Friday, September 30, 2022

September Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

I feel like this month flew by, but I'm fine since now we're entering my favorite month of the year. I can't wait to dive into all things spooky!


Audio:

-The Heiress Hunt- Joanna Shupe; 3/5
-The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches- Sandu Mandanna; 3/5
-Shady Hollow- Juneau Black; 3/4
-Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match- Sally Thorne; 2/5
-Scandal Takes the Stage- Eva Leigh; 2/5
-Carrie Soto is Back- Taylor Jenkins Reid; 2/5
-The Daughter of Doctor Moreau- Sylvia Moreno-Garcia; 2/5
-The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane- Julia Nobel; 3/5
-The Marlow Murder Club- Robert Thorogood; 3/5
-Suburban Hell- Maureen Kilmer; 4/5

Digital:

-Station Eternity- Mur Lafferty; 2/5
-Never Rescue a Rogue- Virginia Heath; 3/5
-The Final Gambit- Jennifer Lynn Barnes; 3/5
-Pint of Contention- Susannah Nix; 3/5
-The Duke Gets Even- Joanna Shupe; 5/5
-You're a Mean One, Matthew Prince- Timothy Janovsky; 3/5
-Kingdom of the Feared- Kerri Maniscalco; 4/5

Physical:

-Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow- Christina Henry; 3/5
-Assassin's Apprentice- Robin Hobb; 3/5
-Daisy Darker- Alice Feeney; 3/5
-The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy- Megan Bannen; 3/5
-The Bride Goes Rogue- Joanna Shupe; 4/5
-Paladin's Grace- T. Kingfisher; 3/5
-Heir of Fire- Sarah J. Maas; 4/5 (re-read)
-A Natural History of Dragons- Marie Brennan; 3/5
-Kingdom of the Cursed- Kerri Maniscalco; 4/5 (re-read)

Some favorites were: The Duke Gets Even, The Bride Goes Rogue, and Suburban Hell. Some least favorites were: Carrie Soto is Back, The Heiress Hunt, and Scandal Takes the Stage.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2022

September OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Memento Mori." Let's get into it!


First up, we had the next Literary Luggage enamel pin. This one is inspired by An Ember in the Ashes and I love the design and coloring.


Then we had this magnetic bag clip. We've gotten one of these before, and while I like the idea of your bag not touching the ground when you go out, I never use these.


Then there was this candle inspired by Gideon the Ninth. It's a bit too musky for my tastes, so I'll be passing this along.


Next up was this jewelry holder with a quote from A Monster Calls. I mentioned a while ago that my family are I are going to Ireland next year, so this'll be convenient to hold any bits and bobs.


Then there was this little mirrored lantern featuring quotes and art from Gallant. There's also a fake little tea light inside. While I think it's cute, I probably won't use this.


The last item was this drawstring backpack inspired by Stalking Jack the Ripper, which is one of my favorite series. I think the design is so cute and you can never have too many totes/bags in my opinion.





This months book was The Depths- Nicole Lesperance. This is about a tropical island full of secrets. Two Victorian ghosts, trapped for eternity. And a seventeen-year-old girl determined not to be next.

It sounds atmospheric and a bit creepy, which is perfect for this time of year. Also, the artwork on the naked hardback reminds me of the mermaid lagoon from Peter Pan, and I love it. Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Spells for Forgetting Review

Hello, all!

Friends, if you've been craving a book with slight witchy vibes for your fall TBR's, look no further than Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young.

Pub Date: 9-27-22
Adult - Fantasy

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever on the night of her high school graduation when her boyfriend, August, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Even though there wasn't enough evidence to convict August, he and his mother still fled the rural island they called home, leaving Emery more alone than ever. Now, years later Emery is stuck in the life she was so desperate to run away from living on Saoirse Island and tending her late mother's tea shop. Saoirse Island is known for being rooted in magic and tradition, so when it starts acting strange, Emery knows something big is coming. 

August Salt knows he's not welcome on Saoirse Island. On his last night there, a fire tore through his family's orchard, and the body of Lily Morgan was found drowned in the middle of the woods. The community of Saoirse was never a fan of August or his family, so despite having an alibi, August was branded a murderer. August swore he would never step foot on the island again, but when his mother passes, her last wish is to be buried at home, leaving August no choice but to face the same people who turned on him all those years ago. But when August arrives, he discovers there's more to the town's hatred of him than meets the eye. He knew coming back would be a mistake, and he'll have to work with Emery to uncover the truth about that night if he hopes to leave the island alive.

I've only read one other book by Young that was YA, so I was eager to jump into her first adult novel, and wow, I loved this. Based on her other books, I was expecting it to be a fantasy, but I would categorize it more as a mystery with magical realism aspects. The atmosphere was stunning, and the setting of this remote island in the PNW added to the overall tone and feel of the book. I loved the subtle magic embedded into the island and how the women have ways of harnessing it. The mystery side was also very well done. I liked following along with Emery and August as they uncovered all these secrets. We follow a lot of different POVs, and the pacing is slow at times, but I think it worked to help build the tension and make it more suspenseful. If you're looking for an immersive, engaging read that is perfect for the fall, I would highly recommend checking this one out.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Blog Tour: Because I Could Not Stop for Death Excerpt

Hello, all!

You all may know this by now, but I love historical fiction that's based on real people. So when I heard about Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower, it immediately went on my TBR.

Pub Date: 9-20-22
Adult - Historical Mystery

First off, this cover? Gorgeous. Secondly, this follows Emily Dickinson solving a murder with her maid. And it's the start of a series? If that doesn't sound right up my alley, then I don't know what does. I'm excited to share an excerpt below, and big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

When in Rome Review

Hello, all!

You know those books that make you smile from the first page? For me, that was When in Rome by Sarah Adams.

Pub Date: 9-20-22
Adult - Contemporary

Amelia Rose, or Rae Rose as she's known to millions all over the world, is burnt out from years of maintaining her perfect "princess of pop" persona. She should be gearing up to head out on a nine-month tour, but instead, she's stranded on a dark, secluded road in the middle of nowhere. Amelia has always taken comfort and sought advice from Audrey Hepburn movies, so when feeling overwhelmed, she decides to make like Audrey and run away to Rome. Except, Italy is too far away, so she settles for Rome, Kentucky instead. She just wanted a break from her grueling schedule, not to end up the latest case on Dateline, but then Noah Walker comes to her rescue.

When Noah Walker finds Rae Rose on his front lawn, he makes it very clear that he has no time for celebrities or the hassle that comes with them. All he wants to do is live a quiet life running the small pie shop he inherited from his grandma. Despite his better judgment and the busybodies around town, Noah agrees to let Amelia stay in his guest room while her car gets fixed. He knows they are from two completely different worlds, which didn't work out so well for him in the past, so he's determined to steer clear for as long as she's in town. But then Noah starts to see a different side to Amelia, the goofy, kind, sad side the world never gets to see, and he can't help but draw her near. Amelia knows she'll have to face the music and get back to her glamorous life eventually, but will she be able to leave Noah and the town she fell in love with behind when the time comes?

By the end of the first chapter, I knew I had to apologize to The Cheat Sheet because this was coming to take the trophy for being my favorite Sarah Adams book. I loved everything about this. Everything from the characters to the setting had me charmed. Adams has this way of making her main characters relatable and quirky, but not in an insufferable way. More like a "Yep, I would get embarrassed and ramble too much in an awkward situation as well" way. Admittedly, most of her heroines feel similar, but I love them too much to care, and Amelia was no exception. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders and this constant need to put up this polite facade, but all that fades away, and she can just be herself with Noah. And Noah! What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man. Grumpy on the outside, yet soft on the inside are my favorite kinds of love interests, and, good grief, did he have me swooning. They had such fun banter together, and I was smiling the entire time. I also couldn't get enough of all the secondary characters who all added another level of humor to this. I can always count on Adams's romances to be light, sweet, and as refreshing as a cool breeze on a warm day, and I'm excited to pick up whatever she comes out with next.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Funny You Should Ask Review

Hello, all!

What was the last book you picked up solely based on the hype? Mine was Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman, and it was totally worth it!

Pub Date: 4-12-22
Adult - Contemporary

 While all her other grad school friends are nabbing book deals, Chani Horowitz is writing puff pieces and blog posts for whatever media outlet will have her. Then she gets the opportunity to interview Gabe Parker, the hottest actor in Hollywood, and her celebrity crush. Chani knows this is the chance of a lifetime and will boost her career to new heights, so the pressure is on. When Chani and Gabe meet for the interview, Chani tries to keep it professional even though she's squealing inside, but nothing could've prepared her for what was to come next. What was supposed to be an afternoon interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that gets all the tabloids buzzing.

Now, ten years later, Chani is divorced and living back in LA, ready to focus on her work. Chani has made a name for herself publishing essay collections and celebrity profiles, but the one thing anyone seems interested in is what happened between her and Gabe Parker all those years ago. Despite her hard work, Chani's whole career is linked to Gabe's. So when his PR team reaches out to recreate their famous interview, she knows she should turn it down. But she also hasn't been able to stop thinking about their time together, so she agrees. Chani knows facing Gabe again will bring all those confusing feelings back to the surface, and she wasn't counting on him to still feel the same.

I'm going to be real honest-- the only reason I picked this up was that I heard it was semi-inspired by that viral Chris Evans interview where he was flirting with the reporter, and I'm obsessed with him. I'm happy to report that this was just as delightful. It's told in alternating timelines of when Chani and Gabe first met and then their reunion a decade later. It was as if a chaotic whirlwind had swept them up and let them live out this fantastical weekend, and the fallout it left behind. It was cute watching them flirt and be playful. The sexual tension between them was palpable, but it is the slowest of slow burns. I do think you have to suspend your disbelief over the fact that they were both still hung up on the other after only spending a weekend together ten years prior, but that didn't stop me from eating this up. I also liked how this dealt with the realities of fame as well, such as addiction and gossip. Overall, it was a super fun, cute contemporary that I think would be good for fans of Emily Henry.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Big thanks to the publisher for these copies!

Pub Date: 9-13-22
Adult - Contemporary

The Make-Up Test- Jenny L. Howe: Allison Avery has always loved being an academic. Her dream in life is to become a professor so she can share her love of medieval literature with others. When Allison is admitted to a Ph.D. program at Claymore University, studying under a professor she's admired for years, she believes she's one step closer to achieving her goals. But then she learns her ex-boyfriend, Colin Benjamin, has been accepted to the same program and is now competing with her for a TA position with the same professor. At first, the pair can't help butting heads after their rocky relationship, but with every passing day and a last-minute road trip, neither can deny the spark of attraction that still simmers between them. Allison refuses to let anything come between her and her goals, but is it possible to have both the dream career and dream guy?

I was keen on picking this up once I heard about it, but I found it disappointing. Let's talk about the things I did enjoy first. Mostly, the setting. I love anything set in a school or academic environment. I found the discussions around medieval literature fascinating. It's not something I know much about, so it was fun seeing Allison talk about it with such passion. It almost made me want to reread Beowulf, and that was something high school me never thought she'd say. My main problem with this was Colin. For me to enjoy a romance, I have to like the love interest, and I couldn't stand Colin. He treated Allison so poorly, both in the present and in the snippets we get from their past relationship. He had a few sweet moments, but for the most part, I thought he was whiny and took all his insecurities out on Allison. Due to this, I didn't care about their relationship at all. It's a second-chance romance, but for me, Colin deserved none of the chances he got. I also wasn't a fan of Allison's family and how they treated her. Sadly, I had high hopes for this one, but it turned out to be a bit of a letdown.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 9-13-22
Adult - Contemporary

Lucy on the Wild Side- Kerry Rea: Lucy Rourke would rather spend her time with the gorilla troop at the zoo where she works and reality tv than trying to find a relationship. She's only got one goal in mind: getting promoted to a senior keeper. When a popular wildlife documentary series picks her zoo as their summer filming location, Lucy believes it would be an ideal opportunity to broadcast her love of primates to the entire world. If only the thought of being on camera didn't make her sick to her stomach, or having to work with Kai Bridges didn't make her want to scream. Kai is not only charismatic and engaging, but he's also the son of Lucy's idol and the woman who got her into gorillas. After seeing her freeze in front of the camera, Kai offers to help get Lucy more comfortable, but the pair can't help but bicker over everything. But when trading weird animal facts turn into stealing kisses in gorilla nurseries, Lucy starts to crave more than just a promotion.

I've never read anything by Rea before, but after reading this, I'll pick up anything she comes out with. I had such a fun time with this. Lucy was unlike any main character I've read before. I loved how passionate she was about her career and working with the gorillas at the zoo. It was so special to see the bond she had with them. I also liked how she was more content with having a career over becoming a mom since usually there's always a baby thrown into the storylines. I enjoyed her relationship with Kai and how they would trade the most absurd animal facts. They started rocky but developed a solid, sweet relationship by the end. It was frustrating since Lucy had so many walls and defenses up, but I understand her reasoning. Another highlight of this was the zoo itself. It was cool seeing a glimpse at how zoos work and what it's like being a zookeeper. You could tell Rea did a lot of research into it. Overall, I thought this was super enjoyable.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 9-20-22
YA - Historical Fiction

The Killing Code- Ellie Marney: It's 1943 in Virginia, and with most men fighting in World War II, many women have joined the workforce, some even aiding in the war effort wherever they can. Kit Sutherland gets recruited as a codebreaker at the former girl's college turned secret US Signals Intelligence facility, Arlington Hall. Here Kit spends her days desperately trying to crack encoded enemy messages, but soon she finds herself on a different sort of mission. Government girls are being brutally murdered all over the DC area, and when Kit stumbles upon one of the scenes, she's determined to bring the killer to justice. Kit recruits three friends, and the group does what they do best: crack codes. As they compile evidence and build a profile of the murderer, it becomes clear the person they're looking for is closer than they expected and that Kit is harboring a dangerous secret.

I love historical fiction, but I've never read one that mixes in a thriller element, and I was here for it. I thought this was so captivating right from the start. It's fast-paced and exciting. I liked Kit a lot; she was tenacious and clever. She's spent years hiding and always had one eye over her shoulder. It made her an interesting character to follow. Her friendship between Dottie, Violet, and Moya was everything. They were all so different but formed this tight-knit sisterhood. They supported one another and had each other's backs through everything. The romance between Kit and Moya could've used a little work since it felt quick, but it was sweet. As for the mystery, I was able to figure out who the murderer was, but I still enjoyed watching how it played out. This was the first book I've read by Marney, and I'm interested enough to pick up more. If you like engaging, whodunit-type murder mysteries, I recommend checking this one out.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 9-6-22
Adult - Retelling

Ithaca- Claire North: King Odysseus sailed away from Ithaca seventeen years ago, taking every man of fighting age along with him. Although the war has long since been over, none of the men have come home, leaving the women to take care of the homestead. Penelope was just a young girl when she wed Odysseus and gave birth to his son. She always knew that as long as he was around, she would be protected and her position in Ithaca unchallenged. But now everyone is saying her husband is dead, and it's time to choose a new king from the many suitors living under her roof. Penelope knows no man can match her husband's power and that picking one would send her entire kingdom into chaos. With the fate of Ithaca hanging in the balance, Penelope will have to use her cunning and her network of maidens to ensure it topples in her favor.

By this point, I've read a ton of Greek mythology retellings, so I'm always on the lookout for one that will set itself apart from the rest. I think North did that here. I've read many Troy-inspired books, but I've never read one narrated by one of the goddesses. I loved how North used Hera to tell the tale of Penelope and the events on Ithaca. It was a unique plot device, and I think it worked very well. There were times where she overpowered the other characters, but I didn't mind so much. Speaking of, it is a very character-driven book, which I'm not usually a fan of, so it did feel like the pacing dragged on a bit due to that. While I don't think North brought anything new to Penelope's story, I did think her writing was beautiful and lush and would be interested in checking out the rest of the series.

Rating: 3/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 9-6-22
Adult - Contemporary

Do You Take This Man- Denise Williams: No one would ever describe divorce attorney RJ as being a soft-hearted romantic. She prides herself on being tough as nails and never letting anything ruffle her. But after a video of RJ officiating an impromptu wedding in the park goes viral, she suddenly becomes the most sought-after person when someone's looking to get hitched. RJ will never admit it, but she loves overseeing the "I do's" until she meets the new wedding planner she's forced to work with. Lear went from managing football events to working for his cousin's wedding business after his girlfriend ripped his world apart. He's focused on throwing all his attention into executing perfect events, but he'll have RJ to contend with. The pair instantly butt heads and refuse to compromise, but neither can deny the burning physical attraction they feel toward one another. Lear refuses to get hurt again, and RJ refuses to let her guard down, so they decide to engage in a little enemies with benefits deal. But will spending all their time surrounded by loving couples make them want to change their tunes?

I feel like Williams is a bit hit or miss for me. I've read a few of her books that I loved and others that I thought were okay. This leaned a little more towards the latter half for me. I love the enemies-to-lovers trope, but there were times I felt RJ and Lear were a little too mean to one another. They were both very passionate people, maybe a bit combative at times, and while that led to very steamy scenes between them, I couldn't help but feel like it was too much. I did enjoy all the banter, and once they finally started opening up to one another. Overall, I liked it, but it didn't blow me away, and I would still recommend it if you're looking for a new hate-to-love book to pick up.

Rating: 3/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 6-10-21
Adult - Thriller

How to Kill Your Family- Bella Mackie: Grace Bernard is currently sitting in prison for a murder she didn't commit. But Grace has a secret. Indeed, she may not have committed the murder that got her behind bars, but she has killed six members of her own family before she turned 28-years-old. When Grace discovered that her absentee billionaire father rejected her dying mother's pleas for help, Grace swore she would make him pay. This revenge sets her on a meticulous journey of bumping off different family members who have no idea who Grace is. From car accidents to amphibian acid trips gone awry, each death brings Grace closer to finding the joy she was lacking in life. While awaiting trial, Grace decides to document these deaths. Of course, she would prefer to get away with it, but the details of her revenge are just too sweet to keep to herself.

I didn't know too much about this going in, and I think that's the best way to go. Just jump in blindly and hang on for the ride because it is wild. Grace is one of those characters who is completely unhinged, but you kind of find yourself rooting for. She has zero qualms about killing people and takes pleasure in planning each family member's murder down to the most minute detail. I was gripped the whole time, and most of that had to do with Mackie's writing. It's brilliantly sharp and darkly twisted. Most thrillers I read tend to feel heavy and serious, but this one felt fun and cheeky. If you're looking for a fast-paced, entertaining revenge story, I definitely recommend this one.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Killers of a Certain Age Review

Hello, all!

I'm sure you all know by now about my love for Deanna Raybourn. Her Veronica Speedwell series is my favorite of all time (I recently got a butterfly tattoo for it), but her latest release, Killers of a Certain Age, might be giving it a run for its money. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 9-6-22
Adult - Mystery/Thriller

In the late 1970s, Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie were four strangers recruited by a mysterious organization known as the Museum. They were pulled from their lives and sent to the English countryside to learn the ins and outs of assassination. The Museum doesn't deal in antiques but takes out those deemed unsavory. The foursome was trained to be the first all-female squad and spent hours honing their skills and brushing up on their specialties. Whether working as a team or apart, you could always count on them to never miss their marks.

Now, forty years later, Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie are ready to retire. They've given their all to the Museum over the years, but now it's time to hang up their garrotes and pack away the detonation devices. To celebrate the occasion, the group is sent on an all-expenses-paid cruise, but it doesn't take long for them to discover the trip isn't what it seems. The group finds themselves targeted by others in the organization, and they'll have to work together for one last job to either clear their names or die trying.

Picture Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep or even Sally Field kickin' ass and takin' names, and you have this book. Raybourn flips the script on the stereotypical action hero trope, and instead of giving you bulky men who never seem to get winded, you get women in their 60s who can still kill you, but they need to do some yoga after to realign their back. The concept is so brilliant; I can't believe no one's done it before (at least to my knowledge.) I adored every minute of it. It was fast-paced and action-packed but also had such humor and heart to it. There was never any moment when I was bored. I also was never able to guess what would happen next, and I love that when it comes to mysteries/thrillers. Raybourn is like that cool aunt who will let you do whatever you want but will also call you out on all your nonsense, and I love that about her. She manages to bring that vibe to all of her books, and it continues to be one of the reasons she's my favorite. If you're in the mood for a wild spy adventure filled with strong women, look no further than this.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 5-1-18
Adult - Fantasy

The Poppy War- R.F. Kuang: Rin is a war orphan who has always craved more from life than living and working in a small village with her adoptive parents. Desperate for a way out, Rin sets her sights on passing the Keju-- the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youths to learn at the Academies. To Rin's and the official's, surprise, she aces the test and is brought to train at Sinegard, the most elite military school in all of Nikan. From her first day, Rin is targeted for being different than her classmates, and as her rage and frustration build, Rin discovers a dangerous power within herself. Through her teachings, Rin begins to explore the powers of the gods she thought were long gone. As a war begins to break out over the nation, Rin is determined to use her powers for good, but harnessing the power of the vengeful god who claimed her, may prove more deadly than helpful.

Usually, I'm not a fan of political fantasy, but I've heard such amazing things about this series that I had to give it a go. I get the hype now. The writing was grim, but there was still this underlying sense of humor woven throughout that I loved. Rin was so snarky and had such strong convictions. She was a little too stubborn and intense for her own good sometimes, but I enjoyed her overall. I also loved the secondary characters we meet, especially Kitay and Ramsa. Aside from the characters, the story itself was so captivating. It's heavily inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War, and Kuang doesn't shy away from depicting just how brutal this period was. So many scenes were hard to read because she just put her characters through the wringer. No one was safe from pain, be it the characters or the reader. Still, I was hooked and can't wait to pick up the next book.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 8-30-22
YA - Fantasy

Belladonna- Adalyn Grace: Nineteen-year-old Signa has spent her entire life being carted from one guardian to the next after the death of her parents. Her living situation never stays the same for long as all of her guardians seem to pass soon after Signa comes to live with them. After the most recent death, Signa is sent to live with her last remaining relatives, the enigmatic Hawthornes. But when Signa arrives at their grand mansion, she learns not everything is as it seems. Her aunt has mysteriously died, and now her cousin is wasting away from the same strange disease. Only Signa knows that it's not an illness overtaking her cousin but poison. Signa may never have had a stable family relationship, but the one constant in her life has been Death. Signa doesn't know how or why, but she has always been able to see spirits and communicate with Death himself. To save her new family, Signa will recruit the help of Death and a puzzling stable boy named Sylas to uncover the murderer before it's too late.

I didn't have any expectations going into this, but I ended up enjoying it. Grace's writing was atmospheric and gave off an eerie, Gothic vibe that I loved. I also really liked her characters. Signa was so interesting with these strange powers. I wish we learned a little bit more about her background because I wanted to know how she came to be with them, but I'm intrigued to see how they'll grow from here. I also liked her relationship with Death. It was teasing yet protective at the same time. They bickered constantly, but you could tell that underneath it all, they both truly cared for one another. I did see the twist of Death's identity coming from a mile away, so it wasn't as shocking when it was revealed. There were also little clues about the plot twist I was able to suss out as well, but I still liked how Grace wrapped everything up. While the pacing was too slow for me at times, and I think this would've worked well as just a stand-alone, I'm excited to read the next one.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 2-22-22
Adult - Historical Romance

The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes- Eva Leigh: Kieran Ransome is known for being a bit of a rake, but when his latest antics result in a massive scandal for his family, his father decides enough is enough. If Kieran hopes to inherit anything, he must shape up and find a proper wife to marry. Celeste Kilburn is a society darling and beloved by all the most influential members of the ton. Most would love to have a reputation as spotless as hers, but Celeste can't help but wish for adventure. She wants to experience everything London has to offer, and when her brother's best friend, Kieran, begs her for help, she takes the opportunity to strike a deal. Celeste will introduce Kieran to all the right people, and Kieran will show her all the places a proper lady shouldn't be privy. But somewhere between garden parties and gambling hells, the attraction that Kieran and Celeste feel for one another turns into a desperate desire neither can ignore. But when their nighttime escapades are discovered, threatening Celeste's reputation, Kieran will have to decide if he's ready to grow up and fight for what he wants.

I loved this! It had everything I look for in historical romance: an intelligent leading lady, a swoon-worthy love interest, and top-notch banter. Leigh's writing was charming and witty and had you falling in love with Celeste and Kieran from their very first interaction. I couldn't get enough of the two of them. They had such a playful dynamic but were also able to be vulnerable and be their most authentic selves together without fear of judgment. It was so sweet to see. Not only that, but they had insane chemistry. It was so believable that these two were meant to be together. This was my first book by Leigh, but it definitely won't be my last, and I can't wait for the next installment.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

August Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

We're finally entering into my favorite time of year: autumn! Mentally from now on, I am Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail walking around NYC with the Cranberries playing. Or Meg Ryan walking around NYC in When Harry Met Sally. Basically, I'm in a Meg Ryan fall state of mind.



Audio:

The Romantic Agenda- Claire Kann; 3/5
The House on Foster Hill- Jaime Jo Wright; 2/5
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty- Akwaeke Emezi; 3/5
Legends & Lattes- Travis Baldree; 3/5
Just Another Love Song- Kerry Winfrey; 4/5
Maggie Moves On- Lucy Score; 4/5
The Children on the Hill- Jennifer McMahon; 3.5/5
Wild is the Witch- Rachel Griffin; 2.5/5
Love in the Time of Serial Killers- Alicia Thompson; 3/5

Digital:

Do You Take This Man- Denise Williams; 3/5
Well Traveled- Jen DeLuca; 3/5
The Make-Up Test- Jenny L. Howe; 2/5
Some Dukes Have All the Luck- Christina Britton; 3/5
Killers of a Certain Age- Deanna Raybourn; 4.5/5
Ithaca- Claire North; 3/5
Lucy on the Wild Side- Kerry Rea; 3/5
The Luminaries- Susan Dennard; 2/5

Physical:

Year of the Reaper- Makiia Lucier; 5/5
Four for the Road- K.J. Reilly; 3/5
Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth- Jessie Burton; 4/5
Crown of Midnight- Sarah J. Maas; 4/5 (re-read)
Cycle of the Werewolf- Stephen King; 4/5
Spy Family, Vol. 4; 3/5
The Killing Code- Ellie Marney; 4/5
House of Hollow- Krystal Sutherland; 2/5
Love is a Rogue- Lenora Bell; 3/5
Devil in Winter- Lisa Kleypas; 3/5
Dead Silence- S.A. Barnes; 3/5
Ten Thousand Stitches- Olivia Atwater; 2/5
Among the Beasts and Briars- Ashley Poston; 4/5

Some favorites were: Killers of a Certain Age, Year of the Reaper, and Cycle of the Werewolf. Least favorites were: The Make-Up Test, The House on Foster Hill, and Do You Take This Man.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

August OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Steeped in Folklore." Unfortunately, I found this box pretty lackluster, but let's get into it.


First up, we had this tapestry inspired by Uprooted. I like the colors in this, but I don't hang tapestries, so I won't get any use out of this.



Next up, there was this origami kit inspired by Six Crimson Cranes. Again, this isn't something I ever see myself using, so I'll be passing this along as well.



We also received the next bowl in their LOTR collection. I wish these were for a different fandom because I love the quality of them, but I'm just not a LOTR fan, so I always re-home these.


The latest enamel pin in their Literary Luggage collection was inspired by Fable, and I think the design and colors are very summer and cute.


Yet another item I don't foresee myself using was this zipper pull inspired by The Wolf and the Woodsman. Does anyone really have a use for one of these?


 The only item besides the book that I'll be keeping from here was this banana bread flavored tea. I don't usually like banana bread, but I've liked the majority of the teas that they've sent, so I'm intrigued enough to try it out.






The book this month was The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones. This lush, atmospheric fantasy is based on Welsh mythology and follows Mererid, the last living water diviner, who is on the run from the prince. Mer then gets a proposition from an old friend to use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both. To do so, Mer enlists the help of a ragtag crew to help her destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe.

All I really needed to hear was that this is a magical heist novel, and I was sold. I'm such a sucker for that trope, so I can't wait to pick this up. Lemme know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Blog Tour: Small Town, Big Magic Excerpt

Hello, all!

Spooky season is right around the corner, and if you're looking for a fun, witchy read to add to your TBR, look no further than Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck. 

Pub Date: 8-23-22
Adult - Fantasy/Romance

Emerson Wilde owns a bookstore in a small Missouri town. She's also descended from a witch who was hanged in 1692 during the Salem Witch Trials, and the youngest ever Chamber of Commerce president. Emerson loves her town, but when setting up for an annual festival, Emerson notices strange things going on. Paranormal creatures seem to be stalking Emerson, sent by her lifelong arch-rival. When Emerson's long-dormant powers start to come back, she, along with her childhood friend, must work together defeat the ancient evil that's been awakened before everything she loves is destroyed.

You can check out an excerpt below!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Blog Tour: Love on the Brain Review

Hello, all!

As you all know The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood was one of my favorite reads of last year (review here), so I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Love on the Brain.

Pub Date: 8-23-22
Adult - Contemporary

Bee Königswasser has dreamt of the day when she can run her own lab, so she couldn't be more thrilled when she lands her dream job at NASA. That is until she finds out she'll be co-leads on the neuroengineering project with her graduate school nemesis. Bee can make friends with a brick wall, but the one person she's never been able to crack is Levi Ward. For reasons unknown to Bee, Levi has disliked her from the moment they met. Bee is determined to keep her head down and spend the next three months being professionally civil, but if only being around Levi didn't make her head fuzzy.

When Bee and her assistant arrive at NASA to find nothing but roadblocks and red tape awaiting them, Bee knows Levi must be behind the delay. But when she confronts her hulking co-lead, she finds him sympathetic to her plight. And what's more confusing is Levi continuously backing her ideas and plans up in meetings and staring at her with those intensely green eyes of his. Could it be there's more to Levi than Bee gave him credit for?

I've enjoyed everything that Hazelwood's put out, and this was no exception. Like in her previous works, all the talk of science and engineering go way over my head, but I still found myself taken by the story. Mostly, that has to do with her characters. I love how unabashedly geeky they all are. Bee was quirky, and I liked her love of Marie Curie and cat puns. Levi was sweet and a little broody. Watching them bond over cats, vegan food, and Star Wars was adorable. I thought they worked so well together, but I don't think this should be classified as enemies-to-lovers as it was more of a miscommunication. My only critiques were that certain scenes felt too similar to The Love Hypothesis, and I thought the third act conflict was a bit over-the-top. Other than that, I thought this was so fun.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Year of the Reaper Review

Hello, all!

After weeks and weeks of reading contemporary/romance, I finally dipped back into my fantasy bag and most of that had to do with Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier. I picked it up on a whim, and now all I want to do is read fantasy again, and I'm here for it!

Pub Date: 11-9-21
YA - Fantasy

After being imprisoned for three years, all Lord Cassia--Cas--wants to do is return to his home in Palmerin. With a plague devastating the land, Cas wants to make sure his people, especially his brother, are safe. Along the way, Cas crosses paths with Lena, a young historian who not only steals his attention but his horse as well. The pair reluctantly agree to travel together, but when they finally arrive in Palmerin, Cas quickly realizes it isn't as he remembers.

Since Palmerin was lucky enough to escape the worst of the plague, it became a haven for the royal court, with the King and Queen taking up residence in the castle where Cas grew up. Despite the unexpected guests, Cas is looking forward to spending time with his brother and trying to forget the horrors he endured. But when an assassin targets those closest to the Queen, Cas is drawn into the hunt. Cas can tell there are bigger secrets at play, so he teams up with Lena to uncover the truth about what's happening. But what they discover has the potential to bring a war to the whole kingdom.

I went in knowing nothing about this, and I was hooked right from the start. I thought Lucier did a great job crafting the world and the characters. Cas has been through such abuse and trauma, but he never let it break him. He was strong and brave and didn't flinch from what needed to be done. He did have moments of weakness but let himself learn from them. I loved his relationship with Lena. They had such an ease about them and the way they bantered. I enjoyed how the romance between them was subtle and felt natural. The mystery aspect of who was behind the killings was engaging, and even though I guessed the twist, I was still satisfied by how it played out. I'm not going to say this was without flaws because I did think some phrases were overused, and certain things I wished were explained more regarding Cas and his abilities, but I still loved this. I was entertained the whole time and never wanted to put it down. It's one of those rare times where I almost wish this wasn't a standalone because I want more from these characters and this world, but I'll settle for picking up whatever Lucier comes out with next.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 8-23-22
YA - Contemporary

Four for the Road- K.J. Reilly: Asher recently lost his mother to a drunk driver and needless to say, he isn't handling it well. All Asher wants is revenge on the driver let off on a technicality, but since that isn't healthy coping behavior, Asher finds himself joining not one but three different bereavement groups. In these groups, Asher meets 80-year-old Henry and teenagers Will and Sloane, and unexpected friendships form. Asher decides to invite his new friends on a road trip from New Jersey to Graceland, but he leaves out the part about him stealing his dad's car or the real motive behind the trip. Each person has reasonings behind agreeing to the impromptu journey, and as the miles pass, a quest that started as revenge starts to feel more like forgiveness instead.

I knew going into this that it would be emotional, but boy, was it ever. It was almost as if you could feel Asher's grief emanating from the pages. It took me a while to get into the story because the writing was all over the place. Every sentence in every paragraph felt like a stream of consciousness. Like you were inside Asher's mind as he tried to sort through his trauma and make sense of it. It was repetitive and longwinded and felt like a panic attack on paper. It wasn't my favorite writing style, but I admit it worked well given the scope of the story. However, I did enjoy watching these characters, who may seem so different on the outside but are bound together by their grief, find solace and comfort in one another. The whole thing was heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once, and while it didn't totally work for me, I can appreciate how poignant the story was.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-15-22
Adult - Thriller

The Book of Cold Cases- Simone St. James: Shea Collins is a true crime enthusiast who runs a blog called the Book of Cold Cases. When she was young, Shea managed to escape an abduction attempt, and this encounter sparked a desire within her to investigate old crimes. By chance, Shea crosses paths with Beth Greer, who in 1977 was arrested and acquitted for murder, and asks for an interview. To her shock, Beth agrees. The pair begin to meet at Beth's mansion to discuss the events, but the more time they spend together, the more Shea can't help but feel like something's wrong. The mansion has a sinister feel, and Shea could swear she's seen a girl lurking in the windows. Has Shea willingly spent her time in the company of a murderer, or is there something darker at play?

I've only read one other book by St. James, but I enjoy her style. I like the mix of mystery and supernatural elements. I was a little worried about the flow of this book since it's told in alternating timelines, but it worked very well. I loved getting the whole picture of what happened in the past, and seeing how Shea reacted to it in the present. I liked trying to ferret out clues and figure out what happened alongside her. I also found her friendship and interactions with Beth interesting because they felt similar at times. They both lived through very traumatic experiences, and it bonded them in some way. As for the mystery aspect, there were certain things I was able to guess surrounding Lily, but there were even more twists that threw me for a loop. Overall, it was a slow build-up, but the payoff was worth it.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 4-5-22
Adult - Historical Fantasy

Half a Soul- Olivia Atwater: When Theodora "Dora" Ettings was young, she was cursed by a faerie, leaving her with only half of her soul. Dora doesn't process emotions the same way a normal person would. She doesn't feel embarrassment or fear and has often times found herself toeing the line of propriety because of this. Dora doesn't want to risk her cousin's chances of making a successful marriage match during the London Season, so she's content with being a wallflower, but then she meets Lord Sorcier. Elias Wilder is known to many as being brash and abrasive, but his rank keeps him popular amongst the ton. When he discovers Dora's condition, he's intrigued enough to try and assist. But with a sleeping sickness plaguing the poor children of London, Elias and Dora decide to work together to discover the cause instead. Soon, Dora finds herself in the middle of a strange and dangerous faerie plot where she'll have to choose between reuniting with the lost piece of herself or saving innocent lives.

I've seen a lot of talk surrounding this book lately, so I was interested in checking it out. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this. The setting was fun, and the writing was whimsical. I liked the characters and thought the banter between Dora and Elias was entertaining. Elias was wonderfully grumpy, and I loved when he would get flustered when Dora wouldn't act the way he expected her to. I would've liked to have seen a little more development when it came to their relationship though because it felt like they were bickering in one paragraph, but in love by the next. The same could be said for the plot. While it was interesting, it all felt very flat. The book isn't that long, but it still managed to feel slow because not a lot happens, and it all gets wrapped up rather quickly. Despite that, I still found this enjoyable and will most likely pick up the rest of the series and would recommend it if you're looking for a cozier fantasy.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

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

A Daring Pursuit- Kate Bateman:
Most women of the ton would go to whatever lengths to secure an advantageous marriage-- all but Carys Davies. Carys knows that staying single is the only way to keep her secret hidden and her family's name free from ruin. Carys has spent the last two years scandalizing the population with her outrageous wardrobe and strong-willed personality attempting to deter potential suitors. Carys may seem carefree and confident on the outside, but one person has always been able to see through the act. Tristan Montgomery and Carys have been rivals since they were young and will go out of the way to push each other's buttons. But when Tristan uncovers Carys's secret, he's determined to help. Even if that means agreeing to clandestine meetings to help show Carys what she's missing when it comes to bed sport. Neither expects their tryst to last longer than the agreed-upon week, but it gets harder to ignore the attraction burning between them.

I've only read one other book by Bateman, but I can tell she's going to be an all-time favorite. Her writing is so witty and entertaining. She has a way of creating characters that feel believable and real. I love how feisty and independent her female characters are, while her male characters toe that line of being so charming you don't know whether to kiss or strangle them. Carys and Tristan fit that description to a T. I loved how Carys was willing to do whatever to save her family's name even if that meant sacrificing her happiness. Her banter with Tristan was everything, and you could tell that they both loved the other right off the bat but were too stubborn to admit it. I do think the end wrapped up a little too quickly for me, but other than that, I thought the chemistry was great, the writing was great, and it was a fun time.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 10-5-21
Adult - Fantasy

A Spindle Splintered- Alix E. Harrow: When she was younger, an industrial accident in her area left Zinnia Gray with a rare condition and the knowledge that she wouldn't live past her twenty-first birthday. Growing up, Zinnia became obsessed with fairy tales, namely Sleeping Beauty, so her best friend, Charm, is determined to give Zinnia the best last birthday, complete with an abandoned tower and spinning wheel. But when Zinnia jokingly pokes her finger on the spindle, she finds herself transported to a magical land and met with another cursed sleeping beauty. Now, Zinnia will have to team up with the princess to help her escape her fate if she hopes to find her way back home.

Novellas can be hit-or-miss for me, but this one was fun! I liked how there were nods to fairy tales, but it was ultimately a story about breaking the mold. Zinnia and Primrose, along with the other beauties, take charge of their destinies and remake them into something of their own creation. However, I wish the characters were fleshed out more so we could see more depth. Also, I thought the disability representation in this was well done. Harrow not only showcased all the numerous doctor's appointments and medicines someone with illness experiences but also how they're treated by those around them. While I would've liked to have more meat to the plot/characters, I still enjoyed this and will most likely pick up the next book.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-22-22
Adult - Sci-Fi/Contemporary

The Impossible Us- Sarah Lotz: Nick thought he was sending a foul-mouthed email to a client trying to dip out of payment, but his email's inadvertently directed to Bee instead. The pair have nothing in common: Nick is a failed writer, husband, and decent dog owner, and Bee spends more time working on her business of repurposing wedding dresses rather than finding love, but they both decide to keep the conversation going. With each email, the pair start to open up more and a real connection starts to flourish. The pair decide to meet to see if they have the same spark in person as they do online. But when that fails spectacularly, Bee and Nick discover that they're living in near-identical but parallel worlds. If they can't be with each other, Nick and Bee come up with a plan to find each other in their world instead. It isn't as easy as it sounds, and Nick and Bee will discover how far they'll go for true love.

This had such a unique premise. I loved the idea of two strangers falling in love and then finding out they were in two different worlds. It made the story feel so bittersweet. I liked Nick and Becca and thought they had such an ease about them. They had fun and easy banter, and I loved reading their email exchanges. I didn't fully buy into their chemistry, but it was alright. I did enjoy the plot overall, but there were a lot of moments that frustrated me because I didn't like the way Nick and Bee acted. Particularly when it came to them trying to seduce each other's doppelgängers. I get their reasoning behind it, but I felt it was manipulative and mean. I also found this slightly too long and the plot started to feel repetitive. Other than that, I liked the ending and would recommend it if you enjoy sci-fi/multiverse stories.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Love and Other Words Review

Hello, all!

Remember when I said I'm so behind on my reviews? Yeah, I read Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren back in February  😅

Pub Date: 4-10-18
Adult - Contemporary

Not many people find their soulmates when they're a teen, but Macy Sorensen did. After the death of her mother, her father thought it would be a good idea to buy a vacation house that he and Macy could visit whenever life got too hectic, and the first time Macy met Elliot Petropoulos, the gangly, nerdy next-door neighbor, was when she found him reading in her closet. The pair instantly bonded over their love of books and would spend every hour Macy was up there reading and telling each other their favorite words. Soon, the pair's relationship turns into something more, but an unfortunate incident causes them to stop speaking.

Now, eleven years later, Macy is working as a pediatrics resident and engaged. Her fiancé may not be who she pictured for herself, but she's learned the hard way to never trust her heart to another. But when Macy runs into Elliot, the carefully planned life she's made for herself starts to crumble. As the pair start reconnecting, they discover both have different memories of what pulled them apart, but one thing is for sure: they never stopped loving one another. But with so much of the past left unsaid, will Elliot be able to convince Macy that they've been each other's futures all along?

Shame on me for waiting so long to pick up this book because it was stunning. The author duo always nails it when it comes to fun banter and playful relationships, and while this had all that, it was also so tender and sweet. It felt like such an honest look at falling in love for the first time and all the highs and lows that come with it. I loved how it's told in alternating timelines of when Macy and Elliot were teens and then as adults because you get a sense of what they mean to one another, and the impact they had on each other's lives. Watching them go from friends to lovers to strangers back to lovers was so beautiful. Every interaction between them felt raw, and I loved how open and honest they were. This is easily my new favorite book by them, and I'd like my own Elliot, thank you very much.

Rating: 5/5