Saturday, December 31, 2022

December Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Before we get into all the books I read this month, I just want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe new year!



Audio:

Resting Scrooge Face- Meghan Quinn; 3/5
Lavender House- Lev A.C. Rosen; 2/5
Dead and Gondola- Ann Claire; 2/5
The Scoundrel Falls Hard- Sophie Jordan; 4/5
The Mad Women's Ball- Victoria Mas; 3/5
LVOE-Atticus; 4/5
Little Women- Louisa May Alcott; 4/5
Lovelight Farms- B.K. Borison; 4/5
A Wallflower Christmas- Lisa Kleypas; 3/5
The Truth About Magic- Atticus; 3/5
Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen; 3/5

Digital:

Unlock Your Storybook Heart- Amanda Lovelace; 2/5
Her Lessons in Persuasion- Megan Frampton; 2/5
Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 10; 3/5
The Miniscule Mansion of Myra Malone- Audrey Burges; 3/5
Lady Killer, Vol. 2; 4/5
The Last Unicorn- Peter S. Beagle; 3/5
Spy Family, Vols 5-8; 2-3/5

Physical:

Little Thieves- Margaret Owen; 3/5
The Book of Gothel- Mary McMyne; 2/5
Cryptid Club- Sarah Andersen; 3/5
Ghost Reaper Girl, Vol. 1; 3/5
Lady Killer, Vol. 1; 4/5
Our Wives Under the Sea- Julia Armfield; 3/5
The Witch in the Well- Camilla Bruce; 2/5
Ninth House- Leigh Bardugo; 4/5 (re-read)
Stardust- Neil Gaiman; 4/5 (re-read)
The Savior's Book Café Story in Another World, Vol. 1; 3/5
Black Coffee Blues- Henry Rollins; 3/5

Some favorites were: Lovelight Farms, Lady Killer, and The Scoundrel Falls Hard. Least favorites were: The Witch in the Well, The Book of Gothel, and Lavender House.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2022

2022 Reading Wrap-Up

Hello, all!


I feel like I say this every year, but can you believe how fast this year went? I had a lot of ups and downs this year, and that shows in just how many books I consumed. I managed to read 304 books this year. This is the most I've ever read in one year, and if I'm being honest, I hope the only time I read that much because I'll be the first to admit it was way too much 😅




Like last year, I'm going to be sharing a few of my stats from my Book Riot Reading Tracker (here's a link to their 2023 tracker if anyone is interested!), as I like how it breaks things down more in depth than GoodReads:


Format: The fact that this chart is almost the same as it was last year is so satisfying to me.


Genre: I love seeing all my genres broken down. I read more non-fiction this year which I was happy about, and I'm hoping to keep that going in the new year.


Book Source: I really made it a point last year to utilize my library more, and started keeping a log of the amount of money I saved from borrowing rather than buying books, and it's been such a game changer for me. This year I checked out 160 books from my library and saved $2,955.

Now onto my favorites of the year:

1. A Swift and Savage Tide- Chloe Neill: I fell in love with the Captain Kit Brightling series at the beginning of the year. It's a piratical fantasy take on the Napoleonic war, and everything from the characters to the magic to the romance is just so good. I'm really hoping there'll be a third book soon.

2. Love and Other Words- Christina Lauren: CLo are one of my favorite contemporary authors so I can't believe it took me so long to pick this book up. I devoured it in about one sitting, and it's easily my favorite book by them.

3. A River Enchanted- Rebecca Ross: I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I read it back in March. If I'm being honest, this is probably my overall favorite book of the year. I also read the sequel recently and loved it as well, so it's made it's way onto my favorite fantasy series of all time list.

4. Every Summer After- Carly Fortune: Listen- was this pretty much Love and Other Words 2.0? Yes. Did I mind? Absolutely not.

5. Dark Matter- Blake Crouch: You might be thinking, "Heather, a sci-fi book made it to your yearly favorites?" And to that I'd say, I couldn't believe it either. It's no secret I don't typically enjoy sci-fi, but this messed me up in the best possible way.

6. Nettle and Bone- T. Kingfisher: This was the year of Kingfisher for me. I got very much into her writing and picked up quite a few of her books, but this one was my favorite. It had such a Neil Gaiman-esque feel to it, and I loved the dark fairy tale vibes.

7. When in Rome- Sarah Adams: If you like light, fluffy, guaranteed-to-put-a-smile-on-your-face contemporaries, then you have to check out Sarah Adams. I've loved all of her books, but this one about a overworked pop star and a grumpy small-town pie shop owner quickly stole the top spot.

8. Killers of a Certain Age- Deanna Raybourn: A group of lady assassin's in their sixties find themselves the target of the same organization they've spent the last forty years working for and are forced to kill or be killed? And it's written by Deanna Raybourn? You know I ate it up.

9. The Duke Gets Even- Joanna Shupe: I only got into Shupe this year, but I've been loving her work. This is the latest installment of her Fifth Avenue Rebels series and it actually doesn't come out until January, but I got an ARC early this year and just couldn't wait. I read it all in one sitting and it's definitely my favorite in the series.

10. A Very Merry Bromance- Lyssa Kay Adams: I'm not usually obsessed with holiday romances, unless they're written by Lyssa Kay Adams as part of the Bromance Book Club series apparently. I thought this was so fun and I really liked the main couple.

11. A Wicked Game- Kate Bateman: Another historical romance author I've really gotten into lately is Kate Bateman. Her Ruthless Rivals series is perfection in my eyes. It follows a feuding family and each book follows a different member of those families as they inevitable fall in love. It's so fun. Bateman's banter and characters are unmatched. This is the latest installment and I'm still swooning over Morgan.

12. Lovelight Farms- B.K. Borison: This completely charmed me. I thought it was such a cute friends-to-lovers/fake dating situation, and it was just festive enough without being too Hallmark movie cheesy. 

Onto my goals for 2023:

-Get back into comics/graphic novels: I used to be so good at keeping up with comics. I'd pick up all the new issues every week, but eventually I'd miss an issue here and there and then before I knew it, I'd be so behind. So I want to go back and re-read some of the ones I loved and then start on some newer runs. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

-Match my library savings: As I mentioned, I keep a log of how much money I save by using the library, and my mom gave me the great idea of taking however much I saved throughout the month and moving that amount over to my savings account. I started doing this a few months ago, and I've put a decent amount in already. 

-DNF more: I never use to DNF books, but I'm slowly becoming more okay with it. Why waste my time reading books I'm not enjoying when there are so many I want to read? I'm really going to try and stick with the 50-page rule: if I'm not hooked within the first 50 pages, then I'm going to put it down.

I do have a carry-over from last year and that's starting a BookTube channel. I've actually already filmed and edited a BookTube Newbie Tag video, so now it's just getting over my anxieties to post it.

Let me know how your reading year went and if you have any goals for next year! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 12-27-22
Adult - Historical Romance

A Wicked Game- Kate Bateman: Captain Morgan Davies has finally returned to London after a faulty map left him and his crew shipwrecked and imprisoned on a French island. Only two thoughts kept Morgan going through the hell he's seen: enacting sweet revenge on the cartographer responsible for his suffering and seeing Harriet Montgomery again. Before he left for the war, Morgan and Harriet, his childhood nemesis, struck a deal that if he lived, she would grant him three kisses. When it turns out Harriet is also the cartographer, Morgan decides to up the ante on their bet-- he doesn't just want to claim his kisses; he wants Harriet as his own. But when a threat from Morgan's past reemerges putting them both in danger, the pair soon realize that all their years of teasing and taunting weren't fueled by animosity but desire, and they're willing to fight to stay together.

This is my favorite series by Bateman. Each book keeps getting better and better, and this is easily my favorite of the bunch. My favorite thing in romance is when two characters constantly bicker to hide their feelings for one another, and Morgan and Harriet's dynamic executed that perfectly. I loved how they weren't afraid to tease and rile the other up. There were so many moments that had me chuckling and smiling to myself. The chemistry between them was off the charts, and I was swooning over Morgan alongside Harriet. I was a little nervous that the third-act conflict and drama would be too much, but I liked how everything played out. As with the previous books, I love seeing all the interactions between the families. They're so fun and bring another layer of humor and heart to the stories. Now, don't mind me, I'll just be counting down the days until the next book is in my hands.

Rating: 5/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 11-22-22
Adult - Contemporary

Two Wrongs Make a Right- Chloe Liese: Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot are total opposites. He's stuffy and uptight, and she's messy and stubborn. They instantly got off on the wrong foot, but that doesn't stop their closest friends from trying to set the pair up on a blind date. When they meet for the date, they find some common ground: getting revenge on their meddling friends. They devise a plan to fake date, make all their friends believe they're madly in love, and then ruin their hopes of a happy ending by breaking up, putting an end to any future matchmaking. Bea and Jamie know they'll need to sell it, but as the weeks pass, they find their faking has turned into a real relationship. When the time comes, will they take their revenge or admit that maybe their friends had it right all along?

I've enjoyed all of Liese's previous books I've read, so I was excited to dive into this one. It was cute, but it didn't grab me like the others. The beginning felt a little clunky and didn't seem to find its footing throughout. The relationship between Bea and Jamie felt very fast, and I wanted more of the fake dating aspect to help build more tension. I wanted to see them bicker more in front of their friends while trying to sell being in love, but they went from rivals to lovers within a few chapters. They did have good chemistry, and I thought they worked well together, but I just wanted more build-up. I still enjoyed Liese's writing style and the representation, but I wanted a smidge more.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-28-22
YA - Fantasy

This Vicious Grace- Emily Thiede: When she was young, Alessa was blessed by the gods to defend her people from a demonic invasion. Her powers are supposed to magnify those of her partner, but instead, everyone Alessa touches dies. With the threat of war looming closer, Alessa is running out of time to find a suitable match, and her people are starting to turn on her. Desperate to stay alive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast with a mysterious past, to be her bodyguard. Dante is the first person Alessa has been able to touch without hurting for years, and the more they train together, the more they can't deny the attraction brewing between them. But when Dante's secret is revealed, Alessa will have to make the hardest decision of her life. Will she find the strength to go against everything she's been taught to save the boy and home she loves, or will her gift finally destroy them all?

I thought this was fun. I loved the Italian influences and thought Thiede's writing was descriptive and lush. The characters and setting also worked well together. I thought Alessa was interesting to follow. I liked how she had these unique powers, and it was cool watching her try to get a handle on them with the help of Dante. Their dynamic was my favorite thing about this. I didn't realize how much I love a bodyguard trope until I read this. They started a little at odds with one another but quickly developed a friendship that turned into a sweet romance. Admittedly, I was more invested in their relationship than the rest of the plot, but that was only because I never got a firm grasp on why they were gearing up to fight this war. Maybe the world-building/lore just went over my head, but it didn't feel super fleshed out to me, so I didn't feel like I understood the reasoning behind it. There were also a few times when the pacing fell off, and the tone felt a little too-YA, but overall, it was an enjoyable time, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 8-29-20
Adult - Contemporary

The Enemy- Sarah Adams: Many say you shouldn't hold a grudge, but June doesn't subscribe to that thinking. She's kept the same rage fire burning for her nemesis Ryan Henderson since they were in high school. June hasn't seen Ryan in years. Not since he humiliated her at their high school graduation, then left their town without looking back. But now, twelve years later, June and Ryan are reunited for their best friend's wedding. June is determined to keep their feud alive, but it's hard when Ryan has grown into everything she wants in a man. What's even more shocking is that it seems Ryan's into her and has been since they were kids. Is it possible the pair spent years being each other's enemies when they could've been lovers instead?

Sarah Adams has me in a chokehold. I'm always guaranteed a good time when I read her books. Her writing is always light and fun and the perfect pick-me-up. I loved June and Ryan together. They had such a playful, teasing banter that I couldn't get enough of. I wouldn't say their dynamic was hate-to-love, but more like annoyed-to-love. They had great chemistry, and I was smiling the entire time. June had a lot of insecurities from her past relationship, and it was so sweet how caring and understanding Ryan was towards her. He made her feel safe and cherished while also pushing her buttons. There were a few little miscommunication moments, especially towards the end, and those are never my favorite, but I liked how everything wrapped up. Now, I've read all but one of her books and can say without a doubt that she's one of my favorite contemporary authors, and I can't recommend her enough.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Most Anticipated Books of 2023

Hello, all!

It's time to talk about some books I'm looking forward to picking up next year! As always, I tried not to go too in-depth since I didn't want to make this post super long, but I've linked all the GoodReads if you want to check them out further. 



Let me know if there are any books you're looking forward to as well!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

December OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Star-Crossed." Let's get into it!



The first item was this double-sided book mark set featuring characters and quotes from Daughter of Smoke and Bone and An Ember in the Ashes. I actually haven't read either of these, but the artwork is stunning.


Next up was this canvas hanging wall organizer inspired by Strange the Dreamer. I like the concept of these, but they aren't something I'd actually use.


Then we had the last in their enamel Literary Luggage pin collection. This one is for Outlander. I've tried to watch that show twice and both times I was so bored, so I doubt I'll ever pick up the book, but the pin is nice!


Then we had this salt and pepper shaker inspired by Serpent & Dove. I love getting homeware in subscription boxes, and I think these are cute.


I got a loose leaf tea advent calendar this year, so this tea bag infuser and bag rest came at the perfect time! It's inspired by These Violent Delights and I'm obsessed with the design on the ceramic plate.


The last item was probably my favorite. It's Bridgerton inspired straws, and not just regular straws, but they're shaped like little hearts. So cute!






The book this month was The Poison Season- Mara Rutherford. Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. As much as she loves her community, she struggles to accept that her brother will be exiled on his next birthday if he doesn't gain the magic so vital to the inhabitants. When Leelo discovers an outsider drowning, she must make difficult decisions that threaten to bring upheaval to her entire life.

I haven't heard much about this, but it seems intriguing. Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Top 5: Holiday Romances

Hello, all!

I don't know if my mom's love of Hallmark Christmas movies has finally rubbed off on me, but all I've been wanting to read this month are cheesy holiday romances. If you're in the same mood, here are a few I think you should pick up.


1. A Very Merry Bromance- Lyssa Kay Adams: This is the latest installment in the Bromance Book Club series, and it's a holiday treat. It follows a famous country singer as he tries to win back the woman he loves. I love this series and this one may have snatched the top spot for me. If you're looking for a sweet, semi-steamy holiday rom-com, this is the one to pick up.


2. Window Shopping- Tessa Bailey: If you like the grumpy/sunshine trope but where the woman is the grouchy one and the man is the cinnamon roll, you'll love this. It follows a woman who just got out of jail and looking to turn her life around. She gets a job as a window dresser at a fancy department store, and can't help the feelings developing for her corny, handsome, Christmas-loving boss. Bailey nails the steaminess and banter, and I was hooked from the first page.


3. The Mistletoe Motive- Chloe Liese: Do you like workplace romances? What about enemies to lovers? What if I told you if The Hating Game and You've Got Mail had a baby, it would be this book? The characters are great, the romance is sweet, and it's set in a bookshop so what more could you really want?


4. You're a Mean One, Matthew Prince- Timothy Janovsky: This is truly if you took David Rose and plopped him into a Hallmark movie. It took me a little while to warm up to the main character, but the small town setting and festivities were cute.


5. Royal Holiday- Jasmine Guillory: If you like romances between older characters, or vacation romances, here's a good one to pick up. This follows a woman who tags along with her daughter on a work trip to England and ends up falling for one of the Queen's private secretaries. I don't know why, but England during the holiday season feels very magical to me, and I loved how this transported me there.

Do you have any favorite holiday romances? Let me know!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

I think I'll be including 4 reviews going forward as I'm still so behind on them 😬

Pub Date: 5-4-21
YA - Contemporary

Better Than the Movies- Lynn Painter: Liz has always wished for her life to be like the romantic comedies she used to watch with her mother. She's always dreamt of having her own meet-cute and happily ever after. So when her childhood crush Michael moves back to town, Liz is sure this is the universe giving her an in. Liz devises a plan to get Michael's attention, but to do so she needs to enlist the help of her annoying next-door neighbor, Wes. Liz and Wes have always been at odds ever since they were young, but with the promise of a prime parking spot, Wes agrees to help Liz. Much to Liz's surprise, the more time she spends with Wes, the more she forgets about Michael. Could it be her happily ever after was in front of her the whole time?

I picked this up on a whim, and I'm so glad I did. It was adorable! I loved all the nods to famous rom-com movies and was sucked into the story straight away. I love a good hate-to-love trope, and while this was more annoyance-to-love, I thought it was so well done. Liz and Wes were so fun together. They had great banter, and I loved watching them push each other's buttons. I was either smiling or laughing at their antics the entire time. There was a few times I had to roll my eyes at the corniness, especially when it came to the prom conflict, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment any. I thought Painter did an excellent job crafting an endearing contemporary that was witty, sweet, and just as charming as the movies it referenced. If you're looking for something to add to your summer reading lists, check this one out.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 10-26-21
Adult - Historical Romance

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower- Erica Ridley: Thomasina "Tommy" Wynchester is a master of disguise. With her knowledge of cosmetics, she can go from a proper society lady to a bawdy old man in moments. Tommy will become whoever the mission requires. Tommy's newest assignment is to discover the truth hidden in a military cipher that dates back centuries. That's the easy part. The hard part is working alongside the one woman Tommy is head over heels for. Philippa York is a bluestocking who cares more about seeking academic pursuits than a husband, much to her mother's dismay. All Philippa wants to do is decode a priceless manuscript, unmask a villain, and give the proper people their due. It irks her to have to team up with a man to do so, but to her surprise, the "man" she's been working alongside is a charming, clever woman. As they grow closer, Philippa can't deny the feelings that start to stir, but is she willing to put everything on the line for a life with Tommy?

I haven't read anything by Ridley before, but I enjoyed this. However, it was one of those times where I enjoyed the characters more than the plot. I adored the Wynchester siblings and their dynamic. They each have such big personalities and certain skills they bring to the table, and I thought it was so fun that they take on these adventures together. I liked watching Tommy transform into these different characters, and how Philippa played a part in their scheme as well. The two of them worked well together, and I appreciated how Tommy didn't keep her identity from Philippa for too long. She brings her into the fray quite early on, which I liked. Their romance was a bit slow but sweet. Also, it was adorable how Tommy's family didn't even hesitate to include Philippa in their inner circle. As for the plot itself, I never felt invested in it, but I did like how it all wrapped up. Overall, I liked this and am looking forward to picking up the rest of the series.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 8-30-22
YA - Mystery

The Final Gambit- Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Avery Grambs is just weeks away from inheriting the full Hawthorne fortune, but will she be able to last that long? Since being named the heir to the Hawthorne legacy, Avery has had a target painted on her back. She's been kidnapped, shot at, and almost blown up, but the one thing keeping her sane is the Hawthorne brothers. Avery and the boys may have clashed at first, but they've grown to become a family, and she'll need to rely on their help to get her through the latest threat. When a stranger arrives at the house asking for help, it sets off yet another puzzle Avery will have to solve, and this one pits Avery and the Hawthornes against their most dangerous adversary yet.

It almost pains me to say this after loving the first two books so much, but this was so underwhelming. I had high expectations going in, and I feel a bit disappointed. My favorite thing about the other books was that they were exciting and engaging and I didn't feel that with this one. I wasn't as invested in the mystery and felt the pacing of it dragged. Barnes has also been dangling a love triangle in front of us for the last two books, which turned out to be for nothing. I can't stand that trope, so having to deal with it only for Avery to stick with who she was with was so annoying. And the ending? Talk about lackluster. The saving grace for me was Xander, who probably needs to see a chiropractor now after carrying the whole thing on his back. I still think the series as a whole is entertaining, but sadly, the ending wasn't my favorite.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 1-4-22
Adult - Mystery

The Maid- Nita Prose: Unlike many others, Molly Gray has a difficult time picking up on social cues and often misreads situations and people. Molly would always look to her Gran to explain the ways of the world to her, but after her passing, Molly is left to try and muster through on her own. One thing Molly has never been unsure of is her work as a maid at an upscale hotel. Unfortunately for Molly, her world is turned upside down when she discovers a dead body in one of the rooms she's meant to clean. Molly's strange demeanor catches the eye of the police, and she's taken into custody and charged with the murder. Molly quickly finds herself entangled in a bigger scheme and teams up with some unlikely friends to clear her name and get to the bottom of what happened before it's too late.

I've recently become a fan of the cozy mystery genre, so I knew I needed to pick this up. I ended up liking it a lot. I loved the murder mystery aspect, and I found the whole thing weirdly endearing. I liked Molly a lot. There were so many times I just wanted to give her a hug and a cup of tea. She's constantly being taken advantage of because of her differences, and you can't help but feel like you need to protect her. But I felt like she gets underestimated a lot throughout this. She's always looked at as weak and unintelligent, but she has strengths many overlook that make her an interesting character to follow. I also liked her relationship with Juan Manuel and Mr. Preston. Aside from the characters, I enjoyed the mystery even though I was able to guess how it was going to play out. If you're looking for a lighter mystery, I'd recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Blog Tour: The Sunshine Girls Excerpt

Hello, all!

There's something about the wintertime that makes me want to devour all the historical fiction, so big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour for The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader.

Pub Date: 12-6-22
Adult - Historical Fiction

This is a dual-narrative story about two sisters who realize their mother isn’t who they’d always thought when a legendary movie star shows up at her funeral, unraveling the sweeping story of a friendship that begins at a nursing school in Iowa in 1967 and onward as it survives decades of change, war, fame—and the secrets they kept from each other and for each other.

You can check out an excerpt below!

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

A Fire Endless Review (Elements of Cadence, #2)

Hello, all!

One of my favorites books this year (and maybe of all time) was A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (review here), and I've been anticipating the follow-up, A Fire Endless, since the moment I finished it. 

*Potential spoilers ahead*

Pub Date: 12-6-22
Adult - Fantasy

The isle of Cadence has always been divided. The East and the West. The human world and the spirit world. The Breccans and the Tamerlaines. Jack Tamerlaine and his wife, Adaira, had hopes of striking a balance between the warring clans, but instead, they threw the island into even more disarray when long-buried secrets came to light. With Adaira over in the West struggling to find her place within the brutal Breccans and her new family, Jack is left adrift until he sings to the weakening fire spirits and is given a dangerous quest.

With Jack's mission taking him into the West to Adaira, Torin and Sidra must try to uncover the cause of a strange blight plaguing their land and people. When Sidra is infected, Torin strikes a bargain with the spirit world, and soon the entire group discovers something even more sinister is brewing. Bane, the vicious Northern Wind and king of the spirits, is determined to claim dominion over the whole island. With the island falling off-kilter, Jack and his friends must unite the humans and spirits together if they hope to stop Bane. But Jack knows first-hand the price one must pay for challenging Bane, and the sacrifice may be larger than anyone can bear.

As I mentioned, I couldn't wait to pick this book up. I did find the pacing slower than the first and thought it took longer for the plot to develop, but I was still hooked. The whole setting and atmosphere Ross created were so enchanting (no pun intended.) It somehow managed to feel cold and brutal yet warm and cozy all at the same time. The island is steeped in magic that's so intriguing, and I loved getting more glimpses into the spirit world. I also liked learning more about the backstory between the feuding clans and watching as Jack and Adaira fought so hard to bridge the divide. I was nervous toward the end because I wasn't sure how everything would wrap up, but it felt very satisfying and fitting. I loved following along with these characters and their journeys, and this has definitely become one of my favorite fantasy series.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Well Traveled Review

Hello, all!

One of my favorite series is Well Met by Jen DeLuca, so I was pumped to receive a copy of the latest installment, Well Traveled. Big thanks to the publisher!

Pub Date: 12-6-22
Adult - Contemporary

Louisa "Lulu" Malone comes from a success-driven family and has dedicated years of her life to a job that will never appreciate her. When Lulu finally comes to this realization, she decides that she's had enough. Knowing that she needs a break from life, Lulu's cousin, Mitch, convinces her to escape with his friends to the Renaissance Faire. Lulu reluctantly agrees and soon finds herself hawking turkey legs and sleeping in a cramped motorhome with the Renn Faire Lothario himself, Dex MacLean. 

Dex MacLean is well-known on the Renn Faire circuit, not only for his family band, the Dueling Kilts but for having a girl at every stop. He's got that carefree, playboy persona down to a T, but the one person he isn't fooling is Lulu. For the first time in his life, a woman is immune to his charms, and Dex can't help but be intrigued. It doesn't take long for the pair to start opening up while stuck in such tight quarters, and soon Lulu is seeing another side to Dex that no one else has seen before. He's not just a pretty face like everyone says; he's driven and has plans for the future. Lulu knows her time on the road is dwindling, and her real life is catching up to her, but she can't help hoping those plans will include her.

I really enjoy this series. I find the Renn Faire setting so whimsical and charming, and it feels like getting a peek into a wacky summer camp. While I liked this latest installment, it wasn't my favorite. I thought it felt similar to the last book, especially with how Dex is perceived. He and Mitch both had that feeling of being portrayed as pretty faces with nothing of substance underneath, but then realizing they have so much more to give once you get to know them. Dex is also repeatedly referred to as this big playboy, but other than some flirting, he never really lived up to the rep. I did like him and Lulu and thought they worked well together. They both come from different worlds, so it was interesting seeing how they would find a balance. Though, I did think the ending resolution was a bit too convenient. Other than that, I thought this was fun but not the most memorable in the series.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November Reading Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Can you believe we're nearing the end of the year already? I can't wait to get into the festive mood!


Audio:

Daughter of Redwinter- Ed McDonald; 2/5
The Body in the Garden- Katharine Schellman; 4/5 (re-read)
The Duchess in His Bed- Lorraine Heath; 3/5 
Beyond Scandal and Desire- Lorraine Heath; 4/5
Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard- Tom Felton; *No rating for memoirs
Hamnet- Maggie O'Farrell; 3.5/5
Sorcery of Thorns- Margaret Rogerson; 4/5 (re-read)
The Cloisters- Katy Hays; 3/5
A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder- Dianne Freeman; 3/5
Thistlefoot- GennaRose Nethercott; 2/5

Digital:

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife- Ashley Winstead; 4/5
A Fire Endless- Rebecca Ross; 4/5
A Wicked Game- Kate Bateman; 5/5
A Light in the Ember- Jennifer L. Armentrout; 3/5
Mysteries of Thorn Manor- Margaret Rogerson; 4/5

Physical: 

The Duke Buys a Bride- Sophie Jordan; 3/5
Lore Olympus, Vol. 3; 4/5
Curse of the Reaper- Brian McAuley; 3/5
One Dark Window- Rachel Gillig; 3.5/5
Clytemnestra- Constanza Casati; 4/5
Two Wrongs Make a Right- Chloe Liese; 3.5/5

Some favorites were: A Fire Endless, A Wicked Game, and Beyond the Wand. Least favorites were: The Cloisters, Daughter of Redwinter, and The Duchess in His Bed.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 5-24-22
Adult - Historical Romance

The Bride Goes Rogue- Joanna Shupe:
 If it were up to Katherine Delafield, she'd be married by now. She's spent the last year betrothed to the son of her father's late business partner and real-estate tycoon, Preston Clarke, and now she's finally decided she's done waiting. When she ambushes Preston about wedding plans, he tells her in no uncertain terms that there's absolutely no way he's marrying her. Instead of wallowing, Katherine decides to sample all the New York nightlife has to offer and meets a mysterious stranger at a costume ball. The pair get on like a house on fire, but when the masks come off, Katherine is shocked to find it's none other than her ex-fiance. Preston never expected Katherine to be so alluring, and he can't seem to get his mind off of her and how she makes him feel. Is it possible this heard-hearted rogue is falling for his would-be wife?

Wowza, this book! It had everything I love in a historical romance. Witty banter? Check. A strong-willed main character? Check. A rogue with a squishy tender inside? Check. I enjoyed watching Katherine and Preston's relationship blossom from passionate trysts to forging a real connection. Katherine was so determined to take her life by the reigns, and I loved watching her put her dreams of opening an art museum into motion. Preston was one of those loveable anti-heroes who make many mistakes and bad choices, but you still can't help but root for them. Their chemistry was amazing, and they are probably my favorite couple in this series so far. I think the conflict at the end wrapped up a little too quickly (though I did love Preston's top-notch groveling), but other than that, I loved it. I can't wait for Nellie's book next!

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 10-20-20
YA - Fantasy

Among the Beasts and Briars- Ashley Poston: Growing up in Aloriya, Cerys was always taught to stay out of the woods. Dangerous creatures and diseases lurk in the forest, but the people are safe as long as they keep within the village limits. A hundred years ago, the first king of Aloriya struck a bargain with the Lady of the Wild, but as his land prospered, the woods deteriorated. After a brush with the forest took her mother and friends, Cerys knows all too well how dangerous the woods can be. But inside Cerys lives a tiny spark of the forest's magic, and when the creatures from the wood destroy her home, it's up to Cerys to try and stop them. She decides to seek help from the Lady of the Wild, and she's joined on her quest by a fox with secrets of his own, and a strangely powerful bear. Together the group must fight their way through the wood, but as they do so, they uncover even darker secrets lurking in its shadows.

I've had this on my TBR for ages, and I'm so glad I finally decided to pick it up. It was so much fun. Poston did such a wonderful job weaving together the world and characters. I loved the idea of this forest magic, and it was so interesting learning more about it and how it affects the people it infects, which was terrifying. I liked watching Cerys navigate through the woods, and the banter between her and Fox was great. I loved their playfully teasing dynamic, and even though I figured out who Fox was, I liked how it all came together. Poston's writing was lush, descriptive, and so easy to fall into. I flew through it, and read the majority in one day because I didn't want to put it down. The plot may have been a bit predictable and had many of the classic YA fantasy tropes, but I would still recommend it if you're looking for something entertaining that would be perfect for the fall.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 7-21-22
Adult - Historical Fantasy

Ten Thousand Stitches- Olivia Atwater: Euphemia "Effie" Reeves has a big problem: she's fallen in love. Mr. Benedict Ashbrooke is a gentleman, and gentlemen don't marry their housemaids, but Effie can't help but dream of becoming his wife. But then she meets a faerie named Lord Blackthorn who is eager to help her fulfill her wish. Effie knows it's dangerous to enter into faerie bargains, but what harm can it do when her life is already terrible? The pair agree that Lord Blackthorn will help turn Effie into a lady, thus winning Benedict's heart within one hundred days, and in return, she'll embroider ten thousand stitches onto his favorite jacket. It sounds simple enough to Effie, but when Lord Blackthorn keeps accidentally mucking up the plan with his good intentions, she realizes that maybe her heart has belonged to another the whole time.

Given my love of regency romance and fantasy, you would think I'd eat this series up. Sadly, I can't help but feel completely underwhelmed by it. I enjoyed the first book but felt it was lacking something, and the same can be said for this one, too. It was as if the plot was never fully formed. Maybe it's because the length is so short, but everything felt glossed over. The characters were one-dimensional, the relationship between Effie and Lord Blackthorn was flimsy, and the plot was boring. Lord Blackthorn was like a dopey golden retriever, and it did make for some cute moments, but that was it. I enjoy the cozy vibe, but I think it would've benefitted by having more magic and a more cohesive plotline.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, November 24, 2022

End of the Year Book Tag

Hello, all and Happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends!

I saw this tag floating around BookTube so I wanted to give it a go.


1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? 

No, not finishing books stresses me out so I have to finish whatever I'm reading before going on to something else. Unless I'm really not vibing with a book in which case I'll just DNF it rather than putting it down.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I just picked up The Cloisters by Katy Hays that I think will be perfect for this time of year. 

3. Is there a new release you're still waiting for? 

I can't wait for A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross to come out in December. It's the follow up to A River Enchanted which was probably my favorite book I've read all year.

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? 

I'd like to read Hester- Laurie Lico Albanese, and I'd like to continue with my re-reads of the Percy Jackson and Throne of Glass series since I wanted to read them both this year and sorta failed 😅

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year? 

I mean, sure. I always go into every book hoping it'll be a new favorite, so hopefully any that I pick up will do the trick.

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2023?

No way. I'm a total mood reader so I never plan out my reading. I just pick up whatever looks interesting at the moment.


Here are the questions if anyone else wants to participate. Let me know if you do as I'd love to see your answers!

Questions:- 

1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? 

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? 

3. Is there a new release you're still waiting for? 

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? 

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year? 

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2023?

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

November OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "The Dark Heart of the Forest." Let's get into it!


First up, we had the next installment in their Literary Luggage pin collection. This one was inspired by From Blood and Ash and I really like the design here.


Then we had this bamboo travel toothbrush inspired by The Raven Cycle. I've never read that series, but I love a useful item.


Next, they included another of their Lord of the Rings ceramic bowls. This is inspired by Gondor, and features some quotes around the outside. 


I know I just said I love useful items, but this The Bear and the Nightingale soap dish holder seems so strange to me. I didn't realize enough people use bar soap to necessitate OwlCrate to make this one.


My favorite item was this reusable hand warmer inspired by Lakesedge and Among the Beasts and Briars. Everyone makes fun of the fact that my hands are always freezing (my mom dubs them my corpse hands), so I can't wait to use this.


The last item was a reading planner. As cute as I think these are, I never actually use them because I have my own reading trackers I like to use, so I always pass these off.





The book for this month was The Luminaries by Susan Dennard. This is set in a wild and mysterious woodland world where mysteries lurk and danger stalks the forest at night. Winnie Wednesday must learn to traverse the dark and fight for her life-- even if it means unearthing secrets that are best left uncovered.

I read an ARC of this book a few months ago, and sadly, I didn't love it, but I do think this edition is super pretty. Let me know what you thought of this months box!