Friday, December 31, 2021

December Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Before we get into the books I read this month, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy, (hopefully) healthy and safe New Years!


Dark Tales- Shirley Jackson; 3/5
Daughter of the Deep- Rick Riordan; 3/5
The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music- Dave Grohl; (I've decided to not rate memoirs going forward, but it was really good!)
The Yell Wall-Paper- Charlotte Perkins Gilman; 3/5
The Great Hunt- Robert Jordan; 4/5
How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days- K.M. Jackson; 2/5
All the Murmuring Bones- A.G. Slatter; 2.5/5
The Last Magician- Lisa Maxwell; 3/5


The Mistletoe Motive- Chloe Liese; 5/5
King of Battle and Blood- Scarlett St. Clair; 2/5
Lucky Leap Day- Ann Marie Walker; 3/5
Always Only You- Chloe Liese; 5/5
The Siren of Sussex- Mimi Matthews; 3/5
Love at First Spite- Anna E. Collins; 3/5
With You Forever- Chloe Liese; 4/5
Kiss the Girl- Melanie Jacobson; 2/5


The Ballerinas- Rachel Kapelke-Dale; 2/5
The Rose Code- Kate Quinn; 4/5
Donut Fall in Love- Jackie Lau; 2/5
All of Us Villains- Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman; 3/5
Athena's Child- Hannah Lynn; 3/5
The Bright and Breaking Sea- Chloe Neill; 4/5

Some favorites were: Always Only You, The Bright and Breaking Sea, and The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. Some least favorites were: King of Battle and Blood, How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days, and All of Us Villains.

What were some of your favorite/least favorite reads this month?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021 Reading Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I blinked and 2021 was over. I didn’t think that I was going to top my reading from last year, but then I became a permanent work-from-homer, my mental health took a slight nosedive for a bit, and the world started going downhill again, which all contributed to a grand total of 286 books read for this year.

I had mentioned in my wrap up for last year that I wanted to try and find another way of tracking my reading that would break it down more in-depth than what GoodReads provides. I ended up finding a great log from Book Riot (here's a link to their 2022 Reading Log if anyone's interested!), and I loved seeing my reading all broken out! I’m not going to go through all the stats, but I wanted to highlight a few:

Book Source: I’m hoping to keep this going and utilize the library even more next year. I also want to try and read more of my own TBR.

Genre: I always knew that fantasy and contemporary were my most read genres, but I loved seeing it broken down. This also helped me see what genres I don’t gravitate towards (I love sci-fi movies, but sci-fi books not so much) and what I’d like to read more of (lookin’ at you, non-fiction.)

Format: I always thought that I read more physical books than anything, so I was a little surprised at how well-balanced this turned out to be.

Audience: I just thought this one was interesting to see where my overall tastes leaned towards.

Now for my favorites of the year:

Enjoy the View- Sarah Morgenthaler: This is the third installment in the Moose Springs, Alaska series. This contemporary series is full of fun banter and steamy scenes, and the imagery makes me want to hop a flight to Alaska ASAP.

A Court of Silver Flames- Sarah J. Maas: Like pretty much everyone else, I’d been dying to get a Nesta/Cassian story, and SJM more than delivered. The character and emotional development were stunning, and I’m pretty sure this is my favorite in the series so far.

The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah: I’m not typically an emotional reader. I don’t usually get choked up when I know that something is fake, but when I tell you this book got me good. This is one of the best historical fictions I’ve ever read.

The Witch’s Heart- Genevieve Gornichec: I was a little hesitant going into this one since I’m not familiar with Norse mythology, but the writing was so accessible. It was such a beautifully written story about family, love, betrayal, and the strength of a woman. I’m excited to pick up whatever else Gornichec comes out with.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels- India Holton: This was one of those books where I hadn’t even gotten 50 pages in before I knew it was going to be a favorite. The writing was so sharp and clever and had me laughing out loud. I’m also a sucker for a sassy leading lady and Cecilia had it in spades.

Very Sincerely Yours- Kerry Winfrey: Have you ever felt like a book was written for you? That’s how I felt about this one. It had such You’ve Got Mail meets Mr. Rogers vibes and I adored it. I related so much to both Teddy and Everett, and I thought their relationship was the sweetest.

My Cone and Only- Susannah Nix: Not only did this have a friends-to-lovers trope, but it was also the brother’s best friend trope, which I’m starting to realize I kinda love. The dynamic between Andie and Wyatt was effortless and their chemistry was off the charts. The next book in this companion series comes out next month, and you can bet I’ve already requested a copy through my library.

For Your Own Good- Samantha Downing: I don’t usually give thrillers 5 stars, but this one was well-deserved. I had such a fun time reading this. You pretty much know right off the bat who the killer is, but the anticipation of whether they’ll get away with it keeps you turning the pages. It was so fast paced and entertaining. It’s also being turned into a show on HBO and I can’t wait.

They Never Learn- Layne Fargo: Here’s another thriller that fully lived up to the hype. I’m not one to condone violence, but I spent the entire time reading this like, “Good for you!” This is chock full of morally gray characters that you know you shouldn’t root for, yet you do anyway.

Kingdom of the Cursed- Kerri Maniscalco: I will read anything that Maniscalco puts out. I love her writing style and the way she completely pulls you into the story. I thought this second book was solid and even more entertaining than the first. There were some bits I was able to figure out, but overall, I loved it and can’t wait for the next book.

Lore Olympus, Vol. 1- Rachel Smythe: I read this webtoon every week, so I was thrilled when I heard it was coming out in print. It’s such a fun take on Hades and Persephone and I can’t get enough.

Always Only You- Chloe Liese: I’ve only recently gotten into Liese’s books, but each one I pick up gets better and better. Not only does she craft enjoyable characters/storylines, but the breadth of representation in her books is unlike any other romance I've read. I related to this one so much since I also have rheumatoid arthritis like Frankie, so I could sympathize with what she was going through. This one is also a contender for the best book boyfriend award since Ren was everything.

Now, onto some goals for next year!

-Pace myself and read slower: I’ve always been a very fast reader, which on one hand is great because it means I can consume a lot of books, but it also means I don’t always remember what I read. If I read a book in January, there’s a 75-80% chance I’ll forget most of it by June. I could tell you if I liked it or not, but mostly everything else goes out the window. This is probably going to be a difficult habit for me to break because I’m so used to finishing a book and immediately picking up another, but I really want to try and stick to it.

-Read 150 books: Clearly, I always set my reading goal too low since the past few years I’ve blown past it, but I think this is a good benchmark, and one that is still achievable if I stick to my first goal of slowing down my reading.

-Read more non-fiction: This was one of my goals last year as well and I failed, so I want to bring it over to 2022.

-Start a BookTube channel (?): I've been watching BookTube for a few years now and have been toying with the idea of starting my own for almost as long. The main reason I talk myself out of it is because I'm not the most tech savvy person, so I know the editing/making thumbnails part will be frustrating, but we'll see. Let me know what you all think!

Let me know how you’re reading year went or some goals you have for next year!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Borrowing vs Buying Books

Hello, all!

As I’ve mentioned countless times, my big goal this year was to curb my book buying. I used to go into a bookstore and go willy-nilly, buying anything that looked remotely interesting. Half the time I’d never read it, or I wouldn’t like it, so it felt like a waste.

So, my mission this year was to see how much I could save by using the library instead. I come from a long line of library lovers (I can’t even tell you the last time my Grams bought a book), so the fact that I wasn’t utilizing it to its fullest was silly on my part.

I wanted a way to track how much I spent on books versus how much I saved from borrowing, and luckily, the Book Riot reading log I’ve been using all year made it so easy. They have a tab specifically for logging your book spending, so all I did was duplicate it into a different Google Doc and change the name. Whenever I purchased a book, it went on the “Spending” tab, and whenever I borrowed a book, it went on the “Savings” tab. (I entered in whatever the price was on the actual book itself, for any audiobooks/e-books I borrowed, I looked up the price on Barnes and Noble.) Now, drumroll please...

The number of books I bought/amount I spent:

vs the number of books I borrowed/saved:

The results blew my mind. As you can see, even though I still spent a decent amount on books throughout the year, I saved even more. I’m really happy I did this. Now, when I go to a bookstore, I’m checking my library’s app to see if whatever I want to buy is available there instead. The waits (especially on newer releases) can be annoying, but it’s worth it in the end. I’ll definitely be keeping this up going into next year!

Which do you prefer—buying or borrowing?

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Most Anticipated Releases of 2022

Hello, all!

Here are the books that I'm excited to pick up in 2022. Like I did last year, I'm not going too in depth with these, but I've linked all of their GoodReads pages if you want to check them out!

Also, I've only included the ones that have most of their information up on GoodReads already. There are a few that have been announced that I have my eye on, like Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco and Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca, but aside from the title's there's not much info out yet.

Let me know any books you're looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

End of the Year Book Survey

Hello, all!

I thought it might be fun to look back at my reading year by doing the end of year book survey I saw floating around BookTube.

How many books did you read this year?

As of right now, I'm at 280 books.

What's your most read genre?

Contemporary. This and fantasy were neck and neck.

The longest book and the shortest book you read?

Longest: The Eye of the World- Robert Jordan. Shortest: ExtraOrdinary, #0- VE Schwab.

A favorite book published in 2021?

A Court of Silver Flames- Sarah J. Maas.

Favorite debut of 2021?

The Love Hypothesis- Ali Hazelwood.

Favorite book not published in 2021?

Always Only You- Chloe Liese.

A book that lived up to the hype?

The Witch's Heart- Genevieve Gornichec.

A book that didn't live up the the hype?

The Atlas Six- Olivie Blake.

A book that felt like an accomplishment to read?

The Eye of the World- Robert Jordan.

Favorite character?

So many, but I'll go with Teddy Phillips from Very Sincerely Yours- Kerry Winfrey.

Least favorite character?

Marianne from Normal People- Sally Rooney.

Most well written book of the year?

Ariadne- Jennifer Saint.

The book you pushed the most people to read?

They Never Learn- Layne Fargo.

Favorite book to movie adaptation?

I'm gonna go book to TV and say Shadow and Bone.

Book that made you cry the most?

Oof, The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah, got me good.

Book that made you laugh the most?

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels- India Holton.

A new favorite author(s) you discovered in 2021?

India Holton, Chloe Liese, and Sarah Adams.

Favorite book you re-read in 2021?

The Wallflower Wager- Tessa Dare.

Best non-fiction you read in 2021?

84, Charing Cross Road- Helene Hanff.

Are you happy with your reading year?


Let me know if you do this as I'd love to see your answers! 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Series I Want to ReRead/Continue

Hello, all!

I have this bad habit of starting a book series and then never finishing it. I also have a habit of forgoing all other books on my TBR in order to reread a comfort series, especially if I’m feeling stressed or slumpy. Here is a list of series I either want to reread or continue in the new year.

Series to Re-Read:

Throne of Glass- Sarah J. Maas: Now, I’ve re-read ACOTAR a ridiculous amount of times, so it’s only fair I show some love to Maas’ other series. I’ve only read these books once, and there are things that I’ve forgotten since I’m not as familiar with it. I recently picked up The Assassin’s Blade which is a collection of all the novellas that I believe follow Celaena before the events of the series, so it’s even more reason for me to dive back into this world.

Percy Jackson and The Olympians- Rick Riordan: This is probably my favorite middle-grade series, I just find it so fun. I already know next year is going to be very stressful, especially in the beginning half, so I thought these would be perfect to pick up when I need a distraction.

The Heroes of Olympus- Rick Riordan: To piggyback off the above, I also want to reread this spin-off series as well. I was only going to add Percy Jackson to this list, but then I watched Joel from Fictional Fates video where he read this series for the first time, and just seeing his joy reignited my love for the whole Riordan-verse, so I had to include it.

Series to Continue:

Shades of Magic- VE Schwab: I read A Darker Shade of Magic in 2019 and absolutely loved it, so I have no answer as to why I never read the other two books. I’ll most likely reread the first book before I dive into the others just so the story is fresh in my head.

The Wheel of Time- Robert Jordan: I’d put off this series for ages because I was so intimidated by it, but I finally read the first book a few months ago and really enjoyed it, and I'm in the middle of the second now. For these, I think I’m going to listen to the audiobooks as I read physically because I find with a lot of dense, high fantasy books that helps me fully grasp what’s going on.

Keeper of the Lost Cities- Shannon Messenger: I read the first book earlier this year and thought it was so whimsical, but again, just never picked up the next book. Since this is another middle-grade, it should be a good option for when I just need something quick that I don’t need to think too hard about.

Is there any series you want to reread or one you need to finish?

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 11-9-21
YA - Fantasy

All Of Us Villains- Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman: Every generation, the seven great families of Ilvernath compete in a tournament to decide who rules over the town's magic. At the coming of the Blood Moon, the seven chosen enter into a dangerous game where the stakes are high-- for only one champion makes it out alive. The tournament is usually a low-key affair, but this year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book that was anonymously published, the whole world sets its sights on the players. With new information about each other and long-buried secrets uncovered, the champions discover a choice no other has had before: they can either play the game and kill one another or they can break the curse and remake their histories.

Oh, man. I wanted to love this so badly. I'd seen so many glowing reviews about this that I went out and bought it without really knowing what the story was about. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it as much as everyone else either. My biggest feelings toward this are pretty much just meh. None of the characters are that likeable, but they're all compelling in different ways. I didn't think the story fully hit its stride until the tournament began, and even that wasn't as exciting as I was anticipating. I went in expecting a bloodbath but only got a sink full. I thought this was going to be like The Hunger Games on steroids, and while it was cutthroat and calculating, I felt a lot of the time we were just seeing the characters in their respective bases plotting about killing one another with little follow-through. I also felt the ending was a bit too abrupt for my tastes. That said, I did enjoy the magic system and all the different POVs that we got. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I'll pick up the second book, but I'd still recommend it if you're looking for a darker read.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-1-21
YA - Thriller

Ace of Spades- Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are both students at the prestigious Niveus Private Academy. When they're both chosen as prefects for their senior class, they think it'll be a great opportunity to pad their college applications and get them in the running for valedictorian. But soon after the announcement is made, both Devon and Chiamaka start to get targeted by a vicious anonymous bully known only as Aces. Suddenly, all their secrets are being broadcasted to the entire student body, turning their entire worlds upside-down and threatening the futures they've worked so hard for. Try as they might, the pair can't ignore what's happening to them, especially when whatever game Aces is playing starts to turn dangerous. With the odds stacked against them and no one to trust, Devon and Chiamaka will have to work together to uncover who Aces is before it's too late.

I heard this described as Get Out meets Gossip Girl and that comparison is so spot-on. It's an absolutely wild ride from beginning to end. I was gripped right from the start and couldn't stop reading because I needed to know what was going on and who was behind it all. There were so many things about this I enjoyed. Firstly, the characters. Devon and Chiamaka are two people who come from entirely different worlds: Devon is a scholarship kid from the wrong side of town and Chiamaka has never wanted for anything. They're both put through the wringer and have no choice but to work with each other, and I liked watching them grow and forge this unique bond. I also enjoyed seeing them become open and vulnerable with not only each other but themselves as well. Secondly, the plot was fantastic. I was on the edge of my set the whole time. It was suspenseful and kept me guessing. I also appreciated how much representation was in this book and how the author wasn't afraid to shy away from hard or uncomfortable topics. The only reason I didn't rate this higher was the ending left me wanting just a little bit more. Other than that, I thought this was fantastic.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 9-8-20
Adult - Contemporary

The Real Deal- Lauren Blakely: April Hamilton is in a bit of a bind. Her friend had to back out of being her fake date to her family reunion, and she simply refuses to face her matchmaking-obsessed family alone. In a moment of desperation, April pays boyfriend-for-hire Theo Banks to pretend to be in a relationship with her. Theo didn't set out to be a fake boyfriend, but after some bad decisions in his past led to debts he can't seem to shake, he needs to take whatever paying gig he can get. So, if April needs a bad boy with a heart of gold to show off in front of her family, he's more than up for the job. What neither of them expected was to actually start falling for one another over hula hoops and scavenger hunts. Soon all the touches and stories they've spun start to feel very real, but when Theo's past comes to light, will April be able to trust that what they've shared wasn't part of some big con?

For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting much going into this, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. I can never get enough of the fake dating trope and this one was done fabulously. April and Theo had such great chemistry from the moment they met, so I was just waiting for when it'd turn into something more and I was not disappointed. I loved how the conversation and interaction between them felt natural and believable, and it was just fun watching them let loose and go all-in on the ridiculous games at the family reunion. April's family were all so caring even though they were busybodies about April's career and love life. Seeing as how her parents especially were a little overprotective, it did surprise me just how nonchalant they were when they found out who Theo really was so that was my only small issue with this. I didn't even mind how insta-lovey this was because Blakely made it work so well. If you're looking for a fun, steamy, addictive contemporary, check this one out.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, December 13, 2021

November OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for November was "Dreaming in the Dark." This box was supposed to come with the 2022 reading planner, but due to some issues, that'll be sent separately. 

First up, we had this cute Strange the Dreamer inspired washi tape designed by Kim Carlika Art. I love the colors in this and I'm always a fan of stationery items. 

Then there was this sangria flavored lip balm by Fiction Bath Co. This is inspired by The Bone Season, which I've never read, but it smells fantastic.

Next up, was this ACOMAF pillowcase designed by Book Babe Designs. I follow them on Instagram and love their designs, so when I heard they were going to be included in this months box I knew I was going to love whatever it is.

Then we got the last of the collectible Darker Shade of Magic tins. This one for Black London was designed by Forensics and Flowers. I think this and the White London were my favorites since I just love the color schemes.

The book for November was Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross. This is a lush and layered story about magic and the captivating power of dreams. Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians challenge her, she is unwittingly drawn into a century-old conflict. She seeks revenge, but as she secretly gets closer to Phelan, one of the handsome young magicians, secrets begin to rise. Clementine must unite with her rival to fight the realm’s curse, which seems to be haunting her every turn.

I've never heard of this one before, but it sounds pretty interesting! Let me know what you though of last months box!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Let's Talk: Online Used Book Stores

Hello, all!

One of my goals this year was to cut down on my book buying. I’m happy to report that, for the most part, I stuck to that resolution quite well (I’ll be touching more on this in an upcoming post!), except for some pre-orders or books that came out from my auto-buy authors. Because I wanted to be more conscious of my spending habits, I wanted to find different options for when I did allow myself to buy books. Barnes and Noble and Amazon can be great, but they can also be super expensive.

Here are a few online used books stores that I’ve found and have been loving throughout the year!

ThriftBooks: This has become my go-to for buying books this year. They have a nice mix of new and older books and are super affordable. You can select whatever format you want and it also lists what conditions they have available. If you create an account, you also can get points whenever you order and you can get a free book whenever you reach a certain amount.

Second Sale: Much like ThriftBooks, this has a mix of new and used books with prices starting at less than $4. You can also select the format/condition of whatever book you’re looking for. There’s also free shipping on orders over $10. You can even sell them books you no longer want. They also have a lot of nice buy x amount, get one free sales.

Discover Books: What I like most about this site is that it tells you the exact quantity they have in stock for a book, but they don’t have as many options when it comes to the condition of the book. Due to this, the prices aren’t as low as the other sites, but you can still find some gems.

Book Outlet: This was the first site I started using and I still constantly go back to it. This one is sort of like Marshalls, where if you see something you like you better buy it then because if you wait it’ll be gone. These typically have little defects on them, such as marker dots on the spines, but the prices can’t be beat. I have heard complaints where people have said they received copies of books that were different than what was shown on the site, I’ve never experienced that, but it’s something to keep in mind.

PangoBooks: This is an app that you can both buy and sell books on. I mainly use it for selling, but you can get a lot of newer books on here for decent prices. Popular books tend to go quite fast though, I can’t tell you how many books I’ve liked but someone was just a little bit faster than me to hit that check out button.

eBay: I feel like I don’t need to say much about this one since it’s like the OG for buying secondhand books, but I figured I’d include it anyway!

If you know of any other good sites, please let me know!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 12-7-21
Adult - Thriller

The Ballerinas- Rachel Kapelke-Dale: Fourteen years ago, former ballerina, Delphine, left her soloist spot at the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet for a new life as a choreographer in Russia. Now, Delphine has returned to choreograph a ballet that will hopefully change her whole career, and that will mend the bridge between her and her two friends, Lindsay and Margaux. The trio was once inseparable, but a dark secret has festered and turned their friendship into something precarious. It's clear to Delphine that many things have changed in the years she's been gone, and some secrets can't stay buried for long.

I'm a little thrown by this one. The synopsis made it sound like it was going to be some twisted thriller, but it was more of a literary fiction mixed with some women's drama. It's not to say it was bad; it just wasn't necessarily what I was expecting. I did enjoy the setting and the ballet environment, but that was about it. The characters were okay, but not one of them was likable, except maybe Delphine's elderly neighbor. They all had such huge egos and were incredibly selfish. I do think the author nailed how cutthroat this world can be, but it just wasn't for me. The writing style was also slow, and I found myself skim reading some bits to get through it faster. While this does touch upon some darker topics such as body image, sexual assault, and abuse, it was all very surface-level, and I just wanted something more out of it.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 11-2-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Fastest Way to Fall- Denise Williams: Britta Colby is an assistant editor at a lifestyle website but has always dreamt of becoming a feature writer. Her chance finally comes when she's tasked with writing about her experience with a new body-positive fitness app called FitMe. Britta has always been a proud curvy woman, so the fact that the app is more focused on becoming a stronger version of yourself rather than losing pounds resonated with her. The amazing chemistry she has with her personal trainer, Wes, doesn't hurt either. Despite being the CEO of FitMe, Wes Lawson feels unfulfilled and decides to get back into what started it all: coaching. He immediately feels a connection with Britta, and as the weeks pass, both find themselves becoming more than just workout buddies. They know getting together would put both of their professional lives at risk, but the spark between them is undeniable. But what's love if not a little risky?

I loved this! I read another book by Williams at the beginning of the year and immediately fell in love with her writing style. She effortlessly creates these characters that are compelling and feel like actual people. Britta was likable and real, and I loved how confident she was in herself. Not just with her body but her career as well. She knew what she wanted and went for it. She had such determination, and I loved watching her go along on this journey of self-discovery for no one other than herself. Then you have Wes, who was there every step of the way, encouraging and supporting her, which was so sweet. They had such a lovely dynamic that had me smiling the whole time. I do think the drama surrounding all the social media backlash was a little much, but other than that, I thought this was great.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 12-1-21
Adult - Holiday Contemporary

The Mistletoe Motive- Chloe Liese: Christmastime is Gabriella Di Natale's favorite time of year. There's nothing she loves more than baked goods, peppermint hot cocoa, and decking the halls of the bookstore she works at in floor-to-ceiling glittery decorations. The only thing that puts a damper on her holiday spirit? Her Grinch-like co-worker, Jonathan Frost. Since Jonathan started working at Bailey's Bookshop a year before, the pair have butted heads. When the store's owners confess the shop's failing finances, Gabby and Jonathan have to face the fact that one of them will have to go. So, they come up with a competition: whoever can sell the most books before they close for the holidays gets to stay. If the threat of unemployment wasn't enough, Gabby is also juggling a persistent ex who can't take a hint and her anonymous online friend suggesting they take a break. Gabby decides to pull out all the stops to win this wager, but as the days go on, she can't help but see a softer side to Jonathan. Could it be there's more to him than his chilly exterior?

Once I saw this compared to The Hating Game and You've Got Mail, I knew I needed to pick it up. I'm so glad I did because it was fantastic! I never usually read holiday romances because they tend to be quite cheesy, but this was adorable. I loved how genuine Gabby was. She had such a sparkle about her and was so unapologetically herself. The banter between her and Jonathan was so fun and had me smiling the entire time. Jonathan is my favorite type of love interest where he's this surly curmudgeon on the outside but a secret sweetheart on the inside. He was so thoughtful towards Gabby, and I loved seeing them open up to one another. I've only read one other book by Liese, but what I like is that not only does she craft enjoyable characters/storylines, but the breadth of representation in her books is unlike any other romance I've read. This is definitely going to be one I re-read every holiday season.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, December 6, 2021

A History of Wild Places Review

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw!

Pub Date: 12-7-21
Adult - Mystery

Travis Wren has always been able to glimpse images of a person whenever he touches an object that belongs to them. He uses his uncanny gift to find missing people, and this latest case takes him to remote woods searching for a missing author. Maggie St. James was a well-known author who created a dark fairytale series for children, but one day, she walked into the woods and never returned. Following the trail of afterimages, Travis is led to a commune in the woods called Pastoral, a reclusive community formed in the 1970s by like-minded people who wanted to live a simple life. Travis believes his mission is over, but just like Maggie, he quickly disappears as well.

No one is allowed in or out of Pastoral, but years later, Theo, a life-long Pastoral member, decides to take a chance and ventures out beyond the border. While roaming the woods, he comes across Travis's abandoned truck. As he digs deeper into the disappearance of Travis and Maggie, Theo starts to get flashes of a life that may have once belonged to him. Unraveling the mystery brings forth long-buried secrets that Theo, his wife Calla, and her sister Bee have kept from one another. Secrets that may prove that Pastoral may not be as idyllic as it seems.

I've only read one other book by Ernshaw that I thought was just ok, so I wasn't too sure about this one going in. The writing was beautifully atmospheric and dark, but I thought the overall plot needed a bit more work. It was a little too slow for my tastes (particularly the first half), and I was able to guess where the mystery was going to go before it happened. There were a fair bit of twists thrown in, but they were almost glossed over, so they didn't impact the story as much as they maybe should've. I think the premise of this cult-like commune in the middle of the woods had all the potential to be creepy and out there, and I wish Ernshaw would've played that up a bit more. Overall, I liked the ambiance but wanted just a little bit more oomph.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Current Favorites

Hello, all!

Let's get into another round of favorites! 

Listening to:

Red (Taylor's Version)-Taylor Swift: This is my favorite Taylor Swift album, so I was over the moon when she announced its re-release. I spent the entire day with it on repeat while I was working, and aside from the 10 minute long version of "All Too Well" (which I'm still not mentally/emotionally over), my favorite unreleased track is probably "Nothing New."

"You Should Be Dancing"- The Dee Gees: Admittedly, I don't listen to much of the Foo Fighters, but I do love a good cover. So when my brother told me about how they came out with an entire album covering Bee Gees songs under the name "The Dee Gees", I knew I had to check it out and it's so fun! There's so many good covers on it, but this one takes the cake. Dave Grohl's vocals are just amazing. 

"Silk Chiffon"- MUNA feat. Phoebe Bridgers: My roommate got me hooked on TikTok (I know, I know), and this song was all over it a few months ago. It's so catchy and bubbly, and I'll listen to anything with Phoebe Bridgers on it. 


Hawkeye: I know this just started, but I'm loving it so far! Hailee Steinfeld is exactly how I pictured Kate Bishop in my mind. I already love her dynamic with Jeremy Renner, and I can't wait to see how the rest of the series plays out.

Brooklyn Nine Nine: This is probably my favorite TV show, and I'm so sad to see it go. I will admit though, I wasn't a huge fan of this last season. I felt the first few episodes tried to do too much, but the latter episodes really tied everything together nicely.

The Masked Singer: I'm obsessed with this show! Every week, me, my mom, and a few people we work with watch and all try to guess who's who. I'm proud to admit that I'm the reigning champion with the most correct guesses 🏆


Essie "Let it Slide" Nail Polish: Whenever the weather starts to turn colder, I always get the urge to paint my nails. I lean more towards darker colors since I'm so pale, but I found this orange color from Essie and it's become my go-to. I just think it's the perfect burnt orange color for fall.

Cerave Daily Moisturizer: I'm cursed with very fair, eczema-prone Irish skin, so even things labeled "for sensitive skin" cause me to flare up, so I'm always on the hunt for a good face lotion. Typically, I use the Aveeno eczema lotion for babies, but I'd heard a lot of good things about this brand so I decided to give it a try. So far, I haven't had any issues and it feels nice and light on my skin. 

Notion: I don't really keep a planner or anything like that, but I make lists for just about everything. Whether it's a to-do list, keeping track of books I've purchased, etc, I would always just have post-it's everywhere, and then I heard about Notion. It's such a great website/app that lets you organize pretty much anything you could think of. It's fully customizable, so anything you want to track you can and it any way that you want. If you love organization, I'd highly recommend. 

What have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 11-30-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

The Sisters Sweet- Elizabeth Weiss: Twins Harriet and Josie Szász grew up in the spotlight. Their parents, who were no strangers to the theater, were ambitious and determined to see the twins follow in their footsteps. They eventually made a name for themselves performing on the vaudeville circuit as conjoined twins going by the name "The Sisters Sweet." Being the timider of the two, Harriet never wanted a life in the limelight but went along with it after seeing how much joy and purpose it brought to her family, especially Josie. But when Josie decides she's had enough of sharing the stage, exposing her family's secret, and running off to Hollywood, Harriet must re-learn how to live a normal life while being in her sister's shadow. While Josie is off charming tinsel town, Harriet struggles to keep the rest of the family afloat. Soon, Harriet starts forming new friendships and relationships and must decide if she wants to stay as the obedient daughter or finally live the life she's always dreamed of.

I love reading about this time and anything having to do with the show business of this era. I find it fascinating how it can be so glamorous yet so grimy at the same time, and I appreciated how much research Weiss must've done to make it feel so authentic. Her writing style was very descriptive and lush, albeit a tad wordy at times. She really goes deep into each family member's backstory, and while I understand why she did it so that way we have a complete picture, I found it to be a little boring. I didn't feel connected to any of the characters and found them unlikeable at times. I also felt there were some pacing issues with the story itself that hindered the flow of the narrative. Despite that, I still enjoyed hearing Harriet recount her life, but I think I was taken more with the setting than the story itself. I'd still recommend it if you're interested in historical fiction or are fans of City of Girls, The Show Girl, or The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 5-19-16
Adult - Contemporary

Wasted Words- Staci Hart: After being burned in the past, Cam Emerson has strict rules on who to date. Ever since she was young, Cam has put people into categories: those who are way out of her league and those who are just as nerdy as she is, and therefore, safe to date. Cam knows the way to avoid another heartbreak is to date within the latter category, but that doesn't mean she can't harbor a massive crush on her roommate/best friend, Tyler, even though there's no way he'd ever like her back. Tyler Knight has overcome a lot of hardships in his life. Most notably, a career-ending injury turned his NFL dreams into a job as a sports agent and a terrible break-up, which was a blessing in disguise since it lead him to Cam. She's made it very clear to Tyler that she could never see him as anything more than a friend, but that doesn't stop him from hoping for more. When they both admit their feelings for one another, Tyler is sure he's finally found the one, but will Cam's insecurities about their differences end their happiness before it even begins?

I'm a sucker for a friends-to-lovers trope, so I ate this up. I was immediately charmed by the characters and the story itself. Hart's writing felt effortless and breezy, and I practically read this in one sitting because I needed to see what would happen to Cam and Tyler. They had such a fun dynamic that it was so natural for them to transition into something more than just friends. While Tyler stole my heart straight away, it took me a while to warm up to Cam because she was infuriating. She very much had that "I'm not like other girls--I watch football and wear Converse!" vibe, and no matter how many times Tyler told her he cared for her, she just kept harping on the fact that she thought he was too attractive to actually want to be with her. Everyone's entitled to their insecurities, but she was so stubborn and refused to see reason. She also had a bad habit of meddling in other people's love lives (this is supposed to be inspired by Jane Austen's Emma, so I get it), which was a bit much at times. She did grow on me by the end, but it was a journey. Aside from that, I thought this was adorable and perfect if you're looking for something quick and sweet that's still a little steamy.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 9-8-20
Adult - Mystery/Thriller

One by One- Ruth Ware: When up-and-coming tech company, Snoop, booked a stay at a mountain resort, they were expecting to spend their time skiing, cozying up by the fire, and building team morale. All their plans are dashed after an avalanche traps them with no power, dwindling food supplies, and leaving them cut off from the rest of the world. Soon bodies start turning up and it's clear that someone is targeting the Snoop members leaving everyone to question who can be trusted and who will be next. Can they survive until help arrives, if help is coming at all?

I haven't read much by Ruth Ware, but I do know most of the time you either love her work or aren't that impressed. I fall somewhere in the middle. I thought the premise was fun and very Agatha Christie-ish and I do love a good murder mystery, but the overall execution wasn't my favorite. Though this is told in alternating POVs of two characters, there were so many others introduced that I had a difficult time keeping them all straight at points. I also felt the pacing was a little wonky. The beginning felt slow then plateaued in the middle and then really geared up towards the end. Despite that, I did enjoy the end bit and felt it was definitely suspenseful, but I didn't find the big reveal all that shocking. My favorite bit was the setting, I thought it was so atmospheric. All in all, it had its moments but I just thought it was okay.

Rating: 3/5