Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November Wrap-Up

Hello, all!


In the Garden of Spite- Camilla Bruce; 3/5
The Show Girl- Nicola Harrison; 4/5
The Girl Who Drank the Moon- Kelly Barnhill; 3/5
Dolores Claiborne- Stephen King; 4/5
The Keeper of Night- Kylie Lee Baker; 3/5
The Last House on Needless Street- Catriona Ward; 4/5
If We Were Villains- M.L. Rio; 4/5


The Duchess Hunt- Lorraine Heath; 3/5
Once Upon a Broken Heart- Stephanie Garber; 3.5/5
The Sisters Sweet- Elizabeth Weiss; 3/5
Only When It's Us- Chloe Liese; 3/5
ExtraOrdinary #0- VE Schwab; 3/5
ExtraOrdinary #1- VE Schwab; 3/5
To Love Jason Thorn- Ella Maise; 2.5/5
A History of Wild Places- Shea Ernshaw; 3/5


Well Matched- Jen DeLuca; 3/5
The Hawthorne Legacy- Jennifer Lynn Barnes; 4/5
Never Fall for Your Fiancée- Virginia Heath; 4/5
The Grimrose Girls- Laura Pohl; 2/5
A Psalm of Stores and Silence- Roseanne A. Brown; 4/5
Lore Olympus, Vol. 1- Rachel Smythe; 5/5
The Fastest Way to Fall- Denise Williams; 4/5
The Book of Magic- Alice Hoffman; 3/5
Demon Slayer, Vol. 1; 2/5

Some favorites were: Lore Olympus, If We Were Villains, and The Hawthorne Legacy. Some least favorites were: Demon Slayer, To Love Jason Thorn, and The Grimrose Girls. 

What was your favorite/least favorite read this month?

Friday, November 26, 2021

Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners #3) Review

Hello, all!

I fell in love with The Diviners series by Libba Bray last year (you can read the reviews of the first two books here and here) and this third book, Before the Devil Breaks You, quickly became my favorite.

*Potential spoilers ahead*

Pub Date: 10-3-17
YA - Paranormal/Historical Fiction

After defeating a sleeping sickness that threatened to take two of their own, the Diviners have decided they've had enough of being fed lies. Evie and the gang have been pushed to their limits battling one supernatural foe after the other, and all they have to show for it is more questions. When they're once again faced with a mysterious enemy, they're more determined than ever to get to the bottom of how exactly their powers came to be and just to what extent they can use them. The Diviners agree to work with Evie's uncle Will and his partner Sister Walker to hone their abilities, but nothing can prepare them for the terror they're about to face.

Away from the bustle of the city lies Ward's Island, a mental institution full of lost souls and people long forgotten. When murders start cropping up and cries of hauntings start making their way around the city, the Diviners step in to investigate and come face-to-face with the sinister King of Crows. With long-buried secrets finally coming to light, the Diviners will find their loyalties and relationships tested as they are forced to question everything they've ever been told. All the while, dark forces have been gathering which will threaten not only the Diviners but the entire nation itself.

I was initially a little wary going into this because I found the beginning a little slow and it took me longer to fully fall into the story, but boy when I did, I fell hard. Bray is out here messing with everyone's emotions. Let's start with the plot itself. The ghostly aspect was so unnerving and it made this one the creepiest yet. It's so atmospheric and there were times the suspense had me on the edge of my seat. Then there was the character growth and development. I loved how this one seemed to focus more on Mabel and Theta and enjoyed how they got their time to shine. Especially Theta because I just think she's great and has this fascinating backstory and power. Then there's just the writing itself. I'm always so impressed with how Bray weaves together a story that is somehow true to the period while also feeling like it represents the modern-day as well. She doesn't shy away from depicting darker topics such as racism, bigotry, classism, or homophobia and I think that's so important. My favorite part of this though was learning more about the history of Project Buffalo and how all the Diviners came to be and how it ties into the King of Crows was so compelling. Even though this answered some of my questions from the first two books, it left me with so many more and I can't wait to see how it all plays out in the final book.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Book Haul

Hello, all!

Here are the books I've either picked up, been given, or been sent by publishers over the last few months!

1. Lore Olympus, Vol. 1
2. Jade City- Fonda Lee
3. Senlin Ascends- Josiah Bancroft
4. The Hawthorne Legacy- Jennifer Lynn Barnes
5. Vespertine- Margaret Rogerson
6. The Death of Jane Lawrence- Caitlin Starling
7. Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark- Cassandra Peterson
8. Kingdom of the Cursed- Kerri Maniscalco
9. The Keeper of Night- Kylie Lee Baker
10. The Ex Hex- Erin Sterling
11. Wuthering Heights- Emily Brontë
12. The Rose Code- Kate Quinn
13. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 8
14. Never Fall for Your Fiancée- Virginia Heath
15. The Kindred Spirits Supper Club- Amy E. Reichert
16. The Last Chance Library- Freya Sampson 
17. Donut Fall in Love- Jackie Lau
18. Bet On It- Jodie Slaughter
19. The Other Bennet Sister- Janice Hadlow
20. The Girl Who Drank the Moon- Kelly Barnhill
21. The Grimrose Girls- Laura Pohl

What's the last book you bought?

Monday, November 22, 2021

Blog Tour: The Matzah Ball Review

Hello, all!

'Tis the season to get festive, so big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour for The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer.

Pub Date: 9-28-21
Adult - Contemporary

Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt might be Jewish, but that doesn't stop her from loving all things Christmas. For the past ten years, Rachel has hidden her obsession and that she's a bestselling Christmas romance writer from her family. Rachel, who suffers from a chronic illness, has always loved the magic surrounding Christmas and uses that to weave the perfect romances she's always wished for herself. But when her publisher asks her to write a Hanukkah romance, suddenly Rachel's never-ending creativity fails her.

Rachel will do anything to keep her contract, even if that means working with her summer camp archenemy, Jacob Greenberg. Jacob is the mastermind behind The Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration held on the last night of Hanukkah, and Rachel is determined to use the event as inspiration for her story. Though the pair haven't seen each other in years, the grudge they hold still burns brighter than ever. As the two work together, Rachel starts to see Hanukkah--and Jacob-- in an entirely new light, and maybe they're the spark she needed to relight the fire within herself.

I was intrigued by this since most holiday books are about Christmas, so it felt like a fresh take on the trope, but it left me very mixed. It totally nails the Hallmark movie vibe, and there were some cute moments, but there were other times it left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Let's start with what I enjoyed. I loved the representation of chronic illness and how it affects a person's day-to-day life. It felt very honest and real. I also thought the writing was easy to digest, and I flew this in almost one sitting. However, the writing was also my main issue. There were a few times where Rachel would make a joke or act in a way that seemed very callous and left a bad taste in my mouth. Both her and Jacob came across as a bit mean and childish which I also didn't love. It was almost as if they fell back into being their teenage selves when they were together pulling pranks on one another. They did mature and have decent character growth by the end which I appreciated. Overall, I think the idea of this was great, but the execution needed more work.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, November 19, 2021

A Psalm of Storms and Silence Review

Hello, all!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown was one of my favorite reads last year (review here), so I was eagerly awaiting the conclusion, A Psalm of Storms and Silence. I'm happy to report that it didn't disappoint!

*Potential spoilers ahead*

Pub Date: 11-2-21
YA - Fantasy

Karina's whole world fell apart after the events of the Solstasia festival. When her mother was killed, Karina vowed to do everything in her power to bring her back. Even if that meant dabbling in dark magic. She found a spell of resurrection, and all she needed was the heart of a king. Pledging to marry the winner of the festival, Karina thought her plan was set, but she was very wrong. After being betrayed by someone close to her, the ritual brought forth her sister instead, and Karina found herself on the run as the most wanted person in Sonande. Now, the only hope she has of reclaiming what's rightfully hers is to journey to the long-lost city of her ancestors to harness their divine power.

After imprisoning the Faceless King within his mind, Malik thought his fighting days were over. But with the resurrection of Karina's sister bringing forth nothing but chaos and destruction, Malik has no choice but to become an apprentice to Farid, the acting leader of Sonande. Malik has always wanted a fatherly figure he could look up to, and he believes Farid to be that person, but as they work together Malik starts to see cracks in Farid's facade. When they discover that Karina herself is the key to restoring balance, Farid tasks Malik with using his powers to lure Karina back to their side. With the world around them tearing apart, Malik and Karina once again find themselves torn between their duties and their desires. It's up to them to decide what they value most: a power that could change the world or a love that could change their lives.

There were a few things I had forgotten from the first book, so it took me a couple of chapters to reorient myself, but once I did, I was invested. The relationship between Malik and Karina was still strong, though I could do without the romantic element since it occasionally feels forced. But I enjoyed the dynamic between Malik and Idir much more. They had this push-and-pull thing going on, and I loved how they started as enemies but eventually found this balance and regard. We also got introduced to a few new characters in here that brought some much-needed humor and lightness. Much like the first book, Brown doesn't shy away from topics such as abuse and self-harm, and I think she does a beautiful job at respectfully handling mental health. As for the plot, I enjoyed it, but it did feel all over the place. It was almost as if everything and nothing were happening all at once. It was still kept me turning the pages, but the real action doesn't start until the third act. Aside from that hiccup, I thought this was a bittersweet ending to the series and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new fantasy to pick up.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

I realized I have quite a few reviews that I haven't put up, so bear with all these posts you'll be getting to catch myself up!

Pub Date: 4-1-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Temporary Roomie- Sarah Adams: There isn't much that Jessie hates in this world, but Drew Marshall is at the top of the list. Jessie has hated her best friend's brother since before she even met him, and the feeling is mutual. The pair spends the majority of their time pranking and throwing verbal jabs at one another, but when Jessie's home needs renovating, Drew takes pity on his very pregnant nemesis and lets her stay in his spare bedroom-- the only catch is she has to pretend to be his girlfriend. Jessie agrees to Drew's terms all the while planning the ultimate prank for when the time comes. But as the pair are forced into cohabitation, Jessie sees a completely different side to the usually stoic Drew and can't help thinking maybe the spark between them is more than just annoyance.

I haven't read much by Adams, but this was another instant hit. This enemies-to-lovers story had me laughing out loud right from the start. I loved the animosity between Jessie and Drew, and yes, while they could be very childish at times, I couldn't get enough of their banter. Their relationship felt very natural and believable, and I enjoyed watching them grow together and realize these feelings they both tried so hard to ignore. They each brought out a fun silly side to one another but were also still able to have deep, meaningful moments. Just like the first book, The Off Limits Rule, the characters tend to fall in love very quickly and everything escalates pretty fast, and usually, I'm not super into insta-lovey relationships, but Adams has a way of acknowledging it and making it charming rather than ridiculous. This was another that I read in one sitting because I didn't want to put it down. If you're a fan of hilarious pranks with a side of tenderness, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 4-13-21
Adult - Thriller

Near the Bone- Christina Henry: Mattie lives in a remote cabin in the woods with her husband, William. Mattie doesn't remember how they came to be on this mountain, or even much about her own life before William. All she does know for sure is that she must never make William angry. Mattie hasn't seen another person besides her husband for years, but when she comes across the mutilated body of a fox, she quickly realizes they aren't alone-- something with big claws is prowling through the woods. When three cryptid-obsessed strangers appear, Mattie knows their presence will anger William and bad things happen when William gets in a mood. Mattie desperately tries to get the strangers to flee, and in her haste to get them as far from William and the monster as possible, long-buried memories start to come to the surface and it'll take a strength Mattie didn't know she possessed to survive and uncover the truth about who she is.

If you were to take a psychological thriller mix in a suspenseful survivalist plot and add a dash of slasher horror, you would get Near the Bone. You can tell straight away that there's something wrong with Mattie's circumstances being that she's left so isolatedly sheltered, you can't fully put your finger on it, but it's clear it has something to do with her husband. I liked how Mattie's memories were triggered by these strangers she meets in the woods who vaguely recognized her, and you slowly got to piece together what happened to her which was so sad even if it was slightly predictable. Aside from how that, I also found the plot to be a little repetitive at times and would've loved to have gotten more of the monster aspect. There's this big terrible creature picking them off one by one, yet we don't learn much about it at all. You don't even get a clear picture at the end of what it exactly was either, so that left me a bit underwhelmed. There were times where Henry did a nice job of keeping you on edge, especially in the smaller, quieter moments, and her writing was very atmospheric, but I just wished for a little more.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-1-21
YA - Fantasy

For the Wolf- Hannah Whitten: As the first Second Daughter to be born in centuries, Red has lived her whole life knowing that when she comes of age, she'll be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Woods in the hopes of restoring the old Gods who were captured long ago. Red knows that this thought should terrify her, but she can't help but feel a sense of relief that maybe she'll finally be rid of this strange dangerous power that flows through her veins. Red grew up on legends of the mysterious Wilderwood and the beast that lurks within, but she quickly learns that the tales had it all wrong. The Wolf in the woods isn't some beast but a man, and the power she always thought of as a curse is her only means of saving her land and those she loves if only she can learn to control it before it's too late.

Like most, I went into this thinking it was going to be a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, but aside from the name Red and a wolf, this is a story completely unto itself. I thought the premise was imaginative and I enjoyed Whitten's writing a lot. It was lush and vivid and pulled you in right from the start. There were times I found it overly descriptive, but not so much that it made the story sluggish. I also liked the world-building and the magic system, though just with any other debut fantasy series, there were a few times I was confused at how things worked but it all came together eventually. I loved how Red and Eammon were both tied to the woods and could almost bend it to their will, and I liked how the magic was very give-and-take. The majority of this is told through Red's perspective, and I liked getting to know more about her and her powers, but there were snippets we also got from her sister which I think helped flesh out the story and will tie in more in the coming books. There's also a slow-burn romance between Red and Eammon, and while I wasn't fully invested in it, I did still like it and I'm interested to see how it progresses. Overall, I thought this was a solid start to the series and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, November 15, 2021

Never Fall for Your Fiancée Review

Hello, all!

You all know by how much I love a historical romance, and when you couple that with fake dating? Instant win in my book. So huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of Never Fall for Your Fiancée by Virginia Heath.

Pub Date: 11-9-21
Adult- Historical Romance

Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, has no desire to wed. The men in Hugh's family weren't the shining examples of fidelity, so Hugh doesn't see why he should put a woman through such heartache. Unfortunately for him, his mother has different plans for him. Even with the entire Atlantic Ocean in between them, Hugh's mother is determined to play matchmaker, so Hugh does what any son would-- he invents a fiancé hoping it will please his busybody mother. But when Hugh learns his mother has boarded a ship bound for England to help plan the wedding, he needs to find a fiancé and fast.

Minerva Merriwell has spent the last few years of her life struggling to survive. Minerva's father abandoned her and her two younger sisters, and she has done all she can to keep the family afloat by working as a woodcarver, but jobs are very few and far between. The sisters are just about destitute when Minerva crosses paths with Hugh, so when he asks her to pose as his fake fiancé, how can she say no? Once Minerva and her sisters arrive at Hugh's estate, nothing seems to go according to plan, and neither she nor Hugh could've predicted the very true feelings their fake engagement would stir up.

If you were to take Bridgerton and mix it with one of those bridal reality shows, you would get this book. It has all the haughtiness you expect from a historical romance while also giving you messy-TLC-level drama, and lemme tell you, I was here for it. That said, I'm not going to pretend it was without faults. The romance between Minerva and Hugh was a slow burn, and when I say that, I mean it was glacially slow. Sure, we get a peck or two here and there, but the real romance doesn't come together until almost the very end. I'm all for building tension, but I also want to feel satisfied along the way. Also, this entire plot is just one massive miscommunication trope. Whether it was between Hugh and his mother or Hugh and Minerva. It got to be utterly frustrating (I'm also just not the biggest fan of that trope.) Even so, I couldn't get enough of this and read it in one sitting. The banter was excellent, and the secondary characters were fantastic, except Vee, who just got on my nerves because she was so petulant. I'm hoping the next book focuses on Diana and Giles because that is a hate-to-love story I need in my life. If not, I'll gladly take a 300-page book of just Payne the butler eviscerating everyone with his snarky remarks. If you enjoy witty historical romance and don't mind a bit of hijinks, this is for you.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Well Matched Review

Hello, all!

I've been a big fan of Jen DeLuca's Well Met series (you can read my reviews of the other two books here and here), so I couldn't wait to dive into Well Matched

Pub Date: 10-19-21
Adult - Contemporary

April Parker is a single mother who has called Willow Creek home for the past twelve years. Despite living here for so long, April has never felt like she truly belonged in such a tight-knit small-town community. April has never been the type to let people into her life and prefers to do things on her terms. Now that her daughter is leaving for college, April is determined to move away and has enlisted the help of her friend Mitch with some home improvement projects to get the house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is well-known around Willow Creek. Not only is he a teacher/coach at the high school, but he spends his summers at the local Renaissance Faire where he can be found wearing a kilt and not much else. Mitch agrees to help April in exchange for a favor: she has to pretend to be his girlfriend at a family dinner, so he can stop getting lectured about not having a serious career or relationship. When the weekend draws to a close, Mitch and April can't seem to stay away from one other, and as the Faire kicks off again, April finds herself volunteering for the first time to help out. But when Mitch's family unexpectedly turns up, both Mitch and April find it hard to distinguish between what's real and what's an act. April can't deny that she's never felt this way about anyone before, but will she be able to give away the heart she's been guarding for so long?

I hyped this book up so much in my head. Before I even cracked it open, I had it in mind that it was going to be my favorite of the series. Was it good? Yes. Did it live up to my expectations? Not exactly. I liked the premise and am never one to turn down a fake dating trope, but something was missing. I think that came down to the characters. We've gotten snippets of April and Mitch in the previous books, and they seemed interesting enough (especially Mitch with how loud and confident he is), but I don't think they worked as main characters for me. April was very guarded to the point where she came across as cold, and I kept waiting for the moment where Mitch would make me swoon. It wasn't until about halfway through before I finally found myself clicking with them, and then I did enjoy their character growth. Their relationship did feel like the most mature and natural of the books so far, which I also appreciated. While I may not have loved this as much as I'd hoped, this is still one of my favorite series, and I'm excited to see where it goes.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 11-2-21
Adult - Contemporary

I Hate You More- Lucy Gilmore: Ruby Taylor is no stranger to beauty pageants. By the time she was eighteen, she had won more crowns than one person could ever need and decided enough was enough. She swore she'd never return to the competition world, but when one of her beloved residents at her retirement home swindles her into entering her Golden Retriever, Wheezy, in the upcoming West Coast Canine Classic, Ruby has no choice but to polish up her pageant smile. Spencer Wilson is a by-the-book veterinarian and takes his job as a dog-show judge very seriously. So, when he meets Ruby and her overweight-definitely-not-purebred-dog, he tells her to quit while she's ahead. Ruby has never been one to back down from a challenge and is prepared to pull out all the stops to whip Wheezy into shape and make Spencer eat his words. What she wasn't prepared for was losing her heart in the process.

When I read the synopsis of this, I felt like it was written just for me. A grumpy/sunshine rom-com featuring a dog? Sign me up! While this was adorable and had its charming moments, it was ultimately a little too bland for my tastes. Since this is pretty short, everything moves quite quickly and I think that hurt the story a bit. You only really get a few chapters of Ruby and Spencer clashing before they're coupled up. It was like on one page they were bickering, and then a few paragraphs later, they were hooking up. I think this would've benefitted if it had been 50 or so pages longer. It would've given Gilmore more time to build the tension and fully flesh out Ruby and Spencer's dynamic to make it feel more natural. It was a cute premise, and Wheezy definitely added some hilarious moments, but I just wanted a little bit more.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 10-19-21
Adult - Holiday/Contemporary

Window Shopping- Tessa Bailey: Stella is fresh out of prison and looking to rebuild her life, but unfortunately, not many people want to take a chance on an ex-con. Before being locked up, Stella dreamt of becoming a window dresser and even started taking online classes in fashion merchandising. While out walking the streets of New York City, one display window catches Stella's eye, and when a charming stranger named Aiden asks her what she thinks, she can't help but blurt out the truth that it's hideous. When Aiden, who turns out to be the store's general manager, offers her a job, Stella takes the opportunity and runs with it. Stella is grateful for the chance to get her life back on track and will do whatever it takes to make it work, and she knows falling for her boss is the last thing she should be doing. Aiden couldn't be farther from Stella's type. He's corny and has an affinity for Christmas-themed bowties, but Stella can't help but be drawn to him, especially when she sees how unrestrained he can be once the tie comes off. But when Stella's past comes knocking, she'll have to decide what she wants her future to look like and find the courage within herself to pursue it.

I'm not usually a fan of holiday romances, but dang, if Tessa Bailey hasn't got me rethinking my whole stance on the genre. I absolutely loved this. I went in thinking it was going to be super cheesy and full of clichés, but I ended up having a great time. I loved how this was a reverse grumpy/sunshine trope with Stella being the standoffish one and Aiden being this sweet cinnamon roll who was hot as heck. The banter and chemistry they had were off the charts, and I couldn't get enough. Was their relationship a tad insta-lovey? Of course. Did I mind? Not in the slightest. Bailey perfectly balances out the cute and steamy moments so nothing ever felt lacking. Both Stella and Aiden have issues from their pasts to work on, and seeing them open up and be vulnerable with each other was satisfying and added another layer to the story. If you're looking for the perfect holiday book to warm your heart but also get it racing, I can't recommend this one enough.

Rating: 5/5

Pub Date: 10-5-21
Adult - Horror

The Death of Jane Lawrence- Caitlin Starling: Jane Shoringfield has always had a practical mind. She knows that she must marry but is in no hurry to lose her independence, so she makes a list of like-minded men who wouldn't mind a marriage of convenience. At the top of her list is the dashing yet reclusive Dr. Augustine Lawrence. Augustine accepts her proposal, but on one condition: she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor on the outskirts of town. When a rainstorm hits on their wedding night stranding Jane at the manor, she doesn't see what the big deal is if she stays. To her horror, she finds her husband is not the same steadfast man once the sun goes down. In his place is a paranoid man who can't tell the difference between reality and nightmare. By morning, Augustine is back to normal, leaving Jane to believe something terrible is haunting Lindridge Hall, and it's up to her to stop the darkness before it claims her, too.

This is said to be Shirley Jackson meets Rebecca, and that description is spot-on. It has all the slow-building tension of a Gothic horror and moments that will leave you glancing over your shoulder. Starling nails the eerie atmosphere, and there were more than a few times I felt my skin crawl because I was so unsettled. I enjoyed following Jane on this journey of discovering what was going on with her husband and the strange happens at his estate. The more intense her investigation gets, the more you feel like you're spiraling into the blackness along with her. The only issue I had with this is that since Gothics tend to be slow, I found myself getting bored about halfway through. However, I did get pulled back in once the third act hit and the conflict was at its peak, and couldn't wait to see how everything was going to play out. If you enjoy creepy haunted house stories and don't mind a slower pace, this would be a good one to pick up.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, November 4, 2021

They Never Learn Review

Hello, all!

October may be over, but let's keep the murder-mystery-thriller books coming! I had heard a lot of talk surrounding They Never Learn by Layne Fargo, and let me tell you, it more than lives up to it.

Pub Date: 10-13-20
Adult - Thriller

Scarlett Clark is a well-known English professor at Gorman University. She prides herself on always having the student’s best interests at heart, both within the classroom and out. Scarlett observes her students and goes to great lengths to help them if something seems off. Every year, Scarlett searches the Gorman campus studying the men to find the worst of the bunch, the men who prey upon the female student population with no consequence, and then she kills them. But as she’s planning her latest murder, the school opens up an investigation surrounding the deaths. Desperate to keep eyes off her, Scarlett uses her skills to charm the woman in charge of the investigation and thwart the progress as needed. Everything seems to be going her way until she loses control with her latest victim which threatens to expose her secret life.

Carly Schiller is a freshman at Gorman just trying to get by. For the first time in her life, she’s living away from her emotionally abusive father and wants to keep her head down and focus on her studies. Carly has always been timid, but her new roommate has other plans for her. Allison Hadley is everything Carly didn’t know she wanted to be—boisterous, confident, and able to turn anyone’s head—and the pair quickly find themselves falling into an intense friendship. Carly grows so attached to Allison and would do anything for her, so when Allison gets sexually assaulted at a party, and no one at the school seems keen to help, Carly takes it upon herself to make the attacker pay.

Usually, I’m not one to condone violence, especially murder, but I spent the entire time reading this like, “Good for you.” I mean, a woman killing men for being predators? Sign me up. Fargo did a great job at crafting a character that is so morally gray and that you know has done terrible things, but you can’t help but root for them anyway. I was fascinated by Scarlett right from the start with the twisted way her mind worked. She’s so meticulous in the planning of her kills and it’s almost genius how she pulls them off. I was a little unsure of how her storyline would play out with Carly’s, and they intersected in a way that I wasn’t expecting, but I loved, and once I understood what was going on, I liked the dual perspectives even more. Everything about this was dark and messed up, and so many things are happening at such a breakneck speed that you won’t want to put it down, and it’s definitely made my list of favorite thrillers.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1) Review

Hello, all!

You all probably know by now how much I enjoy the From Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, so I was instantly intrigued by her latest release, A Shadow in the Ember. This is a prequel of sorts, and follows Nyktos, a character we were introduced to briefly in the last book, and his Consort. 

Pub Date: 10-19-21
New Adult - Fantasy/Romance

From the moment Seraphina was born, her life has been forfeit. Long before she was born, one of her ancestors stuck a desperate deal with the Primal of Death to save his people, and in exchange, the firstborn daughter of the Mierel bloodline would become the Consort to Death when she comes of age. Under the guise of being the Maiden, Sera has spent her entire life locked away, but really she was training with one goal in mind: Make the Primal of Death fall in love with her, become his weakness, and then end him. If she fails, her entire kingdom will be destroyed by the Rot, which has been slowly decaying the lands.

Sera has always thought of herself as a monster. She's been trained to be a weapon, trained to be an assassin. She never thought she could be anything more until she met him. The Primal of Death couldn't be farther from what she expected. Nyktos isn't the cold and calculating God she's been taught to fear, but kind and loyal, and his touch sparks a feeling deep inside that she's never felt before-- feelings she cannot allow herself to feel. As the pair grow closer, Sera begins to doubt her mission. But what choice does she have when her life has never been her own?

I'm realizing that JLA has a certain formula she uses throughout her books that she doesn't seem to deviate from. There's always a snarky badass female playing against a broody protective male. They're always attracted to one another, but due to unforeseen circumstances (usually a betrayal of some sort), they believe they can't be together, even though you know they will eventually. Also, there's a 90% chance of the book ending on a cliffhanger. Is that pretty much exactly what happened here? Yep. Did I mind? Not particularly. Even though Sera and Nyktos were essentially the same characters as Poppy and Hawke (for all I know, that may have been intentional), I still enjoyed watching their story play out. They had great chemistry and banter, which is not surprising since JLA tends to knock it out of the park when it comes to that. I also liked all the world-building and lore in this. We get snippets of these events in FBAA, so it's nice getting the whole picture. I still had the same issues I usually have with her books in that I find the writing isn't always the best. It tends to be quite repetitive, and many of the scenes just felt recycled from other books. Despite that, I still found it fun and can't wait to see what happens next.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, November 1, 2021

Hello, 33

Hello, all!

A few years ago, I started doing little get-to-know-me-better posts on my birthday, so I thought I'd keep it going!

1. I prefer paperbacks to hardcover books. I have small Keebler elf hands so I find them easier to hold, and there's just nothing better than a perfectly floppy paperback.

2. I'm clueless when it comes to hair/make-up. I never really wore make-up until my senior year of high school, and even then it was just a little concealer here and there. I've watched tons of tutorials but it's just one of those things that goes straight over my head. Even so, it doesn't stop me from buying all the make-up pallets and hair tools.

3. Despite having arthritis and a bum knee, I love taking walks. I find them so relaxing.

4. I love watching football (especially college football-- Notre Dame is my team!) but I can't talk football, ya know? 

5. I'm very much an old lady. Give me an oversized cardigan, cup of tea, and a blanket, and I'm happy as a clam.

Let me know something fun about you!