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?