up more contemporaries. Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle was actually on my Most Anticipated Releases of 2021 list last year, so massive thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy! (Also, randomly, every time I see this title I just start singing "Last Christmas", please tell me I'm not the only one.)

Pub Date: 4-6-21
Adult - Contemporary

Maybell Parrish has always lived with her heart on her sleeve. She's not one to rock the boat and is never one to make a scene. She much prefers to spend her time daydreaming about her make-believe café than cleaning up vomit in the hotel she's spent the majority of her adult life working at where she is vastly under-appreciated. Maybell has dreamt of striking out on her own, but the thought terrifies her. So when Maybell inherits her great-aunt Violet's manor house in the Smokies, she takes this as the universe telling her to finally take a chance.

When Maybell was younger, she spent a glorious summer at Falling Stars with Violet and her husband. As a kid who spent most of her time couch-surfing with her mom, a place to call home and people to care for her was all Maybell could ever want. Maybell expects to find the safe house of her dreams, but what she gets is a nightmare. The manor house is falling apart and chock full of garbage, but the worst part? Maybell isn't even the sole inheritor, she has to share everything with the grumpy groundskeeper, Wesley Koehler. The pair butt heads immediately over their differing opinions on what the property should be turned into and refuse to compromise. That as well as a list of last wishes left behind by Violet lead to some tension that doesn't sit well with Maybell, the perpetual people pleaser. Determined to make this situation mutually beneficial, Maybell slowly starts to chip away at Wesley's frosty exterior and is pleasantly surprised to find a soft heart hiding behind all his scowls.

This is the book equivalent of a warm hug and made me feel all fuzzy inside. The characters were so easy to fall in love with and made this shine. Maybell is charming and a little quirky and Wesley is my favorite trope of a grumpy character who is secretly a sweetheart inside. I found myself relating to both of them in different ways which kept me invested in what was happening. You find they have an interesting sort of history together due to a terrible prank Maybell's friend pulled on her that I thought would've played more into the plot than it did, but it ended up being more of a footnote. There were other aspects that I thought would be more in the forefront as well, like the majority of turning the house into the hotel/animal sanctuary, but it almost felt like an afterthought. The little snippets we did get of them working on the house were cute, like with the mural they painted. Despite that, I was still fully invested in this and thought Hogle did a wonderful job creating a relationship that felt real and mature. If you prefer your contemporaries to be more romantic and less steamy, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Snow Child Review

Hello, all!

I haven't seen a lot of talk around The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, which is a shame because it's fantastic. 

Pub Date: 2-1-12
Adult - Historical Fiction/Fantasy

After suffering a miscarriage, Jack and Mabel pack up their lives and leave the East Coast for the wilderness of Alaska looking for a fresh start. The pair weren't prepared for the hardships homesteading brings, and soon they start drifting apart: Jack, from the back-breaking work of keeping up the farm, and Mabel from the heartbreak she feels. Then, in a moment of pure joy during the first snow of the season, Jack and Mabel make a child out of snow. By morning the snow child is gone, but small tracks lead away from it, and soon the two start seeing flashes of a little girl running through the woods.

Neither one wants to admit to what they're seeing, but still, go out of their way to track down this mysterious girl, but every time they get close, she runs away. Until one day, she comes to them. Faina seems to be of another world. She has branches in her hair, hunts with a red fox, and is never bothered by the cold. As Jack and Mabel try to understand who she is and how she came to be, they grow to love her as a daughter. But they soon discover things aren't always as they seem, and despite all the happiness Faina has brought to their lives, keeping her for their own may cause more harm than good.

This book is so much more than a fairy tale retelling. It touches upon sadness, loneliness, grief, survival, but also hope and the strength of family. I enjoyed seeing Jack and Mabel grow from their pain, and how this strange little girl helped open their hearts back up to love. Faina is such an interesting character, but at times came off a little too aloof where it was hard to fully connect with her. Which is understandable given the type of character she is, but I still wanted a bit more. Aside from the characters, Ivey does a beautiful job at setting the scene and making you feel as if you're in the Alaskan wilderness. This is definitely a sadder book, but it made the story feel more grounded and real. In some ways, this felt like winter: it was bleak and gray and cold, but there's a warmth to it if you know where to look.

Rating: 4/5